To be honest I really wasn't expecting to see so much good stuff coming out of Photokina this year. I'm a little puzzled by the Sony a99 mk2 because I thought they were abandoning the "A" system in favor of the E series cameras. I owned the original a99 and think that everything they fixed was exactly what needed to be done. I'm still not sure about the depth of Sony's support for that family but the camera looks to be a good choice for photographers who also do video; especially those who stuck with the A system over time. The two SD card slots appeal and I would be interested to see if they have gone with a hardier HDMI plug than the micros on the FE series cameras....
The GH5 intro from Panasonic was more or less expected. It will be great. I thought Canon might show a vague prototype of a medium format camera and I hoped that Nikon would show something, anything, mirrorless. My personal wish was for an update to the Sony A7ii. I wanted to see an A7iii with the same shutter technologies as the A7rii (silent please!) and an update to the video capabilities.
But the thing that makes this show memorable, and the one product that inspires desire in me, is the new medium format camera being introduced by Fuji. No one has had a chance to play with the camera yet but looking at the specifications and the overall design I'm willing to call this camera the smartest entry into the medium format digital market to date.
There's nothing to make me stand up and shout, where the sensor is concerned. It's probably a Fuji tweaked version of the same sensor being used in the Pentax MF and both lines of 50 MP sensored Hasselblads. The thing that makes this camera exciting is the combination of features that makes one system superior to another system. While Hasselblad is dicking around with consumer-focused, moderately wide lenses for its initial foray into the markets the folks at Fuji get that these cameras will be used by real, live professionals (at least the ones still standing) and that they want something more (a lot more) that just some point and shoot optics. That Fuji will be rolling out the initial system with a 120mm f4.0 Macro lens (95mm equivalent in 35mm-speak) signals to me that they know how vital portraits are to the commercial practice of photography. You could buy this camera and that one lens and get to work trying to make enough money to pay for it. Not so with anything announced for the mirrorless H-Blad...
The second Fuji lens that makes me sit up and take notice that Fuji intends for this system to be taken quite seriously is the 110mm f2.0. I owned the 110mm f2.0 Planar in the Hasselblad system and the combination of the focal length and the very fast aperture made images that were hard to duplicate in any other way. I can only assume that Fuji's version of the lens will be at least as good. Their current track record, when it comes to lenses, seems pretty much unimpeachable.
Of course there will be wide angles. There are always wide angles. Architectural photographers need them and landscape photographers love them. But the meat and potatoes of any system is the existence of a great normal focal length, fast short telephotos, and beautiful portrait focal lengths. It was the 150mm f4.0 Sonnar that drove the original Hasselblad system. I don't know a single pro who didn't own one in the day (presuming they used Hasselblad). With Fuji's recent track record one can buy into the system with a good degree of confidence that their line of lenses will quickly be fleshed out with outstanding (and useful) products. They've watched the stumbles at Sony and learned that great camera bodies are only part of a successful system equation. You've got to have the lenses buyers want.
I was also happy to see that Fuji's camera will give us the choice of different aspect ratios; including the blessed and holy 1:1 ratio. It seems that in one fell swoop Fuji has given me most of what I've been asking for and musing about in a medium format system. If there is a shutter in the body, which will allow for an open system when it comes to third party lens choices, it will be sweet icing on the cake.
This is one of the first cameras to come along in a while that pushes me to start saving for the actual launch. I wish the sensor was larger (spatially) to give more ramp to the focus fall off but it's not a "deal killer" in this situation. The roadmap of future lenses is already enough to make me smile.
No pricing has been announced yet but my hope is that body stays around the $6,000 or less range while the lenses stick under the $3,000 per range. Less is better. My first system construct? The body and the 120mm. I'll buy the rest of the lens I might want (but not necessarily need) with the money I'll make shooting portraits with this combo. Well done Fuji!!!!
The 120mm Macro f4.0 is the lens that signals to professionals that Fuji is serious.