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As the old photographer's adage goes, the best camera is the one that you always have with you.
Since its invention in the late 1950's, the Single Lens Reflex (SLR) pentaprism camera has been the workhorse of the professional photography industry due to its ability to accurately reproduce the view of the lens through the eyepiece as well as for its changeable lens design.
In the early 1990s the SLR got a digital upgrade from its 35mm roots by replacing the mechanical film system with a digitizer back.
Since then, the DSLR has evolved to become the platform of choice for many pros and prosumers as developments in digital photography have also improved with each successive generation, such as pixel density and sensor size, faster autofocus motors, stabilized lenses and more advanced signal processing chips, as well as the ability to shoot video.
However, the introduction of the smartphone has exposed a huge weakness in the DSLR's armor, and that is convenience and size in a world that has prized mobility over everything else.
It has already decimated the point-and-shoot digital camera market as well as the digital camcorder, and in doing so has forced the DSLR to evolve into the "Mirrorless" professional camera, losing its pentaprism for a pure digital viewfinder in order to reduce the size of the camera body and make it more appealing to prosumers.
While there will always almost certainly be a niche market for professional grade cameras for specific applications and works of significant artistic merit, the DSLR's bread and butter market -- the consumer, the prosumer and photography enthusiast -- no longer needs or even wants to carry these beasts anymore.
They already carry powerful smartphones which are increasingly adopting more advanced camera technology originally pioneered in the DSLR.
DSLRs are still going strong
The simple answer is, “No, digital cameras of all sorts are going strong.” According to BusinessWeek, sales of DSLRs are rising, even though smartphones have caused point and shoot cameras to decline. Although smartphones are an acceptable substitute for point and shoots, DSLRs are another story altogether.
As photography becomes more popular, the limitations of smartphones become increasingly evident. Sure, smartphones are convenient, because they are always at our side, but these devices are awkward to use, offer poor image quality, and just don’t present the same photographic experience as real cameras.
Mobile phones let us document events and take ugly snapshots of our environment. However, most people want a real camera to create images that will withstand the test of time. This is particularly true when speed is required, like sports (and children) or for snapping photos at night.
When image quality matters, which it usually does, use a real camera and leave the smartphone for making calls.