Medium Format Cameras

By Tati Taylor 10 days ago, Cameras & Lenses

Top 3 Best Medium Format Camera

Taking photos with a digital or film medium format camera is becoming increasingly popular. Today the medium format doesn't mean a huge and cumbersome camera body, it is a portable camera that can produce magnificent high-quality images. Find out what are the best digital and film medium format cameras.

Medium Format vs Full Frame Comparison

So, what is medium format? This term refers to a class of photographic equipment that has a frame measuring 45 by 60 or 60 by 90 mm. The main difference between the medium format and ordinary cameras is image quality. This is definitely not the best camera for amateur photographer. Due to the large matrix size and the larger frame area, the camera captures more information, and the pictures are more detailed. Initially, such cameras were used by professionals who take photos for advertising and billboards, and the 60x90 mm film was used to print material for magazines and posters.

medium format vs full frame image comparison

So why medium format cameras have become so popular again? The answer is simple - no matter how hard the developers of digital cameras try, they still can not reach the quality of common film cameras. A film camera, released in the last century, has a resolution of 50 megapixels, exceeding all digital analogs. Of course, the pictures it takes will be chosen for printing large banners, because it has a stunning detail with minimal distortion. I have prepared a list of 10 medium-format cameras, both digital and film ones, which are considered the best in their class.

10 Best Medium Format Digital Cameras

Most of the times when professionals understand that they lack the quality that full-frame cameras can offer, they choose medium format cameras. Manufacturers realized this and in 2010 they started to release the new digital cameras with a large digital sensor, which is similar to the film format. As in the case of film cameras, turning from usual 35 mm to the medium format, you get the color rendering accuracy and high image detail.

1. Hasselblad X1D II 50c

Our Choice
hasselblad medium format cameras
  • Splendid image quality
  • Refined speed & performance
  • New options for wireless tethering & mobile
  • User-friendly beyond belief
  • Subdued autofocus
  • Shutter responds too slow

Hasselblad X1D II 50C is an elegant and notably valid camera, excelled by its elaborate design and outstanding imaging qualities. This second-generation X System camera comes with an optimized and amplified functionality mastered to provide accelerated running and shape the entire operation easier to use and more tuned up.

The cornerstone of the X1D II is still the large 43.8 x 32.9 mm 50 MP CMOS sensor, which secures high-resolution imagery with a wide 14-stop dynamic range, 16-bit color depth, and an ISO 100-25600 sensitivity range. This sensor also implies Hasselblad’s Natural Color Solution, which produces representational, adorable color tones for excellent consistency and leveled tonal transitions.

At last, an updated electronic system ensures a more rapid 2.7 fps continuous shooting rate and faster startup time, reduced shutter lag and blackout times, and more sensitive autofocus operation.

Recommended camera lens:
Hasselblad XCD 80 mm f/ 1.9

This lens has the largest aperture among Hasselblad lenses at f/1,9. It is compatible with most common filters and threaded accessories as it`s front diameter is 77mm. Use it for portrait, nature, and product photography with amazing bokeh.

hasselblad medium format cameras example

2. PENTAX 645Z

Best Dynamic Range
medium format camera pentax
  • Excellent ISO performance
  • Large, bright viewfinder
  • Universal tilting LCD screen
  • Large range of lenses
  • Fast autofocus, which works well in low light
  • Decent battery life
  • Rather bulky
  • AF points are grouped around the center of the frame
  • High default saturation, contrast, and sharpness
  • Buffer cleaning may take some time

If you regularly make extra-large prints, need extremely high-detailed images, you’d better use this medium format camera. This Pentax camera body will impress you with amazingly high-resolution details of each shot. This is one of the most astonishing cameras I ever happened to use. The photos demonstrate a truly impressive dynamic range, with no alternatives among other medium format cameras. 

The high dynamic range and color sensitivity make it optimal for shooting landscapes, portraits, and still-lives. The camera has two SDHC slots, so there will be no problems with the cards.

