Digital medium format has previously been the preserve of professional photographic businesses; commercial concerns that can justify investing tens of thousands of dollars on a tool that offers resolution and image quality beyond the capabilities of consumer cameras (or, at least, those that can recoup the rental cost). These cameras have tended to have 54 x 40mm (essentially the 645 film format) or 44 x 33mm sensors: considerably larger than used in most DSLRs. They were also often based on CCD chips, since these are easier to build on large scales and small volumes and cleaner at low ISO settings (though with limited dynamic range by modern standards).
As full frame cameras have become less expensive, this has put pressure on the medium format market (particularly the smaller variant) but has also seen CMOS technology filter upwards. This has led to us starting to see the first sub-$10,000 medium format cameras. The first that a dedicated hobbyist might consider, as well as wider professional market. So, as we keep being asked, which of these cameras is best?
Launched in 2014 The Pentax 645Z is the granddaddy of 'affordable' medium format. After the somewhat fitful development process of the original 645D, the arrival of CMOS technology brought us the 645Z. Built around a 50MP 44 x 33mm sensor, Ricoh's flagship camera is a traditional DSLR that uses the film-era Pentax 645 mount (hence the name).
In the past year, two more companies with medium format heritage have unveiled their offerings, but both Hasselblad and Fujifilm have developed new, mirrorless systems, rather than continuing to use existing mounts. This allows the Fujifilm G and Hasselblad XCD systems to be considerably smaller with shorter flange back distances (especially in the case of the Hasselblad, which does without a focal plane shutter). As well as size, this shorter flange back distance leaves room to adapt all sorts of legacy lenses: something both Hasselblad and Fujifilm have promised.
We've been shooting all three cameras and look at their relative strengths in different shooting scenarios.Read More...
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