The real reason mirrorless exists

Started 10 months ago | Discussions
TrapperJohn
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The real reason mirrorless exists
10 months ago

Since the dslr vs mirrorless thing can take on the tones of a religious discussion at times, I thought I'd explore some ideas on why the mirrorless systems exist today. The size of the system is almost incidental to the real reason that the mirrorless market came to be.

Mirrorless exists for a very practical reason: a way to break the duopoly that C/N hold on the dslr market. No one else could compete with them, not because they were that much better, but because they held a near monopoly position with the existing base of owners and lenses. It would take something dramatic to get C/N owners to consider anything else. Several tried, including Sony blowing a fortune modernizing the Minolta platform. None succeeded.

C/N made the mirrorless market easy, by not improving the DSLR. Other than MP, ISO, and video, what you have today isn't dramatically more functional than what you had in 2004 or 2005, and really doesn't offer a lot of new thinking over the film SLR's of the 1990's. The bulk of the improvements that have been made to the DSLR: live view, tilt/swing LCD, touchscreen, IBIS, EVF's, etc... didn't come from C/N. They came from the outside companies trying to break into the market, to be copied by C/N when they proved viable.

It's no surprise that the companies that were trying to innovate to get a share of the DSLR market form the nucleus of the mirrorless market. They wanted to benefit from their innovations, without the two giants copying those ideas a year or two later and getting all of the profits. So they invented a system that C/N couldn't copy without invalidating the huge lens base that keeps them on top, one with a benefit that the DSLR couldn't offer: size. Thus, the genesis of the mirrorless market: to break the C/N stranglehold on the DSLR.

Meanwhile, C/N had a merry old time in the 2000's: hopscotching each other every year, to a chorus of 'canon is doomed', 'nikon is doomed' every time the one leaped past the other with a bit higher ISO and a few more MP, only to have the other do the same the next year. Almost as if they planned it that way...

So you may say - what's wrong with the DSLR? Why improve it? Why, indeed...

Look at the last year: in the mirrorless field, we have a radical A7 that pushes the envelope on body/sensor size, and a complete EM1 that represents the best that the mirrorless field has to offer: small size, very effective IBIS, fast AF, decent C-AF, wide range of very small and excellent lenses. A tiny Panasonic GM1 plus a small and feature laden GX7. An attractively priced Fuji XM1 and dramatically improved XE2 sporting the X-Trans sensor that Fuji chose not to bring to the DSLR world.

What have the market leaders done in the same time frame? A retro Df, that is very handsome but really doesn't improve any on its predecessors other than the obligatory stop ISO. A 70D that sports PDAF on sensor, that you can't use with normal shooting because there's a mirror in the way. That's not leading, that's milking an aging market for profit.

Why didn't Nikon make the A7? They're quite capable of it, and unlike Sony, they're capable of making lenses for it. But, they didn't, and Sony did. Why didn't Canon make the GX7 with its integrated EVF and sleek small size instead of the somewhat dull EOS-M? They're quite capable of doing that. But, they didn't, and Panasonic did.

Have C/N tried to blend the advantages of the EVF with the clarity of the OVF, using an overlay? No, they have not. They have stuck their heads in the sand and pretended that this isn't happening. This despite the fact that their products weren't recognized as 'camera of the year' last year (EM5) and won't be this year (A7 or EM1). What will be the breakout product of next year, and what are the chances it will have a Canon or Nikon name on it?

DSLR stalwarts may call this 'arrogance', I call it resting on past laurels, and forgetting what it took to rise to prominence. History is littered with prominent companies that failed because they rested on their near monopoly: IBM, Blackberry, and Microsoft is well on its way to joining that dubious club.

If the DSLR falls into obsolescence, it won't be because the design is outdated. It will be because the companies who own the DSLR market didn't keep it up to date.

Because, right now, all of the truly interesting developments are happening elsewhere, by companies other than Canon and Nikon.

Canon EOS 70D Fujifilm X-E2 Fujifilm X-M1 Nikon Df Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Sony Alpha 7
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meland
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to TrapperJohn, 10 months ago

TrapperJohn wrote:

Since the dslr vs mirrorless thing can take on the tones of a religious discussion at times, I thought I'd explore some ideas on why the mirrorless systems exist today. The size of the system is almost incidental to the real reason that the mirrorless market came to be.

