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Medium format cameras: rating, review of the best models, shooting features and tips for choosing
Medium format cameras: rating, review of the best models, shooting features and tips for choosing

The history of photography began precisely with medium format cameras, which made it possible to take large high quality pictures. Over time, they were supplanted by the more convenient and cheaper format of 35 mm film cameras. However, now the use of medium format cameras is becoming more and more popular, even the first digital analogues have appeared. You can read more about the nuances of choosing, the best manufacturers and places to buy professional film cameras in this article.

Medium format in photography

In the last century, there were many different formats in the world of photography. But only two have taken root and become mass-produced - 35-mm and medium format. At first, all photographers used medium format cameras, but over time, most of them switched to 35 mm film, since cameras with it were much more compact and convenient. In addition, large format cameras did not have automatic parts, and people had to manually feed and rewind the film, as well as measure the exposure.

medium format digital cameras

Currently, the following medium format cameras can be found in the world:

  • Modern (digital) SLR cameras.
  • Two Lens Reflex Cameras (TLR).
  • Reflex shots with one (interchangeable) lens: SLR.

Differences between conventional cameras and medium format cameras

The concept of "medium format" refers to a class in photographic equipment that has a film frame measuring 4, 5 by 6 or 69 centimeters. First of all, the quality distinguishes the medium format from ordinary cameras. Due to the large size of the sensor and the larger frame area, the camera captures more information and the pictures are more detailed. Initially, medium format cameras were used by professionals, it was from 6x9 film that they printed material for magazines and posters. The question is why are medium format cameras becoming so popular again? The answer is simple - no matter how hard the developers of digital cameras try, they still fail to achieve the quality of conventional film cameras. The camera, released in the last century, shoots with a resolution of 50 megapixels, which exceeds all digital counterparts. Of course, this is the image that will be chosen for printing large banners, because it has simply amazing detail with minimal distortion. True, the camera must be good for this, and some nuances of shooting should be taken into account. The medium format has many pluses and a couple of minuses. Pros include:

  • Large information capacity. Larger framecaptures more details, which means that the graininess of the image is reduced, but the smoothness of the transitions increases.
  • Accurate reproduction of colors and shades. Many modern photographers are trying to achieve "film color" in digital images. The medium format camera allows you to create natural colors that do not need to be corrected.
  • Focal lengths on such cameras are usually longer than on small format ones.
  • hasselblad medium format cameras

However, medium format cameras also have disadvantages that often stop photographers from wanting to buy them:

  • High cost of technology.
  • Big weight.
  • No automatic settings.
  • High cost of consumables (film, developing).

The most famous models

If you still decide to buy a medium format film camera, then you probably want to choose the best model on the market. Below are the "best sellers" in the camera market.

  1. Hasselblad - this camera is a tool of professionals and is known all over the world. This camera takes amazing quality pictures.
  2. Mamiya produced many 120 film medium format models. The most famous is Mamiya 645, which is often sold in thrift stores.
  3. Pentax is loved by many photographers for its soft colors and perfect picture. The most popular model is the 645N, which can be purchasedfor about $70.
  4. You can buy a Seagull camera if your budget is limited. These are lower class cameras, which, nevertheless, make excellent shots. They belong to the class of dual-lens cameras, in which one lens is needed for focusing, and the other for shooting.
  5. "Kyiv" - on the market you can find cameras with a frame window size of 4, 56 and 69 cm. Cameras made in the USSR have a much more democratic cost than their imported competitors. After the purchase, it is important to give the camera for a preventive examination by a specialist.

Medium digital format

hasselblad medium format cameras

A rare photographer will remain indifferent to medium format cameras. Manufacturers realized this, and in 2010 they began producing new, digital cameras with a large digital sensor, which is similar to the film format. As with film cameras, what you get in the transition from conventional 35mm to medium format is color accuracy and high image detail. Modern cameras are made up of several parts:

  • the camera itself;
  • digital back that allows you to convert an optical image into a digital one.

Which companies are presenting digital medium format in today's market?

  1. Pentax 645Z features a large 4332mm sensor, which is 1.5 times the size of small format cameras. Even compared to full-frame cameras, Pentax captures significantly more detail. This light sensitivityThe camera is 204 800 ISO, which allows it to shoot in almost complete darkness.
  2. Mamiya has also released a digital counterpart to medium format film: 645 DF+. Despite its high cost, this camera has very modest parameters: the maximum ISO speed is 800 ISO. But in terms of shooting speed and image quality, it has no equal, so this camera is often the choice of professionals.
  3. The Phase One medium format camera is new to the market. But the technical characteristics of the camera are impressive. The 53.7x40.4 mm CMOS matrix allows you to take frames with a resolution of up to 101 MP. Wide dynamic range captures detail in both the brightest and darkest parts of the frame.
  4. The Hasselblad medium format camera is the rebirth of a legendary brand. This Swedish legend is almost 180 years old. The sensitivity of the matrix reaches 12800 units, and the number of active pixels is 51. The cameras of the well-known brand were made universal: thanks to the speed of shutter speed, fast autofocus and the function of transferring images via Wi-Fi, they can be used in absolutely different tasks.

