Friday, June 24, 2016

More on the importance of the Hasselblad X1D . . .

Will ALL current cameras become museum pieces?
I've owned and operated many Medium Format cameras over the years.  I've owned Bronicas, Mamiyas, and I still have a much loved Yashica Mat 124G.  What can I say about that last one?  Some cameras just speak to you, regardless of comparative quality. 
The dialog around the X1D is starting to separate out into two camps.  Those who see the X1D as an expensive, and conspicuous show of wealth, with no real impact on photography, and those who see the X1D as something that is inherently a game changer and a threat to the FF DSLR.  I am in the second camp.
Modern photography is now very much a part of the consumer economy.  The X1D isn't important because it is a good camera, indeed, it may or may not be a successful new camera introduction, the results are not in on that.   There are many reasons why a given camera may succeed or fail.
The X1D is important because of what it means for the future of photography.   What we are seeing is that sensor/film size no longer has as direct a correspondence to camera size and usability that it used to have.
The X1D is only a tiny bit larger and a tiny bit heavier than the Sony A7RII.  And as much as I love my m43s E-M10, the X1D isn't THAT much bigger and heavier than the larger m43s camera bodies.  The gap between 'big' and 'small' is narrowing.
It may be too early to tell until we get the camera into hands of the early adopters, but It seems that it is not just 'reasonably hand-holdable', it is VERY hand-holdable!  We've all seen MF SLRs, they are NOT ideal hand held devices.  People use them for the image quality, and NOT for how convenient they are.  Hasselblad seems to be trying to develop a convenient MF camera.
Is the X1D a threat to the current crop of FF DSLRs?  Probably not, at least at list prices.  But I remind you it uses a SONY sensor.  What if Sony decides there is a market for a lower priced MF mirrorless camera similar to the X1D? It would seem a 'doable' project for Sony if the design and build costs work out.
What if Olympus decides the "M" in m43s should actually stand for "Medium"?  
I think the need to differentiate the quality found in dedicated cameras from the cameras found in smartphones may force manufacturers to seriously consider upsizing their sensors, and when/if that occurs, the mirrorbox will be discovered to add a lot of size, weight, and mirror flop tortion for no good reason.
What we are seeing is a result of the success of the smartphone as a "go everywhere" camera.  The recent smartphone offerings are getting pretty good, and no one thinks the image quality of the smart phone cameras will stop getting better.  
Hasselblad has given us a possible way to keep the stand alone dedicated camera a viable photographic tool.  I think the other manufacturers would be foolish to ignore it.

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