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Mamiya, Leaf ally for medium-format cameras

Two of Phase One's high-end photography brands are marrying product research, development, and support activities.

A Mamiya 645DF camera body with an 80mm lens and a Leaf medium-format image sensor attached.
A Mamiya 645DF camera body with an 80mm lens and a Leaf Aptus medium-format image sensor attached. Mamiya Leaf

Mamiya Digital Imaging and Leaf Imaging, two Phase One-controlled brands in the medium-format photography market, have become one.

With the new Mamiya Leaf brand, the two camera specialists will join product development and support activities, the companies said today.

Medium-format photography has been reshaped dramatically through the transition from film to digital. Using larger frames of film let photographers capture higher-quality imagery, but correspondingly large image sensors come at a much higher price.

Medium-format cameras traditionally came with removable camera backs, and Copenhagen-based Phase One and Tel Aviv-based Leaf make digital versions that would attach to camera bodies. Tokyo-based Mamiya makes camera bodies and lenses.

Competitors, most notably Hasselblad and now Pentax, make integrated designs without removable image sensors. The bigger competition, though, comes from more mainstream SLR designs from Nikon and Canon, whose 35mm-format cameras offer steady improvements in image quality and performance at prices considerably lower than those in the medium-format realm.

Mamiya Leaf logo

Nikon's new D4, for example, costs a mere $6,000 compared to more than $40,000 for an 80-megapixel Phase One-Mamiya combination. The D4 has a much lower resolution, with 16.2 megapixels, but Nikon also sells the 24-megapixel D3S and seems poised to offer a rumored D800 with 36 megapixels. Higher megapixel counts are useful for large, high-quality printing, though it should be noted not all pixels are created equal.

The Mamiya Leaf partnership should help the medium-format cameras compete better.

"We are aligning our resources to ensure that customers will benefit from the extensive expertise residing in both Tokyo and Tel Aviv," said Mamiya President Toshio Midorikawa in a statement. "We are confident that the synergy created and the efficiency gained by simplifying our operations will enable us to serve our customers faster and better."

Dov Kalinksi, Leaf's general manager, promised that customers will "be able to enjoy powerful new products emerging from a unified R&D effort."

The consolidation also should help with customer support worldwide, the companies said.