Recommended camera lens:
Pentax D FA 28-105mm F3.5-5.6

A lens with characteristics like this is suitable when you need to get a wide viewing angle and to get an outlined perspective in combination with a large depth of sharpness (for landscape and indoor photography).

pentax camera photo

3. Fujifilm GFX 50S

Best Colors
best medium format digital camera
  • The most affordable medium format digital camera
  • ISO up to 12800
  • User-friendly interface
  • A huge number of settings
  • Best Fuji medium format
  • Fast autofocus with a tracking feature
  • Removable viewfinder
  • High resolution rotatable touchscreen
  • The inconvenient arrangement of some interface buttons
  • Shutter speed limited to 1/125 s

Fujifilm GFX 50S is a mirrorless medium format camera for those who need the highest image quality. The camera allows capturing the object in high detail, rich undertones, bright and vibrant colors. In addition, it preserves a significant number of details in shadowed and highlighted areas of the frame that can be later “pulled out” during the image editing.

The 50-megapixel sensor hidden inside the GFX 50C provides stunning image quality along with an extended dynamic range, greater depth of the image and excellent color rendering.

Recommended camera lens:

Nano GI coating reduces ghosting and glare. It’s a perfect lens for clear landscape images taken far away. The lens is dust- and weather-sealed so you can take photos in harsh climates and temperatures as low as 14°F.

medium format photo

4. Fujifilm GFX 100S

fujifilm gfx 100s medium format camera
  • Weather protection
  • Latest IBIS system is highly efficient
  • Great autofocus performance in proper lighting conditions
  • Highly detailed images
  • High price compared to regular cameras
  • Built-in stabilization can be spotty

The GFX 100 is offered at a rather high price tag compared to standard cameras but when it comes to the medium format photography niche (full-frame sensors over 35mm), it’s still a great deal. It’s also a cutting-edge model that completely flips the script on what you can expect from a medium format camera.

It has a resolution of 100MP and it’s also the first medium format camera to offer built-in stabilization while the hybrid autofocus system offers great performance, particularly after the latest update.

Recommended camera lens:
Fujifilm GF 45mm F2.8 R WR

This model comes with enough power to allow further future improvements. It’s covered with Nano GI coating and offers terrific picture quality while minimizing ghosting and flares.

photo taken with fujifilm gf 45mm f2.8 r wr lens

5. Fujifilm GFX 50R

fujifilm gfx 50r medium format camera
  • Great photo quality
  • Small size and weight
  • Watertight body
  • Designed to last
  • Traditional exposure controls
  • Slow AF
  • Lacks 4K support
  • Burst mode only 3fps

The GFX 50R is a terrific medium-format camera by Fujifilm with a recognizable Rangefinder style. If you are on the lookout for a camera that has a sensor larger than a full-frame one, you should definitely consider this model with its 51.4MP sensor.

Another advantage of the GFX50R is its weather & dust protection, so you can work in unfavorable conditions with minimum risks. The camera weighs 1/7lbs and has an amazing 3.69 million dot EVF. Besides, you are bound to admire its ultra-crisp 2.36 million dot LCD.

The camera has dual UHS-II card slots and fantastic film simulation. Besides, there are 117 AF points so you can get very detailed images.

Recommended camera lens:
Fujifilm GF 120mm F4 R LM OIS WR Macro

The max magnification is 0.5x, which equals 95mm if you use 35mm format analog. The optical system consists of 9 groups and 14 elements, including 3 ED lens elements.

photo taken with fujifilm gf 120mm f4 lm ois wr macro lens


best large format camera for beginners
  • Excellent picture quality even at 6,400 ISO
  • Very handy body construction for shooting with hands
  • Very good and huge viewfinder
  • Only one point available in the autofocus system
  • Not very high resolution in comparison with its analogs
  • The uncommon control layout of four buttons

S2 refers to medium format cameras because it is equipped with Kodak photosensitive CCD sensor with a 30x45 mm frame size, which has a capacity for 37.5 million useful pixels. But at the same time, it practically does not differ from DSLR cameras with a full-frame 36 x 24 mm sensor, in terms of size and weight. 

Professional studio photographers often have to work in strict time frames, so they have to think out clear schemes and conditions for portrait, event, interior photography, etc. Leica S2 provides an opportunity to save up to four user settings of the camera (profiles), which will allow you to start working with a familiar subject quickly.

