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I love medium format. I’ve always loved it. If you have never shot medium format, or a format above it, you are missing such a sublime and beautiful part of photography. DSLRs are fantastic. I wouldn’t be a photographer today if it weren’t for the Nikon D100. That 6 megapixel APS camera relaunched my career and I’m forever grateful for affordable digital gear like Nikons and Canons and Fujis and Sonys and the like. I can’t imagine life without them and I don’t want life without them, but life without medium format sucks.

Let me say that again for emphasis.

 

Life without medium format sucks.

 

I’ve told this story many times and I’ll make this as brief as I can. A few years ago I attended an opening in Dubai presenting the work of the instructors teaching that year at GPP. One of the photographers showing work was Drew Gardner. His prints stopped me in my tracks. My jaw hit the floor. I got really, really close to them. He walked up beside me and I began to say, “There’s something about these prints…” He stopped me and simply replied, “Phase One, mate. Medium format.”

It was then and there that I began putting a Phase One into my budget. I was going to have a medium format again.

In my Crop or Crap video I said that the difference between APS sensors and full frame 35mm sensors was negligible; I stand behind that statement with all of my being. Put some perspective on it, though, and realize I shoot with a Phase One. It absolutely stands heads and shoulders above 35mm based cameras. Where it falls flat on its face is size. And speed. And ISO performance. And auto focus. It’s an ISO 50 – 200 camera for me and, while I have taken it to the streets before, I rarely do so. I like it locked down most of the time and that brings a certain slowness to my work that I like, and a set of limitations that hinders me at times.

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Not very long ago the market was flush with medium format cameras. We had offerings from Hasselblad, Maymiya, Bronica, Fuji, Rollei, Pentax, Horseman, and others. There was a myriad of designs from SLRs to twin lens to rangefinders to point and shoots to cameras with large format movements. You could choose from 645, 6×6, 6×7, 6×9, and up to the big panoramic cameras like a Widelux or a 6×17 Fuji. One of the last new medium format designs the photography world saw was the Bronica RF645. The RF645 was produced from 2000 to 2005 —  it was discontinued only nine short years ago.

I love my Fuji cameras because they brought the quality of a DSLR to a package that is as easy to carry as any camera I’ve ever owned, aside from a cell phone camera. They are beautiful cameras both in operation and design. In a need desperation desire to have the same form and function for medium format I began searching for a small medium format rangefinder camera. I so badly want the look and the quality of medium format but in a smaller design for travel and location work. It was in this search that I began feeling sentimental for the “olden days” and pissed off about the state of cameras today.

Let me first state that when it comes to photography, nothing ignites more nostalgia in me than the word “film.” When I’ve been asked, “What do you think about film photography, Zack?”,  my eyes look to the heavens as I go back to the days of shooting photos and waiting like a kid on Christmas morning for them to return to me from the lab. All those days and nights in a darkroom learning how to print was such an invaluable education for me as a photographer; I truly feel sorry for anyone who has never had that experience. Seeing a print develop under a safe light was magical. However, after my heaven gazing reverie, I always sigh slowly, look whomever in the eye and say, “Yeah. Film is dead.”

At this point in the blog post my friend, Jonathan Canlasis cursing my name and smashing his computer. Film isn’t dead but it sure as hell is on life supportOne by one the old film stocks are dying off. Yes. I know. Ferrania.

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Enough about film. That’s not the point of this discussion.

Let’s look at what kind of new medium format camera you can get into in the year 2014 that is digital.

Phase One :: You can get the Phase One DF+ camera body. This is the one I own. It’s basically a revamped and rebadged Mamiya 645AF from the film days. It’s big. It has one big AF point that is akin to signing a check with a paint brush. You get the camera and then you need a digital back for it.

Hasselblad :: They have the H5 which is an upgraded H4 > H3 > H2> H1 from the film days which actually started its life as a Fuji GX645AF. They are great cameras and Hasselblad shooters that I know swear by them (and swear at them, too). I sometimes wonder if I should have gone for a Hasselblad.

Hasselblad has recently introduced the H5X at $6,000 that allows the use of film backs and third party digital backs which is something I’ve sort of eyed more than three times but that means selling my Phase kit (except the back) and buying into a new one. I have four kids — I could probably sell at least one of them.

Pentax :: Pentax has the new 645Z camera and it’s not too bad from what I’ve read. Pentax, though, in their infinite wisdom, decided to use a smaller sensor than other digital medium format cameras AND make it a focal plane shutter camera instead of using leaf lenses which is ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS YOU MOVE TO MEDIUM FORMAT. Seriously?

Leica :: Lecia has the S system. B&H has a two lens kit with body for only $34,500. I’ll take two please. I don’t know anyone shooting the S series. Not a single person.

The Pentax starts at $8,500 (body and back only). From there you go to $13,000 for an H5D-40 body with a back. The Phase One DF+ body is $6,000. That’s body only. No back. No lens. The Leica S is $22,000 for the body (The body has a built in sensor.)

In the digital world if you want a new medium format camera that’s all you have to choose from. You can get a digital back from Phase or Leaf and bolt it on to several older film bodies. You can put a back on an old Hasselblad V series or an RZ67 or a Contax etc. It is very easy to bring an old medium format camera to life in the digital age. Check out the used backs at Capture Integration.

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But what about innovative and new products? There’s nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Want a digital medium format rangefinder? There isn’t one. Want some sort of mirrorless camera with a big ass sensor? Not a single one out there. Want to see something new, fresh, interesting, and innovative in a medium format digital camera? Good luck with that.

I get that the size of the sensor is really expensive. I get that leaf shutter lenses cost more. I get that medium format is going to cost more than 35mm but guess what — it’s ALWAYS been that way. ALWAYS! There have always been really expensive medium format camera systems but there were always entry level systems and systems in between. My first medium format system was the Bronica ETRs 645 system. With a student discount I was able to get a body, a viewfinder, two film backs, and two leaf shutter lenses… as a student! It cost more than a 35mm system, but it was doable.

Where. The. F*ck. are the digital medium format cameras that the working photographer can afford?
One that doesn’t take years to save up for?

 

Yes. You can get some amazing deals on used systems that are spectacular. Again, Capture Integration has the best selection of those.

 

Capture One Screen Shot of Phase One image

 

I love this Bronica RF645. Why can’t I buy a digital version? Why is no one innovating and invigorating this market? For decades medium format was the workhorse in photography and now it’s unapproachable for most working photographers. It’s the most stagnant segment of the photography market. Well, except for large format but if just asking for a small 645 sensor at an affordable price, it is hard to imagine what it would take to get a 4×5 sensor! We haven’t even seen a 6×7 sensor yet.

A digital Mamyia 7. Can you imagine? How amazing would that be? Am I the only one that that longs for one of these cameras? I can’t be. I can’t be the only one.

Some of you are going to say…

But Zack. DSLR quality is so great these days there’s not really a need for medium format any more.

Uhhhh. I disagree. Small format cameras (35mm and below) don’t hold a candle to a Phase or a Leaf or a Leica or a Hasselblad. You can go on and on about your Nikon D810 but sorry. No. It’s still a small format. Everybody together!!! It. Is. Still. A. Small. Format. They are awesome. They are amazing. The quality is fantastic… but they still aren’t medium format and up.

Look at this photo and then look at the next photo that’s a cropped detail. Look at that detail. Look at the little tiny part of that full image and how the Phase One retains so much detail. So much tone. So much texture. You can feel his skin. It’s not just sharpness. It’s dynamic range. It’s tone. It’s leaf shutters. It’s optics. It’s how the focus falls off. Not just how much it falls off but the quality of that fall off as well. It’s gorgeous. It truly is sublime. Small format cameras can’t touch this. There isn’t a pixel of sharpness added to these images. Not even when sized for the web. Remind yourself right now you are viewing a small JPG on the Internet. You should see the print.

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It’s NOT just about the number of megapixels. It’s the size of the physical sensor combined with the size of the pixels on that sensor combined with great optics.

I think it was David Duchemin (I might be wrong) who used the analogy about Formula One teams spending millions to gain seconds. There are times you will spend a huge amount of money for a seemingly small gain — but that gain is worth the money. That’s why I took a very deep breath and signed that check when I bought my Phase One system. I wanted that gain. I wanted to have that next step. I wanted to hang my work and have that “something” different about them.

Is it meaningless pixel peeping? No. It can be seen by others. I had been shooting regularly for an editorial client of mine and when I sent the photo editor my first assignment shot with the Phase One his reply back to me was, and I quote, “Holy Shit! What in the hell camera did you just get? These are amazing.” I regularly have clients request that I shoot medium format. Once they get a taste of it they are hooked.

But you see this is the “rare” camera now when one short decade ago this was business as usual for daily shooters. Editorial, fashion, commercial, portrait, and many wedding photographers shot medium format. It was expensive but it was achievable. It was expected of you to shoot medium format in many areas of photography. Today? We are, for the most part, shooting small format for everything.

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Imagine this. Imagine a town that had a lot of great restaurants. Indian. Italian. Chinese. Steak. Farm to table burgers. Specialty pizzas. Diners. Imagine a wide variety of food at a variety of price points. Now imagine all of those places closing down and being replaced with McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC, Subway, and maybe… if you are lucky… a Five Guys or an In and Out. Imagine all of your awesome options for food being taken over by fast food.

But, Zack. Pizza Hut makes just as good of pizza as the old Sicilian guy used to make and it's a lot cheaper, Zack.
Is that what’s important? That it’s cheaper?

And having your family portrait made at Wal-Mart is just as good and cheaper. Isn’t it? Wal-Mart is just as good for family portraits as anyone else. Right?

Imagine the only good restaurant left in town requires a membership to the country club. That’s where medium format is right now. You have McDonalds and you have the country club. Don’t read too much into this. I’m not saying Nikons and Canons and Fujis and all that are crappy horrible cameras like McDonalds is crappy horrible food — I’m just trying to make a basic point.

Here is what I want ::

• Rangefinder style body with 645 full frame sensor. Bronica RF645 would be a perfect size.
• 3 leaf shutter lenses 45mm f4, 80mm f2.8, 120 f4 macro.
• Smart adapters for legacy Hasselblad, Mamyia, and Bronica lenses.
• Clean ISO up to 1600.
• Three AF points (Left, center, & right) or manual focus only with a great EVF and focus peaking / split image.
• Must be able to tether to C1 and/or LR.
• 3″ or larger LCD that is sharp.

I want this Bronica RF645 to be digital. I’ll pay top end DSLR prices for that and a bit more. A Nikon D4s is $6,500 for the body. A Canon 1Dx is $6800. Give me less bells and whistles and a bigger sensor. Hell, build the thing out of cardboard if you have to. I’ll take it. You can have a nice used medium format digital rig for those high end DSLR prices. Medium format has always cost more than small format 35mm but it was not out of reach of a working photographer.

Look again at the Bronica. Look at that thing. It’s gorgeous. It’s about the size of a DSLR with a grip. It isn’t that much larger than the X-Pro1. It sure is heavier though. I’ll tell you that. If I’m going to have a heavy camera then it’s going to be medium format and not small format. Can you imagine if that X-Pro1 grew up to a 645 system? Would that not be amazing?

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I leave for Germany tomorrow where I’ll be attending and speaking at Photokina. I’ll be going to see all the medium format players. All three of them. Oh… and that other one. Who is it? Oh yeah. Leica. 🙂 I’m kind of joking but I’m not. I honestly have zero interest in the Leica system (as nice as they are). I do want to put the Pentax in my hand and to my eye. I want to see what that is about. I hope to handle the H5X while I’m there. I already know the Phase stuff but I’ll stop by just to see if anything got past the rumor mills and is being announced.

I’m going to keep banging this medium format drum. Why? Because life without medium format sucks. Maybe I’m just crazy, but I want my local restaurants back. I want more options on the table. I want this Bronica on my desk to be digital and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why no one has done it yet. We are 15+ years into the digital photography revolution and medium format options keep getting smaller instead of larger. Someone needs to step into this game and shake it up.

Yeah I know. Buy film and scan. Yeah. I get it. That’s what I’m doing. Just sent my first two rolls from this Bronica to the lab today.

Do you want an affordable digital medium format camera? If you could have a Fuji 645 or a Mamiya 6 or a Bronica like rangefinder how much would you pay for that?

How much would you at least be intrigued by it even if you don’t think you need it?

What would your dream system look like and how much would it cost? Realistically.

Realize this stuff costs millions to develop and bring to market and the market better be there to catch it. Someone starting from ground zero will be spending a lot of R&D funds to bring something like this to market.

Or are you happy with small format cameras and have zero interest in this segment?

I’d love to hear from everyone on this.

Cheers,
Zack

Zack Arias

A full time commercial and editorial photographer, Zack shoots everything from bands to CEOs to ad campaigns. A gifted teacher and communicator, he has an uncanny ability to meet and connect with all types of people.

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263 Comments

  1. Doug

    So right. I’ve been shooting H1/Credo 40 since March and ever time I look at the files I’m blown away. I just rented an H4X though…and True focus relieves my fear of shooting wide open with the 120mm. You’re right, when you look at the files on a huge screen or on a print, the difference isn’t even funny, it’s an enormous gap.

    • Lawrence O'Donnell

      Put me down for one Zack…. but I’d go for something like the fuji ga645zi: pocketable with a (shortish) zoom.
      Sadly I’m not convinced the 35mm>medium format divide will ever be completely bridged: it was there in the film days (I’m old enough to remember!) and the size and economy-of-scale will always be a factor to some extent 🙁
      Not to worry: Moore’s law applies to sensor chips as well as PC’s -FF & even aps-c are just getting better’n better

      • Hugh

        Hi, sorry but Moore’s law does *not* apply to sensors. What the “law” is about is that by reducing feature size you can get twice as much circuitry on the same area (or, alternatively the same circuit on half the area) every year and a half (now closer to two years by the way).

        Silicon cost is by surface area of the chip (mostly, at least for high volume chips). What we are talking about here is a huge sensor (huge in terms of your typical chip). If the size does not change, the price does not change (much).

        I know, it’s a bummer, but unfortunately true.

  2. Tim

    Thank you Zack. I too am baffled by the non-existence of a simple, XPro styled camera that has a bigass 6:4.5 sensor in it. I think we’re slowly getting to that point, but it’s going to take a bit of time.

    Like you I invested in a MF film solution to shoot medium format. There is one silver lining and that is that film is fairly inexpensive, and very affordable for someone like myself, especially when developing your own. Film went through a few changes and updates in the last 15 years too, with the introduction of a few new and upgraded film stocks, as well as the loss of several.

    Time is money though, most working pros haven’t time to develop it themselves, and you don’t want to keep your client waiting for weeks at a time while you get the negs back from the lab. I’m with you. Tell Fuji, tell sony, tell anyone who will listen that we want a MF body that’s simple and affordable. An x100s with a bigass sensor.

  3. Marcio K

    There are some rumours that sony is planning exactly it for the future: a medium format camera, styled like the Mamiya 7, using the 50mp 645 sensor that are being used by Pentax, Hassy and Phase One (that is made by Sony itself).

    Since Sony is the only company taking large risks in this business (the A7 line was a bold move), I think that they are the only ones that could do it.

    (but imagine a MF X-Trans sensor…)

    • DanPan

      This seems like a good possibility and very doable for sony. I would even take a medium format rx1! Give me a reasonable size and a kick ass fixed 80mm 2.8 and I would rock that thing all day. On the other hand, how many new systems do they want to introduce. The a7 series is still very lacking in the lens department, 645 would need a whole new line of lenses too unless they had good legacy support. I have a whole set of cheap mamiya 645 manual lenses and a few of them are pretty amazing glass (80mm 1.9 and the 120mm macro are my favs).
      I would consider paying $10,000 for a system such as this with a lens. If I couldn’t buy it I would def rent it every chance I could.

      • Aidan

        This is exactly the point i was going to make. Sony could easily do it, and i believe they have the means to make it attractive to consumers. But they are playing catch up a lot already from the multitude of cameras they have already released recently, so i imagine if they did it may well be another rx1 situation. which would be fine, but would anger the people who have already purchased the rx1.
        Fuji on the other hand would be much better equipped in the simple sense that they seem to be extremely committed to releasing new (and fantastic) lenses at a crazy rate. The manual controls of say the x-t1 and that viewfinder would lend itself well to a MF camera.
        A MF Fuji (or Sony with the right lenses) would make me sell everything i own with a Canon logo. And since my photography is mostly urban stuff at night time, as long as it has the ability to capture 30 second long exposures, nice ISO up to only 800, and a fantastic normal lens I’d do it in a heartbeat.

    • rudigar

      It’s not a 50mp 645 sensor, it’s only 44x33mm which is significantly smaller than 645. It’s smaller than the CCD medium format sensors and not massively bigger than 36x24mm ‘full frame’ sensors.

      Whilst it’s a fantastic sensor, it needs to be bigger if they’re going to start a new system around it.

      • hexx

        there have always been 44×33 sensors around

      • Fonk

        It’s as much bigger than FF sensors as FF sensors are to APS-C sensors. A bit more, actually, as the Pentax MF sensor is about 1.68x the size of FF 35mm. It might not be P1/Hassy territory, but it’s still a marked improvement over the FF 35mm sensors. I shot with the old 645D once, and believe me, you can see the difference. I just wish they didn’t have that pathetic flash sync speed…

  4. Marleen

    Consider this my signing of your petition. As far as I’m concerned they may even leave out a light metering system. I’ll use a handheld light meter and/or learn again to assess the situation.

  5. Tim

    Hey Zack, even though i never shot film and i never had a medium format in my own hands – i love your thoughts about medium format. I’m not a pro but i get the point and i can imagine medium format would be even interesting for some of us crazy lightpainters ;-).

    Maybe we run into each other at the photokina.

    Cheers from germany, Tim

  6. adam

    i got to play with the pentax at wppi earlier this year and they had a preorder show special for about 8k including lens.
    it was very tempting. they even let me keep the sd card, but no advise on how i might explain this purchase to my wife.

    i had medium format film cameras in the past – all gone, thanks burglar – and the one thing i liked about making prints with them was i wanted to keep the film’s border. it gave the picture a special feel, made it look professional, out of the reach of most – even though you could pick up a brownie of a twin lens reflex for about 10-30 bucks at a goodwill.

    but even with a brownie, the picture looked special.

    nowadays digital medium format is out of reach of most. and while the bigger sensor may deliver more detail, i think they’re best left in a studio, or on a tripod capturing some national park somewhere at sunset.

    so, in a fit of madness, i just bid on a mamiya 645. if i win, i’m going to have to buy a new film scanner or an adapter for my epson scanner. and film. and more film as it gets taken out onto the wild streets of vegas after i see the initial results from the first rolls of film bought. and someone to develop the film – i should have said that first- or the chemicals and equipment to process it myself,. and perhaps a small darkroom in a corner of the house that the wife might not notice or mind being converted to a darkroom. and then on top of all this, the hope that everything shot comes out perfectly.

    kind of exciting. i may have to up my bid now….

