If you look on social media, lots of photos have a particular format. Sure, you can share landscape-oriented photos pretty easily. But the ones that take up the most space are vertical images and portrait-oriented images. Photography hasn’t really caught up though. Photography has long been based on the idea that images will be printed onto paper. Then it was oriented towards computer screens. But the dominant devices these days are smartphones, and landscape-oriented imagery on smartphones doesn’t make sense. Instead, portrait and square photos are more practical. For this reason, I think a square camera sensor would make the most sense.
Back in 2016, Hasselblad had a concept for the V1D. This was a camera that used a medium format sensor and cropped the image down to a square format. It was a weird but fascinating idea. While it ended up being vaporware, they were surely onto something. A square sensor format camera could be just what the industry needs right now.
You’re probably saying, but why not just crop the image? I’d argue back that you should have the image right from the start. A lot of cameras have a square format JPEG image option. It’s very fun to use. But medium format film cameras that used a 6×6 square format existed for years. I think a square format sensor could be the next big, fun thing in cameras.
A square camera sensor would change a lot of things. The body shape wouldn’t need to be so long. Instead, it could be cubed. The way folks composed images would totally change. And if they wanted to create a landscape or portrait-oriented photo, they could use an in-camera stitching method. Sony has a sweep panorama feature, but imagine doing it with a square camera sensor.
Specifically, I think a square camera sensor in a camera body like a Hasselblad 500C with a top-down LCD could be amazing and fun. Every camera these days more or less follows two shapes: a traditional DSLR or a rangefinder style. Sigma has tried and failed with a lot of ideas. But why does the industry continue to ignore a critical part of history? Many photographers have gone back to film to use Mamiya SLR film cameras partially because they love the format and the experience. So why can’t that be done a different way digitally?
I think a square camera sensor device could also be really simple to make lenses for. The camera would basically just use the center area of the lens where the image quality is best. And making a sensor larger than a Fujifilm GFX sensor would be the way to go here.
So who would do something like this? I think Hasselblad would be best. But let’s face it, they barely seem to exist as a camera company anymore. Tamron, years ago, owned Bronica. They make a ton of lenses and it would be amazing for them to team up with Sony to make their own square format cameras. Fujifilm might also make sense.
But could this actually happen? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. I think camera manufacturers often try to be very safe. And for business, that makes sense. But I wouldn’t believe anyone who told me there isn’t a demand for a square format sensor camera. If it were good, I think folks would totally buy it. It’s perfect for social media. And, again, most photos these days are consumed on social media. This website’s audience is 65% mobile-based.