photoshooting with medium format film camera photo by Anton Mukhin on shutterstock

Essential Guide to Medium Format Film Camera: 5 Advantages | 7 Best Ones

January 28, 2023

With the advent of digital photography, many photographers have shunned traditional film cameras. However, medium-format cameras offer unique advantages that make them ideal for capturing stunning images. This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of the advantages of medium format film cameras and a few of the best ones currently on the market.

What are Medium Format Cameras?

Medium format cameras use a medium-sized image sensor, typically larger than those used in 35mm or APS-C digital cameras. They are usually 6 cm wide and use a 120 film size. The large size of the film allows for a greater range of exposure values and higher-resolution images.

Medium format cameras are generally used for professional photography, such as commercial and fashion photography, where the quality of the image is of utmost importance.

Medium Format vs Full Frame

Let's examine the main differences between medium-format digital cameras vs full-frame.

Dynamic Range

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Dynamic range measures the range of tones a digital camera can capture in a single image. Medium format cameras have a higher dynamic range than Full-Frame. This is because their sensor size is larger, allowing for more detail and a wider range of tones to be captured. The larger sensor also allows the camera to capture more light, resulting in brighter images.

Full-Frame DSLRs have a smaller sensor size and, therefore, a lower dynamic range. The smaller sensor size means less light is captured, resulting in darker images. This can result in a loss of detail and less accurate colors. Full-Frame have less potential to capture a wide range of tones, resulting in low-quality images.

Shallow Depth of Field

Traditionally, shallow depth of field is simpler to achieve with medium-format cameras. Thanks to the larger sensor size, it was simpler to take pictures using your lens's widest aperture. Additionally, the shallower your depth of field, the wider your aperture.

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Even at wide apertures, a medium-format digital camera produces beautiful bokeh. However, with each new generation of cameras, their advantage over full-frame cameras is eroding.

Mirrorless cameras with full-frame sensors have outstanding depth-of-field abilities. With a 50mm lens, they can produce excellent bokeh, which cameras with smaller sensors find difficult. Regarding bokeh, full-frame mirrorless cameras are just a short distance from the medium format.


Medium format digital cameras are much more expensive than Full-Frame. This is because they require larger, more expensive lenses and more powerful processors. The cost of medium format film and the camera are much higher than 35mm film and Full-Frame.

Video and Continuous Shooting Modes

Medium-format digital cameras are more advanced than full-frame. They can shoot up to 4K resolution videos, while full-frame are limited to 1080p resolution. They also offer higher bitrates, allowing more data to be recorded with better image quality. Additionally, medium-format digital cameras usually offer higher frame rates, allowing for smoother and more detailed videos.

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Regarding continuous shooting modes, medium-format digital cameras typically offer faster frame rates. This allows them to capture more frames in a shorter time. They also offer better autofocus performance and better image quality. This makes them ideal for capturing fast-moving objects like sports and wildlife.

Advantages of Medium Format Film Camera

1. Better Sensor, More Light

Medium-format film cameras have larger sensors than most digital cameras, which allows them to capture more light. This can create images with greater detail and less noise, even when shooting in low-light conditions.

Additionally, the larger sensor size allows for a shallower depth of field, giving your images a more professional look, more accurate focus, and more control over the background blur.

2. Greater Dynamic Range

They can capture more subtle details in highlights and shadows. This is especially useful for photographers who must capture a wide range of tonal values, such as landscapes or architecture.

3. More Accurate Colors

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Photo by Guillaume Bleyer on Unsplash

The larger sensors in medium-format film cameras allow for more accurate color reproduction. This allows for more accurate flesh tones, vibrant colors, and overall color accuracy.

4. Better Quality

Since the larger sensor size of medium format film cameras captures more light, the overall image quality is usually much better than that of digital cameras. This allows for sharper details and better contrast.

5. Weather Sealing

Most medium-format film cameras are weather-sealed, which makes them ideal for outdoor photography. This allows you to shoot in any weather without worrying about damaging your camera.

Best Medium Format Film Camera Available in 2023

1. Pentax 645N

Pentax 645N

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The Pentax 645N features four exposure modes, three metering systems, TTL auto flash, auto bracketing, exposure compensation, multiple exposures, a self-timer, a low noise shutter, and comprehensive viewfinder data. This small, portable camera features eye-level photography, dependable autofocus, and multiple exposure modes.


  • Exposure control type: Manual, Automatic
  • Exposure mode: Professional, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, and Manual
  • Image Size:56 x 41.5mm
  • Power source: Six AA, alkaline, or lithium


  • Sharp and light
  • Creates stunning images
  • Easy to use
  • Creates auto exposure


  • Bulky and heavy
  • It is noisy

2. Mamiya RB67

Mamiya RB67

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The Mamiya RB67 has no integrated electronics. It's a serious camera that's big, heavy, and impressive. There are no integrated electronics. It's a serious camera that's big, heavy, and impressive. The lens and film you're using greatly impact the quality of your images. However, this camera does an excellent job.


