do we still need dslr?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by maxmalossini, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. I know I must be overlooking something somewhere, but here is a question I was discussing with a friend of mine.
    Suppose we agree that the major reason for the invention of the slr was the mirror and the ability to look/meter through the lens, and the ability to change lenses (although some rangefinder can do that).
    If this is true, then now there should be no problem to see through the lens because once the image hits the sensor, it can be (electronically) transferred to the lcd screen (or wherever else you want, viewfinder etc...). We could use interchangeable lenses withouot any mirrors or curtains but just the old round shutter (the James Bond one, I forget its name) and thus have lighter hardware and more quiet operation etc...
    So why are dslr still superior?
  2. This is a question of needs and personal preference. Quality images can be created with any system. You buy the tool that makes the most sense for your needs. Nothing more.
  3. For me, it's because I want to continue to see through the lens, rather than look at a backlit LCD display. Such displays have their own brightness relative to the surroundings, have their own tone mappings and white balance issues, have resolution and dynamic range limitations, can mess with your night vision in dim lighting, etc.

    Which doesn't mean they aren't useful as-is for some people, or that they won't continue to improve. But they're not the same things as having your eye collect photons that have wandered in through the lens, and the differences can be very tangible.
  4. I believe this comes down to the question, do we still need OVF's when we have high quality EVF's? IMO the day may come when EVF's are as good or better than OVF's, but as of now I still prefer an OVF.
  5. Aside from the issues raised above, an EVF system (which includes the sensor and processor) uses power, while an OVF does not. That's why I like to turn off the LCD on my little G11 and use my OVF.
  6. The fact is that SLR viewing isn't all that simple. First, you're not "looking through the lens". Exactly as with the EVFs or LCDs, one is looking at a screen, unto which a projected image that has been through a prism is seen. It is very easy to forget all that. Apparent brightness is to a significant degree dependent on the maximum aperture of the lens. It also has an apparent viewing distance, usually around 1 m. The contrast of what one sees through an SLR or DSLR varies depending on the screen, and DSLR screens tend to be brighter and lower contrast than old pro SLRs.
  7. Well, since we're splitting hairs ... an EVF's LCD (or OLED, etc) screen is emitting light, in a pattern that the camera's software has decided is the right way to present a version of what has landed on the sensor.

    The OVF screen in an SLR isn't a source of pixel-based light, it's simply in the optical path between the front of the lens and your eye - just like all of the lens elements are, and just like the VF's rear-most piece of glass is. This one additional layer is a place on which to park/project all softs of useful information (like focus point indicators, split-focus widgets, etc). But those photons (most of them, anyway) just keep going, right on through it, to your eye. It's not like a phosphor screen, where a wave/particle stimulates something else, which in turn emits what you actually end up seeing (as in a CRT).
  8. One advantage of an EVF is that it can produce a good approximation of the actual image that will be recorded (taking exposure settings into account to show image brightness), which an OVF can't do. Another nice feature of at least some EVF's (such as Olympus' EVF for the digital PENs) is that when an object is in focus, you see a subtle moire pattern which is effectively a focusing aid that covers the entire frame.
    For now, though, my preference is for OVFs... I'm traditional in that way and I dislike the excessive reliance on electronics characteristic of today's cameras.
  9. It isn't splitting hairs, it's simple fact(s). The (D)SLR screen is also emitting light, in this case transmitted light, in a pattern that the way the screen's plastic or glass is ground/etched decides. The brightness has little bearing on reality. In the same scene, it can look very different between a 50mm f/1.4 lens and an f/4 zoom or tele. I am not taking this lightly, because these facts are often taken for granted, as above, when people who prefer (D)SLRs are making their case.
    One other thing. Looking at the SLR screen is a monocular experience. Looking at images on the web, in print or in books is a stereotaxic experience, which is a very different thing. I own and use quite a few SLRs and DSLRs, and appreciate the benefits of the OVF, but I do not think it is better or worse than LED screens (I do dislike EVFs) or the clear, direct viewing of a Rangefinder's window.
    All viewing systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Weighing them as they are is, in my opinion, a good decision.
  10. the major reason for the invention of the slr was the mirror and the ability to look/meter through the lens, and the ability to change lenses​
    changing lenses is not relevant as that can be done on a variety of camera types.
    Using the mirror to see exactly what is coming through the lens is the point, and as yet the EVF I've used aren't up to it. They're mostly usable, and I tend to defend them against criticism, but they're not nearly the same thing as an SLR design. I'm not sure they ever will be, as they're a slightly different concept.
