There are many photographers and internet critics out there who will tell you that DSLRs are dead. However, they’re wrong. Sure, DSLRs may have taken more of a back seat thanks to mirrorless cameras, but there are still plenty of incredible DSLRs out there.
In fact, I would say that the vast majority of photographers in the world still use DSLRs. Don’t get me wrong, I know, we all know, that mirrorless cameras are doing very well, and that they are indeed the future. Still, this doesn’t mean that DSLRs have suddenly died and become bad cameras. The Digital Single-Lens Reflex cameras I own still enable me to make wonderful images
As much as some want DSLR technology to curl up and die, these fine cameras will be around for a while longer yet. While new models will be few and far between, there are still excellent options available on the market. Here, we’ll take a look at four reasons why it still makes sense to buy DLSRs in 2021, and beyond.
1. DSLRs are dependable workhorses
Many working photographers who have to get the shot still put their trust in DSLRs. Look at photographers at any sporting event, in press rooms, and in war-torn countries. Chances are, you’ll see DSLRs chomping at the bit. Yes, you’ll see mirrorless cameras, too. However, the majority of the cameras you’ll see will be DSLRs. DSLRs are still favorites with many wedding, wildlife, and landscape photographers, too.
Why could this be? After all, mirrorless cameras are superior in every way, right? Mirrorless cameras are better in terms of autofocus technologies and burst rates — that’s a given. However, in all of my time owning, using, testing and reviewing cameras I can say that only one mirrorless camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M1X, comes close to the ruggedness and dependability of DSLRs.
DSLRs like Canon’s EOS1D X Mark III, and EOS 5D Mark IV, Nikon’s D6, D500, D750, D780, D850, and Pentax’s K-1 Mark II and K-3 Mark III will beat the snot out of mirrorless cameras. Digital Single-Lens Reflex cameras also handle bangs and drops with ease. DSLRs just get up, dust themselves off and then laugh at the crack they made in the floor. However, I have known photographers who have found mirrorless cameras warped and cracked after minor drops.
Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras just work
The majority of prosumer and professional DSLRs brush off the rain and dust better than most mirrorless cameras as well. The amount of time I spend cleaning the sensors in my mirrorless cameras compared to my DSLRs is absurd.
Sony’s weather sealing is not great. Canon’s weather sealing in the R5 and R6 is okay, but it’s not where it used to be. The same can be said about the Nikon’s Z series, Fujifilm’s cameras and Panasonic’s S series cameras, too. There’s room for improvement.
DSLRs also just work. I’ve lost count of the number of times mirrorless cameras have frozen. Fixing this requires removing the battery, which means I miss shots. DSLRs also beat mirrorless cameras when it comes to battery life. Batteries in mirrorless cameras have improved. Still, even the best mirrorless camera batteries fall short of DSLR batteries. The fact is, years after mirrorless cameras became mainstream, DSLRs are still more reliable and dependable.
2. Optical viewfinders are still better than EVFs
Even the best EVF cannot outperform an optical viewfinder. I’m sure EVF’s day will come. Right now, though a 100% coverage, optical viewfinder will trump an electronic viewfinder. Yes, exposure preview is great, but screen lag is very real. Sony’s 9.44 million dot EVF is fantastic, but I still found it bothersome when tracking fast-moving subjects. This is not an issue with optical viewfinders.
I also cannot be the only photographer who suffers from EVF headaches. Looking at a small LCD that flickers and causes eye strain is not ideal. I often pick up my DSLRs over my mirrorless cameras for this reason. We could definitely benefit from more cameras with hybrid viewfinders like the ones found in the Fujifilm X-Pro and X100 cameras. OVFs are a solid reason to grab a DSLR over a mirrorless camera. There’s no lag, no flicker and no eye strain.
3. Bang for your buck
You can get a whole lot of DSLR goodness on the cheap these days. Outside of some new Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras, there are bargains to be had. Scour the used market and you can find bargain prices on top-tier DSLRs that are feature-packed.
Stores like KEH and MPB offer used DSLRs for a fraction of their original prices. eBay is another great place to look for a used DSLR. More photographers are making the switch to mirrorless, this is just inevitable. However, this means that the used DSLR market is oversaturated and because of this, prices are low. Heck, even some brand new pro-grade DSLRs are affordable.
At the time of this writing, the 50MP Canon EOS 5DS R that retailed for over $3,000 is now just $1499! The Nikon D500 is under $1500 new, or around $1000 used. You can get a used 36MP Pentax K-1 with IBIS, Astrotracer, and a self-leveling sensor for about $1000.
The market is loaded with fantastic DSLRs that didn’t suddenly start sucking because of the invention of mirrorless cameras. If you want to save money and still get a top-tier camera, a DSLR is the way to go.
4. DSLRs have huge lens libraries
The last reason we’ll cover here has to do with lenses. While the lens libraries of mirrorless cameras are growing, their lens selections pale in comparison to what’s out there for DSLRs. Sure, some will say, well Canon and Nikon have stopped supporting their DSLR mounts. This is true, there will be no new lenses for their Digital Single-Lens Reflex cameras.
However, Canon’s EF mount and Nikon’s F mount have hundreds of lenses available for them. Even Pentax’s K mount has more lenses available than most mirrorless camera systems. Just like DSLR camera bodies, the prices of DSLR lenses are also falling. So, don’t for one second think that you will be at a disadvantage when it comes to lenses. I can guarantee that every lens you could ever need already exists for DSLRs.
5. Mirrorless and DSLR technologies can co-exist
There’s no doubt in my mind that mirrorless cameras and Digital Single-Lens Reflex cameras can co-exist. Both camera platforms have pros and cons that speak to us as individuals. One type of technology is not inherently better than another.
Don’t think that I’m hating on mirrorless cameras. I’m not. I think mirrorless cameras are fantastic. I own several myself including the Panasonic Lumix S5, an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV and a Fujifilm X100V. What I’m saying is that DSLRs still have a place too. They have several qualities that mirrorless cameras have not matched yet, and this makes them a viable option. Don’t for a second think Digital Single-Lens Reflex cameras are inferior because they’re not. They’re just different, and that’s okay.