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.


  1. Actually, you do have those kind of things for other mounts, I think of the "horseman LD". And I always wanted to make one myself... :)

    But one of the limitation of these system is the way the light reaches the sensor, on our DSLR bodies and mirror-less, the sensor is built in the bottom of a box, pretty far away from the mount, so if you tilted your lens quite badly, you might get some truncated pictures, or vignetting. At least, that's what I thought when thinking about the system.
    So, it's not too surprising they are taking the body that has the shortest flange distance to minimize this effect.
    Solution would be to disassemble the whole camera and have the sensor sticking in front of the body, just next to the mount. like a real medium format. :)

    1. Hi Valentin. I'm not familiar with the horseman LD. Thanks for the info about that. The horseman makes this one look like a bargain by comparison, even with the cost of a NEX camera. I'm curious to see real world results from both.

      Best regards,

    2. http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/Horseman_LD.shtml

    3. Thanks Valentin. I wonder how feasible it is to use with people. I also keep hearing that medium format has richness and tonality that cannot be matched even by full frame DSLRs. Does a stitched panorama offer the same richness? I wonder.

  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UBTE4xpvpk
    D800 against Hasselblad digital back, at the end, the studio photographer would get Hassies because there is one key difference between the files, it's the color itself, stitching a panorama would only make your picture bigger, to capture more from a single POV, so, let it be conventional panorama techniques for landscape or using the Brenizer method for portrait, it's still looking at a frame from a single pov, as you grow from DX to FF, FF to MF, if your lens is fixed, you try to get more of the subject into the frame, that is only the format, that won't affect the way color are rendered.

    So, in a way, I don't think the richness can be match for now with stitching. :)
    The MF has it own way to convey the different grade of the flesh tones, there is a lot more levels between the brightest and the darkest area than a FF camera, it's close, but from this single review, they consider that there is still a gap.

    For what I am doing, I'll stay with a DSLR... that's fine by me. :)


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