These types of stories always bring out the posts of DSLRs vs mirrorless. In fairness, we must acknowledge that technical advancements in mirrorless cameras benefit the industry as a whole and ultimately the consumer. But its premature to write the epitaph of DSLRs.
The current advantage of mirrorless is compactness and weight savings, but there is little cost advantage and DSLRs still produce superior images over a wider range of shooting situations (sports, low light shooting, current superiority of OVF vs EVF ).
As an owner of both types, I have personally experienced the advantages and limitations of both types of camera.
But it's hard to believe that mirrorless technology won't eventually find its way into the top level of cameras produced by Canon and Nikon. But for that the happen, ultimately, mirrorless technology must solve all of it's perceived weaknesses. Because in the final analysis, all that matters is the quality of the photos produced.
Simon Elwell: I've found that fewer people want to see good photos of events and places. I was at a wedding recently. For many years I've taken a camera to weddings, shooting the things that the official photographers don't - the people watching, the children playing etc. But everyone at this recent wedding had a smartphone - everyone was snapping away. Everyone had their own record.I posted my pictures on Flickr and the bride and groom were delighted with the alternative perspective - as is often the case; but I can't help feeling that most of the guests already had a smartphone version of what I'd shot - not as well composed, not as high res, not as ... well you name it. But enough to mean they're not interested in someone else's pictures.
I've had similar experiences. I wonder sometimes if I'm the only one carrying a dedicated camera to an event.
Even the most sophisticated of cameras have "program" mode. So I'm not sure if "complexity is the real issue--or is it bulk of some of these cameras and lack of convenience? Smart phone photos can usually be quickly posted to social media websites. No so with many of the higher end cameras.
I recently bought the first generation E-M10 and I love it. The EVF is very clear and shows the continue improvement in the technology. I find the auto focus satisfactory for my needs and the camera body is both compact and lightweight (but the body feels very sturdy). I also currently own a Nikon D610 which gives me suburb pictures--but the body is quite chunky and heavy (but I love the full frame sensor results)--but it is too heavy to carry on walking trips or for sight seeing.
There really is no longer such thing as an "all around camera" --different cameras for different needs and situations. But mirrorless is definitely making inroads to DSLRs. The truth of the matter that the small camera companies (at least those with smaller market share) innovate in the mirrorless area because THEY HAVE TO---in order to stay relevant.
But sooner or later, the DSLR titans Canon and Nikon will have to deal with this new technology in a serious way--"innovate or perish".
Undoubtedly, every story published on the issue of mirrorless vs DSLR capability is going to generate a lot of emotion in both camps. As an owner/user of both a DSLR (Nikon D610) and mirrorless (Olympus OM-D E-M10) its clear to me that the continual technological advances in mirrorless is closing the gap with DSLRs.
While DSLRs still do out sell mirrorless by roughly 2.5 to 1--its a bit premature to signal the burial of DSLRs. But as EVF's continue to improve both in low light use and refresh rate--the burden of weight and manufacturing costs are challenges that DSLR makers (principally Nikon and Canon) will have to confront---and the sooner the better.
Both Nikon and Canon do have legacy lens issues to deal with in terms of backwards compatibility with new technology. But as a history lesson, it is wise to remember that rangefinder cameras and TLRs went from dominance in the 1950's to virtual obsolescence.
No technology is sacrosanct.
Clearly, Sony's intent is to challenge Nikon and Canon in the full frame market. The question is how will these two titans respond to this challenge. Those companies with a smaller share of the camera market have had to innovate in order to stay relevant.
Currently DSLRs out sell mirrorless by 3.8 times--but the future of mirrorless lies in it cost of production and the ability to make smaller, lighter weight cameras. At present people don't buy mirrorless because of price savings or superior image quality (and superior viewfinder images). But as technology marches on, Canon and Nikon will have stay abreast by incorporating mirrorless technology. Otherwise, they will find themselves outflanked by Sony, Olympus, Fuji, Panasonic, etc . The same happened as digital progressed enough to challenge film cameras.
Ask Zeiss Ikon--which was a camera titan until competition and technology from Japan drove them from the camera market in 1972.
skysi: I'm sure an awesome camera, but the ugliness of it!
Ugly? Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I think it's a very handsome camera.
I think real convergence won't take place until electronic viewfinders reach full operational and capability parity with optical view finders. Owning both multiple DSLRs and multiple mirrorless cameras--each has it's pros and cons--but its clear (no pun intended) that electronic viewfinders---at present-- cannot operate effectively in low light situations.
I don't think any camera, in this day and age, is really an all purpose camera.
Marty CL: I think this a very interesting announcement and as Sony and other companies introduce other advancements--it's good for consumers and good for the industry as a whole. Since the 1920's---we've seen photography advance in similar fashions and we've seen winners (surviving companies) and losers (those who went out of business or were merged into bigger companies). It's just the way advances in technology works.
What is distressing is the increasingly angry posts--both in defense of mirrorless and criticism of DSLRs and the companies who make them.
As a user of both DSLRs and mirrorless---I appreciate BOTH systems for their respective advantages. But to claim that DSLR makers are in a death spiral is a bit premature. According to CIPA.JP, Jan- April DSLR shipments out number mirrorless by 3.8 times. With a smaller base, mirrorless will naturally show larger percent changes.
Very well said, 57even. There are formats which were popular in their day but now gone (TLR cameras) and brands which were household names over the last 90 years which are likewise out of the camera business---Contessa, Zeiss-Ikon, Voigtlander, Rollei, Konica, Yashica, Minolta--which folded for either economic reasons or failure to innovate.
