What's This? Mirrorless Digital Medium Format? At a Reasonable Price?

The "big two" players in the digital camera space have got to be scrambling at this point, seeing their market being decimated by the likes of Fujifilm and Olympus and Sony and Panasonic. Fujifilm will soon be shipping their latest DSLR-killer, the X-T2, which I commented on Sunday evening.

Yet, as enticing as the X-T2 is, I'm more intrigued by the rumor of a Fujifilm mirrorless medium format camera. And Hasselblad have been quietly busy, and recently thrown down the gauntlet in this space with their announcement of the X1D digital mirrorless medium format camera with a street price of just under $9,000 for the body (one of the two bargains in the digital medium format market). Word on the street is that a Fuji product could be considerably less expensive than that.

Fujifilm GSW-690iii medium format rangefinder camera with 90mm lens

Fujifilm GSW-690iii medium format rangefinder camera with 90mm lens

Hasselblad have started development of a completely new lens lineup for the new camera, and will offer an adapter to allow use of their existing H-series lenses.

I would suppose the Fujifilm would take a similar approach, although they have some considerable experience with making short-flange-distance medium format film cameras that filled big frames -- 6x7cm, 6x8cm or 6x9cm, depending one the model. While these cameras had fixed lenses (typically a 65mm wide angle or a 90mm normal lens) it's possible that they could look back to those designs in a digital offering, though the resulting camera would be positively huge.

In each case, these could be medium-format digital cameras that are both smaller than a high-end DSLR (the Hasselblad is smaller), and come in at similar price points -- or lower (Canon's 18MP 1D-C body is $8,000 at B&H)! With these kinds of innovations in the mirrorless space, companies like Canon and Nikon really are going to need to get their collective heads out of their asses and get on the stick if they intend to survive, let along continue to dominate the market. It's no secret that Nikon is struggling, and while Canon is a larger, more diverse company than Nikon, they certainly can't be in a comfortable place right now.

I wouldn't count Ricoh/Pentax out in this arena, either. They're already the price leader in the more "traditional" digital medium format arena with their excellent $7,000 645Z, which was the first digital medium format camera to employ a CMOS sensor. Similarly priced bodies do not include a digital back, which add thousands to the price tag. Since Pentax also have a mature system in place, they could easily swoop in with a low-priced, mirrorless design and be up-and-running quickly, although I think it would take them longer to develop a lens line-up for such a camera.

Of course, while much of this is out of the price range of most mere mortals, it's all interesting food for thought.