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The Breaking Point: Just How Big Are DSLR’s Going To Get?


Rufus Mangrove

I was in Central Park the other day and I couldn’t count how many people were wearing their Nikon D1s or D3s or their Canon Mark 1Ds or their Sony A900s around their necks. I think this is the pinnacle of how far, or more particularly, how successful, the DSLR ad-machine has been. Back in the day, the only people really carrying these types of cameras were professional journalists, wildlife photographers, or studio photographers. Nowadays, everyone from soccer moms to people simply taking photos of their kids are wearing five pound plus DSLRs around their neck with the same ubiquity as wristwatches.

You really have to hand it to the magazines like Popular Photography and the stores like J&R and B&H who are feeding the public’s believed need for super large full frame tank-like DSLRs. Is it me or is the sight of twenty people within a one hundred square block radius wearing top of the line DSLRs for a simple “afternoon stroll” pretty damn ridiculous? Sure, these cameras take amazing shots. But to actually believe that these types of cameras are for everyone convinces me that the magazines and the photography stores have nothing but pure profit in their mind.

A typical day at J&R or B&H

Customer: I’m looking for a good all around camera where I can take photos of my kids and also when I go out to family events. Something easy to use.

Sales Rep: Hey, you want to take great shots of your kids? Well, the 85mm f/1.8 is going to be good, but if you want really, really great shots of your kids, the only lens you should get is the 85 f/1.4L.

Customer: Okay, will that go well with the camera on sale, I think it’s the Canon Xsi? I have a Canon Powershot now.

Sales Rep: Sure Ms. Jones, you can do well with that Canon Xsi. But if you’re going to go out and take some shots of your kid on the weekend or if you’re going to use your camera for family outings, then to really maximize your lens, you really should just get the Canon Mark 1D.

Customer: Wow. That’s a really big camera.

Sales Rep: Sure, it’s heavy, but look how nice that handles. You can even drop it in the ocean and it will work!

Customer: But I don’t live near the ocean.

Sales Rep: Exactly. That’s just another layer of protection.

Customer: How much does that cost? I can barely lift it.

Sales Rep: Well, it is expensive. All in all, you’ll be paying about 8,000, but it’s cheaper in the long run. When you think about it hard, it’s really a good investment because this camera is all you will ever need, at least until the next technological cycle, which usually last anywhere from three to six months.

Customer: I guess you have a point.

Sales Rep: If war photographers use these types of cameras, shouldn’t you?

Come on. Wake up everyone.


Post a comment
  1. J #
    July 4, 2010

    well done you for speaking out about it. photography has been an interest and hobby of mine since childhood – my first SLR was an East German (DDR) Pentacon At an even younger age i’m sure i even had 110 or 126 type instamatics with the disposable flash cubes – you remember? so that was about 1979/80 and pretty much i’ve been snapping away ever since. that is until right about now – i’ve become terminally bored of what photography is today. the internet, the complete ubiquity of imaging. everytime i pick up a magazine or newspaper – everyone now is ‘an award winning photographer’ of this or that genre, ‘an artist’. it’s become utterly banal. art/flickr/street photography. i’m embarrassed to tell my nearest and dearest who regard me as ‘the resident expert’ on cameras and photography that i’m done with it and that, how the world has changed, i find all so cliched, contrived and meaningless now.

    the internet has burnt it up. made what was novel mundane. a street scene in new delhi/nyc/paris/moscow/khartoum – a thousand photoshopped examples anwhere/anytime 24/7 at the click of a mouse. it’s been fun along the way but now..the riskiest shot in a seedy quarter of a foreign city is just another screensaver cliche. photojournalism is routine, the world has moved on even if it still needs to sell its legacy in the form of DSLRs and colomn inches.

  2. September 9, 2011

    You hit the nail on the head. The average consumer needs more pixels like I need pimples. Prints, who prints these days. Everyone shares photos on ipods, phones and truthfully I see more cell phones taking pictures than cameras. Everyone has a contest, the fine print is they charge from $25 to 35 to enter one picture. Millions of dollars these website are making. Every 2 to 3 yrs Canon and Nikon come out with a more complex camera. So do I keep my 50D or upgrade to the new 7D. You get the picture. If your Pro, then I understand the upgrade in Cameras. Lenses once you buy your 3 or 4 Glass with Is, you really never need to buy another lens. Also the computers and hard drives need to be larger and faster. Hey it’s like the automoble industry, each year something new, lighter and usually more expensive. The mileage still stays the same 20 to 30 mpg. Oh, well enjoyed your site, I found it because I’m thinking of using the same template. Peace

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