On the Impending Death of the DSLR

As mirrorless cameras become more and more advanced, most photographers assume that they are ringing the death knell for the DSLR. But will DSLRs be totally a thing of the past, or will they just take a new position within the photography industry? This thought-provoking video essay explores just that question.

Coming to you from Ted Forbes with The Art of Photography, this interesting video essay explores how the role of DSLRs will evolve in the next decade and if they'll really die out. I think it's important to remember that history has seen a few paradigm shifts in photography gear, and each time, the previous technology didn't just disappear so much as become relegated to either an accompanying role or an alternative that photographers embraced for reasons ranging from nostalgia to retained usefulness. When it comes to DSLRs, there is such an abundance of bodies out there that it seems nigh impossible that they'll just stop being used. Furthermore, unlike some of the previous paradigm shifts, most DSLRs have comparable performance to their mirrorless counterparts. As manufacturers stop servicing them and the electronics eventually break down, we might see DSLRs start to fade out, but I think that won't happen for a lot longer than the prevailing opinion might indicate. 

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59 Comments

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Too young for the autochrome, but I did play with the polachrome back in the days. I've seen videos of people shooting and processing left over old rolls that look quite faded due to age, but the fresh stuff I played with if I recall was high contrast and beautiful but weird.

Spy Black's picture

In 5 years the DSLR won't matter.

Mike Schrengohst's picture

Yeah - Apple announced the iPhone Pro! - LOL

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I have a name for those, spider phones, too many eyes for my taste

Mike Schrengohst's picture

I found a bunch of B&W negatives that were over 40 years old. I bought a slide/neg copier and have been scanning them in. It's magic again to see my old photos. I remember when I took them with my Nikon F2. I developed the film in my bathroom. I can still smell the fixer.....

EL PIC's picture

Long video to say what we already know.
I would replace the term Silly with Scam regarding Mirrorless.
But the vast majority of photographers will still bite the bait either way.

Eric Salas's picture

Why do you say mirrorless is a scam? Can you tell the difference between photos taken with a dslr and a mirrorless camera?

EL PIC's picture

Since no one can tell the difference .. and still buy new cameras with a whole new lens system .. sounds like a excellent scam for manufacturers to make bundles. They give you the weasel words of latest and greatest. You now Excel.
Go for it !!
LMAO !!

Eric Salas's picture

There are many advantages to going mirrorless now but you can’t tell the difference between photos. It’s user experience and usability that matters.
I switched when it wasn’t advantageous to switch back in 2013. Now, I have zero complaints with the system I use and have only benefitted from its progression.

People said digital was a joke but everyone went digital... people said mirrorless was a joke too not long ago and now many are making the switch.

You’ve obviously got your mind made up that it won’t benefit you so be happy with your system but don’t discredit new technology because you don’t have it or haven’t used it.

Alex Herbert's picture

One word, EVF. Another 2, eye autofocus. I shot a Canon 5Diii before buying an A7iii. You couldn't convince me to use a DSLR again.

I don't think you can make the claim that Mirrorless is a scam when Canon releases two APS-C bodies, one Mirrorless, and the other DSLR and the Mirrorless is cheaper and arguably better in many ways. Move over to Sony and its even cheaper and you get even more bang for your buck.

And this is the no. 1 selling point IMO in regards to mirrorless.....adapt ANY LENS, FROM ANY MAKER.....there you go. Even cheaper. Used Canon lens, OK, Used Pentax, OK, Used Leica, OK. More choices, less dollars. How is this is a scam?

also with mirrorless I could just spend (what could be $750) on an amazing camera (A6100) that also shoots 4k video, has all the benefits of mirrorless (EVF, Eye AF, Insane Speeds, small form factor) and get say, a Sigma 30 1.4 which is great glass for about $250 used, and I have a WAAAAY better setup (and cheaper) than ANY Nikon APS-C DSLR on the market....any canon APS-C DSLR....and we are just talking APS-C......

