A Viewfinder Darkly

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Medium Format Digital Camera from Phase One

May 20 2008

by Phil Northeast

Phase One and Mamiya Digital Imaging unveil the world’s most flexible, open medium format digital camera platform, the Phase One 645 Camera or the Mamiya 645AFDIII.

The new Phase One 645 represents a response to Hasselblad’s move to make their new medium format cameras off limits to third party manufacturers. This applies particularly to Phase One, a specialist in digital backs and image processing software for medium format cameras.

Phase One 645

Phase One 645 Digtial Camera

Previously medium format cameras were modular in design allowing photographers greater freedom in mixing and matching components from different manufacturers. This might see a Hasselblad body with Carl Zeiss lenses, and a Phase One digital back recording the image. Companies such as Phase One also supplied components other medium format cameras such as Mamiya, the loss of sales to Hasselblad owners threatens their long term survival. For smaller manufacturers of medium format cameras the loss of a quality alternative to Hasselblad could hurt their sales.

So we have a marriage of convenience between two serious medium format protagonists. Phase One now offer their users the certainty there is camera platform for their digital backs, now and into the future. Similarly, Mamiya benefit from this user base now concentrating on their camera as the way of the future.

“Phase One and Mamiya have taken the first step in delivering a unique approach to designing camera systems,” said Henrik Håkonsson, CEO of Phase One. “We believe that equipment interoperability and personal choice are integral values in realizing the highest quality imaging results. Furthermore we have invested heavily in optimizing all elements of the camera systems reliability to maximize the photographers’ time for shooting extraordinary images.”

Phase One 645 rear view

Phase One 645 rear view

“Mamiya and Phase One are consolidating our expertise and fulfilling our ambitions to provide the products desired by our customers,” said Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, CEO of Mamiya Digital Imaging. “We will continue to cooperate and work hard to ensure that future camera systems are limited only by the imagination and desires of the artists that use them.”

One of the key design aspects stressed in the announcement is the open nature of the platform. The new camera design accepts all quality digital camera backs, as well as traditional camera backs for film operation. It offers the widest choice of high-end lenses, including the complete Mamiya 645 lens range, the new 28mm aspherical and D series lenses, as well as Hasselblad V-lenses and Pentacon Six lenses. This should appeal to photographers with an existing investment in lenses for those systems.

Phase One and Mamiya are following other smaller specialist manufacturers to combine resources to ensure they have future for their products. Franke & Heideke (the makers of Rollei MF cameras), are working together with Jenoptic, the makers of the Sinar digital backs, on its brand new Hy6 camera. This provides similar outcome with Rollei and Sinar branded digital medium format cameras taking Hasselblad head on in the market place.

originally published bu suite101.com


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