#569. Putting a Pin in (my) Medium Format Ambitions

#569. Putting a Pin in (my) Medium Format Ambitions

Let’s keep this one short. Today, I feel the Medium Format offering is just not worth its price of admission.

 

 

Following my usual Modus Operandi, I recently sold lots of stuff (telescopes, lenses, HiFi gear) to finance the acquisition of one of the 2 recent contenders for the “vaguely affordable king of the photographic hill” crown: the Hasselblad X1D and the Fuji GFX. As Paul recently mentioned in a Monday Post, my credit card has been out of the wallet for some weeks now.

But no, it’s just not working out for me. And I fear it won’t be working out for many others out there. For 3 reasons.

 

Our gear’s been good enough for a long time

So, yeah, what else is new? We’ve known that affordable gear has been excellent for years and that the human behind the EVF is nearly always the bottleneck in the creative chain.

 

 

But knowing that intellectually and really acknowledging it deep down are two separate things.

I’ve been thinking about this switch. A lot. Not as an ordinary body update but more as a change of style that befits the investment quantum leap involved. My new medium format camera was going to be a significant step towards the extra refinement that used to separate large format photography from 24×36, in the old days.

It won’t, though.

First, because … well, there’s no nice way of putting it … I feel that both the Hassy and the Fuji fall well short of what they could have been.

It may be early days yet, but all the (hands-on, real-life, raw) photographs we’ve seen from the GFX are very coarse. At 100%, they almost look like watercolour. At normal size, they really lack the refinement I’d hoped for. Most of the reviews out there pile on a ton of post-processing to published photographs, so that it’s really hard to know whether the authors are covering up something or all aim for the same exact look … uh! Maybe PP software needs to be updated for much better results ?

 

 

As for the X1D, it seems more refined but the glass is utterly uninspiring. And the glitches mentioned in first hand reports have not left me drooling with anticipation. Maybe, here again, things will look a lot different in 6 months time. But I’m not holding my breath.

I can’t help feel Fuji have given XT2 users more of the same. The XT2 is brilliant, but if we wanted that, we’d buy an XT2. Instead, we want something different. Much more medium-format-ish. And I can’t help feel Hasselblad have not given the lenses all they could. Sharpness appears to be great but the images are mostly lifeless. Whether the small-size design constraint or the worry of cannibalizing the more expensive systems is to blame, who can say ?

Maybe none of this is even true and it’s just my marketing DNA playing tricks on me. But others are seeing, feeling and saying the same things … beware guys, the rest of the photo landscape is so good that any newcomer in this lofty price range really needs to bring something super special to the table.

 

ROI conundrum

The main argument at the center of our previous article Whither sensor format is this : Full Frame (possibly APS) seems to be the sweet spot in the sensor size range. As the recent additions to the medium format world seem to confirm, going larger doesn’t really bring much improvement in image quality but costs you image stabilisation, other forms of convenience, and a lot of money. Going smaller doesn’t gain you anything significant in terms of size or convenience and the toll on DR can be heavy. The huge difference in cost between the superb Fuji APS lenses and the superb FF lenses from Sony and Zeiss is a big draw for the APC world. But there are other arguments in favour of the FF camp. Either make a great choice and the close outliers seem more and more redundant.

 

 

My feeling today is that you have lean pretty far away from these twin-peaks of photo ROI to really gain something useful.

As Phillipe jokingly explained, I’ve been pestering him quite a bit with my Alpa/Rodenstock/Phase infatuation, lately. And was hoping that the Hassy or GFX would bring this quality level at a more affordable and convenient point. Not happening. There may eventually be a visible quality gap between what these two can offer and the best FF can do, but it won’t ever be big. And the rapidly evolving FF sensor technology can only close the gap compared to the slower moving MF. But the much more expensive (anything using medium format backs) stuff does appear to have much more to offer.

The law of diminishing returns seems to be biting harder into the expensive realm than into the vastly expensive.

