Equipment: High-end studio digital cameras

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Most consumers and professionals are more than happy with the current generation of 6-8 megapixel digital cameras. The quality is good enough for 13"x19" prints, memory usage is reasonable, and the price/performance curve is excellent. There's signs that the market in Japan and the United States is saturating as customer demand is being sated.

There is one market segment that appears to be heating up: the battle over high-end digital cameras intended primarily for studio use with 10 megapixel+ sensors. The prices -- as well as margins -- are high and many companies are starting to release models. Here's the current line-up as I see it:

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II Nikon D2X Hasselblad H1D Mamiya ZD Pentax 645 Digital
16.7 mp
12.4 mp
22 mp
22 mp
18.6 mp
Frame Rate
4 fps
(11 RAW burst)
5 fps
(15 burst)
(- burst)
Tethered 40GB HD
or tethered
156 x 158 x 80mm
1565g (w/ battery)
158 x 150 x 86mm
1070g dry
~ $12,000

Interest is strongest for the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and the newly announced Mamiya ZD which has the best price/performance of the medium format generation. The Hasselblad H1D is known for stellar images, but at celestial prices.

Comments, suggestions, or wish lists? Post away!


You show the D2X shipping status as ??. Obviously that is not the case, many thousands are in the field. I have owned mine (bought retail in the U.S.) for quite some time now.

Howard - my bad. Fixed!

Well spotted. It will be interesting to see whether there is a market for "digital medium format". In other words, will there be a reason for Hasselblad, Mamiya & Co. to exist or will evolving 35mm type DSLR take over everything? My bet is on the latter and those MF folks better come up with compelling reasons to use "D-MF".

The reason to be is the same that with film: bigger sensor means better dump of data before internal processing because they have more cells to capture the same given square of the image , and that's definitive in detail capture terms.

IMHO 35mm manufacturers are dropping quite partial information about to seriously replace the MF with 35mm sensors. That's true only if the only thing you need is to match the actual file sizes of a MF scan. mmm sadly industry standards seems to be always lowering :(

BTW Im waiting for the ZD release, the only reasonable camera I've seen in the scene yet.

I think the real studio camera for the Nikon system is the 14MP full-frame Kodak DCS SLR/n, not the D2X with its puny APS-C sensor. Of course, the D2X is a much more capable photo-taking device outside the studio thanks to its professional grade body and electronics.

Fazal -

You're right. I should split the table into two sections: those with 35mm or smaller sensors and those with medium format or smaller sensors.

The Kodak is an odd camera though. I wonder how well it is selling.

Apparently the Kodak SLR/n hasn't been selling well at all: "Kodak has today confirmed that the DCS Pro SLR/n and DCS Pro SLR/c digital SLRs have been discontinued and will no longer be manufactured." From

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on May 27, 2005 9:42 AM.

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