Now that Canon has joined the party, we have three major manufacturers offering mirrorless full-frame systems, with a fourth expected to arrive later this month. This is important news for camera users, because it confirms something that we have been suspecting for quite some time: the future is mirrorless.
The really big shift is not so much the mirrorless concept itself. For a number of years, the term “mirrorless” defined a category of compact small-sensor cameras that were fine for amateurs and enthusiasts but didn’t quite come up to professional standards. That’s nothing new. What has other manufacturers scrambling to catch up is the fact that Sony has pushed the mirrorless concept into the realm of professional handling and full-frame imaging performance, for both stills and video. That is a big deal, because it brings the advantages of mirrorless cameras to a very large professional market. Everyone is going to want a piece of that pie.
Initial full-frame mirrorless offerings from Nikon and Canon are sort of ho-hum, but there is plenty of potential and both manufacturers will undoubtedly burn the midnight oil to get their new systems up to speed as quickly as possible. Sony won’t be resting on their laurels though, and will probably continue to innovate at their usual impressive pace. It will be interesting.
Rumor has it that Panasonic will be joining the race in a couple of weeks, possibly making an announcement just before the Photokina trade fair that is scheduled to begin on September 26. Panasonic mirrorless models have been particularly popular with video shooters for quite a while, because they do offer impressive performance for that application. We don’t have any details yet though, so there’s no way of knowing whether it will simply be another me-too release or something truly innovative.
All of this is a bit of an issue for people who are heavily invested in DSLR lenses. Those larger, heavier lenses can be mounted on the new mirrorless cameras via adapters, but to maximize the size and weight benefits that are a cornerstone of the mirrorless concept, most users will want to acquire a full set of smaller, lighter lenses designed specifically to match their mirrorless bodies.
We are in a period of transition that will continue for quite some time as all of the pieces fall into place. At least now we know with almost 100% certainty that the future is mirrorless, and can plan our purchases and upgrades accordingly.