It’s going to be an exciting year for photographers — finally — as both Canon and Nikon are reportedly planning full-frame mirrorless cameras for début before the end of 2018. It’s good news for consumers because it means that both companies have been investing heavily in the next phase of digital photography, and that competition in the mirrorless world is about to heat up.
Photography is a difficult space right now because smartphones have been eating up the low-end and increasingly the mid-range market. Point-and-shoots are effectively extinct, and DSLRs are reserved for serious shooters — though those occupying the middle ground, such as Fujifilm with its lively X series and Olympus with its PENs and OM-Ds have been prospering modestly.
Mirrorless cameras, which basically do away with the bulky mechanical bits of a single-lens reflex camera but have virtually no drawbacks from their absence, allow for a more compact camera that still seriously outperforms phones.
They seem quite clearly to be a big part of the future of photography, which is why every company has been investing heavily in the technology. Early results weren’t great, and it was clear that Canon and Nikon, in particular, have had their priorities divided: DSLR sales have been dropping, but flagship full-frame (that is, with sensors the size of 35mm film) DSLRs still represented the best of the camera world, embraced especially by professionals.
But inroads have been made, especially by Sony and Fujifilm, into even that professional space. The Alpha and X-Pro series have shown that mirrorless cameras can perform at least as well as DSLRs, and boy is they easier to carry around.
So, faced with either innovating and cannibalizing their own sales, or allowing competitors to eat their lunch, Canon and Nikon have chosen to do the former… after a couple of years of the latter, anyway. We’ve seen the early results from Canon in the form of the mid-range M50, but it seems Nikon has kept theirs under wraps.
Canon Rumours and Nikon Rumours report that the companies both plan to sell full-frame mirrorless cameras by the end of the year — in Nikon’s case maybe even by the end of the month.