If a full-frame camera just doesn’t cut it, then you may want to consider a medium-format camera. These are powerful devices that deliver superb photos. Of course, they don’t come cheap, and you will need to pay thousands or tens of thousands.
To make a comparison easy, we have listed the major specs and features of the models currently available. We have also given an overview of medium format-photography, its history, and which models are best depending on your budget.
You can get started straight away by checking out the comparison table below.
|Model||Sensor Size||Megapixels||ISO Range||AF Points||Video||Display (Size and Resolution)||Touch Screen (Fixed or Rotating)||Appox. Price|
|Fujifilm GFX 50S Mirrorless||43.8 x 32.9 mm||51.4||50 – 102400||117||1080p 30fps||2360k||Rotating||$6,500|
|Hasselblad X1D-50c Mirrorless||3.8 x 32.9 mm||51.3||100 – 25600||NA||1080p 25fps||920k||Fixed||$9,900|
|Hasselblad H6D-50c DSLR||43.8 x 32.9 mm||50||100 – 6400||NA||1080p 30fps||920k||Fixed||$14,500|
|Hasselblad H6D-100c DSLR||53.4 x 40 mm||100||64 – 12800||NA||4K 30fps|
|Hasselblad H6D-400c DSLR||53.4 x 40 mm||100||64 – 12800||NA||4K 30fps|
|Pentax 645Z DSLR||43.8 x 32.8 mm||51.4||100 – 204,800||27||1080p 60fps||3.2” 1037k||No||$6,100|
|Leica S 007 DSLR||30 x 45 mm||37.5||100 – 6400||27||4K 24fps|
|Mamiya Leaf Credo 50 DSLR||44 x 33 mm||50||100 – 6400||3||NA||1150k||Fixed||$24,000|
|Mamiya Leaf Credo 80 DSLR||53.7 x 40.3 mm||80||100 – 6400||3||NA||1150k||Fixed||$28,500|
How Big is Medium Format?
The name “medium format” is a bit deceiving. There is nothing “medium” going on. These cameras have massive sensors that can take professional quality images. They are anything that is larger than full-frame sensors (24x36mm) but smaller than large format (4x5in).
What are the Main Advantages?
Larger sensors have a greater surface area for capturing light than small lenses. The more light that’s present, the clearer and smoother the final image will be. There will also be less chance of distortion, and the resolution will be higher.
Medium-format cameras also create a greater depth of field. For those not familiar with this concept, we will quickly explain. When you take a photo, you will select a subject to be in focus. However, it is not just the subject but also some of the surrounding area (both in front and behind) that will be in focus. Images with small zones of focus are known as having shallow depths of field. Images with larger zones of focus are known as having a deep depth of field.
This depth of field also helps create a layering effect. Layers of detail can be seen starting in front of the subject and gradually working their way backward. This helps create a more three-dimensional effect. Cameras with smaller sensors usually produce images that appear more two-dimensional.
While medium-format cameras typically take images with a deep depth of field, many other factors will have an affect. These include the distance between the camera and the subject, and the focal length of the lens used.
History of Medium Format
Medium format has been around since some of the earliest cameras. In 1901 the famous Kodak Brownie was released. This camera used a 120 roll film, and that particular format is known today as medium format. This medium format was commonly used from 1901 until the 1950’s when Nikon disrupted the market by producing 35mm film cameras. This size became exceedingly popular for the masses. From then until present day, medium format has become associated with high-end cameras, rather than consumer models.
DSLR vs Mirrorless
DSLRs are cameras that use a mirror to reflect light through a prism onto a viewfinder. Once you press the shutter, the mirror flips up so that light can hit the image sensor. You have now taken a photo. Traditionally this is how all cameras operated. However, in recent years a new breed of the camera has been hitting the shelves.
Mirrorless cameras simply do away with the mirror. Instead, they use a digital viewfinder and users can see a preview of the photo on the camera itself. In fact, you probably have a mirrorless camera in your pocket right now, as all phone cameras are mirrorless.
You may be wondering what’s the difference when it comes to taking quality shots. The main advantage of DSLRs is their lens choices. Typically, mirrorless cameras lack the same range of options.
On the other, mirrorless cameras are often smaller and lighter than their DSLR counterparts. Their viewfinder is also more accurate. They display a closer representation of how the final photo will appear.
It’s hard to determine which is better than the other. It simply depends on your shooting style and requirements.
The main focus when selecting a camera should be on sensor size. While all these cameras are medium format, keep in mind that this is a relative term. There are still significant differences in sensor sizes. You will also notice that there is a strong relationship between the price of a camera and its exact sensor size.
It’s only after you have considered a camera’s sensor dimensions that you should focus on megapixels. Remember, one megapixel is one million pixels. Each pixel is a small square of data that make up an image, like pieces of fabric making up a tapestry. The more pixels available, the higher the quality of the final image.
ISO Range for Shooting Flexibility
If you plan to shoot in particularly dark or light conditions, then you should pay attention to ISO. This is simply a camera setting that determines light sensitivity. Low settings are needed for bright conditions while high setting are needed for dim conditions.
Action or Sports Photography?
In general, medium format cameras aren’t particularly suited for sports or action photography because they generally have average autofocus speeds. You will still be able to focus on subjects fairly fast but not as fast as some full-frame and APS-C cameras.
Medium format cameras also have low burst speeds: typically 1-3fps. This makes it hard to take rapid shots of moving subjects.
These cameras are best for professional photographers working in studios, who know where their subject will be in a scripted scene. You probably wouldn’t want to use one to shoot your local sports team.
The main purpose of these cameras is to take excellent still shots. Regardless, they still offer the ability to record video. You will find that most models can record 1080p (high-definition) video at 30fps. The Pentax 645Z can even record 1080p at 60fps. If you’re seeking 4K (ultra-high definition) footage, then the Leica S 007 is the only option.
There aren’t any major differences in this category. Most of these cameras have similar display sizes and resolutions. However, you will notice that the Fujifilm GFX 50S has an exceptionally high resolution, 2360k dot screen. This rotating touchscreen is also very easy to use, just like the one on your smartphone.
You will also notice that many of the other models have fixed touchscreens. Of course, the display is one of the less important features to consider when choosing a camera. However, it’s nice to know that there are some easy-to-use touchscreen options.
Best Medium-Format Camera for Those After High-End Performance
If you’re a seeking a beast of a camera, then it’s hard to beat the Hasselblad H6D-400c. This device has one of the highest medium format sensor sizes available at 53.4 x 40 mm. Combine that with 100 megapixels, and you will be able to take world-class shots.
A significant ISO range of 64 – 12800 makes it easy to shoot in the dark and light. Furthermore, if you want to record 4K video, then this camera is up to the task.
Of course, the approximate price tag is a hefty $48,000.
Best Medium-Format Camera for Those Seeking Value for Money
If you don’t have tens of thousands to spend but still want a medium-format camera then consider the Pentax 645Z DSLR. You will still be able to take professional-level photos with a large, 51.4-megapixel sensor. A massive ISO range of 100 – 204,800 offers excellent shooting flexibility. This device also has an accurate autofocus system with 27 points. If you do wish to record high-definition video, then you can do so at 60fps.
The price tag is around $6,100.
It’s pretty clear that you want to put a lot of thought into a medium-format device due to the high price tags. We suggest determining exactly what your shooting needs are before committing to one. Remember, our tables make it quick and easy to compare different models. If there are any specs or features that you don’t fully understand then take another read of the relevant section in this article.