At the other end of the range lie smartphones. They have rightly killed off the crappy compact (not all were crappy, only 99%) and deserve a seat at the table. Case in point :

10 days ago, during a visit to a calanque (a sort of small fjord) West of Marseilles, heavy rain stopped play before the A7rII could be of much use. So I returned last week-end … with no card and only empty batteries. Yup ! Yours bumly does it again. So out came the 2 year-old, last-but-2 generation phone. All the photographs on this page, and plenty more, were made with my Samsung Galaxy S6 and I ain’t ashamed of them. Plus the tiny device guided me through the slippery hills, found me a great restaurant to dry in (yeah, rain again), provided the time, ETA, weather forecast, and stored my pics safely in the cloud while recording the pics displayed on this page.

Neat, right ?

 

 

Far better image quality on the expensive side, far more convenient experience on the cheaper. Is affordable medium format actually too middle-of-the-road for its own good ?

 

There are better ways to spend your money

My final point may be counter-intuitive and too personal to generalise. But …

… my feeling today is that buying into a system is a bad idea. 5 years ago, I’d have written the exact opposite.

But these days, it looks like the only worthwhile photographic investments I’ve made are the lenses that shine for the look they give an image, irrespective of the camera they are used on. So much wizardry is happening inside cameras these days that lenses are no longer portable between platforms. The more you invest in them the more you lock yourself into the system, which is bad (he typed, somewhat achingly, on a late 2016 MacBook Pro keyboard).

And first of all, systems don’t last forever. Not anymore.

And secondly, most systems aren’t compatible with the rest of the world.

 

 

All of which leads to the fact that, these days, I’d like to invest in photographic empowerment, not in gear. Rather than biting the bullet for a super expensive camera, expanding my range of options, of learning and of creative thinking, feels like the right thing to do. That means exploring lighting, drones, sliders, travels, training, …, all of which are more fulfilling than a commitment to a half-baked new system.

How about you? Will you be taking the MF plunge? Are you on the fence? Or have you cheap-chickened-out, like me?

 


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28 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Steve March 14, 2017

    Pascal, so much angst!

    As I said in a recent email chain, I’ve never been in the same room as an MF camera, so for me to comment meaningfully is ludicrous. But, I agree completely with your view on buying into a system. I think we are agreed that however it looks right now, the camera landscape will be unrecognisable a few years hence. My take on it is to buy into something that is at an appropriate price/performance point for your needs (not desires) right now, with quality glass from a manufacturer that continues to innovate. From my perspective that means Fuji or in my case Olympus. You may well add Sony to the list.

    Then go out and shoot and wrangle and wrestle every last bit of performance out of the damn thing.

    Steve

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy March 15, 2017

      Steve, grand masters such as Micheal Kenna, who have been using the same gear for the past 50 years would agree with you completely. A major consideration with gear, today, is to feel good with it. When that happens, stick to it until it is shot.

      Cheers,
      Pascal

    • Avatar
      artuk March 20, 2017

      Since my first involvement in digital cameras (about 2003), I’ve always recommended that people buy a camera that does what they want now. Many will advocate buying a more expensive, fully featured or “professional” camera that someone can “grow into”, but this has 2 problems:

      – if the buyer is inexperienced, they may not know what they want, nor may they ever pursue an interest beyond full auto snapping
      – digital cameras have a short life, and will rapidly become out of date.

      Therefore in my opinion you should buy what you need now – the lowest cost option – and keep your money for the future when your needs change, because by then camera sensors will probably be much better. Buying an expensive digital camera that you don’t really need as some kind of long term investment just seems like folly to me.

  2. Avatar
    VR March 14, 2017

    I am sticking to my Leica M (digital) and Leica Lenses.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy March 15, 2017

      Hi VR, a set of Leica lenses is as good a reason as any to stick to your guns. They are small, well built and fab. Enjoy.

  3. Avatar
    Mark Muse March 14, 2017

    I have arrived at the same conclusion, or as much of a conclusion as one can reach when dealing with a moving target like this. Ahhh, but lenses, beautiful lenses…. I am still really enjoying the freedom of lens choice offered by my A7r2. Many of those vintage lenses are serving me very well. I have a compliment of autofocus system lenses that I use for specific situations. But when I go landscaping, which is my true love, it is legacy glass all the way… almost: the Loxia 21 is a gem that goes with me too.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy March 15, 2017

      Exactly. Older lenses were made with a look in mind. This is particlarly true of Leica lenses, which followed the design principles of successive geniuses and shared image aesthetics at a given period. Although there are some exceptions, such as recent apodized lenses by Fuji and others, most modern designs only seek to climb the meaningless echelons of lab rankings. So a platform that lets us use these older lenses is always going to score highly with those who appreciate art over technical considerations.

