Fujifilm GFX 50S
Unlike other 50-megapixel medium-format cameras on the market, the GFX 50S uses a sensor of its manufacturer’s own design. It delivers 14 stops of dynamic range and 14-bit RAW files—slightly lower than the 16-bit files pumped out by the 50-megapixel Sony sensor used in its rivals. Where it trails in bit depth, it leads in ISO. The camera has a native ISO of 100-12,800 with extension settings pushing the range from 50 to 102,400. Another eye-opener is the number of AF points. Where medium-format cameras are parsimonious with AF points, the 50S has them in abundance. There are 425 available in AF-S mode and 117 in one of the zone modes. The camera supports continuous autofocusing and also offers face and eye detection.
You’ll enjoy a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 sec. with an electronic shutter option to boost speeds to 1/16,000 sec. Unlike rival medium format cameras, however, flash sync speeds are capped at 1/125th sec. And, this being a Fuji camera, there are 15 film simulation modes. These modes can be modified with a “grain effect” setting that mimics film grain and is available in either “strong” or “weak” intensities. There are several bracketing modes, too, including AE, film simulation, dynamic range, ISO sensitivity and white-balance bracketing. There’s built-in Wi-Fi and a pair of SD card slots. The camera supports full HD recording at 30p. Film simulation modes are also available when filming. Recent firmware updates have delivered a flicker reduction mode, the ability to enlarge the information displayed through the viewfinder or LCD and the ability to program a function button to set the camera into 35mm crop mode. See the full review of the Fujifilm GFX-50s here.
This variant of the H6D-100c 100-megapixel medium-format camera can create 400-megapixel images using the company’s Multi-Shot technology. In Multi-Shot mode, the camera captures six exposures: four by moving the sensor by one-pixel increments, and two with the sensor shifting by 1/2 pixel increments. The six images are then merged into a single 2.4GB 16-bit TIFF file (23200 x 17400 pixels). The camera must be tethered during Multi-Shot mode. The camera can also take four images to create a 100-megapixel image with improved color fidelity. In both instances, the camera is extremely sensitive to any shake, even from passing trucks on a road (see “What It’s Like to Shoot with a 400-Megapixel Camera”).
If you don’t need such huge image files or don’t have handy access to an underground fortress where you can avoid vibration, the H6D-100c offers 100-megapixel images without the exquisitely sensitive shifting of the sensor. It supports a shutter speed range from 60 minutes to 1/2000 sec. and offers dual card slots (SD and CFast), a USB Type-C connection with USB 3.0 speeds and a 3-inch touch display 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 100-megapixel back offers 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 movie-making you’d like to undertake.
Nikon’s full-frame DSLR boasts a 45-megapixel backside-illuminated sensor with no optical low-pass filter and a burst mode of 7 fps. You can coax a 9 fps burst mode from the camera with an accessory battery grip (the MB-D18) and the EN-EL 18b battery. The D850 employs the same autofocusing system that’s found in the flagship D5 so you can lock onto fast-moving subjects. Beyond its blazing burst speeds, the D850 offers the lowest base ISO of any full-frame DSLR (ISO 64), giving you extremely clean images when the light’s right. Time-lapse fans can capture and compile 4K time-lapse movies in camera or 8K time-lapse movies in post. You can record 4K/30p movies without a sensor crop and full HD videos at a motion-slowing 120 fps. See the full review of the Nikon D850 here.
Sigma Photo sd Quattro H
The Quattro H features an APS-H-sized Foveon image sensor capable of delivering the equivalent of a 51-megapixel image. Unlike traditional Bayer filter sensors, which split up pixels along a single surface to capture color data, the Quattro H sensor features a three-layered, vertical design. One layer captures red chrominance information, the other green chrominance data and the top layer captures blue chrominance plus luminance information. The result is a more filmic image, according to Sigma. The Quattro H accepts Sigma’s Global Vision lenses (Art, Contemporary and Sport). The native ISO range of the camera spans from 100-6400. You can coax more dynamic range and resolution from your images using a “Super-Fine Detail” mode that captures seven different exposures with one shot and merges them into a single image. Firmware released last year has improved the image quality of photos on the rear display and viewfinder. FYI filmmakers: the camera can’t record video.