  7. Keith

    I’d definitely be interested. Now that someone’s seriously in the CMOS MF Sensor game, I think it’s doable. The issue with CCD based solutions, I’d imagine, is heat. You need either a sizable chunk of metal to dissipate heat, and keep exposure times relatively low (Phase) or put a fan in it (Leaf) or have some other trickery. With CMOS being a player now, and a damn fine chip at that, I think it’s probably just a matter of time before the engineering makes sense to do a rangefinder 645 with a slightly crop CMOS sensor. The lens designs haven’t changed in years, hell even the schneider LS lenses for Phase are recycled optical formulas, albeit with nicer coatings and in shiny new housings. The R&D in the lens area would be minimal, I would think. The only “issue” I could see is having room for all of the ancillary electronics and battery while keeping the chip in the focal plane to not warrant a TOTAL redesign of the body. I guess that’s the big reason modular systems are so easy. The back is deeper than a film back, but who cares. On a rangefinder that’d be a little tricky. Big chip battery consumption, as well as big ASIC to move big quantities of bits, = lots o power. Surely that’s not an issue any more though, battery tech being what it is. Fuji needs to do it.

    The big question, is does that cannibalize the market to the point that Phase / Leaf / Hassy can’t charge outrageous sums for their backs (the highest margin piece of the system, for the manufacturer, I’m pretty sure). If yes, it’ll be interesting to see what they do to protect their margins or change the game again.

  8. Gil

    I wholeheartedly agree. Still, there is film. I love my Leicas and X100S, but when I scan a negative from my Pentax 6×7, just, wow! For $500 it beats any digital camera in the same price range. There is just something about those images that make them pop out. If only it was lighter…

    35mm is just an arbitrary number from the film days. We don’t have to abide by it, yet it seems to be the holy grail for some reason; still small format. A simple digital medium format could be made without all the useless features most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras offer today.

    I think it will happen. There is definitely a demand. In the mean time, that RF645 is very tempting!

    Gil.

    • Nick

      Yes, we can scan film.
      One can scan 4×5 “cheaply” all things considered.

      The big plus here is ease of digital workflow.

  9. James

    Yes. A thousand times, yes. I agree with every single word. Don’t even start with a three lens system. Start with an X100-like unit with a fixed 80mm f/2.8 lens. I would kill a hobo and sell his organs for just that. And if it went for $3500 or less, my kids might even still get to go to college.

    Come on Fuji/Sony! I know you guys have the balls to do it!

  10. Timko

    I’m a “gotta have it” guy with too much disposable income and not enough brains. I shot with a H5D on loaner for a while and… Given the choice of it vs my D800 for the same exact price, I still prefer my D800. Especially at anything over ISO100

    I’m excited to see the newer CMOS sensored ones, but I’m kinda glad I didn’t get the bug after using the h5d and was smart enough to realize what gear was best for “me”.

    • Timko

      And my rz67 pro II is nice but I don’t shoot it nearly enough 🙁

  11. John Lockwood

    Have a feeling it’s all about the money Zack. The market for MF digital has to be minuscule. And the cost to produce that size chip, flawlessy, astronomical. If only your most discerning clients demand MF digital, you gotta make ’em pay.

    For personal film work, I recommend North Coast Photo for process and scanning. Their work is really clean. 16MP is all you get from 645 though.

    • Mr Hogwallop

      It would be a “halo” product, liek a Corvette or a Viper or GT-r. something to draw attention to the brand…to show that the company can make great things when they want to.

  12. Jeremy Sale

    Keep banging your head on Fuji’s door, Zack. It sounds like they are pretty responsive to real-world wish-lists.

  13. Phil

    I’d love to see it, and maybe we will if the industry standardizes on the new CMOS sensor that’s in the IQ250, 645Z and one of the Hassy’s, I forget which. The cost of large semiconductors is brutal, and unless one gets popular enough for economy of scale to come into play I wouldn’t expect to see prices get much below the Pentax, but maybe we’ll see some variety. Also, you can knock maybe 30% off the price of a Phase system by going refurbished, and still get the same warranty as with new.

  14. Carlos J. Matos

    I would gladly sell a redundant body part for an X-Series MF system. Like a kidney. Or maybe a leg.

  15. Sara Lando

    YES.
    Like I was saying, BONER.

    I don’t care about more megapixel, I don’t give a shit about in-camera filters and menus that are longer than Harry Potter. I can totally do without video.
    Give me a reliable, basic, affordable medium format camera with one button and three knobs and I’m yours.

    I’m looking at you, fracking Fuji.
    You know you want to.
    Do it.
    DO IT.

    • David Taranza

      +1 to that.
      One button and three knobs. And a sharp fixed lens. All that photographer needs. The rest is between his/her ears.

    • Doc

      Yes! A photographer’s camera. Just that. I am not alone, love you…

  16. Sid Ceaser

    . . . did someone say Medium Format? Oh ho ho. Here we go.

    Not counting 4×5 cameras or up, my first Big Rig was a Mamiya RB67. That thing was a TANK. Seriously. At the end of the world, when the big meteor falls and destroys earth, only the cockroaches and the RB67’s are going to remain. It was a monster. Heavy. Cumbersome. You pretty much had to stick that thing on a tripod, because handholding it would just end up breaking your hands apart. I had mine for a long long time. It looked like it had been dragged along the side of the highway with me holding out of my car to the ground. But, man, that bellows just kept bellowing and that shutter just kept *KER-SLAPP*’ing.

    Then a freak chance saw me picking up a Hasselblad 500C/M. I sold my RB67 right away. To me, the 500C/M, with all its black and silver trim, is the Rolls Royce of medium format bodies. It’s so elegant and sleek. It’s the best example of function, form and art. It’s gorgeous. Sometimes I’ll just stick it on a tripod and look at it. Follow it’s lines. Where the corners meet and it just curves and oozes silver across the black leather. The perfectly square negatives. The distinctive *CLIC-CLOP!* of the shutter. Even that damn elegant V logo with the wings. It’s like how a good airplane is made. Or an old uni-body metal Vespa. It’s perfectly streamlined and able to all come apart and adapt with other pieces.

    How far Hasselblad has fallen.

    Anyway, I get a little obsessive with thinking about how I could get a digital back for my 500C/M. I’ve been watching the occasional Fleabay auction with Hasselbalds CVF-16 back – a 16mp back that shoots to a memory card. That is really all I’d want/need. A nice large sensor. I can’t afford anything else, but, man, I’d love that back. Even if it’s a pain in the ass to use – it would get the Hasselblad back into constant use in my studio.

    I’d love to see someone make an affordable MF back for my 500. Make it as bare bones as possible. Just a screen, a CF card slot and something like 16-18 MP. Hell, maybe less. I don’t know the logistics involved, but if someone came along and made a really affordable back for the 500C/M, think of all the 500C/M’s that would be taken out of the closet and used again. That beautiful piece of functional sculpture; all CLIC-CLOP’ing their happiness into the skies.

    I’ve assisted guys that have used those 60mp MF backs and the resolution is crazy. Too crazy. I can’t imagine the processing I’d need to work with those images.

    Someone. Please. Anyone – make an affordable MF back for my 500C/M. I’ll be the first in line. I’ve got plenty of gear I could dump. Give me a reason to sell it off! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Sid

    • Nick

      Yes.
      Digi back for all the 50X’s out there.

      1:1 sensor for dof – or as close to as possible.
      25mp would be cool.
      Avg battery life, cycle rate, etc is fine.
      Personally I’d appreciate long exposures (15m)+

      Let’s combine this with that kickstarter campaign idea… shall we?

    • Jacob delaRosa

      I call my RB67 “the boat anchor” and as you say it’s pretty much married to some sort of tripod unless I feel like a masochist and want to handhold the bastard. I’ve been experimenting with a monopod with nice results. It’s a lot more portable than a tripod and gives some great stability. BUT THOSE 6×7 NEGS THO! I’ve been spoiled rotten…

    • Steve Sepan

      “something like 16-18 MP. Hell, maybe less.”

      Count me in for ‘maybe less’ too. After playing with a FF A7S for a while (12mp) I can’t help but wonder how much light a 12mp MF sensor would soak up.

  17. David

    Prophecy?

    Or heads-up with a side of NDA?

  18. kate hailey

    I agree, I’ve had my eye on one of the Mamiya 7ii’s for a while. I would definitely love a better priced, more compact medium format digital option, without a doubt! Here’s to hoping it happens one of these days!

  19. Roland

    I love the Leica S system.
    It’s beautiful, handles like a DSLR, is weather-sealed, and the lenses are gorgeous.
    If it was 10k cheaper than it is (i.e. body plus 3 lenses for 24k), I’d buy one in a heart beat.

  20. Mike

    Pentax 645D has a 44x33mm sensor – same as the Phase One IQ 140.

    I’ve been thinking of buying one as the 645Z really rolls out.

    Looks like tethering either stinks or is non-existent, but the camera handles great and used 645/6×7 lenses are great and dirt-cheap.

  21. Thomas Bicknell

    Sir,

    I do not wish to alarm you… but you are sounding an awful lot like me. I’m still wishing for an 8×10 on a chip and a return to committed and planned photography. But if someone throws us a medium format rangefinder for under $10k I would be right there in line with you jumping up and down like a school girl about to meet . The only thing keeping me from joining the country club of digital medium format is film… it’s still alive (even if on life support).

    Maybe we can get sony to stitch together four of those A7S sensors into one mega sensor… I shall write them a letter…

    -Tom

  22. JP Manninen

    It’s all that detail and then a damn stray hair dangling from his shirt cuff 😛

    Having come late to serious photography–and by ‘late’ I mean the 2000’s and DSLRs–I only recently got a Mamiya RB67 body, back and 180mm and 90mm lenses. The first time that mother went KER-SLAPP on me was quite the experience. Then I had to learn how to develop, scan and make prints (and I still haven’t ventured properly into darkroom printing) and all that is awesome in the truest sense of the word, ie. something that strikes awe into you.

    Realizing what professional photography before digital meant just in terms of the labor involved has completely changed my level of appreciation. And the fact that you know that there are so many opportunities to screw up a photo when shooting film makes you slow down and think and concentrate at a whole new level, which is a great, great thing.

    As I’ve had digital cameras with 35mm sensors and APS-C, I figured my entry into film would make sense if it would also mean a different format. And it did really open up a new side of photography in terms of the technical. It’s a huge leap to go from 35mm to medium format, no point in arguing Nikons over Canons.

    BUT: I picked up my entire medium format rig for a little under $400. As digital rigs are priced today, there’s no chance I would be able to invest in them. Nor would it make sense for me to do so, being that I don’t make my living as a full-time photographer. It’s all about investment and return on that investment; I can enjoy 120 film and where it gets me but digital MF would have to first pay for itself and then start paying my bills, big time for it to be simply worth for me.

    So, unless the prices come down on the rigs, digital medium format is going to remain the choice of tool for established professionals or the wealthy who can afford them. Nothing wrong with that–not everyone should drive a Formula 1 car, if you know what I mean.

    But I sure would love to have an affordable digital medium format rig just for getting that quality of image with the convenience of shooting digital–even if I love 120 film it’s a more dedicated process. For better or worse, I don’t think I would have ever gotten seriously into photography if digital hadn’t come along.

  23. Jay Loden

    I’ve yet to shoot medium format (largely because of the price disparity you brought up in your post), but I keep waiting.

    Sooner or later, someone has to come along and drop a medium format bomb on the market in the form of an “affordable” MF system with suitable lenses and features. I have to believe that for a similar price point to a pro level DSLR and lenses, a MF system could be made, especially with CMOS technology now taking over from the older CCD based MF sensors. Eventually I think one or more of these manufacturers will make the leap, and it’ll be really interesting to see how the market responds.

  24. Jang

    The only medium format I’ve used was the Diana F+. Even then, I loved it. I should look into more Medium Format film cameras like your Bronica.

    I think you touched on this long ago, the prices will go down eventually. Especially with the Pentax 645Z being almost 1/2 the price of the Phase One’s, hopefully medium format will get to the same price as 35mm digital cameras of today.

    Oh yeah, the first pic is Karen! I actually recognized her. Haha, she’s pretty cool.

  25. Scott Andrew

    Why doesn’t Fuji (or someone else) do a “Kickstarter” type campaign to see if people will buy in before they drop the R&D coin on an MF digital camera? It seems like the safe way to go and would build some serious hype. I’d buy in and promote the daylights out of it.

    • Nick

      Brilliant.

  26. Ben W

    I haven’t shot with it in 10 years, but if someone tried to take my Pentax 67 from me, I would beat them with it. Mercilessly. The best part is, it would still work just fine. I love that camera and the images I get (or used to get) with it. I’ll never forget the first time I put my eye to that sucker. It was like seeing the world in a different way than I ever had before. I loved it then and I love it now. It’s just a pain in the tuches to use and carry. So sign me up for a digital MF shooter.

    Now I am not an economist, nor am I an engineer, but I believe there are a host of issues with the development of digital MF – now that there’s a MF CMOS sensor, one of those issues has been ameliorated. It’s easy for us to sit here and say, “great, that problem is solved, now make the camera we want!” But – and this is a Sir Mix-a-Lot style big BUT – I can’t for the life of me see how it makes any sense for this to be anything other than a very expensive niche market, at least for right now.

    Camera companies are not artists. They are driven only by quarterly earnings and they are run by people who don’t give a fuck about photography, and who most likely don’t know the difference between an f-stop and a short stop. As much as you, Zack, have been complimentary to Fuji for seeking the input of working photographers, and rightly so – and let me be very clear that their handling of the X-T1 light leak issue vs how Canon/Nikon/Pentax/Sony all handle their respective problems was the very thing that convinced me to move to the Fuji X system – they are only doing these things because they have to. They cannot play the Canikon game and expect to win. So they are “thinking different” and it’s paying dividends for them. I hope beyond reason that they will continue this train of thought and we will see those things that we covet – X-Trans 645, yes please! But as the saying goes, we can collectively wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which fills up first. I don’t mean to sound dismissive of Fuji, because, again, I’m a convert and I love nearly everything about the X system – the X-T1 is the first digital camera that I actually wanted to buy rather than have to. But I only expect this gravy train of awesome stuff from Fuji to last as long as it has to, economically, for them. I realize that this makes me sound like a bitter cynic, but I’m not. My dismissive cynicism only applies to corporations. (I will add that Fuji seem to be driven by kaizen and not MBA-dildoism, so maybe I’m totally wrong here, but also that I’m an American and maybe I don’t fully understand that concept in the first place, which might mean I’m right).

    Your detailing of purchasing a MF kit as a student couldn’t be more on the nose here. Only shills will deny the fact that there has been an incredible wage stagnation in the United States and a lot of the western world over the last 20 years. Coincidentally, professional-level gear has been put in the hands of orders of magnitude more people than, say, from 1965-2005. A 6D and a 24-70 will take you a lot of places, and the good folks in the marketing departments of Canon and Nikon, et al, have pretty easily convinced many folks with disposable income of this. The problem here is that we – as the desirers of workable, affordable digital MF – need the M/GWACs to come along for the ride if medium format is to be feasible economically.

    Imagine you are a heartless bean counter – are you going to keep on keeping on with marginal-improvement-machines (more megapixels! 1/3-stop better shake reduction!) that you can sucker people into giving you another $4,500 for? Or are you going to grab your nuts and put something awesome on the line? When that “something awesome” is something most working people can’t afford, that will cost multiple millions in R&D to develop, that only people like you and me and the other readers here will nerd out over? It was possible for Apple to do this sort of thing – appeal to the fringe and slowly, over the course of two decades, become a mainstream behemoth, but I don’t think the same model applies to camera companies, and times are different, economically, now, than when that train started rolling.

    The good news is that the same forces that drive wage stagnation also drive down the cost of gear (I’m not sure how that’s good news, but…) Eventually, I’d guess within 3-5 years (but I’m no economist/engineer), we will see affordable, and maybe even desirable, digital MF cameras.

    James is on the money – an x100-ish, fixed lens MF for $3,500 would hit the sweet spot. I’ll join the waiting list and put down a deposit right now. (Just please, please, please but the viewfinder in the center, X-T1-style, so astigmatic left-eye shooters like me can use it and not get vertigo. I know, I know, I can wish in one hand…)

    I’m sorry this is so long and sounds so negative. I’ll repeat – I want the same thing you do. And I’m happy that there is someone like Zack MF Arias (the MF is for Medium Format) to bang that drum harder than John Bonham. Let’s add smart adapters for legacy Pentax glass, as well. I’m just not optimistic that any of this will happen real soon.

    • Zack

      Holy shit. Comment of the month! Thank you for that eloquent response. Great read. More proof that all of you contribute more to this community than I do. Thanks again.

      Cheers,
      Zack

    • JT

      Niche is where it’s at though.

      The X100. Niche. And look where that took Fuji.
      M43 mirrorless. Niche. Mirrorless is now a huge part of the market.

      Not sure it matters what working people can afford. Working people don’t buy high end cameras. They use their camera phone or a $120 coolpix which has GPS< wireless and you can dive 10m with.
      Not unless they are camera nerds or photographers (or both), Then they scrimp and save, and sell their kidneys to get what they want.

      DSLRs are dead – at least in sales. Everyone has one, and the ones they have are good enough.
      Camera companies need to find and exploit profitable niches.
      All of the camera companies are trying to do this.
      Except those that are giving up on cameras.

      A medium format RF, maybe fixed lens?
      Is that anymore outrageous than the X100 5(?) years ago?
      No not really.

      And it is certainly no less niche and any Sigma camera, gorgeous as those images are.

      Could it be that Fuji are gonna skip the whole 35×24 holy sensor size and move on up.
      Hope so.

  27. Jim Robertson

    It may be a pie-in-the-sky dream but I’m still hoping someone at Fuji, or elsewhere, is currently tinkering with a more affordable medium format system. (Sigh.) But these days, the only cameras getting bigger are smart phones. However, Zack, I don’t think it is too Don Quixote of you to chase this windmill. I’ll sign up if you make it happen.

  28. Ed Araquel

    Of all the people at Photokina you should be talking to, it’s Fuji! Forget the current players. It’s Fuji who could upend the whole industry like they did with their X cameras. Imagine if they skipped full frame and made an affordable medium format mirrorless camera system with interchangeable lenses?

    It’s not like they haven’t done medium format before and their lens tech was top notch. Hell, they even had a medium format system with view camera movements!

  29. Nicholas Gonzalez

    Couldn’t have said it any better. I wouldn’t even care if a medium format digital had less megapixels than dslrs. I would happily grab an 18 megapixel medium format with attention to low light capability, no autofocus, a 3 inch screen oth live viewing and that’s it! It HAS to be possible.

  30. Chris

    My wish is simple. A Hasselblad X-Pan D. Two 35mm sensors side by side and off we go.

