DPReview opinion piece on decline of DSLR

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by DeeJayK, Jun 19, 2015.

  1. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    DPReview posted an editorial titled "The future of DSLR or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the ILC" written by one of their senior reviewers, Richard Butler. It doesn't contain any particular insight that shocked me, nor is is particularly insightful, but I found it an interesting read nonetheless.

    His basic arguments are that the presumed advantages of the DSLR (primarily AF speed and tracking) are being chipped away by mirrorless competitors (he mentions particularly the Samsung NX1 and Sony a7R II). He stops short of predicting the demise of the SLR design noting that they retain some inherent advantages (battery life, optical viewfinders, low-light AF performance), but he predicts that the days of DSLRs dominating sales charts are waning.

    Oddly he has mostly harsh remarks for Olympus, saying that the company's positioning of their ILC cameras as a step-up from point-and-shoots "hasn't been terribly successful." He also barely mentions Panasonic except when noting that the G1 defined the mirrorless category.
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  2. exakta

    exakta Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 2, 2015
    Why do I find the popular term ILC ridiculous...it encompasses not only DSLRs but everything from view cameras to a Nikonos.

    Thx for the link.
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  3. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    As you say - nothing new here.

    However, I suspect the latest Sony A7s will be the turning point for mirrorless in beating back the Canikon dominance. u43 with its smaller sensor was never going to convince a sufficiently large part of the camera-buying public to switch, but the Sony has removed that barrier. If they sort out the native lens range, then I think they'll become the new Canon/Nikon.
  4. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    If the sony does prove to work fine with the canon lens adaptor, they might not need to worry about their native lens range as much.
  5. skellington

    skellington Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 4, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    There's nothing to stop Canon and Nikon from removing the mirror for cost reasons, and having all of their lens inventory continue to work. (He points out they effectively operate this way in video modes.)

    They might come out with something like m4/3 vs 4/3, with slightly shorter lenses (and an adaptor for the old ones), but it won't save much size for a full frame lens.

    So I wouldn't count out Canon / Nikon so soon. But I do think there's only going to be room for one other major player. I hope it's mu43 rather than Sony or Samsung.
  6. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    I think that Butler is mostly right, coming from a DSLR viewpoint.

    I agree that the A7R II is a turning point camera and it will attract a lot of DSLR users. It helps that there have been a number of really good Zeiss and Sony lenses added lately as well.

    I think that he is right here as well. The PEN line and some of the earlier lenses had too many bodies, some of which were clearly P&S step up cameras. I think that Olympus corrected this with the E-M1 (and E-M5 ii) along with their Pro series of lenses. Sadly, it was long in the game before Olympus started adding better glass and bodies. Panasonic has similarly situated, they produce a number of bodies but it has only been the GH2 - GH4 that has created a substantial following outside of the hard core :mu43: community.

    I don't want to get into an A7 vs. :mu43: discussion because I am glad that we have both systems. I hope that the emergence of the A7 system as the current "hot" system helps mirrorless and does not take sales away from :mu43:. Now that Olympus is establishing a Pro/Enthusiast series of bodies and lenses and Panasonic continues to push video/hybrid along :mu43:'s natural advantage, size and weight, that :mu43: sales will strengthen. I do wonder how the APS-C mirrorless cameras will fare with the A7 emergence now that they are no longer the largest sensor in the mirrorless group.
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  7. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    It seemed that every article I have read that revolves around the demise of the DSLR and the rise of mirrorless based on the fact that somehow and someday, these people will wake up to the fact that mirrorless is better than DSLR - hoping year over year that this time will change and sales will rise. Well, it's been like what 4 years now and what do they have to show for?!? But tell me honestly; how is mirrorless better than DSLR? Image quality are about the same which the DPreview illustrated. AF speed is going pretty close to par if not already with DFD and Firmware 3.1 with the E-M1. And YET, sales in 2015 are shrinking for both mirrorless and DSLR; a fact it seemed that this reviewer seemed to shrug off. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out Sony's sale is doing well. If they keep offering $300 to $600 off, at least in my town, every two months or so year over year, you get sales. Lots of sales; but what is being affirmed is that, people will only buy a DSLR or a mirrorless when they are discounted, refurbished or used. How is that make the DSLR and mirrorless market any better compared to an Apple iPhone 6/Galaxy S6 which are both selling like hotcakes at premium prices (no deep discounts necessary).

