MATTHEW NORDHAGEN :: BLOG

THE YEAR OF THE MIRRORLESS

October 1st, 2018

The year is not yet over, but it is safe to say that 2018 saw the biggest industry shift in photography in recent memory. All of the major manufacturers have recognized (finally some would say) that full-frame mirrorless cameras are the future of photography. As the trendy saying goes, innovate or die. Fortunately for us, they chose to innovate.

DSLR cameras sit in a comfortable position for consumers and professionals. It is a proven, reliable, and familiar format that helps maintain its success year and year. Other than autofocus and sensor performance, there is little else to be expected from a DSLR. Which is good. Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, are a bit of an unknown. They do not have near the pedigree as their DSLR counterparts. With every year there are improvements, but the same level of familiarity and comfort that people have with a DSLR is not quite there with mirrorless cameras. This can be easily confirmed by just a casual read through photography forums and YouTube. DSLR's have a consistency that mirrorless cameras have not yet reached.

While we have Sony to thank for pushing the envelope with what a full-frame mirrorless camera can do, there are areas for improvement. Sony suffers from poor ergonomics and a UX experience, but the advantages of the image quality outweighed the disadvantages. Mirrorless reliability and durability, while improving, is not quite on par with that of the DSLR. The same can be said for battery life; not terrible, but not great. This is why 2018 is a big deal for the photography industry. Caveats such as these will become no longer be acceptable. Mirrorless camera technology can't help but not mature at a faster rate simply due to the increase in competition.

Despite reservations one might have about whether one format is better than the other, it is reasonable to view mirrorless cameras as the direct replacement to the DSLR, with DSLR's being phased out altogether. Not soon, but eventually. This is coming from someone who recently choose a DSLR over a mirrorless camera. I have used mirrorless cameras, from micro-four-thirds on up, and they are a joy to use. While I am partial to an optical view finder, a high-quality electronic view finder is impressive. The same goes for overall usability and portability. A well-tuned mirrorless camera feels like what a camera should feel like in this day and age. Those aforementioned caveats played a role in my choosing a DSLR over a mirrorless for now, but with the involvement and investment into the mirrorless ecosystem industry wide I suspect that barriers to entry will become less and less, to the point of stubbornness and nostalgia being all that remains. This is an exciting time for photographers.