Scott Bourne and Other Fallout from DSLR Dying article… & Saving Money


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Reactions on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter

Thank you for ALL the conversation threads.  I read them all, even though commenting on all of them is almost impossible… so, I have put many amalgamated responses here!

  • Facebook Threads – Many great points and some confusion/angst too that I hope this post helps…
  • Google+ Threads – A similar discussion to Facebook that broke down along other lines
  • Twitter Threads – A lot of quick thoughts and instant reactions, including a mild disagreement with my friend Stu Maschwitz
Original Article was posted here yesterday:  My original article “DSLRs are a dying breed – 3rd Gen Cameras are the Future

Scott Bourne Analyzes the Haters

A reaction (and unexpected Defense!) from Scott Bourne went up quickly on his blog.  I will quote a bit below. What do you think?

Here is a snippet from Scott’s full article:

I read a few of them and then grew tired of some of the negativity. You have your nay sayers attacking Trey’s post. These people (in my opinion) break down into a few different groups
1. Those who just spent a ton of money on DSLRs and feel the need to defend that decision so they are upset at Trey’s predictions
2. Those who think you need a “big” or “pro-looking” camera to get pro results or to get paid – pretty sure their portfolios would speak volumes about that statement
3. Those who would disagree with Trey no matter what position he took because they think it makes them cool to fight with a genuine thought leader in the field
4. Those who didn’t read the article carefully and didn’t notice some of the qualifiers he mentioned like – the five year time frame – or the fact that people who shoot fast action (like sports or wildlife) may still have a need for DSLRs
5. Pedants who want to prove how smart they are by picking at every little thing like whether or not these really are “third generation” cameras to which I respond “who cares?”

HDR Photo

Will I be capturing images like this without a DSLR next year? Probably. If I can, you can too. It's very exciting...

Further Thoughts… (From Trey, me…. this is getting confusing)

So, remember that I say that DSLR Cameras are indeed a “dyning breed” – it does not mean they are dead. If you (gentle reader) agree that you won’t be using a mechanical mirror-flipping device in the future, then we are in agreement. We may disagree on the rate-of-death — but that is all.

In my judgment, I think the extreme pace of technological change makes this rate-of-death faster than people think, especially given the rate that most camera-owners buy new equipment combined with the inevitable vector of Moore’s Law. I feel confident in saying that most photographers simply want to make interesting images faster and easier.

The path to that future is not one of bulky cameras with flipping innards. It is the one that has been hinted at by the full-frame Leica M9 or the amazing Sony NEX series or any other number of examples. Note that I am not paid or sponsored (now or in the past) by Nikon or Sony or Leica or Panasonic or any camera manufacturer. Because of my recent expose on Photography Magazines, most of them hate me — so I am completely independent and I can clearly state the trends I see.

By identifying these trends, perhaps I can help save you money. Don’t let the popular media goad you into having to dump more money into DSLR technology. Since I already have a good set of DSLR equipment that I will use for the next few years, I am personally not going to not spend any more money on bodies or lenses in this line of cameras. Maybe this is your situation too. (Note that if you are just getting started, then maybe this does not apply, since you are entering the world of photography at a point of tremendous technology upheaval.) I’ll be using my DSLR until these 3rd Gen Cameras make a few more iterations, which will happen faster than most people think.

Ensnared in Flame On my first evening in Barcelona, I dumped my bags in the room them went right out to explore.  Unpacking is so boring... let's face it.I started going down side-streets and back alleys to where I heard activity and motion.  I was more or less zig-zagging my way to Las Ramblas, where there's always a lot of activity.  But I didn't want to go right there.  During the weaving, I found this enormous cathedral nestled between a square of classical looking Spanish buildings.  A performer had lit a unique homemade contraption of flames and was whirling it about.  I got back behind her and set up for this shot.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Caption: I took this photo above with a DSLR, but there is nothing about it that I can’t do with some of these emerging 3rd Gen

  • Quite the uproar you started with this discussion.  Not surprising but I’m guessing the response was even beyond what you expected.

    Part of the “problem” is that technology is advancing so fast in all areas.  If you used the “there will be something much better so don’t buy now” argument for things like smart phones, you’d never buy a new phone because there’s always something new and better just over the horizon.  I think saying DSLRs specifically are dying may be a little strong, everything is dying and being replaced by something new and better.  The point that you may want to hold back on investing in more gear if you’re happy with what you have now is a good one.  However, I don’t think I’d avoid buying a new lens now if I felt it was something I could really use, even if something new and better does arrive, it’s not like my current DSLR will stop taking great photos.

  • Lenses. That’s what’s missing with 3rd-gen cameras like the NEX-5N right now. As soon as those cameras have an array of very sharp lenses (I think the NEX only has three or four right now, including the Carl Zeiss 24mm f/1.8), I may switch completely. However, that could take a while. A long while. I don’t like the idea of using converters. 

    But! Maybe it won’t take so long for me to switch. If Sony or Carl Zeiss produces a 35mm 1.4, 85mm 1.4 or 1.8 and a 200mm 2.8, and maybe a really good and fast wide-angle lens for the NEX system some time this year, I may switch sooner. It’d be a dream to capture all the images I want without lugging around a big camera body and bulky, heavy lenses.

  • Gavin Jackson

    Hi Trey,

    Great article – I’ve been thinking along the same lines too recently and just received an A77 for Christmas. Although it looks the same as its predecessor (the A700), it is a vastly different camera, with several game changing enhancements. I think we are starting to see some true innovation coming out of Sony – we are seeing a convergence between the old Konica Minolta DSLR division and the Cybershot/Handycam tech divisions.

    Having said that, the A77 has a vastly different feel to the A700 and has taken a little while to get used to. I can however sum up this camera with a single photo – at 12 fps I was able to capture this shot of my son (with coloured plastic balls being dropped on him) – to me, this is what the new generation of mirrorless technology brings to the table (which I’m sure many high end DSLR users have been enjoying for a few years already …).