    • Marc

      I am wishing for the exact same thing!

    • Elisha

      +1. This is the camera I want.

      • Josh

        Yes, +1 more for the Hassy Xpan digi (or Fuji TX-2). Still my favorite walk around shooter.

  31. Mincho

    Medium format is easy to do, me and a several colleagues of mine we can produce it quiet easily if we get funding to fight patents and so on, but even then the market for such a product is too small compared to DSLRs.

    Bringing medium format to DSLR price is going to take another part of the market and so on, is a continuous loop. Sorry to disappoint you. The life is complicated.

  32. Aaron Brethorst

    I started shooting film with a 35mm rangefinder back in January basically on a whim, and then just went nuts from there. I picked up a Hasselblad a few months later, and I spend as much time shooting with that camera as I do my digitals.

    I’d love to be able to afford a medium format digital camera, but—since I don’t do this professionally—I couldn’t even begin to justify the cost. In comparison, you can pick up a full Hasselblad kit (body, viewfinder, lens, and back) for under $1000.

    It’s certainly something of an affectation at this point, but I don’t think there’s anything quite like developing your own film and making prints in a darkroom.

    Anyway, I’ve gotten sufficiently into this that I started a website a few weeks ago to catalog all available types of film, darkrooms, photo labs, and people’s film developing recipes: http://www.ishootfilm.org

    I think every photographer who has never tried shooting film owes it to themselves to go through the entire old-school process at least once.

    • Russell Kaye

      Great resource. Just sent your website to a couple of dozen shooters in the Atlanta area.

  33. Nick

    Yes.
    Please.

    – Flash sync in the 1/500+ range
    – As close to possible to 1:1 sensor size vs film
    – Average battery life, MP, etc, is fine
    – No gimmicks needed
    – Please don’t screw it up

    $10K.

    Extra tid bits:
    – I’d personally appreciate being able to do long exposures, say 15 minutes
    – It’s cool if you don’t want to invent a new system. A digital back for the million Hassleblad 500’s or Mamyia 67 is good too.

  34. Connor

    “At the end of the world, when the big meteor falls and destroys earth, only the cockroaches and the RB67′s are going to remain.”

    How interesting, my last name is Roach and I have an RB67. Guess I’ll be the only one left to shoot the remains of our smoldering heap called Earth. ;p Maybe I’ll even dig up my old Vespa. Har, har.

    Zack, I completely get where you are coming from when you mentioned seeing MF photos and being blown away. I had a similar experience at a friend’s place many years ago, there was a photo of a young girl on a side table and I kept going back and looking at it, trying to figure out why it looked so amazing, why the focus fall off was so different than anything I had ever seen… I asked my friend what type of camera was this shot on, and his response was Hasselblad. From that moment onwards, I’ve lusted after MF cameras and the quality of image they produce.

    I’ve recently started going back to film and shooting on my RB67 that hasn’t seen much action since I bought it 8 or 9 years ago. But I’m always looking at what affordable MF digital options might present themselves, so throw my name into the ring as someone wanting an affordable, lightweight, DMF camera.

    For now, the closest I’ve been able to come is mounting a DSLR onto the back of my Sinar F2 and shooting stitched images together (both from the stitching adapter and raising and lowering the rear standard). Beautiful stuff, especially for food/still life photography, but not quite the same as a DMF rig.

    I just want to say thanks for all you’ve done for the global photo community. The likes of you, Hobby, McNally and many others have really helped to demystify the photographic process – especially where ocf is concerned, and I liken your book to being a “chicken soup for the photographer’s soul”, whenever I feel like I’ve hit a wall or start to lose confidence in my abilities as a shooter, I read your book. It always gives me a good kick in the pants and helps to get back up and keep shooting and not worry about the APS-C/FF/MF discussions constantly going on around me, and to just rock what I got!

    So thank you. 🙂

    • Zack

      Thanks. Glad to be of service.

      Cheers,
      Zack

  35. Nathan Lucking

    Sounds like we need to find a few camera engineers and get a kickstart project going to see this dream happen.
    I’ve been looking at buy into MF but at the digital prices it’s just not something that is on the cards (or even in the deck) for me but I think I’ll get my self an old film MF, slowing down the pace and enjoying the ride.

  36. Tom

    I cried the day I had to hawk my Mamiya 645 to put food on the table. I might just be able to scrape together the old style of money to buy one again. But the digital MF market, I’m sure, will always be dead to me now.

    I truly hope your are successful in this battle!

  37. olivier

    i’ve sold my rf645 a few years ago and i regret it every single day

  38. Ryan

    I only just got myself a Pentax 67 and a couple lenses, I had been shooting 35mm film for a while and found a good deal on the used pentax. I was literally blown away the first roll I developed. People talk about the D800 or the a7R(which I own) getting close to that medium format look. It’s a huge lie to make themselves feel better.
    I’m with you, that bronica or a fuji GF670 in digital. I’d probably have to sell my truck and an arm but I’d be tempted.

  39. Jarrett

    I shoot Medium Format film right now, a Mamiya 645 Super. I love the idea of digital medium format and have considered working myself up to a Phase system or maybe settling on something like the Pentax but I don’t see the need as of yet for me. I am getting a little tired of shooting film though because of the inconvenience of not having a lab here in town and having to send them off and spending a good bit of money that way.

    If there was a rangefinder style camera with the sensor built in, I would for sure consider it. For something like that, I’d love to see a working system with an 80mm 2.8 or something, for 9-10k. I think that is a price point that I could work up to.

  40. jarWoodson

    Definitely give those Fuji peeps a wink and a nod and tell them you’re going to visit Sony and I can certainly guarantee they’ll take action. Sony has that curved sensor prototype and they’re already in bed with Hasselblad for those ridiculously overpriced rebadged a99 and NEX cams. If they skip using cockroach exoskeletons bonded together with resin excreted by a Solomon Islands skink for raw materials and promise Zeiss they’ll purchase half of Belgium in their name, we may see a compact medium format from Sony at the $5K price point. Fuji will then most assuredly follow suit with something much sexier and Huzzah! Medium Format is back.

    Let’s hope Sony doesn’t screw the pooch like they did with Beta and MiniDisc, or else all bets are off.

    Cheers,

    JW

  41. Adam

    Considering you are a Fuji ambassador who has been in the room of R&D, I can’t help but think this blog post is viral marketing for the upcoming Fuji digital medium format (not that it’s a bad thing, I’m a total Fuji fanboy at this point). The Fuji Tech Rep that I’ve spoken to has even mentioned medium format is on the way.

  42. Josh

    Totally right. Totally. Could not agree more. I’ve been wanting a medium format digital to shoot for our studio for years now but can’t justify the price. Not enough competitors to bring the prices down. Please camera companies…TAKE NOTICE!

  43. Doug R

    I wish. Oh, how I wish. I’m just on a very real budget. I just quit my job and moved my family across the country to find a better paying job. Maybe in a while I will have some money to buy anything more than my Nikon D90.
    Until then, I will rock what I got.

    To the point though, I would love a medium format camera. I have shot an old hasselblad with an 85 and a beautiful 45º viewfinder. Oh my goodness… I was tempted not to return that beautiful thing to the friend I borrowed it from.

    Cheers,
    D

  44. Russell Kaye

    Hi Zack. Thanks for this great post. wholeheartedly agree on the dSLR thing. You know what i miss? I miss the waist level finder and not having to lay on the floor to shoot from a low angle.

    I had so much fun recently with a Cambo Wide with a phase back from Capture Integration. (We are so lucky to have Dave and company here in Atlanta.)

    Composing upside down, flopped images on the ground glass- yeah, it’s slow as hell, but it just feels right, feels like photography. I’m hanging on to my Linhof and expecting that sooner or later phase or someone else will make an affordable sensor substantially larger than 645.

  45. Mark Viducich

    The price point for a good medium format camera that produces the kind of quality Zack alluded to should be $7500. That would be lens, body and back. I would buy such a system tomorrow. Or, truthfully, whenever I could swing the purchase without the wife knowing the true cost as my passion for expensive hobbies far outweighs her money to content quotient.

  46. Joe

    Preach on, Brother Zack

    I carry my H4 like a dslr, with those who know what it is asking if i was crazy, how dare it be out of a studio. It’s a camera, that deserves as many possible shots as I come across. I wish I could baby it more, but I can’t go backwards to 35mm. I too wish for a rangefinder like setup (I do need af) even as locked as the GF670 style would be fine (and fun).

  47. Boyd

    I think another commenter had a similar idea, but I’d be thrilled with a fixed lens option too. A Fuji x100m perhaps? Seriously, I think Fuji could totally do it and, at the right price, could really make a splash.

    Rumor has it that Fuji has been looking into it. Please Fuji? Please?

    As far as I know, Pentax can’t keep up with demand for the 645z. Imagine if Fuji (yes, I’m biased because I shoot with one and love it) were to release an x-pro style camera near that price. Affordable medium format plus a small body and great optics? Yes please.

    Zack, to answer your questions again, I would totally be interested in your fantasy camera. It would genuinely be put into my business plan, though I realistically could not afford it at this point in my wife and I’s business. I think, in terms of features and capabilities, really just upsize the sensor in the x-pro 1 and I’d be happy. I’d also be perfectly happy with your starting lens lineup too. I personally would be okay with smaller than true a 6×4.5 sensor, but the bigger the better.
    For price, I think $6-8k would be doable. If Pentax can do the Z for $8-9k, strip back on things like weather sealing and mechanical complexity and I think it could be done. I really think there would be a market for it too, especially from Fuji or Sony. And honestly, I think it would be one of the two to actually do it.

  48. Fernando Gros

    it says at lot that the Medium Format offerings from Leica & Hasselblad seem to feature more regularly in fashion magazines & newspaper lift outs aimed at the wealthy than they do in magazines & blogs aimed at working photographers.

    I did a little searching on the internet & it seems a 500C/M kit with 80mm lens was $880 back in 1972. Adjusted for inflation that’s about $5000 today.

    • Tommi

      I would totally pay $5000 or even 5000€ for a medium format digital camera now. Sadly, I don’t think it’s going to be that cheap any time soon 🙁

  49. Peter

    These days, pretty much all medium format camera suck. Not in terms of image quality, but in terms of them just not being inspiring cameras in any way that make you want to shoot something amazing with them. If I was shooting MF today, I would be using a Hasselblad 503 C/W or a Mamiya RB67 with a digital back.

    I like the modularity. Put on a pola back and shoot some instant film before the shoot. Your subjects will react to you completely differently after you hand them a real medium format pola instead of showing them the lighting test on a monitor.

    Want to update your sensor? Keep the camera you know and love, replace the back. Make your own cyanotype film. Use a 35 mm film back that shoots small format film or panos with the same camera. One and the same camera is capable of giving you a b/w pola and a 200 megapixel multishot product image within less than 10 seconds. You don’t even have to adjust your exposure settings.

    But what really sells MF for me is more the way you shoot than just the image quality. A waist level viewfinder – and I don’t mean some digital video screen or flipout display – a real large optical waist level viewfinder with the lovely upside down image gives you a totally different connection with your subject for portraiture. You have nothing between your eyes and your subject. And even if you are shooting digital, you still get to shoot with a real mechanical camera, something I miss more than I miss film itself.

    If a company like Fuji built a Hasselblad V-Series type modular camera with their insanely good lenses, leaf shutter, and a digital back with about 24–36 megapixels, large sensor, as well as an instax and a 6×7 film back, no AF to keep the price down, and great lowlight capabilities on the digi back, it would be a dream. It should have an optical waist-level viewfinder (or hybrid if they want to go fancy, though a small strip LCD for histogram and other info if a digital back is connected would suffice, and a flipout screen on the digital back for image review), and the mechanism should be fully mechanical so with a film back, it can operate completely without power like an RB-67, but with a digiback, it will transmit lens and exposure info for EXIF.

    The reason why I am suggesting low resolution low price point is because that is the real gap in the market. High res high price is covered, high res low price is likely impossible, and high price low res is kind of pointless for the most part.

    Just like any digital back, the backs should be usable on other MF cameras as well. Full features on the original camera, but still usable like any other digital back on other cameras. An affordable back with great high-ISO quality for all medium format shooters.

    Pricing: If the camera can be kept at ~1200€ without a lens (which is realistic for an old non-AF MF camera these days), and the digital back could be at up to 4500€, which is where a 25 megapixel Mamiya ZD back can be had right now, I’d be in.

    As far as rangefinders go, those are usually used more for personal work, travel, street photography. I wouldn’t mind shooting either APS-C digital there or something like an analog Plaubel Makina if I wanted MF. A medium format X100-type camera with a real rangefinder mechanism and a large sensor for a maximum of 3500€ might of course be tempting, but a rangefinder is not a camera you typically shoot client jobs with, so justifying that kind of investment is much harder.

    So, to recap: An open, modular system with a traditional, mostly mechanical Hasselblad V-System type camera with only the essential digital features, no AF. Keeps the price down. A digital back that doesn’t have the huge megapixels and a huge price tag, but still has a large sensor and focuses on good high ISO quality, which would be unique in MF land. The great thing is that with this system, you could always rent a Phase One or Leaf back any time if you need to and have all the resolution you want with your camera.

    As far as X-Trans goes, I’m not really 100% convinced about the merits of it. I doubt there is much to be improved about the quality bayer sensor MF cameras are giving us (at least on low ISO). So no need to put up with the sub-par third party raw converter support if we will indeed at some point see something like this from Fuji (and really, which other company would realistically take such a chance?).

  50. Troy Freund

    I bought a Mamiya 645AFD III and a used DM22 back for it last year, and HAVE fallen in love, all over again, with medium format. It IS so much better, and a different experience than working 35mm.

  51. Tim Bray

    I saw a Leica S in the wild once, being carried by a Chinese guy taking a tour of one of the nice Vancouver tourist spots (I live there), he was part of a tour group.

    The Pentax 645Z can do high-ISO. Which means you can shoot in natural light. Which means you don’t need a leaf shutter, right?

    • Alex

      Uh. Leaf shutters would be to reduce the amount of ambient in conjunction with using the flash. So no.

  52. Vic Guerrero

    Exactly what I’m waiting for. If and when fuji pulls that out of their hat, I’m making the jump! I would sell my D4 and everything nikon and maybe a few more body parts…

    Happy with my x100s, my 2nd wife. MR Rangefinder my lifeline.

    Keep up the great work! Keep inspiring!

    Cheers,
    Vic

    • John Cicchine

      Hi Alex.
      I was waiting for someone here to mention the Hy6. I WANTED ONE OF THOSE (OR TWO) 🙂 SO BADLY!!! I had a Rollei 6003 and 6008 and I could have incorporated my existing lenses and a few accessories into the Hy6 but then Rollei finally folded up and I just went to Hi Res. DSLR. I would have been happy just shooting with the film backs until digital sensors became affordable. And Rollei retained the square format which for some compositions is AWESOME!!! I LOVED AND MISS THAT BIG BEAUTIFUL SQUARE VIEWFINDER!!! What a great camera and as far as I am concerned superior to the Hasselblad H Series. But I will say that for the vast majority of my shoots my Nikon D800e really gets the job done. If medium format ever does become affordable for me and someone makes a camera with a square viewfinder and sensor I would certainly consider it. Thanks for giving the Rollei Hy6 the credit it is due Alex.
      John

  53. ken

    The Pentax 645Z can use older leaf lenses (LS suffix) AFAIK. They don’t make new leaf shutter lenses though…they new lenses are 2-3K each already 🙁
    And you’ll like the high ISO capability…it’s not the same as what you have now. Pentax really are pushing everyone in medium format land to up their game 🙂

  54. Stephen Zane

    To be honest, right now I’m perfectly happy with shooting medium format film. But that’s isn’t to say I would love the idea of having a digital option. Maybe just to rent occasionally though. Hell I dunno. Maybe I’d actually sell my car to get one…

  55. Tom K.

    I have to admit I find it hard to believe in the year 2014 there is no viable medium format digital camera being produced by a major company for a reasonable price. It seems inconceivable to me. Your post nailed it. Somebody please help!

  56. Greg

    I work in chip development (not manufacturing) so I have a decent idea of what is involved in making really big chips.

    WARNING: Math ahead.
    Spoiler alert: Making medium format sensors is DAMN EXPENSIVE.

    The cost of making large chips grows exponentially with the size of the chip. Little chips are incredibly cheap, large chips are incredibly expensive. I’ll explain why.

    Computer chips are manufactured on wafers. These are the big round shiny things you see in Intel advertisements with all the chips on them. Wafers come in fixed sizes with however many chips on them as will fit, depending on the size of the chip. A wafer costs about the same amount regardless of the chip being manufactured on it.

    When manufacturing chips, a significant portion won’t work. The percent that are good is called yield. 50% is a pretty good yield for a chip, so I’m going to use that as my starting point.

    When you build a large chip, there are two problems that drive the cost up. The obvious problem is that you can fit fewer chips on a wafer. Thus, if you double the size of the chip, you get half as many chips on a wafer (it’s a little worse than this, but let’s just use this for our assumption.)

    It turns out that fitting fewer chips on a wafer isn’t actually the biggest problem that drives the cost up. The bigger problem is that your yields go down when you make a bigger chip. A chip 6x as big is sort of like having 6 chip parts right next to each other that are the size of the smaller chip. But, here’s the kicker: They ALL have to be good. If one of the 6 hypothetical chips parts is bad, you can’t use any of them. If the yield on a small chip (or a chip part) is 50%, that means that the yield on the whole 6x chip is only 1/64, or 1.6%.

    Now that we see how yield can make smaller chips dramatically more expensive, let’s put some real numbers on this for sensor size. Full-frame is roughly 2x crop-sensor area. Pentax medium-format is roughly 4x crop sensor area. Hasselblad/Phase is roughly 6x crop sensor area.

    Let’s assume a 100 DX chip wafer, with 50% of them good. This gets 50 good DX chips per wafer.

    FX: 50 chips per wafer. 25% good. This gets 12.5 good chips per wafer.
    Pentax: 25 chips per wafer. 1/16 good. 1.5 good chips per wafer.
    Hasselblad/Phase: 16 chips per wafer. 1/64 good. .25 good chips per wafer.

    So, FX chips cost 4 times as much as DX chips.
    Pentax chips cost 33 times as much as DX chips.
    Hasselblad/Phase chips cost 200 times as much as DX chips.

    If a DX camera costs $500 and 25% of that was sensor, you would expect for the sensor alone:

    DX costs $ 125
    FX costs $ 500
    Pentax costs $ 4,125
    Hasselblad/Phase costs $25,000

    Once you realize the cost of sensor manufacture, the cost of medium-format digital backs starts to make a lot more sense, and you realize it really can’t come down without some kind of crazy technology breakthrough.

    I’m sure the medium-format manufacturers have found ways to get their sensor manufacturing cost down somewhat, but their costs are still going to be orders of magnitude more than 35mm sensor size.

