DSLRs Are Officially Dead Says Fro Knows Photo, I Say Maybe Not

The death of the DSLR has been predicted for years. With each new mirrorless camera model brought to market someone on the internet is playing TAPS for the DSLR camera format. But what is meant by DSLRs are dead?

In this well thought out video by Jared Polin of Fro Knows Photo, Fro goes all-in on the death of the DSLR camera format. No spoiler alert needed here as the title of the video is "DSLRs are Officially Dead". However, Fro focuses on professional photographers in this video and makes some well-supported arguments of why professional photographers are/will be moving from the DSLR format to the mirrorless format. And I agree with many of Fro’s points regarding the future of the camera format professional photographers will be using. You will have to watch the video to hear Fro’s valid points.

However, there is one point that I have to disagree with Fro and so many others when it comes to mirrorless replacing the DSLR format. And that is when they draw the analogy that DSLR to mirrorless is the same game changer as film to digital. It is not. DSLR to mirrorless is a small step and is not the paradigm shift that film to digital was. As of now, there is nothing a mirrorless camera can to do that an equivalent DSLR can’t. When going to digital from film, there were numerous things that digital cameras could do that film never could or would be able to do.

Keeping with Fro’s focus on professional photographers, let’s look at editorial photography as an example. Digital permitted the editorial photographer cut substantial amounts of time getting an image from creation to publication. Images could be sent almost instantly from source to publication anywhere in the world. The image could be received within minutes, and seconds in today’s world, by the publisher. No more need to handle a physical item from source to publication. No need to wait for the development of the image in a lab before publication. For publications such as newspapers or websites, it has always been critical to be the first to publish, and this speed advantage of digital wasn’t just a nice thing to have, it became mandatory if you were going to survive as a professional editorial photographer. Professional photographers made the switch because they needed to, even if it was going to cost them much of their hard-earned money to acquire new equipment.

That brings me to another point why I don’t believe professionals will be so fast to switch to mirrorless as they were from film to digital: money. Yes, professionals do demand to have the best equipment that is needed to get the job done. They also need to make a living, and the ones that survive know that keeping expenses down is what keeps them in the game. Without any significant advantages of mirrorless over the DSLR format, I see a more extended transition from DSLR to mirrorless for many professional photographers. I’ve shot professionally with both forms. I have nothing against the mirrorless format, but when I needed another body in the Nikon system, I chose a lightly used D500 instead of the Z6 or Z7 and earned myself a bunch of money by not spending more on the Z6 or Z7. Remember the only difference between professional photography and any other photography is making money.

So are DSLRs dead? I say no. Will mirrorless become the dominate format of the two? Yes, I believe it will but not overnight more like years, many years.

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94 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

A statement like that makes me want to watch the video even less.

super steel_'s picture

His idea to get you to click backfired. I didnt click. I hate that guy. For a long time I dont view any of his content

jared polin's picture

thanks Super steel for your support.

super steel_'s picture

👎

Mark Wyatt's picture

I was thinking there was no reason for DSLRs until I started copying slides. It is harder to have confidence with manual focus on critical items (slides, negatives, copy-work, macro-photography) with an EVF. I think technology will improve this, but suspect for these applications DSLRs may still be better.

Robert Teague's picture

I'm not sure about that. The current Nikon Z cameras have focus peaking which I find useful for macro photography.

Mark Wyatt's picture

I think the Fuji XT-2 has something like that, but I have not tired it. When I copy slides I use the magnification feature, but it is just not the same as optical focus. I do get by though. Nikon Z is a newer generation of camera, and maybe they already solved it.

Mark Wyatt's picture

Actually watched a good video yesterday. Matt Day is using an XT3, and uses the magnification feature and claims to be doing grain focusing with it. That is the ultimate. I need to try it. I have been copying slides and really do not see grain, but B&W negatives are different.

https://youtu.be/-aThAi4jan8

Alex Herbert's picture

ALL mirrorless cameras have focus peaking.

Tim Hilts's picture

I’m kinda surprised by this comment! I copy film all the time with a DSLR, and I’ve always used live view with magnification to check focus. It never even occurred to me to look through the optical viewfinder. How do you ensure good focus without any manual focusing aids?

Mark Wyatt's picture

I have a magnification function on the Fujifilm XT-2 EVF, plus I am using a manual focus lens, and I am not always that confident about focus. Maybe it works better on your DSLR. In the "old" days manual focus was pretty direct (i.e., film cameras). I suspect there are other focus techniques on the Fuji I should investigate (maybe even focus stacking 2 or 3 shots, which shouldn't be needed, but could work).

