Will Mirrorless Cameras Really Be Useless in Two Years?

There have been reports going around the web discussing how Sony says smartphone imaging will supersede what ILC cameras do by 2024. I think photographers and the tech world are focusing too much on the image quality part of this. They’re majorly ignoring the human element of photography and all that’s possible. So, will mirrorless cameras really be rendered useless by 2024?

That’s sort of what a report from TechRader states (which I honestly think is just fearmongering). However, Sony’s slides indeed seem to hint at it. More importantly, I think it could usher in the age of killing the pixel peeper. And, to me, that would be amazing.

Will a smartphone be able to outdo a mirrorless camera when it comes to image quality? Honestly, who the hell cares? Professional photographers make up an incredibly tiny segment of the market of camera users. Besides, camera manufacturers listen to maybe 1% of professionals anyway.

The bigger thing to note is that all camera sensors are more or less made by four companies: Samsung, Sony, Canon, and Tower Jazz. Most camera manufacturers only use Sony sensors, so they’re kind of hurting themselves that way. 

Now, here’s the more important factor: there are lots of reasons to buy and use a camera besides the image quality:

  • There’s something to be said about the ergonomics a camera can have.
  • Those ergonomics translate into a feeling you can’t get from a smartphone.
  • Some cameras are truly beautiful creations to look at, hold, and use. But Japanese camera makers have been sucking the soul out of cameras for a long time now.
  • The sound of a physical camera shutter can be really appealing.
  • Mirrorless Cameras can find a way to become luxury items that people just like owning. Don’t believe me? Look at the revitalization of the vintage market.
  • The autofocus of dedicated cameras will continue to outdo what a phone can do for many applications.
  • A professional photographer will still have a lot more knowledge of how to deal with people than someone with a phone.

That’s not to say that people want to be luddites the way they are in the watch world. People just want a different experience. I think people will continue to use cameras if they just enjoy the picture taking experience. We all don’t need to be content creators and we don’t even need to be professional photographers. Further, the industry underestimates how good older mirrorless cameras are. If you take an old camera, put a new lens on it, and give the photographer a flash, the sensor output shines.

Again though, there are a lot more reasons to buy a camera besides the image quality. The Japanese manufacturers have sort of understood that. But I think the folks who run things will also be the ones to hold things back. 

If this happens, I think a theory that I heard a long time ago would make sense. The theory is that Leica, Canon, Sony, and Fujifilm will possibly be the last camera companies left. For sure, things haven’t looked good for Nikon for a while. But I’d be shocked to see what happens and if any of this truly happens.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.