  • Ryan Lynham

    I, for one, am excited. Just think of the potential for hand-held multi-exposure HDRs with these things! (I realize that exposure times will always put that in check, but for shots in bright daylight, for example, this could be a pretty big deal.)

  • Bryan Steffen

    How soon before you attempt to try a 3rd gen camera? or have you truly tried one yet? 

    As another point in the discussion, since the lens is the more important element in capturing a quality photo (when comparing lens or body), Do you not need to wait to see how the line of lenses for these 3rd gen camera bodies shakes out before you make a decision about which path to take?

  • William Beem

    Change always happens, but not always for the reasons that people may think. Sometimes better ideas come along and die quickly because they couldn’t surmount the establishment or marketing of others. Sadly, I have no skill at foretelling the future.  I see your points and don’t know if the rate of death will take longer or not.  In fact, I imagine that a period of co-existence is inevitable for some time and think it may be longer than you proposed due to the established base of products supporting existing DSLRs.  I could be wrong.

    For now, I’ve decided it’s best not to worry about it.  I’ll keep taking photos with my camera (providing it isn’t breaking down on me after that ERR message it tossed up the other night).  The future will let me know when it arrives.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes – played with the Sony A77 and the Nikon V1.  I think my first purchase will be in a few more iterations — although they are very compelling.

  • Anonymous

    To paraphrase Ken Rockwell, it’s not the camera, it’s the photographer. To quote Ken Rockwell, “It’s never been about the
    gear. It’s always been about seeing something, knowing how you want it
    to look, and making it so. Making it so is the easy part; seeing it in
    the first place is what makes a photographer.”. Trey, you’ve proven that by the quality of your images taken with all types of equipment.But, I have to admit, I’m very tempted by the Sony NEX-7, if they would just fix that dang auto bracket range. I really like the reduced weight and no sensor cleaning, someday I might be switching. I can bring my old minolta glass back to life (with an appropriate adapter) while saving for new lenses.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Agreed Ryan – very exciting all around!

  • Peter Speight

    I LOVE the speed of technology now and can’t wait for better gear.  Just hope they make some good converters so I can stretch the value of my heavy lenses a little further.

  • I’ll just take it as it comes.  Will I stick with my DSLRs?  Probably.  Will I buy a 3rd gen?  Likely.  Life is too short to worry about what kinda camera is coming out next.  Cause we all now technology will change a lot and faster than our bank accounts would want.  cheers.

  • Anonymous

    I would add, DO let the media goad you into plunking down cash for a brand new DSLR, if you need a brand new DSLR now. Buy what you need, when you need (or a little before, to have time to practice with it). I long for a silent, mirror-less interchangeable-lens camera in 35mm format (or larger!). But if I need another camera now, I’ll buy a DSLR (or whatever I need).

    If you can wait, then wait. Trey’s point is absolutely, positively, not new. Technology progresses–the latest and greatest has been coming out and just around the corner for centuries. Be careful, lest you fall into the “waiting for new technology” paralysis and miss some jobs, shots, etc., because of that. But do only buy what you need, ’cause technology is changing pretty quick.

  • Kimberly Shoemaker

    Is she spinning fire? 

  • As much as hate the truth, I can handle the truth.  I have an affection to how the lens feels in the hands over the years (even if that has changed across 20+ years).  You speak the truth.  What I am excited about is the idea that I will be able to get my underwater gear to all fit in a small backpack in the not too distant future.  That takes the edge off of the pain of hearing my glass won’t work with the next gen cameras.  (like a nice 20 YO bottle of scotch does)  – Cheers and don’t let the nay sayers even cause you a hiccup.  We love your art and inspiration. 

    Rick Shoaf
    Richard Shoaf Photography –

  • Technology moves on – its innevitable that these changes will happen. I guess many people had these arguements when digital first came along. I am sure I remember comments that there would never be a “digital” SLR as the technology couldnt cope.

  • have you tried the Panasonic GF3?

  • Here’s a Thought. Without reading the comments so excuse me if this has been mentioned.

    I still find clients want “Pro Looking Gear” Coming from 10 years of Videography, I used DVX100b =, 100a and then a Sony DSR ENG shoulder DVCAM Camera and I got more work and it was SOLEY due to the camera type.

    I own  a D7000 and plan on picking up a D700 body. I fnd with a Flash and a GF Diffuser & Blackrapid, there is no mistaking what I am there to do. Future Clients asking for cards, because they are impressed, photos unseen

    I don’t think a bride, Party Planner, or Corp Type is going to feel “confident and proud” to have some guy using a camera close to what their neighbor has or it looks like it…

    I do believe as I delve deeper and deeper into Photography. I have always taken a good photo, throwaways, 110’s, box, K1000 or my current Nikon.

    @dale_coz:disqus   Right on: To paraphrase Ken Rockwell, it’s not the camera, it’s the photographer.


    But Its Really about the Next Client…

    Thanks @google-c1ec23de8292d904dc213eba8bf1d17d:disqus  Great stuff! Learned a lifetime worth of knowledge from you already.

  • such a stupid article and statements. OF COURSE you can do photos like this without a DSLR. they are just landscape photos, you can process an iphone photo with Topaz and make it look like a HDR. BFD

  • Anonymous

    Electronic Viewfinders? Interchangeable Lenses? THAT’S JUST EVIL!

  • Can open, worms everywhere. Trey you’ve really done it now. Ironically I have been in the process of writing a Big vs Small post for my own blog.

    I’ll give you 2 quick snips here – About 2006 or so, an acquaintance of mine had a Craig’s List photog with 2 big Canon Mk Whatever cams shoot his wedding. The bride came out blue in every shot. I spent a week in between jobs color correcting the images for him. And back last year, I took the big DSLRs to shoot a client job. Of course they were wowed. But I also took along a Leica M8 to grab a few snapshots. The boy art director (recent college grad) commented that I could get a point & shoot that was much smaller than that and that I should check around at B&H. So much for client knowledge in the large pool where a lot of us swim. Yes there are very knowledgeable ADs out there – this wasn’t one of them.