    Film wasn’t like this. Kodak could make huge sheets of film where the entire sheet was of acceptable quality. Thus, medium-format film only cost about 6x as much to manufacture as APS-C film, not the 200 times as much that medium-format digital sensors do.

    • Josh

      Greg,

      Any idea what the state of the art is regarding “stitched” sensors, for want of a better word?

      Presumably in theory one could make a medium format sensor by arranging a number of APS-C chips in an array, meaning you could maintain your 50% yield on an arbitrary sized sensor?

      My hunch is that some approach like that will be the way to bring medium format to the masses, because hoping for exponential improvements in fabrication is a bit, y’know.

      • Peter Erwin

        Josh,

        In principle that’s not a bad idea — that’s how astronomers build modern imaging cameras for telescopes, for example. The link below shows images from the “Dark Energy Camera”, which is a 570-megapixel device made by “stitching together” 62 rectangular CCD sensors.

        http://www.fnal.gov/pub/presspass/press_releases/2012/DES-DECam-201209-images.html

        However, from the standpoint of practical “regular” cameras, there’s a big problem: the gaps between the individual chips. If you look at the images on the page I linked to, you can see quite large gaps between the images from the individual chips. Now, astronomers can work around this by “dithering”: you take a picture, then shift the camera/telescope slightly so that the parts of the scene which fell into the gaps are now on the chips, take another picture, and repeat a few times. If you do this four or five times, you can combine the resulting images to get a pretty seamless final image. For astronomers, who are typically making hour-long exposures of a scene that isn’t changing anyway, that’s not a huge problem. But it’s not exactly a very practical workflow for everyday camera use….

        (You might think, “Well, why not just mount all the chips right next to each other, without any gaps?” But in practice, that’s not really possible — you have to leave room around the edges of the individual chips for the electronic connections, and even if that weren’t the case, you’d have to have an exquisitely fine-tuned manufacturing process to make sure the edges of the chips were perfectly straight, and to get all the chips perfectly aligned with each other.)

        • Josh

          Peter,

          Astronomy is what gave me the hunch that “stitched” sensors might work for cameras, but I was coming from a knowledge of VLBI arrays rather than sensors knitted together in a single instrument.

          My other hunch is that something like VLBI on a reduced scale—VSBI, if you will—might work on a MF or larger sensor in lieu of single massive chips on silicon wafers ever producing cost effective yields.

          My third hunch is that “VSBI” technology is probably only suited to very narrow wavelengths, and would require a hell of a lot of R&D to make its way into a practical digital camera.

        • Greg

          Peter,

          While it isn’t 100% clear, my guess would be that “stitched” in that context means on the wafer, not on the mount. It’s very common for certain types of companies to say that their chips are “stitched” when they are all on the same wafer. I wouldn’t assume that this means chips that are actually physically separate mounted next to each other. There still may be a pin issue, but the tolerances issues are a lot easier to resolve if they are on the same wafer. (although this still has the yield problems that I originally commented on.

    • Tommi

      What about TFT based image sensors, such as those used in x-ray equipment? If only the pixel density could be improved – I found a paper about one that has about 7 megapixels for an active sensor area of 30×40 cm (that’s about 12×16 inches to those of you who don’t understand REAL units of measurement 😉

      TFT image sensors aren’t a new idea either. I found a patent related to them that was applied for in 2003, again, focusing on medical imaging. I wonder what the real reason is that these haven’t made it to cameras. Must be one of the following:
      – they happen to actually be more expensive than silicon,
      – the pixel density cannot be improved,
      – sensitivity issues, or
      – so far silicon chips have been able to do everything expected of them, so there hasn’t been any reason to look for other solutions

      • Josh

        Tommi,

        The biggest limitation is that those things detect charge, not light. Imaging is a two stage process where (high energy) X-ray photons hit a layer which generates a charge that is read by the TFT. I think they might also scan line-by-line rather than making the image all at once.

        As well as pixel density, a limitation of a TFT device would be constructing a layer which would produce charge based on low energy visible light, and making them fast enough to work at the sub-second speeds needed for photography.

    • Joe

      This – when you take into account a FX sensor is 24x36mm, the 50MP CMOS at 33x44mm isn’t that much bigger, this allowing for higher yields from each wafer. The 36x48mm CCD chips are just another level higher, with a significant drop off in yields.

      What I want to know is where are all the 50MP Sony’s that don’t pass inspection? I would love to see them remapped down to a ~40MP chip, and setup in a Mamiya 7 or Fuji GS645 styled body. Figure somewhere between $7-8k. Single point af, Live View, f2.8 fixed lens, weather resistant, single SD card, and if I could ask for it, external only TTL flash.

      While lots of uses would be ok with trade offs to make a MF camera cheaper, there is no consensus among those whom actually put down money as to what those compromises are. So companies are stuck trying to cater to a much larger group.

    • Ian

      Thank you for the math. Seriously. It’s good to have some hard facts about this.

  57. Rifqi

    I recently bought an old Mamiya C330. One of the reasons was that there’s a certain magic about film that can’t be denied. However, the absolute main reason was that I wanted so badly to shoot medium format.

    I’m a hobby photographer who doesn’t make any money from it and there’s no way I could ever justify (or even afford) the cost of digital MF. I would kill for it though…oh yes I would…

    The Mamiya is a lot of fun to use but if there was an affordable digital option, I would safe up for as long as it took and sell all my other gear to get it. Do whatever it takes to get that cost down. All I need is a sensor, a great 80mm f2.8 lens (it can even be fixed on the camera, I could shoot everything with that), controls to change shutter, aperture, iso and focus and a light meter. Give me that and I wouldn’t ever have to buy another camera.

  58. Josh

    If you rephrase the question “If you could have a Fuji 645 or a Mamiya 6 or a Bronica like rangefinder how much would you pay for that?” slightly differently as “who would buy a camera with those features at a given price point” then you more or less have your answer.

    If a medium format rig—any rig, no matter how restrictive—could be had for the price of a 5DmkIII, then everyone who makes a living out of photography will own a medium format camera. If they remain at or above the price of a 1D, then they’ll remain the preserve of a few percent of photographers, and probably mainly those who do at least some commercial work.

    It’s going to happen one day—how could it not?—but when you consider how long it was before the first practical digital cameras and the first affordable 35mm chips, it’s probably going to be a long time before we see brand new digital medium format kit that even students can afford.

  59. Giovanni Maggiora

    Hi Zack
    …which just proves: we all love to talk/lust/dream gear, whether it’s cool to admit it or not…
    My bet, for what it’s worth, is that your friends at Fuji will beat everyone else to this line…
    I still remember fondly the week I spent with a Hassy XPan loaner, that was another jewel and in reality it was a Fuji rebadged with Swedish accent while saying arigato…
    But then again, we should/t be talking gear but be out shooting, right?

    Safe travels to Germany, man
    G

    • Darren

      Sign me up. My RB is sitting in a cupboard, that thing did more weddings than a church minister and that was before I bought it secondhand. People took me more seriously when I pulled it out of the bag on location. I miss the image quality. I saw medium format transparencies projected once. Wow….

      Yeah, so gimme an affordable MF camera or back for a RZ of old Hass body. MF back new prices made me cry when I saw them.

  60. hexx

    MF is infection and a bad one 🙂

    It all started with Hassy V, at first just with 80/2.8 lens, then I added 150/4 and then 50/4 FLE – and was hooting film only. The look of MF and that lovely rendering of Zeiss glass (the old good Zeiss) was something I appreciate and still do.
    But then limitation of the system hit – it’s not really portable in any way so I bought Mamiya 6 with 50 and 75 lenses – walk around combo. I take this camera on all trips because it’s a RF and the lenses are collapsible.
    And then digital hit – managed to obtain really cheaply Leaf Aptus 75S, 33mp 48×36 back. Yes, not the same as square from Hassy or Mamiya, there’s crop but with Zeiss lenses on V body it’s just brilliant. I was surprised how sharp 50/4 FLE is at normal apertures (where I would use it as a landscape lens) and how unforgiving 150 wide open is, miss focus by 1cm and it’s so visible.
    But again, not a portable system and now I’m thinking about selling that Leaf and getting 645Z because that’s the only MF digital which is ‘affordable’ – I’m not a professional photographer and I shoot just as a hobby and have been doing it for many years – but I got infected by MF look and there’s no denying that MF doesn’t have edge over FF or smaller formats.

    Yes, I’d love it if Sony release RX styled body or if there’s a mirror less camera like Mamiya 6/7 and would get one – but something tells me there won’t be one anytime soon. The reason behind this thinking is simple, Michael R from LuLa decided to get 645Z as his main system. I’m pretty sure that he must have quite good idea of what might be coming to the market in the near future and he is big fan of mirror less cameras, I doubt he would invest to Pentax if he knew there will be better option (in terms of value for money)

  61. Silas

    Zack has put into words, all of my feelings about the sheer lack of product development for photographers who wish to go above and beyond 35mm full-frame.

    I am not a well-to-do photographer with a lot of income, but if the right digital medium format came onto the market I would take out as many loans and sell as many organs as possible to fund my purchase of said camera.

    I’m 100% behind you with this Zack, please update with any and all info you can find out at Photokina.
    Many thanks for this article.

  62. Mehrdad

    When I read this I just thought: Finally! Finally someone do find the right words!
    I really do count on you Zack to use all your influence on Fujifilm e.g. so that they bring a digital medium format camera. A digital Texas Leica would be a dream, at least to me.

  63. Theis

    Hi Zack

    You basically answer most of your questions yourself – and as you say, you can still develop and scan medium format films and get exellent results. It is a lot slower paced than had the camera been digital, but I think that’s a key factor as well. I get good shots from my Lc-a because I shoot carelessly when I have that in my hand and I get good shots with my Mamiya 7 because I stop and think and breathe before I shoot it – but for me at least the mentalities doesn’t mix. I would be very interested in knowing how I would shoot a Mamiya 7 that has infinity frames pr “roll”. It may not be as magical – maybe it will.

    I don’t shoot much fashion and stuff like that, which is where I would see the joy in not having to swich backs every 8/10/12 frames, but if I did I would propably crave a digital medium format camera a lot more. Being a hobbyist, time is my own and nobody is bugging me to deliver anything but myself, so I always have the peace and quiet to spend a couple of nights in the darkroom before deciding on which direction I want to take my prints – which is probably why I don’t care so much.

    I want to tell you to more things:

    1) I just swapped my 1Ds mk3 for a Mamiya 7. All of my commercial stuff will be done on that from now on. If people can’t wait the time my analog workflow requires, they can go get their photo taken at Wall Mart. I enjoy it so much more – and trust my, you can tell when looking at the prints. It’s not just about the sensor size.

    2) Film is getting BIG in Copenhagen. I’m not going to tell you that it’s coming back, but I can reassure you that the many analog photography stores popping up are a clear sign that more and more are appreciating the time you have to spend when shooting film.

    Thanks for some wonderful reads, I’m looking forward to a lot more.

    All the best

    Theis

  64. Jon

    They’re coming! You may well see and pre-order the Sony MF (in essence, a digital RF645!) at Photokina if the rumours are true. Less solid rumours suggest other manufacturers may be about to make rival products.

  65. Ref

    Are we hinting something from Fujifilm in the works Zach? If anyone is going to “change the game” it’d be Fuji or Sony.
    I still have my Hasselblad 500cm and bring it out with my portrait shoots from time to time, but film costs time and money. It’s surreal the amount of detail I can pull out of a neg, and the final print.. Wow!
    My XT1 and Xpro1 do the job well on location, wouldn’t give them up for the world. I would LOVE a digital GS or GA Fuji. I don’t mind if it’s a fixed lens or systems camera. Hell, my work colleague and I were discussing how incredible it’d be if they released a digital Xpan.

    So I ask again, are we hinting something from Fujifilm in the works Zach? if so, shuttup and take my money!

  66. Phill

    I understand that making cameras cost money. But come on… prices from 5000 to almost 40000 $ ?! We have to be rich or professionals to be able to buy those toys! For me the limit is 700$! They turn photography into a elitist thing. So f*** them all… I keep my aps-c. (sorry for my english)

  67. Christian

    Yes. Oh yes. I love shooting with my Hasselblad 500CM and I prefer BW negatives over digital files any day, but I can imagine a whole new world of images being unleashed upon the world if somebody had the guts (and the funding) to release a digital Mamiya 6 or something like that. I’d buy it if I ever needed to add digital MF to my setup (and as long as it didn’t cost more than, say, a Nikon D4s), but I still love the smell and feel of a giant tri-x negative. For work my Canon 6D does the job, but yeah, it leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe I’m just too used to shooting my Hassy…
    Now, if only somebody could offer me some cheap drum scans…

  68. Deane

    Ever since I saw ‘Baraka’ in 70mm I’ve had a keen appreciation for larger formats of any kind. The only framed photo that’s made the dozens of moves around the world with me was shot on a Fuji rangefinder medium format. It’s only an 8×10 print and it sings. I love digital. I had a darkroom etc. I love digital. But I don’t have to love the strange artefacts and over sharpening that come with a DSLR. I have hopes that the Pentax 645z will do the job – but it’s gonna take me a couple of years to save for that (I have no desire for my kids to lack due to my appetites). I want a no frills true medium format camera. I will spend up to $10k if I can squeek 2 -3 lenses. I might not print wall sized prints, but I love 13×19″ (my portfolio is that size) and I want it to sing so loudly my customers demand it. I can see the differences in my lenses at that print size, I dream of when I’m not held back by Canon’s middling lack of progress.

  69. Lion of the Blogosphere

    I am sorry to disappoint you, but I doubt that medium format will be making a return. The future is medium-format-quality from smaller sensors and not medium-format-sized sensors. Many would argue that so-called “full frame” sensors already offer higher image quality than medium-format film.

    The economics of really huge image sensors just doesn’t make any sense.

  70. Owen

    Great read Zach. I’ve never used MF but I’ve spotted prints and online photos . And I bought a used Bronica Etrs earlier this week plus a whole bunch of film. It’ll be shoot and scan, but I can’t wait to see what I can turn out compared to my (crop) Nikon.
    If someone came out with a system like your wishlist, at an obtainable non-second-mortgage price, I could see a whole new wave of MF pjotograhers.

  71. gerry

    Hi Zack, interesting post . Good alternative right now is indeed film, you can have a Mamiya RZ setup for 600$ and no matter what you say but 6000$ less than a pentax 645 that’s a lot of film + developpment. Beyond 6×7 there’s no other alternative than film either. Options are shrinking you’re right but with the existing stock + a good scan, you really get the best of both world, you can still use your digital cam as a “polaroid” to check composition and exposure. Talking about dreams, i’d love to see a digital rolleiflex. Cheers

  72. Edd Carlile

    I just got me a Fujifilm GA645 medium format film camera and seriously loving that as the sidekick to my x100s. It brings with it a different more measured approach to what I do to get ready to press that shutter release.

  73. Louis

    The D100 had the magical price point of $2000. And while that’s no small amount of money, it put the DSLR within something approaching a reality to most photographers (including enthusiasts like myself).

    Even adjusting for modern digital cameras I think medium format needs to get under $3000. It’s at that point I think a lot of people will consider buying into a system. And “system” is the key word here – I’m a Nikon guy because of gear I bought for my D100 that I still use on my D3s.

    Sony, Fuji, Cannon, whoever gets medium former to the pro/am market first will likely have thoses customers for a long time to come. Hopefully that long term investment will be the thing that drives the manufactures to spend the R&D money.

  74. adam

    back in may there was a flurry of stories about fuji introducing a fixed lens mf camera at the end of the summer – photokina runs at about the end of summer – with one having fuji partnering with sony on a 50mega pixel cmos sensor.

    i think i read that on the phoblographer site

  75. TimO

    Zack, Great post, I could not agre more. The images from the Phase can talk to you! I think its up to you…I would be one of the first to sign up on your KickStarter post

    Cheers.

  76. Mark

    The Pentax 645Z has the same size sensor as the IQ140 you bought. Also Phase, Hasselblad and Leaf are all using it. Nobody makes a decent field full frame 645 sensor. The Z targets landscape and field photographers, not studio flash sync people. Their market is well served by Hasselblad and Mamiya/Phase. Also Pentax has stated that leaf lenses are forthcoming.

  77. David O'Sullivan

    When I was a student i had a bronica 645s too. I got it second hand in about 1999 with 2 lenses for maybe $1500 maybe less. that was a hell of a lot of money for me as a 19 year old. The thing is though i was shooting almost exclusively fuji velvia back then. it was actually cheaper per shot to shoot 120 film than 35mm including developing.
    The only down side was there was only one film scanner at uni that could handle 645 format so I had to get there at least an hour before everyone else so i could use it. I then had to transfer files around on 100mb zip disks, and struggle with the files on a computer maxed out with 196mb of ram!

    I was sad the day i sold it (for the same as i brought it, 4 years later,) as i knew i would never get another one. I am very grateful for the experience though.

    I would love a digital 645 mirrorless, but i would hate the vertical orientation of the original rangefinder. I would be perfectly content with a fixed lens

  78. Ian

    Consider this my signature on the petition for more digital medium format options!!

  79. Peter Adams

    Amen Zack! Could not agree more.

    I shot a Mamiya 7 for 10 years. After I began shooting digital with my D100 I would scour the Internets looking for some crazy mod that would pair the Mamiya 7 with a digital back. Finally gave up a few years ago and sold it to fund a PhaseOne system. Can honestly say that a piece of me died the day I sold that camera.

    The closest I’ve gotten to getting back to how i felt shooting with the Mamiya 7 is with the Sony RX1. It has a full frame sensor with big pixels (5.93 microns vs. 6.0 for the IQ140 vs. 4.88 microns for the Nikon D810). Plus it has a silent leaf shutter. The detail in prints is pretty amazing.

    Still though, I pray to the MF gods nightly that someone will come out with a rangefinder/mirrorless system to replace the Phase DF body.

    Kickstarter anyone?

  80. Zac

    Shooting with these systems carries with it a completely different mentality than shooting with smaller formats. The problem is, many photographers choose the most impressive tool for the job – not the right tool. Shooting a 10 lb camera system hand held in low light sans strobes does not make for great images.

    My favorite combo is the technical camera. Not great for portraits, but for still life, landscape, and architecture? Good god. Slap an IQ 260 on a Cambo WRS with a 32mm Rodenstock and you might as well have pulled Excalibur out of stone. Sharp doesn’t begin to describe the corner to corner clarity. That combo marries some of the best parts of large format field cameras to digital medium format. Those lenses – lenses like the 90mm HR Digaron-W/SW and the 32mm HR, are some of the best in the world and are blisteringly sharp. I worked with those systems for over a half and each time a saw a 100% crop I was shocked.

