I get a wonderful chance these days to watch the camera-selling trade from a slight distance. I still maintain a contact with my old employers but now they are clients – for my writing and pictures. I no longer have to fear the different ideas that the manufacturers come out with, nor wonder whether any of them will sell – I just observe, play, and report.
Occasionally a friend will ask photo advice and I now can give it in an unbiased manner – and I can also speculate for myself where the designers will go without worrying whether they will drag the trade down.
I can look back at fiascos in the past – like the Hasselblad re-badging of a Sony camera – or the 3D Fujifilm – or the cloud-of-focus Lytro cameras – and call them for what they were without being carpeted.
I can report successes – the new Fujifilm X series cameras or the Olympus PenF for instance – and not be accused of touting for a commission. I really do think they are good, and I can prove it with results. I’ll try to get more gear in hand myself to give reports, and I’ll try to dodge some of the bullets.
So what is a matter of time? Fujifilm will try making a medium format digital camera. It’ll be quirky, as their 6 x 7 and 6 x 9 roll film cameras were, but it will be good. The quirk will come in the styling and the fact that I’ll bet they try for a fixed lens on the camera – and I would not be at all surprised if they made in in a rangefinderish sort of style. They will probably try for about a 42mm x 56mm sensor size and may have to settle for a Bayer-array to do it. It is not even impossible that they would select a vertical sensor orientation, but that would be a long outside shot.
The target market for the device is the speculation that intrigues the most. I bet on cheap studio workers and expensive travellers – ie. Europe and Asia. It might even be the sort of niche exercise that they try on for purely the Japanese market – if it succeeds then they can go to the world triumphantly and if it flops they can quietly buy back all the evidence and slip away.