Home Cameras/Lenses Leica DSLR v Mirrorless: An open letter to my beloved Canon

DSLR v Mirrorless: An open letter to my beloved Canon

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  Andy Sands of  Chiswick Camera Centre  trying out the new medium format GFX, just one of the significant mirrorless competitors to the traditional DSLR (taken with the Leica M10)
Andy Sands of Chiswick Camera Centre trying out the new medium format GFX, just one of the significant mirrorless competitors to the traditional DSLR (taken with the Leica M10)

Although I love cameras I don’t have a closed mind when it comes to which brand to use. Many people decide on a particular brand and then become messianic in their adherence, regarding anyone who does not agree with them as beyond the Pale. This can be boring, all that self-justification is unedifying at best. 

I see from Lightroom that over the past five years I have used over 100 different cameras (many of them variations on a particular model), some of which I own or have owned, others which I borrowed for test purposes or just out of interest. Conclusion? There are no really bad cameras these days and I see no reason to feel that my current choice is better than anyone else’s. Sure, I love my Leicas and my micro four-thirds cameras. I also have great respect for Fuji and Sony in particular. I could take any camera from any of these ranges and be happy. I would certainly never criticise anyone for choosing a different camera to me. But I have an enquiring mind and love to try something new. 

Debate

  Just why is Canon not showing the same development as Sony, asks Jason Futrill
Just why is Canon not showing the same development as Sony, asks Jason Futrill

Over the past five years ago there has been a continuing debate on the merits of the traditional DSLR and the upstart mirrorless brigade (setting aside the ever-present rangefinder). I try not to take sides, although none of my current cameras is a DSLR. I gave up on DSLRs some six or seven years ago, purely on weight and size of the pro systems. Mirrorless cameras at the tine (and rangefinder in the form of Leica) provided good enough result for my type of photography (which doesn’t include sports or wildlife) while made for easier carrying.

In recent years DSLR cameras have improved in performance, but so have mirrorless. And mirrorless cameras have grown fatter. Look at the Leica SL system, for instance, because it offers an alternative to DSLR but no appreciable saving in bulk or weight. It’s big. Not so Sony, on the other hand, which produces the smallest full-frame cameras on the market.

There are some areas, and I’m thinking particularly of sports photography, where the DSLR still reigns supreme. Yet Sony, for one, is challenging this supremacy with the stunning new A9 and, even, the A7r II. It’s only a matter of time before mirrorless full-frame cameras progress to even stevens with the best DSLRs. 

Open letter

I was thus fascinated to read this article by Australian photographer Jason Futrill who works out of Tasmania. He specialises in aerial photography and long-exposure landscapes. He has been a lifelong DSLR user but has now written a verging-on-the-valedictory open letter to Canon. He is concerned at the lack of innovation and the corresponding advances being made by the likes of Sony with the A9 and Fuji with the GFX. As he writes in his letter to Canon:

I genuinely feel quite sad to be writing this to you. But it’s something I just needed to get off my chest. Canon as a brand has been a huge part of my photography journey since the very first time I ever picked up a digital camera. And I truly hope you are part of that journey for many more years to come. There are many photographers in the industry who don’t have the brand loyalty and allegiance that I have who jumped ship to brands like Sony quite some time ago. There are temptations out there like the Fuji GFX50s that are making many people dream of other camera brands. I don’t understand what happened to your product innovation. I don’t understand why as the biggest camera brand in the industry you aren’t making people feel excited about your latest products in the same way that Nikon, Sony and Fuji are.

I know that the majority of Macfilos readers have already made the move to mirrorless, or have stuck with the rangefinder through thick and thin. But what do you think is the future for DSLR? Is there a lack of development at Cannik? And just why have Canon and Nikon failed to grasp the mirrorless challenge as a hedge to their bets?

Read Jason’s article in full here

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I think with Office Product division driving sales 53+% of Canon vs 32+% Imaging and 20+% for other industry division that they are content. As a fixed lens user if I ever went full frame it would be Q or RX1r 11, I like the smaller size vs DSLR. I Just wonder how much of Canon Nikon sales are driven by non FX models?

    • You could be right that they are still doing well wth the bread-and-butter APS-C DSLRs with their plastic-mount kit lenses. You see them everywhere and they seem to be the default choice for the average consumer.

      • John and Mike, you are both right.Tens of millions of low end Canon and Nikon DSLRs are being sold to the emerging middle classes in Asia and S America.fuji,Panasonic and Sony are barely blips on the radar in these markets And European retirees are not averse to a Canon or Nikon DSLR -watch them at any tourist spot.That is Canon and Nikons bread and butter and it is what makes their bottom lines. High end DSLRs for the pro and advanced enthusiast markets are just a little icing on the cake.

  2. In the press rooms and camera clubs DSLRs are still the ‘top dogs’. In the latter case, the question is just like ‘Republican or Democrat’ in American politics. Recently more experienced members in my local Camera Club were asked to volunteer for mentoring less experienced members and to indicate whether they were ‘ Canon or Nikon’. There would be no point in saying ‘Leica’ as you would end up mentoring yourself. It may be some years yet before the new paradigm gets written. Already quite a few club members have bought Fujifilm cameras as first or second systems. There are also some Sony users, I think. In most camera clubs the last things that get discussed are cameras.

    To really take off, EVF cameras need to be much more frugal in terms of battery usage. That and improved autofocus should be enough to drive the revolution. Smaller size is also essential in the era of ever improving smartphone cameras. There is no point in expecting cameras of the same size and cost as the Leica SL or the Fujifilm GFX50 to drive the revolution. One other point; I have been amazed that modern science has not yet brought us viable digital zoom with amplification to do away with the ‘long lens’. That would be a real killer app which could, of course, be built into a device as small as a smartphone. Chiropractors might not like it, though.

    William

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