Why is this such a big deal for cameras? Because it is at an international world event such as the Summer Olympics, televised and broadcasted into the living rooms and onto the devices of millions of viewers, that we can get a glimpse of what camera equipment professional photographers are relying on to capture unforgettable award-winning images. These cameras, lenses and equipment have to be reliable, work flawlessly, and allow the professional photographers to “catch the moment.”
Even though most consumers will never purchase flagship cameras and lenses, they nevertheless see the brand of cameras the pros are using — and this creates top-of-mind awareness (TOMA): it’s the brand that first comes to mind when it comes time to purchase their next camera.
DSLRs vs Mirrorless
Now that all the major camera manufacturers have committed to the mirrorless platform, we should see a steep decline of DSLR use among the general population and a gradual decline among the professional photographers. However, the shift is inexorably toward mirrorless.
Should you get rid of your existing DLSR? Not by any means! Whether a DSLR or mirrorless, they are after all just tools that both take digital images. But should you buy a DSLR? Now, that’s another matter. If you’re a casual shooter, either is fine. If you are an enthusiast photographer and will be spending on lenses and accessories, then it’s a smarter decision to consider one of the mirrorless camera systems.
But Which Mirrorless System?
Sony is currently top dog with their full-frame mirrorless cameras. Those who desire a smaller, lighter camera/lens combo can’t go wrong with an Olympus or Panasonic Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras. If you prefer dedicated analog-style controls — and some of the best APS-C mirrorless cameras available — Fujifilm command an incredibly loyal following. Keep an eye out on Nikon and Canon which, though battling to come from behind, may be introducing flagship models this year — just in time for Tokyo 2020.
Though the year 2019 seemed rather quiet, probably because everyone was busy working on their flagship models, each mirrorless camera manufacturer also quietly improved its lineup. Will the DSLR still dominate at Tokyo 2020? Maybe, because it takes time to plan for those events and photographic equipment must be ordered and tested and readied well before the event. However, if the camera manufacturers do introduce flagship mirrorless models before the games, then we should be seeing some photographers putting those cameras through their paces.
What Cameras Should Be Built?
There are two features that every new mirrorless camera must have today to succeed with consumers: 1) fast, precise AF (AF Tracking as a bonus); and, 2) improved low-light capability. When you point the camera at a subject and you press the shutter button, it should lock focus precisely and quickly on that subject. And, you should be able to take pictures in normal low light situations (at home, in a classroom, at a birthday party, etc.) without having to worry about noise. In fact, consumers will flock to such a camera, if affordable when paired with a good portrait lens.
Today’s mirrorless cameras lack “personality.” Manufacturers are building all-rounders, then marketing them as the best camera for certain types of photography — but no one is fooled. Manufacturers should build affordable cameras with distinct “personalities”: the best portrait camera, the best travel camera, the best camera/macro lens combo, the best camera for astronomy pictures, the best camera for vlogging, the best camera for underwater photography, the best camera for learning about photography, etc. It is not just a matter of marketing or repositioning an existing model, but rather of truly making such affordable cameras. And no, it is not just a matter of pairing an all-rounder with the appropriate lens. If we want to see increased sales of mirrorless cameras, this is the direction to go.
What Can We Expect in 2020?
At the end of 2017, we suggested that “it will probably take at least five years before mirrorless attains full maturity in the important areas that still need improvement.” And we listed three areas of improvement:
- Accurate and fast Tracking AF in Continuous AF shooting. This is what separates the good from the superb.
- New battery technology (boosting number of frames to the thousands). Pending a battery technology revolution, this is probably the prediction that will miss getting achieved in the next two years.
- Better (much, much, MUCH better) lenses. A mirrorless camera system needs quality lenses in the appropriate focal lengths required for various type of photography to ever be considered seriously. No pro is going to ditch his or her trusted DSLR system for a better mirrorless camera without the quality lenses they require. When Sony understood this, the A7R series became the camera of choice for pros. In 2019, Nikon and Canon have concentrated their effort in producing quality lenses for their respective Z and EOS R series.
Well, since that prediction, three years have gone by, two more remain…
So, expect continued improvements in those three areas, plus better low-light capability.
Thank you — readers, camera manufacturers and PR firms — for your continued support during 2019!
We wish you and your family a safe, prosperous and Happy New Year 2020!
Bonne et heureuse année 2020 !
Remember: No matter which camera you purchase and use, Enjoy your photography!
– Photoxels Editors