Monday, June 23, 2008
The Fall And Rise Of Medium Format
New technology, a commitment to developing the very best image quality possible and a thriving rental market all have contributed to a renaissance in the digital medium-format category
With a camera that's an open carrier for both Leaf and Sinar (also to be marketed under the Rolleiflex moniker by Franke & Heidecke), the design differs from Hasselblad's ideology of the integrated system but, in essence, the quality of the system was paramount to its design. “The future in medium-format systems that will prosper are those that deliver complete solutions to the pros,” says Koch. “But we've also made sure that our camera system is a self-contained solution that guarantees the best possible quality due to its perfectly matched high-end components. We're aware that the demand for single digital backs is noticeably decreasing in favor of complete system solutions where the individual components are perfectly matched to each other for ease of use and superior quality.”
Estimated Street Price: $27,995 (Leaf AFi 5, 22 MP back—body, back and waist-level finder); $25,995 (Leaf AFi 6, 28 MP back—body, back and waist-level finder); $35,995 (Leaf AFi 7, 33 MP back—body, back and waist-level finder).
Estimated Street Price: $36,500 (Sinar Hy6/e75LV—includes the eMotion 75LV (Live Video) 33 MP back, 2.5-inch OLED display, 80mm AFD lens and waist-level finder); $38,000 (Sinar Hy6/e75LVr—the same, except a new revolving adapter plate means there's no longer any need to remove the back from the body to perform rotation).
As for the future, will sensor size be improved?
“Enough is enough is really up to the market,” says Leaf America's Rezzonico. “Remember full-page ads 10 years ago advertising 4 MP sensors?”
Showalter sees no big announcements in 2008 for Hasselblad in this area. “We're obviously a tech company, as well as a photo company,” he notes. “But new sensors up to 60 MP isn't an absurd statement.”
Yet higher pixel count and bigger data flow don't necessarily equate to what professionals need.
“We feel that the continuous demand for digital backs with the highest possible pixel count has actually decreased,” notes Sinar's Koch. “A number of our customers have issues efficiently handling enormous data volume. We're seeing requests for digital backs equipped with up-to-date technology, but moderate pixel counts.”
Adds Phase One's Christiansen, “When it makes financial sense, we'll see bigger sensors. It will always evolve in some fashion. I don't think we've seen the end of the megapixel race, but there will be a lot of new things on the table from a number of manufacturers besides pixel count.” With new developments on the horizon from a multitude of manufacturers, it seems medium format has found its footing in the digital age.