Mirrorless exists for a very practical reason: a way to break the duopoly that C/N hold on the dslr market. No one else could compete with them, not because they were that much better, but because they held a near monopoly position with the existing base of owners and lenses. It would take something dramatic to get C/N owners to consider anything else. Several tried, including Sony blowing a fortune modernizing the Minolta platform. None succeeded.

C/N made the mirrorless market easy, by not improving the DSLR. Other than MP, ISO, and video, what you have today isn't dramatically more functional than what you had in 2004 or 2005, and really doesn't offer a lot of new thinking over the film SLR's of the 1990's. The bulk of the improvements that have been made to the DSLR: live view, tilt/swing LCD, touchscreen, IBIS, EVF's, etc... didn't come from C/N. They came from the outside companies trying to break into the market, to be copied by C/N when they proved viable.

It's no surprise that the companies that were trying to innovate to get a share of the DSLR market form the nucleus of the mirrorless market. They wanted to benefit from their innovations, without the two giants copying those ideas a year or two later and getting all of the profits. So they invented a system that C/N couldn't copy without invalidating the huge lens base that keeps them on top, one with a benefit that the DSLR couldn't offer: size. Thus, the genesis of the mirrorless market: to break the C/N stranglehold on the DSLR.

Meanwhile, C/N had a merry old time in the 2000's: hopscotching each other every year, to a chorus of 'canon is doomed', 'nikon is doomed' every time the one leaped past the other with a bit higher ISO and a few more MP, only to have the other do the same the next year. Almost as if they planned it that way...

So you may say - what's wrong with the DSLR? Why improve it? Why, indeed...

Look at the last year: in the mirrorless field, we have a radical A7 that pushes the envelope on body/sensor size, and a complete EM1 that represents the best that the mirrorless field has to offer: small size, very effective IBIS, fast AF, decent C-AF, wide range of very small and excellent lenses. A tiny Panasonic GM1 plus a small and feature laden GX7. An attractively priced Fuji XM1 and dramatically improved XE2 sporting the X-Trans sensor that Fuji chose not to bring to the DSLR world.

What have the market leaders done in the same time frame? A retro Df, that is very handsome but really doesn't improve any on its predecessors other than the obligatory stop ISO. A 70D that sports PDAF on sensor, that you can't use with normal shooting because there's a mirror in the way. That's not leading, that's milking an aging market for profit.

Why didn't Nikon make the A7? They're quite capable of it, and unlike Sony, they're capable of making lenses for it. But, they didn't, and Sony did. Why didn't Canon make the GX7 with its integrated EVF and sleek small size instead of the somewhat dull EOS-M? They're quite capable of doing that. But, they didn't, and Panasonic did.

Have C/N tried to blend the advantages of the EVF with the clarity of the OVF, using an overlay? No, they have not. They have stuck their heads in the sand and pretended that this isn't happening. This despite the fact that their products weren't recognized as 'camera of the year' last year (EM5) and won't be this year (A7 or EM1). What will be the breakout product of next year, and what are the chances it will have a Canon or Nikon name on it?

DSLR stalwarts may call this 'arrogance', I call it resting on past laurels, and forgetting what it took to rise to prominence. History is littered with prominent companies that failed because they rested on their near monopoly: IBM, Blackberry, and Microsoft is well on its way to joining that dubious club.

If the DSLR falls into obsolescence, it won't be because the design is outdated. It will be because the companies who own the DSLR market didn't keep it up to date.

Because, right now, all of the truly interesting developments are happening elsewhere, by companies other than Canon and Nikon.

What you say makes a lot of sense. However you perhaps ignore one factor that makes Canon and Nikon currently behave they the way they do and that is the decline in total digital camera sales.

Forget about the pros and cons of DSLRs and Mirrorless for a moment as this is not a discussion about their relative merits. What is at stake are two companies that recognise that, in this current downturn, being 'innovative' is not resulting in extra camera sales. Well that's not quite true, mirrorless manufacturers are poaching sales from each other and possibly also some from DSLRs - but all manufacturers are struggling in the one metric that really matters - profit.

So I think you'll find that Canon and Nikon are not being 'innovative' because they can't but because at the moment it carries no advantage. What I suspect both are doing is slowing down their product cycles and concentrating their resources on what they believe is going to happen over the next few years. Remember both have had their P&S markets decimated by camera phones and that is a big chunk of revenue gone. Also can you imagine the reorganisation necessary to restructure their workforce, utilise now redundant factories and to fill the gap in R&D revenue that came from P&S sales but which contributed to higher end cameras?