Matt Williams's picture

I've photographed negatives with a Nikkor 55/2.8 Macro and the AF-S 60/2.8 and it is way easier with any mirrorless camera (in my case Z6) than it is with the D810 I used to use.

Modern DSLR focusing screens are not made for manual focus like the old 35mm cameras were - those had focus aids (e.g. split focus screens) as well as a much coarser matte. Modern DSLR screens are optimized for brightness (likely because of slower lens, like 3.5-5.6 kit lenses), but suck for precise manual focus.

Even with the focus aids (like the arrows on Nikon, or the beep with Canon), there is too much travel between the in/out of focus indicators, plus you don't know exactly where it's indicating the focus.

I ALWAYS used live-view (on D810 with magnification) and of course EVF or LCD live-view on a Z6/Z7 to photograph negatives.

Ed Sanford's picture

This is an excellent article because it is practical and fact based. The cost of changing for a working pro is a huge barrier to entry. I am a lowly amateur, and I have to scratch my head at the cost of changing to mirrorless considering all of my investment in lenses etc.... In the final analysis, you come out with an image. When you see a well done image in a gallery or in the news, you don't think about what camera was used. There are many photo artists still putting out excellent work with film. I believe that the demise of the DSLR is greatly exaggerated.

El Dooderino's picture

I'm a "lowly amateur" as well. Sometimes I wonder what equipment is used, but, these days it seems to mostly boil down to what they did in post-processing. Photography has been a long time, self-taught hobby for me. I went digital several years ago and shoot Canon cameras (original 7D, 5DmkIV). I'm fortunately debt free and so I have some extra coin. I may want to add a mirrorless camera to my kit (for lightweight travel maybe) and have been looking at a few, mostly Fuji, and maybe this one. I can use my Canon lenses with an adapter, so I won't have to buy a bunch of new lenses. Even if I do buy a mirrorless camera, I won't be getting rid of my DSLRs. (Heck, I still have my old A1!)

Ed Sanford's picture

El, same here... I look, but I haven’t taken the bait. I have the 5DSR, and I am still in love with the camera. I am going to wait for Canon. If they come out with a high megapixel unit, I might buy it with a kit lens and an adapter for my other glass. Until then, I will continue to enjoy my current gear.

Johnny Rico's picture

Oh silly me, still making money with my kit. Clients dont care.

Reginald Walton's picture

Yes, shame on you! Throw away that kit and get you a mirrorless one. :)

Johnny Rico's picture

Only if I click through his affiliate link to B&H, youtube persona's need to stop pretending to be professionals

Robert Nurse's picture

That made me crack up!

Alex Herbert's picture

So when I started my photographic journey about 4 years ago I used YouTube extensively as a learning resource including this guy. I learned a lot in 4 years and to be perfectly honest I don't even think Jarod Polen (or however it's spelled) is a photographer. I don't recall seeing any of his work that wasn't shot for the purposes of a YT video.

Dennis Johnson's picture

well he is an actor Johnny rico, check on imdb website
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2101609/?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm

Wonder Woman's picture

*Keep doing your part*

michael andrew's picture

Crap I better sell my Eos-3 before it loses anymore value

Matthew Horner's picture

I tried watching the video, got a few mins in but that dude makes me hate photography. If you like DSLR use that, if you like mirrorless use that. Only you will know the difference.

Jerome Brill's picture

Exactly, use a current mirrorless camera and you will notice. Doesn't hurt to try things out. See what works for you. Maybe it won't.

David Pavlich's picture

I see Canon making big investments in the RF mount. I don't think we'll see any new EF-L lenses from this point. That tells me that at least Canon is on the 'DSLR Phase Out Tour'. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen. There is an advantage to mirrorless lens design in the fact that the lens can be closer to the sensor and the other parts of the tech will eventually catch up.

As long as Canon and Nikon keep their mirrorless offerings with their typical ergonomics like their 5D/1Dx series and the D800x/D5/6 series, they'll be okay.

Jason Frels's picture

Who watches these click-bait videos?

Mark Wyatt's picture

I just read the text. I hear the argument, and commented on the general topic.

Richard Mills's picture

Especially that guys, he's awful to watch in general

stuartcarver's picture

That sounds like me, at work

DANIEL ANDERSON's picture

A lot of this is true for me. The IQ and performance out of most the mid to high level camera made over the past 5 years or so is so good that unless your business demands it the need to upgrade every cycle to the latest and greatest isn't there. I actually pushed up a scheduled upgrade by a year and change to see what would happen in the mirrorless world. Invest a lot in a fuji body and a few lens (I've started working more as a set still photographer on movie sets, and mirrorless offers HUGE advantages that I needed to stay competitive), but still keeping one foot in Canon (mostly for cost reasons) for the time being. A lot of the photogs I shoot sports and news with have asked me about my mirrorless kit. While I love it I usually note that set stills were the main reason I bought in, but for news and sports its not as much needed (so if you don't need to upgrade wait).

