#376. Why DSLRs are deader than a doornail for top-quality photography

By philberphoto | Uncategorized

Jul 13

_DSC9760 Fact is, just a few years ago, DSLRs accounted for 100% of top-quality cameras, excluding medium-format and other professional gear.

Mirrorless cameras were all compact, with thimble-sized sensors, very limited in terms of performance.


There was but one exception, a small market niche for rangefinder cameras, almost exclusively Leica. But, despite the superlative glass, special shooting experience, and overall great IQ, Leica’s idiosyncracies and high cost confined it to a very small market share.


Now, with the advent of newer technologies, DSLRs are headless ducks. Yes, they are still running around and flapping their wings, but their heads have already been chopped off, and it is just a matter of time until they die as a tool for very high IQ.

That story unfolded in an unexpected way. DSLRs are large, and thus also to some extent heavy and expensive because of the mirror box and mirror required to operate them. So it stood to reason that manufacturers seeking to build very small and light cameras would dispense with the whole assembly and replace it with an electronic viewfinder, reading the signal straight off the sensor. But early electronic viewfinders were small, with limited resolution, and an uncomfortable feel. So mirrorless cameras were confined to cheaper, smaller, so-called compact offerings.


Enter Micro 4/3 and Sony NEX, with for the first time, interchangeable lenses and sensibly sized sensors. IQ progressed significantly, but the mediocre viewfinders and very slow autofocus still prevented such cameras from competing with DSLRs.

Cameras, today, however, are almost entirely electronics devices, and therefore improve at great speed. Yet Canon and Nikon, the DSLR de facto duopoly, only upgraded their high-end offerings every 3 to 4 years, in line with practices in the camera market. They looked down at others, principally Sony, and called them “an electronics and entertainment business, not a camera company”. Which is, in a perverse way, true. As “not a camera company”, Sony proceeded to innovate with blazing speed, helped in no small measure by the excellence of its in-house sensors, of which it is the world’s largest and best manufacturer.

Another indication of the fact that the 2 market leaders weren’t listening is the fact that another “not camera company” emerged from nowhere to “steal” from them a multi-billion-dollar business, GoPro with the action cameras.



Where are we now?

Very simply, mirrorless have closed the gap in most performance areas with DSLRs, and opened a few of their own. There are now categories in which DSLRs are simply no longer the best tool to ge the best results. Sorry guys, but with Canon and Nikon asleep at the wheel, things have moved on.

To wit: landscape. Canon who used to own that market segment due to its groundbreaking 5D II were out of contention, simply because they failed to improve resolution or IQ for 7 years. Now they have a new flagship, the 5Ds, with 50Mp. Alas, because it is the same old technology, dynamic range lags seriously behind Sony’s already 4-year-old 36Mp sensor, and it got trashed by the Nikon D810 and Sony A7R according to DxO’s lab tests.


Nikon, who stole the lead from Canon, have their own challenge to meet, in the form of Sony’s new A7RII, with improved resolution (42Mp) and lower noise thanks to its novel backside-illuminated sensor.

Not only that, but new technology is coming, again from an unexpected side. In smaller, undistinguished cameras, in-body stabilisation has been here for years. Only Sony sought to port it over to full-frame sensors, with its A900 and A850. But now, the A7RII has it, which means all lenses will now benefit from it, including Zeiss Otus, Leica, and Canon tilt-shift. The breakthrough, however, is different. It is called pixel shift. Stabilisation mechanisms are used to take multiple shots of a scene, obviously stationary, but shifted ever so lightly (1/2 pixel) from each other. These mutliple shots are then reassembled, but with much higher resolution than a single one. A 16Mp M4/3 camera can generate a 40Mp picture. For landscape, that matters. Considering that Sony’s A7RII is a stabilised body, it is only a matter of time until it yields … 100Mp shots!


Autofocus has long been the Achilles heel of mirrorless cameras, but no longer. First Olympus, then Sony have shown that on-sensor AF can and does perform fast and reliably. Again, the breakthrough comes from an unexpected direction. The Sony A7RII offers fast AF even with adapted lenses! With Sony A-mount, thanks to a LAE3 adapter, and Canon with a Metabones adapter. And there is talk of an electronic adapter for Nikon as well. So Canon and Nikon are no longer “protected” from losing customers who are captive of their large investment in glass.


