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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

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I wouldn't buy one, but I would certainly hire one when I knew it would get some use.

I already have a medium-format camera.


Isn't that what Hasselblad just did?

[Ordinary people don't buy cameras that expensive. --Mike]

"The last time something like that happened was probably when Canon switched to the EOS lensmount way back in the '90s . . . ."

How about the original Four Thirds in 2003?

". . . you can use the same set of lenses with a DSLR-like body . . ., a rangefinder-ish body . . ., and the various digital-brick shapes . . . ."

Isn't that also true for Four Thirds today?

Thanks.

[Your first point is well taken, and I think I'll add that to the post (for which thanks), but I'm not aware of any Micro 4/3 body with a rangefinder-style OVF. Unless you mean clip-on types? --Mike]

Any MF sensor to which Fuji would have access would most likely be a Sony design. So Sony would continue to lead the charge in that sense. No (almost) pun intended.

Not for me, at least not for the sake of sensor size. Given what APS and FF sensors can do now, I can't imagine why I'd want a separate larger sensor system, with its disadvantages in size, bulk, storage, and likely price.

Sure, on purely intellectual, philosophical and emotional levels, I applaud the idea. And I would of course appreciate its existence in the unlikely event that I might need to rent an MF kit one day.

On the other hand, if Fuji, or anyone else, made a body with the shape and ergonomics of a Hasselblad 500 (including the chimney finder), but with a common mirrorless mount and APS or FF (but more square-ish) sensor, I'd be intensely interested in having one.

If Fuji produced the GA645Zi in digital form, say an X645 with 45 x 30 sensor (coincidentaly S2 sized) and priced it around 2-3 times the price of the X-Pro2, I don't think that could possibly fail. Surely here is one of the last market gaps in traditional form and function, if you excluded the TLR.

I am a Fuji fan, not an advocate. They suit me but not everyone and I'm cool with that, but in a way, that is the key to their success.

They are a little bit different. They appeal strongly to a particular niche of mainly well heeled enthusiasts, as well as professional travel photographers and photojournalists, in a way that nobody else does.

They combine a bit of old school romance and a traditional control layout with entirely modern, practical and up to date technology.

They also have a very well thought out range of excellent lenses. They are not cheap, but they provide quality for a reasonable price.

In that sense, their fan base is not universal. They are too expensive for some, too quirky for others, and the more is better crowd are not interested.

But for its fans, there are no alternatives that provide the same experience for the same budget. They are therefore loyal and willing to invest.

Fuji really don't make sports cameras, but a professional landscape and studio camera is a different matter. It's all about tonal depth, DR and resolution. In that sense, MF would have the advantage over FF, and would not compete with their APSC cameras (note to Sony).

If it also adopted the viewfinder and AF from the Xpro2 (it would probably just be a larger Xpro2) then it would also be a lot more refined, lighter and more useable than any other MF offering.

The challenge would be to introduce it at the right price point, say around $5000 or less. If they could do that, it would cause something of a revolution.

The only real competition would be the Pentax 645, but that is a large beast and not that inexpensive. Ricoh also don't have the kind of brand cachet that Fuji do. After all, Fuji have been making Hasselblad's lenses for ages.

I always loved the Fuji MF 'point and shoots' - unfair label, but they were brilliant little 645 machines that gave you a huge neg without a lot of effort. I know a lot of wedding photographers that used them to complement a 35mm system for weddings, giving them a a big negative for very little extra weight. A self-contained medium format machine would be a great addition to a fuji kit, whether it be a digital 645 or more a 'Texas x100', to mangle the old nickname for their 6x7 and 6x9 rangefinders...

No, I wouldn't. For the photography I do, there is no interest in having better sensor resolution than I have currently with a 24MPx APC. Buying new, large and expensive lenses really isn't a winning proposition.

Then I wouldn't buy an APC Fuji either: I already have an armada of good enough lenses for my Pentax, it has a roughly equal quality sensor and it has IBIS. True, it has a mirror, but the body size is still close to my beloved OM-4 (which sort of proves that the mirror per se is not the issue).

A physically quieter shutter might be nice for acoustic concert pics (I get invited to do that occasionally) but the K3 next to my head is already quieter than a Canon 5D-II on the other side of the room. I use spot metering on M and centre-spot focusing using a back-of-body button.

I can't see the interest of a K1 either. So for the moment, I seem to be immune to New Camera Envy... although a more up to date 24-70 would be good, and maybe an A2 printer...

It depends (and this related to Gordon's complexity post) on how elegant it was designed from a usability point of view. I would not want a beefed up, bristling with buttons monster. I like the new Hassleblad in that respect. I'd be comparing the shooting experience to, say, a Hasselblad 503CW.

