All About Medium Format Photography

August 16, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Any camera format that uses 120 films or an equivalent digital imaging sensor is considered a medium format. Images slightly smaller than the size of big format film are captured with this format (102x127mm). They are, however, far larger than photographs made with full-frame sensors or 135 films. There is no set size for medium format, and manufacturers typically use different sizes.

Regarding colour reproduction accuracy, medium format cameras are renowned for creating photos of the highest possible quality. This is why photography for fashion and advertising frequently uses this camera.


Medium Format Film Sizes

For medium format film cameras, there are three standard formats. 645, 6x6, and 67. Similar to 35mm film cameras that produce half-frame images, each has the same height but uses a different film width.

It's vital to remember that no matter what film format a medium format camera shoots on, it will always use 120 films.


6x6 is the most common format. On a 6x6 camera size, a roll holds 12 images. Hasselblads, Kievs, or any other TLR are the cameras that shoot 6x6 square format photographs.


The second most common format is 645, a go-to for wedding and portrait photographers since it allows you to get 3 or 4 more photos per roll of film than 6x6. The aspect ratio of the 645 format is similar to that of the 35mm format.


Although 67 formats only have a 10 photo capacity per film roll, these cameras are appreciated for their larger film formats. The format is most popular with studio shooters because of how much larger their prints can be made.

Another larger format is 6x9, which is available. Even though very few cameras use the 6x9 format, doing so necessitates the development of ever larger camera bodies and lenses, which results in lower apertures and fewer lens choices.

Why Use Medium Format Photography?

Photographers use medium format photography to shoot with larger negatives to print larger photographs without losing detail or having them look overly grainy. The lack of printing in the darkroom in the digital age makes that less of an issue.

Furthermore, the negatives offer a far wider range of exposures than 35mm because they are much larger. The negatives capture more light, yielding pictures with almost flawless tonal rendition. Comparatively speaking, medium format films, which have smoother tones and provide an overall sharper image, look less contrasty and grainy than 35mm film.

Key Features of Medium Format Cameras

The primary features that can help distinguish a traditional medium format camera from other kinds of cameras are as follows:


Large Image Sensor

As previously mentioned, the medium format cameras' enlarged image sensors are far larger than the 35mm full-frame sensors featured in the most expensive DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Medium format sensors for digital cameras typically have dimensions between 43.832.9mm and 53.740.2mm. Images with higher resolutions typically have larger image sensors.



Because they have larger sensors than most cameras, medium format cameras are typically heavier and bigger. Fortunately, more and more camera manufacturers are releasing lighter and smaller camera bodies (in the form of mirrorless cameras) with the same ability to shoot in medium formats, such as the Fujifilm.


Size range

Owners of medium format film cameras can employ a variety of frame sizes and aspect ratios to create photos with more adaptability because of the multiple medium format film sizes available and the ability to swap out film backs. The same is true of medium format digital cameras. While you can't just swap out the sensor, you can choose between the numerous models on the market and pick the camera with the sensor size that best suits your requirements.


Modular and Adaptable

The components of conventional medium format film cameras are exchangeable. That lets you remove a few stock parts from your camera and replace them with new viewfinders, film or digital camera backs, focus systems, etc.

Advantages of Medium Format Photography 

1.High-Quality Image

DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are already thought to generate high-quality photographs. However, medium format cameras with larger sensors offer even higher or greater megapixels. Compared to images made with full-frame cameras, photos taken with medium format cameras can be around 60% bigger and have a greater resolution. From the 1970s through the 1990s, medium format was the only option for portrait and wedding photographers. They are an obvious choice for portraiture because of the greater resolution they can provide, which has a certain mystical quality.

2.Increased Pixel Density

Medium format cameras can capture much more colour data thanks to their increased pixel density. The size of the photo location and not the number determines the amount of imaging data. With this in mind, a 4K image from a medium format sensor will contain more information than a 4K image from an APS-C sensor.

Because it captures more information per photo spot, the medium format is renowned for producing the most lifelike imagery and colour representation of any format now in use.