You argue that "If the DSLR falls into obsolescence, it won't be because the design is outdated. It will be because the companies who own the DSLR market didn't keep it up to date."  What I would say to that is what should they do to keep DSLRs up to date?  Remember DSLRs (on the back of SLRs of course) have had 50 years of development.  There is arguably not a lot more that can be done to them, unless you have some good ideas?  But certainly neither Canon or Nikon are going to dump all DSLRs right at the moment and cast their lot lock stock and barrel with some other format.  Not without a damn good idea of how the market is moving and that's certainly not at all clear yet.

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samfan
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to TrapperJohn, 10 months ago

The #1 reason for MILCs is: they're cheaper to produce than DSLRs while you can still sell them for more.

Sony and Samsung showed this the best when they abandoned their sensor-shake image stabilization systems (inherited from KM and Pentax) for in-lens IS for their MILC systems.

This way, you have to pay for IS with every new lens. Yay profits!

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John1940
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to TrapperJohn, 10 months ago

TrapperJohn wrote:

Since the dslr vs mirrorless thing can take on the tones of a religious discussion at times, I thought I'd explore some ideas on why the mirrorless systems exist today. The size of the system is almost incidental to the real reason that the mirrorless market came to be.

Mirrorless exists for a very practical reason: a way to break the duopoly that C/N hold on the dslr market. No one else could compete with them, not because they were that much better, but because they held a near monopoly position with the existing base of owners and lenses. It would take something dramatic to get C/N owners to consider anything else. Several tried, including Sony blowing a fortune modernizing the Minolta platform. None succeeded.

C/N made the mirrorless market easy, by not improving the DSLR. Other than MP, ISO, and video, what you have today isn't dramatically more functional than what you had in 2004 or 2005, and really doesn't offer a lot of new thinking over the film SLR's of the 1990's. The bulk of the improvements that have been made to the DSLR: live view, tilt/swing LCD, touchscreen, IBIS, EVF's, etc... didn't come from C/N. They came from the outside companies trying to break into the market, to be copied by C/N when they proved viable.

It's no surprise that the companies that were trying to innovate to get a share of the DSLR market form the nucleus of the mirrorless market. They wanted to benefit from their innovations, without the two giants copying those ideas a year or two later and getting all of the profits. So they invented a system that C/N couldn't copy without invalidating the huge lens base that keeps them on top, one with a benefit that the DSLR couldn't offer: size. Thus, the genesis of the mirrorless market: to break the C/N stranglehold on the DSLR.

Meanwhile, C/N had a merry old time in the 2000's: hopscotching each other every year, to a chorus of 'canon is doomed', 'nikon is doomed' every time the one leaped past the other with a bit higher ISO and a few more MP, only to have the other do the same the next year. Almost as if they planned it that way...

So you may say - what's wrong with the DSLR? Why improve it? Why, indeed...

Look at the last year: in the mirrorless field, we have a radical A7 that pushes the envelope on body/sensor size, and a complete EM1 that represents the best that the mirrorless field has to offer: small size, very effective IBIS, fast AF, decent C-AF, wide range of very small and excellent lenses. A tiny Panasonic GM1 plus a small and feature laden GX7. An attractively priced Fuji XM1 and dramatically improved XE2 sporting the X-Trans sensor that Fuji chose not to bring to the DSLR world.

What have the market leaders done in the same time frame? A retro Df, that is very handsome but really doesn't improve any on its predecessors other than the obligatory stop ISO. A 70D that sports PDAF on sensor, that you can't use with normal shooting because there's a mirror in the way. That's not leading, that's milking an aging market for profit.

Why didn't Nikon make the A7? They're quite capable of it, and unlike Sony, they're capable of making lenses for it. But, they didn't, and Sony did. Why didn't Canon make the GX7 with its integrated EVF and sleek small size instead of the somewhat dull EOS-M? They're quite capable of doing that. But, they didn't, and Panasonic did.

Have C/N tried to blend the advantages of the EVF with the clarity of the OVF, using an overlay? No, they have not. They have stuck their heads in the sand and pretended that this isn't happening. This despite the fact that their products weren't recognized as 'camera of the year' last year (EM5) and won't be this year (A7 or EM1). What will be the breakout product of next year, and what are the chances it will have a Canon or Nikon name on it?