It would have to represent something significant in photographic output. Very least, for me at least, smooth tonality and wide dynamic range (hallmarks of MF digital anyway) and some Fuji sensor creativity. I'm looking at you SuperCCD S5 pro!

I keep reading about this mythical affordable medium format option that Fujifilm might release. However so far no one explains how Fujifilm could dramatically undercut Pentax or Hasselblad's pricing.

Where would the savings come from? I imagine they're stuck with the same base sony sensor the other medium format players currently use. According to Ming Thein the Hasselblad X1D-50c's sensor costs approximately $4K per unit, which provides an awful expensive floor to the price of any future competitor. Perhaps Fuji is willing to place a much bigger order in order to drive per unit price down but how much stock\risk could they possibly take on?

The big question in my mind is if--as rumoured--both Sony and Fuji join the "affordable" medium format club will that expand the market enough to meaningfully drive sensor costs down or will they all just fight over a few potential customers?

I can't really see for what I'd need 80 megapixels. If I'm ever gonna do a project which involves huge prints, I'll probably rent a system.

Back in my film only days, i used a Fujifilm medium format camera that had on it a very sharp lense. Fuji actually has significant MF experience in all the MF film formats, and pretty much were the place to go for the MF rangefinder.(not to mention their super view camera lenses.

Most likely Fuji's new entry will be what is called a Medium Format camera, but will in fact be (as is the new Hasselblad) a Macro Four Thirds camera. A 6x6 sensor (technically difficult and prohibitively expensive) would be more interesting.

"a rangefinder-ish body . . ., and the various digital-brick shapes"

"I'm not aware of any Micro 4/3 body with a rangefinder-style OVF."

I read the "ish" and "shapes" parts to mean a viewfinder, even an EVF, in the corner of the body. Sorry and thanks.

[I see what you mean... --Mike]

Shouldn't these be called large-sensor cameras? "Medium format" is a film term for the numerous 120 film formats. Plus I doubt we'll ever see 4x5 or larger digital cameras for the general photo market.

I think there is a strong possibility they will make a medium format camera. They have a history in medium format so the lenses will not be a problem for them. The lenses are the really important component. From my experience one thing Fuji has completely hit out of the park is the lenses. One may or may not like the use of manual controls on the cameras, but the lenses are just fantastic. Now if they would just hurry up with that 23 and 50 F2...... :-)

Also, 1987 for the Canon EOS introduction.

I thought it was absolutely insane at the time--totally orphaning their entire current user base! Meaning that everybody with any experience with Canon would be saying horrible nasty things about them to anybody who would listen. They seem to have survived that nicely, though (possibly by largely replacing their old users with new ones?). (Luckily I don't make my living by prognosticating the fortunes of camera companies.)

Obviously a complete lensmount redesign every now and then is a good thing; technology changes, and an electronic interface to a lot of the things in the lens was a good idea, as was the wider diameter.

"[Ordinary people don't buy cameras that expensive. --Mike]"

I don't know about that. The new 'blad with three lenses is about USD14K. That's pretty easy to do, even in 35mm land. Plenty of people own a Canon 5DsR with three L zooms and a couple of primes. That's the same money, near enough. More enthusiasts own Nikon D5's than pros. It might not be a majority but a sizable minority will own that much camera gear if they're enthusiasts.

Gordon

[I guess we're defining "ordinary," but we did the metrics pretty thoroughly on this at Photo Techniques...sent out 1500 questionaires (I think) three years in a row to random subscribers and got better than a 50% response. What we found was that there was a very clear shelf around $2k when the question was something like "What's the most you would spend on one item of photo equipment?" That was the mid-late '90s so I could believe the number could be $3k or even $4k now, but I believe *most* enthusiasts wouldn't buy a $9,000 camera body even if it is medium format and high status and just what they want. The number who would would be limited to those who could stretch to it if it was their heart's desire, and those who aren't price-sensitive to $9k purchases, and I know those people exist. And granted there's more wealth inequality now. But I did say "most." --Mike]

I enjoy using my film Hasselblad, so the answer would be yes. But there are caveats, namely that 35 mm is more compact, likely to be faster than MF and the quality is already great. So I would most likely be required to have a system smaller than MF of some kind in order to be able to do action, move with a compact system and to use some specialist lenses. Owning a small format system, in turn, leads me to money: even if MF prices continue to drop, it's not easy to justify a MF system since the expense of two system is great and 35 mm works very well.

In practice, Fuji can choose to compete with the established MF players. Maybe they can introduce a viable alternative to the Hasselblad X1D. But it's a small market and I doubt that Fuji can offer something significantly cheaper than the other companies in the next few years. So even if Fuji would make a very compelling camera, the entry cost to the system would be too high for most, limiting the system to a niche appeal.

I must be following in Herman's footsteps. I just bought the same Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta. It still works and looks like new 80 years later. The craftsmanship and engineering is superb. An excellent choice for medium format.

