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03-08-2021, 09:58 AM   #1
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Is there a future for DSLR (outside old duffers like me?)

I dont know if I am unusual but I only dip in to photo tech every few years, in between times I just use the kit I have without giving much thought to developments and new products. Recently returned as I was pondering getting an ultra wide lens again

And then read today that only 3 manufacturers now left make DSLRs; Canon, Nikon and Pentax. And I got to wondering if it was time to sell up and move to mirrorless (or something) rather than spend more money on something that could soon obsolete, and un-sellable used

So is the DSLR format rapidly dying (or dead) now? Canon still seem to be in the game, advancing the quality of their kit, Nikon maybe not so much. Unsure where Pentax/Ricoh is heading but I know they have a keen interest in the future of digital imaging and seem to be carving out a niche of their own

But I have spent 40 years using SLRs and find it hard to concieve of using a camera any other way (ie look through a real viewfinder displaying exposure information). Heck I still dont use AF a lot of the time, and still chuckle at the photgraphers who click the shutter and instantly review the image on the screen (is it still called chimping?) - but presumably I am a dinosaur, a dinosaur who doesnt see the end coming

03-08-2021, 10:11 AM - 3 Likes   #2
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Well, this is T-Rex central, so you may get some warm noises about not being dead yet.

Pentax are firmly DSLR orientated and that's a good strategy considering that should Nikon and Canon exit as declared, then there is no further competition, always a good thing for a niche player.

Pentax do not go for big sales numbers and do not have the overheads as a consequence, that's somewhere Nikon want to be right now.

If you only need a lens, I would suggest you get it and forget the temptation to err, 'upgrade'. It will cost you dearly in any system.
03-08-2021, 10:20 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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DSLR will still be thre for many years, mostly due to the large established users base. But don't expect much more than what is available right now. Canon already have said that they have stopped working on new EF products, but will continue to support existing ones as long as there's enough demand. For Nikon, although nothing official was published, it's quite obvious that all their efforts are now on the Z line. Pentax still is dedicated to DSLR, but it's not clear for how long it will make sense economicaly for them to do it as they already seem to struggle a lot to maintain the K mount.

So, the DSLR might not be "dead" but rather in a sort of technological dead end. There isn't much that can be done to improve the current cameras while keeping them economically viable. Today, the more significant advances are related to software and need real time image analysis (like eye focus, on sensor AF...) to work at their best, which require to remove the mirror to read the image data directly from the sensor.

Right now, although it still make sense for someone already invested in DSLR to keep their gear, it also doesn't make much sense for most people (and particularly newcomers) to invest a lot of money in a DSLR system. DSLR will just become a niche, if they aren't already, somewhat like film camera or telemeters. There will always be people wanting them, but their days as a mainstream technology are behind.

Last edited by CarlJF; 03-08-2021 at 10:28 AM.
03-08-2021, 10:28 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Iíve never had luck buying with resale in mind. That said the reason to go mirrorless is shooting needs and style . What makes you happy/money ? I have no needs for mirrorless. Iím a happy Pentax user.


Hang up and DRIVE!

03-08-2021, 10:30 AM - 4 Likes   #5
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It depends on how far you want to look into the future. Eventually the Universe will cool down to a uniform low temperature near absolute zero and cease to exist.
03-08-2021, 10:30 AM - 11 Likes   #6
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03-08-2021, 10:47 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by LittleSkink Quote
And then read today that only 3 manufacturers now left make DSLRs;
The attraction of mirrorless is in many ways the attraction to "new" stuff. Mirrorless doesn't make better images, though there are features that might be nice for some use cases. But I am quite certain that DSLRs and lenses that fit them will be around as long as I am. If nothing else the used market will be flooded with lenses for decades.

One way to put it into perspective is to realize that you can go on ebay and buy a "like new" Spotmatic and set of M42 glass and be shooting with it next week. I'm sure that 10 years or even 20 down the road there will still be functional lenses and bodies on the used market.

Pentax has made it very clear that they are staying with the DSLR. So if you like a camera with a mirror you are in the right place. Canon and Nikon are making a strong push for their mirrorless lines and possibly at some point in the future Pentax will be the last one standing. My guess is that Ricoh has decided it is not worth the investment to move to mirrorless and will stick with DSLRs as long as they sell. When the volume drops below profitability they will simply shut the doors. If Canon and Nikon do exit the DSLR market the future for Pentax might actually be very bright.
03-08-2021, 10:51 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by LittleSkink Quote

And then read today that only 3 manufacturers now left make DSLRs; Canon, Nikon and Pentax. And I got to wondering if it was time to sell up and move to mirrorless (or something) rather than spend more money on something that could soon obsolete, and un-sellable used
how much buying and selling do you do? You have been a member here since 2008 and shooting slr for 40 years.i assume you are well invested in the pentax ecosystem. Speaking for myself if I sold all of my pentax and attempted to replace it with comparable mirrorless I would be in the hole. On some other sites you see people who switch brands that seems like an expensive hobby.


