These are the new line of cameras that don’t use the 20th century technology of a mechanical mirror inside that flips up and down between photos. In a few years, we’ll all look back and smile, having fond memories of using these Da Vinci-esque mechanical devices. Charts of how cameras used to work with their flipping innards will look like some of Leonardo’s unrealized steampunk inventions.http://www.eoshd.com/content/11409/consumer-dslrs-dead-5-years
That's exactly how I see it. Granted, mirrorless cameras are not as pivotal and groundbreaking an innovation as invention of the wheel was. :-) But for photography, mirrorless digital cameras are a truly pivotal innovation.
Let's look at the previous three innovations of similar impact in the world of photography:
* 1913: Oscar Barnack's Ur-Leica with "Kleinbild" film 36x24mm format
pioneered small, fast, "mobile" cameras with "good enough" IQ
. Those enabled photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and a few others ;-) to get the images they wanted and could not have gotten with previous gear. More than "just a better mousetrap" - do you agree?
* 1943 another pivotal innovation was patented by Hungarian Jenö Dulovits (due to WW II it took until 1947 until his "Duflex" camera was built: http://www.novacon.com.br/odditycameras/gammahung.htm
). Far from perfect, so it took a couple more minor improvements and eventually 25 years (!) until single-lens reflex cameras became the absolutely dominant photographer's image-capturing tool, relegating everything else to specialty niches. Why? Just read the first 2 lines of the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-lens_reflex_camera
A single-lens reflex (SLR) camera is a camera that typically uses a mirror and prism system (hence "reflex", from the mirror's reflection) that permits the photographer to view through the lens and see exactly what will be captured, contrary to viewfinder cameras where the image could be significantly different from what will be captured.
* Digital cameras. You guessed that one, right? Main benefit? Photographers got "real time" control over the image about to be captured
. Well, at least "almost". Plus a whole slew of advantages and entirely new possibilities compared to chemical photography. This time it took only 10 years to kill the older technology. Kodak was a pushover.
Pivotal point in the history of photography. Agreed?
* next? yep, mirrorless digital interchangeable-lens cameras. Beacuse it finally brings together the respective advantages of the 2 previous technolgies - rangefinder and SLR - and at the same time allows full utilization of all the digital advantages, without being inhibited by obsolete technology. Uninterrupted, real time control over image-taking
. Seeing the image exactly as the camera is about to capture it at the settings currently chosen
by photographer while keeping the eye on the scene
. ABsolutely silent image capture. No vibrations emanating from camera itself. Not possible with a mirror flapping up and down for every picture taken. In essence: a better, more universal photographic device. More mobility (smaller, lighter), much faster (no mechanics involved. Photons travel at the speed of light. Electrons not quite, but still remarkably fast]. Helps photographers to get more shots and to get the shots they way they want them. And best of all, they are significantly less costly to build than those old-tech mirror-flappers. "Better camera @ lower price
." Does that sound "pivotal" to you? It sure does to me. ;-)
Yes, not all mirrorless goodness is here today. The latest examples (Olympus OMD1, Sony A7/R) still have drawbacks. They are better along than that Duflex was way back in 1947. It will not take 25 years, this time round. 5 years until DSLRs are for the most part gone sounds about right to me.
That's how I see it. Looking forward to the future.