The medium-format market is mostly an obscure niche of the digital-camera industry. Prices are high, customers must have lavish budgets, and optics and sensor technology is different from the SLR realm.
Heck, most people hadn't heard of the brand names involved. Until now: This time it's Pentax that announced its entry into the market with a product called the 645D.
It's not going to rewrite the rules of photography. It'll be available only in Japan, at least for starters when it ships in May, it needs its own lenses, and it costs 850,000 yen--about $9,200. But there are enough interesting developments here that it's worth noting.
Medium-format cameras have been niche items for years, distinguished from SLRs chiefly by their larger of a film frame. Now that digital sensors are in and film is out, though, the comparative costs of medium-format cameras have surged, because making a large sensor is a lot more expensive than making a smaller one. Pentax's model uses a 40-megapixel Kodak sensor measuring 44x33mm, larger than a "full-frame" SLR that uses the 36x24mm frame size of 35mm film and a lot larger than the sensors in mainstream digital SLRs.
To go a bit beyond the press release, I recommend reading Luminous Landscape's interview with Pentax's Yasuyuki Maekawa about the 645D. It triggered a number of thoughts about medium format and Pentax's effort. … Read more