And because mirrorless systems are designed from the ground up as electronic devices (and not cameras, hint, hint!), they shine in other areas, like video. Native 4K in a mirrorless, sure. In a DSLR? No. Or not yet at least. Frame rate? Mirrorless rhymes with effortless, wheres DSLRs are boat-sized if you want 10 images per second or more. Imagine, the new Sony A7RII (and the A7S before it) have a fully electronic shutter. No mechanical shutter. Just an electronic process straight on the sensor. No noise, no vibration, no parts that can fail, or that cost money.


But all this is not the single most important factor IMHO. Think überlenses and very high resolution. As Pascal has demonstrated in his great posts, a lens like the Otus 85 requires incredibly accurate focusing to yield best results. That focusing cannot be autofocus, because fast autofocus requires a light mobile assembly within the lens, meaning a short focus throw, and short throw means not very delicate, the very opposite of what is needed for total accuracy. This, alone, does not show why mirrorless are better at this game, because, after all, Otus are designed for DSLRs. The key, here, is the electronic viewfinder. Gone are the days of low resolution, and here comes the secret weapon: magnification! With in-viewfinder magnification (and, for those who like it, focus-peaking), focusing precision beats that of optical viewfinders every time.


So, it is no suprise that all überlenses are manual focus, and the best way to überfocus them is with magnification. Unless you are willing to use a tripod 100% of the time, and when you do it is cumbersome and pretty much restricted to landscape, that means with a mirrorless system.

Which is why I have selected shots for this post which were all taken with an überlens, high-resolution sensor, focused with magnification. Which doesn’t mean that DSLRs should be discarded and dumped because you can’t take a good picture with them any more. First and foremost, a great photographer matters more than a great camera and lens. But, if you are out to buy the best of the best, the highest resolution body, glass to take full advantage of it, and focusing to get exactly the result you want down to the greatest possible precision, mirrorless is the only game in town. And it will only get more so. Which doesn’t mean that Canon and Nikon can’t join the fun. But they need to change their attitude, up their innovation game, and give more respect to what technology enables and what customers want than to protecting their existing business and market share.


And some will say “and Leica?” Leica are going their own way. They seemed to be a rangefinder-only company, after they killed the R system. Then came the S system, medium format DSLR with autofocus Now the Q adds a second autofocus system, possibly with lots of help from Panasonic for that and other electronic expertise. But Leica today do not have a full-frame sensor with very high resolution, so neither the autofocus of the Q nor the rangefinder of the M are stretched to the point that focusing becomes the limiting factor.


Now I know that many talented photographers love their Canon and Nikon DSLRs. I know also that Sony cameras are not without their flaws. But the move towards more resolution is unstoppable, and that will require ever better glass, with ever better manual focusing. This spells long focusing throw MF glass and electronic viewfinders with magnification, thus mirrorless.

The only question is: when will DSLRs surrender?


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  • Bob says:

    This is the very best and most informative article I have read on evolving camera technology.

    On a different topic I was wondering if, as outlined in the A7RII manual, overheating on long 4K videos is a real issue. I tend to record long sessions and temperature shutdown would be inconvenient.


  • Philberphoto says:

    Thanks for your kind words, they are much appreciated.
    Regarding your question, I cannot answer, as the camera hasn’t been released yet. I wouldn’t lose sleep over it just yet because of the litigious US market. If you don’t include such warnings against absolutely anything that can happen, you risk getting killed in the courts. On the other hand, it is not a new or unknown issue. The Canon 5DII, which was the first DSLR to offer good video (technically, the fist one was the Nikon D90, but the implementation was flawed), limited video to 4 minute clips in order to prevent overheating. The Sony A7 being a smaller body presents a more difficult challenge in this respect. On the other hand, Sony have vast experience with video from their professional side, so i assume they know what they are doing.
    I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what first users have to say.

  • Jeff says:

    The technology in the A7RII is impressive, but the shooting experience is still not good enough. I’ll put an OTUS on a full size DSLR any day over having that huge lens on a small A7x body.

    • philberphoto says:

      Wow, Jeff, if you have tried the A7RII, please let readers know. We would be happy to publish your experience! In my case, not only do I mind the extra weight, but I enjoy magnification to nail focus. But let us know why you feel otherwise!

      • Panic Button says:

        Those who desperately feel the need for a bigger camera body with A7r performance can just add a battery grip for ballast and to accomodate larger hands. I don’t use one on mine but it is an option.

