Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?

Started Jan 4, 2014 | Discussions thread
Mike Fried
Mike Fried Senior Member • Posts: 1,618
There is still room for debate.

Colin Smith1 wrote:
Writers on the Luminous Landscape have stated their belief that the age of full frame DSLRs is coming to an end for basically two reasons. One, 16 meg micro 4/3s sensors have gotten very good in quality and noise reduction that they can now be printed to 16x20 (so why would anyone want the bulkier or heavier full frame DSLR ?) Second because the of the Sony mirror less full frame with excellent EVF.

4:3rds is a really interesting format, and the opportunities are exciting there, but the laws of physics around pixel sizes mean that APS-C, APS-H, and 35mm are progressively larger and *can* afford photographers optical features that 4:3rds sensors lack. If you want a 4:3rds sized image from a 35mm sized sensor, you are free to crop anywhere near the center of your photograph. The reverse is not true.

I know I still value the low light, high ISO of my Canon full frames and the high quality of the lenses, not to mention the obvious advantages of an optical viewfinder in low light or fast movement.. As a wildlife photographer nothing offered to date can match the tracking AF of my 5D III, certainly not the OM E1 or the Sony.

I have not used said bodies, but I imagine that good AF tracking is not limited to Canon, and the competition must have similar or better technology there.

On the other hand I wonder if I will always feel that way? At the age of 67 traveling around the world as I do with heavy gear is becoming more of a burden. If I ever do switch to a mirror less camera system, someone is going to have to make some good fixed focal length telephotos. As for now, I assume the excellent quality of my photos would be hard to give up.

I use a mirror-less iPhone 5 to take pictures all the time, usually from the higher quality camera on the back of the phone, but sometimes with the selfie camera. Some apps like 360 pano or the normal panorama mode make quick work of panorama stitching that simply can't be done with an SLR. The range of apps to do in-phone processing using many shots to compensate for the lack of a single still image. And there are a bunch of interesting photo related accessories. Sony's QX cameras for example, which use the iPhone / iPod / iPad / other remote device to do a wireless viewfinder. The camera's are currently small, fixed lens, fixed sensor, but that may change. WiFi is the new USB and this relatively high end compact is like a webcam for your phone. For $250 or $500, I call that an interesting camera. However, anyone with an EOS 70D or an EOS 6D has the remote WiFi shooting app from Canon.

Anyone think that the day is coming when even pros and advanced amateurs will be satisfied with a smaller, lighter mirror less system?

Yes. And there are new technologies being explored for consumer and professional use. For example: there are 3D cameras using either micro lens arrays or many sensors for computing focus after shooting. See Light field camera. There are balls of lenses that can shoot panoramas (Panono) - 108MP of cameras in a ball for a projected MSRP of about $600. The prototype pictures from the site are worth a look.

Mako2011 wrote:
Perhaps some has already been answered in the past...

....and FF DSLR's seem to still be here.

Sure. So are Medium Format Digital but they are more of a niche.

May just take a lot longer to find out where FF eventually ends up

I don't think FF or Medium Format Digital are going away. On Black Friday, I looked up the lowest price I could find for reputable EOS 6D camera specials for Black Friday, and found them in the range of $1500. Used EOS 5D Mk I and 5D Mk IIs, and some EOS 1Ds cameras are already below that on FredMiranda.

Here's my rationale for 35mm staying put: There are more players entering the market. At first, there was Canon, and then Nikon, and now Sony. Perhaps I missed some other players entering the market, too. I almost fully expect Canon to push out a 35mm Rebel at some point. The lenses are abundant. TTL hasn't really been replaced with EVF or AF in all situations. So long as there is a market that aspires to move up to the 35mm class camera, Canon, et all, will continue to sell them.


 Mike Fried's gear list:Mike Fried's gear list
Canon EOS 50D Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM +7 more
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