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Medium Format Rumors


Patrick FR
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Fujifilm Will Launch a Medium Format Camera (Top Trusted Japanese Source) :: New Source says it will come at Photokina!
 

 

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This medium format story is one of the best news in the business in months

(Somehow a more important one - for the masses - that the new XF100 from PhaseOne)

We are almost about to come back to the 50s: Hasselblad facing Rolleiflex

A flexible, articulated medium format system, next to another, with few constraints but with similar stellar image quality

Hasselblad was the expensive alternative, Rolleiflex a less engaging option (also in terms of weight) 

 

Does anyone have an idea about the nature of the future sensor ?

Any educated guess ?

There must be a deal with sony to produce a 50M X- trans sensor. Producing a slightly larger one (say 60 would be an ideal positioning)

 

Can I launch a proposal for Fuji ?

Make sure the current option in the small format to change the ratio of the pictures is maintained !

It's got to be possible to shoot square (1:1), 4x5 (1:1,25), 24x36 or 6x9 (1:1,5), and the golden rule ratio (1:1,61)

 

If you are a believer, promote this proposal in the forum and elsewhere 

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The Sony Alpha Rumors guys are promoting a Sony/Fuji partnership (with both names on it). Fuji provides lenses and (hopefully) bodies. Sony does the sensors (a huge contribution, but not one that traditionally gets the name on it - a D810 isn't a Nikon/Sony D810, although perhaps it should be) and what else? Accessories is one real possibility - take a look at Sony's great flash system - far preferable to anything we have to choose from. Sony also has some wireless release stuff that is better than Fuji, although neither one holds a candle to what Capture One and Capture Pilot do for Phase One (and Phase One isn't selling THAT to anyone with a dastardly, devious plan to sell cameras as good as theirs for $7000-$10000 instead of $30000-$50000).Sony also has some really nice batteries, not so much the little A7 battery,(although that has a good power meter - otherwise, it's just like the NP-W126 we know and sometimes love), but some of their camcorder batteries, which could be the right size.

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There is a lot of excitement over this possible camera.

I gotta wonder though how many people commenting or frothing about a Fuji Medium format camera have ever had medium format digital. Also, if they wanted it so bad, why haven't they bought the Pentax?

I've used medium format digital a fair amount over the past decade, and had a Mamiya/Leaf back system.

The dynamic range was great, but it was an unwieldy beast to shoot with, and best suited to studio and/or tripod.

Also, my clients didn't care jack about it.

You gotta ask yourself:

Am I doing very large exhibition prints? Be honest.

The last exhibition I had was shot on a Canon 5d2, and the prints were 1500mm on the long side. They looked great.

 

I am about to take up a position as a studio photographer at a place with the very best gear, and a Phase One system.

The kit I am most looking forward to using there is the Fuji XT1.

 

Very few of you would buy the Fuji medium format when it came to the crunch.

 

We should do a poll.

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"It's not mirrorless"

 

Where is it stated that a Fuji medium format camera will be a rangefinder?

 

I think people love to cheer medium format until they have to bite down on shelling out $5k US on a body.

 

Medium format is a risky business.

 

If my clients need medium format I will go rent it.

If they have the option to get it shot on my old Canon, instead, I am sure they will elect to pay no rental.

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I can't see Fuji doing anything except some form of mirrorless/rangefinderish design. I'd say an X-Pro design is the most likely (given that we're thinking interchangeable lenses), but I wouldn't be surprised to see an X-E design either. I'd be more surprised by an X-T type design, given how few medium format cameras have ever been built in that format (the famous one is the Pentax 67 in its variations, but there were also quite a few Eastern European versions of something similar). The famous Hasselblad square shape is dictated almost entirely by the mirror, and I'd find it hard to believe that Fuji would use a mirror (they built a few 35mm SLRs as recently as the 1980s, and the GX680 "monster SLR" a little later than that, but their camera line has never been focused on SLRs). The only digital SLRs they ever built were Nikon-bodied chimeras where Fuji's contribution was the (odd, of course) sensor.

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There is absolutely no reason for an SLR Medium Format camera, anyway.

 

The sole reason DSLRs still sell (apart from market inertia and brand value, of course), is because of the relative advantages in AF performance with the mirror design.

 

A MF will never be used in sports/wildlife/action or, even, extremely low light environments. If it's one camera format where mirrorless makes absolute sense, it's digital MF.