Fujifilm Medium Format Cameras

fujifilm medium format cameras

Fuji fans have been waiting for the release of a medium format camera for a very long time. More recently, the company has released a modern model with a large matrix - GFX 50S. This camera has a number of advantages inherent in all medium format cameras. Thanks to Fujifilm's mirrorless technologyThe 50S is capable of taking several hundred shots per minute with little to no noise. Also, the camera has a swivel screen, video shooting function and the ability to use a variety of interchangeable lenses. At the same time, the new camera is not too heavy due to the relatively light body.

Hasselblad cameras

One of the earliest manufacturers of medium format cameras was Hasselblad, which had previously become famous for its film cameras, and then began to produce digital cameras. Among the film models, the most famous is the 500C / M model, which glorified the Swedish brand. Despite a solid lifespan, these cameras still work flawlessly due to the high build quality. The external camera is similar to the Mamiya, but it has one distinct advantage. The Hasselblad 500C/M is equipped with Carl Zeiss optics, which makes photographs taken with it sharp and interesting. True, you should not hope that time has lowered the price of this model - as before, you can buy a Hasselblad medium format camera for no less than $100 (6000 rubles).

Hasselblad H6D-100C was the first digital version of previous models. Despite the fact that medium format digital cameras are significantly inferior to classic 35 mm cameras in terms of shooting speed, weight and price, they are considered the best in the world. Why? The fact is that Hasselblad surpasses other systems in sharpness, ease of operation and quality of optics. For medium format digital cameras from this company, there are more than 20lenses that amaze with their quality and impeccable optics. Of course, the Hasselblad brand is not the cheapest in the world, but it is worth the money.

medium format cameras overview

Most affordable medium format camera

Those who are just starting to get acquainted with the world of medium format photography often ask the question, which camera is the most affordable to buy? It is impossible to answer this question unambiguously. At the moment, film cameras, which are sold at flea markets and specialized sites, can be considered the cheapest. Their price depends on the condition of the camera, brand and seller. Some of the most affordable medium format cameras currently available are:

  • The Soviet camera "Amateur" was made in the 40s and 50s of the 20th century and is now almost an antique, which, nevertheless, can be shot. The price of such a camera is only about 2-3 thousand rubles.
  • Yashica-MAT LM is a classic Japanese medium format camera with 120 mm film and 66 cm frame window. You can buy it for 13-15 thousand rubles.
  • Mamiya C3 is a dual-object reflex camera with interchangeable lenses. The cost starts from 30 thousand rubles.

In general, the world of film photography is dominated by the following principle: the more expensive, the better. Therefore, the larger the budget you have, the better equipment you can purchase. Many photographers wonder if Canon has medium format cameras? This company has long been a leader in the production of cameras, but itsexecutives do not yet plan to release cameras with an expanded matrix.

Instructions for use

Many photographers ask where to start? Medium format cameras have a completely different device than the usual 35mm cameras. Each brand has its own nuances, but there are general principles for operation.

  • First of all, if you have a film camera, you need to choose the right type of film. 120 type is suitable for almost all cameras. Medium format cameras do not have automatic film scrolling, so after you load the film, you will need to run it all the way through yourself.
  • Then you need to set the correct settings. A built-in exposure meter is usually not supplied with medium format cameras, so you can purchase it separately or follow the standard table for ISO ratio and aperture values.
  • After you have taken the shot, you must manually advance the film.
  • At the end, with the utmost care, you need to remove the film and give it to print or scan. Modern film scanners allow all information to be transferred digitally in high resolution, which is why most photographers prefer this option.
fujifilm medium format cameras


A review of medium format cameras proves that prices can start in the thousands and go up to the millions. This is an area where new cameras cost more than some machines. Below is a list of the mostpopular models and their cost.

  1. Mamiya 645 with a standard 80 mm lens will cost 30-40 thousand rubles. A cheaper RZ67 model is sold on Ebay for 17k. Mamiya's new medium format digital cameras are already selling for a lot more, with prices rising due to the improved design and digital back. The cost of such a model starts from 2.5 million rubles.
  2. A used Hasseblad film camera in the basic configuration is sold for 30-40 thousand rubles. If you want to purchase a ready-made kit with CarlZeiss branded optics right away, then you will have to pay 50-100 thousand rubles. Hasseblad, like other manufacturers, has also released a digital medium format version, which starts at 800 thousand rubles and goes up to 2.5 million, depending on the model of the camera.
  3. The legendary Pentax 645 with a frame window size of 4.5x6 cm is sold at stock prices from 30 to 80 thousand rubles, but individual copies are sold for 13-15 thousand, it all depends on the quality of the equipment. But the new digital Pentax 645Z with a fast lens will cost about 550 thousand. This is currently the cheapest medium format digital camera.
medium format digital cameras

The most frequent breakdowns and repairs

When working with supported equipment, you will no doubt encounter some difficulties. When purchasing even a technically ideal camera, you will most likely need some help from specialists. Immediately after purchaseGive the camera for preventive inspection and adjustment. Indeed, for several decades, some elements of the camera have probably stopped working as they should. On the lenses of medium format cameras, it is quite common to find mold between the glasses, which affects the final result. Therefore, when choosing a used camera, you need to pay attention to the comments of sellers, who, as a rule, indicate such nuances in the description. The most common failures are considered to be film glare and shutter problems. So, for example, repairing the shutter of a Kyiv 88 medium format camera can cost more than the price of the camera itself. Yes, and specialists in the repair of old equipment can be difficult to find. To test this function, it is better to take a film with you and take a couple of test shots on the spot.

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