  • Dave says:

    I’ve been traveling a few weeks now. I’ve seen hundreds of DSLRs and enough serious mirrorless cameras that I can probably recall where I saw them. So perhaps Sony is doing well but by no means do they appear to be as prevalent as I thought they might be at least with the tourists I’ve seen.

    • philberphoto says:

      You are correct, Dave. So far, DSLRs still rule the roost. However, mirrorless numbers are holding steady when sales of every other camera category are falling, which demonstrates increasing market share. Also, my post only spoke about top-quality photography, a small market segment at best.

  • Ron Scheffler says:

    I wouldn’t rule out AF gaining importance as resolution increases. On-sensor AF will theoretically become more precise with higher resolution and lens performance. I also expect there will be software tools in the future to allow focus tweaking post capture. But that is probably still some ways off.

    Anyway, horses for courses seems to be the phrase. Without doubt, DSLRs are yesteryear technology and in many applications current mirrorless is competitive. Unfortunately not for a fair portion of my work, which is sports photography. Perhaps a DSLR niche stronghold so far. Until mirrorless can match and exceed AF performance along with high frame rate, I’ll probably be ‘stuck’ with something like the 1DX (whose twin, the 1DC, apparently not known here, was the first DSLR to offer native 4K capture. But of course, at a steep price – after all I’m sure Canon’s thinking was, it is a ‘pro’ camera! and can’t have it cannibalize Cinema EOS sales). Meanwhile, the 1DX also works well for other applications, so not much incentive to dump DSLRs just yet. Having casually browsed the various 5DS forum threads, what struck so far me was how few complaints there have been about AF performance or image quality. As for the DxO tests, for some that will be important, for others, not so much.

    I’m torn on the a7RII. The specs are amazing, but I generally hated the shooting experience with the a7, a7R and a7S cameras I tried. I will have to see if the II is any different, but suspect it will still leave a fair amount to be desired in respect to handling and UI, at least for my tastes.

    • philberphoto says:

      Ron, I have to agree with everything you write. For pro work, and by that, I mean shooting when the equipment HAS TO work, there is no mirrorless offering (yet) that comes close to the 1Dx/D4 twins. And, you are right, I overlooked the IDC, so there is a DSLR that offers 4K video, though, I should add in my defense, a rare and specialised one. As to AF improvement, I am not sure it is so easy. If you want it fast, and, as a pro, you do, it is hard to see how it can be as fastidiously precise as it needs to be to get the absolute max out of a high-res shot. But, hey! I’d love to be wrong.
      Again I agree with you, very few complaints emanating from new 5Ds owners. My comment would be, however: how many pics strike you as “better than they would have been with a 5D3” ? My unscientific estimate: one in ten maybe. So the 5Ds can do it, no doubt. It reminds me of a story: when my friend Boris shot Leica M9 (he had 2), he sent every lens he bought back to Leica for proper calibration, after testing them. Do I trust that his tests were accurate? Yes. Did every Leica shooter send every lens back to Leica? Most definitely not. Did Boris buy lenses that were different from everybody else’s? Surely not. So I posit that a large contingent of Leica owners are content with a system that does not perform as well as Leica designed it to, or as well as they have a right to. I am sure it will be the same with 5ds, if only because of the human component. It is the same with every single other really high performance system (does every Ferrari owner make sure the car performs to 100%? Thankfully not!). But that does not contradict the fact that, if you want to get right up there, and I agree not everyone does, mirrorless is the way to go for technological reasons, and because Sony push the envelope, and Olympus as well to a lesser degree, while Canikon have their collective heads stuck deep in the sand.

      • Boris says:

        ‘when my friend Boris shot Leica M9 (he had 2), he sent every lens he bought back to Leica for proper calibration, after testing them.’

        Not every lens but every lens with a focal length above 28mm and a maximum aperture of f/1.4 or f/2.0. With these lenses a perfect rangefinder calibration is essential if you want to use them wide open.

        I think there is one characteristic where DSLRs are still better than the current mirrorless offers: robustness and reliability. Even DSLRs below the professional class (D4, 1Dx) are normally very reliable. And if you have any problems in most countries the service from Canon or Nikon is very good and fast (especially if you are CPS or NPS member).
        I’m not so sure about the reliability of the current Sony cameras.
        Another small advantage is, that I can shoot about 1000 images with one battery with my DSLR. Probably not possible with the Sony a7.