Now lets talk about the $2498 Full frame A7Riii vs. what? A Nikon D850 is $2,996 A Canon 5Dmkiv is $2799 And these are WAAAYYY less of a camera. No IBIS, less FPS, Slower and less accurate AF, no ability to adapt lenses (easily and economically)..... this to me is a scam in 2019!

You can make arguments against mirrorless, but money isn't one of them, and honestly most of those arguments are getting less and less. Battery-life? Dual Memory Cards? High megapixel? Amazing viewfinder? Glass Options? Weather Sealing? really.....what is left in this argument? Canon and Nikon seem to agree. the D6 will be the last of its kind.

Jan Kruize's picture

Ohhhh yeahhh a grip for the Sony is only 450euro's for an eos-r 250. The adapters for the eos-r work perfect for the sony's they act like shit. The menu structure in the sony's act like shit, in the eos-r they're. Perfect.

Eric Salas's picture

You’re the man Jan!

Everyone wishes they were you and your opinion is the only one that matters on FStoppers. Maybe you could write articles one day for them? Maybe you could have your own site called Jan’s Canon Playland so we could hear everyday about how Sony is garbage and we’re all inferior because of our choice in camera?! That would be bliss.

Canon did it right over 30 years ago and no one else has ever come close to system compatibility and seamless adaptability as Canon.

Eric Salas's picture

So the fact I use Canon, Nikon, Tamron, Sigma, and Helios lenses on my mirrorless doesn’t compare to what Canon did 30 years ago.

Cool story bro... keep living in the past and you’ll end up like Jan on this forum; laughed at by the majority for promoting falsehoods.

Jan Kruize's picture

Well Eric..... maybe you can tell me why a grip under that sony should cost 450 euro? Is there pure gold in it or something?

Eric Salas's picture

I’m not trying to fight, I’m bowing to your photography prowess.

It’s 317 euro not 450 grandpa. Your math skills are leaving you.

Jan Kruize's picture

I’m sorry mate... at least i can read.

Eric Salas's picture

You must like overpaying for things. You can also find overpriced items elsewhere but since you like pain go ahead and keep using that site, I’m sure nobody here will stop you.

Jan Kruize's picture

It's just the price for a A7RIV grip mate, i can't do anything about it. Ohh maybe you can buy it somewhere for 430,-. Every camerastore in the netherlands sells it for 450,-. Maybe you can advise me a store where people can buy it for 317,-?

Eric Salas's picture

Exchange rate dropped overnight so it’s even cheaper! Now you can finally use the camera in your profile pic someone called you out on a few weeks back!
Happy shopping Jan.

Jan Kruize's picture

That’s the one for a A7R3 sweetheart, we’re talking about the A7R4.

Eric Salas's picture

Ah, I’m sorry grandpa. Maybe they did put gold in it, you’ll never know unless you save up for one. Just mow some lawns or something. Show some initiative.

Don’t you have a EOS-R? Glad to see you’ve finally come to grips with the fact you wasted your money it.

Jan Kruize's picture

Yes i bought an eos-R with a grip, don’t like to waste money on a brand that looks big and glorious but what’s noting more than a toy for little boys.

Ying Chien's picture

There's advancements in autofocus technology in mirrorless that make it worth looking into,especially if you're shooting in live-view or video. The advanced eye-tracking feature is much more refined in mirrorless than it is in Canon (and non-existent in pre-Expeed6 Nikons).

Plus the ability to upgrade your features with just a firmware upgrade is pretty attractive.

Mirrorless isn't a scam. More of an evolution in camera tech that has some promising leads to make our jobs a little easier.

Eric Salas's picture

It’s not worth the effort. It’s the same old thing when DSLRs came out and all the film guys said digital would never be for professionals... they won’t listen and they’ll secretly convert over and make a new profile here after admitting their just stubborn.

The DSLR death has been predicted (and wished for by clueless people) since about 2011. And yet per CIPA numbers, DSLRs still outsell MILCs in 2019.
There are reasons for that.

Rod Kestel's picture

Behold, the Gartner Hype Cycle.

Rob Mitchell's picture

If the tool does the job the the owner bought it to do, Does it really matter how works?

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