    How do you recover from sales decline? I am not convinced mirrorless is the key, because all it does is shrink the size of the camera. Canon and Nikon both realized this, because a full frame lens for mirrorless will still be as big and heavy as a full frame DSLR lens at the longer focal lengths. I'm still convinced it is with software not hardware, because what Smartphones have that mirrorless and DSLR don't have is the software apps aspect of it that Android and iOS have all along.

    Most of us are nostalgic to the fact that we grew up shooting with a camera with a viewfinder and dials and buttons. The new generation grew up shooting with apps. They don't associate viewfinders, dials and buttons and mysets and changing lenses at all. They associate with apps and what DXO One has demonstrated that you can perhaps achieve DSLR quality as least in terms of the look and feel of it through software manipulation. Since Apple and Google are very good in development software (not any Japanese camera makers), I suspect this will be the demise of both the DSLR and mirrorless when the camera multi-array hardware on camera phones become good enough for high resolution, multi-field of view and aperture capable. And it's NOT so far than you think.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2015
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  8. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Canon and Nikon execs have stated that mirrorless sales will exceed dslr sales in 2017 and that they have to produce competing products. I think it's crazy that they haven't already because all they have to do is release something a7 like and that would be the end of Sony, Fuji, olympus and Panasonic DSLRs. But then again, Gm laughed at Japanese cars until they went bankrupt.

    Regardless, good times for photographers.... More choices than ever for another 5 years at least. I have to admit though, that I don't want to move to big, full-frame size lenses. M43 is perfect, if they could just produce a slightly less noisy image in low light.
  9. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Smartphones, which are a form of mirrorless cameras, have exceeded both DSLR and mirrorless sales combined. Since almost 90% of sales for both mirrorless and DSLR come from the $300 to $600 price category, I just don't see how this could be unless they are suggesting they will be bring out their own version. But to me, it's a little too late. Mirrorless from Canon and Nikon will need a new mount and new lenses. The current generation of PDAF lenses are not compatible with mirrorless design. We know this from Olympus experience and nobody like adapters unless they're forced to use it.
    And most of the mirrorless offerings today are at the upper echelon of $1000 to $3000; not what 90% of the population are thinking of spending. If they want to spend $1000 to $3000 on a camera, they will put more priority on an iPhone/Android than on mirrorless. Most people consider owning a mirrorless as a secondary camera to their own DSLR or smartphone because of its size and weight advantage. That's all. Mirrorless offers no other advantages, not in the apps department because this is what is needed. What mirrorless has done is prolong the agony and decline of the traditional photography tool; which is a camera.

    Modern photography is not about a camera with a viewfinder, lenses and dials and buttons. It's a DXO One with a touch interface and access to millions of apps.
  10. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    I thought the article was quite shallow and confused. All of the talk about image quality, video, sensors, etc. is based on the mistaken idea that these parameters are somehow related to the design of the camera chassis. DSLRs, Mirrorless, Cell Phones, etc. can all use whatever technology that the camera marketer chooses. Some technologies are more expensive, hence are used only in higher-end chassis. Some chassis are limited to relatively small sensors, and hence have performance limited by the sensor size (low light, for example). But an M43 DSLR and an M43 mirrorless chassis can certainly have the same technology and achieve the same image performance. Similarly a full-frame or even medium-format DSLR and mirrorless chassis can also have the same technology and achieve the same performance.

    About the only thing in the article that really spoke to the chassis difference was the observation that because the sensor in a mirrorless camera must be powered continuously, mirrorless is at a disadvantage for battery life. To an extent, his point about viewfinders also differentiates the chassis but I think that is a relatively temporary thing.
  11. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee Subscribing Member

    May 3, 2013
    Here's a terrible chart I just made. The numbers are made-up, there is no source. This is my view of the camera market.

    Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 8.33.03 AM.png

    Prior to the smart phone boom, these were all part of the market for Olympus, Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc.

    Now, the first two categories -- Everyone and Movers -- are 100% taken care of by their smart phones. People who wouldn't have even bothered to buy a camera now have a camera and take photos. These groups are wiped out as far as target markets for dedicated camera manufacturers.

    The last two groups -- Hobbyists and Professionals -- are relatively constant, but they're also minuscule comparatively. There will always be people who do photography as a passion. The Hobbyist group is not going away. The Professional group may be struggling right now, just because of the decreased value of photography for certain markets that used to pay (newspapers), but this is still a pretty constant market. People will always need professional photography, this market isn't disappearing and is not the reason you see decreasing camera sales year after year. Importantly, I don't see either of these markets growing. The demand for Professionals is definitely not going up, and the barrier of entry for Hobbyists (costs, skills) is likely to keep it a niche group.

    It's the middle market -- the Spenders -- that are slowly away and creating this gradual decline in the overall camera market. These are the folks who think, "I need to take better photos because (I'm having a baby/I'm going on a vacation/I'm getting married/whatever)," and instinctively buy a DSLR with a kit lens but never learn to use it. This market is, by my guess, shrinking. They'll find that an iPhone will return better images than their DSLR because they've not learned to use the DSLR and not learned post processing. They'll find no one looks at photos taken with these cameras because they're not effortlessly linked to social media. The culture of this market is dying, but they're probably the best hope for camera manufacturers, at least in terms of growth.

    No manufacturer is successfully addressing the two points I've put in bold above. Faster autofocus for mirrorless cameras is irrelevant to this market. Not that they wouldn't benefit from faster autofocus, but it's a point that's not even on their mind and certainly not a reason they aren't buying. Neither is sensor size, or ISO performance, EVF vs. OVF, battery life, or lens selection. All of these improvements are the manufacturers battling for Hobbyists and Professionals.

    It makes sense, in that Hobbyists and Professionals are the most constant markets, perhaps the only markets that will survive. But it's pretty short-sighted and insular. It is conceding the vastly-larger chunks of the photography market -- Everyone, Movers, Spenders -- to smart phones and stubbornly in-fighting over the remaining scraps.

    The only new market added the picture is Videographers. It's probably as small a market as the Hobbyists, but at least it's new.
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  12. exakta

    exakta Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 2, 2015
    Those numbers have always been true (in the USA anyway). There was something of a disconnect in the late 1970s when Canon followed the hi-fi world's lead to go mass market with TV ads, etc. That led to more amateurs buying SLRs than ever before. Prior to that when you went into a department store you'd find Kodak Instamatics, Polaroids and a smattering of auto-exposure 35mms but no SLRs and lenses.
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  13. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    This sort of confuses me. Low light AF is not great with current DSLRs because the amount of light available to the AF system is limited by the amount of light going to the viewfinder. A number of bodies and lenses are limited to f8 for focusing as a result.
  14. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    When I observe people out in the wild photographing, it looks like about 70% are using smartphones. Maybe 15% are using point and shoot cameras, 10% are using bridge cameras, entry-level DSLRs, or entry-level MILC, and maybe the last 5% are using enthusiast or pro DSLRs or higher end MILCs. When I see kids shooting photos, it's with a smartphone, not a dedicated camera. In other words, the future photographers are growing up with smartphones.

    The smartphone segment continues to grow, mainly eating at the P&S segment. The smartphone is basically compressing the separate camera market into a smaller and smaller piece of the pie. That's why all those segments are getting smaller and sales declining, even though more and more people are taking photographs. It's just that most of the new photographers are using smartphones or switched from using a low-end point&shoot to using their smartphones. Smartphones are doing the same thing to the video camera market. Remember how many people used to have video cameras? Now you see a lot of them shooting videos with smartphones or action cameras. That's the case for my wife. She doesn't bother using our cameras anymore. Her smartphone is the only camera she uses, and she shoots more photos and videos than before.

