Are Mirrorless Cameras Getting Too Small?
For some people, yes, but this only highlights how compact some models have become. For those happy with the grip and handling of smaller cameras, it is usually a huge benefit, especially for travel. Reduced size tends to cause less of an issue with lenses, so most people appreciate compactness here. The winner in terms of low volume packing, however, remains the Leica M, primarily due to the size of the lenses. I can’t think of anything else out there that can compete with a Leica M plus 24mm f3.8 Elmar, 35mm Summicron/Summarit-M and 75mm Summarity-M when it comes to compactness (or performance for that matter).
Other Mirrorless ‘Hype’
IBIS, low shutter vibration & silent shutter options (except Mk I A7 and A7R), excellent live view implementation, no lens-body focus calibration issues, additional ‘in sight’ information display via Electronic View Finders and no problems shooting into the sun, because you are not looking directly at the sun itself. As always, opinions on whether these things matter vary widely.
My Own Bias
I own an extensive Canon DSLR outfit including L-Series primes used on 5D III and 5D II bodies (plus four film bodies), which is considerably more extensive than my Sony A7 and A7R outfit. I am also a huge fan of the large and boxy Pentax 645Z, which is of course a super-sized DSLR with big flappy mirror and some fairly monstrous lenses (like the wonderful 28-45mm DA SR). I very much enjoy using my Leica M outfit too, but still much prefer my Canon over anything else I have for some applications. In short, I match the camera to the task and have no interest whatsoever in the name on the front. The fact that the Sony FE cameras are there at all should tell you that they have a place and in simple terms its somewhere between the SLR and rangefinder: much of the functionality I need from the former, but in a package not much bigger and heavier than the latter (but not entirely replacing either).
The above comparisons may have some errors in there and perhaps I have unwittingly omitted various weight saving possibilities on the SLR side that might eat into the margins, but I think the overall trend speaks for itself (even if you factor in the approximately 15g weight of my aluminium Kipon M to E adaptor).
Sure, I have juggled lenses around on the mirrorless side of things and strayed far from native only options, but why not? This is what I have done for my own equipment, not just to make a point here. I have done so because it works and the results can be this good.
There is no hype, only facts. If you want to save a lot of weight – in the region of 40% – you can do so by using non-native lenses and Mk I Sony bodies. If you want to save roughly 20-30% in weight, but benefit from IBIS on every lens you mount, you can do so by using the Sony MK II bodies, even with a zoom or two thrown in. When you do have a set of needs that sees a mirrorless kit bag approach that of a DSLR, its hardly a disaster, is it? The point is that mirrorless shooters have options that just are not open to Canikon DSLR shooters.
Are DSLRs ‘Second Best’?
No, of course not. This is not a ‘my team is best’ issue (at least not for me), but it shouldn’t be too hard for an emotionally secure DSLR user to acknowledge that mirrorless kits can be made to weigh less and sometimes quite a lot less. Whether this matters to you is likely to depend on your application. If you rely upon AF that can keep up with fast action, then clearly it’s a moot point, because DSLRs still run rings around mirrorless cameras at the top end of this game. Nothing gets close to a Canon 1DX or Nikon D4S in this arena.
Are Mirrorless Cameras Likely to make DSLRs Extinct?
I suspect so, but it will take some time to happen. For all the gains mirrorless cameras are making in AF terms, DSLRs are getting better too! I think the DSLR niche will become increasingly restricted to top end action/sports usage, but it’s possible that mirrorless will eventually take over entirely, should new technologies allow it. Does this make a D810 any less brilliant as a landscape camera? No, it just weighs more than a Sony A7R II. The Nikon user may have enjoyed the ascent less, but this is unlikely to determine who will produce the most compelling photographs…. Besides, the Nikon DSLR user can head to his kids’ football game when he returns home and do a great job with the same camera. The mirrorless shooter may struggle.