DSLR has ruled the camera industry for a long time. But with time, new technologies have evolved and mirrorless has been a new standard of cameras for a decade now. Now, all the major camera brands have made their transition from DSLR to Mirrorless cameras. But have you ever wondered why DSLR has lost its appeal and how mirrorless cameras have taken over the market? If yes, then all of your queries are going to be answered in this article. We will discuss the history of mirrorless cameras and how they made their way into the camera market.
The Advent of Mirrorless Technology
Mirrorless is not a very old concept. Instead, it came into the market just a couple of years ago and captured the camera market quickly. You will be surprised to know that the mirrorless concept was brought to the market, not by any renowned camera brand like Sony, Canon, or Fujifilm. Instead, Epson, a well-known photographic printer and ink company, introduced mirrorless technology to the camera world. In 2004, Epson released the first mirrorless camera, the R-D1 digital rangefinder. It was made in collaboration with Cosina, and the camera featured an interchangeable lens construction. After its release, the RD1 became one of the premium-grade cameras of that time. The camera supported Leica M mount lenses and had a hefty price tag of 3000 dollars.
Leica took the second attempt to push the mirrorless technology further. Then it released its first mirrorless camera, the M8, in 2006. This M8 was the first camera of Leica’s pristine digital M lineup. And because of the newly evolved mirrorless technology and Leica’s brand value, the M8 had a price tag much higher than any other ordinary camera at that time. It was about 5500 dollars.
The Rise of Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds
So far, we have seen how mirrorless technology entered the camera market and established itself as a technology only affluent enthusiasts and professionals can afford. It didn’t make its way to the mass camera users’ backpack until the mirrorless micro four-thirds cameras arrived. Panasonic and Olympus pioneered this sector. The Panasonic Lumix G1 was launched in 2008, and it was the first mirrorless camera to feature a 12.1-megapixel “Live MOS. It also had autofocus which made it popular at that time. Additionally, Olympus also contributed by releasing its EP-1 in 2009.
The most crucial factor that brought these mirrorless MFT cameras into the play is their affordable price point. Both Panasonic Lumix G1 and Olympus EP-1 were marketed with a price tag below 1000 dollars. And this is when people started to lean towards mirrorless technology.
How Mirrorless Became the New Favorite
In 2010, the big player, Sony, came up with its New series cameras. But at first, those cameras have severe quality issues. Nikon also entered the market in 2011 with its Nikon 1 series cameras. But unfortunately, because of these cameras’ substandard performance, they ultimately were pulled out from the market.
On the other hand, Sony kept trying and finally introduced the alpha lineup in 2013. And after that, both the Sony and mirrorless camera industry never had to look back. Their popularity and performance just shore upward with time. Sony enjoyed a monopoly in the mirrorless market for about five years, until 2018 when Canon and Nikon also caught up with their EOS R and Z series cameras.
Why Mirrorless over DSLR?
Now let’s discuss why people choose mirrorless cameras over DSLRs. The first reason is, DSLR has reached its pinnacle of development. And prominent brands are also restricting research and development for their DSLR lineups. For example, Canon has made it clear that it is going to focus more on the RF rather than EF.
Cameras like the D6 or the D850 are examples of near-perfect DLSRs, and nothing more can be accommodated in DSLRs. And newer technologies are best suited for mirrorless instead of DSLRs. For example, the autofocus in DSLRs is restricted as phase detection autofocus better suits the Mirrorless rather than DSLR.
The same goes for in-body image stabilization. DSLRs have more mirrors and moving parts than mirrorless cameras, making it more challenging to implement high-quality stabilization. Then, of course, the size also has been very compact because of the mirrorless technology. And like these, there are many other aspects in which DSLRs are far behind the Mirrorless technology. So what does that mean? Is the DSLR going extinct within a couple of months or maybe within a year? Well, No.
Though Mirrorless technology definitely has the edge and is leading the camera market now, being in the second position doesn’t necessarily mean extinction. And this is what we have seen in the recent statistics. For example, according to CIPA reports, about 823,462 DSLRs and 1,041,845 mirrorless cameras have been shipped worldwide within the first quarter of this year. So DSLRs are clearly behind, but not extinct.
But the thing is- if there is no improvement for DSLRs in the future, and big players like Sony, Nikon, Canon, and others decide to put all their efforts on the Mirrorless only, the word DSLR will be a word of history. So clearly, we will see DSLRs around us for some years. But 10 to 15 years later, DSLRs will be bound to be extinct if things remain the same.