      And yes, the Loxia 21 is a gem. As is the 85. Two absolutely stellar modern designs.

  4. Avatar
    philberphoto March 14, 2017

    Hahaha! Nice try, Pascal, but no cigar! You’re not buying gear, only drones and sliders…:-) Training? With whom? Who is going to train you to go out early in the morning with a tripod? Travels. Now there’s an idea. Why, I might even let you talk me into going with you, so that your pics upstage mine.
    Oh, and by the way, if you are really interested in improving your IQ on 100% of your shots for the least amount of money, you already know the answer. PP. It is not even on your list of to-do things.
    I am serious. I purchased my original copy of Capture One for 110€ (that was with a 50% discount offer), and that was a clear improvement over LightRoom on every pixel of every picture I made since.
    If you are serious talking about MF or any high-end gear, PP must be part of your equation. Oh, and by the way, good PP can be undertaken at any time during the day, not only before sunrise, so that excuse don’t wash…:-)

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy March 15, 2017

      Well, post processing is the reason I’m keeping my A7rII. Apple Photos has given it a fresh new look that’s much more refined than what Lightroom helped me acheive. I’ve tried Capture One, and it does have many strong points, in particular the look of B&W pics it produces, but I find Photos much more satisfying to use.

      *No one* is going to train me to get up early and shoot on a tripod because that’s not the sort of photography I enjoy. I produces interesting results but, in the end, not one of my long term keepers was made under these conditions. And, having seen the gallery standard flower photographs you make, I’m pretty sure you’re not a golden hour type either πŸ˜‰ As I wrote elsewhere, you’re a beautifier of the ordinary, not a standard-recipe sunset shooter. More to the point, I’ll be training myself. No one else would put up with me.

    • Avatar
      jean pierre (pete) guaron March 16, 2017

      Hmm – I think I’ll wait for Capture One to make another 50% discount offer.

      As far as printing, I can think of two reasons “why not” – cost & indolence – and about a dozen reasons “why”. And here’s one of the reasons why.

      I am feeling very smug right now – I seem to be one of those awful people with a sixth sense, and several months ago I sensed that my friend Kath was heading towards finding one day soon that she would lose her 12 year old Dachshund pup, Bella – so I quietly set about taking photos of her two dogs and mine, trying not to cause any alarm or unsettle her, and started feeding the odd print back to her – sometimes, smuggled into the house in among several shots of her grandchildren. I started seeing that I was right – Bella was clearly slowing down – so I stepped up the pace a bit, and did a couple of photos shoots at Kath’s, mostly concentrating on Bella. Delivered a bunch of photos to her a couple of days ago, and she was almost in tears – she thinks Bella is heading for the end, and the photos meant so much to her. Which of course is why I took them for her.

      And I am so glad I did – she hasn’t smiled as much as she has these past 2 or 3 days, for some months. I am sure she subconsciously realised how Bella was faring and hadn’t really wanted to admit it to herself, till she found she could no longer ignore it, over the last weekend. The photos have clearly helped her, no end.

      There! You can’t do that for a friend, who doesn’t even own a computer or a tablet or a smartphone, with digital images. You can’t pin digital images to the refrigerator or the living room wall, or the wall of your bedroom – well I guess you can, in one of those electronic frames, but that’s not exactly what I meant. And you can’t possibly give as much pleasure, and as much help in dealing with the impending (or actual) loss of loved ones (humans or animals), with a JPEG as you can with a nicely printed photograph.

      • Avatar
        artuk March 20, 2017

        C1 Express is free for Sony users, and Pro is (I think) around 50 euros (too bad – it used to be about 20 euros for the previous version!)

  5. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron March 15, 2017

    LOL – that provoked a very immediate response, Pascal !!!

    Yes & no is the best answer I can offer. I’ve seen enough of Ming Thein’s photos with the latest ‘blad to say the clarity impresses me mightily. I know I can NOT match it, even with the Otus’s – my sensors just ain’t as great as the one he’s using. But the gap matters more to him, because he’s a pro. What I get with my gear is actually astonishingly good quality stuff (ignoring my contribution and focusing purely on what the gear can do). So in my case, unless I win Lotto, there’s absolutely no way I could possibly justify spending all that extra money on something which really isn’t going to make any difference to my life, or my output.

