The acronym “SLR” is increasingly less useful as a generic term for interchangeable lens cameras. For decades, the most popular camera design with the ability to swap lenses was indeed a single-lens reflex. And while that design remains dominant among interchangeable-lens models, a newer design, which eliminates the mirror box in favor of a completely electronic viewing system is gaining ground.
Panasonic and Olympus were the first to introduce models using this approach, and at CES this year, Samsung joined the pack. To be precise, the design isn’t entirely new. Like the fixed-lens digital cameras that we’ve known for more than a decade, these electronic viewfinder cameras (Wired recently dubbed them “EVIL” cameras—Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) are similar in many ways to classic rangefinders, but with all of the advantages that come from digital technology.
Will the mirror-less EVIL approach used by the E-P2 and others eventually overtake the venerable SLR? We won’t believe that until the remaining major camera makers go this route. And while we can easily imagine a Canon PowerShot G11 with interchangeable lenses, professionals and enthusiasts with big investments in SLR lenses aren’t going to abandon those cameras for smaller EVIL cameras overnight, even with the availability of high-quality lens adapters from companies like Novoflex.
For now, we need a new acronym to refer to all interchangeable lens cameras. SLR just isn’t accurate anymore. ILC is the obvious choice, but it lacks the smooth, roll-off-your tongue quality of SLR.
We want to know what you think. Is ILC the right choice, for it’s generic accuracy, or can you think of something better??