    The proof is in output, and these days I pretty much don’t care how I get there. The little uproar here reminds me of the digital vs film war. I still like film. 5 years from now I am sure I will still love my DSLRs, including my old Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n (here’s hoping it’s still alive in 2017). I still take the old Kodak cam out on jobs that are suitable for it.

    As technology advances, you are just silly not to explore and take advantage of it. About 6 months ago, I was primed to buy an Oly Pen, but I’m glad I waited, because the 2012 market will bring things I only dreamed about in 1982 and in a very small package. Iv’e now been looking at the Pana GH2, but alas the Nikon fetish reared it’s ugly head again with all the recent commotion about the new D4. So a little bit of a hitch here for my buying plans, but I am sure I’ll weather through. I’m going to make the best decision for myself.

    You can either look forward, or be left behind. Your choice.

  • I can’t imagine chef’s getting upset/angry/inflamed about cooker technology the way that photographers can get upset/angry/inflamed about camera body technology.  Most of the new technology will be bought and (ab)used by people using a fraction of the capabilities of the equipment, like middle aged men buying high powered sportscars that they are unable to drive to 50% of their potential (and I speak as an overweight middle-aged man!). 

  • Trey, regarding your last image caption “I took this photo above with a DSLR, but there is nothing about it that I can’t do with some of these emerging 3rd Gen Cameras.”.  I haven’t seen a compact camera and more specifically a lens, that can beat the wide angle performance of the 14-24 on a D3X.  The wide angle options I have seen pale in comparison both in distortion and sharpness.  I don’t think it will be trivial to create a lens that good in a smaller form factor.

  • “I don’t think a bride, Party Planner, or Corp Type is going to feel “confident and proud” to have some guy using a camera close to what their neighbor has or it looks like it… ”

    I have to agree with this one. When I pull out my “big gun” at an event…last being our corporate Santa visit where I was following Santa around as he greeted and gave out candy to the employees, everyone “knew” immediately that I was the photographer and what my job was. Had I been snapping shots with a point and shoot, they would assume I am just having fun as one of the employees capturing a “Facebook” moment. Sorry but “image” is everything. Great analogy would be driving a luxury brand vehicle…why would you do that if there are cars that are better at gas mileage, and “greener” etc. Gets you to the same place doesn’t it? Why even still have luxury brands or big SUV’s? Because there will be a segment of the population that will give you special treatment for driving one. It still commands respect.  That being said, why can’t new and old live harmoniously together? There will be a market for the “pro look” in cameras, but there will also be a market for portability and convenience as well. I say this is a free country so let the market decide.

  • James Goldstein

    I’m glad you posted this.  I started with a Sony A55 and moved to a Canon 5DII.  I moved to the Canon for lens selection, the optical viewfinder, the ability to go really wide, and light-capturing abilities.  I think your comments are spot on though.  The A55 is not a great camera for a picky photographer but it’s first gen.  I’m sure it will get much better.  I love taking sports photos and the A55, for all of its 10fps stickers, doesn’t even compare to my 4fps 5DII.  

  • James Goldstein

    That’s one huge problem with these systems: 2.8 200, will it ever come?

  • Quite a can of worms Trey…quite a can of worms.  One might also predict DSLR manufacturers would Moore’s Law up with new and accelerating technological advances to make their equipment competitive (I mean besides greater megapixels and lower noise at higher ISO).  Who would have seen the DSLR revolution in filmmaking five years ago (yeah I am sure some dude did).  All technologies will expand exponentially to unforeseen places that enrich everything we do and I for one am super excited to see where we go.  I keep waiting for my flying cars.  And honestly, I would be really happy it if I didn’t have to lug so much heavy equipment around!

  • Ryan Helweg

    When considering the viability of this change on the scale you suggest, I believe it is important to think about the amount of capital people have invested in their current camera setups.  I understand the benefits of the 3rd gen camera as you have listed them, but the question is for all the photographers out there who have $10,000 – 30,000 invested in their lenses and equipment: Are you going to throw that all away for not just a new and untested camera, but more importantly for a new and untested camera market?  One of the main reasons that Nikon and Canon have been perennial frontrunners with market share in the photography industry is the universiality of their lenses.  If you were a Nikon or Canon owner in the 80s with a sizable les collection, you were throwing away anything when you decided to finally bite the bullet and switch up to the new DSLR frame, you just kept all your lenses and kept going.  Sure you ended up buying newer / sharper / better lenses as they came out and you were interested, but you didnt have to do it all at once. 

    History is littered with instances of better technology being left on the roadside for a lesser technology due to its marketability or poor implementation.  It would seem that one of the best ways for these new 3rd gen cameras to achieve their true potential is to run two product “lines”, if you will.  One like you see them; small, versatile, etc., and a second “pro line”.  This would be a more traditional DSLR format that would use 3rd gen tech, but built in a body that would work with current-gen lenses and equipment (one small adapter could allow it to work with current and 3rd gen lenses).  This would allow owners to segue into the new format comfortably.  Perhaps the two lines would eventually fold into one single type, perhaps not.  Consider trying to put a Speedlight flash on the equivalent of a point and shoot camera, or think about trying to stabilize for a 600m zoom shot.  Many people complain about the smaller size of the Canon 60D over the 50D, and I have a hard time using the Rebels comfortably (I have big hands). 

    The long and the short of it is this:  The new “Capture Technology” (i.e. Mirrorless) may be the capture tech of the future, but it wont succeed if it has to battle agaisnt an already well established and entrenched technology.  Perhaps one of the best ways for established manufacturers to make inroads with marketing this new technology is to make it in two formats: a “point and shoot” size, and a full bodied “DSLR” format that doesnt ostracise current DSLR owners.  Its just better marketing.

