Photography in and of itself is in a spot where all digital sensors are incredible and it’s very difficult to tell apart a photo shot on APS-C from one on full frame. So to that end, medium format digital photography is also in a weird spot. For the first time, we’ve got some really amazing autofocus systems in a number of cameras. On top of that, we’ve got the obvious medium format quality that is available from these sensors. If you really pay attention though, you can see that the writing is on the wall–medium format is about to fundamentally change in big ways.
Consider being able to shoot sports on medium format cameras. Or having a usable autofocus for street photography and candid documentary photography. At the moment, cameras like the Fujifilm GFX 50s have fast autofocus in many situations. If you’re shooting something like an 80th birthday party event in a dimly lit venue then the focusing won’t always be the best it can be, but you’re going to surely get usable photos. In some ways, I want to liken the Fujifilm GFX 50s and the Hasselblad X1D to something along the lines of the Canon 5D Mk II and the Nikon D700. If you’ve been around in the industry long enough, you’ll know and understand that the 5D Mk II literally changed the industry while the latter made shooting in low light really possible at an affordable price point. Both of these cameras have sensors that can do that; but they’re still lacking on autofocus.
Fujifilm has improved the autofocus of their products via firmware and things are going to get even better. Remember when the Fujifilm X100 came out, and then the X100s? Then the X100T and finally the X100F? Yeah, they really improved the autofocus. But they haven’t really done that yet with medium format. It’s tougher with medium format since it’s larger than full frame, but I seriously think that it’s going to do it.
So when I say that medium format is in a really weird place right now, it’s because it’s in a shell that’s about to crack open for all of us.
Also published on Medium.