Today we are going to go over what medium format cameras are and who they are targeted for.
Medium Format is the type of sensor or file that is in the camera. For the film, it can use either 120 or 220 size film. On digital, the sensor size is bigger than a full frame camera.
One difference is the image size that the medium format produces compared to other styles of camera. It will make an image that is more square than a normal DSLR produces. The digital medium format camera also can have extremely high megapixels compared to other cameras which make making monster prints easy.
Most Medium Format cameras have interchangeable sensors and lenses so you can easily switch between 35mp to 50mp (or others) in no time. Even the older film Medium Format cameras are modular where you can change lenses and different film backs to fit your needs.
There are many different brands of medium format cameras out there. Pentax, Mamiya, YASHICA, and Hasselblad are some of them.
One of the more popular brands you hear about when looking up Medium Format cameras is Hasselblad with a rich history in photography. One such event was the moon landing in 1969 where the astronauts Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin used specially modified Hasselblad to capture the first moon walk and pictures of Earth.
Medium Format cameras are used professionally for studio work like model shoots, and product photography.
The amount of detail you can get with a medium format camera and the right lighting is just amazing.
You do not hear too much about using medium format for things like landscapes, but I do know a couple people that do use it from time to time. Unlike a normal DSLR, the Medium Format is not really built for the outdoors.
One reason is the price is crazy high, so dropping and breaking it would be devastating. Another reason is no weather sealing. So if you get caught in rain you and your camera are in trouble.
Honestly, you will not find many amateur photographers using a digital Medium Format cameras. The price alone can be staggering, running from $5.000-$30.000 and higher. So unless the photographer is rich and has money to burn, most people wouldn’t even consider a medium format camera.
One way around this could be instead of buying a digital medium format camera you could buy a film one. I myself have one I bought off of eBay for about $175. That’s a great deal! The downside was it had no lens ($250) and the film back was broke ($85).
In the end, though I had a Hasselblad 500 EL/M film camera and I love it. This takes some getting used to since it does not have a built-in light meter so you have to buy one ($15) and learn how to use it.
If you have never shot the film there is a slight learning curve there too since you can not see the image you took you have to learn to get the right exposure or close to.
Here are a few examples of images I took with my Hasselblad.
The site I used to get the film developed and scanned to digital format was thedarkroom.com. I do not get the prints I just get the digital scan (the super scans) and they send me the negatives. If I decide to get prints later I can easily do that too. It normally costs me around $20 per roll.
So if you do a lot of product or model photography or need massive prints medium format might be right up your alley. For 99.8% of us, a normal camera will do the trick nicely, and can also produce great images and prints.
I myself do not have any reason for massive print or image sizes, so my 36mp Nikon D800 and Sony A7R with good glass are far more than what I need.
Here are some links to groups that post pictures from medium format cameras.