Thursday, March 27, 2014

War of the formats

Medium Format Cameras
Pentax 645D MF Camera

Medium format is the next tier of camera in the evolution of cameras, for those who did not know this they are very unforgiving of improper setup and any mistakes you make will be evident in the images you take immediately. Digital medium format camera bodies typically range in price from 10,000 to 200,0000 dollars. 

Medium format cameras are primarily used in a studio and mounted on tripods for field work due the bulk and various perks that like image stabilization that high end consumer cameras enjoy. Frame rates don't usually go beyond 2 FPS at full resolution in camera raw format.

Sony, and Pentax are the currently contenders for the chance to be the first in their peer group to announce a brand new medium format camera. Canon and Sony and Nikon are the only ones that have never produced such a device previously to my knowledge. Canon was allegedly intent on releasing a medium format camera in 2013, but no news means vaporware camera to me.
Nikon has stayed very quiet about the development of any new gear, giving the appearance they are just treading water by re-branding current camera stock and adding small improvements to them without really offering any price advantages over the competition. Complacency, if even if it's merely the appearance of complacency is not a wise move for Nikon. 

Out of all the companies mentioned here, theoretically Sony would have the advantage in this because their imaging sensors power almost every camera on the market. They did gain any serious recognition until recently for their still cameras, their lack of experience in this is highlighted by problems such as UI design, button placements etc.

Kodak was still a major player in the CMOS market until 2012 when it sold of it's imaging division to avoid bankruptcy. Leica, Mamiya and Pentax were customers of Kodak's medium format sensor.

Pentax seems to have stayed in the shadows of the public consciousness, they have what appears to be some very respectable crop sensor digital cameras in the K5 and K6 series in addition to a medium format camera that retains a similar moniker to their M.F. competitors (Mamiya & Hasselblad).

Markus Landsmann has gained recognition for using the K5 in his excellent pictures in the google plus forums. You can purchases his images on Zenfolio, just follow the link provided.

New sensor formats will almost guarantee the need for new glass (camera lenses) and possibly a new shutter system as well. The sensor foot print of existing lenses is inadequate for these new behemoths. Focal plane shutters don't seem like a very practical solution for medium and large format cameras, so I'm hoping there will be some sort of change up there.

Sony's rumored medium format camera will be mirror-less (99 percent certain). Ricoh, the parent company of Pentax will be naming their successor to the 645D as 645D II. Rumors surfaced in 2012 of Canon's intent to release a medium format, and more rumors recently this year but so far nothing factual has surfaced. If canon does do it, it will be showcased at PhotoKina.