DSLR stalwarts may call this 'arrogance', I call it resting on past laurels, and forgetting what it took to rise to prominence. History is littered with prominent companies that failed because they rested on their near monopoly: IBM, Blackberry, and Microsoft is well on its way to joining that dubious club.

You have written a fine post but it's also possible (and likely) that C/N are busily designing APS-C bodies with EVFs at the 700D and 70D part of the market. It's often better to be late and just do it better. If Canon comes out with a Rebel or 70D with EVF, I will buy it for sure. Why? Large viewfinder and better video. Also, all my Canon lenses will continue to be usable.

If the DSLR falls into obsolescence, it won't be because the design is outdated. It will be because the companies who own the DSLR market didn't keep it up to date.

Because, right now, all of the truly interesting developments are happening elsewhere, by companies other than Canon and Nikon.

John1940

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Ed B
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to samfan, 10 months ago

samfan wrote:

The #1 reason for MILCs is: they're cheaper to produce than DSLRs while you can still sell them for more.

Sony and Samsung showed this the best when they abandoned their sensor-shake image stabilization systems (inherited from KM and Pentax) for in-lens IS for their MILC systems.

This way, you have to pay for IS with every new lens. Yay profits!

I can understand how you feel but there are two trains of thought on image stabilization technology.

Many, many experts and professional photographers prefer lens stabilization over in-body stabilization.

Individual lens stabilization is considered more reliable and if there's ever a problem with the system, the problem will be with an individual lens and not the camera body.

You may also be surprised at the number of photographers who couldn't care less about image stabilization and only value it when they're using a long telephoto type lens without a tripod.

Everyone is different but most of your upper level camera bodies don't have in-body stabilization and there are good reasons for that.

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chkproductions
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to meland, 10 months ago

meland wrote:

So I think you'll find that Canon and Nikon are not being 'innovative' because they can't but because at the moment it carries no advantage.

I think the above is probably the most "real" reason Canon and Nikon don't jump on the "innovation" bandwagon.  For a good quality usable digital image, the amount of camera variations out there that can produce one is at this point excessive and it doesn't matter the technology in the camera the image comes from.  Canon and Nikon are probably not worried about "innovation" which is really just tweaking something that already exists, but are more worried about their core market - aging photo hobbyists.

Mirrorless probably came about by a bunch of meetings that were held where the topic was more along the lines of "hey, the age of the people that still use a DSLR type camera is increasing, they can't carry all that heavy DSLR equipment anymore, so let's design something that weighs less and is smaller.  How do we do that so we can continue to sell to them?"  I don't think it came about because it was a better way but was just a more convenient camera for its market.

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Mike CH
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There is a short-circuit in popular economic thinking...
In reply to TrapperJohn, 10 months ago

That being: Innovation automatically equals earning more money.

This is not so.

It is neither a necessary nor a sufficient precondition. You can earn more money (or money at all, in the worst case) without innovative, new products. And you can have innovative, new products without earning an extra cent.

Out of 100 new products on the market in a given year, between 1 and 10 go on to actually turn a long-term profit for the producer (statistically seen, across many markets). The rest disappear again.

This is one of the reasons that established product lines evolve and don't attempt revolutions in most cases. It is too much of a gamble and a risk.

It is also the reason why products trying to break into a market often profits from being innovative. It is enough of a gamble to be worth it.

Regards, Mike

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samfan
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to Ed B, 10 months ago

Ed B wrote:

I can understand how you feel but there are two trains of thought on image stabilization technology.

In-lens IS has its advantages, but they're all related solely to DSLRs: 1) stabilized fiewfinder, 2) stabilized PD focus points, 3) ability to use on film bodies. Neither is relevant with MILCs.

Not true that high-end bodies don't offer IBIS. Olympus had IBIS since E-1, still has in E-M1. Pentax has IBIS since forever in all bodies, together with Samsung eqivalents. Konica Minolta had it at least in 5D/7D (the latter being a high-end body) as well as Sony A700 (not sure about the later ones or A900). Even Panasonic has seen the light with GX7. Canon and Nikon are the only ones resisting, now rejoined by Sony and Samsung.