You mentioned you were thinking ultra wide and cost / value seems to be important. KEH has / had some ultra wide lenses (sigma 10-20 and the tamron 12-24) for $200-250 last time I looked

03-08-2021, 10:55 AM   #9
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There will always be a need for high quality light recording machinery in a huge number of professional niches. That need will continue regardless of what takes over in the consumer world. The consumer price of DSLR/DSLR-type gear may be driven up due to increasing fractionation/splintering of the various niches, however, and the consequent reduced economies of scale.
03-08-2021, 10:56 AM   #10
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If you sink money into another system, that system won't be worth much when you go to sell it because the "new" systems will all be out. They are trying to keep people on an annual upgrade cycle. If you get the images you want from the system you have, then don't upgrade.

On to the more relevant question: Which ultrawide to get? You can find used examples of the Sigma 10-20/3.5 or the older, variable aperture 10-20, the Sigma 8-16, Pentax has the new 11-18 available. The old standby of the 10-17 fisheye is always fun. There are a few super wide primes from Rokinon/Samyang as well.
03-08-2021, 11:05 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Monty Python
"Bring out your Pentaxes, bring out your Pentaxes!"

On the topic of resale, old gear still sells. Heck, a year ago I dropped 200Ä on a copy of the M20/4...
03-08-2021, 11:11 AM - 8 Likes   #12
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Some photographers like optical view finders (e.g., DSLRs) and some people like electronic view finders (e.g., MILCs) or some people "hate" the other type of view finder. The view finder debate is not worth having again (and again and again) because it's like the vanilla versus strawberry ice cream debate -- it's a personal preference.

Camera makers make profits by selling new cameras and new lenses to people. DSLRs are a mature technology -- there's not much room for something new that can juice the profits of the camera maker. MILCs are still immature -- lots of room for profits from making people buy whole new systems and getting them on the upgrade treadmill.

Before you dump what you have and spend a ton of money on new kit (which is what the camera makers really want), you'll want to do some clear-eyed thinking about your own photography, which viewfinders you prefer/tolerate/hate, and which technology does what you like doing.

Three questions can help make a rational decision (assuming you are willing to switch viewfinder technologies):

1. Are there photographs you really want to make that you can't make with your DSLR? If the answer is "no" then stick with DSLRs.

2. If DSLRs are limiting you, then ask: can MILCs address the limitations? If the answer is "no" then stick with DSLRs.

3. Finally, are you willing to pay for the MILC system required to fill the needs that DSLRs can't meet? If the answer is "no" then stick with DSLRs.

You may find that you have nothing to gain by switching to MILC and a lot to lose (the money to replace your entire DSLR system). So only get a MILC if you answer "yes' to all three questions.


P.S. Although sensors did improve dramatically in the early 2000s, still image performance has just about reached the limits of physics with Earthly light levels. If you mostly take still images, you'll get little benefit from today's or future MILCs. It you need supper-high frame rates, ultra-fast tracking AF, or 8k video, you might find MILCs have advantages (assuming you don't mind and electronic viewfinder).
03-08-2021, 11:32 AM - 7 Likes   #13
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all interesting thoughts, thanks folks

The main opinion seems to be that I wont outlive the DSLR, and Pentax prices seem to have been on the up (esp in EU/Aus) recently, So I just ordered a 10-17 . . .

Its funny I *do* feel loyalty to Pentax, partly because they chose to make things backward compatible as much as possible (when Canon et al didnt) and they chose to make the digital image making process similar to film. And who doesnt like an underdog
03-08-2021, 11:39 AM - 1 Like   #14
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Young people today scavange music, art, gear and clothes from all previous generations. Internet has made it all available from all over the world. SLR's are already part of an arsenal of 90's point and shoots, fancy rangefinders and hulking 67's. They just use them for what they do and the expression they bring. I'm sure dslr's will be part of that arsenal but not as the hegenomic "camera". This means new models will be few and far between because the legacy stuff is cheaper and works. I don't find it inconceivable that new manufacturers will crop up that make new cameras but without significantly pushing the tech. Just using today tech but five ten years from now when it's become a commodity.

Last edited by house; 03-08-2021 at 12:36 PM.
03-08-2021, 11:51 AM   #15
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This was the topic of one of RIcoh's CP+ presentations. Video is available on the CP+ website and archive. You'll have to rely on the auto close caption translate however and is difficult to follow. The auto-captioning uses voice recognition so the translations can be bizarre.
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