    Personally, I’m much more interested in stitching to a 4×5-ish size or greater. I’ve been shooting 4×5 transparencies and home developing lately. Honestly, there’s not much more in the world that gives me more pleasure than using a 4×5 field camera and seeing the quality of images it rolls out. Want to talk about DOF falloff? Want to talk about dynamic range? Want to talk about subtleties in images that transcend verbal description? I’m getting emotional…

    But, of course, shooting the 20×24 polaroid is tops on the bucket list. Done’t get me started.

  81. Niklas

    If only it existed, a digital Mamiya 7 would probably be the last camera I would ever feel the need to own.

  82. Xpanded

    Zack – you have power! Just write about the GA645di (a total digital conversion of the zi film model) in your Fuji book and Fujifilm HAVE to make it 😉

    I won’t take two, but one definitely.

    /Xpanded

  83. Jim Mondry

    A few years ago, I picked up a used Rollei. I started playing around with it, but my limitation is that I haven’t had the chance to properly learn how to develop and print my own images. The process of getting them printed by another shop and then scanning adds so many limitations and delays to my workflow that I just gave up using it. If I could have that camera with a digital back, I would all over it. I have nothing agaist film – I think it’s beautiful, and I love the tone I get from my scaned black-and-white negitives, its just too much hassel. Maybe if I was shooting for clients I would consider the effort worth it, but for most images that are just for myself, where I’m more interested in experimenting and playing I would rather have the speed of digital to correct and adjust. Although, you are inspiring me to pick it up to do some portraits again…

    How much would I pay – I would seriously consider buying into the system if I could have body and 1 “normal-ish” lens for $5-6K. Especially if it was something like your Bronica camera that is usable off of a tripod. That would take some time to save up, but I would make the effort for it. Any more than that just feels like it’s GAS for me, rather than something that will elevate the quality of my images (that statement is intended for me personally – that’s not a critique on the format or other’s work or need of MF/LF).

  84. david

    Film isn’t dead because Fuji says it is.

  85. Robert

    When you look at the yield of the sensors from the wafers as written in the comments, you see how financially it doesn’t make sense to go after a small market (us oddities that really want a MF system).

    Does anyone here have an audio enthusiast friend who had the kick ass amps, speakers, turntables, and super expensive audio connects? I mean the high end stuff. Audiophile quality. Thousands and thousands of dollars (tube amps too). They’d tell you just how wonderful the technology is, how “warm” the sound is, etc. Yes, it sounds really really nice. And it cost a fortune.

    But for most of us, that “extra” bit of quality was too expensive. Our cheaper Sony components (or Panasonic, etc) were 1/10 the price and sounded prettty good. At least good enough for us.

    And then Apple came along. The iPod was amazing, so many songs in such a tiny package. Sure they were compressed .MP3 files, but heck nobody cared that the files lost 50, 60, 70+ % of the original data from the source (usually CD’s that were ripped, or iTunes purchased). We all sure got used to the convenience.

    So what happened to audiophile components? They’re still around, they still deliver great sound but they cost a small fortune.

    But we consumers, being the ultimate judges of what’s acceptable, decided that small .MP3 files were “good enough”. No need for full resolution CD’s, heck we’ll take Satellite Radios and Pandora, streaming small file quality music. We’ve traded quality for convenience.

    Now audiophiles are equal to film users. Expensive, harder to find, but we know what we use is “the best” and worth the extra effort. Fuji, Sony, Nikon have now packed “good enough” quality into small affordable packages. Is a full frame 35mm sensor as good as MF quality? No, but very close. VERY. And what do we trade off for slightly less quality? Smaller, cheaper, easier 35mm sensors (or smaller). They give us 90% of the MF quality, for 1/4 of the price.

    I’ve shot and hand processed thousands of rolls of B&W 120, and spent countless hours in the darkroom. I love film and MF a lot. But the cost, time, and hassle factor is getting to me (never mind the x-ray at airport issue). Plus I’m getting older, and I cannot carry my full Hasselblad V kit all over the world. I would LOVE to see a MF system, maybe even a fixed lens, manual focus, 100-1600 ISO would be plenty for me. Do I think we’ll ever see something like that soon? Nope. The only companies I see even trying this are Fuji and Sony. Hasselblad, Leaf, Phase are all deeply invested in the modular and expensive business model, and my guess is Sony is the only company that has the resources and finances to give something like this a try without going broke.I’m hoping Fuji tries, but I’m guessing not just yet.

    Heck, I’d settle for a simple digital Holga!

  86. Ed

    i will buy your medium format camera upfront zack, go fight the good fight.

  87. Bert McLendon

    Good god this would be a dream. come. true.

  88. Leif Hurst

    I took Peter Hurley’s workshop and shot his H5D-50 while he wasn’t looking (a death sentence for most). After getting the files and seeing the detail and the clarity (regardless of the 50MP) it was the worst thing I could have done.

    I had to have one.

    It’s like owning a Corvette and then someone tosses you the keys (they don’t take keys, I know that, but just roll with the analogy for a bit) to a Formula 1 car. You walk back to your vette, look at it sitting in the parking lot and instead of admiring it, you think, “You clunky piece of shit.”

    The sharpness and tonal range of medium format, even before processing, isn’t like anything I’ve seen from a D800e or anything in a DSLR format. Even my H4D-31, is so far and above my old Canon 5D systems that it pale’s in comparison. That is until you get above ISO 400 which is an absolute trainwreck captured on a noisy security camera footage. Shoot medium format you will find yourself time after time zooming in at 100% and having your jaw hit the studio floor.

    Then… and THEN when you print it. Game over, man. Game over.

  89. Peter Ort

    Just a thought. If it’s so expensive to do medium format, why can’t they create a new format that’s about double the size of a full frame sensor? It wouldn’t be as good as 645 and up, but it would be a decent improvement and would probably cost alot less in R&D.

  90. klarno

    As Jayne says: if wishes were horses, we’d all be eating steak.

    I doubt MF will become affordable anytime soon. 35mm format always had shallower DoF capability as a rule (it’s right there in equivalent apertures: for 645 and 6×7 systems, lenses that approach the DoF control of modestly fast lenses for 35mm are few and far between, there’s always a faster 35mm format lens and since almost all photos are being shared at low web resolutions for display on 6-bit monitors…the resolution and tonality advantages of MF are pretty much lost). The only photographers really using medium format are high-end commercial studios and fine artists. And the only fine artists who can afford them either have sufficient disposable income from another source, or have perfected their business model.

    The biggest bottleneck for re-adoption of larger formats is price. We’ve seen in the past few years full frame digital come below the $2000 mark (and now as low as $1400 with the D610 body), but 35mm format lenses are really still just as expensive.

    Today, smartphones, compacts and formats up to APS-C fill all the niches that used to be occupied by 35mm film. 35mm now fills the niche that used to be occupied by medium format (with some healthy overlap with its original roots), and medium format is no longer the accessible format it once was. It’s more like large format in terms of expenditure to get into the system, and it’s more like large format in terms of who’s actually using it. Digital really has, in broadest terms, reached a point where it is capable of finer technical quality than film ever was, and as a result everything’s been kicked down a rung or two.

    Probably the best thing for medium format’s affordability is that they’re not dependent on boutique CCD sensors, now that Sony is manufacturing medium format CMOS. But that much silicon, that much real estate on a die in an industry that would rather push things smaller and smaller, is not cheap. Full frame hasn’t exactly been in a hurry to become affordable, and MF is an even smaller niche. And with the general decline of the camera industry outside of smartphones, I doubt the situation will improve much from here.

    • palinode

      +1 for the Firefly reference.

  91. Matt

    As soon as I read this I started doing the maths on how much I could get if I off loaded my Nikon gear. I think I would fall short of the 6 to 8 thousand I think would be reasonable but I would get out there and scrape together the money for the rest.

    I would love it to be a system camera with a standard lens at that price but I would cope with a x100 type camera if I had too.

    I think that saying that it wouldn’t make sense for camera manufacturers to make a rangefinder styled mf camera (it could just have a EVF, I know sacralidge to some) doesn’t make any sense. MF was a niech relative to the 35mm market. Just as full frame is still niech relative to smaller format digital these days.

    I hope against hope that this will happen sometime very soon.

  92. Graham

    Great blog post Zack!

    I used to have everything at my disposal whilst studying photography and possibly only realised what I was missing when I no longer had access to it! Carting a 4×5 to the top of the Drakensburg Mountains is a huge pain in the arse, but the results make it worth it every time!
    Portraits on a RZ67 are just amazing…..they really are, but then you knew that!

    Don’t get me wrong, I love where photography is at, and I love these new Fuji cameras, but how I wish I had a medium format system again. At the current pricing it would be an extravagance, but hopefully one day it will be in reach.

  93. rich

    If you want medium format to live again, you need to use it, even film, that shows those with the power to make these things happen there’s a market for it.
    While I agree with everything said that it should be possible, we should remember that most of us are responsible for its decline. How many people (me included) have used mf in the past then moved over to digital as soon as we could. I worked in a processing lab for years and as soon as dslr’s became affordable the amount of pros who ditched their mf film cameras to embraced the new tech, and said ‘I don’t need you anymore’ was staggering. It was convience and speed over absolute quality that ‘mattered’, its nothing new, cameras have always got smaller and easier to use at the expense of something, usually the quality of the final image.
    Go shoot 120, get it processed somewhere, don’t grumble about waiting for it, its our fault, there used to be labs everywhere that could do it, we could turn round 120 printed and scanned in an hour, if enough people do it, it will happen.
    As for price, it will never be cheap, but there is a market for it, I’m seriously looking at the pentax, focal plane shutter and all just as if I return to freelance I need something to make me stand out from the crowd of run and guns out there, it looks tempting even with its limitations, but if fuji or Sony can pull something else out the bag, I’m open to it.

    • Dirk

      Rich, thanks for your brilliant comment. You nailed it for me.

      Zack, I’m aware that your post is about medium format photography. So apologies that the following remarks might be a bit off topic. Nonetheless you made a statement that I cannot let go by uncommented:

      “Let me first state that when it comes to photography, nothing ignites more nostalgia in me than the word ‘film.’ When I’ve been asked, ‘What do you think about film photography, Zack?’,  my eyes look to the heavens as I go back to the days of shooting photos and waiting like a kid on Christmas morning for them to return to me from the lab. All those days and nights in a darkroom learning how to print was such an invaluable education for me as a photographer; I truly feel sorry for anyone who has never had that experience. Seeing a print develop under a safe light was magical. However, after my heaven gazing reverie, I always sigh slowly, look whomever in the eye and say, ‘Yeah. Film is dead.’“

      Translates to me as follows: “Oh, how fondly I remember the days when I was a toddler and my granny was still around. I loved to sit on her lap, listen to her stories, learn from her experience. All those days and nights with her by my side was such an invaluable education for me as a person to grow. Oh, how I loved her lullabies and her fantastic apple pie. I feel truly sorry for anyone who has never had a childhood like I had. Learning from Grannie’s experience and wisdom was magical.”
      “Then, one day, I realized that she was really old. And although she was in perfect health, I decided to suffocate her with a cushion and turn towards my young girlfriend instead. Not only does she look prettier, she also has the better tits.”

      Zack! Please!

      Claiming that film is dead is as well-founded as claiming brushes are dead. Or oil colours. Or pencils. Or canvas.

      It’s an absolutely hare brained statement.

      You can’t use film in the commercial photography any more, I give you that. But there’s more to photography than the omnipresent, post photoshop, oversaturated commercial run-of-the-mill.

      A 17th century artist like Rembrandt used his imagination, his talent, his craft, his canvas, his brushes and his oil colors to create his famous painting “The Nightwatch”. Would he live today and would use his imagination, his talent, a handful of models and a Fuji X-whatever to create the same image, no one would give a toss and his digital version of “The Night Watch” would rot away into digital oblivion somewhere on Flickr or Pinterest. Guess why? Because, besides his incredible talent, his medium made the difference: Canvas. Brushes. Oil colors.

      And this is what film is, too: Canvas. Brushes. Oil colors. A tool to express your creativity.

      Besides music, painting and poetry, photography is the most relevant art form in the history of mankind, with film being the ultimate foundation of it for 100+ years: George Hurrell. Helmut Newton. Henri Cartier-Bresson. Robert Kapa. Ansel Adams. To name only a few.

      Everyone who considers himself a serious photographer shoots both digital and film. Not because he needs to, but because he has to, if he/she is truly passionate about it.

      Because film is an ultimate necessity if you want to feed the artist in you. Because shooting film requires skills and brains and craft and passion and dedication.

      Because being able to expose a film properly is an essential part of the art and craft that we all love so much. If you make a mistake while exposing a sensor, you delete the image. If you make a mistake while exposing a frame, your image is toast.

      I’m pushing fifty by now. I was formally trained as a photographer for three years during my apprenticeship from 1985 to 1988. I had to learn everything about film back then – its structure, its components, how to expose it, how to develop it: C41, E6, black and white. Being reduced to film, I was forced to prepare my shot thoroughly before I pressed the release button. I’m grateful that I had to learn my craft the hard way.

      I can judge for a fact that film brings out the artist in you, more than the most sophisticated digital medium format camera will ever be able to. And the day there won’t be any more films, I will walk out on photography for good. Because photography as an art form will have ceased to exist. Thank God we’re far from that, even if people like you state otherwise, Zack, carelessly and unfounded. I would expect you to advertise it heavily instead of putting it down.

      Your digital camera doesn’t matter. Your sensor doesn’t matter. Film does.

      Digital photography is a necessity and a commodity. It’s fantastic for what it is and I have embraced it as much as anyone of us. But as long as you don’t shoot film regularly, you may claim that you are a photographer. I assure you: You’re not.

      Cheers, Dirk

      • Zack

        Wow. Thank you Dirk. That was brilliant.

        But digital or not… I’m a fucking photographer. The medium doesn’t ultimately define me. Right? Someone who works in oil can’t say that those that work in water color are not artists. I know people who only work in Photoshop and they are absolutely artists.

        I can still hold my own with film though. I don’t want it to ever die off forever. I mourn the loss of 3000b recently. I have about 60 packs left and that’s it. It’s done. It depresses me. I LOVED Kodak 400CN and it’s dead. THAT SUCKS!!!!

        I haven’t bought it in years though. Companies can’t keep making what people don’t buy.

        But don’t say I’m not a photographer. I’ll kiss you for what you just typed out but I’ll fight you for that last sentence.

        Cheers,
        Zack

        • Dirk

          Zack,

          thanks for your kind reply to my off topic meandering. I appreciate your generosity.

          Apologies if I offended you with my last sentence. I never intended to question you as a photographer. Would I dare to do so, you had every right in the world to kick me up the arse whenever we might meet.

          My last sentence was meant in a general sense, not a personal one. But it was damn sure meant in a polemic sense.

          Imagine a cow, grazing. An empty bottle and a hammer on the ground in in the dirt. A chinch plug and four nails. Some bloke with an battered hat, a bow tie and a waistcoat on the front porch of a run down farm in the middle of nowhere.

          He starts to hammer the nails onto a plank. Winds a piece of wire around them. Puts the bottle underneath the wire. Adds an old pickup coil. Plugs the chinch plug in. Cranks up the amp. Strums the wire.

          A fierce, mean guitar sound cuts through the air like a crack of the whip.

          He switches the amp off. “Who says you need to buy a guitar?”, he asks casually and takes a drag from his fag end.

          You gotta love Jack White in “It Might Get Loud” for that. Top bloke.

          Jack is illustrating my point: Film is a canvas. A brush. Oil colors. A pencil. It is what a piece of wire, an empty coke bottle, a piece of wood and a hammer and some nails are for him as a musician. With bare basics, worth only pennies, Jack grabs our imagination and our attention completely. The brutal sound of his makeshift wooden plank guitar impression rocks just as hard as Jimmy Pages “Whole Lotta Love” riff on his expensive Les Paul.

          The thorough understanding of the very basics of a craft and the knowledge of how to leverage them effectively can make all the difference when it comes to expressing yourself, as Jack White demonstrates.

          And this is what I try to point out.

          Look, Zack, it’s only photography. We’re not curing cancer here. No one is a lesser artist only because he prefers water colors over oil colors or sensors and Photoshop over film. We all should use the mediums that floats our boats, without guilty conscience.

          But if we continue to neglect the medium film, we’re sacrificing a century old, established cultural heritage that has so much to offer in favor of a highly debatable convenience that yet has to stand the test of times.

          If someone came up with the plan to demolish Venice and replace it with Silicone Valley on the same location, he would end up in a straightjacket. But photographers do that and get away with murder. The discontinuation of the Kodak 400CN you mentioned in your reply is just the last of a sequence of impacts coming closer and no one seems to bat an eyelid.

          That humming sound in the distance is Ansel Adams, spinning in his grave.

          And now back to digital medium cameras. *sigh*

          Cheers, Dirk

          P.S.: Ice bucket challenge for film, anyone?

  94. Jeff Montgomery

    I have always longed for a digital Rolleiflex. One lens and no dust issues and a price point of around $8000. That is the nostalgic side of me wishing…. but what a sweet camera it would be.

  95. Tim

    I love my RZ67; I REALLY love my Mamiya 7, however ….

    I would even jump on a very straight forward Medium Format mirrorless X-T1 with all the important dials on top if Fuji didn’t want to gamble with their first digital MF being a rangefinder. That view finder, rear screen, relatively compact, include fast leaf-shutter lenses and at least a decent auto-focus system (that was aimed at you, PhaseOne). That could possibly be the last camera I ever buy!

    I wanted a Hasselblad H4D-40 for their True Focus, but went with PhaseOne primarily due to Capture One. PhaseOne back and Capture One is the combo for my skin tones and quick work flow. I get angry whenever I think of the money I spent and got a joke of an auto focus system. My main work horse (I hate to admit it) is really still my Canon 5DMkIII and again Capture One. That chip through Capture One is my combo for skin tone and lighting. Ninja-like auto focus, but I don’t like looking at my Canon files for very long cuz I almost always regret not shooting MF because I can see the lack of detail compared to MF. I’m just not satisfied, no matter how many thousands I’ve invested in red-ringed glass! I think the point of these last few long-winded sentences is that it needs to be compatible with Capture One somehow. It’s a wish list, so why not? Thank you Fuji. I’ll be pre-ordering as soon as you give me an address.

  96. adam

    hey zack.
    assuming the fuji gods allowed you to play with them and you’re allowed to talk about them, how about sharing some photokina info for those of us stuck in the usa.

    how’s that 140-400 feel attached to an xt1? will i need to sell one or two kidneys to be able to buy it?

    did you check out the 16mm? aside from being faster, is it worth replacing the 18mm with it?

    and is the 16-55’s lack of ois really something to be bothered by?

    and did you get a chance to check out the Leica M Edition 60 and its lack of lcd for reviewing images?

  97. Jay Turberville

    I’m not a pro, so probaby not your audience. But even if I were shooting for myself and simply wanted to take exquisite photos for my own pleasure (my reason for purchasing a 4×5 film camera a while back) I don’t think I’d want a medium format.