The cost of adding IBIS is apparently negligible, while IS/VR in lens is pricey. But most importantly, IBIS works with every lens, even old manual focus ones. Of course all that goes against manufacturers who would prefer to sell you new expensive lenses, IS in every one, rather than you using some old lenses from eBay. And if IS is not feasible with some lens, well they'll be happy to sell you a new camera with more MPx and higher ISO instead of IBIS

I'm such a cynic.

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HappyVan
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Flawed Proposition
In reply to TrapperJohn, 10 months ago

Rather looks like an excuse for the existence of some MILC brands.

First, Canikon does innovate. Nikon is the driving force in the Sony-Nikon sensor partnership. Currently, Sonikon sensors are the world leaders in ILC.

The D100 had a five-point AF system. Today, the D7100 has the 51-point AF system used also for the pro cameras. All at a fraction of the price. Don't forget the color tracking system.

The OVF may not have had significant developments. But, every electronic system has seen substantial improvements.

Second, MILC brands are woefully short of innovations. Nikon One has effective on-sensor PDAF. Oly has its IBIS. Fuji has its high-end hybrid VF. Other than that, MILC manufacturers are largely buying components off the shelf.

The main priority of MILC has been miniaturization while innovation has been secondary. Not surprising since true innovation requires serious money.

The dinosaurs continue to dance because the new comers haven't crossed the value threshold. It is not enough for MILC to be smaller whilst only better in some aspects.

MILC has to be a lot better than DSLR. Enough to overcome Canikon's advantage in economies of scale (after decades of development).

So far, we have not seen the revolution. Unless the small brands improve their game big time, the reason for their existence becomes untenable. That is the message from the market.

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MoreorLess
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to TrapperJohn, 10 months ago

TrapperJohn wrote:

Have C/N tried to blend the advantages of the EVF with the clarity of the OVF, using an overlay? No, they have not. They have stuck their heads in the sand and pretended that this isn't happening.

Nonsense, both Canon and Nikon have failed patents for this kind of tech, the question is whether there is demand for it, if so I expect you'll see it in the coming years.

This despite the fact that their products weren't recognized as 'camera of the year' last year (EM5) and won't be this year (A7 or EM1). What will be the breakout product of next year, and what are the chances it will have a Canon or Nikon name on it?

Of course many a potential "breakout product" tends to become a "snazzy new bit of tech that got hype on the net but never generated high level sales", looking at the A7 so far it hardly seems to be setting the world alight.

DSLR stalwarts may call this 'arrogance', I call it resting on past laurels, and forgetting what it took to rise to prominence. History is littered with prominent companies that failed because they rested on their near monopoly: IBM, Blackberry, and Microsoft is well on its way to joining that dubious club.

IBM and Microsoft are "failures"? again this is the danger of listening to net hype rather than focusing on economic realites.

If the DSLR falls into obsolescence, it won't be because the design is outdated. It will be because the companies who own the DSLR market didn't keep it up to date.

As has been point out the DSLR is a design that's already decades old, how many personal transport "innovations" that where sposed to kill the car appeared and failed?

Because, right now, all of the truly interesting developments are happening elsewhere, by companies other than Canon and Nikon.

Again theres a difference between "interesting" and "useful/profitable".

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Sonyshine
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to TrapperJohn, 10 months ago

You only have to look at Nokia, Blackberry, Kodak, General Motors, Chrysler, Norton, BSA, Austin, Morris  to see what happens to huge corporations who sit back, take their customers for granted and fail to see the competition looming large in their rear view mirrors....

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Ed B
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to samfan, 10 months ago

samfan wrote:

Ed B wrote:

I can understand how you feel but there are two trains of thought on image stabilization technology.

In-lens IS has its advantages, but they're all related solely to DSLRs: 1) stabilized fiewfinder, 2) stabilized PD focus points, 3) ability to use on film bodies. Neither is relevant with MILCs.

I have to disagree with you here but that's not a big deal. Lens stabilization works better than in-camera and, as a side note, is much easier to turn on and off when the switch is  located on the lens instead of in a menu. Naturally, that wouldn't make much difference to most people.

Not true that high-end bodies don't offer IBIS. Olympus had IBIS since E-1, still has in E-M1. Pentax has IBIS since forever in all bodies, together with Samsung eqivalents. Konica Minolta had it at least in 5D/7D (the latter being a high-end body) as well as Sony A700 (not sure about the later ones or A900). Even Panasonic has seen the light with GX7. Canon and Nikon are the only ones resisting, now rejoined by Sony and Samsung.