  • Anonymous

    Yes,  I’ve tried one.  I’ve been a Nikon user for over 39 years … and that included film for 29 years.  I was doing “grain peeking” long before the term “pixel peeking” became popular.  I was amazed at the quality of my $1,995 D100;  it’s been uphill ever since.  I’m getting old.  I grew tired of carrying the weight of my Nikon bodies and lenses around.  I recently bought an Olympus micro 43 system consisting of two P2s, a PL3, and a smattering of Olympus and Panasonic lenses.  My conclusion:  A DSLR consists of three independent systems: (1) the SLR; (2) the so-called “live view”; and (3) the menu system.  In the mirrorless realm, all three of these are integrated into one system: I can “see” what I will capture before I press  the  shutter button; I can change menu selections before pressing the shutter based on what I saw.  Hence, I can visualize what I will print and post on the wall before I press the shutter.  With my Nikon film and digital cameras, all of that was speculation.  Similar to film, I did not know what I took until I processed the film or (DSLR) processed the raw.  I still have my Nikon system (at one time consisting of three DSLR bodies and 23 lenses).  Now, I don’t know what I saw in it.  I love micro 43; the P2 (and I can suppose the P)3) are the perfect form factor for me with a mind-boggling range of menu customization.  The Olympus lenses are also sharper  than my Nikon lenses.  In 2002, I dumped my film cameras for digital because I saw the handwriting on the wall.  In 2012, I’m dumping my Nikon DSLR system because I see the handwriting on the wall.  Mirrorless is the future with respect to cost, quality, form factor, and size and weight.  By the way, the pixel  and IQ wars were over years ago.  I printed beautiful 11×14 prints from my 6 MP D100.  What could we possible be looking for in 30 MP sensors?    

  • Hey I really would like to see the photos you have got on the Red EPIC!!! 

  • So much heat, so little light. This subject really seems to hit people close to home.  I just wanted to say thanks for the heads up. From what I can see you’re predicting cameras & lens will get smaller, lighter, less expensive with an increasingly small penalty in quality. That seems like a compelling argument for mirror-less cameras. My wife (a Realtor who can’t haul around a big fat DSLR) really liked the idea. There is likely going to be a much larger market for this technology than the sorts of folks that follow StuckInCustoms. The size of that market is going to drive improvement in the technology. I can’t wait for the wave to get started.

  • It’s inevetible that change will come. We have seen it coming with the advances in camara phones and the point-and-shoot compact cameras which are primarily software and electronically driven. I have a hard time believing that photographers, established and up and coming, are that rooted in the current technology that they will not either convert sooner or later. At some point-in-time we all came to grips with the fact that film was no longer practical, though some of us had tens of thousands of dollars in analog equipment (fortunately not me). Believe it or not the most significant factor in this does not lie with those who are well invested in DSLR technology. What we can’t forget is that there are going to be millions of up and coming photographers nipping at our heels who when ready to lay down some cash aren’t going to go out and purchase yesterday’s technology, they will buy state-of-the-art cameras, computers and software.  

  • Alan Morris

    You make valid points. For me my current full frame DSLR is great for low light and quality but is a pain in the a*s to drag around for normal day to day shooting.  I am using a small mirrorless camera and can see the potential. Hurry up tomorrow !!

  • Jim Taylor


    Here’s a perspective from a very amateur photographer but someone
    20 years deep in the computer industry and with a fair amount of higher
    education in technology.


    For a long, LONG time now devices of all sorts have been
    hardware focused.  Your camera, TV,
    phone, automobile, personal computer, car stereo, medical equipment, door lock,
    cotton gin, you name it.


    In recent decades, software has enabled staggering new
    capabilities and efficiencies across the board, but these improvements have
    been tightly coupled with and bound to the hardware architecture for which the
    software was authored.


    We recently reached a technology inflection point that has
    turned that paradigm upside down.


    Cameras are part of a category of devices with a simple
    linear capability cycle: capture, compute, (optionally) record, and
    reproduce.  Rinse and repeat.  That’s it. 
    Just like stereos, phones, TVs, and so on.


    Trey’s comments on 3rd gen cameras are simply an
    accurate replay of the revolution that has already taken place in this
    category.  What was your mobile phone
    experience like before June of 2007 (first iPhone release)?  Buy any tube TVs lately?  My phone has three buttons on it and frankly
    their placement is irrelevant to its operation because it’s all about the
    software and interface design.  Cameras
    are late to this revolution, not early.


    Capturing photons in an increasingly smaller space with
    increasingly greater accuracy will become more standardized and commoditized,
    as will the enormously complex algorithms used to make it a simpler, more human
    consumable activity.  The remaining
    differentiators will be purely software, NOT hardware, and centered primarily on
    human interface.


    The software will use the hardware only for its core purpose:
    a raw capture device.  The hardware party
    is over.  It’s all software now.  Well, that and glass, but they all know how
    to make good glass…so you better hope that your preferred manufacturer hires
    good software developers and user interface designers because from here on out
    that’s the secret sauce.


    To deny the simple truth of Trey’s comments is to deny the
    existing reality in your kitchen, in your car, and behind the screen at which you’re
    staring.  Apologies for the long post.

  • Todd Myrick

    What would Ansel Adams do?
    “No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”

    – Ansel Adams

  • Jim Taylor

    Oh gosh forgive the atrocious spacing in my post.  That’s the last time I copy n paste from MS Word for Mac OS.

  • R R

    Great post anyways Jim…

    Also, I can picture some people saying to their clients in the future…”Wait a minute, your giving the job to Joe and his little camera??…but, I have a BIG one!”

  • Gr8 Pics , so far i am new into photography so don’t know much about DSLR …… although i wish u success…

  • Jim Taylor

    Thanks R R, and that’s a funny point.  As Trey mentioned in yesterday’s note though, I think it will still come down to one’s portfolio and ‘size won’t matter.’  😉

  • In Japan, where many of the more well known camera brands are developed, the huge market for these new 3rd Generation cameras is the young female market. This market is the hottest selling sector in Japan at the moment as young females have the most disposable income and willingness to buy new things.

    The 3rd Gen camera pamphlets in Japan all feature almost 100% coverage of females (age group 20’s, early 30’s) using the cameras to take pictures of food, pets and travel with their other female friends. There are no guys featured in these pamphlets. The stores are pushing the cameras as being lighter and easier to use, due to lack of mirror, although, they are not actually that much lighter if at all, the marketing push sounds good all the same.