    I strongly suspect that you are confusing the qualities of extreme oversampling with the qualities of a large sensor. If someone were to make an 80 Mp FF sensor, I’m betting you’d get the same “wow” factor that you see today with medium format. I remember noticing a smoothness of tone in my B&W contact prints for both 35mm and medium format from years ago that I couldn’t duplicate in enlarged images. Grain was invisible and tones were smooth and creamy. That’s partly why I think the real issue in our digital world is the need to oversample the heck out of the image to get those same qualities.

    With film, we essentially had the same emulsions at different sizes. Small format meant enlarging by factors of 10 or more. Medium format cut that in half or more. That’s a big difference in end result and larger formats films were clearly the most effective way to “oversample.” Digital doesn’t have those same emulsion limitations. Theoretically, we could pack a full frame (35mm format) sensor with over 110 million small (2.7 micron) pixels. Think of it as “Kodachrome 5” with perfect flatness and lots more dynamic range. That would put over 600 pixels on a linear inch of a 16×20 print.

    And let’s not put this sensor in a DSLR, lets put it into a mirrorless body with a 4k viewfinder to keep things sized reasonably. This camera would accept lenses with or without integrated leaf shutters and would allow lenses all to optionally use the camera’s focal plane or electronic shutter.

    BTW, isn’t it kind of horrible that the example Land Rover image shows pretty nasty color moire on the shirt. Is that really acceptable in an image that is being shown to extol the virtues of medium format – even with a web-sized image? I find it odd that nobody seems to notice this.

  98. Jbedford

    I recently picked up a contax 645 with 4 lenses and a p21 back for a steal…since using it briefly, I can safely say that the quality of tones is beyond anything my 5d mark iii can capture. It has a sublime quality, and is certainly a step up for my clients and my portfolio

  99. Saad

    I love taking pics and camras
    .

  100. ROB

    Thanks Zack for the great article! Now, I am more considering going to MF. I heard about the Pentax 645z. On paper, it looks very DSLR like when it comes to ISO range and etc. but it doesn’t have a leaf shutter lens available yet. Anyway, I have the 1DX and it does its job well but after I saw some prints from a MF; I am really thinking about diving-in and call it a day. Cheers!

  101. Fabio

    “A digital Mamyia 7. Can you imagine? How amazing would that be? Am I the only one that that longs for one of these cameras?” NO. You’re not alone!!!!

  102. Kelvin Ch.

    I’m just a hobbyist, I started photography only 3 years ago. The only thing I’m quite proud of myself when I started is that I started with film, and I started with a Mamiya RB67 and Nikon N90s. Not surprisingly, even for a newbie like me the first time I saw the scans from my Mamiya I was really, really, really amazed.
    Not surprisingly, nothing digital that I own currently (apsc) can match what my ancient Mamiya does.

  103. Trent

    Speaking of Photokina… That James Bond Leica (Typ 007) sounds terrific, at least spec wise. Did you have a chance to play with it?

  104. Dennis Watts

    Is the introduction of Sony MF parts a sign of good times in the future?
    The Pentax, Hassy, and Phase One, that use the sony sensor are making great strides. The Hasselblad CFV-50c, is a great start in the right direction.

    The 645z is a “great” camera. The absence of leaf shutters is a is a deal killer for some, the inability to use technical cameras is also.

    The thing is, innovation is coming from companies run by bean counters. So smaller format (high volume) cameras are at the forefront of new tech. MF will advance just at a much slower pace.

    As for “If you could have a Fuji 645 or a Mamiya 6 or a Bronica like rangefinder how much would you pay for that?” I would be in at $7k-$8K.

    We can only hope….

  105. Echo63

    I agree entirely with this post, consider this me “signing the petition”

    given all the hype over “full frame” that Is happening at the moment, if Fuji released a medium format Xpro1/XT1 with a 35mm equivalent 24/50/90mm lens setup at a reasonable price, and advertised it as “fuller frame” they would make a killing.

    even if they just stuck a digital back on the old “texas leica” Fujica GW690 they would make a killing (as would mamiya/phase one if they brought back the 7II with a digital sensor)

    a nice lightweight, easy to use medium format rangefinder or rangefinder style digital camera, would definitely be in my bag, if a camera company made one, for a reasonable price.

    Zack, keep pestering Fuji, and hopefully we will see this camera.

  106. Amit Mishra

    I wana buy it …anyhow

  107. AntZant

    I still shoot loads of medium format film (as well as large format), mainly black and white.
    There is something about the physical nature of it all, and as you say, it slows you down, makes you a more considered photographer. It is ever so much more rewarding as well.

  108. brian

    I would absolutely be interested in a small (RF style) digital MF. Especially if fuji made it. Big time. Gimmie now. Gimmie gimmie gimmie.
    A full frame X100 is what i’ve been craving(especially with a fast 50mm lens instead of 35mm lens!!!)
    But a compact MF camera… Holy jesus!

    $3-4k would be doable. (Will need money for lenses… And a faster computer + beefed up hard drives).

  109. Daf

    I believe Rankin (well known Uk photographer) uses the Leica S system. Or did at least.

  110. Riswandi Koedrat

    Zack, maybe you can start an online petition for Fujifilm to produce full frame medium format versions of the X-Pro1, X-E2 and X-T1 with leaf shutter lenses that can synch all the way to 1/8000th sec with any flash, so that the next time you visit them, you can show them just how many people are anticipating FF medium format system from them. If they make a FF 645 format of the X-T1 and charges $6,000-$8,000, I’ll definately dive into the system. Heck I own an EOS 1Ds Mk II before moving to Fujifilm, instead of upgrading to 1Dx, so why not spend that money on a medium format instead?

    Cheers,
    Riswandi Koedrat

  111. jarWoodson

    DPReview, talking to Shigeki Ishizuka, SVP Corporate Executive, Deputy President of Sony’s Imaging Products and Solutions Sector and President of Sony’s Digital Imaging Business Group:

    DPR: Do you think that full-frame is the biggest size sensor that an enthusiast could ever need, or is there an opportunity for bigger sensors?

    SI: Bigger than full-frame? Of course there is opportunity there for medium format but it’s a niche. For now, thanks to developments in full-frame we can satisfy this need but there may be room to explore this opportunity (in the future).

    I’m going to fight for medium format even if it kills me. Game on, Sony……

  112. Alex

    I totally agree with you, however I would prefer some more “simple” and “specialized” medium format cameras like the Fuji GF670/GF670W Professional. A “X670W” would be great.

    • Kevin

      Zack – first and foremost I wanted to thank you for all of your inspiration, amazing work ethic, talent, and dedication to the craft! Your always thought provoking and well thought out presentations in all of their forms have helped me immeasurably in my career, and I am most grateful for the expertise and experience you have so openly shared over the years! As for medium format, I had been dying to get back to it and after your comments on image and file quality I scheduled trials at local dealers. After trials on both Phase and Hasselblad I opted for an H3DII-31 as that was within my budget and I liked the handling and focus system of the Hassy a great deal more. Once you have worked with the files from these systems there just really is no comparison to 35mm – even from my “tiny” 31mp sensor! This camera is simply awesome – the focus is insanely accurate and it is easy to work with handheld. I don’t treat it much differently from my slrs in use, and bring it on outdoor location sessions and weddings every weekend with awesome results! When my prints arrive I am continually amazed by their tonality and detail, and I am really excited to be able to offer my clients an even higher level of finished work – which is what is most important to me and why I chose to enter the profession in the first place. If the size/weight commitment of these systems could be reduced to a smaller camera body at a reachable investment, I am certain many shooters would opt in once they experienced working with this level of image quality. Camera manufacturers……….. bear in mind one of my favorite lines from Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” Once you shoot MF……………..

  113. Slavomir

    Amen, brother! Keep shaking your stick, if anyone is listening they’ll listen to you.

    I shot Pentax 67II for near 10 years and loved it…just got tired of the weight. Then I got into the DSLR…the Sony a900, the Canon 5D2 (what a piece of turd), the Nikon D800, and I really didn’t like any of them more than a couple months. Just felt like the 35mm I left 10 years earlier.

    I love the Fuji, but yeah, a rangefinder medium format would rock a shack full of gophers! I recently got into the Pentax 645D and love it…feels real and the files are stunning. But it is big…I won’t be hiking with it…more than a mile.

    Man, keep blasting that horn!

    • Zack

      Shack full of gophers! Hahahahaha!

      Cheers,
      Zack

  114. Michael Lloyd

    I would love to have a medium format digital camera that I can move around with and that didn’t require a mortgage. Some day it will happen. For now I still shoot a 4×5 and 5×7 film camera but I’d be lying if I said either were my go to cameras. I probably shoot over 1000:1 digital vs film. I develop and scan my own negatives, open them in LR and/or Photoshop, and print them on an Epson 4900. That’s pretty much a really slow way to shoot large format digital :o)

  115. Judith Pishnery

    I shot with the Bronica RF645 – that was/is a great camera, the lenses were super sharp. I always wished they would make it as a digital. I recently sold one body & 2 lenses (I still have one and the wide lens). That size, format, style would make an awesome medium format digital…….

    • Judith Pishnery

      And I’ve also used the H2D, and P1-IQ140 – both have superb image quality… (I do prefer the P1). On my wish list.

  116. MrGubrz

    i can haz plz? much format!
    ill take any of yer ideas!
    im also super confused as to why there is no mirrorless mf cameras out there?!

    also, is there something WRONG with the leica S? or just doesnt do it for you for some unknown reason?

  117. Mike

    Amen! I was just this the other day. I want my Mamiya6 to be digital. Now, Zack, you have some sway at Fuji. We know, as you’ve said, Fuji makes MF for Hasselblad. Fuji also makes a pretty awesome X system. They also make adapters for Leica RF lenses to fit their X system. Pull whatever strings you can to have them create a MF X100 type or a MF X-Pro type. Hybrid viewfinder etc. Make and adapter so I can use my Mamiya6 lenses. That’s not too much to ask. 🙂

  118. Bradley Hanson

    I completely agree with the core sentiment that there is nothing like that extra real estate, be it film or a digital sensor. What would get me in line for that camera would be Fujifilm coming out with a digital version of their legendary GW690III, the “Texas Leica.” 2:3 ratio means it seamlessly works with the rest of the X-Series, and it could shoot in 6×6 crop mode with the same OVF/EVF change in the X-Pro1/X100s viewfinders. Since Fuji made my favorite film camera of all time, the Hasselblad XPAN, they could also have a 24x65mm panorama crop mode and be the first to offer a digital panorama camera. That camera would never leave my hands. NEVER.

  119. Dirk

    Sorry, I’m a bit late to the game, maybe someone will still notice:
    The reason why there is no medium format rangefinder style camera is that sensor technology is not ready for the design. The key is the angle of incidence of the light. Current sensor technology can not go more shallow than about 60°.
    If you take half of the diagonal of a sensor and multiply it with the tangent of 60° you will get a minimum flange distance of about 60mm for the 53.9×40.4 medium format sensors (33*tan(60)), which is roughly the lower limit for the current digital MF systems.
    The organic sensor that Fuji,Panasonic and also other manufacturers are working on will fix that (try 33*tan(30)) and mirrorless medium format is in my opinion the main point to develop it, not a dramatic increase in dynamic range and sensitivity for small sensors that some seem to expect from it.

    • Zack

      Thanks for that info Dirk.

      Cheers,
      Zack

  120. Boehli

    You’re right ! live sucks without a digital 645 that is not as big as a printer !

    Fuji com’on !

  121. Yanik Wagner

    Totally agree with this essay. In fact I’ve been actively looking for a digital equivalent to my old Mamiya 6, my favorite camera ever, which was stolen from me and which I sorta replaced with a Fuji X-Pro 1.
    I love the Fuji but what I really wish for is a 6×6 mirrorless digital camera, preferably something like an enlarged X-Pro 1. That would be sick.

  122. grubernd

    actually it’s quite simple. we will get those medium format cameras, once the mayhem of “OH! DIGITAL!” has settled down. DX/FX sensors and everything around them seem to be reaching maturity, you buy a camera because you like what it does, not because it is *NEW* and therefore better than anything before it.

    give the MF guys a little time, they have a smaller audience due to higher costs, therefore slower iteration on models, but they will get there and when the mainstream MF-backs are really mature, then the small cameras will follow.

  123. keith

    I shoot with a little bit of everything. Depends on what I need to get done. Including Hassy and Pentax MF film. I just rented the 645z for the weekend and was very impressed.

    If Fuji is going to announce MF, encourage them to do it soon. I’m pretty close to pulling the trigger on that 645z but having another option at the same price point would be nice.

  124. Ben Henderson

    I really know nothing about this, but I do remember being impressed with the sensor sizes Red is coming out with… I assume their prices are even further outside the realm of possibility than Leica, but at least the tech exists, which means it should filter down to us mere mortals at some point in the next few years!

  125. Kristina

    Yes please!

  126. Joshua

    I would be $10,000 for a mamiya 7 digital from fuji or anyone else. I would prefer a true manual rangefinder system to fuji’s autofocus hybrid but I would honestly by either. It would be a perfect complement to my leicas.

  127. Broon

    I read this when you first published it. I couldn’t contribute anything to it as I have *nee experience with medium format or film, visually though I’m always in awe at the quality and depth of an image taken in this format and rather envious of those who have worked their *knackers off to be able to afford such digital systems. Because this type of system is so far removed from most people pockets I have decided to try FILM! yep those little or not so little boxes of voodoo. I recently picked up the Hasselblad 500cm with the 2.8T lens. Some tri-x 400, illford HP5, Delta 400. Where to start? (shrugs shoulders) I don’t know but I’m sure this is going to be a whole different ball game than shooting with my digital Fuji kit I’m even contemplating developing my own film…….its pretty exciting.

    I’ve been perving at various images taken with medium format film in B&W and there is just something about those images I just don’t see in todays digital shots but hey what do I know?

    *nee = nothing
    *knackers = balls

  128. Vinny.

    Late to the party, but for now if i want great detail in digital I’ll use the DP2M.

  129. natalie

    Hi Zach. I loved this article! I too love medium format. I’ve been researching film vs digital in medium format so i appreciate the insights. At this point I’m still using my Mamiya 645 AF with film, and have been saying I’m moving to digital. In your opinion, why does MF digital win out over film? I’m curious because obviously you use both. Is there a big difference in quality of the file and the finished print?
    Thanks!

  130. jeff

    I have the 645z and LOVE it. I would certainly however buy a mamiya 7 (or something in that vein) digital in a heart beat.

  131. Nasir

    If the same camera manufacturers that are pushing out DSLR’s and mirrorless gear made medium format cameras they know they couldn’t get customers to upgrade every 18 months for the price they’d be selling them at. That’s probably why they’re staying clear.

    It’s not about designing equipment you want to hang on to. It’s about selling you gear that you’re going to want to keep upgrading.

  132. Serge

    Good article.

    However, you totally missed another great option Rollei Hy6

  133. jacky

    One word: Sony. Now we wait.

  134. Vic Román

    I’m all for an affordable M format system.

  135. Fonk

    Agreed. I’ve shot with medium format (both P1 and Pentax systems) and LOVE it. The difference is clear. FF (35mm) is top of the line in my quiver for the foreseeable future, though, as MF is just too damn expensive. If you’re not already pulling in some serious bank from your photography work (or you’re wealthy by other means), it’s a hard move to take that next step up, as the cost is just so prohibitive; not just the bodies/backs either, but the lenses. A lot of the new MF lenses go for $5k a piece! I’d be all over it if it ever came down in price…

  136. Boehli

    I totaly agree with you. I Wrote myself some month ago a post in my own blog.

    Come on Camera makers ! Don’t be afraid ! … We’re lot of pro users waitong for that !

  137. Mark

    Zack,
    I’m going to rent the Pentax 645Z. Sure I’d love a leaf shutter, but the advantages of focus, handling, etc makes me want one of those. A bit smaller sensor than the ‘normal’ med format stuff…sure. But for my studio and on location publicity stuff, I’ll be that taste for me and my clients will be remarkable.

  138. Mike

    ISO between 50 – 200, an aperture ring, a shutter speed setting, a flash sync socket and a big fat sensor – thats all I want out of it. I don’t need any of the other stuff, don’t need an inbuilt meter, don’t need 4 different capture modes or 51 af points and 3d focus tracking. Price ? £3K / $5K or less.

  139. Pedro

    Yes! And make it in two flavors:

    1) For a start, fixed lens 80mm f/2 (or f/2.8 only if it makes it smaller and lighter) that renders like Contax 645 80mm f/2 Zeiss Lens and 35mm equivalent of 50mm NOT 40mm.

    2) And then, 3 lenses in 35mm equiv. 28mm (or 24mm), 50mm, 85mm (or 80 or 90mm).

    Make them both focus close so that one can shoot Headshots.
    Price BELOW 5k.
    Available in January 2015! Just kiddin’. Really wanted this!

  140. Tim

    Sony / Mamiya

    Now we wait to see if it’s 33×44 or hopefully bigger and please be leaf lenses and not the way of the Pentax. Ideally, a dual shutter setup like the Mamiya 645s. Probably going to use their 50MP CMOS sensor but there are rumors of 50MP 35mm frame A9 mirrorless so it sure would be nice if it was a full 645 frame in 80MP! It’s going to be an exciting spring, that’s for sure.

  141. Roy Turner

    Like you Zak, I shoot with Fuji X and that does many things fine by me.

    But I’m more a landscape worker than anything else, where bigger often really does mean better.

    When I compare scans from my old Fuji 6x9s with my X-Trans stuff, I just have to go with your logic of going for mirrorless digital medium format.

    I currently shoot most of my landscapes with Sigma DP Merrills, which are the only small format cameras that are capable of beating Fuji on IQ.

    But the workflow from Sigma’s Foveon sensor files is a major PITA for me – their RAW converter pure software purgatory with no alternatives.

    I rather like the idea of a beefed-up 645 equivalent of the Fuji 100T and if Fuji came up with a shutter-lensed trio of digital 645s with wide, standard and tele optics up to their usual standard, then even better.

    I won’t hold my breath though and would be almost as happy with something like a 645 X-Pro or X-E2 on steroids with a set of lenses to match.

    Here’s hoping 😉

  142. douglasgottlieb

    I want exactly what you described. But would be happy if some bold company would just test the waters with a premium, fixed lens prime, vintage rangefinder style medium format camera. Maybe call it an X200… If it catches on, they could do an interchangeable lineup. Who would be so bold as to try something like that?

  143. David

    The issue is, of course, NOT “would it be nice to have an affordable medium format digital camera/system. That question answers itself, at least if you come from the Wista 4 x 5, Horseman 6 x 9, Hassy, Rollei background as I do.

    The question is, given the Phase One and other (admitedly expensive) systems already out there, is there a substantial market ready and waiting to buy a moderately priced 6 x 4.5 or 6 x 6/7/9 prototype and justify the huge capital investment needed.

    That question can be only addressed with some serious market research, which (so far as I know) has not been done or, if done, the results have not been published.

