In Defense of the DSLR

Started Sep 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
Dennis Forum Pro • Posts: 17,990
Re: Just die already DSLRs

Beach Bum wrote:

Good rant

I've personally never contended that pros only use Canon or Nikon because they don't know any better, although that's certainly part of it.

I don't think pros are hooked on the technology so much as the system and its capabilities.  While there are undoubtedly some pros who could work with some mirrorless systems, a lot of pro work would not be handled well with what's out there yet.  And you need some serious motivation to get a pro, who has a working system, to want to switch to something unknown.  Compactness just isn't that compelling an argument to many.  For all the people whining over the weight of a DSLR, I recall standing at the Nikon booth at Photoplus Expo two years ago checking out some lens when a little, older man started chatting with me - a working pro, about 5'7" and thin, maybe in his 70's, who told me his favorite and most used lens is the 200/2.

The fact of the matter is, it's not like Canon or Nikon have any special sauce or special know-how of how to make DSLRs. The reason they're market leaders is because they cornered the market long ago, and now it's prohibitively expensive for any other manufacturer to compete. The only way for another manufacturer to compete in the camera business is to do something else. There's absolutely zero evidence that these two are innovators in any way, and I believe they're pretty much stifling the camera industry as a whole.

Very good all the way round.  Konica Minolta/Sony never had a chance - they got in the game too late.  Pentax, same deal.  You can't compete without the system and it's cost-prohibitive to flesh out the system without the market.  And even if you did, you're back, to the "why switch" question.

The innovation happening in these companies is conservative and focused squarely on their existing markets.  Lens technologies to keep doing the thinigs they've been doing better.  Nothing remotely like what the smartphone makers are doing, or even the mirrorless mfrs.  Nothing like Sony's RX or QX lines.  (Though you can make the argument that the Nikon 1 system is as innovative as the NEX system, just in different ways).

Also, the so-called professional isn't a driver of anything. There are far more average consumers than there are professionals. Canon and Nikon sit at the top only because the average consumer is aligned with the pro at the moment.

The consumer is also aligned with retail stores and not B&H and Nikon and Canon still have the most shelf space and are most readily recommended by any clerks at these stores.

People are fickle and often gravitate toward smaller models. The average consumer couldn't care less about the OVF vs EVF and which one provides a just ever so slightly greater visibility. In fact, I think all of the cool information overlayed on the EVF is what's more likely to catch the average consumer's eye. And lets not forget that budget DSLRs have crappy OVFs, and EVFs in this price segment may be great sight better (no pun intended) than OVFs.

Actually, I think that's the biggest thing that's been holding back mirrorless camera sales in the US.  The mirrorless models at prices that compete with entry level DSLRs do *not* have better VFs; they have NO VFs.  (Panasonic G series aside ... and that's a bit pricey and lacks good retail presence).  Sony's A3000 seems like a potentially good move ... $400 with a VF.  But it remains to be seen whether it's small enough (bigger than the Canon SL1, other than depth, and approaching Nikon D3100 size) and whether the EVF is acceptable (it's very low res and just sufficient for framing, from what I've read).

But that's where some focus needs to be.  The $500 market.  Mirrorless manufacturers seem to have assumed that the "point and shoot upgrader" just wants a better point & shoot, and it seems they prefer a DSLR.  When the entry level mirrorless offers more of what consumers want (primarily a VF in my opinion, but also something with a body style that differentiates itself from the little p&s they're upgrading from) then they'll sell more.  That, and whenever someone figures out how to provide the consumer with their cell-phone-simple workflow (sharing) in a good camera in a way that's not a kludge, then we'll see some sales.

What's going to keep most pros from going away from Nikon & Canon is:

  • Those companies will eventually introduce mirrorless cameras for their SLR lens mounts, providing the technical benefits of mirrorless (minus the size benefits of the reduced registration distance lens mount)
  • The size benefits of the reduced registration distance lens mount aren't all that significant unless you step down in sensor size and accept the compromises of doing that

- Dennis

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