    As with the first digital cameras, serious photographers didnt give them much notice at the start, but they soon got better and better, buoyed on by sales of non professional and often first time photographers. Then the cameras and their photographic quality started to become as good and then better than analog ones.

    I agree with Trey that the mirror based digital camera is now seeing its main competitor being introduced and that eventually it will be replaced by it in many situations. Whilst you may still want a top of the line DSLR for some situations, you are going to see less development dollars spent on the DSLR cameras as companies encouraged by sales of 3rd Gen cameras start reworking their budgets and diverting R&D dollars to where the new revenue streams come from.

    The camera industry is viewing a boom time at the moment. Japan has a lot of innovation and recognized brands, but don’t be surprised if some new brands also take advantage of this change and join in.

    Timeline ? Depends a lot on the buyers of cameras. I think the market will see an initial pickup of sales from first time photographers, or first time point and shoot photographers who have graduated from their mobile or iphones. In Japan this market is flying. Everyone who has taken a photo with their small mobile or iphone is thinking, hey with a proper camera I could take better pics, and when they go to the store the 3rd Gen cameras are center stage. Keep in mind, in Japan it is the 20’s female market doing all the buying, so expect lighter cameras with simpler features and light body colors. Think dogs, cats, flowers and food for ideal photo content. The rest of the market can catch up after the initial push from this 20’s female market(called F1 market, in Japan)

  • susan ratcliff

    great analysis!

  • susan ratcliff

    me too!

  • I can’t wait to get back to talking about the actual photos again 🙂

  • Yeah I kinda guessed you’d opened up a can of worms on that one – I was suprised when I wrote my first comment that there weren’t already a string of haters in there… but then the time difference between Europe and the US kicked in and.. well… s**t happened. I think you did the right thing speaking your mind and the truth!

  • i agree with the general idea half-heartedly.  until i see an EVIL have easily accessible functions, large μ pixel size sensor (not necessarily large sensor), good loups for EVIL, and fast shutter speed as well as fast shutter down respond time.  no, i don’t see EVIL replacing DSLR for most professional work, at least not most of Trey’s work even.  until that iteration of machines show up that is, which i don’t think will be as soon as Trey thinks it will.  Nikon 1’s are beautiful machines, so is the NEX-7, but their photo quality are hardly comparable at ISO 200.  even though most people may not mind heavily PS’ed photo work, some still do, and good DSLRs and D-MFs will still be the staple for years to come as a more efficient and functional film replacement.  EVIL in the foreseeable future are at most rangefinder replacement.  the mirrorless technology however, might be integrated into larger DSLR bodies soon, does that make it an EVIL camera?  so will it be a mirrorless DSLR or a big fat EVIL?  whatever.  if it takes a good photo, it’s a good camera.

  • I read your post very carefully, I am a textile artist who has gone to uni to study fine art.  I needed to buy a camera and wanted to see what you had to say about it.  I follow your blog and respect your opinion.  I was fascinated to hear what you said about the new generation cameras and I also agree that they are the future.  But I had to think about now, so with my meagre student finance I bought a 2nd hand D90 with a couple of lenses with the intention of about 3 years time when my income will hopefully be higher I will get a 3rd gen.  Technology is changing at such a fast rate who knows what will be available in five years…  I was so tempted to get the V1 though 😉  Freud would have had a lot to say about men who didn’t want to give up their big camera and lenses lol 

  • Keep up the good fight! I look forward to great discussions and evaluations of the successes and failures of new technologies.

  • Evan Gearing

    My thought on this is that I think the DSLR body still will stay, but that it’s innards will go with the new technology.  Maybe I’m off on that but I think that there is so much glass for SLRs/DSLRs out there already and so many people are used to the ergonomics of an SLR/DSLR feels  that eventually the mirror and all the mechanisms that go with that will be thrown out and more computer functionality will be inserted in its place.  Good post and article.. You have definitely brought food for thought…

  • Anonymous

    Great discussion and analysis, Trey.  Have a wonderful Friday. Keep up the good work, always enjoy your posts!!

  • The argument
    about whether we will move to mirror less cameras is mute – yes we will be
    there and traditional DSLRs will be part of the history. What these mirror less
    (or whatever term industry will adopt for them) cameras are going to look like
    is hard to say, probably different body factors to accommodate different
    markets. Anyone arguing against it is a fool.

    The controversy
    in article is by you saying that you will not invest anymore $ into new D4
    bodies or any other new DSLRs. I think it is perfectly fine decision because
    you already have their top of the line bodies – D3x and D3s. Of course you can
    continue shooting for another 2-3 years with those cameras. Based on reviews of
    D4 it is targeted for action/sport photographers and not many features in D4 will
    improve HDR photography. You are not doing video with it, so it is not going to
    hinder your work.

    I think you
    could write up in a bit more clear way for all those folks who does not have
    full frame cameras and want to have one and get all the benefits of it the suggestion
    of why they should not invest or why they should invest in full frame. By
    saying that D4 or D800 will be replaced in 2-3 years by new technology and you
    should not buy it is like saying that you should not buy a laptop today because
    it will be obsolete in 6 month and you can get a better one in 6 month. If you
    want to shoot today, you need to have equipment today. So maybe providing clear
    message for folks who does not have top of the line equipment today would make
    it less controversial.


  • You might be curious to look into a phenomenon known as Disruption or Disruptive Innovation by Clay Christensen. To a certain extent, his work backs what you’re proposing. The only thing to be careful of is that 3rd gens don’t get stuck in a position similar to what Netbooks did in the PC market. Those with high requirements stuck with laptops; those with low requirements ended up using tablets or smartphones. There’s an argument to be made that these mirror less cameras will turn out exactly like this; not small enough/cheap enough to displace camera phones, and not good enough to displace existing SLRs.

    Cheers for the interesting article.

