The thing I like about beautiful women and photography is that beauty is camera neutral.
The image doesn't care what system we use. And in most cases neither does the sitter.
I've been reading rumors all over the web this week that point to Sony rolling out SLR style Alpha cameras next year with a few improvements over the current cameras, like the a58 and the a99. The biggest improvement and the most controversial one boils down to one thing. The mirror; translucent, pellicle, actual, virtual, etc., is going to go away. The maker of the world's highest quality imaging sensors for consumer cameras is going to go "all in" and pull the plug on the sliver of glass that is the "R" in SLR, or, single lens reflex. And I'm predicting that when Sony pulls the plug on last century technology consumers will push Canon and Nikon, grudgingly, into the future.
You can scream and yell and leave all kinds of pseudo-scientific arguments about why you think I am wrong but I'd just tell you to follow the money. Samsung, Sony and Panasonic have been rolling out sensors that have phase detection auto focus elements embedded in the sensors along side the plain vanilla imaging picture elements (pixels). They're on generation three of the technology and the next rev, the one that will take Sony fully mirrorless is already being tested.
While Olympus took a hit from their existing customer base with the (non) announcement that they would be abandoning the whole reflex viewing system to go EVF and LCD they really didn't have much of a choice. They could see the writing on the wall and didn't have the bandwidth to juggle and market old tech while focusing on putting a bunch of consumer friendly new tech into the pipeline.
Sony may not have made the transition any less painful by ripping the bandaid off a feature at a time. Die hard DSLR fans were livid when Sony more or less let everyone know that the optical finder was being retired. And retired for good. When the a99 camera hit the market I think even the thickest headed optical die hard realized that his choice at this point boiled down to loving the industry's best EVF or tossing the whole mess and scampering off to some other marque.
They'll be doubly pissed off when Canon and Nikon inevitably follow suit. The next step for Sony (and it's just engineering logic...) will be to remove the vestigial mirror altogether and move to a completely electronic transmission throughout the camera system. The only reason the "translucent" mirror is still required is to provide auto focus performance that equals the mirrored cameras from their competitors.
If (and I know it's a big leap of faith....) Sony is able to engineer a chip that really does allow their cameras to focus as fast as the competitors but doesn't require a secondary optical system to function then what would be the real beef from consumers. If the performance is the same would the objections be based strictly on philosophical grounds? Is there an implicit moral superiority that falls to the idea of the mirrored camera?
Of course not. It's a matter of tradition. Of convention. The comfort of the well known solution. If the sensors function transparently (in comparison to more conventional systems) then Sony will have made their cameras less expensive to build and they will have eliminated two more infrastructural systems; the mirror with it's alignment requirements and the secondary autofocus sensor in the mirror box.
Does this mean that all Sony DSLT lenses and DSLR lenses and Minolta lenses will be rendered obsolete? Of course not. There's no reason that Sony has to change the lens mount to sensor distance and no compelling reason to get ride of the lens mount. But there's no reason to think that they couldn't shorten the lens mount to sensor distance to the same depth as the Nex cameras while utilizing the shorter distance as they did with the VG-900 video camera which give it all the capability of using both the Nex and (with an adapter) the Alpha lenses with full compatibility.
Sony isn't doing this because they believe in some sort of design religion nor is there a manifest destiny that champions mirrorless. They are doing it because now is the moment in the world of technology when they can more cost effectively mimic the focusing system we've worked with for better than fifty year but by eliminating the mechanical parts and the expensive glass prisms they can offer a very similar user experience at a profound cost savings.
And while everyone over fifty may clench their teeth and curse progress most people who came to photography through digital will find the newer systems more recognizable and ultimately more usable for taking better images. Information is power. And the EVF provides the feedback loop and real time information to make better images.
Remember the first time you used a digital camera with a decent LCD on the back? It changed the way you shoot whether you want to admit it or not. It allowed you to instantly review your shot... which gave you the option of modifying your settings and trying again and again until you knew you got what you wanted in your photo session. And I doubt anyone would willingly give up the screen and go back to a camera that didn't have one even if it was still fully digital otherwise.
Well, to my mind the mirrorless cameras offer the same type of evolutionary forward jump in picture taking. You can ready the camera, the exposure, the color balance and even image styles and see them as they WILL be recorded before you push the shutter button. And once you experience shooting that way you will be as loathe to give up the new power of information just as you would not conceive of giving up the current screens.
It's all about the convergence of costs savings and technology. And that's a curve we've been working with since the dawn of digital.
If you are shooting Canon or Nikon right now I'm sure you think this whole line of reasoning is full of crap. But are any of you willing to bet real money on what the outcome will ultimately be five years from now?