Well, Olympus has stuck with the one format as well. Every m4/3 camera (DSLR or rangefinder style) they have made allows every digital lens they have made work with every m4/3 body, that's m4/3 as well as 4/3 lenses.

And if anyone could make a make a medium format digital camera, it certainly could be Olympus, as they too have made them in the past. They even made a 35mm camera that looked like medium format. People keep wanting an Olympus FF camera, my view is that they'd be better off with medium format.

Would you buy a medium-format camera if it was affordable and part of a well-designed system

No. Too expensive and wouldn't provide enough value. We've already got FF cameras above 40 mp. Realistically, almost all my photos are used online. What the hell would I do with the extra resolution? Even 24mp is overkill for me.

Most of the Hasselblad medium format DSLR cameras have a 50 MP sensor. That doesn't seem too impressive considering a Sony Alpha a7R (a $1500 camera) has a full-frame sensor that produces 38.8 megapixel images.

Leica's product team made a similarly call in the development of the S, based on the recognition that photojournalism was in decline so far as "professional photography" was concerned. The S became the professional flagship, while a range of smaller mirrorless cameras (T, X etc) filled in the at the lower end, allowing the M to continue as a niche product.

Fuji are walking the same path with a higher volume product line.

I didn't get around to commenting on John Kennerdell's post about USPs, Mike, although I really wanted to. It's a fascinating topic (or maybe it's just me, I'm in product management). The thinking has evolved in this space, at least in leading organisations. Good products have a rock solid Value Proposition: the job they do for the consumer, and are well differentiated: there's a clear reason to buy them versus the competition.

It's an easy mistake to think that your differentiator needs to be a feature. Real differentiators are benefits, and many of the most powerful are intangible — consumers will swear away their egos and post rationalise themselves away from great intangible differentiators. "Because it feels great in my hand", "because it's not too light or too heavy" and all of those little gestalt things add up to a differentiated experience.

Why else would you go to the trouble of making a computer out of metal, or a phone out of glass, when plastic can "do the job".

If they do it, I hope it'll be something like the GX680... Studio photographer's dream come true.

Yes, I would definitely buy a MF Fuji. I miss the beautiful look of 120 negs and prints (so much that I just bought a used GA645). It would have to be affordable, and I don't agree with the poster above who thinks that $9000 is "affordable" to most.

One of the key things is that, even if one has $9K worth of cameras or guitars or stamps, he or she probably bought them $1K at a time. That's a lot easier to chew (and/or explain to a spouse).

Last point, I also take a bit of issue with this comment:

a rangefinder-ish body (the XP's), and the various digital-brick shapes, led off by the XE's

I think the XE's are more rangefinder-ish than the X-Pros. My M3 has no bumps or grips, and I think we can agree it's a rangefinder.

Not a big deal, just feels a bit pejorative to call the XE-2 a brick (also it's a term for "broken electronic device").

Depends. If it's as thoughtful and well designed as I know Fuji is capable of, if it has 16-bit color depth, and if it isn't outrageously expensive, I would definitely have to give it serious thought.

I would imagine, if they do it, they'll make something that appeals to a niche similar to the one they had for their medium format film cameras, rather than trying to take on the pro studio market. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with - if they come up with anything.

As a rank amateur hobby-shooter hanging out at TOP with lots of very accomplished and pro photogs, THANK YOU Mike for the shout-out!

As I think about the mystery Fujifilm MF project, I too often think of the relationship Fujifilm had with wedding guys and other pros back in the film days, and the resulting range of many niche rollfilm cameras like the GA. I just believe they will revisit that market with something just as unique, consistent with their long-time business practice of 'Hit 'Em Where They Ain't'.

And yes, anytime they want to release digital 'Texas Leicas', I'm there !

I am very happy with the full frame format (35mm-alike) It is close to the old medium format film IQ. BUT a digital Holga (6x7 sensor) would be heaven!

I subscribe to Steve Jacob's analysis of Fuji market place. They seem happy to serve well a specific fraction of the market, and it's not where the larger volumes are.

Canon is number one, but when I look at their offering I'm not even remotely tempted. I find their cameras to be either incredibly solid bricks or photographic gadgets of the cheap plastic type. (And yes, I do realize this is not an objective description of the reality, that the 80D or whatever is an excellent compromise and value-for-money, but still... I find it totally uninspiring). I'd rather not see Fuji going this way.

Regarding this hypothetical MF, while I really don't need it I know I could probably fall for a modern avatar of the all-in-one 645s, either with the short zoom of the 645zi or a 50 equivalent. Something like a MF version of the Sony RX1 with a better choice of focal length. Thankfully, the choice of 35 and 70mm equivalents for the new Blad saves me from having a serious GAS attack.

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