    In the meantime, articles like this are informative and fun, but for us business types a bit lacking in meaningful information. The rubber hits the road only when there’s solid data in hand justifying a multi-million $/EU investment.

    • Zack

      I get that. The reason I write posts like this is because I know camera companies watch for blog posts like this and the conversations they spark.

      One thing working against a new medium format system is sooooooo many new photographers have never shot a medium format camera and don’t know what they are missing. I know I sound like an old fart stodgy prick for saying that but it’s true.

      If we keep beating this drum someone is going to make something happen. Someone is going to do it. I know they are. Fuji. Sony. Canon. Somebody new? Some old brand will be revived? Someone out there is going to bring medium format back. And not one of these “almost” rigs like the Pentax. No damn it. 645 or bigger.

      SOMEBODY MAKE THIS FUCKING CAMERA ALREADY!!!!!

      Sorry.

      Cheers,
      Zack

      • David

        Agreed and I hope it happens too! Just wanted to note that the bean counters will have to be convinced.

        In fact, as a Fuji/Nikon guy (Nikon just for sports assignments, where I’ve not yet seen an MILC to equal DSLRs), I’d tell Fuji not to mess around with FF, where they’d have to go up against competitors with better-known brands and FAR more capital, but instead to jump up to the next “niche” markets, digital 645.

        Make sense to you?

        And thanks for all of your good insights and Merry Christmas!

        • Zack

          My. Thoughts. Exactly.

          Cheers,
          Zack

          Merry Christmas to you too!

  144. Andy Schulz

    Hey there , I agree fully with you. I have shot nearly 90% of my artwork on MF bronica 645. One way at the moment is to use a bronica 645 with a Silvestri adapter and use the CFV 50C back or a used other back. As you I like a Makina 67 80 mm camera. I have a Polaroid 110B but I really consider to sell it as Film is getting really expensive. A Mamiya 7, full frame digital camera could be on the horizon . I heard Mamiya is planning together with sony to bring a mirror less camera to this world, but its a rumor. Until now I started to shoot a new art project “Pin Up’s in Modern Times ” with a H5D-50C camera with sponsorship from Hasselblad as you said,….its another world of Photography. Point. Sit down. As we germans say. But a sony RX-2 with a little zoom could be one step in the direction, 35-60 mm zoom lens. Global shutter , electronically shutter …not medium format but the same handling. Could be a start , we will see. DSLRs are over for me , why to schlepp around 20 Kilos if you can get all that in a mirror less camera for 8 kilos. okay 20 kilo MF is something different. We will see but I hope that next year :-)) we will see some innovations. Good to know that there are bloggers who think the same like me. A FF Medium Format sensor with the capabilities from the 50C Sony Sensor that would be a really new dimension. Good light Andy Schulz Art photographer munich germany

  145. Doug Park

    I’m hoping Fuji will jump on it and skip full frame. Imagine an X-Trans MF sensor… mmmmmmmmmmm… I’ll pay $5,000 for it.

  146. Daryl

    I like it! I’m with you on both the body and and choice of lenses.

    I’ve never shot 6×4.5. All my MF shooting was with 6×6: a Rolleiflex TLR and a Zeiss folding camera. I kick myself for selling the Zeiss. I may have to pick up one of these Bronicas myself.

    My X100s is helping me make some of my best photos ever (and the way Capture One handles the X-Trans RAW files–I’m playing with a trial version in a Windows virtual machine –may drag me back into proprietary software). A MF X-something-or-other (X-Pro 645?) would threaten serious damage to my bank account.

    I haven’t dipped a toe into LF yet. Soon …

  147. Jim Suojanen

    Very nice photos. And I would love to see a digital MR rangefinder to replace my retired Mamiya 6. But, recognize that your assertion that a MF image surpasses a 35mm image is an opinion, not a fact. Physiologically, the human eye CANNOT tell the difference in resolution between 35mm and MF standard sized prints at standard viewing distances; maybe between very large posters and certainly billboards.

    I spend all day looking at 512 x 512 images (MRI, CT and ultrasound) on enormous high resolution monitors while making life and death decisions. The images are amazing – you’ve seen them. And this is with a very short viewing distance of 20 inches or less. Millions of hours of research and billions of dollars went into finding an image/pixel size pleasing to eye while allowing < 1mm resolution and reasonable storage size. For really fine detail, while interpreting a chest x-ray, we go to images <5 megapixels. No human eye needs more than that; a small percentage of humans may be able to use more than that, but not many.

    Then again, maybe it's not the difference in resolution, but rather an optical effect you find more pleasing such as the narrower field of view at a given aperture or the transitions from foreground to background, which makes medium format "superior" in your eye. My belief is that some current 35mm digital systems can very closely approximate these same effects. I tried the 645Z, but found the images no better than images I acquired with a Leica M and 50mm Summilux – just my opinion.

  148. sebber

    Hi Zack,

    Had an interesting conversation the other day, your wish could be closer than you might think. With the sony 50mp CMOS medium sensor used by phase one, it now opens up the possibility for developing a rangefinder type of camera. The dslr the use right now has it’s limitations and also they have to invent. And they have the rangefinder technology with Mamiya’s history in 6 and 7 type camera’s. Who knows you will have a Phase One 7ii D one day soon…

  149. Marco Venturini Autieri

    I would love a camera just like the one that you describe.
    How much would I pay for it? No, I would not buy it (new). I would wait for it to become 2nd hand.
    …and perhaps this is why we will never see it. Digital depreciates too much. A manufacturer would only be able to sell it for a short while, without managing then to recover its costs.

  150. Pat

    Great article. I shoot Canon pro gear for my day to day stories but what I really love to shoot with is my Hassselblad 503cx and my Mamiya C330, especially for portraiture.

    I work for a daily news organization and this year was fortunate to shoot a portrait series with the Hasselblad on the nine living survivors of the USS Arizona. That camera got me in the door on one of the portraits. You forget how pretty film can be until you see some nice big scans. I’d love a digital back for the Hassy but they so expensive I’ll stick with film until I can’t buy it any more.

    One thing digital can’t beat is that wonderful sound the Hasselblad makes when you take a photo and crank the film advance. It’s possibly the best sound in photography.

  151. Derek Clark

    I used to look at my Yashica Electro35 rangefinder and wish that somebody would make a digital version. Then Fuji brought out the X100 and then X-Pro1…prayers answered and then some!

    I’ve been trolling Ebay lately for a medium format camera. From the Haselblad 500c all the way through tho the Mamiya 6 and 7, with Baronica in between. Each time I back off at the last minute, because I have a cupboard full of SLR’s and rangefinders with half rolls of film in them. I’m a digital shooter and don’t miss film, even though I plan to pull out my enlarger to demonstrate how it was done for my kids….some day.

    I’m totally up for a digital MF camera in the same form as a Mamiya 7. A tall X-Pro1 style body would be ideal and if Fuji were the company to do this, I would be over the moon. A Fuji MF with features like Focus Check for manual focusing and a similar button layout to the X-Series (hopefully they will finally stick to a consistent layout) would be great. How about a big X100 with a fixed lens and two conversion lenses like we have for the X100?

    Fingers crossed
    How did your stuff from the Bronica turn out Zack?bHave you posted any?

    Cheers
    Derek.

  152. james

    You want to shoot with a medium format rangefinder Zach? Then do it, the tools are still available, and those of us using them couldn’t be happier.

    Film is not dead.

    Should I listen to Miley Cycrus instead of Patti Smith because “Patti Smiths music is dead, everyone listens to Miley Cycrus”?

    Fuck that, do what you want, if you want it bad enough, do it, but don’t claim somethings dead just because you cant deal with its inconveniences and limitations, which harbor a healthy creative process, opposed to the digital process which promotes shitty habits and shitty pictures (sure, “beautiful” 24 megapixel, shitty pictures).

    The films still there, the cameras are still there, and plenty of us are still here using them.

    The digital camera market is in rougher shape thanks to smartphones, I see plenty of commercials for those everyday, but none about the new sony, canon, nikon what have you. To be honest, those companies will shrivel and die over the next few years if they dont scale back their businesses to match the size leica, phase one and hasselblad. And then we can watch the articles poor in about how dedicated cameras are dead.

    All because convenience is the only thing that matters to the western world, you and your peers encourage that with shit like “films too hard, I want it to be digital”.

    Film will be fine, there will always be a demand for it, a smaller demand then digital, but its sustainable and the cameras were made to last, people will keep them running.

    • Zack

      Yeahhhhh…. Still want a digital medium format. Yep. Thought about it. Still want it.

      “Fuck that. Do what you want.”

      I want… digital medium format.

      Digital does not equal shitty. I have plenty of shitty film photos to prove it.

      Film isn’t dying yet but it’s gasping for air. It will be on life support for a good while to come. I’m glad there’s been a bit of a revival for it lately but how sustainable is it?

      Digital medium format. I’m sitting here beating that drum until I fucking have my dream camera.

      Cheers,
      Zack

      • james

        Again, film having a smaller user segment does not mean its dying or grasping for air.

        It is sustainable, of coarse things will be discontinued in the future, but companies like ilford and arista will hold strong, they’ve scaled their businesses correctly and have strong support.

        All ferrania has to do is get the film dialed in and price it similar to kodaks current color offerings, and then we have insurance as far as color goes, because ferrania can and should become the ilford of color film if they do this correctly.

        Films good to go for a long time.

      • james

        The final thing I want to say, is that when your claiming this and that about the current state of film, your pissing on a hundred years of history and art, and your doing photography a HUGE disservice by disrespecting the companies that keep a great tradition alive.

        Look at Eric Kim, hes obviously on Fujis payroll just like you, but hes not kicking dirt on it, he doesn’t have to and doing so would hurt his image.

        Just because you prefer one thing doesn’t mean you have to bury the other.

        • Zack

          Not calling for the death of film. Just observing that it’s struggling.

          Not pissing on 100 years of art or art being created with it to this day. One of my all time heroes in the craft is Mark Seliger. He’s still rocking film.

          I’m not doing photography any disservice nor am I disrespecting film companies. If we can get some new players in the medium format game I think that’s a big service to the industry.

          There’s shooting jobs for Fuji and there’s being on the payroll. I sir… am not on the payroll. Neither is Eric.

          Film is great. Especially medium format and above. For me, personally, I can’t ever see why I’d shoot another frame of 35mm film ever again ever. Ever. Medium format? Yes. Large format? Oh hell yes.

          Know what else is great? Digital. Digital is great. Digital kicks ass. Film kicks ass. Photography kicks ass. There is amazing work being done with film. And amazing work being done with digital. And then amazing work being shot on film and manipulated in the digital realm. It’s a big fantastic orgy of light happening. Wheeeee!

          Put your stake in the film ground all you want and scream from every mountain top the beauty of film. That’s great. Just don’t discount digital in the process or fail to realize that, as sad as it may be, those film mountain tops are being quickly eroded by digital. I can get all nostalgic about that and piss and moan that some of my favorite film stocks are DEAD. Type 55* is DEAD. DEAD. 400CN for 120… DEAD. 100SW… DEAD. DEAD. DEAD. Fucking DEAD.

          3000b is DEAD!!!! OMG! 3000 fucking B is dead. Angry emoji. Lots of angry emojis.

          It’s NOT going to get better for film. There will be little resurgences but nothing that is going to fire up all the old plants to start making them again. I used to be a manager at a HUGE product studio that ordered $10,000 worth of Polaroid a month. They went digital and their Polaroid orders went to maybe $10,000 a year. Maybe that much. Where is Polaroid now? It’s not getting better for film. It’s getting worse.

          Please note at this point in the conversation that I am a supporter of New 55. Can’t wait for my packs to arrive one day. Also note I have four boxes of Impossible 8×10 in the fridge. Along with several bricks of 120 film. 1 box of 8×10 TriX. 1 box of 4×5 TriX. I have about 20 packs of 3000B left. 2 packs of 100B. 40 or so packs of 100C. 1 roll of 120 400CN. 1 roll of Kodachrome. 4 rolls of 120 160T.

          I’m not burying this thing James. The world at large is burying it.

          I want my digital. medium. format. camera and aside from instant and large format I’ll be happy as a lark.

          Lastly… the one issue many don’t address is yes… Film companies, like you said, who scaled properly are ok for the time being. But if you talk to folks behind the scenes it’s labs, chemical companies, environmental requirements that are changing, etc, etc, etc that will all be key to keeping film alive. If the chemical companies and divisions bow out then that deals another blow to film. Good labs aren’t as numerous as they once were. There isn’t ONE lab in Atlanta that I trust with my film. I have to ship it out. A city of 6 million people and not one good solid lab.

          Film is doing well because why?

          😛

          Remember. Film is great. So is digital. They are different. At the end of the day they are BOTH photography. Equally. Film is not better photography. Digital is not better photography. If you try to say one is more real or better than the other than you are just showing your ignorance to the world around you.

          Cheers,
          Zack

      • james

        Keep beating your drum, I do hope you get that camera, but leave film out of the conversation, thats all.

        • Zack

          Film has to be in the conversation because that’s the only other option when it comes to a diverse amount of medium format cameras. I get that it might be a “keyboard” vs. “piano” situation for some people but I’m not going to exclusively stay in one camp or another on this.

          Cheers,
          Zack

  153. BolognaBoy

    If someone can make a sensor with no borders, as in all connections are behind the silicon, you can start stacking as many of them as you like and making a larger format camera would cause a linear increase in pricing, compared to the somewhat exponential increase in full wafers.

    Not saying it’s easy or anything, but it’s possible. Whoever get’s such a sensor done first could start off small(even 1″) and sell to everyone using the same production line.

    I have zero knowledge about actual sensor tech, so take my words with a bucket of salt.

  154. tony

    shot mf never go back fuji ga 645 great unit!!!!

  155. Marcus

    ” Am I the only one that longs for one of these cameras? I can’t be. I can’t be the only one”.

    Zack, you are not the only one. I wait and dream about the time when there will come MF RF camera, best 6×9 format which is my prefered all time format, but what would make me the happiest man on this planet is 6×9 back for my Horseman VH 6×9 camera. Do you know VH? All movemnts with 1,5kg camera that allows you to mount hundreds wonderful old and vintage lenses, my loved Apo Red Dot Artars (I have 3), Protars (I own 4), Dagors (3), and beautiful soft focus Verito (2) and Eidoscope (1) and great petzvals (3). Is it ever gonna to happen that Leaf, Phase-One or any other brand will make Graflok mount digital back? Tell me?! Such back would give a new life to huge amount of old lenses!

  156. Tim Herschbach

    Zack, I’m a 5d mk2 landscape photographer selling my work up to 38×50. While the 5d mk2 makes an acceptable print that size for décor, I would really love to make the jump into MF land. I don’t want to feel like I have to stitch to get a stellar quality print. Shooting for stitching has it’s own risks. Sometimes the focus is off from one shot to the next. Sometimes the parallax error is too much to compensate for if I’m close to a foreground subject. Bottom line is, I want to focus on the composition inside the viewfinder instead of trying to imagine what it will look like once it’s stitched.

    I’ve just started reading about MF and the prices and options are a little overwhelming. Of course, if I sold my entire small sensor kit, I wouldn’t be far off. But I don’t think I could get by without having a backup system.

    Anyway, I’m with you. I just want a simple box with a big sensor and good glass. Weather-tolerance is a must. I don’t need super auto-focus with 148 points or 12000 ISO. I don’t need jpg output or half the crap that dslr’s have. Don’t need video or geotagging. Don’t need auto-exposure modes or white balance settings. Just a simple box that makes stellar quality raw files.

  157. stato

    Hi Zack :

    It’s almost a wicked pleasure seeing someone else also in pain at this Medium Format drought we’ve been in the last couple of years. Did you say about 15 years.
    This has precisely been the pain I’ve been carrying around since I got married and the children came along. I just could’nt afford shooting 4X5 sheet film any longer. And Hasselblad accessories I’d been collecting to round out my system had to be sold. I also hanged onto one of the last vestiges of MF in a 120/220 format camera : the Rapid Omega, a 6X7 format which was the last of my really great images in 2002/3.

    So how do you feel about the rumours about Fujifilm and Sony now (late 2014) stepping into MF ? Do you think we’ll see a revival of what you so eloquently elaborate on ? The love of our lives in pure unadulterated premium format quality. I image those brands comming out at prices a wee bit affordable that the Northern European manufactures. Right . . . ?

    I know I might sound a bit biased and old-fashioned but those makes make me think it might not be the real thing, Hell, just looking at your superb sample image again in this article makes me want to weep ! You at least had the Phase One to tide you over !
    I’d like to know what you suppose we’re in for here and if camera makers are heading back into “familiar-format-territory” here for the likes of people like you and I.

    Looking foreward to your response.
    Thank you and kindr regards with this lovely nostalgic article.
    Keep it up !

  158. Phil

    It has already returned!
    I just recently “saw” a Pentax 67 during my two week trip to France in November and it was soooooo fine! (I’ll be posting about that later on) And even just before that I saw another one: Fuji GW690 Prof. – it is the original idea of 120 film cast of metal. 😉 – I’ve put up some rush scans of the test roll I made with Fuji Velvia.

    Let’s put it like this: It will not die if we keep it breathing.
    Cheers!

  159. Chris

    Honestly, I always strive to learn new things about photography, as i am 23 years old and have only been shooting for a little over a year. I also did not ever think i would find medium format interesting as i have read a few things about it here and there and nothing ever really appealed to me as based on the size and as you stated low ISO, slow focus, etc.. BUT, that detailed zoom of the shot for land rover..took my breath away.
    This was an interesting segment. thanks Zack.

  160. Jeff

    What is the camera on the right side of the Bronica on the second picture?

    • Zack Arias

      It’s a Fuji X-Pro1.

      Cheers,
      Zack

  161. Morden

    Great post Zach which I just found. I have just made the plunge and bought the 645z and the new 28-45 zoom. I see you criticized it for not having leaf lenses but this is something I don’t care about. I think Pentax deserves a lot of credit for bringing the cheapest MFDSL to market. I want it just for landscape photography on a tripod and the files I am getting off it are awesome – by all reports it has the best image quality available in a camera right now – DR is amazing. I can’t wait till I get what a really bought it for and that is an awesome huge print. The camera itself is like a supercharged Canon DSLR to use albeit with slower autofocus and frame rate. Its the perfect camera for landscapers like me and it is just about in that affordable price bracket for serious photographers.

  162. Todd

    What I would prefer is an affordable Imacon scanner. I want to shoot 6×7 and digitize it for an affordable price. I don mind shooting 10 images, waiting a day to scan and then scanning only the best with the highest quality possible but I would like to do that at home. Digital is great for many things and it will continue to increase in quality, negating the need for larger formats. Optics and light field technology will address the desire for modern solutions to DOF, booked characteristics and the like. Those things are another 10 years away from professional mainstream. For the next 10 years, I want to shoot great film stock with awesome lenses and scan it with modern technology that makes the process simple.