I didn't say that no high end bodies used in-camera stabilization. I said that most don't. I don't want to sound like a snob but Konica/Minolta went out of business and I don't consider Panasonic or Samsung as companies that make high end bodies. They make good cameras but they simply aren't high end professional equipment.

The Canon 7D does not have in-camera image stabilization and neither does the EOS 5D. Canon uses lens stabilization.

The top-of-the-line Sony does have in-camera image stabilization.

The cost of adding IBIS is apparently negligible, while IS/VR in lens is pricey. But most importantly, IBIS works with every lens, even old manual focus ones. Of course all that goes against manufacturers who would prefer to sell you new expensive lenses, IS in every one, rather than you using some old lenses from eBay. And if IS is not feasible with some lens, well they'll be happy to sell you a new camera with more MPx and higher ISO instead of IBIS

I'm such a cynic.

Yes, in body image stabilization is valuable to the hobbyist who uses old manual focus lenses and I never meant to say there weren't good reasons for some people to prefer it over lens stabilization. I only said there are two trains of thought on the subject and that many people buying upper level (pro level?) cameras prefer lens stabilization.

Then again, there's a lot to be said about ensuring your shutter speed is properly set to avoid the need for image stabilization.

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David Hull
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to John1940, 10 months ago

John1940 wrote:

TrapperJohn wrote:

Since the dslr vs mirrorless thing can take on the tones of a religious discussion at times, I thought I'd explore some ideas on why the mirrorless systems exist today. The size of the system is almost incidental to the real reason that the mirrorless market came to be.

Mirrorless exists for a very practical reason: a way to break the duopoly that C/N hold on the dslr market. No one else could compete with them, not because they were that much better, but because they held a near monopoly position with the existing base of owners and lenses. It would take something dramatic to get C/N owners to consider anything else. Several tried, including Sony blowing a fortune modernizing the Minolta platform. None succeeded.

C/N made the mirrorless market easy, by not improving the DSLR. Other than MP, ISO, and video, what you have today isn't dramatically more functional than what you had in 2004 or 2005, and really doesn't offer a lot of new thinking over the film SLR's of the 1990's. The bulk of the improvements that have been made to the DSLR: live view, tilt/swing LCD, touchscreen, IBIS, EVF's, etc... didn't come from C/N. They came from the outside companies trying to break into the market, to be copied by C/N when they proved viable.

It's no surprise that the companies that were trying to innovate to get a share of the DSLR market form the nucleus of the mirrorless market. They wanted to benefit from their innovations, without the two giants copying those ideas a year or two later and getting all of the profits. So they invented a system that C/N couldn't copy without invalidating the huge lens base that keeps them on top, one with a benefit that the DSLR couldn't offer: size. Thus, the genesis of the mirrorless market: to break the C/N stranglehold on the DSLR.

Meanwhile, C/N had a merry old time in the 2000's: hopscotching each other every year, to a chorus of 'canon is doomed', 'nikon is doomed' every time the one leaped past the other with a bit higher ISO and a few more MP, only to have the other do the same the next year. Almost as if they planned it that way...

So you may say - what's wrong with the DSLR? Why improve it? Why, indeed...

Look at the last year: in the mirrorless field, we have a radical A7 that pushes the envelope on body/sensor size, and a complete EM1 that represents the best that the mirrorless field has to offer: small size, very effective IBIS, fast AF, decent C-AF, wide range of very small and excellent lenses. A tiny Panasonic GM1 plus a small and feature laden GX7. An attractively priced Fuji XM1 and dramatically improved XE2 sporting the X-Trans sensor that Fuji chose not to bring to the DSLR world.

What have the market leaders done in the same time frame? A retro Df, that is very handsome but really doesn't improve any on its predecessors other than the obligatory stop ISO. A 70D that sports PDAF on sensor, that you can't use with normal shooting because there's a mirror in the way. That's not leading, that's milking an aging market for profit.

Why didn't Nikon make the A7? They're quite capable of it, and unlike Sony, they're capable of making lenses for it. But, they didn't, and Sony did. Why didn't Canon make the GX7 with its integrated EVF and sleek small size instead of the somewhat dull EOS-M? They're quite capable of doing that. But, they didn't, and Panasonic did.