    There will always be a segment that will demand good equipment and be willing to pay for it and learn to use it, but most of the new generation are growing up with the convenience and immediacy of smartphones and apps. They are using to sharing and showing their photos immediately. They don't want to wait for the photo to be edited or uploaded from a computer. I think the successful camera makers of tomorrow will have to incorporate some of the smartphone's convenience and immediacy into their mainstream cameras. I really don't know how this is going to shake-out. :)

    Anyway, that's my opinion.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2015
  15. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Surely the number of hobbyist photographers is more than ever? If true, the industry should not fear, it should adjust.

    I think there was an insane peak in camera sales, in the period when everyone had a PC but no such thing as a smartphone. The PC meant they wanted digitized photos to email to family and friends, but it was too inconvenient with an emulsion-based camera. So they all bought a digital camera. But they weren't image people; they were comms people.

    That was just a temporary situation. As soon as an all-in-one comms device was on offer, the camera boom was over.

    I see pretty clear segmentation between comms people and image people, and not a lot of 'market bleed' across the lines. So there is little point in camera makers trying to entice comms people off their smartphones, and little to fear about losing image people to smartphones. Once camera makers let go of the comms people that they briefly had as digital camera customers, they can get on with servicing what I believe is a growing market in image people.
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  16. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Almost no modern DSLR's use the viewfinder for focusing, I can't think of one made in the last 5-10 years which does. They generally use a half silvered main mirror and a secondary mirror to a sensor below the main mirror. The advantage of having a separate sensor for autofocus is you can drive it at much higher readout speeds than the imaging sensor.

    The downside is because half or two thirds of the light is going to the autofocus sensors the viewfinder is dim compared to older film cameras without autofocus, to offset this they use a special viewfinder screen which focuses areas of light onto tiny points. Because each dot of light is a larger area they no longer show depth of field when using fast lenses however the screen stays bright and allows you to see the scene where traditional screens would darken.

    Do not confuse being able to see depth of field in the viewfinder due to a focusing screen to the camera actually using the viewfinder screen to focus - it does not.
  17. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    You misunderstood what I was driving at. I understand how a DSLR focuses, my point was that there seem to be more low light AF limitations with DSLRs than modern mirrorless bodies. The long tele photos that can't AF past f8 are just one example. Yes you can have a faster sample rate on the AF sensor but unless you want a really dim VF you only have a small portion of the light going to the AF system.
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  18. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Most cell phone users are not really caring about the IQ so long as they look good in their selfies. They also care that you can see what is going on in the scene to share what is going on in near real time. My wife is the prime example. Almost every image she takes on her cell phone is blurry, but no one on Facebook, Instagram seems to care - they like it anyway.

    The smartphone is about convenience. I remember the days when I had a flip phone, a Palm Pilot and a camera with me. Now all those things and a computer are in one device. Those that don't care about getting the best quality out of their images, go more for convenience. They also know that within 2-3 years, they will be getting a new phone anyway, so they also get a new camera upgrade as well. They are not the same segment of people that are looking to get into an ILC system.
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  19. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    The f/8 limitation is a limitation of phase detect AF, it's shared with the e-m1 and thus the m4/3 system, it would also be shared with any camera in the Sony E-mount system which uses PD-AF.

    The reason it happens isn't completely a problem of low light, it's just compounded by low light. The problem is at f/8 the difference between in focus and completely out of focus becomes pretty minor - after splitting the light with a beam splitter there's still very little difference between the two. I believe almost all Canon/Nikon bodies should still function with the centre cross point at f8 as it should retain enough view through the aperture to focus (it doesn't suffer from mechanical vignetting like many outer points).

    The work around is using contrast detect which is essentially immune to it.
  20. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    In general, Canon DSLRs require a maximum aperture of at least f/5.6 to autofocus. Depending on the camera model, and with some exceptions, a maximum aperture of at least f/2.8 or f/4 enables cross-type and/or high-precision focusing. EOS-1 series cameras, the EOS 5D Mark III (with the latest firmware), and the EOS 7D Mark II can autofocus at f/8, but only with the center point.