Sony a7R III
Much like the D850 did for DSLRs, Sony’s a7R III breaks new ground by delivering high resolution and high-speed shooting in a single body. The camera uses the same 42-megapixel sensor that’s found on the a7R II but literally doubles its continuous shooting speed—from 5 to 10 fps. The speed boost is courtesy of a new front-end LSI and updated processor. Like the previous model, the a7R III has a 5-axis in-body stabilizer that’s been tweaked to deliver up to 5.5 stops of correction. It features a back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor with no optical low pass filter that utilizes a gapless on-chip lens design and anti-reflective coating on the surface of the sensor’s seal glass, which Sony says helps to improve light collection for lower-noise and higher dynamic range–up to 15 stops. The camera has a native ISO range of 100-32,000 (expandable to 50-102,400). The AF system is also improved. It features 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points that cover approximately 68 percent of the image area in both the horizontal and vertical directions. There are now 425 contrast AF points, compared to just 25 on the a7R II. See the full review of the Sony a7R III here.
Phase One IQ3 100MP Trichromatic
Built around the original IQ3 camera back, the Trichromatic utilizes a new 100-megapixel sensor and color filter that Phase One says delivers more accurate colors than traditional Bayer filters. According to Phase One, the new filter enables a cleaner color separation of red, green and blue pixels, particularly at the lower (blue) wavelengths, resulting in more accurate and natural results with much less purple fringing. Because the new sensor/filter combo captures only the colors it wants, it’s able to achieve extremely clean images at the lowest base ISO of any CMOS-based medium format back, ISO 35. The maximum ISO of the Trichromatic is the same as the older IQ3 100MP camera (ISO 12,800).
Beyond the new filter, the Trichromatic back has the same feature set as the IQ3 100MP back, including 15 stops of dynamic range, 60 minute exposures, 16-bit color and an integrated Profoto Air flash trigger (in the XF camera body). See the full review of the Phase One IQ3 Trichromatic here.
Canon 5DS & 5D R
The cameras in this dynamic duo both use 50-megapixel CMOS sensors but the 5DS R is the real pixel-peeper pleaser—it has a low-pass filter cancellation effect to deliver an extra ounce of sharpness. To further hone images, these cameras have adjustable sharpness settings and several build enhancements to ensure a completely steady image. The mirrors are motor driven, not spring driven, to soften their impact when they move internally. You can also designate the interval between when you lock the mirror and when the shutter releases a second time to ensure the camera is completely shake-free. Finally, the internal chassis, base plate and tripod socket have been reinforced to make the cameras rest more securely on tripods.
Both cameras feature the traditional 5D body type, but lower native ISO ranges than the 5D Mark III or IV (100-6400). There’s a fine detail mode which lowers contrast and emphasizes minute textures and edges by adjusting the settings in the camera’s Sharpness sub menus. There are 61 AF points sensitive to -2 EV and burst shooting clocks in at 5fps. Read the full review of the Canon 5DS here.
While many cameras have relatively low-resolution sensors compared to the heavy hitters, several take advantage of pixel-shifting technology to create images with an apparent resolution much higher than the physical pixel count of their sensors suggests. Using the same sensor-moving mechanisms employed to stabilize images, cameras can shift their sensors by tiny increments (often the length of a single pixel or even less) to capture more color (and cleaner, less noisy) data.
The main drawback to pixel-shift technologies is that the camera must be held incredibly still—and your subject should be, too. Camera companies have been working to overcome this limitation via algorithmic corrections that can compensate for minor movements, but it’s still advisable to bring along the tripod if you plan on leveraging pixel shift.
Here’s a look at some models that offer pixel shift to bump up their resolutions:
Panasonic G9: While it sports a 20-megapixel sensor, Panasonic’s High-Resolution mode enables the G9 to deliver an 80-megapixel RAW image by compiling eight separate captures. Read the full review of the Panasonic G9 here.
$1,700 | www.shop.panasonic.com
Ricoh Pentax K-1 Mark II: The 36-megapixel K1 Mark II uses a pixel-shift resolution system to produce RAW files that are almost three times as large as those taken without the technology. Pentax is furthest along among rival camera manufacturers in compensating for image blur introduced during pixel-shift shooting. In fact, Pentax says the Mark II offers a Dynamic Pixel Shift Mode that enables you to shoot handheld without incurring damaging blur.
$2,000 | www.us.ricoh-imaging.com
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II: Like the G9, the E-M1 Mark II uses a 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor. Unlike the G9, Olympus’ model delivers a 50-megapixel equivalent image using the company’s High-Res Shot Mode. See full review here.
$1,599 | www.getolympus.com