The Future's So Dim You Have to Wear Night Goggles

The number of Canon DSLRs introduced in 2023: zero.
The number of Nikon DSLRs introduced in 2023: zero.
The number of Canon EF-mount lenses introduced in 2023: zero.
The number of Nikon F-mount lenses introduced in 2023: zero.

With a year's worth—actually more, but annual is a good way of framing things—of nothing from the two big DSLR makers, it's time to make a clear point: the DSLR era is over:

bythom dslr shipments

The line is the three-year moving average. It's remarkably straight, which implies careful management.

2024 is the year I expect to end up calling Quiet Discontinuations

NikonUSA, for instance, currently lists 13 DSLR bodies "available." Nikon Japan lists only 6. 
Nikon USA currently lists 84 F-mount lenses as "available." Nikon Japan lists only 37. 

Nikon Japan is the canary in the coal mine. Nikon has a tendency to use the home region to effectively signal discontinuation of a product. The home region has been much more aggressive at reducing available DSLR products than the subsidiaries, many of whom may have unsold inventory still hanging out in their warehouses. Moreover, the yen has declined against the dollar fairly significantly in the past two years, so it's also likely that Nikon is micromanaging how much they get for the lower volumes that they're now selling by shipping it to where they fetch the highest return.

I expect many more DSLR products to leave the shelves in the US in 2024. Neither Canon nor Nikon will announce such discontinuations—the reason why I write Quiet Discontinuations is the theme—but I'm pretty sure when we're able to look back with more clarity, we'll see that the choices dwindled. Perhaps significantly.

I'm using Nikon as an example here for a reason: they just had a really strong mirrorless year. The Zf, Z8, and Z9 have led a significant transfer of DSLR users into the mirrorless world, and I'm betting that will encourage Nikon to be even more aggressive at forcing the inevitable full transition from DSLR to mirrorless. 

The three Nikon DSLRs that use essentially the same image sensor as a mirrorless camera are the D7500, D780, and D850. Those cameras also use the now previous EXPEED6 SoC processor. There has to be end-of-life inventory management on those two key components that will likely dictate how long those cameras will still be made. However, as I've noted previously, the changes in the European cabling and charger requirements also play into DSLR end-of-life. Exactly how still seems murkily unclear, as the published regulations don't specifically forbid on-going sale, however in my talks with those trying to meet those new European standards by the end of the year, they tell a different story. 

I'm going to write a series of strawman statements that illustrate where we very well might be at this point in time (these statements will eventually become true, the question is whether or not they are true today):

  • No new DSLR bodies will be announced.
  • No new DSLR lenses will be announced.
  • Many current DSLR bodies will be discontinued.
  • Many current DSLR lenses will be discontinued.

If you're a DSLR owner and user and agree that those statements are likely true, you need to plan accordingly. New bodies and lenses would slowly disappear from the market, meaning your only source of "staying DSLR" would become the used market. As a corollary, if you think maybe it might be time to trade in your DSLR gear for mirrorless, you'd be late to the game; so many have already done so that it's lowered the future trade-in values for your DSLR gear. 

Over a decade ago I wrote about Last Camera Syndrome. Those that fell under that label tended to be a combination of two things: (1) reluctance to continually upgrade; and (2) aging into retirement (and thus a reluctance to spend more money). 

Here's the good news: you may find yourself in the Last Camera Syndrome simply because the transition from DSLR to mirrorless is just too expensive (and perhaps you're aging out of the market). How's that good news? Well, DSLRs of the last 10 years are remarkably capable cameras still. Used properly, they still have plenty of service left in them. A Nikon D7500 and two or three well-chosen lenses used well can still do most anything you need other than perhaps produce giant-sized prints. Are you making giant-sized prints? Didn't think so. 

However, don't be surprised if this site is pretty quiet in 2024. There's not a lot to say DSLR gear wise these days that I haven't already said. 

Looking for gear-specific information? Check out our other Web sites:
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