As to your comment regarding Canon and Nikon---I think you are correct. I suspect that we'll see something along the lines of full frame mirrorless or some sort of innovation along with lines of more advanced pellicle mirrors. My guess is the former than than the latter--as much for economic reasons as technical. Both have millions of legacy lens users to think about.
I think this a very interesting announcement and as Sony and other companies introduce other advancements--it's good for consumers and good for the industry as a whole. Since the 1920's---we've seen photography advance in similar fashions and we've seen winners (surviving companies) and losers (those who went out of business or were merged into bigger companies). It's just the way advances in technology works.
Some of these points are well taken, but you've neglected another scenario: Many long term Nikon owners (and likewise Canon owners, to a lesser extent) own many fine AF lens from film days. In my case, my collection of several fine Nikkor lenses was an additional inducement to move to full frame. Owning both a D610 and Df, I have experienced first hand the quality of my lenses when paired with these full frame cameras.
With all of this said, I also own a Nikon D3200 18-55 VRII lens and a Nikon J1 with a 10 -30 lens. When size and weight are an issue, I've used these for convenience.
intruder61: @HowaboutRAW............"My biggest concern, though, was the image quality. While I wouldn't expect the X to match my DSLRs for autofocus, I do expect decent images and found the camera's DNG files to be inadequate. I often like to shoot subjects when back-lit or in high contrast lighting situations and have come to expect Raw files with enough latitude to work with, even in difficult lighting."..who cares how good the lens is.
Of course the lens matters. But Leica isn't' the only top quality lens. Nikkor, Canon, Zeiss also make excellent lenses. I would suspect that if the identical photo was taken using the above array of lenses---most viewers would be hard pressed to identify the lens of manufacturer.
With that said, if people want to spend their money on any brand of body or lens--regardless of price--that's their business. But in choosing one top notch system versus another--it's mostly about the hardware.
If readers want to justify their purchases by thinking their camera and lens take the worlds best pictures---well, so what. It's their money.
topstuff: What is about a Leica article that brings out the usual comments focused on the price?
And why doesn't this happen with other consumer goods - such as cars?
An Audi shares much of its components with a VW, yet people proudly spend the extra money for, essentially, the same product..
How many people complaining about Leica are at the same time making the opposite judgment about the car they drive?
It is not ironic that someone with an Audi A3 may complain about the price of a Leica? Surely, wouldn't they be smarter if they just bought a Golf?
Leica - Audi - whats the difference?
I think what has happened to Leica is similar to what has happened to Rolex. In both cases, their products were at one time at the technological peak of their respective industries.. Today, both are enormously expensive status symbols, but no longer at the forefront.
In specific regard to the Leica M, you rarely, if at all see them being used by professionals--yet for the cost of one, you can easily buy a top of the line Nikon or Canon pro model. Only well heeled amateurs can afford an M---and I wonder how many of them would dare risk their expensive cameras to the outside weather elements as well as risk of theft?
I suspect most of them end up in the hands of wealthy collectors--and indoors.
Marty4650: Here's why schemes like this fail.
Even though a few wealthy people will always be willing to pay astronomical sums for exclusivity, Hassleblad just doesn't have that sort of brand cache. It isn't Rolex. It isn't Hermes. It isn't Ferarri. It isn't even Leica in that regard.
So in order to sell things for ridiculous high prices, a product must be something that is:
1. very fashionable and exclusive. And this was butt ugly.2. very useful for high end pros who need it. Not a Sony NEX7.3. beautiful, that can be used for 50 years. Like a piano.4. rare and collectible. Not possible when something is in production.
And these Hassleblad rebrands are none of the above.
There is just now way to market a nice midrange camera for more than a Nikon D4s and sell very many copies. It won't take long before you run out of very stupid customers. Then you are stuck!
Well, in fact Hasselblad does have that sort of cache. But the cameras were, as everyone knows, simply rebadged Sonys----and so incredibly ugly that they were an embarrassment.
The Leica badged version probably will run about $1,400.
ironcam: How can Leica make a dslr with such a minimalist design, while Japanese dslr's have more buttons than an 80's stereo tower?
While an aesthetically pleasing design, it isn't likely that it has the appropriate features needed by today's ---especially those who earn a living taking photos. It seems that Leica M series cameras are purchased as collector pieces---assuming someone has over $7,000 to spend on a camera.
I certainly understand and appreciate the Leica mystique (owning two 1950's Leica III series cameras--which predates the "M" series and I own a Leica C-Lux 2 digital compact). But I wonder more and more just where the Leica digital M series fits in today's photographic world.
They are rarely used by professional photographers for photojournalism assignments (Nikon and Canon certainly monopolize that field) and at a price tag in excess of $7,000--they are beyond the reach of most mortals in terms of amateur use.
It is true that they are an aesthetically pleasing design but this seems aimed more at the well heeled collector.
Removing the viewfinder is a step backwards from the V2.
The Nikon "1" system has received a lot of (I think) unwarranted criticism. As an owner of a V2, I've been very happy with the photos and the fit and finish are quite nice. But I use this as a supplement to my D7100 as I feel the latter's overall capability is pretty tough to beat.
With this said, I think there are some valid criticisms of the Nikon "1" system---like other mirrorless cameras--they are pretty pricey. Secondly, in regards to the V3---I'm still scratching my head as to why the built in optical view finder was dropped in favor of the optional clip on unit. As far as I'm concerned, that was a step backwards.
One other point: I think in the case of both Nikon and Cannon--there is concern that more elaborate mirrorless cameras might cannibalize the DSLR market. I don't think either company is ready ---YET--to jettison mirror boxes in their flagship lines. Yet I suspect that in Nikon's case, the "1" series is a testing ground for future tech developments.
Beautiful and fascinating pictures. The viewer is almost transported back in time.