        For me the decision between switching to a mirrorless Sony or staying with a Nikon DSLR will depend on how their next generation a9 and D900 will compare. Until then I will just use my dead as a doornail D800E DSLR with all it’s terrible shortcomings 😉


        • philberphoto says:

          You are right, Boris, there is no equivalent mirrorless (yet) to a robust DSLR. There is also no mirrorless on which you have as much choice of native glass as a DSLR, and no mirroles with dual cards, and…
          Thse are all features that mirrorless will have to acquire if they want to add more nails in the DSLR’s coffin.

  • Harold says:

    I enjoyed your writing style. For me it is all about the birds and the bees, literally. I’ve been shooting them with my GH2, GX1, GX7, and GH4 going on 7 years now. I chose this format for price and size reasons and for Pansonics devotion to video specs. My dream of an 800mm lens will finally come true later this year with the new 100-400 MFT lens. Happy days for this birder and insecter.


  • MFT user says:

    I come from analog, and later DSLR (Canon rebel, 60D, 7D), and now use mirrorless (Oly E-PL3, and currently only Panny G5, G6). The reason to go MFT was that I needed a small footprint camera for travel and photographing in poverty stricken slums where I felt very uncomfortable with a big DSLR. The DSLRs have loud shutters, that’s also an issue for me. And easy switching from photo to video is just so much easier on MFT.

    I like my MFT setup so far, but it has serious drawbacks for fast street/reportage type photography:

    – The EVF has extreme lag in low light to the point that you actually have no idea what you are shooting, you just have to take a lot of shots and hope one image is usable.
    – The shutter lags severely when using flash on a G5/G6, totally annoying.
    – The controls are flimsy and crammed and a lot of the time I accidentally hit a button and it changes my settings without me knowing.
    – Some camera/lens combinations have a shutter-shock issue at around 1/125 shutter speed (G5/6 + 14-140mm II)

    Some features I am indifferent about:

    – Focus magnification and peaking are of no use to me, I mostly use 14mm and a hyperfocal setting if possible.
    – I don’t care about the megapixel count, 12-16mp is good enough for me.
    – Battery life is short, no problem I just carry extra batteries.

    What I would like to see:

    – Smaller size is a godsend, but a camera needs to be ergonomically sound. Don’t over-miniaturize the bodies like for instance the GM1/5, you need some grip. Pancake lenses are wonderful though.
    – Don’t cripple cameras by stripping EVF or popup flash or hotshoe, and then offer EVF or flash as an accessory. Luckily this trend seems to be reversing.
    – More budget glass, especially in the ultra-wide end. Current ultra wides are unaffordable to me.
    – Better electronic shutter. An E-shutter could be wonderful but at the moment it is not. I shoot a lot of moving subjects that would distort with an E-shutter. And make it work with flash.
    – Lenses with a leaf shutter, like the Pentax Q series would be very welcome for high speed flash sync.
    – Minimize features in the menus. I remember analog cameras with a fondness. All I had to care about were ISO, shutter speed and aperture.

    • pascaljappy says:

      I used to own and dearly love an Olympus EM-5. To this day, I still think it had the best colour of any camera I have ever used, by a safe margin. And the shutter and lenses were great. Ultimately, though, it did feel too cramped, too small for its own good. So there is too much of a good thing 😉 And the A7 line of camera gave us all the many advantages of larger sensors in a package barely larger than the Oly, albeit in a much less polished and honed one. The A7r is an exercise in amazement and frustration. But it could well be that the coming successor will be the true Goldilocks. Image quality, build quality and a size that seems like an almost ideal compromise between ergonomics and portability. Fingers crossed!

  • SN says:

    While you make some good points, your post seems to be more of an advertisement for Sony as you have almost completely ignored Micro Four Thirds (MFT). First, Olympus was the first to come out with in-body image stabilization (IBIS). Sony has only recently, many years after Olympus debuted it in the OMD EM5, brought out a camera with IBIS, whereas Olympus has a next gen IBIS in their EM5 Mk II. Yet, you mention Sony’s recent foray into IBIS while ignoring Olympus’s leadership position with respect to IBIS. Second, Panasonic cameras excel not only at photos but also videos, with many film makers using Panasonic bodies for videography. Panasonic is a leader in this area, as their flagship cameras are capable of shooting 4k resolution video and they are coming out with features such as v-log which are sought after by videographers. Black Magic also has affordable video cameras that use MFT lenses.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hello SN, although I did not write this post, let me jump in briefly. I think Philippe, the author, was more interested in describing an evolution from reflex to mirrorless than in writing an ad for Sony. His love of full-frame cameras makes him prefer the A7r to MFt cameras. I used to own the EM-5 you describe and that was a formidable little camera. No one is denying that. And Sony’s past efforts have been bold but flawed innovations. Today, I believe, as does Philippe, that Sony may have produced their best camera ever and one that will be viewed as a landmark for years to come. That’s not to say MFT is not good. MFT is a system with brilliant lenses and an intelligent open-spec concept. Believe me: we really love it. But different sensor sizes and different resolutions produce different looks and both Philippe and I prefer the more silky look of full-frame. So please take the areticle for what it is: a well-documented historic timeline written from the perspective of one photographer. And enjoy your Oly, it’s a truly fantastic camera.