    Example – one photo I took recently has a sign outside a shop about 100 metres away from where I stood to take the shot. Looking at it on the screen, I was pleasantly surprised to note that it’s quite clear and very easy to read – and that’s not bad, for a sign that far away, when the sign itself is only about 60-80 cm in diameter – and the lettering is only about 4-5 cm high. (Hand held, please note). So – gloating, I showed it to a friend last night. And on a 10 cm x15 cm print, the sign was so small she couldn’t see what the hell I was talking about. It took several minutes before she could even see WHERE in the picture the sign was. Out of curiosity, I just measured it – it is about 2.4 mm in diameter, or 0.029 of one per cent of the area of the photo – represented by roughly 7,000 pixels.

    A few short years ago, that was unheard of. Now, it’s normal – in fact, that was a half frame cam with a 24MP sensor, which is miles less than the current benchmark. And a fortnight ago I was talking to an astronomer who had seen one of the very first “digital cameras” that came here – from memory, it was about 10,000 pixels, looked as if it weighed a ton, and as big as a shoe box! We have NOTHING to complain about, these days!

    The same seems to apply to post processing. Most “systems” have a series of pluses and minuses. Some cost heaps. Some are so complicated that I seriously wonder if the effort needed to get on top of what the hell you’re supposed to do next is really worth while. Most have awful cataloguing and indexing issues, which extend beyond there to the process involved in saving your work. And at the end of the day, provided you do your homework when you take the shot, any improvements they produce are generally fairly marginal, so their producers need to address ease of use. But that’s a topic for another day, so I won’t pursue it further here.

    Except to say this. It’s all very well have all your images digital, and only ever publishing them digitally. But it’s not until you try to put them on paper as a photographic print that you finally see your work for what it really is. Transmitted light is quite different from reflected light. Printing papers come in an extraordinary variety these days. Printers and printing inks vary enormously. Letting someone at your local camera shop or whatever loose on your shots provides a short cut – but you lose control and it’s not going to be “your” photo after that.

    And I agree 100% – make that 120%, in fact! – with Philippe. If you really want to improve IQ, you need to include PP as part of your photography.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy March 15, 2017

      Clarity is indeed what the X1D has to offer. Is that what we want ? It’s quite possible pros looking to sell their pics for front pages will like the added clarity but I’m way happier with a Mandler-era 90mm Elmarit (still one of the best lenses ever designed, in my book) and the gentle, sharp and refined look it gives me.

      As for PP, this is where I disagree with both Philippe and you. You certainly don’t need PP to make good photographs. That’s what we’re being lured to believe. For every one famous tog who’s photos are collectible and who relies strongly on PP, I can probably name 50 who don’t.

      I just happen to enjoy PP more than any other part of photography, so I do a lot of it. Even the smaprthone photographs on this page have been through Apple Photos. But it’s certainly no substitute for composition, vision, awareness … not even close.

      • Avatar
        jean pierre (pete) guaron March 16, 2017

        Clarity? I get that with the Otus lenses – but of course, they’re not exactly cheap, and they’re bulky & heavy. Another example of “no perfect solution”?

        PP – this goes in fits and starts. If you don’t do it, you’ll never see what difference it can make. When you do do it, you start to see what’s wrong with your photography, so next time you shoot, you do it better. Then, of course, you don’t need as much PP. After a while, you can steam along needing very little – or even better, none at all.

        I run four cams, and their outputs vary. What is fairly constant, is the type and degree of PP that the output from each cam calls for. For example, with the Canon PowerShot, practically all the PP it needs could be done on a pre-set; but it does need PP on heaps of shots taken with it.

  6. Avatar
    Sean March 15, 2017

    Hi Pascal, Phil, and Mark,

    First, this is a good thought provoking article. i tend to agree that investing in glass is worth the effort, irrespective of whether the lens can be swapped for another, or if it’s part of the construct of the camera itself. Take for example the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ8, with the Leica zoom lens built into its body.

    Second, I also have noticed the progressive improvement in PP software with each iteration released. Depending on circumstances, I too use CaptureOne, or Irident Developer, or DXO, and AccuRAW EXR or Monochrome.

