Ricoh Executives Think Mirrorless Users Will Return to DSLRs in One or Two Years

Ricoh Executives Think Mirrorless Users Will Return to DSLRs in One or Two Years

As the market continues to swing towards mirrorless cameras, most people see it as a sign that DSLRs are on their way out. However, one camera company seems to believe that the mirrorless hype will be short-lived, with users flocking back to DSLRs in the near-future.

In a recent interview with Imaging Resource, Ricoh's Hiroki Sugahara (General Manager of the Marketing Communication Department, Global Sales and Marketing Center, Smart Vision Business Unit) discussed how mirrorless has affected DSLR sales and what he thinks of the future:

Currently, mirrorless is a newcomer, so of course, many users are very interested in the new systems; they want to use [them]. But after one or two years, some users who changed their system from DSLR to mirrorless [will] come back to the DSLR again.

Expanding on that, Sugahara said:

Because as I said before, each system has its own benefits or appealing points. The mirrorless camera is very convenient to shoot, because users can [see the] image before shooting. But, I believe the DSLR has its own appealing point, because users can create their own image from the optical viewfinder. People can see the beautiful image through the optical viewfinder, and then think how they can create their pictures — for example, exposure level setting, or white balance, or ISO — and then imagine how they can get [the photo they want]... So, the DSLR market is currently decreasing a little bit, but one year or two years or three years later, it will [start] getting higher.

Personally, I'm a bit flummoxed by this. While there is certainly a portion of photographers who are DSLR holdouts and don't see the need to switch to mirrorless, I have a hard time believing that any substantial fraction of those who are shooting mirrorless will choose to return to DSLRs. Furthermore, I find Sugahara's reasoning less than convincing. EVFs are getting better and better, and saying that people would prefer to guess at their exposures rather than see if they're correct in real-time seems a bit illogical. It's a shame, as I think Ricoh makes some great cameras; I loved the K-1 when I reviewed it and would have welcomed seeing those innovations in a mirrorless camera, but it doesn't sound like we will. 

What are your thoughts?

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Dave Palmer's picture

I'm currently shooting with the Sony a7 family. If I were to go to a mirrored camera it would probably be film. Maybe a Nikon F4 to go with all my old Nikkor MF lenses.

They are shooting themselves in the foot if they really believe that. I'm not excited about moving to mirror less in about 5 years simply because I don't want to buy more cameras and lenses. I see the benefits of mirror less and that is clearly where the market is headed. Hiroki Sugahara's statement is very short sighted.

I bought a top-of-the-line mirrorless in 2014 but found the menu difficult to use and the EV less than brilliant and have since sold all of my legacy lenses and adapters and gone back to DSLR. I have been a photographer, man and boy, since 1941!

marc gabor's picture

Personally I see reasons for both. Seeing how the image will look in the VF is incredible when shooting natural light but it's as big an advantage when shooting with strobes. For fast paced shooting and strobe work, I still prefer looking through an optical finder. Of course a hybrid finder would really be the best. Considering Fuji figured this out nearly 10 years ago I'm surprised we haven't seen anyone developing a hybrid SLR. I could imagine a system like the fujis where you press a button to go from optical to EVF or maybe a more modular system where you physically swap out the prism for an EVF like on the GFX50R

MILC is a one way, like happened to film...those think still better DSLR wil use like film in nowadays, but the majority will be MILC.

Richard Bradbury's picture

Even though I have zero interest in Mirror-less myself, this guy is way off base.

Why would Sony, Nikon, Canon etc be putting the £££££ in to the platform?

I'll play devil's advocate here, not because I'm a Pentax shooter but because I don't think it's an either-or proposition. What if Pentax (or any other camera manufacturer) simply allowed their camera to become mirrorless in live-view mode and mirrored in optical-viewfinder mode? It would, of course, incur the added cost of the mirror+prism, but wouldn't this approach be the best of both worlds?

That is how all DSLRs work. The question has nothing to do with mirror/no mirror, but EVF/EVF.

A DSLR and a MILC behave pretty much the same under live view, with the possible exception of PDAF.

It seems like there's some ambivalence would be an understatement....Let's see when Nikon releases the D6, or Canon EOD 1D; will it have a mirror, or an EVF or will it be a new SLR? Typically, the flagship is designed for professional function and the other pro/aficionado models will inherit those features. Look at the Nikon DF and see how retro does not set the trend.

Brandon Mount's picture

I never had a great optical viewfinder in my DSLRs. I had the original rebel, 60d, 70d, and 80d. Still managed to get great images without it. But now, with my G9, the VF is awesome, and I couldn't go back. Not to mention the other benefits of mirrorless M43 (for me and my shooting).

Kirk Darling's picture

Mirrorless cameras are merely technological evolution. Camera manufacturers have known since the 1950s that a furiously flapping mirror is a kludge that someday needed to go away, replaced by something more elegant. The fact that the furiously flapping mirror is now a very highly developed kludge does not make it not a kludge.

Having now used my EOS R on enough jobs to come to something of a conclusion on one point:

I don't think any mirrorless camera matches the best DSLRs in top still imaging performance primarily because of their high power requirements.

All of them have engineered performance compromises (some large, some small) to work around needing so much more power for every function.

Even at that, for example, since the 10D I have always run my DSLRs with battery grips primarily for the feel (my palms are large). In my normal daily use, I don't believe I've ever knocked a notch off the power meter with a fully loaded grip on the camera (it happens with video, but not with stills). With my EOS R, doing some of the exact same jobs, I normally go down half or 2/3ds. No, I'm not doing any of the power-saving settings because I'm trying to get maximum DSLR-like performance out of it. It's still not DSLR performance, and it still eats batteries at twice the rate.

Now, I can live with it because ultimately I don't really need 1D performance or even maximum 5D4 performance. Three or four frames per second is fast enough. I can live with the compromises. And for hybrid photo/video uses--such as mine--the EOS R is the current champion IMO.

But I don't think we will see a mirrorless 1D until Canon scores some kind of battery technology breakthrough so that the engineers can concentrate on absolute performance without compromise to power usage.

Andres Cifuentes's picture

Sounds like a massive case of denial.

Pham Anh's picture

I got the feel that this Ricoh guy's word and reason is not so convincing, to himself as well.
My theory is that Ricoh don't want to invest too much into a shrinking market.
People might return to DSLR and DSLR still got its position, as a niche market. Invest less and aim at niche market (like their new GRIII).

What possible benefit can a moving mirror bring back?

Anthony Cayetano's picture

Look at it this way, took a while, but film is slowly making a comeback. And don’t get me started with vinyl records... now where did I keep my CB radio?....

This is particularly odd coming from Ricoh/Pentax. The Pentax DSLRs have more of tge type of enhanced mirrorless functions than any other line of DSLRs. However, for a number of tgese, you are basically operating in mirrorless mode, the back panel screen your only option. And as more modern features, AI and Computational Photography, come to serious cameras, they pretty much all depend on being mirrorless.

I think Ricoh is just making excuses for Pentax being to small to do their own mirrorless system. And the fact their mirrorless K body was rejected by consumers.

Luis Rivadeneira's picture

No reason to make fun of what Mr. Sugahara said, I´m positive his opinion weighs more than yours or mine. As mentioned below, DSLRs can shoot mirrorless if you know what you are doing.