Is Medium Format Dead?
A Video Interview with Henrik Håkonsson
CEO of Phase One
© 2013 The Luminous Landscape Inc. All Rights Reserved
People love to gossip, and few topics are as rife these days as the impending death of medium format. "Oh, the Nikon D800e has killed them, and if not, Canon's new high megapixel camera will finish the job when it shows up," (if ever).
But, as American humourist Mark Twain was reputed to have once said, after a newspaper mistakenly reported his death, "The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated."
What's the truth, then? I figured – who better to ask than the CEO of Phase One, the makers of Phase One, Leaf and Mamiya cameras, backs and lenses? Henrik Håkonsson kindly agreed to fly to Mexico for a sit-down to discuss the state of the industry on-camera, and below we have a 41 minute long interview which took place between Henrik and myself at my winter home in San Miguel de Allende, in mid-March, 2013.
As with any senior company executive, Henrik is very bullish about his company's prospects, as well as the Medium Format industry in general. You'd expect nothing less. But listen carefully between the lines and I think you'll come to understand that like the falsely reported death of Mark Twain, the demise of medium format has been greatly exaggerated.
During mid-March, 2013 I was visited by three executive from Phase One. This allowed me to produce four brief videos about the new backs, along with an interview with the company's CEO. But I also received more than a few emails by people wondering why I was giving so much coverage to one company. Did I have a special relationship with them?
The answer is that Phase One knows how to play the public relations game. Visit an influential reviewer, bring a new product for evaluation, and make senior executives available for interview. Works like a charm.
Other companies are similarly savvy, including Leica, who will allow journalist tours of their factory along with interviews with executive and engineering staff. Some other companies hold media events, and while these opportunities are for larger groups of journalists, they are thus less personal and therefore less effective, but they at least do them.
More than a few other companies figure that running print ads and issuing new product press releases is enough. That's fine. I'd love it though if more companies were like Phase One and Leica, and became more forthcoming with their executives and new products. I know I'd enjoy it, and I think that likely you would to.
So – special relationships? Yup, with companies that get their management out from behind their desks to tell their stories to journalists and the users of their products. Come on guys. Step up to the plate.