    It will still not surprise me if at some point most DSLR users do switch to an EVF design, but if that happens that would be some years in the future, for now they're just not good enough. Even then it might still sensible to use a DSLR on occasions, and some people will simply from preference. An EVF can have advantages,and eventually might be a better choice, but I don't think it will ever be a straight replacement.
    I think the the round shutter referred to would be a leaf shutter, not clear how that would be an improvement unless the lens is a fixed one. If they're interchangeable, then usually you have a shutter built into each lens. I don't think it would be an improvement.
  11. I'm with Matt on this. I still want to see through the lens. I also like to see what the camera is seeing, so the digital presentation is also very useful. I'm also fairly set in my habits after all these years and like the ergonomics of the SLR. I'm sure I could get used to other shapes -- I truly love the kind of reverse ergonomics of the classic Hasselblad -- it is a left handed camera. I always found using it that it slowed me down just a tad and let me think through shots better. That is why I loved it for product shots and fashion. I liked it far more in the studio than on location.
    After fifty years or so of using the SLR ergonomics, it seems the way nature intended us to look through cameras.
  12. as far as i know, other forms of cameras directed to the masses are not as quickly responsive as DSLRs ( shutter lag) and that may be of paramount importance in shooting moving objects... for me that's the main advantage of a dslr compared to other systems with interchangeable lenses ( let alone a camera where you can not change lenses)..
    addendum: rangefinders may not have that limitation but usually fall behind in range of lenses available ( esp on tele-end and macro)..
  13. In the 1980's I drew up a wish list of the camera I'd love to own. That particular camera would have a screen on the back that would show me exactly the picture I was going to take. Small LCD panels weren't small or good enough to be put in a viewfinder, so that's why I wanted one in the back of the film camera. Apparently my wishes came true and now we have LCD's on the back of cameras that show pretty close what the picture I took. And now we have electronic viewfinders and that's even more exciting.
    So the OP's question was a good one. I ask the same question myself. Do we really need a DSLR? I think once shutter lag disappears from non-DSLR's and electronic viewfinders (or LCDs) are the norm they might disappear. Just look at the new camera bodies coming out now. Many of them look like a lens with this tiny box at the rear. I think eventually that will be the norm and the DSLR will be a thing of the past.
  14. The LCD on the back of the camera is too small and an EVF viewfinder is large enough but with today's technology it's still not having sufficient resolution to manual focus without enlarge portion of the picture. I need the SLR viewfinder to manual focus easily and quickly. I can focus on any part of the image without having to do a focus then recompose.
  15. "once shutter lag disappears from non-DSLRs ..."
    that's the key phrase for me.. (actually i just remembered that SLT camera's may already have solved the shutter lag issue, but i think they still "lag" in low light performance)..
  16. I haven't yet seen an EVF that would make we want to give up the OVF in a SLR/DSLR; that day may come eventually though.
    Just look at the new camera bodies coming out now. Many of them look like a lens with this tiny box at the rear. I think eventually that will be the norm and the DSLR will be a thing of the past.​
    And with that tiny box comes poor ergonomics as there isn't a good way to hold that thing. I tried a NEX with a 18-55 in a store - poor handling doesn't even come close to describing what I experienced. As usual when marketing trumps engineering - we get poorly designed items that are hardly useful for the task at hand. We may see the disappearance of the DSLR sometime in the future, but I sure hope what you describe will not be the norm then.
    I started with "gripless" film cameras (like a Nikon FM) that weren't very comfortable to hold. An F3 with its tiny grip was already a major improvement - but only when the AF bodies with their beefy grips arrived on the markets did ergonomics take a big step in the right direction. Currently, the miniaturizing trend of camera bodies is a step in the wrong direction and hopefully will be corrected again. For example, for me, the Nikon D7000 is too narrow and with the square grip is very uncomfortable to hold - which was the main reason I did not buy one.
  17. All good things must end someday and the flopping mirror design "will" eventually get replaced by EVILS in one incarnation or another. Sony is already using EVF's that are much better to work with than the small OVF's the competition uses in similar priced cameras.
  18. I am sure the DSLR will fade away as new generations of photographers shoot exclusively with an LCD screen or EVF. For me nothing can replace the good old optical viewfinder for photographic composition. I want to see through the lens, even a rangefinder doesn't do it for me like an SLR does.