I also don't see mirrorless being the same leap that film to digital was, although if you are just getting into photography and bought mirrorless (which wouldn't be a bad idea) the trial and error feed back loop is a bit shorter then it was with just DSLRs (those EVFs aren't perfect, but to by that WYSIWYG while composing a shot is stunning). It's more like the step up in technology that video on DSLRs where a years back.

But the used prices on DSLRs dropping is great by me. Like I said I will probably keep one hand in Canon for awhile. Might pick up a used 5Ds for portrait work or maybe a used 5D Mark IV as a good all around next year. So please everybody. Hurry up and switch. My bank account demands it.

Douglas Turney's picture

Thanks Daniel. You make the same points I made with my article. There were many reasons beside the camera itself that drove people from film to digital.

Motti Bembaron's picture

A few weeks ago I was asked by a daycare owner if I could photograph the children the day after. I said yes when a moment later remembering that my D3 and my D750 are both sent for cleaning, my season hasn't started yet so I knew I was fine, I did not count on a daycare calling me right after labour day.

I did not cancel and instead brought my old D70. It was a small daycare and I knew the camera would do just fine. It's an old camera with slow focus and a tiny screen but the job was done without any problems.

I now also have the D500 and dead or not, I have enough equipment to last me for the next 5-10 years. If anything, I would by another used D500.

I do not see it (DSLR) going anywhere for at least 10-15 years. By then I will be hopefully happily retired.

Douglas Turney's picture

I love my D500s. A great camera.

stuartcarver's picture

Oh god, not this again

Mark Wyatt's picture

This is kind of like switching to electric cars and hybrids. There are distinct advantages, but generally higher costs initially (and for the cars it seems the value drops quicker). But a Corvette is still a Corvette and a Ferrari is still better than a Tesla Model S (in my mind), even though the Model S may beat it in the 1/4-mile. And if I am travelling up and down California, I prefer the Camry to the Leaf (range).

But ultimately electrics could displace ICE cars because of their simplicity, torque, etc. They just need to get the price down and battery technology needs to improve a bit more.

Mirrorless is in a similar situation. Other than copy work/slide-negative-scanning/macro I personally do not see a need for a DSLR (and I am getting by with my mirrorless for now anyway).

Ed Sanford's picture

On cars, they need to take away the government subsidies through tax credits. I am not interested in paying for someone else’s vehicle. The technology must stand on its own like mirrorless.....

Mark Wyatt's picture

This should happen once the large car companies start offering electrics on a larger scale.

Douglas Turney's picture

Nothing wrong with mirrorless.

Mark Wyatt's picture

I( agree. When I bought my first serious digital last year I went with the Fujifilm XT-2. I was considering the Sony mirrorless A-7 III and Pentax K-II DSLR, and ultimately the Fuji won out for me on balance.

Jim Cutler's picture

Fro is an entertainer. Doesn't he sniff the lenses? Speaks as if every sentence is a firm declaration? Say the Nikon lenses aren't pro lenses because they're f1.8? He's doing schtick. He's clever and funny. He's doing a show. Video is a visual medium and he does what he has to to get eyeballs.

ignacy matuszewski's picture

He's trying to be one really really badly, for years. Can't stand the guy. I've never any impressive photo made by him, instead of sniff tests, farts and yelling. Yuck! And it's common thing on youtube, amateurs posing as pro photographers to gain money. Damn. If you want entertainment, check PotatoJet for example, guy is merging entertainment with knowledge and does the trick right. Jamie Windsor is more into knowledge and philosophy, but then he manages to edit his shows funny way. Fro? making cancerious content since 2010....

Jim Cutler's picture

LOVE Potato Jet. I am a Potato.

jared polin's picture

This has always been my favorite type of comment. The one that says I don't actually take photos or that you've never seen any impressive photos i've taken. Okay. https://jaredpolin.com/

Don't check back in the old rolling stone magazines either. But please check out the website for some recent work including on the campaign trail with Bernie Sanders

Thanks for your support.

Ted Mercede's picture

I just checked your site, love the Bernie and Misterwives shots, very nicely done. Your personality is either love/hate with others I think, bottom line is you are doing your thing.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I agree. He is a good entertainer and he also knows his stuff. He comes up with some odd statements but he is fun to listen to and has valuable info.

Jim Cutler's picture

I thought the Fro's in person shoot of some musician/composer was terrific.

super steel_'s picture

He sniffs other things as well im sure. Look at that hair. Its about the show but no substance

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