    Lastly, as an exercise, I recently re-edited some images taken back in 2007 with the Lumix FZ8. The difference in image quality, of the re-edited images, was very evident. Phil has made a very valid point when he alludes to use of good PP software. Paul likewise makes a valid point in that MF is, well probably redundant. Mark, also alluded to the importance of good glass to help get the image onto the sensor.

    In sum, as good article.

    Regards
    Sean

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy March 15, 2017

      Thanks Sean, much appreciated.

      It all boils down to the style and intended output.

      Fine art photographers (who, let’s face it, are role models for 99% of amateurs) place an inordinate amount of importance on the appearance of the finished image. They’ll make a photo of stump and turn it into a lovely piece of visual furniture. For them PP and gear is super important.

      For unsung geniuses such a Saul Leiter, Pentti Sammallahti or, closer to us, someone as brilliant as Eric Kim, none of this matters.

      Since it’s a lot easier to sell resolution than Eric Kim’s skill set in a box, all manufacturers want us to believe important photography is fine art photography. But it’s important to keep in mind that both aspects are what make photography so rich and interesting.

      I was hoping the new gen of MF cameras would either give us more of that fine art look or more of that old street photography vibe. It’s not happening and it’s really unclear what these two newcomers really are adding to the existing landscape. In my mind, not much, certainly not enough to justify the price tag. But I’m sure (and hope for Hasselblad and Fuji) that many others will feel differently.

      Best regards,
      Pascal

  7. Avatar
    Oliver March 15, 2017

    I fully agree (MF – SMALL MidFormat is redundant or not worth changing to). Why not investing into other MF – Manual Focusing, e.g. the Zeiss Milvus line. Super manufacturing quality, weather and dust resistant to last 40 years plus (even the OTUS line doesn’t have it), stylish and maybe 5%-10% less sharpness than the Otus line open, on par stopped down. Probably ready for the next MP race in 35mm format – 75-80 MP ?

    ZE/ZF choice gives perfect adaptability for all mirrorless systems and one of the 2 big players – maybe even turning a future fuji GFX 80 through their image circle of probably 36 mm into a modern ‘6×6’ camera, when the system has proven its quality and PP software does a good job on the Fuji Raws.

    Anyway – enjoy your creativity and focus on what YOU HAVE !

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy March 15, 2017

      Oliver, please be careful. The word Milvus sends shivers through my spine. Ooooooh, the Milvus 85, one of the great recent classics, if you ask me. Such a brilliant and lovable lens! And the idea of a 36×36 square format camera also sens shivers through my spine. Mention the 2 in the same paragraph and you could have me drooling myself to death πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

  8. Avatar
    PaulB March 15, 2017

    Pascal

    Your article has certainly struck a chord with your readers. You have received a lot of replies over night.

    I understand where you are coming from. When I first heard of the new Hassy and Fuji MF cameras I was interested. I would really like a high resolution camera. Preferably from Leica. But that does not seem to be on the horizon. So you begin to compare what is available for about the same amount as a new M body or the SL.

    I think the next year will shrink any differences that may exist between the low end of MF and what is available from Canon, Nikon, and Sony now; which are not large. Not to mention let Hasselblad and Fuji work through their growing pains; which are starting to be discovered.

    Canon may have the advantage in the short term since they have two cameras that already use a 50mp sensor. All they need to do is eliminate the anti-aliasing filters in the 5DS cameras and they should see an image improvement similar to what Nikon experienced in the change from the D800/800E to the D810. Canon would also benefit for firmware updates to get more from their sensors.

    Sony is not very far out of the box either with the A7RII. The resolution of this sensor is so close that the difference in linear resolution is negligible. Sony needs to upgrade their processing and get better control of the compression they use. Though the cover glass Sony uses may be an impediment for adapted lenses.

    Nikon is the company that needs the most from a hardware stand point. They need a new sensor to close the numerical gap. But from a processing standpoint they are the farthest ahead. There are a lot of photographers, like Ming Thein, that feel the image quality from the D810 is superior to the Canon 5DS twins.

    Being an early adopter can be fun, but it can also back fire on you. So I recommend two words to you; wait, or rent.

    While you wait, you may want to become reacquainted with a Mamyia 7 and your favorite lens. Just scan using your Sony and a macro lens.