      • philberphoto says:

        Let this be my reply to both Ertan and SN. The point in my article is not to troll for Sony, but to show how mirrorless cameras must win against DSLRs. As it happens, Sony is, right now, the driving force at the top end of the mirrorless market, and thus demonstrating how such cameras can do more and more of what only DSLRs could previously, and also more and more that “only” they can do. This does not mean that Sony and only Sony will soon own the camera market. Many people buy a camera without having owned a DSLR before, and they can buy any number of really fine cameras. Micro 4/3 have a number of impressive features in a very small size and low weight. Fuji have also carved out a segment of users whom they keep really happy with their cameras, and, let’s not forget, also upmarket mirrorless compacts are now serious cameras. Canon was the leader with the G series, but now there is serious competition from Sony RX, Panasonic, Ricoh, etc.
        When I look at innovation, it is coming from more than one brand. Fuji, early on, with its innovative hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder in the X-100. Olympus with its remarkable IBIS, Panasonic in video, etc…
        Let me restate 2 things.
        – Mirrorless will unseat DSLRs because there are in-built advantages to being mirrorless that, with technological improvements, will create an ever-bigger gap in their favor against DSLRs.
        – The shocking aspect is that Canon and Nikon, who dominate the DSLR market and the camera maket as a whole, have their head stuck firmly in the sand. Instead of embracing change, so far they are fighting a losing battle to try to protect what they have. But one day, they could have a change of heart, and lead in the mirrorless market. Leica have now joined the upmarket (read “DSLR-challeging”) market with the Q. Rumour is, there is a lot of Panasonic in it, including the FF sensor. Which means we could have a Panasonic FF camera in the future, if they are ready to commit to developping appropriate lenses.
        So Sony are in the lead now, but that could change, and consumers would welcome such a change because it would mean more competition. And remember, it is not about dominating the camera market, only about the demise of the erstwhile King-of-the-Hill. Even though, today, DSLRs still deliver state-of-the-art pictures when the right conditions are met.

  • Ertan says:

    Thanks for the article. I agree with many and disagree with many.
    With the size of lenses and A7RII body, I don’t see huge advantage for full frame mirrorless systems. With 40mm f2.8, 24mm f2.8 and 100D, Canon showed that they can make smaller bodies and lenses, and Nikon is making smaller bodies with every generation.
    And there still is EVF vs OVF debate and a big no-no for me: AF performance in low light.
    Maybe Sony made it better in A7RII but my A6000 has real problems with AF where EM5, EOSM, GM5 and D5300 has very little or no issues. Even in good light A6000 might miss AF (though rarely) with Zeiss 16-70 or 55mm f1.8. And there is horrible lag problem with EVF, under same light EM5’s “old” EVF is much better.
    Now, DSLRs have traditionally had problems with AF due to mirror design and more MP shows it more. I have had real problems with all my Pentax’s, Canon 5DMII and 40D. On the other hand new bodies such as D750, D810, D7100, D7200, 7D MII, 5DMIII etc.. are really good and still ahead of mirrorless cameras in terms of overall AF performance.
    Plus, although Sony’s system has very nice lenses, still I’m not comfortable with underperforming zooms and lack of cheap-but-good primes and zooms (28mm is an exception).
    These are just some issues that need to be tackled in Sony’s system. And I’m saying these as owner of several Nex bodies since Nex3 and I have 10+ E-mount lenses with an A6000, and I’m keenly waiting for A7RII.
    But yes, mirrorless is the way the industry is going. I think the real charm of mirrorless for companies is the production cost due to less number of complex parts.