  19. Well, for me, I think as soon as more companies have faster/better tracking with their AF and larger eco-systems, we will start seeing more people switch.
    I just picked up an E-PM1 to compliment my Nikon gear, and have to say, it makes me hopeful for the future. It's small and light, and extremely quick (I don't notice shutter lag). It just is really bad at AF tracking, which is probably the one spot I need it to work the most. After that, more/faster lenses, a better sensor, and a few better accessories (flashes mainly) and we could be in business.
    And I have to add, ever since shooting LF, I don't like looking through viewfinders.
  20. DSLRs have two distinct advantages (regarding OVF) still today ergonomics and preferences aside:
    1. Auto focus tracking
    2. battery life
    Everything else depends on which EVF and OVF we are comparing. For example, the D3 OVF is better than the sony a33 EVF in lowlight. On the other hand, the A77 EVF blows away, say, a D90 OVF. Lastly but not least, I think my F2AS OVF is better than both contemporary OVF and EVF for simple viewing...
  21. I don't think top end cameras will ever just have an LCD screen on the back. The brightness required and the glare issues and the need to hold it away from you, makes it unstable. I think using an eye piece of some sort also allows for optical adjustment for glasses wearers, which I doubt any LCD can do. I can see some very small but very detailed viewing screen IN the camera, like an optical viewfinder, could work. But they will have to get very fast and not have the engineers bias built in. What is out there should be exactly what you see.
  22. In the evolution of technology, whenever electronics can replace something that moves, it does. The moving stuff stays
    around (CDs, mechanical wristwatches, etc..., and now SLRs), but it no longer dominates.
  23. I own the Samsung NX100 and played with the Sony NEX 7. Very impressive finders, especially the Sony. The next generation Fuji will be coming out in January so we will see. It could be a game changer for me. Lens development and support commitment may, in the end tip the scale. That's where traditional DSLR's have an edge.
    John- The Samsung already has diopter correction for it's NX100 EVF.
  24. Too bad they don't have a glare fix, to bright to see the LCD panel fix, and a can't hold it steady away from my body fix. I'm not sure how you fix the bright LCD in a dark environment problem.
  25. Having spent time with both SLR and rangefinder, the SLR and DSLR have a huge disadvantage. The mirror movement with the shutter shakes the camera and causes some blurring of the image. When you hear the rangefinder shutter go off (almost silently), and you use a remote or cable release on a tripod, you realize that the shaking/aberration/blurring of the image is minimal. Moving the whole mirror in the SLR is a major mechanical function in comparison. If you use a tripod, and want the sharpest image (for landscapes or high-res images), the DSLR is not the best camera for the job--the shuttering process has to shake the camera and causes some blurring through movement of the lens and sensor. Having said that, I love my new Sony Alpha 65!
  26. Sony has gone for it and that's why they could easily go to 12 fps and even that canon stated 14 fps in mirror lockup &
    12 fps in normal mode
    This clearly identify that the reflector mirror is slowing down the camera and adds weight to it
    Most resent dslr are having vedio mode where you need to lock up the mirror which will consume
    enormous power and get over heated. I believe personally that age of the mirror is over.
  27. the SLR and DSLR have a huge disadvantage​
    Well yes, but every type of camera I have used has a huge disadvantage. With a rangefinder you have a limited selection of lenses, and real problems with macro or long tele work. With a field camera, the sheer weight and bulk, and so on. But I think they all have their good points as well. I can't think of any that are really useless. And of course there are subject areas where a rangefinder is top choice.
    the shuttering process has to shake the camera and causes some blurring​
    That can be a problem for hand held work where the shutter speed needs to be kept up, but not with landscape or other detail work from a tripod
    You just use mirror lock up with either a timer delay or a cable release.
    Many SLR/DSLR allow combining a 2 second timer delay with mirror lock up so vibrations from hand or mirror should have settled before the shutter operates. If 2 seconds isn't long enough, you use MLU with the cable release.
  28. the reflector mirror is slowing down the camera and adds weight to​
    I sometimes use smaller cameras, including EVF, because the size and weight of a FF DSLR is a nuisance. But the fps isn't a problem. 1 FPS is usable, and 5 is plenty. Perhaps reporters or sports photographers need 14, I don't know.
    The mirror does blank out the view at the exact moment the picture is being taken, that can be a problem - you don't know exactly what happened at that instant. Nowadays you can review that on the LCD of course.
