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Written by Kathleen Frank
The power to shoot medium format is ane of my favorite benefits of picture photography. In the digital world, medium format cameras are and then expensive. It’s rare to see even professionals use them. Simply not so with flick!
Medium format film cameras can exist found at any budget, opening upwardly this mode of shooting to pretty much everyone.
As amazing as medium format is, information technology can ofttimes feel intimidating to new picture show photographers. So let’s break down exactly what medium format moving picture photography is, why people shoot information technology, and some of the mutual terms and definitions.
What is Medium Format Photography?
Medium format refers to the size of your ringlet of film (or if you’re talking digital, information technology’s the size of the photographic camera sensor). Information technology really merely means that you are shooting on a bigger piece of moving-picture show than yous do with a 35mm camera.
There are iii different categories of film size: 35mm, medium format, and big format.
A 35mm picture negative, or image, is 24 mm x 36 mm. A medium format film negative is annihilation larger than 24 mm x 36 mm but smaller than iv in x 5 in. And large format is anything 4 in x five in or larger.
A coil of medium format moving picture, too called 120 film, is approximately 6 cm tall, and mutual medium format image sizes are 6 x 4.5 cm, 6 x 6 cm, and half-dozen x 7 cm.
A lot of technical info, I know, only you’ll notice how they are all 6 cm on one dimension, matching the meridian of a whorl of medium format film.
You’ll also encounter these sizes referenced when you start looking at medium format cameras. A photographic camera like the Mamiya 645 creates negatives that are 6 x 4.5 cm. The Pentax 67 camera creates negatives that are 6 x 7 cm.
So, why does it matter what picture show size y’all shoot? What are the benefits to shooting a larger negative?
Benefits to Shooting Medium Format?
Higher Quality Images
The increased size of medium format film means a much larger negative. This will give you lot finer details and less grain.
Yous also get smoother tones with a wider range of colors. Basically, this means a prettier image, avoiding the grittier quality you’ll often find with 35mm.
Shallower Depth of Field
Medium format film cameras accept a broad field of view. That big negative lets you run across more of the scene you lot’re shooting than you lot would with a 35mm photographic camera.
This gives you a shallower depth of field for your apertures. If you like to brand your subject pop with a blurry background and lots of bokeh, you’ll dear medium format!
These two things together produce the medium format “wait” you’ll often hear photographers talk about.
Beautiful creamy background, sharp subjects, and low grain. Medium format makes it much easier to go clean, lovely images, which is why this format every bit a favorite for portrait and wedding photographers.
Disadvantages to Shooting Medium Format
Medium format pic cameras are much larger and bulkier than 35mm cameras. And if you become into 67 cameras, they can become very heavy! If you are looking for something pocket-sized and lite, 35mm may be a ameliorate fit for you.
Number of Shots per Coil
A whorl of 35mm has 24-36 shots on information technology. A roll of 120 picture has x-15 shots, depending on the size y’all’re shooting. With the 645 size, you have 15 shots per coil; with 6 ten six, you have 12 shots; and with 67, you only take x shots.
That is just not many shots per roll!
It will definitely assistance you deadening down and cherish each frame, but you volition still be changing out those motion-picture show rolls pretty often.
While shooting medium format on film is much cheaper than shooting it on digital, information technology notwithstanding tends to be more than expensive than 35mm.
120 film is more expensive than 35mm motion picture, and you get far fewer shots per roll. If you send your film out to a lab, developing is also more expensive per frame.
While you can find a medium format photographic camera at almost whatever cost point, the cameras also tend to be more expensive than their 35mm counterparts.
There are definitely some pros and cons that come up with medium format. Personally, the prototype quality wins for me.
I also bask the skills I’ve adult from only having x-fifteen shots per roll. I oftentimes find I have more images I love out of those fifteen shots than I do with the 36 shots on a scroll of 35mm.
The images really do seem to have an actress something you can’t replicate with 35mm, in digital or moving picture.
A Few Common Medium Format Terms
Hither are a few terms that come up a lot with medium format cameras. Agreement them will help if you lot’re shopping for a photographic camera and comparing all of the different options.
Waist Level Viewfinder
With a typical film camera, you hold the photographic camera upwards to your eye to have a picture. On a photographic camera with a waist level viewfinder, you lot bend over the camera and expect downwardly into the height to focus and have your picture.
It’s called a waist level viewfinder because you lot hold the camera downwards at your waist in order to come across into the superlative. Definitely takes some getting used to!
And even more so, the image on a waist level viewfinder is flipped left to right. Composing your shot can become a little catchy.
Frequently abbreviated every bit WLF or WLVF, waist level viewfinders are constitute on both medium format and 35mm cameras, merely they are much more common on medium format cameras.
* If you have a photographic camera (or are shopping for one) with this kind of viewfinder and y’all don’t like it, check to see if there is an heart-level attachment! Many cameras accept attachments that will let y’all replace the waist level viewfinder with an eye-level i.
SLR vs TLR
The term SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. It means the viewfinder of the camera uses a mirror to expect through the lens, then what you see through the viewfinder is exactly what you run across in the final image.
You tin can observe SLR cameras in 35mm or medium format.
Compare a SLR to something like a toy camera or an Instax camera where the viewfinder is only on top of the camera. Your final picture doesn’t quite friction match what y’all saw through the viewfinder, considering the view from the viewfinder is a few inches high and maybe to the right or left of the lens.
Generally not a large deal, merely if you lot’re looking for more than control over your images, yous’ll want a SLR.
Then, What is a TLR?
TLR stands for Twin Lens Reflex. Rarely seen in 35mm (although there are a few), TLRs are primarily medium format cameras. If you are looking at medium format cameras, you will definitely come across some TLRs.
The twin in Twin Lens Reflex means these cameras have 2 lenses. They have a very absurd and singled-out look with one lens on meridian of the other.
The second lens is there for the viewfinder. Instead of seeing exactly what the lens sees, like with a SLR, you meet what the second lens sees.
With a SLR, the mirror that lets you come across out of the lens moves up and downwards with the shutter. A TLR is built with this ii lens configuration and then the mirror doesn’t have to movement.
Lenses & Viewfinders on TLRs
Due to this unique lens setup, it is rare to find TLRs with interchangeable lenses. The lens is built into the photographic camera, so you are limited to the focal length and aperture settings of that detail lens. The Mamiya C330 (find on eBay) is the exception to this.
The other nearly notable thing virtually a TLR is it most always has a waist level viewfinder. There are a few eye-level attachments out at that place, only, with these types of cameras specifically, many find that the eye-level attachment detracts from the usability of the photographic camera.
Lastly, TLRs tend to be durable, merely not heavy, and very tranquility, making them a favorite of street photographers, and, generally, quite fun to employ.
The non-moving mirror makes them incredibly steady at slow shutter speeds. They are as well ane of the about unique cameras out there. The design alone makes them a chat starter. Definitely a staple of the picture show world!
That pretty much covers it for medium format movie photography! And if y’all want to know more than nearly specific camera models and brands, cheque out our listing of favorite medium format cameras for beginners!
Kathleen is the founder here at Shoot Information technology With Film, and you lot can read more of her articles hither, including 5 Awesome Medium Format Cameras for Beginners and 30 Motion picture Photography Resources for Beginners. You can also check out her piece of work on her website and Instagram.
Get out any questions about shooting medium format beneath in the comments, and check dorsum in in a couple weeks for our recommendations for medium format cameras!
Desire to larn more about shooting film? Read all of our film photography tutorials here!