    — james

  • Bill Dodd

    I like it when you pick your battles, Trey.   I’ve seen you dodge some dodgy-ones in hangouts, probably in the spirit of “not yet….. for this topic..”   When you dig in and throw down in knowledgable editorial mode, it makes me want to pay a subscription just to read your site..  I’ve really enjoyed reading your thoughts and those of the internet mob when it comes to the inevitability that mechanical mirror flipping will go away, magazine advertising effectiveness sliding and watermarks.   
    Thank you for bring genuine.. thought.. to the internet.

  • I think it’s really exciting that there is a new emerging type of camera. And I think it’s great for photography!
    And if I have the money in the next couple of years then I would definitely get one.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I would through my DSLR in the bin though? I think there would be room in my life for both!!!

    One of the things I love about photography is the fact that it’s individual, whether that’s what you like to shoot or what you think looks good or what moves you. That’s why there is so much depth in photography and photographers.

    And that goes the same for our gear…

    Trey, we need photographers like you who can give us advice and show us how things could be, and I thank you for that!

  • Geren W. Mortensen, Jr.

    I’m an agree-er. I’ve already started a transition away from mirror-flipping cameras, and moved to a Sony translucent mirror body — I still like the “feel” of an SLR-like body a little better than a rangefinder-like body, even though I also do a lot of my for-fun shooting with a point-n-shoot camera.

    When I first saw the original Sony NEX-5, I was flabbergasted by the quality. I almost bought one on the spot. My next camera may very well be an NEX-7, if I don’t opt for the SLT-A65. Either way, no more flippy mirrors for me!

  • Bill Dodd

    I was kinda waiting for the Nex-7 -it looks great — after reading Gordon Laing’s reviews, I opted for the A77, I have to say — it has been a very enjoyable camera to use!   Good luck!

  • Bill Dodd

    The like button along didn’t adequately express my love for your reply. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Sorry if I double-posted. I’m new here. 🙂

  • They are all tools, whatever comes to hand is the best one to use in the moment. The most important piece of equipment to continue upgrading is wet-wired between your ears and behind your eyes. Bryter Layter

  • Trey, I agree with you and Scott but have taken a bit of a different tack than some others from the moment I read the first line of your article yesterday. My response was, “Cool, I will be able to get newer DSLR gear at a lower price!”

    First of all this type of evolution happens with every other type of electronic equipment, why should cameras be any different (think video game consoles at $800 a pop every 5-6 years + games and accessories).

     But people always want to resist change for a variety of reasons as Scott’s point illustrate. The irony in this instance is no one is saying that the nay-sayers have to change anything. Instead you just identified what direction you are heading and giving some friendly advice. I don’t recall you or anyone in the video or article stating, “Get a 3rd Gen camera or you are a tool and your photography sucks!”

    What I am looking forward to as 3rd Gen cameras make their impact on the market is the reduction in cost of DSLRs. If patterns hold true I will be able to get better technology (as far as DSLRs are concerned) for a lower cost.  As people upgrade their cameras and lenses the market will be flooded with used gear and I and many other hobbyists will be waiting there to scoop it up.

    Honestly I hope these 3rd Gens take off sooner rather than later as it will allow me to get my hands on newer DSLR technology for a lower price.

    I myself wouldn’t rush out and fork over the dough on a 3rd Gen until I am 100% sure there is something to be gained from the investment that I can’t gain from a DSLR.

  • Topics like this will always be controversial guy’s… but guess the saving grace is that technology is so fast it often makes hater’s look like silly bugger’s a lot faster than in Giotto’s day.  I mean yeh… imagine some dude insisting, “Yo…the world is round not flat you dumb a$$e$,”  between c. 1267 – 1337. You got a whole lot of cinicism, hate and flack for a whole lot longer for speaking you’re mind e.g. decades of, “What a complete moron… of course it isn’t round or we’d all fall off it!” 
    Certainly hope I didn’t come across as a hater by elaborating on the shelf life of
    the average DSLR camera. I was merely trying to subdue the DSLR freaks by fleshing out the “rate of death” stuff with a few technical facts (which can be found in any specs  or manual about such).  And that was just to soften the blow of people who have just paid through the nose for DSLR gears and take the heat off. LOL.

  • I have to agree with you here Trey – as a working photojournalist over the past ten years I am constantly amazed at the size of the camera “needed” to do the job. I am getting really tired of lugging around crazy amounts of gear – even Alex Majoli from Magnum took two Olympus point and shoots to Afghanistan a few years ago. When the Panasonic Lumix GF1 came out a few years I knew the game was changing – the leaked photos of the new Fuji X-Pro camera also look promising. Give us quality images and quality glass in a small portable size – and you will see leagues of professionals switch in a heartbeat.

  • Anonymous

    Trey you’re definitely a forward thinker at times a bit arrogant, but I think that’s a required characteristic to get to the position you’re in. Steve Jobs was a forward thinker also extremely arrogant, but he envisioned a world without floppy drives long before they were dead, he for the most part killed the CD, and he dreamt up a phone with only one button!

    The problem with proclaiming the death to DSLRs is that you’re in the position to say that these new cameras are worth waiting for. You have all the equipment that many of us can only dream of having a chance to rent let alone own. I’ve never even seen a D3X! Maybe that automatically disqualifies me from making any comment on the matter, but the fact is that you have all this stuff and you can definitely continue to shoot with it for years to come without needing to invest another penny in new equipment.

    There WILL be a replacement to the DSLR just like there was a replacement to film. Even movie theaters have gone fully automated now (I should know my part time job as a projectionist was replaced by a machine in September). 

    Anyways, I just wanted to voice my two cents on the matter, I hope you enjoy the comment and I can’t wait to see what kind of photos you can produce with this new generation of cameras (being that they’re supposedly better than what you currently have). 

  • Anonymous

    In fairness to the reaction of some of Trey`s critics, it shouldn`t be surprising that such a loud, bold and contentious title as ” DSLR`s are a Dying Breed” created some protest? Trey, you are  an artist and visionary but a lot of us are pretty happy with our technology moment (i.e. D4, D800 or) and we`re not as anxious for this vision as you are? I`m sure it is coming but I`m also sure that a new D800 fitted with my 28-300 and a quality wide angle will rock for years to come! Your transformation will come as it has with much recent tech but I`m not ready to give up my Macbook Pro or Nikon lenses just yet. I think I`ll just walk down this hill for at least another 5 years and see where you stand? If the quality and cost are really there then I`ll stand with you. All the best and I love your work!