  • Mark Pugner says:

    I’ve shot a lot with the Sony A7R and agree that the overall experience is not good. It’s interface is clunky and confusing. I use the MFT system and have only been happy using the most expensive fixed focal length lenses available. Nikon and Canon have better glass, especially Nikon. I just do not like the big iron you need to carry to use their glass. I like the full frame images better than anything. Overall, Sony does have the best idea which is mirrorless full frame with built-in stabilization. They stole all these ideas from others. Now if they steal some user interface ideas, they’d have something. Oh, and they need to learn how to make the cameras lighter too. These weigh too much. Why?

    • philberphoto says:

      Mark, you have your facts wrong. Not only did Sony not “steal” ideas, because that would be a crime, but the first camera stabiliser was incorporated in the Minolta Dimage in 2003, unless I am mistaken. Minolta later merged with Konica, to form Konica-Minolta, which sold its camera business to Sony. So Sony could not steal something their own division invented…

      As to your other points, you are welcome to prefer the UI and haptics of micro 4/3. But, like you, I prefer full-frame sensors. Which, by the way, Sony also did not steal, since the format dates back to Oscar Barnack, of Leica, almost a century ago, so it is long in the public domain, even if a certain dimension could be protected, which I doubt. But, as to putting a full-frame sensor in a compact camera, again, it was not a steal, but a Sony first, with the RX-1, and later the A7.
      That you don’t like Sony and their products is fine with me, though I feel otherwise, that you are frustrated and that you wish to make that known is your right. But facts are facts. Cheers. Philber

      • Bedammit says:

        Great article.
        There are many points I agree with. Here is my history and why I now own and use the gear I have.

        I am a long standing Minolta user. I owned the Minolta Maxxum 7xi (35 mm film) Which had pluggable creative expansion cards that more or less added programmed functions to a 35mm camera. The cards were very clever technology.
        I found that a simple camera body without intelligence did not interest me. I wanted to really push my creative capability with intelligence that either allowed me to automate or simplify the process of capturing imagery.

        When digital happened I became fascinated with the bridge cameras. The bridge camera was body type that included a non removable lens with a decent telephoto range. The Konica Minolta Dimage bridge cameras married intelligence features with the first electronic view finders (EVF) in pro-sumer bodies. The ability to see what you were about to take was extremely compelling. This, as I saw it.. was the future.
        I owned the most of the Konica Minolta Dimage series.
        Dimage 7i, 7hi and A2.

        I made the jump to DSLR to move back to my 35mm roots and to gain higher resolution. I purchased the Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D. I immediately missed the EVF from the Dimage series as well as the the built in intelligence/ program features, which I had grown accustom.
        Sure the optical view finder was crystal clear, but I was already used to seeing histograms, information overlays, color and light in the viewfinder. In many regards I had gone backwards.
        I moved on and began to invest in decent glass.

        Lightning struck and the Konica Minolta camera division stopped making cameras.
        Everyone started dumping their Minolta and KM gear.
        Many great deals were had.. some were passed up and who knew what was next. What was next?
        Sony took over the KM camera division and introduced several DSLR cameras all with EVF. From that point forward, I knew I would never buy a camera without an EVF again.

        I purchased an alpha 700. I liked the camera and some aspects of the images it produced, but it was.. slow. It was not quite there so I returned it .
        I purchased the α33 for its video capabilities. The camera overheated one hot afternoon 2 weeks after I purchased it and I returned it that day.

        What I had learned is that Sony was dabbling in many areas .. many prosumer to professional DSLRs were getting video and Sony was going to do the same. The α33 had features that you couldn’t find on the professional bodies that were very useful. However the α33 could not perform as a workhorse.
        After the α33 overheat debacle, I waited for a few years till the α77 came out.
        for me the α77 was a game changing camera. The α77 was great prosumer camera, which performed well with both video and stills. I decided to buy the flagship Sony α99 as at this point. Between the intelligence and EVF, canon, Nikon and others were simply not where I wanted to be. I was totally on board with the Sony camera road map.

        I could not have been happier with the α99. My long standing investment in Minolta and Sony (Zeiss) lenses had paid off and the α99 really made my lens sing. (or vice versa)

        Last year Sony released another game changer.
        The α7s. My main interest was lighting film/video on a low budget. The low light capabilities of the α7s were the perfect fit for me.
        but only for video..

        I still had to rely on my α99 for stills.
        When Sony announced the α7rii it offered everything I was looking for in a camera for both film and photography.

        The α7rii is a great camera.
        I can quite easily say..

        The α7rii is the best camera I have ever owned.

