REAL CAMERAS, REALLY?
By MICHAEL PERKINS
WITH THE RECENT RUMORS LEAKING FROM NIKON, warning that the company is discontinuing forward development of the DSLR platform, comes the usual cascade of tearful tirades and grumbling, this time over the inevitable worldwide switch to mirrorless cameras and the unholy level of discombobulation and grief that accompany such seismic shifts. At this writing (July 2022), Canon has already pulled the pin on DSLR rollouts beyond their existing line of models, and Nikon has already discontinued what had been their entry-level units. Will DSLR’s vanish altogether? The blurry answer is (a) yeah, probably, and (b) not all at once. Even so, some people will be feeling the ground shift between their feet.
Immutable truth about photography: shoot pictures long enough, and the tech that you love will eventually go the way of the dodo. It will be inconvenient, confusing, and, often, expensive. Already I am feeling the pain of fellow Nikonians who are asking things like “what do I do with all my old lenses?”, which is a bump in the road for some but not the end of the road for most. The reasons for the march of the DSLR dino toward the tar pit of history are various, but the shift for many shooters isn’t about running into the loving arms of mirrorless, but turning away from any complex camera, and toward mobiles.
We all hate to be the last person trying to buy fuel for our favorite ride.
Part of what makes DSLR tech unappealing for some is the camera’s raw physical bulk, something phone shooters never have to sweat. Are you giving up a lot of fine control by using a mobile? Certainly. But if most of those extra features exist outside of your preferred shooting experience, you can easily get used to doing without them. This means that the remaining days of DSLR will be as a premium, prosumer format for True Believers. Yes, many photographers will cross to mirrorless to get the options they want in a lighter, improved format, and that, in turn, will bring the cost down on what can presently be a pricey switch, but a significant subset of DSLR users will learn to, dare I say it, settle…for phone cameras that are offering more manual settings and streamlined shortcuts with every succeeding model year.
In the words of Battlestar Galactica, this has all happened before: this will all happen again, or, if Journey is your groove, the wheel in the sky keeps on turning. Our concept of “the camera I need”, or in some cases “all the camera I need” will always be in constant flux. In the end, we will all choose our weapons, either cutting-edge or tried-and-true, face off, and keep on shooting. The rest is noise.