  • Todd Myrick

    Steve Jobs also died because he didn’t trust science and technology. He was
    narcissistic and paid the highest price for being it. Lets face it. Trey is no
    Steve Jobs. Unless he puts his money where his mouth is and forms a company to
    compete with Nikon and Cannon with his vision, he is just a pundit with a blog.

    I find it kind of funny that a guy who post every piece of photo gear he uses
    on his blog railing against the next generation of cameras. I mean, the D4 was
    just announced today and it has built-in HRD capability and can shoot 9 RAW
    images pretty fast, you would think he would be dying to at least give it a
    try. Maybe he is ticked at Nikon for not inviting him to be one of their
    featured photographers.

    I find it hard to believe Trey will not buy one, granted the D4 is more for
    sports photography, he will probably wait for the D4X, but the D800 with 32MP at
    1/2 the price, come on.

    My bet is Trey has a review up for both cameras by the end of the year.

    I think this whole series of articles is just a stunt to drive more traffic
    to his site or feed his ego.

    Personally, I enjoy looking at the pictures and figuring out if I can do them
    myself and how. I can do without the theatrics.

    More Pew Pew Photos, less QQ please.

  • Todd Myrick

    Steve Jobs also died because he didn’t trust science and technology. He was
    narcissistic and paid the highest price for being it. Lets face it. Trey is no
    Steve Jobs. Unless he puts his money where his mouth is and forms a company to
    compete with Nikon and Cannon with his vision, he is just a pundit with a blog.

    I find it kind of funny that a guy who post every piece of photo gear he uses
    on his blog railing against the next generation of cameras. I mean, the D4 was
    just announced today and it has built-in HRD capability and can shoot 9 RAW
    images pretty fast, you would think he would be dying to at least give it a
    try. Maybe he is ticked at Nikon for not inviting him to be one of their
    featured photographers.

    I find it hard to believe Trey will not buy one, granted the D4 is more for
    sports photography, he will probably wait for the D4X, but the D800 with 32MP at
    1/2 the price, come on.

    My bet is Trey has a review up for both cameras by the end of the year.

    I think this whole series of articles is just a stunt to drive more traffic
    to his site or feed his ego.

    Personally, I enjoy looking at the pictures and figuring out if I can do them
    myself and how. I can do without the theatrics.

    More Pew Pew Photos, less QQ please.

  • Bob Prangnell

    Why is it that people who have different opinions to you are “haters”?

  • Bob Prangnell

    >> Because of my recent expose on Photography Magazines, most of them hate me

    I somehow doubt that. Most of them probably don’t know who you are. You are only world famous on this blog.

  • Anonymous

    There’s obviously going to be change and improvement in technology…I don’t know how anyone could argue with that, but smaller is not necessarily going to be better. I think it’s fair for Trey to say that the DSLR mirror will die eventually, but the body shouldn’t.

      Since using a DSLR, I’ve really enjoyed the ergonomics of a larger camera body…it’s more natural in the hand. A larger body such as the DSLR provides room for buttons for rapid access to adjust basic settings while shooting. I’m stating the obvious because this would all essentially disappear with smaller “third generation” ILCs that are targeted for professionals/enthusiasts. All the big brands would have to create new lens line-ups for people to invest in, and Netflix could happen all over again by irritating those who invested money in lenses that would be obsolete. What about converters for the “old” lenses? That wouldn’t work, because that would go against the whole idea of smaller ILCs. Picture a 70-200 2.8 attached to a Nikon J1. It’s hypothetical, but go with it for a second here. 

    As far as travel and hauling equipment around…you would still be hauling stuff around with your new “third generation” ILC. No offense to anyone, but that’s something we should all get over.We’ll go with this hypothetical situation where smaller “third generation” ILCs don’t really suit those professionals/enthusiasts as much as the outdated DSLRs. Consumers? Eh, maybe. People wanting a step up from their cell phone without diving into the buttons of a DSLR  but still wanting to change lenses to get good images at a lower price than most DSLRs are the only people that I can see wanting a small ILC for everyday use. (That’s basically the the definition of a mirrorless/third generation/whatever camera.) Pros and enthusiasts? Not as much. What about Leica? Superb and expensive and fits in with this “third generation” idea for a pro camera with a full frame censor and all the bells and whistles… for the MANUAL photographer. Auto focus can really come in handy… Note that I am not nocking on Leica at all…they know what’s up, but most of us use some sort of automatic feature when shooting. A perfect example would be auto bracketing when shooting HDR photos 🙂

    I’ll come back to ergonomics to conclude. Trey, I love your work, but I can’t say that smaller equipment will be better. I think the big brands should incorporate the technological evolution into what we know as “DSLR bodies” and engineer them in a way that their lenses will still be compatible. (Sony). I don’t think Canon/Nikon will “Netflix” themselves any time soon. Why would I buy a smaller camera that doesn’t feel natural when I already have something that does? Ultimately, there should always be products available, such as the telephone (Trey mentioned the iPhone in this video), that contour to the human figure, and I don’t think cameras are any different. We can keep making things smaller, but there is a point where that crosses the line of practicality. There should always be the “DSLR body” in my opinion, but we’ll see how this plays out. We’ll see how the Nikon J1/V1 do in comparison to the rest of their line of camera products.

    Use whatever you want though. That’s all that really matters. 

  • D L

    Personally you’re a tool.

  • I’m finding this discussion/debate hilarious. 

    If you are worried about being obsolete or about investing in a dying technology, you need to stay in bed and pull the sheets up over your head.  If its electronic, its obsolete and a dying technology the moment you hit the “on” button.

    One of the best photos circulating the Internet of the Dan Walden IndyCar crash in Las Vegas, was taken with a Nikon D40.  Proving that with a media room filled with the newest professional equipment and life long sports photographers, was beat out by a up and coming photo journalist with a camera that is no longer made. 

