In a shrinking world, DSLRs are an anachronism

Ever notice how most things these days are shrinking, getting smaller (and rest assured, this is not a post about your wallet or stock portfolio). This is usually the case with electronics. That once room-sized computer has continuously shrank and become the modern-day notebook. Now, the pace has quickened and the traditional desktops and notebooks are being replaced by iPads and iPhones.

Even the American love affair with large houses and large cars seems to have reversed. The average size of suburban houses is getting smaller. Some people are even trading their suburban life for small apartments and condos in the city. The Hummer has been replaced by the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 for what is in and cool.

So why is it that DSLRs have become larger? This is certainly true of the top end Canon and Nikon DSLRs, the EOS-1D x and D3. The consumer DSLRs are larger too compared to the film DSLRs from the 80’s and 90’s. I believe the DSLRs are an anachronism, something belonging to a time now passed. They are old-fashioned and their moment in the sun is setting.

Many of my friends who own DSLRs are trading them in for smaller mirrorless cameras. They grow tired of the bulk. Tired of a design with a mechanical flapping mirror that seems counter to what a modern camera should be. They still have their place for certain applications like sports but for everyday use DSLRs kind of suck.

What started for me as a fun experiment with mirrorless 3 years ago has fully matured. The Olympus Pens have become my go to cameras. I keep my Canon 7D DSLR around for very specific uses but usually it sits in the corner.

Are you looking to move up to a DSLR from a point and shoot? Seriously consider a mirrorless camera instead. Or are you a DSLR user who feels ready to right-size into a more enjoyable camera? Look at my straight forward guide to mirrorless cameras. There are many brands and cameras models out there, my free guide cuts through all the noise and simplifies the choices.

12 thoughts on “In a shrinking world, DSLRs are an anachronism

  1. Funny that I wrote this post for today

    Even the PENs are robust enough to go to print if I need them – I have shot a few 1/4 page ads with them. And some shots like low level garden things have been a breeze with the small cameras where using the DSLRs would have involved me laying on the ground, something I’m really not fond of.

    On the rare occasion that I shoot sports, the DSLRs are the go to cameras. You are right about the size though. My old Nikon F4 which was considered large back 1993 or so looks almost dwarfed by today’s current crop of heavy duty cameras. For working, the size does not bother me at all, but when you’re just out for a walk in the park or out with the family, the DSLRs, except for maybe my smaller D90 are just not too much fun anymore.

  2. I would be sorry to see the DSLRs disappear, but they need to rethink their designs. I used full SLRs for many long years. They were nowhere near as big and bulky as DSLRs are now. Even the Nikon — which was the big boy of the SLRs — didn’t come near the average full-size DSLRs of 2013. They are bloated with bells and whistles. Is that really what people want? There is an important place for full frame and near full frame DSLRs … but Canon, Nikon and other manufacturers need to get with the concept that just because you CAN do something, add something … doesn’t mean you should. If ever there was a time to realize that less is more, this is it!

    1. Agreed. I can’t claim all mirrorless cameras are simpler but they are definitely smaller and lighter that makes it more accessible and enjoyable for me and I’m assuming for others.

  3. Great post. I have enjoyed my Dslr Nikon D70 for a while, will be getting another more or less the Nikon D3100. I would hate to see them disappear as well. But in some places the smaller camera outplay the big boys. I have been thinking about getting a mirror less one as well, but staying in the Nikon family.

    1. I doubt that DSLRs will go away. There are times when DSLR work better. I just think their popularity will decrease or the mirrorless will become more popular.

  4. i am always shocked at the size. I quit my Pentax 6×7 in 2000, simply ’cause of the size and weight. @ extra lenses, filters, one needed a Steamer Trunk, not a bag! The camera was flawless.I traded it at Samys L.A. They could get back the money by renting it out to Fashion Photographers..I bought a Leica M6TTl. That’s what I’m seeing these days except it would be more, if Leica and lenses were more reasonable! I slowly moved to digital, mainly for internet sites, using a 3.2Mp Pentax Optio. I came to love the camera in spite of it;s high power drain! Same as a small town in Ontario,Canada on one of these super cold Winter nights and days..The Leica size and some of my original SLR’s were small. The Pentax ME-Super, MX (sold=idiot),MG,Spotmatic, Later KM,K1000. The Nikon-F saw me thru turbulent times in a changing South Africa. Photojournalist. Many times ,took the older cheaper but very reliable Pentax, in case of loss. Civil mayhem,read riot.
    Suddenly here was digital..well for me in 2005. In Canada. Open city and the freedom of movement. i suddenly realized i loved that tiny camera.It made nice prints! I had the “keys to Kodak’s Film warehouse”! I later added the Canon point and shoot digital.
    The EVIL finder so far, leaves me cold. I hate the fake, artificial look. It’s awful. I prefer the screen and a viewfinder. All my PS digital have windows. Small, inaccurate but there.
    The smaller cameras like the Sony Nex are stop gaps i beleive to Full Frame. I think the makers will want to stop use of Legacy lenses… Huge lenses and small bodies that look wrong!
    i’ve been using a friend’s Leica V-lux( Panasonic with diff.) and it is quite amazing. A really sharp lens. It comes with a Photoshop. I’ve not used it as i use Adobe(sometime) and Picassa mostly.JPEG is perfect for me!
    The DSLR will stay, but getting smaller.Nikon 3100,Canon T3/4.Kiss and even the Nikon D600 are going down in size.It may be too late as folks abandon cameras for phones and tablets..

    1. Love your story and history with cameras. I’m sure full frame mirrorless is coming (excluding Leica who already has them). Unfortunately, that means the camera and lenses become larger. Even the Leica M9 is big compared to the Olympus Pens that I use.

      1. There is of course Sony RX1 but more money than I’m willing to pay and too many quirks for me. And no OVF of any kind. I would settle for a stupid plastic tunnel, but no, that would destroy the coolness. Whatever happened to function?

      2. That’s true. Doesn’t have a interchangeable lens so it’s not quite a mirrorless system camera but of course it does not have a mirror. I guess it is the highest end point and shoot you can get.

  5. As you know I am a huge fan of your blog, initially because I planned to buy a m4/3, and more recently, simply because I like your pictures a lot.

    There is one thing in your reasoning that sounds odd to me, if not contradictory. You think this is the time for most photographers to switch to a mirrorless, but, at the same time, admit that you keep your 7D for some special occasions. Where is the simplicity, if you actually need 2 systems to take care of all the situations?

    I thought long and hard before to make my choice for my first “serious” camera (I knew I could not well afford 2 systems), and realized that most of my pictures are either of birds (my main hobby) or of my kids, who have the tendency to move all the time, specially while playing sport.

    So I went for my brain instead of my heart, and reluctantly dropped my idea to buy the lumix GX1+pana 20mm, for a boring, but faster entry level Canon DSLR (t2i). Fact is, I am not really in love with that camera (design is definitely not my favorite), but it makes everything I want to do very well, and at the end of the day, that what matters the most to me. With an unlimited budget though, my choice would obviously have been different (maybe a FF plus a m4/3, or fuji XE-1?)


    1. LaurentinMichigan, given your desire to shoot birds and active kids, I think you made the right decision. Use the heck out of the camera and take great pictures. Capture your kids while they are still kids. Someday in the future, you can get another camera, one that your are more passionate about.

      Always remember, the photograph is the goal and not the camera.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.