In the excitement over the introduction of the Nikon 1 System, many have debated over what they believe is a game-changing technology: the focal plane phase detection autofocus with phase detection AF sensors embedded right onto the image sensor itself. With this new configuration, the need for a separate Phase-detection AF sensor is not necessary anymore, which also means that the mirror to reflect the light to that sensor is not necessary anymore.
If this new focal plane phase detection AF returns AF speed as lightning fast as that currently obtained in DLSRs (and there’s no reason to doubt otherwise), then the use of a mirror would be relegated to reflecting light to an optical viewfinder. Even Sony’s SLT translucent mirror would be redundant.
Can the use of the mirror in a DSLR be nearing its end as the electronic viewfinder gets so much better with every new introduction? Nikon must know that, with its introduction of the focal plane phase detection AF sensors, its own DSLRs would eventually need to be retooled: without the mirror, DSLRs can be smaller, lighter, faster. Nikon claims that it had been working on the Nikon 1 System even before Olympus and Panasonic introduced their compact mirrorless cameras. Is it then beyond the realm of possibility that they are even now working on the next generation of Nikon mirrorless DSLRs?
That leaves one major camera manufacturer with still no mirrorless offering, but we are told that November 3 is the day Canon will introduce something BIG to blow away our socks. Nikon flew journalists to New York to announce the Nikon 1 System; Canon is doing it in LA. As far as we know, the embedded phase detection sensors technology is not a Nikon exclusivity; as soon as that technology became available (in some research paper probably), every camera and sensor manufacturer must have been hard at work on their version. I simply cannot believe Canon engineers have not been hard at work on their mirrorless. And I cannot think of anything bigger than a huge chunk of its DSLRs (say, the APS-C DSLRs) going mirrorless, suddenly leaving all competitors in the dust. I mean, if Leica can do it and Sony can do it and even Samsung can do it using an APS-C sensor, there’s no reason Canon cannot also accomplish this.
These are all speculations and guesses of course but some have debated that even the top of the line full frame pro DSLRs would eventually be mirrorless? What do you think? Does it seem to you that the direction is becoming clearer and clearer for DSLRs that “The Future Is Mirrorless?”