The next mirrorless medium format cameras may have 100MP sensors and great low light performance

Apr 5, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The next mirrorless medium format cameras may have 100MP sensors and great low light performance

Apr 5, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Recently, Charbax at ArmDevices visited the Sony stand at CeBIT when he noticed a couple of large sensors on display. Also on the wall behind them he spotted Sony’s medium format sensor roadmap. This roadmap shows two very promising sensors on the way for 2018.

The first is the IMX461, a 100MP upgrade to the current 50MP IMX161 sensor which resides inside the Hasselblad X1D-50c and Fuji GFX 50S cameras. It would have the same physical size with double the resolution. This could hint at a pretty substantial upgrade in the next X1D and GFX models from Hasselblad and Fuji, respectively. The second is a new 150MP sensor to replace the IMX 211, as used inside the Phase One XF 100MP.

YouTube video

There seems to be a bit of a language barrier during the video, but the roadmap seems unmistakable.

As well as the substantial resolution bump, both of the new sensors shift technology a little. Switching from front illuminated sensors to back side illuminated sensors. This should help increase the amount of light captured and improve low light performance.

Back side illuminated sensors only came about in 2007. They’ve been slow to take off due to the cost of making them. But now that they are starting to prove more popular, prices have come down a little and they’re becoming a little more widespread. The Sony A7R II was the first camera announced with a back side illuminated full frame sensor in 2015. And we all know how well that performs.

Given the already impressive capabilities of the IMX211 inside the Phase One, a 150MP version with back side illumination is very exciting. Even if its cost will limit its use to a relatively select few. A 100MP BSI sensor for cameras such as the GFX and X1D holds a lot of promise for the future of mirrorless medium format.

No word on exactly when in 2018 the new sensors will be released. So, it follows then, that nobody has really any clue when we might see an update for the X1D or GFX, either. But you can see Sony’s imaging, sensing and IoT roadmap online, here.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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4 responses to “The next mirrorless medium format cameras may have 100MP sensors and great low light performance”

  1. Zvonimir Avatar
    Zvonimir

    Hi John! Thank you for your report on the latest mirrorless medium format wonder. I did not notice much information re projected price other than the “50K Phase One XF” which must refer to a luxury vehicle, perhaps a Jaguar? No sane person would pay this amount for a camera.

    I have an excellent mirrorless medium format camera. It’s a folding Zeiss Ikonta from 1954. Its late 19th century triplet lens can resolve small rivets on the hull of a Bosphorus ferry at a 150 foot distance. It cost me only $200, so I wouldn’t expect a mirror to be included.

    My camera’s pictures are not harmed by noise. The Zeiss is actually almost silent. Once or twice it got into a very noisy row with my Canon AE 1 over alleged lack of Japanese support for the Axis war effort in Europe. I solved this by moving the Canon to a different shelf.

  2. Kryn Sporry Avatar
    Kryn Sporry

    Definitely exciting but…. there’s an awful big emphasis on resolution. How about pixel quality? I don’t mean “a little higher low light performance “, I mean adding an extra bit in colour depth, adding 3 stops of dynamic range. That kind of stuff, you know, making a sensor better than an eye.

    1. Jon Maxwell Avatar
      Jon Maxwell

      Not to mention the cost! 100mp=$100,000!Ha!

  3. Graham Bell Avatar
    Graham Bell

    I know it’s not coming, but I just want a 6×7 sensor. I love the framing of 6×7 and the depth of field from the big plane.