    Where DSLR are used for video, they seem usually to be bolted into some kind of rig where the size and weight of a DSLR doesn't look to be a problem. Also, when I use a fast tele TV lens on a small micro 4/3 camera for video, the lens is much bigger and heavier than the camera anyway.
  29. The EVF is much different from the optival VF of an SLR besides technical parameters like resolution, brighness, and refreshing rate. Basically, one is seeing the scene as it is, the other is seeing some draft result from the camera
    People who prefer EVF would say that EVF gives us "What you see is what you get" but that is simply not true; EVF cannot show you how your flash shot will be or how a 10-seconds shot will be. Well, not even a 1/15sec shot unless the refreshing rate is lower than 15 fps which is not acceptable.
    An EVF may try to show us "exactly" how the scene is; (not how the result would be)but in this sense, no monitor can compete with seeing it directly, optically
    Many people, like me, prefer making judgement by seeing the real scene, not by a "preview" that approximate the result in some sense
  30. So many good points.
    besides discussing this with a friend (I am the original poster), there is another, more unfortunate reason I want to know about this topic: all my gear was stolen (home burglary) and now I'm not sure which direction to take.
    I used to have a d7000 with several lenses. I only have two lenses left (sigma 105mm macro and nikon 85mm manual focus, they were stored in a less obvious place). I don't think those two lenses should force me to stay with a nikon dslr. Also I was finding myself not carrying the camera bag as often because of weight etc..
    That's why I'm looking into a rangefinder. Some of these camera are amazing. I plan a trip to B&H so I can try them hands on.
    I'm not into street or action photography, my work tends to be still subjects or landscapes, often in my "home/studio".
  31. The kind of photography I like to do is often extremely dependent the light and exposure, and sometime very precise timing. I will always prefer to see the what's in the viewfinder as it really is rather than after it goes through some kind of video system. For me, it's SLR or nothing, but I can live with a true rangefinder camera too. Anything else is just an extension of video gaming.
  32. If you look at the progression of cameras used by most press photographers and other professionals the gradual reduction in size is clear. Originally large format, then Graflex / Speed Graphic type 5x4, then Rolleiflex 120 rollfim, then 35mm SLR. Where the professionals lead the amateur is sure to follow. I don't think we are there yet with mirrorless technology but the time may well come.
  33. Collin, casual amateurs typically use smaller cameras than pros, and they always have. I think it's the amateurs who lead the manufacturers, who eventually make smaller cameras good enough that the pros adopt them too.
    I agree with Pierre. At this stage in development, an EVF feels like a video game to me. I question whether the image lag will ever become comfortably short. It might.
  34. seeing some draft result from the camera​
    this is what I don't like with evf. Sometimes it is OK, but other times it seems to show me what some computer programmer thought I would like to see, and I really want to see what is actually there in front of me. So although the smaller camera is pretty good, I would still rather use the SLR, and I don't really know if EVf will ever be a straight replacement.
    Perhaps the primary market for EVF is still the casual user, who probably shoots jpg anyway, and is happy with seeing what that will look like.
  35. Everyone seems to be counting "size and weight" as a disadvantage of dslr's. It's true that a tiny, light camera is nice if you're going to the drug store and want to have a camera available. I have some myself.

    On the other hand, if I'm out with the intention of doing some photography, I prefer a larger camera. A larger dslr fits my hands better, and is easier to grip. I can hand hold it at lower speeds without VR (or IS or whatever). There's more real estate for external controls, so less fiddly controls, and less menu diving. And, most compact cameras have smaller sensors, and other things being equal, a larger sensor is better than a smaller sensor.

    As far as the viewfinder is concerned, electronic ones are fine for most photography, but if I'm shooting pictures where color is the whole point, there's no comparison with a clean optical finder.

    I'm just not ready yet to say "big" equals "bad".
  36. it is irrelevant whether you see "through the lens", or an evf. We all have eyes, we see the scene, decided on the focal length, look through the viewfinder to compose (not to look at colours or contrast), and we shoot. Some of the more experienced photographers will remember this from their film days; you get to know your camera well enough, you get to know how the results will look in the darkroom, or on the PC.
    Some of the best images ever taken with a camera were done so with a rangefinder. Here you have no feedback of the final image - just your experience. The biggest drawback of the SLR is the viewfinder, rarely 100%, and usually very dark. Compared to a rangefinder - ~120%, and very bright.
  37. It has never been a question of "need". Always, it has been about preference. Even to this day there are people who shoot with large format, using ground glass to focus and compose...
