Medium format cameras have huge image sensors inside them, making the limitations of photography melt away. Now, medium format digital cameras are reaching DSLR prices.
Sometimes the world "entry-level" can be a bit of an oxymoron. For instance, you can say entry-level Ferrari and the car still costs well into the six-figure range. The same can be said of entry-level cameras from Mamiya, a brand associated with medium format photography. Mamiya cameras are in a completely different league to entry-level cameras we all know like the Canon EOS 450D, Nikon D5000, or Pentax K-x
, which all hover around the $1000 mark.
That being said, though, medium format cameras, which have traditionally been the realm of pro photographers, have been well and truly out of the price range of regular consumers in the past -- and that is just now starting to change.
The term "medium format" comes from the days of film, where cameras were generally either 35mm -- the format most people have used in a film camera in the past, medium format (a variety of film sizes, but commonly 6x6cm), or large format (a variety of sizes, but commonly 20 x 25.4cm).
Although medium and large format film has always been expensive to shoot with, and more complicated to use than 35mm negative format, it provides photographers with unbeatable sharpness and resolution for enlargements due to the physically larger size of the film. In the digital era, the benefits are similar, but without the difficulty in handling the film. The downside is that medium format digital camera sensors have been exponentially more expensive than 35mm or smaller sensors used in common cameras.
The entry-level Mamiya digital camera just unveiled is a new open platform digital camera called the 645DF. The camera has a new selectable dual shutter system with flash sync speeds up to 1/1600 of a second. The camera is designed for use with digital camera backs that have the Mamiya 645AF
The 645AF offers the handling of a 35mm camera with the image capture area that is almost three times larger than 35mm.
The camera also has full digital controls and an LCD display with 19 custom settings. Along with the camera, Mamiya also debuted three new leaf shutter lenses including the Sekor 80mm f/2.8 LS D, the Sekor 55mm f/2.8 LS D, and the Sekor 110mm f/2.8 LS D.
And now the kicker -- the camera body will sell for about $6,488, with the new lenses ranging from $2,697 to $4,322. That is definitely not cheap, and nowhere near 'entry-level' as most people would understand the term, but it's getting cheaper. The camera body is now cheaper than a top-of-the-line 35mm Nikon camera, for example. Medium format cameras will now be worth keeping an eye on over the next few years as pricing drops further.