Have C/N tried to blend the advantages of the EVF with the clarity of the OVF, using an overlay? No, they have not. They have stuck their heads in the sand and pretended that this isn't happening. This despite the fact that their products weren't recognized as 'camera of the year' last year (EM5) and won't be this year (A7 or EM1). What will be the breakout product of next year, and what are the chances it will have a Canon or Nikon name on it?

DSLR stalwarts may call this 'arrogance', I call it resting on past laurels, and forgetting what it took to rise to prominence. History is littered with prominent companies that failed because they rested on their near monopoly: IBM, Blackberry, and Microsoft is well on its way to joining that dubious club.

You have written a fine post but it's also possible (and likely) that C/N are busily designing APS-C bodies with EVFs at the 700D and 70D part of the market. It's often better to be late and just do it better. If Canon comes out with a Rebel or 70D with EVF, I will buy it for sure. Why? Large viewfinder and better video. Also, all my Canon lenses will continue to be usable.

If the DSLR falls into obsolescence, it won't be because the design is outdated. It will be because the companies who own the DSLR market didn't keep it up to date.

Because, right now, all of the truly interesting developments are happening elsewhere, by companies other than Canon and Nikon.

John1940

The same is true for Mirrorless in general.  There is nothing stopping C/N from jumping in, in fact, they already have.  I would love to see a smaller, lighter FF body that would work with the Canon lens set I already have.  I doubt that I am alone in this regard.  IMO, the mirrorless market will really take off, when the mirrorless cameras actually do render the DSLR obsolete.  That will happen when the mirrorless cameras can do everything that the DSLR can do as well or better than the DSLR can do it.  I am not sure we are too far away from this.

I agree with the OP but I wouldn't write off C/N or underestimate the power of their installed base.

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007peter
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as a "BUYER" the only reason is SIZE/PORTABILITY
In reply to TrapperJohn, 10 months ago

There are many reasons for mirrorless to exist (cheaper to produce, out flank canon/nikon monopoly, etc...) but as a "BUYER" - the single most important criteria is SIZE & PORTABILITY. But once the Size + Price of mirrorless exceed that of a DSLR (GH3, EM1), then the plot is lost for me.

I don't understand incessant DSLR vs MIRRORLESS war in DPR; they're just tools.

I'm a DSLR fan, but a Mirrorless Shooter because I don't want to carried the extra weight.  But here in DPR, you're forced to pick a camp.

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WD
WD
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to Sonyshine, 10 months ago

Sonyshine wrote:

You only have to look at Nokia, Blackberry, Kodak, General Motors, Chrysler, Norton, BSA, Austin, Morris to see what happens to huge corporations who sit back, take their customers for granted and fail to see the competition looming large in their rear view mirrors....

Exactly.

The "real reason" that mirrorless exists, is that the design template allows for more features, higher fps, better video capability, in for many a smaller, more comfortable package with potentially greater reliability & lower production cost.  A path to the future.

Today's DSLR is the culmination of many years development.  Better than ever!  But, the design template prevents it from progressing much further.  To keep pace, the flipping mirror must go.  Mirrorless....get it?

If you want a FF D800 sized body to mount all your legacy lenses, you can have one.  That classic 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood with its vinyl top & huge V8 gets lots of looks at a car show.  But then the audience climb into their AWD Audi, their FWD Honda or Turbo-charged Jetta and head home.

The times, they are a-changin'.

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samfan
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to Ed B, 10 months ago

Ed B wrote:

I only said there are two trains of thought on the subject and that many people buying upper level (pro level?) cameras prefer lens stabilization.

Yes, it's a topic for a very very long discussion with no real resolution.

