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Will We Witness The End of The Digital SLR?

November 25, 2013 Equipment Software 4 Comments

Written by: Charlie Borland

Is the end of the DSLR near? Will we all be shooting with Smart Phones in the near future?  If you have been reading some of the latest online, there are a few opinions that  the smart phone will replace the dSLR.

I don’t buy it!

In this article by Paul Melcher, whose opinions I respect as an industry veteran (and he has a great blog), says in this recent post:

“Everyone is now fully aware that professional dSLR are going to be replaced by mobile phone cameras. It is just a question of time.”

I read his article and will start by saying that he is specifically suggesting that smart phones will be the primary tool for ‘image licensing’ pros:  “….in the professional image licensing world will come from your mobile phone.”

Again, I am having a hard time buying into this. Reading on he mentions: “Phone cameras can now do pretty much what any point and shoot delivers but are less bulky to carry,……”


That is true but he also states “point and shoots” and these are not generally considered professional dSLR’s.  It is a fact that sales of dSLR’s and even larger point and shoots have lost market share to smartphone cameras and camera sales are down by 10% in 2013. So will dSLR’s actually be replaced? Only time will tell.

In this post the author mentions the same, that dSLR sales are down, but that camera makers can change that by adding more smart phone features to dSLR’s and specifically algorithms that create perfect pictures in-camera. I think many already to do but what about being able to add 3rd party apps to your dSLR for in-camera processing?

While I shoot with my iPhone a lot, I do not get up an hour before sunrise, hike 3 miles, and shoot a sunrise with my iPhone. I know I could and some people probably do, but I dont see working pros doing this. I like to use different lenses, zoom in and out, and adjust shutter speeds and aperture for effect-something my iPhone does not.  I think I speak for most nature photographers in that regards.

Might we see National Geographic or a corporate annual report designer hiring an iPhone photographer to shoot their projects? Maybe, but again I can’t even fathom that.

There’s no denying the huge market share that smart devices has grabbed so does that mean dSLR’s will be harder to find, more costly, and produced for a niche group of pro shooters and  photo enthusiasts? Again, maybe, but while acknowledging the sales trends as a fact, I don’t see any of the clients I work with accepting the idea that I will photograph their board of directors or home interiors for a builder, with my smart phone. And the dSLR at this point has a better sensor and resolution that a smart device.

I think the ‘professional dSLR’s will be around for a long time…in some form or another. And there will be a market for them as well.

What do you think?

Related Posts: The Future Professional Outdoor Photographer is………,  Are You Sure You Want To Be A Professional Nature Photographer?



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Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Lewis Kemper says:

    I think camera manufacturers have failed to consider that sales are down because the cameras are now so good. We don’t need the latest and greatest anymore because the difference are not that profound! Remember when you had the same film camera for 10 years! That is what is happening now, but the camera makers got so used to people upgrading every model that they forgot what happens when that is not necessary!

  2. Jeff Colburn says:

    I don’t think that pro DSLRs will go away, but I have no doubt that consumer models will. In this article http://www.eoshd.com/content/11409/consumer-dslrs-dead-5-years they paint a pretty glum picture, and say that Nikon may actually go out of business in 5 years.

    Maybe if consumer level DSLRs are replaced with cell phones, pro photographers will see a resurgence in work and sales.

    Have Fun,

  3. Stratocaster says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you posit that camera makers should make their DSLRs more Web-friendly. What would it be like to send your images to cloud storege instead of lugging around a physical backup, or to post a photo on Facebook, or to e-mail it to your sister in Kansas? Meanwhile I’m not thinking George Lepp will be stalking nesting egrets in Florida with only his smartphone.

  4. Ian Woolcock says:

    I think Lewis makes an excellent point. It is simply no longer necessary to upgrade the current generation of cameras as often as DSLRs from 5/6 years ago. This was always going to be an unsustainable business model anyway.

    Until they release a phone camera with at least a full frame sensor, tripod mount and filter threads I will be keeping my DSLR ;-)

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