20 megapixel and 22 megapixel CCD sensors revitalize medium format digital camera backs.

During Photokina '02 and PMA '03 lots of buzz was going around about a new 20 megapixel chip from Fuji. We do not know what the 20 megapixel Fujifilm back will be called but since the then current model was the Luma II, perhaps Luma III?

But after a few months Fuji no longer seemed to mention their Luma II medium format backs. Too bad, because the Fuji GX680III is one of the great medium format cameras, albeit nowadays rather oversized for a 645-sized digital sensor. So at present, there is no Luma III available. Indeed the entire 20 megapixel chip turned out to be vaporware.

The other question is whether it was a true 20 megapixels anyway? Fuji claims double the number of sensors which is misleading because every single test of Fuji cameras says their 6 MP chip that they claim has 12-megapixels, offers no noticeable benefits over a true 6 megapixel chip.

Continue on our FLAAR digital-photography.org website for comparative comments on all the other medium format digital backs: Imacon, Jenoptic, Kodak, Leaf, Phase One, Sinar, Mamiya ZD and Megavision.

Medium Format Digital Camera Initiative

For over 30 years Nicholas Hellmuth has used Rolleiflex and Hasselblad cameras to record the flora, fauna, and archaeology of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Now he is extending his medium format experience to digital photography.

Since FLAAR works both in a studio as well as out on location, we are an ideal focus for judging portability. We have experience with large format digital scan backs (the excellent BetterLight) and we also use Nikon and Canon digital cameras. A full-service digital pro should have at least one medium format digital system and should consider large format digital options as well.

Although we started with a Leaf Valeo 22 coupled with a Mamiya 645 AFD body and lenses, we are open to showcasing all bodies as well as other digital backs. Indeed we recently tested an Imacon 4-shot back on a Hasselblad H1 body . Currently (February 2006 onwards) we are evaluating a MegaVision black-and-white dedicated back for fine art photography. We are also considering the Rolleiflex 6008 AF, one of the outstanding medium format cameras that still offers European precision.

Camera resellers or manufacturers who wish to have their cameras, lenses, and backs included in this initiative are welcome to send their equipment for evaluation.

FLAAR is the de facto source of information because we are university based, independent, blunt, and we are one of the few review sources that dares to review advertising specs, advertising claims, and advertising hype. We can afford to reveal all the pros and cons because FLAAR is a research institute. Photographers feel they can trust a university research professor who has devoted years to understanding the pros and cons of each aspect of a digital camera system and workflow.

You can download our colorful FLAAR Reports on our medium format digital camera initiative.


Most recently updated February 28, 2006.
Previously updated Aug. 1, 2005, July 3, 2003. First posted June 16, 2003