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The poll on the front page of FujiRumors this morning reveals an issue Fuji will have to overcome. A lot of people want an MF Fuji, but they expect it to be priced like an A7rII. The ONLY time a medium format digital camera has gotten into that price range is Pentax trying to clear inventory of the old 645D (after the 645Z and the A7rII were already out). It's also the only time a medium-format digital camera has had image quality LOWER (in ideal circumstances) than the best smaller format camera on the market (there is no circumstance in which the 6 year old CCD in the 645D produces a better image than the A7rII with a good lens, and vanishingly few where it beats a D810). There are plenty of cases (higher ISOs (above 400), dynamic range) in which an X-Pro 2 can beat that old CCD. The CMOS-based 645Z is around $7000 (and beats all non-MF cameras in shooting situations where MF is the right choice). The only two reasons anyone might want the older 645D with today's competition are if they had a bunch of old Pentax 645 lenses, or as a backup to a 645Z in an area where the CCD was acceptable (product/catalog photography is one example).

 

Nobody would introduce a camera based on a 40 MP CCD today (and I'm guessing Pentax is not making money on 645D's - simply trying to get rid of a few they have around because they introduced the 645Z relatively quickly). If Fuji's entry is based on the 645Z sensor, it might be marginally cheaper than a 645Z, but it won't be a LOT cheaper. My best guess would be $6000 (Pentax is at $7000), and I wouldn't be shocked if it were $7000 or more, since Pentax is very aggressive with their pricing and recycles a lot of their DSLR parts (the 645Z has 27 AF points, but they all fit in an APS-C area at the center of the frame, because it's the K3 AF system). Fuji MIGHT get it to $5000, but that would be breakthrough pricing.

 

If it's any other sensor (newer, larger or higher resolution than the 33x44mm 50MP CMOS from early 2014 at the heart of the 645Z), it'll be more expensive. Right now, Sony makes two possible CMOS sensors - that 50 MP sensor and the much larger 100 MP sensor (which is also probably using their newest copper technology as seen in the A7rII and X-Pro 2). If it's the big sensor, I'd expect the body to be around (or over) $10,000. Still better than the $50,000 Phase One charges, but far from A7rII territory..

 

Sony may very well come up with a ~70 MP sensor that uses the technology of the big sensor, but in the 33x44mm size (it's just cutting technology they have into a different shape and size). That might show up in a $7000 body (and I'd expect it in a similarly priced Pentax at around the same time)... $7000 for a medium format body with 70 million pixels, each as good as an X-Pro 2 or A7rII pixel - that's realistic. $5000 for that would be a bombshell that realigned the top end of the camera market, but not totally impossible.

 

The other way they might surprise us is with a completely different sensor shape. Some people here have been mentioning the X-Pan, and Fuji has always enjoyed fooling with panoramic cameras. What about a 22x44 mm sensor or something like that? 40-50 MP for around $4000? That's not a lot more sensor area than an A7rII, and much of the price premium would be because of relatively small production volumes.

 

Fuji was smart, if they're planning on doing this, to get the X-Processor Pro out in other cameras. Their old processor would have been too limiting even with the 50 MP 645Z sensor, but the new one can handle any sensor they might use. They can recycle parts Pentax style to keep prices down (part of the reason Phase One prices are so high is that they sell a couple of thousand cameras/year, and that's what has to pay their R+D expenses). Even if Fuji and Pentax sell 5000 medium format cameras a year each, they can share the R+D with higher-volume products.

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2 reasons:

It's not mirrorless.

It's not a Fuji.

Yes flysurfer and more:

 

It's heavy (and maybe fuji comes up with a better design)

It's not a Fuji+ (meaning the company does not react and innovate like fuji, will not have soon a good lens array)

It does not have the right software (ref. different format ratios for example)

It's an isolated system surrounded by competitors with a totally different (read superior) marketing posture and appetite for investment

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With the size advantage of my X-T1 compared to my nikon d7000, when I hear Fuji Medium Format camera, I imagine a mirrorless body that is no bigger than a full frame DSLR. I also imagine a set of 3 prime lenses that are also compact (relatively). In other words, a photography kit no bigger than full frame SLR, but medium format which provides extraordinary image quality, dynamic range, resolution and still handles well (sans tripod). 

 

Now my imagining may not be accurate to reality but if it is, that would be a compelling offering for me.