3.Reduced Depth of Field

Many people complained that the depth of field produced by the Canon 5D Mark II cameras was too shallow when they initially appeared. Since the focus was harder to establish, many of the pictures were soft as a result. For medium format, an identical case may be made. Its substantially larger sensor means that at 2.8, it will provide a shallower image than its full-frame version.

However, controlling and applying this shorter depth of field can provide content makers with a significant creative edge.

4.Distinctive Look

Its distinctive "look" is noticeable even when viewing medium format photographs online. Because of their brilliant colours, short depth of field, and absence of the perceptual distortion we typically perceive in photographs taken with modern cameras, medium format images are the most stunning and lifelike. The final image always provides a more realistic vision with characteristics and a dynamic range that is more in line with what we see in real life.

5.Exceptionally Versatile

When you have the option to employ interchangeable camera parts, you can modify the camera to meet your unique photographic requirements. Additionally, it allows you to switch from film to digital (and vice versa). You can both take rapid, soft shots and meticulously hone the craft of film photography.


More inventive format ratios are possible with medium format cameras. Similar to their film predecessors, medium format cameras offer a range of multiple aspect ratios that you can choose from without noticeably lowering the resolution or necessitating more processing. Fuji and Hasselblad cameras, for instance, offer a 6x17 aspect ratio to enable breathtaking panoramic photographs to be captured in a single shot as opposed to the stitching and processing needed for smaller-format systems. The medium format gives you additional possibilities if you want to film in a certain aspect ratio to realise your creative idea fully.


Medium Format vs Full Frame Camera

We can compare medium format and full-frame cameras starting with the sensor size. Unlike full-frame cameras, which use 35mm film or emulate it with a 36x24mm sensor, medium format cameras use sensors that are larger than 36mm and smaller than 100x130mm (the large format sensor size). Image quality, weight, and cost vary depending on the sensor size. Although it is bigger, bulkier, and more expensive, a medium format camera offers higher image quality, colour accuracy, and depth of detail.

Modern Medium Format Cameras

At some point, medium format digital cameras developed far smaller and lighter bodies that resembled DSLR or mirrorless cameras. However, medium format photography doesn't use the same widely used camera brands as Canon and Nikon. Fuji, Leica, and Hasselblad are among the companies producing some of the best medium format cameras available today. Away from the rangefinder concept, we have also moved to focus on technologies.

CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) image sensors, which are now typically found in these cameras, have undergone significant advancements. The older, more expensive CCD (charge-coupled device) image sensors on medium format cameras are inferior to those in low-light conditions. Images captured with a medium format camera at higher ISO levels are much more useful than previous ones. 

Modern medium format digital cameras' autofocus speeds are still slower than digital cameras with smaller sensors. The former is still needed to take unique pictures that other cameras can't capture.

Recent Models of Medium Format Cameras are as following

1. Hasselblad 907X 50C


Sensor:Medium format

Megapixels: 50MP

Lens mount: Hasselblad X

LCD: 3.2-inch withTouchscreen, 2.36 million dots

Max continuous shooting speed: 1fpsMax video 

Resolution: 2.7K at 30p

User level: Professional

2. Phase One XT


Sensor: Medium format

Megapixels: 151

Lens mount: Phase One XT

LCD: 3.2-inch

Viewfinder: N/A

Max continuous shooting speed: N/AMax

Video resolution: N/A

User level: Professional

3. Hasselblad X1D II 50C


Sensor: Medium format

Megapixels: 50MP

Lens mount: Hasselblad X

LCD: 3.6" touchscreen, 2.36m dots

Viewfinder: Electronic, 3.69 million dots

Max continuous shooting speed: 2.7fpsMax video

Resolution: 2.7K

User level: Professional


4. PhaseOne XF IQ4 150MP Camera System


Sensor: Medium format

Megapixels: 151MP

Lens mount: Phase One

LCD: 3.2"Viewfinder: Eye-level or waist-level viewfinder options

User level: Professional


As in the days before digital, when the film was king, medium format cameras provided important benefits over smaller format alternatives. If you want to stand out from the crowd with your digital imaging, remember that the bigger pixel density and reduced depth of field will enable you to create larger and better photographs. Some or all of these benefits may be worth considering in an upgrade to a medium format.







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