    So you don’t need the best, newest, smallest or biggest piece of equipment to get killer photos.  It’s the mechanics behind the camera that counts (the person taking the picture)

    As a professional Tour Director, I see all kinds of cameras, photographers and pictures.  I also get to handle some of the newest cameras out there, pro and amateur. .   Some of the best photos I have seen from my guests have been taken with a film camera and smart phone cameras. 

    The annual tech/gadget fest known as the Consumer Electronics Show, hits Las Vegas this week.  It will be interesting to see what the camera companies are pushing as the “must have” gadget.  And what is really the “must Have” camera toy of the new year.  Usually the one break out product in each category, comes from a company you would not expect it from (who would have thought Amazon would be the best iPad knockoff??)

    A lot can happen in 5 years.  By x-mas 2012, the 3rd gen camera may be obsolete, so I’m not really worried about my D80 or being obsolete.  When its time to upgrade, I will see what works for me and my clients and buy that… 

  • Casper van Zyl

    i thought i would be n0 70 as thats my next birth day.Change will always be there,so it only matters to those that need it or those that want it. Big or small does not matter its what suits you.If i had big mitts,sure as hell would not be buying a minox c as i can see my fingers and don’t want to photograph them because they ,that is you fingers will get in the way.Big is not always better,I have 2 DSLRs,not that every one has one,they feel comfortable in my hand. I’ve tested others and feel uncomfortable,new will come as things change fast in the electronic field but so what ? if you can afford and waste money its your choice. So good luck to all you big spenders,me I’ll carry on shooting with mine till I feel i need change.At the moment if I choose to shoot a picture without a mirror I set the camera as such no big deel.

  • Joey Millard

    Trey I agree with you about the future. But, I think you are not taking into account the vested interest of the business conglomerates (i.e. Nikon, Canon, Sony, etc.). They have so much to gain by slowly trickling out new technology that will make dslrs obsolete. That is why I think it will be a slower death. Just my two cents. Thanks. 

  • Trey, I agree that eliminating mirror from the camera is a logical and necessary step forward but why do you think that you will not be able to use available lenses?  As far as I understand  Sony’s SLT cameras belong to the 3rd Generation but they use the same mount and the same lenses as Sony Alpha? Why could not Nikon or Canon do the same? Make a Pro level camera without a mirror but at least supporting existing lenses?

  • Anonymous

    Whereas the so-called 3rd gen cameras are that it shrinks the body significantly, the lens itself is quite large for telephoto zoom lenses. Take a look at the size of the telephoto lens for Panasonic’s, Olympus’s or Sony’s 3rd Gen cameras. Shorter than an equivalent 35mm lens, sure, but not small enough to fit into your jacket pocket or purse. So, is it really such a breakthrough? We’ve had small, compact film cameras before, and they had a niche. Rangefinders, remember? It’ll be a real breakthrough if they can improve the teeny-weeny sensors on P&S cameras to approach that of a DSLR. They have to, IMHO, because otherwise smartphones will each their lunch. 

    3rd gen cameras are neat for people who are intimidated by an SLR, or are willing to shoot only wide-angle with the default pancake lens (like street photographers). If one is willing to tow a long telephoto zoom, I can’t see the point of the 3rd gen camera. The body is small, but the lens is still large. 

  • What kind of film do these new cameras take? Oh, is film dead? The death of film has been predicted for quite some time but it’s still hanging on in there. Like LP records and tubes.

    It’s easy for rich folks like Trey to toss several tens of thousands of lenses away and go with the latest and greatest. But a lot of serious DSLR users have a significant investment in lenses – they realize the bodies are almost disposable, but the lenses are not. So unless Canon/Nikon make compatible 3G cameras there will be a lot of non-takers.

    Another technical hurdle is DSLR style (ie speed) autofocus. This is not so easy to do without a mirror and the solutions so far are less than perfect. I don’t see this mentioned in Trey’s vision

  • Andrew Cher

    Have you seen the WVIL concept camera? Google it or find a demo on Youtube. I would trade my Canon for a camera like that in a hartbeat! Any smartphone nowadays has more brainpower than the camera’s UI chip. There are absolutely no reason not to use Android on camera bodies — this will allow openness of the camera platform and interchangeability of the lenses.

    Check out the video why this camera is called “Wireless Viewfinder”.

    The best part? That it can take and reuse any existing lens via adapter. We don’t have to throw out our most precious lenses! We can keep everything and get a new sensor every other year (they are interchangeable as well). Hoooraaah! )))

  • Bob Prangnell

    I guess Apple needs to make a camera

  • Actually, I have a question about the 3G cameras and the DSLRS.  See, I would like to be ‘pro’ but at the moment my kit is a Cannon EOS 550D and the two kit lenses that came with.  I have been thinking about putting down some serious cash to get a better lens or two – like the 50mm f/1.2L USM.  But then I read your article and I totally agree about the 3G cameras coming.  

    And now I don’t know whether to save for a new camera rather than the lenses.  What do you think would be best to do?  I would appreciate any advice you can give; oh and I tend to shoot landscape, macro, a few portraits and wildlife.  Yeh, mixed bag I know.    Thanks!

    B dot Depictions Studio

  • WVIL is interesting indeed, but a long way from reality. 

  • With Canon, you did have to toss your lenses.  Back circa 1990 I made a serious mistake.  My house was broken into, and all my camera gear was stolen – T-90, 6-7 lenses etc.  My insurance company said “Hey, we don’t care what you replace it with – here is the check for full replacement cost”.  I could have gone with an EOS film body (really fairly new) or wone of those new fangled digital bodies, but no, I got exact replacements.  Anyone want a fairly low shutter count t-90 and a bunch of FD mount lenses?

  • Agree.  I found that when I stuck the handgrip on my 7D, and put a monopod on it (even if I didn’t need it) all of a sudden, at the soccer games, the number of photos people wanted to buy skyrocketed! (Hate to tell them that most of the shots they were buying were shot handheld, same lens, before I had the grip).  The number of “Your camera must take good pictures” increased a lot too 😉

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