The Transition To ML (Mirrorless) Is Imminent. What Does Nikon Plan To Do?

I have to start by apologizing. I have been inactive for a long period of time. And that reason is because that I have not owned a camera system for the past two months. That’s right, I have sold off my Nikon FX DSLR system.

A glance at the title of this blog entry might lead a reader to believe that I am switching to a mirrorless (ML) system because I think the time of DSLRs is over. That is not entirely true. To ensure I communicate this clearly, let me emphasize my primary reason in bold:

The primary reason I sold off my Nikon DSLR gear is because I find that it has become too large and restrictive for the type of hobbyist shooting I prefer to do. Size and weight is less relevant if photography is your daily livelihood – these are tools to ensure you get paid and you use the right tools for the job at hand.

I have not decided on what type of new camera system I will be using yet. It could be ML. It could be an APS DSLR system. The right tool for the sort of things I like to shoot at a right price. 🙂

What is fascinating is that when I have no more ties to any camera brand, this allows me to look at all the camera companies with a totally unbiased perspective. I don’t feel inclined to say good things about Nikon since I no longer use their gear. I don’t have to say good things about other camera brands too, since I don’t own any gear from them either. 😀

What is apparent to me now is that the transition from DSLRs to MLs is imminent. Today, most of the shortcomings of MLs have been addressed in the premium product line of the ML camera companies. Issues such as viewfinder latency, battery life shortage and unreliable AF are becoming non-issues. At the same time, ML advantages such as silent shutter with no mirror slap, no need for AF fine-tune, precise AF accuracy and natural affinity for recording video have become real-world practical advantages. This is especially true for silent shooting, which is a game-changer. Some photographers are already charging for silent shooting at weddings. It is also possible to shoot concerts and recitals without making noise. In addition, only a silent shutter is allowed during a golf swing at a golf tournament. Even wildlife photographers would appreciate being able to shoot without making any noise. The silent-shooting feature can translate into real jobs and money. If the news that photographers should be able to shoot quietly at weddings with the correct equipment ever go viral – suddenly all the Canikon DSLRs ubiquitous among weddings could become worthless. I am not saying that this is going to happen overnight, but wedding photographers should be preparing themselves for what might happen.

I mentioned that these features are currently available among the premium ranks of ML cameras. As is common with the rate of technological advancement, I expect the technology to become accessible to the mid-range ranks of ML cameras in two years’ time. If the news about silent shooting at weddings does not go viral earlier, then the availability of these features in mid-range ML products by 2020 will put serious pressure on the appeal of the traditional DSLR. To be more precise, I am confident that the majority of cameras used in the 2020 Olympics are still going to be DSLRs. However, I am not sure if DSLRs will continue to be a majority by the time the 2024 Olympics comes around.

The ML offerings from the camera companies are not perfect yet. Of course, companies such as Sony – who is leading the ML charge – and popular Youtubers – who make money when you use their purchasing links and contribute to their subscription and viewership counts – wish you to believe otherwise. 😉 But I don’t own any camera system now. So I can honestly criticize them and write about weaknesses in their products as much as I can criticize Nikon. 😀 I’ll write a follow-up article on my perceived weaknesses in the current premium product line from Sony and Fujifilm soon. But in this article, I will just focus on the ML transition and Nikon.

All right, so the ML transition is happening and will hit a peak in a couple of years. What does Nikon plan to do?

To be honest, nobody knows at this point. There are rumours. There are theories. But that is all they are. In fact, this article originally started out with half of its content based around rumours and theories. But I eventually deleted all that stuff, since none of it is really reliable.

The earliest date some consider to be possible is the month of May 2018, where Nikon may – or may not – release a DX ML system. In which case information leaks may start surfacing from the logistics and retail channels by April. The date that everyone can agree on is Photokina 2018 at the end of September, where both Canon and Nikon are expected to an announcements. What they actually announce and whether anything will arrive in stores in time for the 2018 holiday shopping season is unknown.

So if you are waiting for Nikon to do something with ML, those are the dates you can wait on. Or if you can’t wait on those dates, just pick a system from another camera company. Honestly Nikon is so late to the market with ML that their initial entries may not measure up well against the established ML companies which have the advantage of multiple-generational refinements of their products in the market. Hence I do not feel impressed to insist that people wait and see, because I am not sure whatever Nikon releases at first may be worth waiting for. 😛 If you have needs and some other camera company is fulfilling those needs, don’t let me stop you. Or if you prefer to wait, don’t let me stop you either.

I’ll write about my experience with Fujifilm and Sony cameras in my next article. Meanwhile, have fun shooting. 🙂

-WY

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