The DSLR, Does it still have a place in our baggage?

Our Nikon D5100 with kitlens and Tamron 70-300

The DSLR or Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera was once a must-have priority if you are packing to travel, back then no one had second thoughts about bringing one even though it was heavy and needed a separate bag not until recently. With the leapfrogging of Cameras that are integrated inside cellphones the DSLR’s place in our baggage allowance has been questioned and with the development of lighter, more automated and user-friendly bridgecams the DSLR’s hold is slowly ebbing away.

As I  lined up at our airline’s check-in counter I seriously had my doubts about bringing the DSLR camera. Weighing 2.7 kilograms that already took out a large chunk from my 7-kilogram allowance and I wasn’t even packing full gear. I left the tripod behind, the external flash, my prime lens, and our D3100. I was only packing the D5100, a spare battery and charger along with its kit lens the 18-55mm and our telephoto Tamron 70-300mm zoom lens. As a traveler on a budget, check-in luggage is a luxury I can’t afford so I have a 7-kilogram cap in my baggage and I have to be picky with what I pack and it is always a nerve racking experience when lining up at check-in with zero tolerance for overweight baggage.

Our camera bag registering 2.7kilograms

Cameras in cellphones have developed so much that they can take great photos but people tend to forget that taking a photo is not as simple as pointing the phone’s camera, tapping the screen to focus and shoot, in ideal conditions the phone’s camera will take great photos but people tend to forget that in the same conditions a DSLR will take excellent photos. This battle isn’t just about megapixels.

The DSLR? a dying breed?

The DSLR system is still king of the hill in terms of photography but before we even begin to compare them with other camera systems we have to delve deeper into the tech side to get some basic understanding and know what our faithful shooter is up against. The DSLR is losing ground against high-end flagship smartphones, trendy mirrorless cameras, ultraportable bridge cams and the affordable almost extinct basic point and shoot (we brought one with us btw).

1. Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera (MILC): the biggest threat to our DSLR

Nikon 1v3.png
The Nikon 1 v3 MILC

The MILC is the electronic version of the DSLR, it does away with the mechanical analog optical mirror the DS is named for. Everything is digital and no mechanical movements like the sound of the shutter lifting the mirror to allow light to hit the sensor when you press the shutter to take a picture.. The MILC also does away with the prism for the viewfinder.

The recent advancement in MILC technology allowed MILC Cameras to go head to head and even surpass DSLR capabilities in rapid continuous shooting and autofocus. This means that without the lag caused by the shutter mechanism the MILC is faster at taking rapid photos and focuses faster. We’ll be delving deeper into the divide further in another blog. A drawback with the MILC system is it is prone to overheating and low battery life because the electronic system and your display need to be active while you compose and take your picture as opposed to the DSLR where you use the viewfinder to compose the photo.

The MILC camera also has interchangeable lenses and is much lighter and compact compared to the bigger DSLRs. They also sport manual controls found in hobbyist and intermediate cameras and also is able to support external flashes and other accessories.

2.Bridge Cameras: Compact all around camera.

Nikon Coolpix P600

The bridge Cameras, no fancy acronym, just a straightforward name. they bridge the gap between your MILC and DSLR camera. To put it simply, it is an MILC Camera with a fixed lens that probably covers all focal points you normally use. It’s much more straightforward to use than the MILC system but manual control is even lesser on a bridge camera making it simple yet constrained to use. They are lighter and more compact than the DSLR yet bigger than an MILC system.

The bridge camera has the same drawbacks as the MILC system meaning that the sensor needs to be active while you are composing your shot. Some bridge cameras are not compatible with DSLR accessories and getting accessories specific to your bridge camera might be more expensive than getting one for a DSLR.

3.Your Smartphone Camera

The camera of your smartphone (the likes of an Iphone 5s /samsung s4) I must admit taking great photos. On a sunny day, all you need to do is point the camera, tap the screen to focus and shoot and the phone does the rest. The phone has more than enough resolution for social media post, can take great selfies, has the capability to post instantly on social media. Phones can even directly connect to your DSLRs or MILC like Nikon’s Snapbrige technology. If your photos are mainly for social media then the smartphone is more than enough.

Why Bring a DSLR?

 The DSLR is still king of the hill in the Camera world. It is where all other camera systems are compared to. The legacy and development of the DSLR speaks for its reliability on the field and gives you the confidence that it will perform when needed. The long record of DSLR vouches for its reliability and durability. The advancement of the DSLR system is very hard to ignore. The MILC systems are still in its infancy but show a promising future ahead in our times and its development is reliant on consumer behavior.

The DSLR ‘s ability to provide an Optical view of the composition of your image due to its viewfinder cannot be replicated by the digital “live view” of the mirrorless MILC camera, even DSLR’s have the same “live view” feature albeit slower than the MILC system.

The DSLR provides better grip and ergonomics meaning you look good when taking pictures than any other camera systems.

The sound of the shutter is something that cant be replicated by other camera’s. I’d carry 3 kilograms of gear just to hear the shutter every time I snap a picture.

A large array of lenses that are available for the DSLR system, more than you’ll ever use in a lifetime. The lens family of the DSLR system is much more developed than the MILC system. Compatibility with almost all third-party accessories even across manufacturers.


If you are heavily invested in a DSLR system, there is no real need to switch to a MILC system. The MILC system is still in its infancy and support for it is still uncharted. The DSLR still has and will always have a multitude of support. I can still use a lens I had from the 90’s from my old F60 Film SLR on my Nikon D5100 that’s roughly a decade apart.

If you are taking a plunge to photography and focus on travel and blogging then the MILC system will be your choice. In fact, the MILC system is directed at the travel market.

If you are buying a camera and taking photography as a hobby first and travels second then the DSLR system is the one for you. The DSLR system gives you the capability to find your own subject niche and you can adapt your lenses choices from there.

The DSLR is here to stay and definitely has room in our baggage allowance. hey, we still even have room for one mirrorless camera if we have one.

Travel Wanderously….

by: Ishmael Fusilero

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