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The poll on the front page of FujiRumors this morning reveals an issue Fuji will have to overcome. A lot of people want an MF Fuji, but they expect it to be priced like an A7rII. The ONLY time a medium format digital camera has gotten into that price range is Pentax trying to clear inventory of the old 645D (after the 645Z and the A7rII were already out). It's also the only time a medium-format digital camera has had image quality LOWER (in ideal circumstances) than the best smaller format camera on the market (there is no circumstance in which the 6 year old CCD in the 645D produces a better image than the A7rII with a good lens, and vanishingly few where it beats a D810). There are plenty of cases (higher ISOs (above 400), dynamic range) in which an X-Pro 2 can beat that old CCD. The CMOS-based 645Z is around $7000 (and beats all non-MF cameras in shooting situations where MF is the right choice). The only two reasons anyone might want the older 645D with today's competition are if they had a bunch of old Pentax 645 lenses, or as a backup to a 645Z in an area where the CCD was acceptable (product/catalog photography is one example).

That's a good reason why Fuji doesn't have plans to release a medium format camera. Most of the respondents want to only pay $3000 for what would cost at least twice that to manufacture. With no realistic expectation that people will pay what the camera costs, I certainly wouldn't okay the resources and cost of making one.

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That's a good reason why Fuji doesn't have plans to release a medium format camera. Most of the respondents want to only pay $3000 for what would cost at least twice that to manufacture. With no realistic expectation that people will pay what the camera costs, I certainly wouldn't okay the resources and cost of making one.

 

Nearly twice as many people voted on a price as said they were interested. That means a lot of people who aren't interested in the first place likely just voted $3000 cause it was the lowest #.

 

1,000 people have so far said they would pay at least $5000 and just under 1900 said they were interested. 

 

From a marketing perspective, I have little idea how Fuji might read those numbers, but that seems like fairly sizable % to my layman's eye. 

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I have argued for a while that the APS-C X series is a practice run in miniature for a mirrorless MFD series. Now that their mirrorless X-system is more mature, it is getting closer to being feasible to upscale to MFD size without being too slow and cumbersome. The only question is what sensor to put into it. I would expect Fuji to make an MFD sized X-Pro (essentially a GX-Pro1 given their traditional nomenclature for medium format being GX-, and retaining the "X" on an MFD X-trans sensor camera would make more sense than using the GF- nomenclature of their film rangefinders). It is unlikely to be an SLR styled camera like the X-T1. A mirrorless MFD camera would have considerable size advantages over an SLR MFD camera, and would future proof the system. 

 

As for pricing, in the film era medium format started around the price of a top tier full frame camera. The lowest conceivable price for a GX-Pro1 would be that similar to a 1DX Mark II or D5. However, until MFD sensor prices start to come down we can only expect MFD to carry a premium price. If there is a delay in Fuji releasing a GX-Pro1, it would be due to their marketing department being concerned about sales, and they might wait for MFD sensor manufacturing costs to drop, just as prices have come down with full frame sensors. Fuji may even consider delaying the release until they can manufacture their own sensors quasi-"in house" i.e. until they have the organic sensor in production in 2-3 years time. However, they are naturally testing and looking at the economic viability of bringing a GX-Pro1 out earlier with a Sony X-trans sensor so they have a model that will give the Pentax 645Z a run for its money. 

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I often wondered if the market still equate larger size to higher value or higher end product or has the industry managed to debunked that completely. There's a segment of the market that can't really afford to get caught in a size vs. performance race.

 

I'm thinking Phase One mf cameras. Having seen for myself and worked with the files from these beasts, it's hard to deny that they really are much, much better than any compact mf system.

 

Yes, I know there is a great price disparity but really, if there's any system a compact mf camera system has to beat, it would be one of these monsters.

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As for pricing, in the film era medium format started around the price of a top tier full frame camera. The lowest conceivable price for a GX-Pro1 would be that similar to a 1DX Mark II or D5. However, until MFD sensor prices start to come down we can only expect MFD to carry a premium price. If there is a delay in Fuji releasing a GX-Pro1, it would be due to their marketing department being concerned about sales, and they might wait for MFD sensor manufacturing costs to drop, just as prices have come down with full frame sensors. Fuji may even consider delaying the release until they can manufacture their own sensors quasi-"in house" i.e. until they have the organic sensor in production in 2-3 years time. However, they are naturally testing and looking at the economic viability of bringing a GX-Pro1 out earlier with a Sony X-trans sensor so they have a model that will give the Pentax 645Z a run for its money. 

