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Is this the end of the road for DSLRs?

In January, Canon announced the EOS-1D X Mark III will be the company’s last flagship DSLR, stating that it wants to shift focus towards mirrorless cameras, and therefore would not produce any future flagship DSLR cameras. And now with both Sony and Canon quietly pulling the plug on several DSLR lenses, the future looks pretty grim for this fading format.

Canon has been slowly discontinuing many of its EF lenses over the past year. It has been noted by Japanese photographer, Kimio Tanaka, that from January to February 2022 alone, the number of EF mount and single focus lenses in the line-up decreased from 21 to 9 lenses, leaving 12 lenses to fade quietly away in one month.

This was on the heels of Sony discontinuing their A-mount lens line-up. While there’s no official statement by Sony, the company quietly pulled the plug, listing its A-mount lenses as “discontinued” on its official store, with both the Japan and US sites delisting the lenses. Rumours of this discontinuation started back in 2015 already, when Sony UK let slip that there were no future planned A-mount lenses in the works.

Nikon also placed several of its F-mount lenses on the chopping block last year. While not a huge loss to its overall DSLR selection, the trend is clear. New lenses (with the latest tech) will continue to be produced for mirrorless cameras only, which are clearly now the focus for these big camera companies.   

Back in May last year, Sony discontinued the last of its DSLR cameras. While Canon has yet to go this far — it still plans on producing consumer-level DSLR bodies – there is a clear shift in focus away from their legacy systems towards their EOS R camera and RF-mount line-ups. There is a similar trend happening over at Nikon with its Z range of cameras and lenses. Mirrorless tech is evolving, and fast, with more options in the market than before. It won’t be a surprise if more players exit the DSLR market in 2022.

Honestly, it stands to reason. Reducing the number of mechanical parts in a camera increases reliability, size, weight, battery life, focus and speed. The DSLR lost its advantages over mirrorless a while ago with its superior crisp, clear optical viewfinder being one such advantage. These days, the Electronic Viewfinders on pro mirrorless cameras are so good that going back to an optical one can actually seem like a downgrade.

The Future is Mirrorless:

while old tech is disappearing, we’ve uncovered a few things in the works by Canon that may blow you away. Keith Cooper at Northlight Images has dug up a few Canon patents on several RF zoom lens designs.  according to Canon Rumours , this patent application “includes designs for superzooms so wide in range that they appear to be versions of the mythical lens that forum posters sometimes use as an example of unreasonable expectations.”

The following lens ranges were found in Canon’s US patent application:

  • 24mm f/4 – 400mm f/6.5
  • 24mm f/4 – 300mm f/5.6
  • 28mm f/4 – 500mm f/7.2
  • 33mm f/4 – 600 f/7.2

Another patent shows a series of fixed aperture zooms:

  • 200-500mm f/4
  • 200-400mm f/4
  • 300-800 f/8

It’s clear that as camera manufacturers pour money into developing new mirrorless technology, the DSLR market will eventually fall by the wayside. However, your DSLR is not done for just yet. If you’re new in the photography market, looking into buying a DSLR may actually be a good option. Buying second-hand, for example, makes things cheaper. Also, sales houses holding old stock may be offering great discounts on discontinued items, so you’ll be able to get a solid, feature-packed camera with good battery life and decent glass for less, and you’re going to still get gorgeous shots. Upgrading to a mirrorless system can not only turn out to be costly — especially if you’re adding lenses and accessories, while current DSLRs on the market continue to offer great features with reliability, and exceptional image quality. If you can’t justify the investment, you may want to hang onto your DSLR camera for a while longer. Also, if you photograph with more specialised equipment – a set of super-telephoto lenses, for instance, or a long macro lens – as things currently stand, you’ll struggle to get the glass you need to really capture your images. Options from third-party manufacturers also make for a comprehensive set of compatible lens options in the DSLR field.

But for professionals and those who want to keep up to date, going mirrorless is increasingly the better option for future proofing your investment creatively and financially. Evolution and adaptation to future technology is what will slowly see the era of the DSLR die out, and eventually feel as vintage as shooting film; how rapidly this happens remains to be seen. One thing is for certain, there are some exciting new developments in the works.  

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