If you’ve ever wondered what makes the difference in the quality of images by professional photographers versus amateurs, you’ve probably thought about the difference in equipment.
But what makes one camera better than another? Aren’t cameras mostly all the same?
The reality is that the format of camera used to take a photograph will highly impact the depth of the image, the quality of the focus, and that sense of “truth” to images.
What Are Medium Format Cameras?
Medium format cameras are preferred by professionals and artists over standard digital and 35-millimeter film cameras because they expose a larger area of the film or digital image.
If you’ve ever noticed an image that just seems richer, deeper, and truer to actual vision than other photos, you were most likely looking at a photograph taken on a medium format camera.
Medium format images are deeper and larger, and can more easily be enlarged for posters, magazine covers, and large prints.
In terms of film used for medium format cameras, you can find anything ranging from 120, 220 or 620 formats. These are 60-millimeter, though there are some 70-millimeter film widths available.
120 is the current standard for medium format cameras, and the 620 was actually discontinued in 1995. For those old cameras still using 620, 120-film can be rolled onto old 620 spools in a darkroom.
Do Medium Format Cameras Have Systems Like Other Cameras?
Your standard camera that most people use have systems, like lenses that can be interchanged. Medium format cameras also have their own system items that can be switched out.
Medium format cameras have lenses that can be switched out. They also have widening mechanisms, camera backs, and viewfinders that can be traded around for different affects and benefits in the photographs.
Medium Format Camera Characteristics
Medium format cameras offer these distinct characteristics that easily set them apart from other cameras.
Wide Range of Sizes
Medium format photography allows the photographer to switch out camera backs, or change the settings on a digital medium format camera. This means you have more versatility as you photograph.
Heavy, bulky bodies are one of the down sides of medium format cameras. However, as technology advances, the body sizes are shrinking.
Larger Image Sensor
Larger image sensors allow for higher quality images, as they capture more of the images that are taken.
The interchangeable parts make medium format cameras extremely customizable.
What Are the Advantages of Medium Format Cameras Over Other Formats?
Before you invest in any kind of camera, you should have an idea of the advantages of that format or specific model over another. Here’s a list of the things we think make medium format cameras better.
Higher Quality Images
As we’ve mentioned before, medium format cameras provide higher quality images for a number of reasons.
The larger sensors of a medium format camera offer higher quantities of megapixels, which means that images are richer, with more shallower depth than standard cameras can offer. This shallow depth means that images appear more lifelike.
The image quality is especially noticeable in large image prints, posters, et cetera.
The large number of lenses, viewfinders, camera backs, and widening mechanisms give you greater versatility than a DSLR or 35-millimeter camera could ever offer you, even with all the handy accessories they have.
Medium format cameras have a more “real” feel than standard images. The most beautiful images you’re going to see, whether film or digital, are mostly from medium format cameras.
Wider Field of View
The medium format cameras combine the qualities of wider field of depth, like a wide-angle lens, with the shallow depth and background compression of a long lens.
Who Can Afford a Medium Format Camera?
For a time, digital medium format cameras were priced significantly higher than film medium format cameras. However, these prices have dropped over the years, and the cameras are more affordable all the time.
Many companies offer medium format camera bodies at about the same price as they offer standard digital cameras that imitate 35-millimeter photography quality.
A Quick Note on Camera Backs
Some photographers have used digital camera backs to convert their film cameras to digital format cameras, but these are even pricier than most cameras will ever run you.
These are almost exclusively used by professionals who take award winning photographs, and get paid thousands of dollars per their photographs. Digital camera backs often cost over $20,000.
Your Best Images
Medium format cameras create the truest images to real life. They’re also highly customizable, and allow for large prints at high quality. Professionals and artists prefer medium format cameras for the drastically higher overall quality images that these awesome cameras create.
For the best quality images all around, try out a medium format camera.