Last Updated on 10/01/2020 by Chris Gampat
The DSLR is dead; mirrorless cameras, premium compacts, and phones have all superseded them.
In the past few years of shooting and traveling there hasn’t been a single moment where I pick up my backpack with electronics and tell myself “Man, I wish this were heavier.” To that end, I have thoroughly enjoyed my years of being DSLR camera free. Though I am a Canon EOS R owner, I’ve found that my Sony FE kit and my Fujifilm X series kits are lighter and often just as capable. So more often than not, those are what end up coming with me. But there have been times where I’ve dreamed of a small, large sensor compact camera with weather sealing and good image/autofocus performance that could do a great job. This would be ideal. For many others, there is the phone.
The advantage for DSLRs is honestly gone these days. If you state that the optical viewfinder is a big advantage for some photographers, I’ll need to respectfully disagree with you unless we’re talking about medium format DSLRs with their big, bright, beautiful pentaprisms. If you’ve looked into a Nikon D5 and then looked into a Pentax 67, there is absolutely no comparison. Granted, a Pentax 67 isn’t a DSLR–but their 645 series has fantastic options for viewing.
The only other optical viewfinder that I’d recommend is that of a rangefinder or those of the Fujifilm X Pro series of cameras. These viewfinders allow for more information to be delivered to the photographer. With a rangefinder, you can see something come in and out of the frame. With the X Pro series, you get a ton of overlaid info along with parallax correction at the expense of slightly slower autofocus.
Mirrorless cameras offer a number of very critical and big advantage these days. You can set them to work like an OVF but still get some sort of preview of what you’re working with. Considering that the medium that we’re working with is digital, it just makes logical sense for this to be the case. You can also get an exposure and white balance preview if you wish. But most importantly, they’re smaller and lighter. If you’re working with a Macbook, then you’re probably well aware of all the different peripherals you need to carry if you’re using a newer one. Then there is the need for lenses (small primes are often key) lights, microphones, transmitters, hard drives, tripods, etc. It all begins to add up and mirrorless cameras allow a photographer to do all this, get the same or better image quality, and still have more room in the bag.
So why would you get a DSLR? Perhaps because you enjoy the feel of them. But if you’re a modern photographer or journalist that often needs to travel, it doesn’t make sense.