It’s boom times for medium-format camera systems with major updates, new models and new players entering the field.
One of the promises Phase One made when it launched the XF system was that it would deliver a regular stream of updates to improve camera functionality and add new features. True to their word, the company has recently rolled out its third major update, encompassing both the IQ3 100MP camera back and the XF camera system. “Feature Update 3,” as it’s straightforwardly called, adds an electronic shutter to the IQ3 100MP system and Profoto TTL metering integrated into the XF camera system’s AF sensor. Also new is a Flash Analysis tool that lets you review your flash output after the shot, including flash duration, output power and flash sync timing information. Feature Update 3 makes the XF body more customizable with new control over the icons that appear on the top display and side menu. These customizations can now be saved into one of three setup fields for easy retrieval. They can also be saved to a CF card where they can be transferred to a computer or to another XF camera body.
While the IQ3 100MP remains the flagship 100-megapixel back for the XF system, Phase One used Photokina to add another, lower-cost 100-megapixel back, the IQ1 100MP. The IQ1 100MP can mount to both XF and H cameras and a “range of technical systems,” according to Phase One. It is largely identical to the IQ3 100MP in that it delivers 16-bit color, up to 15 stops of dynamic range and a native ISO of 50-12,800. The IQ1 100MP won’t offer Wi-Fi, a high bandwidth port or support the XF power sharing function.
The most established of the bunch, the Pentax 645z combines a 50-megapixel sensor into a DSLR-like build. Despite its age, it’s still one of the speedier medium-format cameras on the market, with a continuous shooting rate of 3 fps. It also has a wide ISO range of 100-204,800 (though you’ll be capped at ISO 51,200 in auto ISO mode). The camera’s autofocusing system has 27 phase-matching AF points (including 25 cross type points in the center) capable of focusing down to -3 EV. There’s a 3.2-inch tilting display, dual SD card slots and support for full HD video recording at 30p.
Last year, Pentax introduced a new starter kit to give users everything they need to jump into medium-format photography in a single box, or in this case, a wheeled hard case with custom foam padding. The kit includes the 645Z and three lenses: the 55mm f/2.8, 28-45mm f/4.5 and the 90mm macro f/2.8. Other goodies include a pair of SD cards and an extra battery. Springing for the bundle also entitles you to membership in the Pentax Advantage Platinum Service Program. This program covers a 645z body and up to three lenses for three years. If your body goes in for repair, you’ll get a loaner to use in the interim plus a dedicated service line, email support and one free cleaning and inspection of your camera.
Like Phase One’s XF, the new H6D is a stem-to-stern revamp of Hasselblad’s medium-format system with a new electronic platform, processor and increased buffer—the better to cope with the high data demands generated by the camera. The new camera supports a shutter speed range from 60 minutes to 1/2000 sec. and works with two new medium-format backs: the H6D-100c and the H6D-50c (reviewed this month in Product Reviews, page 68). Both backs offer dual card slots (SD and CFast), USB Type-C connections with USB 3.0 speeds and 3-inch touch displays with a 30 fps live view mode. You can view a histogram readout on both the rear display and the camera’s grip display. The backs ship with the HVD 90X viewfinder, which offers a fill flash and a hot shoe for external flash units.
The H6D-100c camera back is Hasselblad’s first 100-megapixel CMOS sensor-based back with 16-bit color and 15-stops of dynamic range. It also supports 4K and HD video recording in a proprietary RAW format that can be converted to the more universal CinemaDNG format using Hasselblad’s Phocus software. There’s HDMI out and audio inputs to aid in any medium-format moviemaking you’d like to undertake. The 50c shares most of the same specs as the 100c only with a lower-resolution, 50-megapixel sensor and only HD video recording. It has less dynamic range, at 14 stops, and a more constrained native ISO range of 100-6400.
