Patent reveals DJI might release a medium format camera

DJI is coming to disrupt the camera market the same way Sony did a decade ago.

The Hasselblad X1D II 50C and DJI’s mirrorless camera are seemingly cut from the same cloth.

Drone maker DJI might be very close to releasing a mirrorless medium format camera. Images of a patent on the alleged camera were surfaced by Twitter user @OsitaLV (via 9to5Mac).

It’s not the first time that a DJI mirrorless camera has made the rounds. The same leaker shared a leaked diagram of the camera in 2019, saying it would compete with Sony’s A7 series cameras.

Canon, Nikon, Sony — they should all pay attention. DJI is cooking something up and it could spell trouble for them.

Looks familiar — The leaked images bear a striking, if not downright identical, resemblance to one of Hasselblad’s mirrorless cameras, the X1D II 50C. There’s no corporate spying going on here. DJI bought a majority stake in Hasselblad in 2017, which has led to many collaborations, most recently culminating with the DJI Mavic 3 and Hasselblad camera tech in the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro smartphones.

The Mavic 3’s camera was designed by Hasselblad, which you can tell by the “H” logo beside the lens. DJI

The two cameras appear to share the same distinct, angled design, even sporting a similar two-tone gray and black colorway. On the top side, the two cameras seem to have matching button placement, while the back of the camera beside the screen looks slightly different. Instead of a longer leather grip that extends to the screen like on the Hasselblad camera, the DJI one has a shorter grip. The DJI camera also has larger buttons, which are spaced further away from the display.

One interesting difference is that the two buttons beside the viewfinder on the Hasselblad are replaced on the DJI camera by a single one that appears to be a joystick. In theory, the joystick could be used to make selections on the display without having to touch it, though that depends on the DJI camera having a touchscreen like on the Hasselblad. Additionally, when viewing the camera from a side angle, the display seems to jut out the tiniest bit, which could mean it’s able to extend outward and possibly rotate.

There’s a big chance the DJI camera also uses a medium sensor. It’s what Hasselblad is known for, and the X1D II 50C has a 44 x 33mm 50-megapixel medium format sensor, which is much larger than a full-frame sensor. With medium format, you get bigger, higher-resolution images with more stops of dynamic range. Medium format cameras are also very expensive because of their quality. The Hasselblad X1D II 50C costs $5,750 for just the body, an eye-watering price considering you still need lenses, ND filters, batteries, and other gear.

Marc Pfitzenreuter/Getty Images News/Getty Images

DJI, the camera company — DJI is known for its drones, but it’s really a camera company. Drones, essentially, are flying cameras. And DJI’s got plenty of other cameras under its belt, including the Action 2 and Ronin 4D cinema camera. Not to mention the company makes accessories like gimbals for other cameras and phones like the OM 5.

With Hasselblad’s technology, it makes perfect sense for DJI to release its own medium format camera. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine DJI selling a family of mirrorless cameras with its own branding or even co-branded with Hasselblad.

A decade ago, Sony landed on the scene with its mirrorless cameras with APS-C and full-frame sensors, and completely disrupted dominant camera players like Canon, Nikon, and Olympus. Today, Sony’s cameras are considered best in class. Canon and Nikon are no longer the duopoly they once were; Olympus is dead.

Releasing a mirrorless camera would be another step towards selling all kinds of cameras to consumers. You can already trust DJI for drones and action cameras. Why not mirrorless cameras? What happens to Canon, Nikon, and Sony if DJI decides to disrupt them with its own cameras? They should be concerned.