DSLR vs Mirrorless vs Smartphone cameras & diminishing returns

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    • #90877

      Hi all,

      As mirrorless cameras and smartphone cameras continue to advance in capabilities, image quality and performance, have we reached a point where DSLR are heading towards becoming a niche product? For example, a mirrorless 4K camera like the Panasonic G7 (which is very similar to the more expensive GH4) can be had for $600 in a kit. IPhone 6S Plus or Galaxy 7 are around $600-700 range.

      Under IDEAL conditions, there have been comparisons that have shown the MUCH cheaper mirrorless and smartphone cameras to be at least just as good as a higher end DSLR like the D750 or 5DIII. Some comparisons have found the non-DSLRs to produce even sharper images and videos.

      Perhaps in low light situations or for action photography (nature or sports shots), the DSLR still comes out ahead due to buffer size, auto-focus speed, bigger sensor, etc. But for most purposes and under reasonable conditions, the differences in image quality may not be significant enough to justify the price premium of DSLRs (in this example, the D750 @ $2500 w/ kit lens vs the G7 w/ kit lens or IPhone 6S Plus/Galaxy 7 @ $600ish). Can anyone say the D750 is at least twice as good, much less 4 TIMES as good?

      Also, for video, I hear the D750 overheats and it’s not meant to be used as a video camera but instead as a stills camera primarily.

      So, then, would most people who want to do 4K and 1080p videos plus stills photography but want the best bang for the buck be better served by a G7 than D750? I can see that even with the DSLR losing the pure value per dollar proposition, there may be some things of values to PROS like build quality, larger buffers, mic inputs, more af points, full frame, more lens selection, dual memory card slots, longer battery life.. these can be mission critical to the PRO who makes their living doing this stuff.

    • #214348

      Consider the hammer: claw, ball-peen, sledge, framing, tack, mason’s, driving, etc. They’re all tools and they all could be used to drive a small nail, although many would do the job better than others.

      The real key to answering the question you pose is the nail — in other words, what’s the specific job to be done. For traveling light, producing video that may be wobbly and poorly framed, the smartphone is adequate. For most folks going on holiday it’s all they need. I just finished editing three hours of safari footage shot by a client on his smartphone and it looked o.k. The still shots were as good as the photographer.

      For more serious still photography the G7 and D750 are easier to hold than a smartphone, have more options for focus and iris control. Both can produce .RAW images as well as .JPG; the G7 is 20 megapixels, the D750 25. An external audio recording device with either will provide good audio. Both will provide excellent video, given the limitations of the cameras.

      For professional video, I would choose a dedicated video camera, for all the reasons you suggest. These are not merely add-ons but rather the essence of good video tool. A dedicated video camera provides controls that are readily accessible — i.e., not buried deep in a menu structure but on the surface of the camera — and enables the operator to choose quickly the optimum setup for any shooting situation.

      Along with two Sony NX5U video cameras which we use for video production I own a Nikon P900, which has a 28mm to 2000mm lens. It’s great for architectural still photography when mounted on a tripod, but it takes lousy selfies! For those I use my cell phone.

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