  38. Most of my work, 35 or 120, is via an RF camera, either system type or fixed lens, and comparatively small in size, where I view the subject matter as it really exists and without brief interruption on shutter activation/release, albeit via a reduced magnification (0.6 to 0.9) but bright optical system. The single lens reflex system is superior in many cases where long lens or close up photography is concerned or in-camera (rather than in-mind) control of depth of field is sought.
    It seems that EVF systems are not yet capable of eliminating the optical mirror system. Live view monitoring, where the sensors allow that, is apparently not easy to look at under ambient bright light. Perhaps when the EVF system becomes more perfected, the elimination of the mirror might be more practical, but that seems still to be in the offing.
  39. From the link I posted they are saying that the EVF is necessary for high level video. I would not know myself as outside of my D200 I have no experience with the gadget camera's. It's the only one I have ever purchased.
  40. Max, if you don't care about sports photography, wildlife and bird photography, or professional wedding photography, I think a camera like the Fuji X10 will keep you happy. DLSR cameras have faster AF speed and telephoto lens support than compact cameras. On the downside, autofocus is imprecise, mirror slap reduces sharpness, and the lens-mount interface introduces further variability. Interchangeable-lens mirrorless cameras eliminate the second problem, but not the third.
    Today's DPreview article about lens variation is a revelation, showing that camera build and mount precision can introduce more softness than the lens itself!
    Another downside of DSLR is the kit lens, all brands of which are worse than the best lenses on compact cameras, including X10, XZ1, LX5, EX1, P7100, G12, and perhaps others I missed.
  41. Sarah, I was just using the progression of typical pro cameras to illustrate the tendency towards reduction in size. Amateur cameras have always had a much wider range of sizes from Pro-size downwards.
  42. I think that in most of the posts here is not told the most important fact of the discussion: lens quality.
    In my opinion, Leica and another rangefinder systems had much better lenses (only in normal and wideangle range) compared with SLR systems, because their optical construction had to be unnatural, as the minimum flange distance was 40 mm., space occupied by the reflex mirror system. All Zeiss ZM or Leica M wideangle surpass every SLR wideangle, in image quality terms. Now is the day in which, with the increasing perfection of EVF and LCD screens, mirrorless system cameras can do the job, with the same lenses, very well. With such a system we can have the best of both worlds: high optical quality in the range from extreme wideangle to short telephoto without the need of an external viewfinder, and, with adaptors like the LA-EA2 from Sony, get the abbility to use high end long telephoto lenses with accurate AF and a bright 100% image on the viewfinder.
    We can add to these advantages the mentioned and, I think, low valued pros as: low shutter noise, light and carryable gear, the fact that we can buy one lens and use it during years (forever?), no matter if we need to change the camera, with a good EVF you can see the actual DOF, etc.
    The first of this new system cameras is the Sony Nex-7, Fujifilm is working in a similar system, and the rumors are pointing that even Leica is going to make its own. Let's expect. In my opinion, again, DSLR times are over.
  43. Before pronouncing the end of DSLR, you must compare numbers with mirrorless. The FNAC study cited below shows that low-priced DSLRs can AF much faster than highest-priced mirrorless. Numbers for moving vehicle are 10 of 10 (600D) and 12 of 12 (D5100) versus only 4 of 4 for the NEX-7 and 5 of 6 for the EP3.

    P.S. Always bad to argue with a Leicaphile, but I believe some new lenses such as the Canon 100/2.8 IS macro are higher quality and more consistent than anything Leica ever produced.
  44. P.S. Always bad to argue with a Leicaphile, but I believe some new lenses such as the Canon 100/2.8 IS macro are higher quality and more consistent than anything Leica ever produced.​
    Surely you jest! Are you comparing Canon's best retro focus SLR lenses against Leica's M mount lenses? I'm sorry, the Leica lenses are in a different league, but for shooting sport and such, the Canon lenses are more than up to the job.
  45. I think as time goes on, more people will move onto 4/3 and other cameras, but for now, DSLRs are still reigning supreme.
  46. Bill: I agree that there are very good lenses made for (D)SLR's, but, if you have read my post well, I only say that in the normal to wideangle range, non retrofocus lenses are always better than the retrofocus ones that SLR systems need.
  47. Quico, I agree with you. Retrofocus design adds complexity, and mirror movement causes vibration. The best solution currently is two cameras, mirrorless for wide angle and DSLR for telephoto.

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