        No hype. Its simply for what I do, an outstanding camera. I almost hate that I know next year Sony will release the α7riii that will have even more improvements over the α7rii. Bravo Sony, bring it on.

        I do miss the body of the α99 when I am shooting photos. The α99 borrowed so many things from the Konica Minolta 7D. The body shape is second nature to me.

        In regards to α7rii video capabilities, only its elder can match it in a few ways.

        My only complaint with the (α7rii and α7s) is …. I can’t use my α mount glass and get all the intelligence that makes the Sony camera system my choice for photography and video.
        Simply put, you must have Sony E or FE glass to use many of the amazing features of the bodies.
        (for example.. eye tracking and increased number of auto-focusing points.) I am using the LA-EA4 adapter. Ill now have to purchase the LA-ea3.

        As far as the e mount..
        The e mount is the one feature that Sony can differentiate themselves from EVERY other brand.
        Sony should just go ahead and re-brand the e mount to the “Everything” mount. (You’re welcome Sony, you may quote (and credit) me on that) There are adapters to convert the e mount to many different lenses.
        The mounting options are stunning.

        Now my α7rii compliments my α7s. I have used various Canon lenses with the α7s and find this combination to be a great match.

        With these two cameras I can tackle both my film projects and photography exceptionally.

        In a month Sony will announce/release the α7sii. When that happens..I anticipate another strong shift forward.

        • philberphoto says:

          I am glad you love your Sony gear. As you can see from other comments today, others feel otherwise, and love their Nikon or Canon. This tells me 2 things. What matters most is not what gear you have, but that it suits your needs/likes, and that using it gives you pleasure and good results. The other is that, if DearSusan brings together people whose opinions are opposite to one another, we’re probably doing some things right.

  • ruben says:

    I really don’t get this article. I do own a mirrorless x100s and its cool and compact but I never use the evf – For serious work I need my DSLRs – the weight gives stability and ergonomics – the sony cameras feel like a flimsy toy and the viewfinder is awful – even on the newest model. Could be cool with the extra two stop of DR on my Canon 5dsr – but back when I shot slide film I only had 4-5 stops of DR – if the 12.5 DR of the Canon is not enough then I would be a shitty photographer. Maybe its an age thing The generations to come that grew up with smartphones and touch screens might love the new small mirrorless cameras and might feel that the DSLRs are dinosaurs but mirrorless cameras represent just about everything that I find annoying with modern technology. Perhaps Canon and Nikon knows their core customer better – Perhaps they work on a Mirrorless pro Camera – and they will probably launch it when it is perfected.

    • philberphoto says:

      Ruben, there is no doubt that some people prefer larger bodies, and some not. The original Sony approach, the NEX 3/5 was like Smart: “reduce to the max”. They have reversed that to some extent, and, for example, the A7II series are lager than the previous A7. But if you prefer the stability of larger bodies, that’s fine with me. As it happens, many people prefer carrying a lower weight around, and they enjoy mirrorless for that reason, and it’s good that consumers have choices.
      Again, you prefer an optical viewfinder to an electronic one, and I understand that, and there are others like you. The electronic viewfinder, though, can offer technological “assists” which the OVF cannot: peaking, and magnification. I, for example, no longer have an eyesight good enough to manually focus a fast lens through an OVF, and magnification is what saves my bacon. But the OVF cannot get better than it is, whereas EVFs improve year after year, so there will be more and more peole like me, crossing over to the electronic side.
      For reference, Lloyd Chambers, one of the world’s most influential bloggers for upscale photographic equiment, said it was unbelievable that Canon and Nikon did not offer their cameras with EVfs rather than OVFs, mirrors and mirrorboxes. Lecia’s latest FF camera, the Q, is EVF only. So DearSusan are not alone in our view of where our profession/art/hobby is headed.
      That said, you have a Canon 5DsR. Great camera, great imagemaker. I have seen many delightful pictures made with it, and that you have one brought a smile to my face. I hope that Canon and Nikon bring more competition liek that to Sony, because no-one wants a single dominant player. Enjoy and have fun!

  • morten Ryming says:

    Those pictures in the article, could been taken with a Nikon D3200 and a micro lens! wow.. There is really something new and day breaking in a Sony A7R2!

    I worked with the new Sony wonder. Before the settings was done, there was only 17% power left on the battery. So I can’t request you to bring this camera to a cold place to take pictures at all.