    PaulB

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy March 16, 2017

      Hi Paul,

      it’s hard to imagine Nikon firing up again, so don’t hold your breath. Canon have a 50Mpix sensor that’s not really very good compared to the last gen Sony 42Mpix. So I think it would be foolish for anyone invested in Sony to look elsewhere just now. But, as you say, renting is the safe option for those who are tempted.

      Don’t get me started on the Mamiya 7 πŸ˜‰ Please !!! A recent article drum scanned B&W negs from a Mamiya 7 and found it to have 150Mpix of resolution. The camera is cheap, these days and the lenses are out of this world. I have to say the idea of using the Sony and a macro lens to digitise the slides is a very tempting idea but I’ll wait and see what Sony has to offer for the next generation of camera before deciding on a “back to the future” move such as the Mamiya would imply. Now, if someone just plonked a sensor inside a Mamiya 7, now that would be something else πŸ˜‰

      Cheers

    • Avatar
      artuk March 20, 2017

      re: removal of AA filters on the sensor.

      I read an interesting article in the UKs “Amateur Photographer” magazine a few years ago when the recent fashion for AA less cameras started. One of their writers who is a professor and has a specialism in imaging looked at results from AA and AA-less versions of the same sensor, and his conclusion was that there was no extra detail, just the “perception” of detail actually caused by false detail. The disadvantage is aliasing issues etc.

      I think right now Sony have the advantage with their 42Mp sensor, which seems better on paper to Canon’s 50Mp device. Canon have had issues with their sensors for several years, as they have kept to analogue to digital converter further away from the sensor, causing noise in longer signal paths, which degrades noise and dynamic range etc. They have started to change their designs, but Sony seem to have been creating highly integrated sensors with A-D etc on board for some time, and clearly have a technical advantage.

  9. Avatar
    Steffen March 16, 2017

    I’m not sure what to think about those new MF digital cameras. I remember back in film, MF had a unique look and attributes that only MF (and LF) could create. But these new MF cameras just don’t look much different from what I’m used from any other format (without pixel-peeping and side-by-sides). I wonder what happened. Is it because these sensors are just marginally bigger than FF?

    Maybe you should think about really large MF cameras. Those that force you to change the way you photograph just because you can’t hand-hold them. But you need to sell some other stuff before. Maybe your house or something …

    Anyway, not jumping on a half-baked new system always deserves two thumbs up for rational behavior πŸ˜‰

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy March 17, 2017

      Hi Steffen, that’s what Frank’s comment, below, seems to confirm. There’s a lot to be gained by going full in with a larger and more expensive camera, but nothing we’ve seen so far indicates there’s really any point in investing in the “intermediate” MF.

      My guess is that a 30% larger (lineraly) sensor from an older generation doesn’t make much of a difference and that the current range of FF gives us access to such an exquisite range of lenses that the new contenders really have a hard time separating from the high-end FF.

      Combine that with the added size / cost and the significant loss of shooting envelope and it doesn’t look as good in the pixel flesh as it sounded on paper.

  10. Avatar
    FrankS March 17, 2017

    I beg to differ. After many years with the Leica system (began with M3 — thru M240) I tried a friend’s Hasselblad H6D-100c and bought one myself. It’s sure not a street camera due to size and weight, but the images are not at all comparable to those I achieved with the Leica M240, Nikon 810 to the Leica SL which I had briefly.

    Not to recommend this to any one (as a professional I can write purchases off against hoped for profits!) but high MP medium format is incomparable in my view.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy March 17, 2017

      Hi Frank, that’s exactly my point. I’m saying the expensive medium format (stuff in the 30-100k bracket from Hasselblad or Phase) is a whole step ahead of the full frame whereas the new “semi-affordable” MF isn’t. I really don’t think the lenses on the X1D are as good as those you are using on the H6D. Nor is the sensor (it’s smaller so doesn’t give you that real medium format look). It may be too early to conclude definitely about this, but thats what the early samples and reports indicate. So, congratulations on your purchase. If you ever feel like writing a review of that great camera, we’d love to hear from you πŸ™‚

  11. Avatar
    artuk March 20, 2017

    I recently saw both the Hasselblad X1D and Fuji GFX at the UK’s “Photography Show”. I didn’t spend much time looking at them as I’m not in the market for either of them. A few thoughts and observations:

    1. The Hasselblad is by far the “sexier” camera, like a slightly larger Sony A7 with very attractive looks. I know it shouldn’t matter, but we are all human, and it does.

