PMA 08; Medium Format

The absence of the major camera and digital back manufacturers, including Hasselblad, Mamiya, and Phase One, probably reflects less on the viability of the format than the fact that this show is more oriented toward amateur and advanced amateur photographers. But the lack of those exhibitors didn't dim one of the most interesting announcements at the show--a camera that harkens more to the past than to boasting the latest digital technology.

Fujifilm Prototype

Fujifilm offered a glimpse of a prototype medium format film camera displayed under glass that featured a retro-style rangefinder complete with a collapsible bellows lens, an 80mm f/3.5. As I stood among the crowd trying for a closer look, I observed that most of the comments revolved around the camera's styling and less its technical specifications, which were not very forthcoming from the Fujifilm reps. No information on pricing or availability was offered, but the presence of the camera nevertheless offers medium format loyalists the hope that this film format will still enjoy the benefit of interesting camera designs, at least for the foreseeable future.

When it comes to exploring the digital side of medium format, my examination of the Leaf AFi-series cameras was less about pixel count and more about speed, functionality, and optics. Because of the large file sizes produced by 30+ megapixel resolution cameras such as this, the common challenge faced by photographers is the bottleneck that occurs when actually producing images.

Leaf AFi

The Leaf AFi series boasts an unlimited Burst Shooting mode of up to 82 frames per minute, which seems to promise a solution for those times when a rapid succession of captures is necessary to capture the decisive moment. Handling the camera, there is a familiarity to the design that allows for easy negotiation of its controls. The electronic functions of the camera are easily accessible, aided by its touch-sensitive screen. Though the final arbiter of any camera is the images it produces, the camera seems to offer a strong alternative to those photographers who are looking to invest in a medium format camera that delivers quality while it keeps up with their shooting style.

Horseman SW-D II Pro

I'm always in search of products that address a specific photographic problem. In the case of the Horseman SW-D II Pro, it's meeting the need for wide angle digital imaging for architectural photography. Though stitching multiple images provides a solution for some, the SW-D II Pro offers solutions in camera; it can produce images with super wide angle lenses down to 24mm, which is the equivalent of a 17mm in 35mm format. Compatible with digital camera backs for Hasselblad, Mamiya, or Contax cameras, it offers camera movements for rise, fall, and lateral shift to the right and left, providing shift and perspective control.

Linhof Technika 3000

Another beauty I spied at the show was the Linhof 120th anniversary Technika 3000, which speaks more to the collector than the everyday working photographer. But even with that in mind, the camera offers standout aesthetics that may be hard to resist. It is designed after the well established Master Technika, but with Ferrari red leather material. It features a leather hand strap finished with a wide red stripe. The folding focusing hood features a special version of the Linhof crest with the words "120 years" added to it. While the camera may not find a place in your everyday camera bag, there is something to be said for a camera that can be appreciated for its looks as well as its functionality.

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