The End of “Mirrorless”

drd1135

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Name
Steve
Yeah, click-bait title. Do you think the term “mirrorless” will go away at some point? As DSLRs become an increasingly niche market, are we going to keep referring to the primary type of digital camera by their lack of an obsolete feature? For lack of a positive name, I suspect they will simply become interchangeable lens cameras. Any thoughts?
 
I'm with you there. Mirrorless is an awful name. It defines the object by what it's missing.

That being said, I haven't come up with anything as succinct as DSLR. Something that everyone understands. There were twin-lens cameras with interchangeable lenses 60 years ago. Maybe something like SLEV - Single Lens, Electronic Viewfinder.
 
Quite an interesting question - and my answer mirrors most of what has been said: Except for the fact that I'm glad about the general reduction in size and the addition of the EVF as a compositional tool, I'm not really fussed about the fact that there's no mirror.

Anyhow, I've seen the acronym "MILC" - which is funny, in a way (is this pronounced like "milk" or like "milts", I wonder - spelled "Milz", the second option would mean "spleen" in German - now there's a pun noone would get ...), but not at all attractive, at least to my mind. "ILC" is a more general term that includes DSLRs ... maybe it's time to adopt that.

I wouldn't be sad to see the term "mirrorless" vanish, either. Specifically because such cameras really have been around forever - they predate reflex cameras of any kind!

M.
 
Sometimes in Dutch mirrorless cameras are referred to as "systeemcamera's" (system cameras, you guessed that already). Some people in my photoclub know what that means, others don't know what you're talking about and couldn't care less. In fact, a mirrorless camera depends on the sensor for viewing, focusing and image capture, so it's a "sensor-based camera" (SBC). Well, this won't catch on, as many attempts to rename this type of camera.
 
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Sometimes in Dutch mirrorless cameras are referred to as "systeemcameras" (system cameras, you guessed that already). Some people in my photoclub know what that means, others don't know what you're talking about and couldn't care less. In fact, a mirrorless camera depends on the sensor for viewing, focusing and image capture, so it's a "sensor-based camera" (SBC). Well, this won't catch on, as many attempts to rename this type of camera.
FWIW, I'd prefer SC or "system camera" over ILC; that said, it's also the term used in German ... However, it's refreshingly universal.

But I think that is not for us to decide at all - the tech journalism community is the only one that could inniate a change or challenge a term they implemented, and they're usually into keeping terminologies intact, not re-inventing them.

M.
 
"Mirrorless" is such a poor name, and with poor history. (Remember when it used to mean M4/3?)

But in contrast, "DSLR" is worse. :) Having a mirror somehow made a camera make "professional" and high IQ photographs?

Finland joins Germany and others by having an established term "järjestelmäkamera" (lit. system camera) which was misused to mean large-sensor professional (and more often than not, DSLR) high-IQ cameras (to oppose all the non-system cameras that "couldn't have been" high-IQ big-sensor cameras). But at least as a term with its face value, it's decent.
 
I have seen some places (LCE and CEX in UK) describe them as Compact System Cameras, compact being smaller then DSLRs and System Cameras for having nterchangeable lenses.
I do remember the MILC and ILC description from back in 2009-2010, I think it popped up when Sony came out with NEX and Samsung with NX cameras. "Mirrorless" is quite a meta term for people who have no photography relations and interests since they don't have the reference of why it is whitout a mirror.

But like most standards when it comes to marketing nobody wants to play ball and adopt a term that's more popular or reasonable (especially when you try really hard to ignore your competition). It would be up to independent stores to try and make an easy to navigate, research and buy cameras on their websites and stores.

As for the forums and photographic communities I think the term mirrorless with last for quite a long time, the longer the DSLR format is pushed into the past the more people will adopt other descriptions that puts better context to the camera themselves.
(Not many newer generations know or heard of Large Format, Medium Format, TLRs or Rangefinders)
 
We could anticipate the future and call them “non-phone digital cameras”. 😲
I was thinking exactly the same thing. Over time, as DSLR’s fade from memory and compacts become a niche luxury market it is likely that the terminology will change. NPDC doesn’t really work as an acronym though so who knows what future generations will call the camera gear that survives the paradigm shift we are seeing in photography.

I don’t expect the term mirrorless to exist beyond a couple of generations though. No problem for me, I won’t either :)
 
There are all sorts of ways to describe cameras based on their actual mechanisms, though: TLR, SLR, dSLR, mirrorless, rangefinder, etc. I don't think the term mirrorless will really die because it also helps to specify a time-era of when the camera was manufactured. An "entry level" Canon/Nikon is different based on whether it is SLR, dSLR, or mirrorless. Sony is known for being only mirrorless. If someone needs an electronic shutter, there are very few dSLRs that offer that, so it would make more sense to recommend any number of mirrorless cameras. Most mirrorless cameras don't offer an EVF (other than the X100 series of Fuji, but then those act like a rangefinder.) I don't think there is any good reason why a camera should not be described as mirrorless.
 
I think it's already happened. The term only used in the specific conversation when distinguishing between M-less, DSLRs and film cameras.
 
"Unleaded gas" is now just "gas"
"http://www" announced awkwardly on television eventually became "___.com"
"smart phone" is quickly becoming just "phone"

"mirrorless camera" is likely to become just "camera" in discussions with photography enthusiasts, with "compact", "system", "action", and "DSLR" only added as warranted. The rest of the world will just call them cameras.

Language evolves and changes.
 
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I think cameras have always needed a designation of being higher quality or complexity with the general public: mirrorless is a buzzword that says the camera is more expensive and capable of doing more, better. DSLR had the same cache before now, though the term has morphed into something else now among photographers (I still see merchandise that sometimes incorrectly uses "DSLR" to refer to even mirrorless cameras, so the wider public still sees it as being a label of higher "level"). Granted, there aren't many "low-quality" P&S type cameras anymore, but I don't see the conception of tiers of cameras as dying out yet (even while the lower tiers of cameras are dying).
 
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