The medium format dSLR arena gets new entry level cameras which may persuade many to use them instead of 35mm full frame dSLRs

Written by Gary on October 22nd, 2009

From my previous posts, I have suggested that one needs several types of cameras (see here and here ):

  • a point and shoot ultra compact for social events
  • a compact, high image quality digital for to take with you almost everywhere – such as the Micro Four Thirds or perhaps Canon G11
  • a relatively small wide aperture super telephoto zoom kit such as Four Thirds dSLR with Olympus ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5
  • a large sensor, big camera for use on a tripod for when you want the highest quality images

In the last category, we have an increasing number of 35mm dSLR options such as Canon 5DMII, Canon 1D Mark III/IV, Canon 1Ds Mark III, Nikon D700, Nikon D3, Nikon D3x, Nikon D3s, and Sony a700.

BUT, now that medium format dSLR prices are coming down, perhaps a medium format dSLR may start playing a much bigger role with its double size sensor, even shallower depth of field options, 16 bit files instead of 14 bit, 12 stop dynamic range and lower spatial resolution on the sensor allowing use of legacy lenses.

Let’s face it, if you are going to carry a big camera, big lens and big tripod for your best image quality, and you don’t need 5fps burst rate, then you may as well be carrying a marginally bigger camera with even more potential for improved image quality.

Leica has earlier announced its S3 system but like Hasselblad and Phase One, and the like, these will be expensive and out of reach for most photographers.

However, Mamiya has just announced their DM22 dSLR, a 22 megapixel camera with 16 bit double size sensor (from 35mm – 48mmx36mm) with an 80mm lens that has ISO 25-400 at a RRP of $US9995 – sure it is just under double the price of the new Canon 1D Mark IV or Nikon D3s, but then it will allow you to use legacy Mamiya 645 MF and Hasselblad V series lenses via an adapter, and it should offer better image quality at low ISO.

Mamiya DM22

This is potentially a great alternative for those who have these legacy medium format lenses, and don’t have expensive pro 35mm lenses, don’t need sports/action or low light capability but want high image quality at a reasonable price.

Another new alternative which is perhaps more modular and thus more upgradable, is the new Leaf Aptus II 5 digital back at €5,995, which can be combined with a Phase One 645AF camera body and 80mm lens for a total RRP of €7,995. This back is also 22mp, 16bit, ISO 25-400 but with a touch screen LCDand option to upgrade to other Leaf Aptus II backs such as the 56mp 56x36mm Aptus II 10 back.

These Leaf Aptus II digital backs can be used on many medium format cameras including Mamiya 645AFD, Mamiya RZ67/RB67, most Hasselblad H and V series, Contax 645, Fuji GX680 II/III, Bronica SQA/Ai/ETRS as well as many view cameras such as Alpa, Arca, Cambo, Horseman, Linhof, Sinar, Toyo, Rollei X-Act2 and others via Leaf Graflok or third-party adapters.


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