Is the DSLR dead

Are Cameras Today Making Photography Less Meaningful?

Now that every manufacturer has come out with mirrorless cameras it’s easy to wonder; is the DSLR dead?

Of course DSLR will be around for the next while. In fact, most people with professional cameras today are still using a DSLR. The same question was asked with film cameras when the DSLR reached the consumer market.

I don’t think the DSLR is dead, but in 20 years I don’t think many people will be using them. In fact, in 20 years more people will probably be using film cameras.

Is the DSLR dead?

Think about cars today. The newest cars can drive on all electric or hybrid engines. They are more fuel efficient. More and more people are updating their vehicle just for the savings.

Now that vehicles are becoming electric, they become like tech. We’ve already seen many of these cars lose value so much quicker than gasoline vehicles. For example, look at the Chevy Bolt. When they first came out they were first of their class with price tags around $40,000.

I recently found out that a 4 year old Chevy Bolt can be purchased for $12,000 with very little mileage. These cars are still under warranty, and no one is buying them.


Their technology is outdated. No one is buying a Chevy volt when a Tesla can outperform it in every way.

The same goes for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Why would you buy old tech when the new tech makes life so much easier.

If someone want’s an old tech car they don’t buy a Chevy volt, they buy a gas engine or classic vehicle.

How film photography is more meaningful than digital

Like film, there’s something about classic cars that bring people back. It’s the sound, the feel, the challenge and nostalgia that make the activity engaging and meaningful. Think about traveling. What’s more exciting, the trip, or the planning and anticipation leading up to the trip?

I can pick up my phone and take a picture with instant results. There is no anticipation or excitement to see how the photo will turn out.

When I capture a photo with film I suddenly associate purpose with the image. I begin to think how it might turn out. The process of development is like every moment leading up to the trip. After the film is processed I begin to think of how it will look on paper.

The darkroom makes the final event even more exciting because of the continued process of development and seeing the final image that I envisioned.

Thomas Heaton has a really good discussion with Nick Carver discussing how film photography has helped them to see photography more meaningful again.

Tethered with Nick Carver - Are We Real Photographers? Filming in Public. Almost Giving Up.

Meaningful photography makes the process more fulfilling

As an Occupational Therapist by trade, I know that activities that are meaningful, purposeful, and engaging make life more fulfilling. Don’t get me wrong, digital photography can be just as meaningful and engaging, but film photography often requires much more work.

That work, and the anticipation leading up to the final image can be a more purposeful process. I’ll sometimes capture images with my digital camera and not look at them for days later. I’ve already lost interest in the images, because I’ve already seen them.

Film is different. I have to send it off to a lab and invest time with images I haven’t seen. Sometimes this investment helps us to appreciate the images more.

The end result isn’t just an image, it’s a photograph and work of art.


The DSRL is not dead, but it may become less useful than film photography. Photography is constantly changing and will continue to change to make life easier. When the medium changes sometimes the older medium can become more meaningful and engaging.