Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Next-Generation Medium-Format Cameras And Backs
The reports of the death of medium format in a digital age seem to have been greatly exaggerated
If you're reading this, there's a good chance you own a digital camera. That's a rather safe assumption, as digital cameras have become a regular part of the modern professional photographer's life. It's not equally safe, however, to assume that most pros shoot digitally with a medium-format camera.
Until recently, the industry standard for blending digital imaging with medium format was adapting a digital sensor to fit a traditional medium-format film camera via a digital version of the film back. It's certainly a viable model, and many photographers will continue using it for years to come. After all, it offers an advantage that 35mm shooters don't have—using the same body and lenses for both film and digital capture.
As 35mm-format digital cameras have continued their steady rise in resolution, many photographers have pondered the uncertain future of medium format. Recently, though, manufacturers have begun to introduce completely integrated medium-format digital camera systems designed for digital from the ground up.
Hasselblad's H1D builds on the company's first auto-everything body, the H1, and merges it with its own Imacon digital back (one of the early benefits of the Imacon-Hasselblad merger). Mamiya has announced the new ZD, a 22-megapixel, medium-format digital camera designed to function in much the same way as a typical 35mm digital SLR. And Pentax is capitalizing on its experience with film-based, medium-format cameras and getting into the integrated digital market with the 645 Digital camera—essentially, an all-digital version of the popular 645 film cameras. These recent introductions prove that the death of medium format has been greatly exaggerated.