There is a murmuring in the photographic industry, the winds of change have been blowing for some time, and soon what we knew to be a beacon of integrity and reliability will be swept aside the DSLR. In the noughties the SLR, made a happy transition into the DSLR and we all understood that to be the same…but different.
We are however at the dawn of a new photographic era and there is something that only now is starting to come into the everyday lexicon of professional photographers but it’s not what you thought. For years we have watched the iPhone and the Samsung something morph into something that resembled something else other than a telephone. We all checked our bank balances against the cost of the latest DSLR’s and thought, “I will still peg the cost of that back with the next few gigs” but it’s been getting harder, it’s taking longer to payoff our DSLR’s and our trendy white 24-70mm f2.8 something and our 85mm f1.4 portrait something (insert brochure babble here). Every year, year on year the digital costs have risen slightly, the revenue has ebbed away and the margins have become tighter than Donald Trumps suspenders. “Damn the internet” I hear you cry, “those amateurs with their APS-C mirror less micro four third contraptions” I hear you shriek! “, “Those, instagramming buffoons and their iPhoning ways, they have no standards!” I hear you whinge from the bottom of your bottoms. This is all true, and whilst we don’t want to admit that APS-C images aren’t too bad and instagramming is as fun as a game of darts on your own, these are not the things that will bring the demise of the DSLR…neigh!
There is something else on the horizon, like Omar Sharif riding in across the desert, this ‘thing’ will be the savior of professional photographers (and semipro types with deeper pockets).
The economics of photography production enable photographers who are financially positioned well to have an advantage. If you look ahead and you can see how changes in technology change the spending habits of the people that pay photographers to take amazing photographs, then you won’t be able to look away when you see what is coming because the latest evolution in photography will keep your clients coming back for more and more. It’s not the latest helicopter robot camera things, or an app that removes dust from images automatically (wouldn’t that be handy) it’s actually an old idea but with a touch of new that makes it not so old anymore.
Seth Godin likes Purple Cows, that’s important (watch the video) as a photographer we need something that makes our already outstanding images jump out of the screen, because that is what our clients expect. We need a point of difference, we need an edge, we need what they don’t have and we need it for the same price of a DSLR. If it’s more, we need a guarantee that our investment will be returned because if it isn’t returned everything stops.
Having a technological advantage means everything to a professional photographer in an already flooded marketplace and the ability to rise above the noise and offer the speed of digital photography with the resolution of medium format photography for the cost of a high end DSLR to a professional photographer smacks of opportunity. Every photographer who is serious about gaining an advantage and building a brand as a progressive digital practitioner that can deliver the highest quality results, should not pass this opportunity by. At this point in time, in the history of photography, medium format digital photography is the next bastion, previously exclusive only to high end commercial photographers, to now be made available to mid career domestic and corporate photographers as well. This is big.
For far too long perennial photographers have slowly been swamped and squeezed by the democratization of photography, which culturally is not a bad thing but it’s restrictive when you are trying to pay a mortgage and feed a family having thousands of competitors that weren’t there 5 years ago. Here and now is an opportunity for the mid career bandwidth of professional photographers to leave the crowd behind and leave the instagrammers for dust.
Hasselblad started it with the X1D-50c a stunning medium format camera about the same size as a high-end DSLR. Released only this year it is set to revolutionize medium format photography. Take away that viewfinder and flappy mirror from the old Hassleblad H6D and it becomes a hand held 50 Megapixel beast the same size as a Canon EOS 1D X. It all comes down to price. We know that the Sony a6500 takes a high quality APS-C image but it retails for $1400 US that’s $770 US less than the Nikon D500 with the same specs (in fact the Nikon has only 21MP). So we can see that there is an opportunity to retail mirrorless cameras cheaper than their DSLR counterparts. So the big question is, even though the Hasselblad is a 50 megapixel medium format camera, will it retail for the same price as the top of the range Canon DSLR? Will photographers be able to buy a medium format mirrorless camera for less than $10,000 US? Hassleblad is not know for marketing for price point, enter Fujifilm and their GFX 50S with a bodacious 51.4MP…BOOM! another mirrorless medium format camera it has a huge in resolution but are Fujifilm going to be firm but fair on price? That has every photographer leaning in over the sales counter waiting in anticipation for a response.
The folks at the American website photorumors.com are speculating that the GFX 50S wit a 63mm f2.8 lens will be pitched to market for under $10K US and if that’s the case we will most definitely see the dawn of a new era of Medium Format professional photography