    • Zack Arias

      I’d love if companies were still investing in scanner technology but it seems everyone is leaving that in the dust. It’s a very niche product now days.

      Cheers,
      Zack

  163. Alex

    Just stumbled onto this. Not entirely sure why people hate on the Leica S? Maybe I misinterpreted your words, but you seem dismissive of it due to price?$16-25k for a new body + sensor seems to be pretty much in line with other systems, with the exception of the Pentax 645z. Not to mention it’s actually portable, in the sense that it has dSLR like ergonomics and size. The lenses are pricey, but from the samples I’ve seen they seem remarkable, and with the Hasselblad adapter it’s possible to use legacy Zeiss lenses, which are downright cheap at around $1,000.
    I’d love to see a GF670 type medium format digital. One can dream.

    • Zack Arias

      I’ve only met one person ever who shoots with an S. I tried one for a day and it felt like holding a cinder block in my hands. The ergonomics are horrible IMHO. The sensor size is a 2x crop from 645, no leaf shutter, little to no rental support, the screen is horrible, etc, etc.

      If you can ever pick up a Bronica 645RF that is a full frame 645 rangefinder camera and imagine it being digital you will see exactly what I want in a medium format digital camera.

      Cheers,
      Zack

  164. john jackson

    I’m really late to the comment party, but I to am feeling the sadness of no good medium format options. I shoot automobiles and motorcycles for corpotations/editorial, and I find myself on a shoot renting a a7r and a 810 because the long exposure noise on my h4d is having me re-shooting a days worth of strobe and light painting work for a client……I found this thread because guy I deal with in the area loaned me a fuji xe1 for the weekend, and now I’m trying to budget for a XT 1 lol………I wish they made a new hassy or mamiya that made me feel as warm, fuzzy, and like a kid who just loves to take photos again

  165. Curtis Hustace

    MF = 16 bit color. NOTHING no full frame sensor can compare to that! I LOVE my Leaf Back, saving my $$’s to upgrade to a 50mp sensor to capture finer details in jewelry.

  166. Guy Owen

    I am not a photographer. I am a 61-year old fart that buys cameras and wishes he knew how to photograph! And I discovered medium format a few years ago, but never thought to buy one — except an old Yashica Mat 124 as a collectible. But I think I know decent photos when I see them, and as I’m due to retire soon I wanted to really get into medium format as I plan to travel across the USA in my waning years. Your article is the first one I’ve read that REALLY lays it out on the line. And it was a joy reading it! I hear friends and associates complaining all the time that their digital SLR results are “not detailed enough”. Their photos are boring, they say. I sincerely wish someone would build a reasonably-priced Digital Medium Format that us old fogeys could afford. I’m envious as hell of your Phase One. But thank you so much for sharing these thoughts.

    • Guy Owen

      And I wanted to comment on Film vs Digital — not to start a war, but to simply point out that these are similar tools with two different mindsets. I’ve worked 37 years in the Sign Industry and we went through this with the battle over Neon and LED signage. I love Film Photos and everything about them (especially black and white when it comes to medium format) — except the inconvenience, the disappearance of film choices, and the disappearance of ever-helpful local resellers and processors. And the ever-increasing costs. Like LEDs, digital is a new tool. It isn’t a false medium. And it’s damned convenient. After all the yelling and arguing in the sign industry over the merits of Neon, very few people produce it now for commercial signage. So, I’d rather embrace the memories of Neon — which can be as gorgeous as a sign can get in a very artistic way — while moving forward into the LED world to learn what that medium can allow. I think digital has done the same thing within photography. If digital ever becomes affordable in the medium format arena, it would be yet another great tool for creating outstanding art yet to come.

  167. Ito

    I have that Bronica R645 with two lenses. The lenses are both amazing, the negatives are amazing. I have people immediately picking it out from a set of digital files, sensing the different quality (not saying it is film, also the lens).

    Shooting with it is a pleasure, it is the perfect body (I personally love the vertical orientation being standard). For me it is exactly what the X100T is, an updated, modern rangefinder – except that it is not digital of course.

    If anybody could, or should, turn this baby into a digital one it is Fuji.

    • Pedro Mendonca

      I don’t think Olympus (micro 4/3 sensors), Fuji (APS-C size sensors), Sony (up to FullFrame, meaning up to 24x36mm sensors) will do this. Nor Canon or Nikon (up to FullFrame and some use Sony sensors anyway).
      The new Canon 5Ds has 50mp but it’s still 24x36mm sensor! One day they maybe able to fit 100Mp into that. So what? Does it get better image quality? Does it get better tonal gradations? No!

      It only gets better with pixel size (at least 9microns) AND 16bit Analog to Digital conversion. To accomplish that, a bigger sensor is the solution.

      Bigger sized sensor companies are Mamiya, PhaseOne, Hasselblad, etc… They are the ones that can make it.

      A Mamiya 8DR (Digital Rangefinder) would be a dream!

      • Pedro

        And so, Hasselblad made it! The new X1D-50c.

  168. Gregory Edwards

    Amen, amen, amen. Let it be so!!!

    I’m from that generation that you speak about who knew the difference between 35mm, 2 1/4 and large format. Someone will do this but not before we buy everything else first. Marketing is driving this show. The new Pentax 645Z is the camera I’m lusting after but it needs leaf shutter lenses. Or give me a 645 RF with focus peeking for $5000.

    Thank you Zack for this thoughtful article

  169. dario

    I’m an italian photographer and I’ve just read your post.
    I mostly agree with you even if I was born in the digital era of photography
    I’m saying this ’cause I had the opportunity to try the Pentax 645Z last year for a whole day, and yeah, the sensor size is simply superior to everything else I have (Fuji XT1 and Sony A7R): me and my mate see our shots on a 110″ calibrated projector se we really see every little shades in our images
    It’s floating around the web that Sony and Fujifilm are developing some medium format rangefinder cameras, one should be with the Sony 44x33MP sensor and we don’t know anything about the Fuji
    Ok, let’s get back to the topic! The price
    I’d pay about 4-5.000€ for a fixed lens medium format camera, but with at least two other optical converter (sold separately) to have the three basic focal lenghts I need: 35mm 50mm 75mm (or 85, but I prefer the 75)
    It’s a good price, high, but doable
    If we think that we can buy a Sony A7R for less than 2.000€ that has an image quality that outperforms the Nikon and should be actually the best IQ 35mm digital camera out there… and Zeiss also produces crazy quality 55mm f1.8 and the next 85mm f1.8 for less than 1000€ and 1300€… if we consider all of this, I guess the 4-5000€ (or $) price range could be doable for big companies
    I can’t say nothing about the sensor size, but I guess it will be hard to see a 60x45mm digital sensor soon –>> these new cameras will probably have a smaller sensor like the Sony, but they’ll be able to deliver superior image quality to any 35mm cameras
    I’m praying to see a cheaper medium format and I think big companies know that below the Pentax price range (9500$) there is still a lot of space… a lot of space
    Full Frame (35mm) are only now getting cheap (like the Sony A7 for about 1200$) thanks to the high volume, and so in my opinion the A7R is quite cheap for the quality it has got, I’d definitely say a 4-5000$-€ price range should be possible for a medium format camera with fixed lens

    PS I just desagree with you when you make that example of the restaurants. I’d say that high quality photography, so high quality cameras and lenses have never been so cheap like theese days (see the A7R and the very cheap Zeiss fixed lenses). with those 36MP we can print easily something like 1 or 2 meters, and if if almost nobody know it, we can print this crazy size with the Fuji X-Trans sensor… really, we did it, 2×3 meters… ok it’s not a medium format depth of field but photography has never been so cheap. Only the medium format is totally out of mind with his crazy price tag, that is a completely different market. I’m pretty shure before the next two or three years we’ll see some game changer in the Medium Format market

  170. Mark S

    Great article! In the 80’s I owned a Bronica SQ and got rid of it because was too bulky. I later bought a Mamiya 6 and loved it. I even add a Fuji 6×9 medium format and it was great too.

    I own a Phase One with a 16MP (square 1:1 format) sensor and now I am getting rid of it. Great quality image, but too bulky and lacking in camera features. Now, like you, I am waiting for respectable priced digital medium format.

    On a side note, if Fuji or someone else makes this dream camera then I want the option to shoot in the 1:1 ratio (square) format.

    Be there or be square, I can be both.
    🙂

    Mark

  171. Jano Lisboa

    Thanks for the article Zack. I really hope this new rumor from Fujifilm is true… I’m just an amateur photographer (professional musician) but I would love to have a compact medium format camera like the Fuji xpro 1. Even if they start making one with a fixed lens. I would take that 🙂 i have a fuji xt 1 and a Nikon D800 and I love both systems, although I take the Fuji over the Nikon when I travel 😉 I totally see what you mentioned about texture, color and being able to feel the image. It is incredible. I just hope it is not too expensive. Maybe Fuji could come up with a X100MF with a fixed 80mm for like 5000€? Too little?

  172. Rank Stranger

    Replace wherever you say “Bronica 645” with “Mamiya 6” and I could have written this article. I think you need to rethink of a MF sensor as if it were 120 film. I know nothing about this but my guess is the camera companies farm out sensor fabrication whether they tell you or not. Back in the day, the equivalent of what you are asking would be like saying, “why aren’t there any cameras out there that shoot 45mm wide film”? The 120 film was already at their disposal, all they had to do was put a lens and a shutter in front of it. With digital, you’re asking camera companies to come out with a whole new film format.

  173. Jessica

    I agree with you 100%! I’d gladly go without all the bells and whistles and buy a more affordable medium format. I wouldn’t even mind something more bulky in size. The goal in camera manufacturing appears to be small, small, smaller with more and more features that frankly most of us don’t need. If A person is spending thousands on a camera then they probably are using photo editing software SO ditch all those silly features on the camera. And if I need to record video then I will buy a video camera! Good luck and report back what you find 🙂

  174. Thyl Engelhardt

    As long as photo sensors are based on plates of silicon, MF cameras will remain as expensive as they are now, and, hence, the range of cameras we will see, will continue to be the same uninnovative stuff, simply because development must not cost anything, since the whole costs are sucked up by the sensor. (Which, incidently, is also the reason why cameras are now operated via cheap buttons and menus, instead of rotating, dedicated knobs and lens aperture rings).

    Only with some future, completely different, and of course cheaper (per surface area) sensor tech might medium format cameras come back.

  175. brandon ward

    My dream system would be the equivalent of my Mamiya6, but without the fussy film advance lever, lol. 40 – 50mm fixed length f/3.5-4.0, 75mm f/3.5 (2.8 would be great, of course), and one portrait lens (the 6’s 150 isn’t exactly all there). That’s it. Keep it simple + one big-ass sensor.

    Build the product. Let the customers show the world what “something different” (even if it’s new-meets-old) means.

  176. Michael Russo

    Good article. I agree whole heartedly. I love my medium (film) formats. Not just for the resolution but the different formats. To be fair to Pentax, you can get leaf shutter lenses. I know, it might be the same thing….

  177. Michael Russo

    When I think about what you are saying, what comes to mind is that we no longer have the competition that drives innovation. Camera companies don’t actually make the sensors. Electronic companies do. Yes, some dabble in the camera market like Sony but the drive for innovation is not there. Why do manufactures stick with the 35mm style format? If profit is the only motive, then the shortest path to that profit will be taken, especially if you are the only game in town.

    Fact is, many of these camera companies like Pentax almost went belly up. The cost to retool was massive. Only companies with deep pockets could make this transition easily. Most (if not all) of these camera companies don’t make their own sensors. Canon being the possible exception.

    • Robert Wisbey

      A digital RF 645 with bellows (like the Fujica GS645) would suit me down to the ground for the following reasons:
      – simplicity
      – compact and pretty much pocketable

      I doubt it would ever happen, because these days most systems seem to be built with AF.

  178. Deirdre

    Zack, I’m sitting here in a Cracker Barrel while my daughter and husband are playing checkers. I MISS medium format!!!!! I used my YashicaMat and I was lucky to use the Mamyia RZ cameras back in the day. Seeing this post about the rangefinder medium format cameras to become digital would be my dream.

  179. Lorenzo

    Keep in mind that most of the medium format available today is no larger than 48x36mm (exactly 2X the size of 135 format) and a number of products are actually smaller, 44x33mm, sensors. I’m only aware of one medium format back that actually covers close to the full 645 frame: Dalsa’s 53.7 x 40.3 mm CCD as used in one of the Leaf Credo products, and even that is a few mm shy of 645.

    Mathematically speaking, the difference between digital “full frame” and digital “Medium format” this is less significant than the difference between “full frame” (or 135 format) and APSC. “Full Frame” being 2.37-2.6X larger than typical APSC implementations, while Medium format is typical only 1.71-2X larger than “full frame”

    Now if someone would come along and offer a true 6×6 sensor (56mm x 56mm) …

  180. Bennybee

    I totally agree. I once had an RF645, sold it and now miss it. I want a digital RF645 too. An affordable one. Thanks for this article.
    Kr

  181. Oz

    Holy Mother of God!
    somebody with commonsense
    Pro photographer for 30 years have bags of mamiyas bronicas and
    horseman 45 gathering dust, don’t wanna sell em, can’t use em.
    Cannot get a straight answer on what digital peice of junk back to bolt on to my
    RZ or LX horseman to make it work

  182. Eric

    OK, mostly I agree, medium format was great. I started in like 1980 with a used Bronica ELC that would have been new in the late 1960s. When it came out that some cool fashion guy I was trying to emulate (I forget who it was) was using a Pentax 6 X 7 I moved to that system. At some point, I don’t remember when, I switched to the smaller Bronica ETRs whih offered the 645 format, probably because the Pentax was too hard to schlep around and with a huge focal plane shutter and associated huge mirror shook like the San Andreas fault every time you pressed the shutter. From there, maybe I was short on cash, I moved to the aged Mamyia C330 TLR (which I still have and maybe want to sell). Negatives from all those cameras were just wonderful.

    But while it would be cool to see an affordable medium format camera with a digital sensor, I don’t really see the downside of shooting with a dirt cheap used medium format system and then investing in good scans. I’ve always used a tripod, both for landscape and portrait work and the primary advantages of digital, not having to think about film, as somewhat negated by the slower more deliberate process of working with a support of some kind. I guess clients (I no longer shoot professionally) like the instant gratification of seeing the images immediately on a tethered screen is worth something, but I’d rather have an assistant on hand to reload film backs than invest the equivalent of a year’s college tuition in digital medium format. Prices would have to come WAY down for that, like down south of $5K. Maybe that could happen but I think the camera companies make more money focusing on amateurs and aspiring professionals some of whom can afford 35mm format pro equipment than on the few studio professionals who really need larger formats.

  183. BasicLearner

    Is Hasselblad H5D-40 with 80mm lens (new) $9995 is currently the best option to enter MFD?

  184. Rex

    I was shooting Pentx 67 and 645 with the 67 lenese. Wonderful quality.

    Always disappointed the Pentax did not introduce a 645 digital back for the basic camera. The body had the batteries, so power should not have been a problem.

    With all the Pentax 645 users out there, I think they missed a large market of photographers willing to upgrade to digital.

  185. Eric Woods

    Seeing this 2 years late on the heels of acquiring two medium format film cameras in the last 6 months. Lucked up on a Hasselblad 501c deal I could not let past me last year, and a near repeat on a Mamiya RZ67 kit I picked up last week. I have a full 2 body digital set up that I use largely out of convenience, but any time I can I use the these two. If someone made an affordable medium format back or a low cost medium format system gear trades would go a flying.

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  189. Simon

    BUILD IT AND THEY WILL BUY

    Zack has written a great article asking the very question I go to sleep mumbling at night …. “when will a digital medium format affordable rangefinder be born”?

    Like really give me a Digital version of the ‘Bronica RF645′ and I will be the happiest man in pajamas.

    If your listening FUJIFILM, yes you. I have been as happy as punch with how you have taken chances and created what must be one of the most innovative and exciting photography brands on the planet. So I point the finger and say… “MEDIUM FORMAT X100 PLEASE’.

    Great article Zac …..

  190. Lorenzo

    HI Zack,

    Your prayers may soon be answered? I thought I would leave a comment even though this post is a little older, because of recent developments in the market-place.

    If I can pick one little nit, technically speaking, your crop or crap video may overstate the case a little when it comes to digital.

    The difference between “full frame” and the crop formats, on a per-area basis is actually more dramatic that the difference between the majority of digital medium format sensors and “full frame”

    Full frame is about 2.25X to 2.6X larger than typical APSC crops (1.5X or 1.6x) and 4X larger than m4/3 sensors (2X crop)

    By comparison, because we’re not seeing 645, 6×6, or 6×7 sized digital sensors, but rather mostly 48×36, 44×33, 45×30, the jump in sensor area from Full frame to “digital” medium format tends to be about 1.6-2X larger.

    But, that’s a minor quibble really. There’s a threshold that’s crossed somewhere where you see a difference in the look that’s more to do with just resolution. Digital sensors already deliver tons of detail compared to film, you can make huge prints from a typical DSLR stopped down a bit to reasonable apertures and with good lighting. That last part is really key. I still remember being stunned by the detail I saw the first time I shot with studio lighting, ad that was with a lowly 12MP APSC camera.

    A lot of medium format output is produced in a more controlled lighting environment and that makes a giant difference. So to go to your points about moving the advantages of medium format into a more convenient digital camera, Hasselblad’s new X1D seems to address many of your points, apart from the smaller than 645 size. Setting that aside. It’s very compact, much like the last 645 rangefinders, it’s got AF, is built for leaf shutter lenses with 1/2000 flash sync and used a Nikon TTL compatible hotshoe, which means that you’ll be able to get the most out of all kinds of lighting set-ups and advanced strobe features on the go or in the studio, and the body is less than $8000 new.

    I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on it.

    • Saha

      a few seconds ago
      Well in terms of the sensor size..does 44x33mm make a true Medium format category? If we compare with the 54x40mm sensor size in digital format..this shd be positioned as APSC MF…isnt it? Same goes for Pentax 645Z..thats again a crammed 44×33 and not a 60×45…shd have been tagged as Pentax 433Z? Yes in Digital MF sensor whether CCD or CMOS..max possible till date is 54x40mm and not 60×45. However now that we have 44×33, 48×36 and 54x40mm sensor sizes in digital MF…companies should tag the product category right. Just a basic thought…24x16mm is not FF but 36×24 is..so in MF category..probably 54×40 is FF MF and 44×33 is APSC MF. Back in 2005..CCD sensor era intially the digital MF sensor size that could be achived was 44×33 due to technology limitations..and manufacturers were happy defining that as a digital MF sensor as against a minimum 60x45mm in film era..later tech evolved to create 48×36 and 54x40mm in CCD and now we have 54x40mm in CMOS (2016)…from both Hassy and Phase..thanks to Sony. So does it make sense to categorise both 44×33 and 54×40 as FF MF?