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Is It The End For The DSLR Camera?

In the years since digital imaging swamped film photography, the amateur photograph has ceased to be about memories and is more about the ‘now’. The digital world is now swamped with pics which highlight the truth that although the technology has improved beyond our wildest dreams the ability of many people to make a decent snap is still in question, especially when selling a car where any old pic would seem to do.

You Can’t Blame The Camera

Nevertheless, you can’t fault the gear. No more having to calculate exposure, or even set the simplest of parameters on the camera; you push the button and science does the rest. We use the camera to record every detail of our lives in the hope and expectation that the rest of the world is interested and we do it with devices we can put in our pockets.

This writer remembers the days when he would set up a tripod (usually in appalling weather) and fit upon it a large and heavy camera and commence taking light readings. Not any more. The camera has become ever more portable and that in turn has signalled the next big shift in photography: The end of the digital single lens reflex camera.

Cameras have become hugely expensive. Some can cost many thousands of pounds; and that’s just for the body alone. DSLR’s remain popular with enthusiasts but I suspect that is more through cosy familiarity than absolute need. The quality of the images produced is superb and DSLR’s are still sold in their thousands, but it is clear that thanks particularly to advances in electronic viewfinders and rear screens the reflex mirror is becoming redundant. Without this mechanical device the camera can become smaller and lighter with no loss of quality. Initially this meant that the sensor had to be smaller and by association not as sensitive to detail. This is no longer the case. The APS-C and full frame sensors we are used to in the DSLR are now commonplace in ‘mirrorless’ cameras. Quality is as good with the added bonus of ease of use and quality of video.

The CSC Camera

Much of the imaging we see scattered across our monitors is made by camera phones, which is fine because we comparatively rarely print pics these days and the on-screen quality looks great. People selling cars use them routinely although their efforts could be much better but it is when an image is printed do the weaknesses of the tiny phone sensors show through. That’s why, if we enjoy and take an interest in our photography, it is no longer to the DSLR that we need to turn. The CSC or mirrorless camera is going to take over. Some are now small enough to go in a pocket and even the more expensive models will easily go into a small hand or shoulder bag.

Film photography thankfully still lives on. In fact, it is making something of a comeback because users like the process and the anticipation of waiting to see the results rather than just instantly ‘chimping’ the back of the camera. This revival has even prompted the return of some of the famous film emulsions of yore and that’s terrific; it is nice to have the choice.

Most folk though prefer digital and if smaller is better and more convenient for the average user then the DSLR is likely to become as niche as the film camera. Geoff Maxted

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