Are DSLR cameras about to become extinct?

24 October 2019

Written by: Yulia Fokina

Photography professionals explain what the future holds for DSLR cameras in the era of smartphones.

The last 10 years has seen a decline in the purchasing of DSLR cameras. Last year people bought 100,000 less professional cameras compared to 2010. Is the era of specialised equipment over? Will phones replace all the bulky photography gear that people have to carry around to make a decent shot?

While online publications like Tech Radar and Peta Pixel have both agreed that mirrorless cameras and advanced smart phones are the future, professional photographers argue that nothing will replace the freedom that a classic camera offers.

Jake Kohler, who is responsible for all the photo and video content at La Trobe University, said that DLSR cameras are not going anywhere, especially not in a professional sense.

“Smart phone cameras are always improving, but so is the technology in the DSLR market. Phones are also trying to be so much more than a camera and packing as many features in as possible like a mini computer,” Kohler told upstart.

“Phone cameras are also designed in a way to provide the best all round experience. Be it low light, megapixels, but they never are the best possible version of each of those things. The more you dig into what you’re looking to get out of a DSLR camera the more you find that there isn’t one camera that can ‘do it all’. This is why most professionals own or rent more than one camera depending on the job they are trying to do.”

Kohler explains that photography is art, and when an artist is shooting with a professional camera, it creates endless possibilities for post-production. An artist can apply a personal style to an image and have total control of the device.

This opinion seems to be common among professional photographers and videographers.

Emel Berdilek, a freelance camera operator, has a lot of experience working both in and outside a TV studio. She agrees that the difference in quality that a DSLR camera offers is significantly better compared to a smart phone. Berdilek said that she would never use a phone for a professional photoshoot.

“A phone is really in line with consumer use. It’s good for social media and behind the scenes images. I use my phone to take behind the scenes photos of my shoots and I market those on my business Instagram,” Berdilek told upstart.

“The quality of the phone is good enough to take great photos, but if you are on the professional job, when you are getting paid a lot money to provide a service, you have to make sure you have the complete control of your image.”

Mobile phones are finding their place in media, especially in broadcast journalism. TV channels implement phone use more and more, as it’s easier and faster to make a segment this way.

“Phones are a very ‘running gun’ style technology. You can just be thrown out, hit record, don’t think about any finicky settings and you can quickly get a story, especially if the story is breaking and you don’t have time to set up your gear,” she said.

When it comes to a package, as long as you get the story out, it doesn’t matter what the quality is like. It’s the content that matters, not a flashy wrapping.”

But not all photographers are optimistic about the future of photography. Some, like Heidi Lens, the owner of Heidi Lens photography, believe DSLR will become obsolete eventually. She says that phones are becoming too advanced for cameras to catch up.

“Even DSLR cameras today can connect to your phone with Wi-Fi, and you can edit photos and publish them directly online. So, with that much advancement in technology, I’m sure there will be a phone designed to do all these things with a quality camera installed in a phone which will be equivalent to the use of a DSLR camera,” Lens told upstart.

Lens does admit that she uses her cameras for personal and professional purposes. She finds it exciting to bring a bulky camera and experience the real photoshoot experience.

“I think we have a great future to look forward to with photography, but just not in the way it used to be with cameras. Soon disposable cameras will be out of the question completely, as very few places still sell them today. I also think we will see a job cut within the photography industry, as even people now, are wanting to do these things themselves.”


Yulia Fokina is a third year Bachelor of Media and Communications (Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter @ Yulia__Fokina