Fujifilm GFX 50S
Fuji arguably stole the show at Photokina 2016 with the news that it was breaking into the digital medium-format market in 2017 with the GFX 50S. There’s plenty still to learn about this camera but here’s what we do know: It will pack a Fuji-developed 51.4-megapixel image sensor with several supported image formats, including 4:3, 3:2, 1:1, 4:5, 6:7 and 6:17. It’s a mirrorless camera with a new G-mount lens system with a total of six lenses expected throughout 2017. Focal lengths will range from 23-120mm and a 63mm f/2.8 lens comes included with the camera. You’ll enjoy a tilting display and support for tethered shooting. While there’s no built-in viewfinder, Fuji will include an EVF in the box. Accessories will include a viewfinder that can tilt up and swivel at 90 degrees, plus a vertical grip.
PRICE: Under $10,000
Like the Pentax 645Z, the Leica S is a more compact medium-format system that offers DSLR-style handling. It boasts a 37.5-megapixel Leica CMOS sensor with no low-pass filter and the Maestro II image processor capable of delivering 3.5 fps continuous shooting with a 2GB memory buffer. The camera features predictive autofocus, a 3-inch LCD, built-in GPS and Wi-Fi for using mobile devices as remote controls and viewfinders. The 007 has shutter speeds as high as 1/4000 sec. with flash sync available up to 1/1000 sec. It delivers up to 15 stops of dynamic range, 16-bit color depth and an ISO range of 100 to 12,500. Images and video are saved to either CF or SD cards. The 007 is one of the more capable medium-format cameras when it comes to video. It records full HD video at 30, 25 or 24 fps using the full area of the image sensor and also records 4K video using a Super 35mm crop of the sensor.
Hasselblad’s compact mirrorless medium-format camera, the X1D, is now on the market and while Hasselblad sells an adapter for existing HC-series lenses, it’s also building out the X1D’s native glass (X-mount). The newest addition to the lineup is the 30mm f/3.5 prime lens for
the X1D (joining a 45mm and a 90mm prime). The 30mm stops down to f/32, takes 77mm filters and can focus on objects up to 0.6m away. Like all the X-mount glass, the 30mm supports flash sync to 1/2000 sec.
You can call a medium-format camera many things, but before the X1D, “compact” likely wouldn’t be the first word rolling off your lips. Hasselblad’s head turner squeezes a 50-megapixel medium-format image sensor into a mirrorless camera body that’s smaller and lighter than many full frame DSLRs. While it’s surprisingly slim, it’s durably built with a milled aluminum body. The camera captures 16-bit images with 14 stops of dynamic range while enjoying a native ISO of 100-12,800 that’s expandable to 25,600 in a pinch. Shutter speeds range from 60 minutes to 1/2000 sec. with flash sync available throughout the entire shutter speed range. Frame rates clock in at between 1.7 and 2.3 fps in continuous shooting and you can record HD video at 25p/24p.
The X1D uses a contrast-detect autofocusing system with a manual focus override function so you can manually dial in the focusing when the camera is in autofocus mode. It offers USB 3.0 connectivity using a Type-C connector, Wi-Fi and GPS for geo-tagging photos. Images are saved to a pair of SD card slots. You’ll compose your scene through a 2.4-megapixel EVF and a 3-inch touch screen display. Touch is fully implemented on the X1D, so you can scroll and select menu functions on the camera without reverting to hard controls. You’ll enjoy a 30 fps live view readout on the camera display and on an iOS device.
Schneider Kreuznach Blue Ring Lenses
The mantra behind the new “Blue Ring” series of lenses produced by Schneider for Phase One’s XF camera system is, unsurprisingly, resolution. All lenses adorned with the Blue Ring have a resolving power in excess of 100-megapixels, according to Phase, so you won’t be leaving any pixels on the table (or is that “on the sensor”?). The Blue Ring family has had a number of recent additions including two prime lenses introduced at Photokina. The new 150mm f/2.8 IF is the fastest Blue Ring telephoto lens to date, while the 45mm f/3.5 delivers “nearly distortion free” wide-angle images, according to Phase. At Photokina, Phase One announced that photographers will be able to select any Blue Ring lens with a value of up to $6,990 to be included in their XF IQ3 100MP camera kit (before the only choice was an 80mm lens).