Nikkei, a prestigious Japanese financial newspaper recently reported that Nikon is withdrawing from the DSLR market and no longer developing new camera models.
Nikon itself claims it has not announced such a move and will still manufacture and distribute DSLR cameras but did not deny Nikkei’s revelations.
The end of the DSLR might have been obvious by the time Nikon and Canon announced full-frame mounts for mirrorless cameras. Since then, both companies have launched several lines of DSLR cameras, but nearly all resources are now focused on mirrorless cameras.
Both companies have introduced successors to camera enthusiasts like the Z6 and Z7. It delivers almost the full power of DSLR models like the D610 and D750. And Canon’s R6 and R5 have not only replaced the 6D series, but also the iconic new 5D cameras.
If that wasn’t enough to convince everyone that the DSLR era is coming to an end then Nikon’s decision to introduce the D6 as the Z9 should have made that clear. Nikon’s leadership believes that mirrorless cameras can absolutely outperform DSLRs, even in the most technically demanding niche.
It’s only a matter of time before Canon follows in Nikon’s footsteps
It is very unlikely that Nikon or Canon will publicly announce the end of production of F-mount or EF-mount cameras or related lens production. But nearly four years after both announced their new lens mounts, we’ve most likely seen the last DSLR of both.
Developing any product takes time. Every minute spent on DSLR research is a trade-off that can’t be upgraded and improved on mirrorless technology. This is quite true for Canon and Nikon as they only announce a few new lenses for mirrorless cameras each year and all are mainly intended to replace the new F (Nikon) and EF (Canon) lenses.
These resource constraints affect the whole plant. Both companies will have production lines for other popular optical lenses. However many other focal length ranges may be produced in batches. Production lines will be switched back and forth between products to meet demand.
The camera market is stabilizing again after several years of severe decline. Camera manufacturers are fighting for a small number of consumers and cannot afford to provide many products to the same customer. In order to survive and be profitable, camera manufacturers need to focus their efforts on potential and future customers. And the future is Z-mount and RF lenses for mirrorless cameras.
Another issue that camera manufacturers have to think about is the cost of R&D, marketing and distribution, inventory, and more for both DSLR and mirrorless cameras. If the cost of both models has to be balanced, it will be difficult for companies to make a profit in the context of the shifting camera market.
Does this mean that DSLRs are dead? Not necessarily. In the first five months of this year, the industry produced almost twice as many mirrorless cameras as DSLRs, but in Europe and America, mirrorless cameras were only about 20% ahead.
Similarly, Ricoh remains committed to DSLRs. The company doesn’t currently have any mirrorless cameras, and launched its most ambitious DSLR yet, the Pentax K-3 III, over a year ago.
The days of questions like “when will mirrorless catch up with DSLRs” are long gone. Nikon’s Z9 shows impressive shooting speed, autofocus and, like it or not, its video capabilities far surpass that of a DSLR.
So it’s not surprising that Nikon is spending a lot of time and effort continuing to innovate in this area. Whether the news that Nikon is moving away from DSLR cameras is accurate or not, this is clearly going to be the main trend and Canon will follow Nikon in the not too distant future.
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