Earlier this week, Trey Ratcliff posted a thought provoking article on what he calls 3rd generation cameras. If you are a gear junkie like me and spend your days refreshing sites like NikonRumors.com every five seconds to see the latest guess as to what specs will be on the newest line of cameras, you would have to be living in a cave to not have heard anything about some newer camera models that don't rely on a flipping mirror to capture images digitally.
The obvious advantages to this type of camera are that you can build it in a much smaller casing, making the camera more portable, and since there is no flipping mirror, there is virtually no bottleneck for the number of frames that can be captured in a given time period. While I certainly agree with Trey in his assertion that this type of camera is the future of photography, I think he is a little crazy to say, "I won’t buy any more Nikon bodies or lenses — because I won’t be using any of them in the future."
While discussing the moniker "mirrorless" when referring to the latest breed of digital cameras, Trey points out that a technology shouldn't be named based on something it is not:
"In my judgment, that is a ridiculous name. You don’t name a category of technology by what it is not. I suppose we did use to call an “automobile” a “horseless buggy,” but now we look back on that quaint term and laugh."
Sticking with this comparison to the automobile industry, I would like to point out that I believe alternate fuel sources are the future of cars. That being said, if I were buying a car today, a year from now, or even five years from now, I would not buy one of the few electric or even hybrid models on the market now, and I would have said the same thing many years ago when this technology first hit the market. If my car needs a new part, I will still buy that part without any regret that I am wasting money investing in an old technology. Similarly, I will continue to purchase lenses for my current DSLR, and if I had the budget, I would even consider purchasing Nikon's D4.
In Trey's post, he makes several points as to the advantages and disadvantages of this new technology. While all of his points are certainly true, I would like to point out a few places where I think he missed the boat:
- Thousands of professional photographers have invested in DSLR mirror based technology, and camera manufacturers cannot simply ignore this. Nikon and Canon will continue to allocate a huge portion of their R & D budget and best engineers to this technology since it is what most professional photographers are currently using.
- Trey is really underestimating the amount of time that it will take to make mirrorless cameras that really compete with DSLRs. After reading several comments on Trey's post, many people were quick to say that there are already professional cameras such as the Leica m9 or Sony A77 that compete with the latest DSLRs. To that, I say you are simply wrong. Can you find me a wide angle lens that shoots 14-24mm as fast as F2.8 and takes as high quality images as Nikon's? Didn't think so. Oh, and guess what else, that lens was made more than four years ago and remains the best wide angle lens in the world. Period. Why? Simply because it takes a long time to perfect a technology.
Like Trey, I am looking forward to the day where I can carry around a better camera in a smaller casing. One simply cannot ignore the fact that this technology will replace our mirror based cameras. However, that day is just not here yet, nor is it close. Sell me your D3X Trey, I will gladly take it off your hands.
And of course, a brand new picture to make your Friday slightly better...