To judge from history I would say it's pretty certain that we will have a Nikon 3DX based on the the Sony 24.6 MPix sensor. Nikon wanted a camera for high iso and sports, essentially a match for Canon D1III. Nikon used to have a high res studio/landscape version of their cameras, and they cooperate with Sony. So I think the writing is on the wall. I actually think there is a lot to high res:
- Obviously more resolution as far as the lens can keep up
- Much less risk for moiré, can have weaker AA-filter
I can actually dream up some advantages, but they are less obvious.
One area where DSLRs and MF-backs differ are the lenses. On a DSLR you would essentially put either:
A high aperture zoom (16-35/2.8, 24-70/2.8. 70-200/2.
A high aperture fixed focal like 300/2.8
A medium aperture superzoom like 24-105/4
Possibly a macro lens
Possibly a fixed aperture ultra wide angle
On medium format most of these lenses simply do not exist. A typical medium format lens is:
- Fixed focal
- Medium aperture
- Not extreme wide angle
These lenses can be optimized for a narrower task so they should give better quality, not least because they can use less glass. They can also have conservative designs, like double gauss, which may help in achieving good bookeh. I am aware that there are some very good zoom lenses for MF but they are still very limited compared to their DSLR counterparts.
In addition you can put an MFDB on any camera, monorail or wide angle. For "large format type of cameras" there are special "digital lenses" with extremely high specifications.
As I said I'm pretty confident that we are going to see a Nikon 3DX in the autumn. You can combine this new Nikon 3DX with the Carl-Zeiss ZF lenses which are this far quite conservative signge focals. That camera, or class of cameras will be a valid competition for MF-backs on MF-cameras.
Finally, I'm pretty sure that from a manufacturing perspective surface is expensive while pixels are essentially free. A 39 MPixel chip is probably no more expensive to make than a 25 MPixel chip, the market situation is that you can get more paid for a 39 MPixel chip. Which one would you sell?
i have owned and used digital systems for 15 years, every brand and format....i mostly agree with michael's assessment of the future of MF....i also agree with a lot that has been said here....i know that there is a difference between a 16bit DMF back and a DSLR and resolution is the least important factor or difference....
i think the problem wit MF is that instead of pulling ahead with quality, the manufacturers tried to compete with DSLRs...hey now they are even called full frame DSLRs (H3D)....the survivors have the smallest image capture area that MF has ever seen, provide a difference in quality that most people either don't see or most importantly don't care about becuase on a 11x14 a lot looks great.....but they suck when it comes to portablity, AF, handling, speed,....which is exactly why 99.9% of all people want DSLR and could not care less about MF....
DSLRs provide MF resolution but MF does not provide DSLR handling and probably even worse, does not provide a real step up....why no 4x5 sensor (no scanning backs please)? because the sales would not justify the R&D....kodak is working on tiny chips that produce better results so we can use them in our cell phones....where is the future? look at your cell phone.....
the development of the new sony sensor goes in the same direction....24mpix, 12bit....yawn...numbers for marketing purposes....a good retoucher/printer can blow up a good 16bit 10mpix to almost any size (i know, i know, landscapes need more detail, but ansel adams never printed 20x30)....
i think it is interesting that nikon chose to make the D3 "only" 12mpix....and it still goes head to head with the 1dsmkIII...both are 14bit, a step in the right direction....
the question is :who will make hasselblads(phase, leaf, sinar) next sensor? everybody pretty much agrees that the DSLR has hit the ceiling in resolution...now it will get faster, better, cleaner....where will MF go? no company has even been able to come up with a decend AF system? F&H, rollei, sinar seems to be the only company even contemplating a larger sensor in the future and even 6x6 will not provide the separation when the new canon (nikon, sony,...) shoots a clean 22mpix at 16bit file at 1600iso 3 times per second.....
i hope that there will be enough people who are passionate about photography, enough gearheads and geeks, because it will get harder and harder to justify spending the extra money and TIME (when it comes to processing, storing,....) and the differences getting smaller and smaller.....
with film it was easy to just make the sheet larger and charge more money....sensors are a different thing entirely.....