I use Nikon equipment and the fact that they only support in-lens VR pissses me off. Yea, sure, in-lens VR may fare better in some situations. That's great for Nikon who can sell another 70-200 VR to a pro for more and more money after the old lens breaks for having so much stuff inside. It doesn't really help me if I want to use 50/1.8 in light so low I have to use 1/10s (even if I'd be using using the latest version and not one from grandpa). BTW pros can't really 'prefer' ILIS since most pros don't have a choice anyway
But even if the CaNikon duopoly has a legacy not to budge in this, the fact that Sony and Samsung chose not to provide IBIS even as an option in their MILC system is quite telling. Especially after they had/have IBIS in their DSLR systems.So I still think... Those who couldn't figure out how to sell DSLRs (i.e. everyone except CaNikon) are trying to sell cheaper-to-make MILCs as expensively as possible. In-lens stabilisation is just one of the drops in this bucket

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John1940
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to Sonyshine, 10 months ago

Sonyshine wrote:

You only have to look at Nokia, Blackberry, Kodak, General Motors, Chrysler, Norton, BSA, Austin, Morris to see what happens to huge corporations who sit back, take their customers for granted and fail to see the competition looming large in their rear view mirrors....

In around 1978-79 after Intel came out with the 8086 16-bit CPU, several other vendors, such as Zilog, Motorola and National Semiconductor, came up with better ones (in terms of architecture at least). It seemed that Intel would soon bite the dust because it was "sitting back" and enjoying high sales. I was working in a company in which we almost went with Zilog's Z8000 and then chose Motorola's 68000, with my total agreement. Big mistake, among several others. Intel's Andy Grove had a simple motto: only the paranoid survive. Even Apple ultimately went with Intel many years later (instead of Motorola). What's in your computer? Probably Intel.

It's not easy to generalize accurately--even in hindsight. Look at all the minicomputer vendors. They were all innovative. IBM survived. So did Apple. They were innovative in different ways. They survived a very bumpy road.

It'll be interesting to see if Windows 8 will compete successfully in tablets. My wife uses and likes an Asus tablet with the Android OS. Asus has also come out with a Windows 8 tablet version that has the latest Atom CPU from Intel. It's a bit under powered (speed-wise) for my liking and needs no fan. It comes with Office 2010 trial version, which has significant business appeal to me. And, there are many apps. Microsoft and Nokia have a lot riding on Windows 8.

John1940

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sportyaccordy
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to John1940, 10 months ago

Exactly. Honda and Toyota do the same exact thing. A lot of folks were quick to rush into direct injection for example, and that was rife with problems. Eventually they figured out they need to combine direct injection with port injection. Honda and Toyota's first DI cars had port injection too. Why rush into unknown territory when your competitors will and will make all the mistakes/do all the research for you?

People keep screaming about "innovation"... who cares? All the "innovative" companies are a couple quarters away from shutting down. They haven't been profitable in years nor have they made any endroads in converting the masses despite their innovations. So why should CaNikon rush into the segment?

I think the best moves for CaNikon are to:

  • Create mirrorless bodies that use their existing mounts and are somewhere between MILCs and DSLRs in size.
  • Jump into the cameraphone foray to claw back lost market share from cameraphones.

New platforms are not worth making at this point in the game for the two manufacturers with the most market share and the most cameras sold.

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MichaelKJ
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Re: as a "BUYER" the only reason is SIZE/PORTABILITY
In reply to 007peter, 10 months ago

007peter wrote:

There are many reasons for mirrorless to exist (cheaper to produce, out flank canon/nikon monopoly, etc...) but as a "BUYER" - the single most important criteria is SIZE & PORTABILITY. But once the Size + Price of mirrorless exceed that of a DSLR (GH3, EM1), then the plot is lost for me.

Yep. Smaller size and weight are the only true innovations that have made mirrorless viable up to this point. The other developments represent steady improvements in EVF, sensor technology, etc. For example, the E-M1 isn't innovative. Rather, it represents the result of engineers successfully tackling obvious shortcomings of the original m43 cameras and lenses.

However, as others have noted, continued technological improvements could result in most DSLRs becoming mirrorless cameras that are similar in size and function to DSLRs.

I don't understand incessant DSLR vs MIRRORLESS war in DPR; they're just tools.

I'm a DSLR fan, but a Mirrorless Shooter because I don't want to carried the extra weight. But here in DPR, you're forced to pick a camp.

There is nothing wrong with debating the relative merits of the two formats.  Unfortunately, too many people can't get past their emotional attachment to one format and feel the need to defend their preference by bashing the other side.

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Dave Hanson
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Re: The real reason mirrorless exists
In reply to samfan, 10 months ago

samfan wrote:

Not true that high-end bodies don't offer IBIS. Olympus had IBIS since E-1, still has in E-M1.

One minor quibble here: the E-1 did not have image stabilization; all other Olympus bodies since have it.

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