 

That sounds about what I would expect. Fuji does have an advantage of not having its own full frame camera to compete with. If Fuji can come in with an aggressively priced offering, they do not have to worry at all about cutting into their own sales. 

 

For me, I'm curious what the main focus of the camera (assuming it materializes) will be. Would it primarily be a studio camera? If so, it is not of much interest to me. But if they make a small and light (relatively) rangefinder that handles well in the field, that really gets my interest. The X-T1 is about 40% lighter than a D7200. A Fuji Medium Format Rangefinder could end up similar to a Nikon 810. 

 

I loved my Pentax 67. I used it all the time on field assignments, even doing quite a bit of aerial photography with it... manual exposure, manual focus and all. Those big Velvia slides looked lovely!

 

I'd love to see a modern take on that by Fuji with some of that exceptional Fuji glass.

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For me, I'm curious what the main focus of the camera (assuming it materializes) will be. Would it primarily be a studio camera? If so, it is not of much interest to me. But if they make a small and light (relatively) rangefinder that handles well in the field, that really gets my interest. The X-T1 is about 40% lighter than a D7200. A Fuji Medium Format Rangefinder could end up similar to a Nikon 810. 

 

This is the big sticking point. The advantage of the Pentax 645Z is that you can work quite fast with it considering it is a MFD camera. It still forces you to slow down compared to a DSLR though. 

 

The only reason the Pentax 645Z is quite fast for an MFD camera is because it is an SLR design. A mirrorless design is inherently slower than an SLR design, so that if Fuji had made a MFD version of the X-Pro1 with the Sony 50MP cropped MFD sensor, it would have been intolerably slow. 

 

The question for Fuji is whether mirrorless technology has advanced enough that a mirrorless MFD camera can be made to shoot fast enough to keep up with the Pentax 645Z. It's all very well if the GX-Pro1 is more compact and portable in the field than the 645Z, but if it is so slow it might as well be a studio camera for shooting with strobes, its inherent slowness would undermine any size advantage. Keep in mind that the 16MP X-Pro1 already forces you to slow down, so imagine how painfully slow a 50MP GX-Pro1 might have been if released 1-2 years ago.

 

The other thing is that the competitive price of the Pentax 645Z is said to be due to the fact that it shares lots of parts with their DSLR bodies. Fuji too need to have a GX-Pro1 share lots of component parts with the X-Pro2/3 body. So in many ways, the development of their MFD system is dependent on that of their X-system. If the X-system was successful then that would fund the R&D costs of their MFD system, just as the Instax system funds the cost of the X-system. 

 

Is the mirrorless technology in the X-Pro2 mature enough now that it can be upscaled to MFD proportions? Or should they wait to upscale the X-Pro3 to MFD proportions, and deliberately design the X-Pro3 so it can share manufacturing parts in common with the X-Pro1 to reduce costs?

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The only reason the Pentax 645Z is quite fast for an MFD camera is because it is an SLR design. A mirrorless design is inherently slower than an SLR design, so that if Fuji had made a MFD version of the X-Pro1 with the Sony 50MP cropped MFD sensor, it would have been intolerably slow. 

 

I don't think I agree with you... or we have different ideas of what slow is.

 

My X-T1 is not slow. There are some low light situations where it does not autofocus as fast as my Nikon, but most of the time there isn't much of a discernible difference (if any).

 

In practice, I'm often overall faster in various situations with the Fuji due to the dedicated knobs which I find intuitive to use. I'm also faster with the Fuji because it is so small and light. I can carry 2 X-T1 bodies and 3 X primes for almost the same space and weight of a single D7x00 plus 3 equivalent primes. 2 X-T1's around the neck feels hardly heavier than the single SLR. In that case the Fuji's are definitely faster cause there is no need to switch lenses as often.

 

The jump to medium format means more processing, bigger lenses means slower auto-focus, but that is the same regardless of SLR or Mirrorless design. However, the Mirrorless MFD camera itself can be smaller. That makes it, like the APS-C Fuji, easier to handle and less weight makes it easier to carry, hold and maneuver. I assume that like the APS-C Fuji X-lenses, that the MF Fuji Lenses would also be smaller on the normal to wide end than the MF SLR equivalent. These things (to me) are also part of whether a camera feels fast or not.

 

I think a Fuji Mirrorless MFD camera would be overall faster than the Pentax (by my way of looking at it). 