  • Shutter speed range: 1s to 1400 s
  • Exposure control type: Automatic
  • Frame rate: Manual Lever winding, unmodified


  • Large, beautiful, and heavy piece of equipment
  • Excellent lenses
  • Glaring viewfinder
  • Being able to switch between a landscape and a portrait perspective


  • Not advised for amateur photographers.

3. Hasselblad 500 C/M

Hasselblad 500 C/M

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The Hasselblad 500 C/M design is remarkably straightforward. There are no pointless details when users look at the camera's exterior.

Battery-free and entirely mechanical, it works without them. As a result, you will need to use an external light meter or the dated "Sunny 16" rule since there isn't a built-in light meter.


  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 120 film
  • Exposure control type: Manual
  • ISO range:6-6400


  • Hand-holding is fantastic.
  • Excellent quality.
  • Amazingly sharp lens


  • The lens does not focus close up
  • The operation is slow

4. CONTAX 645


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The film back of the CONTAX 645 contains lenses, a film insert, and a focus screen. Photographers can select the components they want or need in different combinations. In addition to having complete control over the camera's configuration, you can quickly replace any broken or irreparable parts.


  • Exposure-Control Modes: Aperture-priority auto exposure, shutter-speed-priority auto exposure, manual
  • Format: 6x4.5 cm
  • Exposure control type: Manual. Automatic
  • Autofocus System: single autofocus and continuous autofocus
  • Metering: TTL spot metering and Center-weighted average light metering


  • The film backs loads quickly and simply
  • Finder at eye level
  • Swiftest possible flash sync speed
  • Superb lenses


  • There is no leaf shutter
  • Dust and dirt are easily attracted to the lens

5. Mamiya 645 1000S

 Mamiya 645 1000S

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Prisms on Mamiya 645 100S can be changed. There are three options: standard eye level, eye level with meter, and waist level. Although this camera lacks an interchangeable back to enable quick loading, it is still simple enough to operate when you get a hold of it.


  • Image Format: 6x4.5 cm
  • Viewfinder: Optical
  • Camera Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Exposure control type: Manual
  • Metering: AE(TTL) prism, EV2.5-19, ASA12-3200
  • Film Format: 120/220 roll film


  • Well-made and sturdy.
  • It is a simple camera for someone new to medium format, thanks to the prism finder.
  • Lenses are quick and inexpensive.
  • Small and light.


  • Absence of a replaceable film back.
  • The sharpness of lenses varies.

6. Holga 120N 

Holga 120N

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The most iconic feature of the Holga 120N camera is the lens, which creates a dreamy, hazy aesthetic emphasized by the plastic body's underlying vignetting and light leaks. A zone focus system allows a continuous focus as close as 3' away, and there are options for 1/100 sec. or bulb shutter speeds.


  • Formart: 6x4.5 cm
  • Viewfinder: Optical
  • Lens: 60mm f/8 plastic lens
  • Exposure control type: Manual
  • Shutter Speeds: 1/100 sec. and Bulb


  • Sharp lens when you nail the focus
  • It's very easy to shoot once you know the pitfalls to avoid
  • You get genuinely unique photographs
  • You can experiment with long exposures and double exposures


  • The viewfinder could be more precise.
  • You must tape it up to prevent light leaks.
  • You might get double exposures by accident.

7. Mamiya C330

Mamiya C330

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The Mamiya C330 camera has a film counter, a removable back cover, an automatic exposure indicator, interchangeable focusing screens, an automatic film counter, a hexagonal distance scale rod for the various lenses, and automatic parallax compensation. Two shutter releases are present: one is located on the body's lower right side base, and the other is a plastic downward-firing release on the right side of the front standard.


  • Format: 6 x 6 cm (120 roll film)
  • Exposure mode: manual
  • Lens: Interchangeable
  • Type: TLR


  • Lenses are interchangeable.
  • Very powerful
  • The bellows allow for excellent macro photography.


  • It's quite heavy.
  • The image you see through the finder differs slightly from the image you will see in the negative.


We recommend the Mamiya RB67, the Hasselblad 500 C/M, and the Mamiya C330 for photographers looking for a reliable, easy-to-use medium format film camera.

The Mamiya RB67 is a reliable and durable camera that is great for experienced photographers. It has a large, beautiful, heavy piece of equipment design and excellent lenses, making it a great choice for capturing stunning images.

The Hasselblad 500 C/M is a battery-free and entirely mechanical camera that produces excellent images. It has a simple design, is easy to use, and has a glaring viewfinder and the ability to switch between a landscape and a portrait perspective.

The Mamiya C330 is a great choice for experienced photographers due to its interchangeable lenses and powerful features. It has two shutter releases, a removable back cover, an automatic exposure indicator, and automatic parallax compensation. These features make it a great choice for capturing stunning images.


Medium format film cameras offer unique advantages, including higher dynamic range, more accurate colors, better quality images, and weather sealing. They are also larger and heavier than digital cameras, which could be better for amateur photographers. However, they are great for experienced photographers who need the highest quality images.

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