    2. When Fuji announced the GFX at Photokina, there was no price but lots of Fuji talk about it being competitive and talking about full frame prices. I appreciate you can purchase a Full Frame camera for between Β£750 and Β£5300, but when they released it with a Β£6,500 price tag I just thought it was too expensive. For the type of things that it will do well – landscape, studio etc. – cameras such as Sony’s Β£3000 A7Rii are the camera to beat.

    3. Whilst sensor size does matter, neither of them (nor Pentax’s forgotten 645Z) have a full size medium format sensor, far from it. Whilst the Sony made 50Mp sensor is excellent, and when DX0 briefly published their review of the 645Z sensor (and then withdrew it!), it was better than any other camera – but not by that much. Some of Sony’s full frame and APS-C sensors remain the ones to beat in their class, and the larger “medium format” sensor simply doesn’t improve on dynamic range, colour depth and noise management that much.

    4. It is strongly rumoured that Sony are working on a new full frame sensor of even higher resolution – or that they are working on one that is lower resolution but offers almost unlimited continuous shooting possibilities. Knowing Sony, they are probably working on both. Their managers talk about goals concerning resolution, frame rates and noise management – so the company is exploring it, and the next generation of cameras will probably push the envelope again in an attempt to appeal to everyone and eat further into Canon and Nikon’s market share.

    5. None of the “medium format” systems offer the lenses choices nor the functional versatility of SLR and mirrorless systems – therefore they cannot be used to photograph the same range of subjects and scenes. They can’t do the things that the Β£5,000 SLRs are designed to do, but neither can they do the things that a Β£400 Sony A6000 can do.

    All of this leaves a fairly thin slice of middle ground with a fairly high price of entry. Some professionals, bloggers who get sponsored by Fuji, or the occasional rich amateur will purchase one, but for most people the cost and size simply don’t make sense for the limitations and marginal incremental improvements in image quality potential.

    As I said at the start of this comment, I’m not in the market for any of them, so that make me biased.

  12. Avatar
    Dmitri Serdukoff March 24, 2017

    Pascal,

    I’ll buy your GFX for 50% off, all right? Joking aside (the worst joke being the very existence of Hasselblad X1D), the FUJI has to be treated very differently. Even if it only had, for example 24M pixels, it still would be a truly groundbreaking system. Its merits are not in offering higher IQ. Please, do not see it as yet another “walk around” camera. It is not. It is, first and foremost, an OPEN PLATFORM SYSTEM with a huge “throat”, a mindblowingly short flange-to-sensor distance, [an open protocol] regarding its electronic communication with native lenses. It is just like SONY NEX (now Alpha, I guess…), only larger and better. It is a modern digital back, with all the amenities, absent in those official digital backs. It is created to be used with ANY lenses. I want the GFX, but I do not want its lenses, none. Well, maybe the macro. Other than that, I would set it to square crop, mount my all-mechanical PC Nikkor 85mm on it, and be done … for years to come. The fully articulating EVF alone is worth its weight in gold.

    SERDUKOFF

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy March 24, 2017

      Hi Dmitri, that’s a very interesting point of view and I mostly agree with everything you say.

      The articulated EVF is brilliant. The 1/16000″ to 60′ shutter is brilliant; The low flange distance opens up brilliant potential. And yes, all of this would be just as tempting with lower resolution. In fact, my realy dream would be a much larger sensor with lower res. A 24Mpix 6×7 would be such an amazing departure from our common FF gear !!!

      And I have nothing against the new MF systems (really nothing, they make my heart race every time I think about them). My point is simply that most of all this is already available with the Sony platform at a much lower price point, with greater convenience (size, stabilisation) and in a package that will continue to evolve technologically at a greater rate. So, I’m not saying the Fuji is bad. It’s brilliant. But there is something already brilliant in my home in the form of the Sony and nothing I’ve seen in pictures yet has made me want to challeng this yet.

      But, if you do mount that 85 PC on a GFX, please, please, send pics our way πŸ™‚ We’d love to see that !!

      All the best,
      Pascal

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