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The new X-Processor Pro offers plenty of speed to more than keep up with any sensor (when I saw the specs of the processor, my reaction was "there are only two reasons for that kind of processor - medium format or 4K video"). Fuji rates it at 480 megapixels per second - that's enough to shoot the big 100 megapixel sensor at 4.8 FPS (not that the sensor can read out that fast, anyway), or the 50 MP sensor at around 10 FPS. It's also a general purpose processor, meaning that, if they wanted to use a SECOND one to handle focus, for example, that's not hard to do - simply divide the code between them.

 

As for size and weight, I'm thinking lighter than a D810 - the Leica S is already only 40 ounces,  6 ounces heavier than a D810 (and close to 10 ounces lighter than a D5), and that is a SLR. An X-Pro 2 is roughly 17 ounces, an A7rII 22, and the lightest  full-frame DSLRs are around 27 ounces. I'd say a 33x44mm mirrorless might wind up in the 27-30 ounce range. Sizewise, it might take up the volume of a small full-frame DSLR, but be a little taller, especially if it had a hybrid viewfinder, and not quite as thick. If it had the big sensor, which is 54x40mm, it would be a little bigger, especially if the sensor were mounted in traditional 645 orientation (all the Texas Leicas were 645 vertical when held horizontally). If the sensor were mounted in a horizontal orientation, as small-format sensors always are, the body wouldn't necessarily be especially tall, but it might be quite wide. I'd also be surprised if that big sensor would end up in a body lighter than a D810. Certainly lighter than a D5 or a Phase - maybe lighter than a Leica S?

 

Lens sizes and weights for 33x44 mm would probably not be far off full-frame equivalents, especially given that MF lenses are traditionally a stop or more slower than 35mm lenses. If the sensor were 54x40 mm, the lenses would be a little bigger, but they might not be huge. Midrange lenses for medium format can be quite reasonably sized, although wideangles get big rather quickly, and telephotos, while reasonably sized for their focal length, get very big for their angle of view, because the big sensor needs longer lenses to get the same angle of view. Telephotos have plenty of coverage, so format size doesn't matter for lens size - Mamiya's 645 300mm f2.8 is actually smaller and lighter than Olympus's 300mm 2.8 for the old 4/3 system (the new Micro 4/3 lens is much lighter, but it's f4, and it's actually almost twice as heavy as the new full-frame 300mm f4 Nikkor). Canon's and Nikon's full-frame 300mm f2.8 lenses are substantially lighter than either Olympus's or Mamiya's. The problem comes in when you realize that the Olympus lens has a 2x crop factor (and it does manage to be lighter than any fast 600mm lens), and the Mamiya lens needs to be 50% LONGER for the same angle of view (it's about equivalent to a 200mm on 35mm). If Mamiya had even MADE a 500mm f2.8, it would have been a monster, while Olympus's 150mm f2.8 is quite reasonably sized.

 

Lens pricing is rather variable - many of the midrange focal lengths can be quite reasonable - at least a couple of the Pentax lenses are actually cheaper than comparable (but faster) APS-C Fujinons. Anything out of the ordinary gets expensive FAST. The Fujinons for Hassselblad are more expensive, although some of that is the fact that they say Hasselblad on them.  Hasselblad had the gall to charge thousands of dollars for cheap Sony E-mount lenses (to go with their dressed up NEX-7) until they realized they weren't selling any when Sony sold the same lens for $249. Leica and Phase One lenses are ALL hellishly expensive, although that's true of Leica lenses for any of their lines, and Phase One stuff is never cheap.

 

Hopefully, Fuji will adopt some version of the Pentax pricing model - you know you're in a crazy market when Leica is the mid-priced option!

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If I was Fuji and I looked at this poll I would put the Medium Format project back up on the shelf.

I guess for a lot of people medium format is like the holy grail - it's a fantasy.

When hardly anyone will pay $5k plus, then they are gonna totally balk at adding lenses to their purchase on top of that.

I use Fuji X because it is small and the lenses are great. It is also cheap.

If I wanted to get back into medium format I would buy the Canon or Pentax. But I'm not interested.

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Nearly twice as many people voted on a price as said they were interested. That means a lot of people who aren't interested in the first place likely just voted $3000 cause it was the lowest #.

 

1,000 people have so far said they would pay at least $5000 and just under 1900 said they were interested. 

 

From a marketing perspective, I have little idea how Fuji might read those numbers, but that seems like fairly sizable % to my layman's eye. 

3% said they would be willing to pay $10,000 or more. That's a more probable price for a new medium format Fuji. 5K, now way.

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