Thursday, February 5, 2015

Should I switch to mirrorless cameras - SOON?

My 'gorilla' like hands aren't really that large; these cameras are TINY!
I wrote this article in response to a question on another photo technology site where a user was agonizing over whether or not, as a Canon user, he should switch to mirrorless because he felt that was the general momentum of the camera industry.  

He worried about the obsolescence of his gear, especially his lenses.  After responding to him on the other web site, I took the opportunity to expand on my thoughts a bit for this Blog entry.

The issue just isn't as clear cut as it sometimes gets portrayed. DSLRs are portrayed as dinosaurs already dead but too stupid or too stubborn to lay down and close their eyes.  While mirrorless cameras are portrayed as toys, incapable of serious work.  Suitable only for women and old people lacking in upper body strength.  Both representations are kind of insulting and about as far from the truth as it is possible to get.

I personally suspect the LONG TERM trend will be towards mirrorless. But I don't really think the short to mid term view is going to change all that much. I'm pretty sure your next camera could be a DSLR without you putting what you've spent on DSLR lenses at risk of early obsolescence. 

I also don't think putting off this decision for 5 years is a major risk.  As a Canon user, your specific risk is low, Canon hasn't even produced any sort of serious mirrorless camera yet.  (Note: I am aware that Canon has recently leaked some details about the EOS M3, but it still sounds rather crippled to me.  Why I think it's crippled listed below)

That being said, I do think DSLRs, at least in terms of being tools for the typical 'serious' consumer, will become less and less important over the years and if Canon is smart, once they do decide to produce a decent mirrorless camera, that they will learn from Olympus' experience.

If you recall, Olympus made a rapid, radical change over from DSLRs to mirrorless about 5 or 6 years ago. This orphaned a lot of Olympus DSLR users who had a sizable amount of money tied up in Premium Zuiko (Olympus) lenses. I guess Olympus figured that Oly users, would be such fanboys, and would see the benefits of dumping all their old gear that we'd all just spend, spend, spend on new gear.

Well, we didn't. We LIKED our 4/3s DSLRs and with even cursory research, we knew we couldn't find affordable lenses that even came close to the Zuikos. So the mirrorless adoption rate by 4/3s DSLR users was VERY low, and a few even bit the bullet and switched brands.

It wasn't until the OMD series of cameras ,which had features designed to appeal to DSLR users and which allowed for serious use of the DSLR lenses, came out that the Oly DSLR users started to come around and start to look at new Olympus bodies again. As a result, the demand (and prices) for used 4/3s DSLR lenses remains higher than normal for an 'abandoned' system.

I can't believe this lesson would be lost on Canon and to a lesser extent, Nikon. Providing a good mirrorless experience that allows for use of existing gear, MAKES money in the long run and enhances the 'street credibility' of your mirrorless offerings.  And if the rumors of the proposed Canon M3 are true, this camera doesn't even come close to meeting this basic requirement.  No decent accommodation of existing DSLR lenses, no electronic or optical viewfinder, it's 2012, all over again! 

Dumb Canon, really dumb.  You are playing into the mirrorless stereotype when the other mirrorless players are branching out and going after your core business.

This is why I think DSLR users are NOT at significant risk by not immediately switching to mirrorless. Canon just isn't serious about mirrorless yet and Nikon is taking an interesting but VERY different approach to mirrorless that is something of gamble (huge gamble, really, they will either win big, or not at all).  The two remaining proponents of DSLRs don't really have any mirrorless cameras that seem to address the mainstream needs of the typical "serious" consumer who is interested in photography as one of the graphic arts.

That being said, I REALLY like my OMD E-M10, and if Canon wants to delay producing a quality mirrorless camera that's fine by me. That gives Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, and Fuji time to solidify their positions as strong mirrorless contenders. Insuring their long term survival, I hope!

No comments:

Post a Comment