Tuesday, March 5, 2013

UPDATED: Fotodiox Offers Medium Format Digital System for Under $1000

Got an email from Fotodiox about a medium format digital camera for under $1000.  The email linked to a teaser video that requires you to put in your email address before you can see the entire video.  (Really classy, Fotodiox...)  Here's the link to the teaser video.

Anyway, they promise the ability to use existing medium format lenses (Hasselblad V, Mamiya 645, or Pentax 645), 100+ MB resolution shots, and a sub-$1000 price tag.  The video doesn't show you the actual product, offering instead to show it next time.  Meanwhile it does invite readers to think how they accomplished this.

UPDATE: link to Part 2 of the video below.  Apparently, Fotodiox offers a discount.

I thought about it and the only economical alternative that I could think of was stitching a panorama.  Ryan Brenizer pioneered a technique (now called by many the Brenizer method) to stitch several images together to simulate a shot from a very large sensor and a very wide aperture.  Here is some more info about the Brenizer method from the man himself: http://www.ryanbrenizer.com/2011/05/brenizer-method-instructions/

Anyway, I searched the Fotodiox site and found the product -- it's called the Vizelex RhinoCam.  And indeed it is a cleverly-designed bracket that connects to a Sony NEX camera and allows you to take precisely positioned shots to simulate a single shot from a medium format camera.
Inline image 2

The bracket also has a viewfinder to aid in composition.  However, the image appears to be inverted.  Once you've composed your shot, you can then slide the NEX to the sequential positions.  It appears that the bracket can also be used for panoramas (as opposed to simulated medium format shots) by rotating the NEX to landscape (instead of portrait) orientation.

Inline image 3

BTW you may be wondering why Fotodiox chose to build the system around the Sony NEX.  I don't have information from Fotodiox but I think it is because the NEX has a short flange focal distance (just like other mirrorless systems).  At the same time, because NEX has an APS-C size sensor it can paint the medium format panorama with fewer shots than a Micro 4/3 camera.  The Fuji X and Canon M systems also have a short flange distance and have APS-C size sensors but I am supposing NEX has a far larger installed base.  However I suppose it is theoretically possible for Fotodiox to create versions for the Fuji X, Canon M or maybe even Micro 4/3.  (I'll ask Fotodiox and see what they say.)

Anyway, how well does it work?  In terms of detail, it does appear to deliver on the promise of high-resolution 100+MB medium format images.  Here is the shot posted by Fotodiox for comparison:
Inline image 4

But the system appears difficult to use for moving subjects.  Then again, Ryan Brenizer does use his panorama stitching method for his weddings, so I suppose it is possible with good technique and patient subjects. 

Fotodiox is offering the bracket for $499.95 BYOC (bring your own camera).  Here is the link: http://fotodioxpro.com/index.php/vizelex-rhinocam-for-sony-nex-e-mount-cameras.html

UPDATE: Here is part 2 of the video: http://mediumformatdreams.kajabi.com/squeeze_pages/23437-medium-format-dreams-dream-2
The video states that if you join their mailing list, you can get the bracket at a discount... tomorrow.
Note: I'm not affiliated with Fotodiox and receive no commissions from them.