Recommended camera lens:
Leica Summicron-S 100 f/2 ASPH

The Summicron-S 100 f/2 ASPH it is a dust and waterproof lens with a fixed focal length for the medium format cameras of Leica S system. The use of complex multilayer coating technology provides for great color rendering and natural color tones in the pictures.

medium format photo

7. Mamiya 645df+

mamiya 645 camera
  • Excellent dynamic range and resolution
  • Great back interface
  • Clumsy mirror and shutter
  • It is difficult to press some buttons

This is a camera, which was released in collaboration of two companies (Danish Phase One and the Japanese Mamiya), that’s why you can meet different names of this product. You can use this medium format camera Mamiya for reportage and street photography. The back is most likely the main advantage of the camera, and you will spend long hours viewing your photos in 100% crop. This camera’s raw photos can be edited deeper in Capture One.

Recommended camera lens:
Schneider Kreuznach 110mm LS f/2.8

It is a long-focus lens with a fixed focal length for medium format Mamiya 645 camera. It is equipped with sufficient optical compression for a full-length portrait, fashion and beauty shooting. Among its distinguishing features are high lens speed and excellent optical characteristics that ensure flawless image.

mamiya camera photography

8. Hasselblad 500cm

hasselblad medium format film camera
  • Ability to work with modern backs
  • Many lenses
  • Durability
  • Excellent shooting quality
  • Bad and inconvenient ergonomics

Hasselblad is the name and brand, which photographers primarily associate with their film models. This product has earned a good reputation thanks to its durability, mechanical precision, and various high-quality lenses. Let's be honest, the medium format camera Hasselblad is fantastic, but it has drawbacks too. 

It is heavy, so you will not be able to work with it for a long time without a tripod. Another thing that lacks here is a built-in exposure meter. I used iPhone application, and later Pentax exposure meter. The camera allows you to change the types of films without having to finish the roll. This medium camera offers great bokeh and depth of field, excellent sharpness combined with a unique Hasselblad shade in your photos.

Recommended camera lens:
Carl Zeiss Planar T* 80mm f/2.8

It has a fixed focal length for medium format SLR cameras of Hasselblad 500th (V) series. It was released for a number of Hasselblad cameras, having undergone several modifications. This lens has a shutter speed control and a central shutter (it was built into the lens), providing appropriate synchronization with cameras.

medium format film camera photo

9. Pentacon Six TL

small medium format film camera
  • Square format is very nice
  • Excellent build quality
  • Very precise viewfinder
  • May be portable
  • The lever of the film movement is not ergonomic
  • Inserting the film is very difficult

This is the camera that was especially popular in the era of film photography and is still gaining popularity. The camera has a relatively small size for medium format and a very simple design. Pentacon Six TL medium format film camera is not the easiest to use. You really need some time to understand how it works. 

Don't get me wrong, it's easy enough to shoot, but Pentacon Six TL requires extra accuracy with inserting the film into it, as well as taking it out. There is no autofocus here, but there is a viewfinder, which is quite bright to get into focus. The camera has a fantastic Zeiss lenses range available. Everything in this camera is completely manual as well.

Recommended camera lens:
Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar 80 2.8

It's rather strong and heavy telephoto lens with excellent ergonomics. The focus is really smooth and accurate. The aperture settings are located in the center of the lens barrel. You can hear a small click on each of them. I like the various aperture textures and focus settings. This lens is very sharp. Even being wide opened it'll work very well.

medium format photography

10. Bronica SQ-A

medium format film camera
  • Really sharp lenses
  • The flash synchronizes at any speed
  • Support for metered finders
  • Very bright viewfinder
  • Not too heavy
  • If you use the medium format camera first, you’ll need a little time to learn it
  • Not the fastest lenses

This product has become an alternative to the classic heavy cameras. It has a medium format sensor size of 60×60 mm. In the front part of the body, there is a shutter release button and a sync connector for flashes. The synchronization is coordinated by the electronics that control the shutter speeds, so the lens cannot be accidentally disconnected from the camera. 

