Thursday, June 27, 2019



By heinz Richter

When Leica introduced the Leica SL, the first professional caliber mirrorless camera, many thought that such a design would never be capable to compete with standard DSLR cameras.  Since then mirrorless cameras have made considerable progress.  Other high end camera manufacturers have joined Leica in developing professional mirrorless systems of their own.

In contrast, DSLR camera sales have steadily declined and Olympus just announced that they are leaving the camera market all together.  As a matter of fact, mirrorless cameras have been the only bright spot in camera sales.  In April 2018 sales figures showed that mirrorless system cameras left  SLR cameras behind for the first time. On the other end of the spectrum, mobile phone cameras have all but eliminated the market for digital point and shoot cameras and many manufacturers have already eliminated these types of cameras from their line ups.

The last hold outs and the largest DSLR manufacturers, Canon and Nikon, steadfastly  held on to their DSLR offerings, but they obviously saw the writing on the wall.  Both companies have since introduced mirrorless system cameras of their own.  Even medium format camera manufacturers like Hasselblad and Fuji have introduced mirrorless cameras to that market segment as well.

Even the Leica M10, as well as the other Leica M models, while primarily rangefinder cameras,
can be considered mirrorless cameras as well

While mirrorless cameras were considered to be just for the consumer market, cameras like the Leica SL and its replacement, the Leica SL2 have proven that the elimination of a mirror housing does not automatically mean a lesser cameras.  Any of the professional features made popular by DSLR cameras can be found in Professional mirrorless cameras like the Leica SL/SL2 as well.

However, one point of criticism remains.  The electronic viewfinders, which have replaced the conventional mirror and prism viewfinders of DSLR cameras, to this day are inferior to some degree to the old SLR viewfinders.  The only exception was the Leica SL.  Its electronic viewfinder had about twice the resolution of any of their competition and it was the only electronic viewfinder that was able to fully compete with conventional SLR viewfinders.  Other manufacturers are catching up, but Leica still remins as having the best electronic viewfinder.

Time will tell if other manufacturers will introduce truly professional mirrorless cameras of their own, or if they will initially take the route of elevated consumer cameras in their efforts to enter the mirrorless camera market.

For other articles on this blog please click on Blog Archive in the column to the right

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