Mirrorless, Mirrorless, Where Is Thy Modern Digital Rangefinder?

The mirrorless DSLR is steadily gaining ground against traditionally mirrored DSLR. This is not rocket science since the ONLY reason the DSLR came about was to fix the parallax problem inherent in the rangefinder camera design. With the photographer looking through the optical viewfinder while the camera recording what came through its lens, close ups and telephoto shots were very difficult, if not impossible, to frame correctly. The DSLR with its mirror that reflected the lens coming through the lens up into the optical viewfinder solved that problem, allowing the photographer to see exactly what came through the lens — no matter what lens was attached to the camera.

The mirrorless DSLR goes one step better: it allows the photographer to see not only what comes through the lens, but also exactly what will be recorded on the image sensor! You can’t get better than that (for now).

The mirrorless DSLR design is obviously so much better than the traditional mirrored design that it is a mystery (OK, so it isn’t, it’s all about marketing and fear of cannibalizing current DSLR sales and losing lucrative $$$) why manufacturers of traditional DSLR cameras haven’t wholeheartedly joined the mirrorless paradigm shift.

So it is with great interest that I read the article at Luminous Landscape by Richard Sexton titled “A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design.” I quote:

Third, and most importantly, I firmly believe that when we look at mirrorless cameras we are looking at the progenitors of all future digital cameras. The mirror box and pentaprism, which enables us to see what the lens sees before an image is recorded, is no longer the only way to do it. Composing, focusing, and metering directly off the sensor is arguably the best way to do it and it’s what we do every time we use live view on a DSLR. An EVF is merely eye-level live view. So, the entire reflex housing, which is a significant cost of the camera’s design; contributes to additional noise and vibration when a capture is made; and adds to the mass of the camera itself; may very well go the way of the mechanical watch.

Read the article at: Luminous Landscape.

While many still believe that the traditional mirrored DSLR will “live long and prosper,” it is good to hear from other photographers that they are yearning for camera manufacturers to once and for all get rid of the problematic mirror box and associated pentaprism and get on with the modern digital rangefinder.

It is obvious by now that Nikon is not going that route and will continue to play the 1 System as far as it can. There remains Canon as probably the only camera manufacturer bold enough and technically savvy enough to pull a rabbit out of its DSLR hat. Rumors are that it is planning to introduce its mirrorless offering in August/September 2012. We’ll have to wait and see if Canon reclaims the torch from the 4/3 mirrorless manufacturers — or walks in the footsteps of Kodak.