It is not protected from damages. A great advantage of SQ-A is all electronic and well-designed mechanical interlocks that work throughout the camera. They are created to protect the user from inappropriate removal of the wrong module.

Recommended camera lens:
Zenza Bronica Zenzanon-PS 40 mm f/ 4

It’s a super wide-angle lens with a fixed focal length suitable for Bronica medium format cameras (60x60 mm). A good choice for street photographers.

medium format film camera photography
hasselblad medium format camera png
Hasselblad X1D II 50c
  • 50 MP
  • 51.4 MB
Fujifilm GFX 50S
Fujifilm GFX 50S
  • 51.4 MB

How to Choose a Medium Format Camera?

If each medium format digital camera gives you a perfect image, and the question is about choosing a brand, additional functions, and financial capabilities, finding a film medium format camera requires being responsible.

Mind the Price

I know what comes to mind when someone talks about the advantages of medium-format film cameras over digital ones – what about the film cost? What about the costs of its development? And the scan?

Do not worry, because a usual cheap medium format camera will cost you about $4000, and among the film ones, there are many available full-featured medium format cameras, new and used. For $500, you can purchase a very good film camera, add the cost of a scanner that scans 35mm and a medium format that costs less than $150. In total, you will spend about $700, and you can buy films for several years ahead with extra $3300.

Type of Film

medium format film

There are two medium format film types. 120 film has a paper coating along the entire length and can accommodate 12 frames of 60x60 mm per reel. 220 film does not have a paper coating over the entire length and can accommodate 24 frames of 60x60 mm per reel. Not all medium format cameras are compatible with 220 films. Therefore, I recommend working with the 120 film.

Film Scanning

best scan for medium format photos

For this purpose, I recommend purchasing a flat-bed scanner with a backlight in the cover. On the market, there're some models from various manufacturers. There're also special film scanners for medium format film, but they're very expensive.

A flat-bed scanner is an excellent decision, and it will help you achieve great results. My Epson 4490 allows me to scan film strips up to 120 mm long, which means that it can work with the negatives of the most interesting devices on the list of medium format film cameras. Just search the flat-bed scanners that are labeled as “photos” or something like that. My cheap film scanner scans a 35mm negative so that the big side turns out to be of 6300 pixels. It means that, theoretically, 35mm negative is 26 megapixels. But if we consider the grain on the film with different photosensitivity, it is not so much. But if we scan the negative 60x60 mm so that one side turns out to count more than 10,000 pixels, it will be more than 50 megapixels. There're digital backdrops and medium format digital cameras that can take 50-megapixel pictures, but they cost over $20,000.

Choosing the Lenses

Everything is a little different here. If you have the opportunity to change the lens for your film camera, just pick up the lens that is suitable for its bayonet. But film cameras are of two types:


The medium format camera includes several types. TLR - Twin Lens Reflex. One lens is needed for focusing, and the second is directly for shooting. In these cameras, you look through the top of the device to see the image. It's the cheapest kind of "professional" cameras. The main benefit of them is that they're equipped with non-replaceable lenses. Therefore, you are attached to the lens with a certain focal length that the camera is equipped with.


medium format SLR lens

We all realize what SLR cameras look like - Single Lens Reflex. Such type of camera is the most common and accessible among advanced cameras. But medium format SLRs may look completely different. Depending on the budget, I'd advise considering SLR cameras from Bronica or Hasselblad. In such cameras, you can change your lenses, and the choice of lenses depends on the manufacturer. There're also adapters that will help you, but if you look at the lenses from the camera manufacturer, then the situations are often good, as these cameras were produced quite a long time ago, and they have collected a large optical stock.

Weight and Ergonomics

If all the DSLR cameras have almost the same shape, then everything is different with medium format ones, as each has a unique shape and weight. One looks like a cube and the other looks like a more classical camera. If you take the weight of a medium format camera with a lens, it will be about 4.4 pounds, which is significantly more than the usual weight of a camera. Therefore, choosing such a product, you should pay attention to its convenience as well, because there are more compact and convenient variants, such as Fujifilm GFX 50s, and there is Hasselblad 500cm, which is much larger and not so convenient.