    44 megapixel resolution? Yes on the paper, but even with the “sharp” Zeiss 55mm f:1,8 in front of the camera, it aint sharper than my Nikon D800e with a Sigma 1,4 ART. Not at all.. Its like there is a filter in front of the Sony… So who cares of 44 megapixel if the glass isn’t good enough.

    The video in A7R2 i exelent. The viewfinder is also good when we have ind mind thats is a electronic viewfinder.. But when you work in very dark places and shoot F:1,4, then an optical viewfinder is the king.

    All the buttons on the Sony is like a bad designet remote control.. ohh its a Sony! But if you only work in apeture or shutter priority or even in program mode, it docent matter. Then you are pro! Manually settings and manual focus sucks. Its faster for me to shoot with my old Hasselblad 501C/M.

    So do I wanna spend 3200$ plus the price of glass on a Sony? NO not at all. For the money you spend on that camera, you can buy a real mirrorless king.. a Leica! Otherwise I would prefer a Nikon D800(e)/810 and some sharp glass. If you do video for a living, then go for the A7s

    • philberphoto says:

      If I understand your position properly, Morten, the A7RII is crap because Sony glass is useless, certainly compared to Nikon or Sigma glass, because it is poorly designed, because it is a Sony, and because, for the same money, you can buy a Leica.
      First, forget that many independent tests show the performance of Sony glass (FE 55, FE 35 f:1.4, FE 90 macro f:2.8, among others, are superbly rated bby reviewers from magazines and blogs alike). Forget that you can get native Zeiss glass for it, the Batis lenses. But, even more importantly, one of the areas where the A7RII shines is that it can handle almost any glass, including the Nikon and Sigma glass that you think is excellent. So your point does not apply.
      Second, you find it poorly designed. OK, that is your priviledge. There is no “right” design and “wrong” design, you either like it or you don’t. Obviously, you don’t.
      Third, it is a Sony, so it can’t be a “serious” camera. Forget that Sony bought Minolta’s camera business, and, with it, the experience and heritage of a brand that was good enough to design and make glass sold by Leica. In my case, I couldn’t care about the label. What matters is performance. Else, I would still be using a Nokia or an Ercisson phone, designed and built by real phone guys, right? And not an Apple, because they deigned it it like… not a phone.
      Lastly, for the same money, I could buy a Leica. Please, Morten tell me how I can get a 7000€+ camera (the only new interchangeable-lens FF body) for 3000€+, because I don’t know how to do that. Oh, and, by the way, Leica, whom you have every right to respect, sell re-branded Panasonic compacts which differ in only 2 areas, they are more expensive and have the red dot. Brand matters, so that’s cool, right? Well, here at DearSusan, we prefer to buy the Panasonic and spend the extra money on something else.
      Where we do agree, however, is that the Nikon D800/D810 is a fine imagemaker, as is a Leica M. You see, we at DearSusan don’t have to trash every product except the ones we like.
      In any case, what matters are the pictures. Freud once said that waht proved the validity of his thories was they cured patients. What proves the validity of Sony’s cameras is not how many they sell, even thouigh it is an indication that the public agrees with their approach. The real proof is in the pictures. I see so many fine pictures, amazing even, taken with Sony A7, A7 II, A7R, and now A7RII, with whatever glass, that this is all the proof I need.

  • agenius says:

    “Cameras, today, however, are almost entirely electronics devices”..this I keep saying but (inexplicably) people remain unconvinced.

    Maybe this is due to the perfectly loigical conclusion: the days of Canikon are numbered…precisely because they’re glassmakers, not programmers (& these are 2 very different things!).

    • philberphoto says:

      Agenius, I would differentiate between Canon and Nikon. Nikon, as you write is indeed not an electronics firm. In that, like Leica, they depend on a sensor supplier for a key component, which reduces greatly their potential for innovation. Canon on the contrary, not only design their own chips, but they actually own their chip fab, which gives them all the electronics know-how necessary. Their present stasis comes from the fact that, according to more knowledgeable people than I, their C-MOS chip fab is outdated, and doesn’t give them the performance that Sony can squeeze from theirs. I can understand why Canon, faced with a declining camera business, is reluctant to invest US$1Bn in a new fab, but, when they do, they could well get back on the high road.
      Conversely, Samsung a very definitely an electronics company, and make their own C-MOS chips, but their camera hasn’t exactly (yet) set the world on fire, though they do have a following. Which shows that, while being an electronics company is indeed a major factor, it is not in and of itself enough to guarantee success…

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