If you’re serious about your photography and struggle with restricted and cropped frames, you’re probably considering a medium format camera. That’s why you’re here after all, and we don’t blame you. Wherever tech and art cross over, you’ll find a whole new language of specs and jargon that can confuse even seasoned professionals.
Fortunately for you, we have a list below where we’ve looked through the medium format camera market and found a variety of MFCs of different power levels and, yes, different price tags thanks to the healthy secondhand market that these powerful cameras have.
We’ve even gone so far as to add a buyers’ guide that goes through the aspects of these cameras that we considered when ranking them, and which ones are best to have in MFCS. With any kind of tech, it’s best to educate yourself on them so that you know what kind of tool you need for the job, and then spot the good and the bad deals for yourself.
If you don't want to miss any photo ops, then we have you covered. We have our top choice for an MFC right here with the Fujifilm GFX 50S Mirrorless Medium Format Camera.
It’s not the most powerful MFC, so if you’re buying purely on raw megapixel power then you’ll probably prefer our number two option instead, but we found that the Fujifilm product straddled a line of power and affordability for the average consumer, which is something that’s hard to come by in this market.
See why we chose the GFX 50S MFC below:
The CMOS image sensor is the star of any MFC, and this one clocks in at a respectable 51.4 megapixels. It’s also optimized by the X-Processor Pro, a Fujifilm image processing engine that improves color reproduction and bit conversion ability.
Between a detachable 3.69M-dot electronic viewfinder and a 2.36M-dot touchscreen LCD, you’re the one firmly in control of this easy-to-use camera that’s capable of achieving impressive coverage in your photography, no cropping necessary.
All the tech is housed in a sealed body that’s made with lightweight, high-rigidity magnesium alloy. The sealing allows it to stave off water, snow, dust, and temperature extremes.
Our first camera is the Fujifilm GFX 50S Mirrorless Medium Format Camera. The body-only version, specifically, but you’ll see on the product listing that there is a selection of lenses you can get the camera with if that’s what you need. This reached the top spot since it’s a powerful MFC that won’t be too harsh on the wallet, something that Fujifilm are fond of doing with their high-performing cameras.
As for the actual features this model has, you’ll be pleased to know the GFX 50S carries a large 51.4-megapixel CMOS sensor that should be enough firepower for most photographers’ needs.
All of that firepower needs to be pointed in the right direction, however, which is where the X-Processor Pro comes in. It’s an image processing engine which optimizes the sensor performance, particularly in how it reproduces color and converts to 8-bit TIFF format. It also ensures a minimal shutter release time lag and shortens shooting intervals between consecutive frames to snap as accurate a photograph as possible.
There’s also a detachable 3.69M-dot electronic viewfinder that uses five lens elements to make sure you maximize coverage. It also offers a diopter adjustment range of -4m-1 to + 2m-1. All of these features are handily managed by a tilting 2.36M-dot touchscreen LCD control panel.
It has a lightweight and high-rigidity magnesium alloy body that makes it easier to hold without sacrificing durability. Speaking of durability, the body is also sealed to proof against weather like rain, snow, and even sand and dust. This includes a robust operation temperature from -14-degree Fahrenheit and +104-degree Fahrenheit (-10 to +40 degrees Celsius).
Powerful 51.4-megapixel CMOS sensor
X-Processor Pro image processing engine optimizes sensor performance
Detachable 3.69M-dot organic EL electronic viewfinder helps achieve full coverage
At the second spot is one of the higher-end models on this list, the Hasselblad H6D-100C Medium Format DSLR Camera. It’s a powerful camera with its large 100-megapixel CMOS image sensor that is capable of capturing wide, open shots, which is the main draw to medium format cameras for many professional photographers out there.
It is on the pricier side of the market though. It’s not the most expensive MFC you’ll find by any means, but it can be too much for some.
The camera is capable of 4K recording at 25 frames per second, too, which produces crisp video results that are sure to impress. Managing the H6D-100C is easy and intuitive thanks to its touchscreen control panel that makes accessing camera functions simple. That said, photographs are where this camera shines since its autofocus system works best when it’s covering still subjects.
As for the body of the camera itself, it’s sealed to weatherproof the vulnerable tech inside from water and dust. Part of that weatherproofing is also an increased survivability when it comes into contact with hot or cold temperatures.
Embedded in that casing are multiple ports such as USB 3.0, microphone, and headphone jack supports that add extra functionality to these cameras, making sure you get as much value as you can for the money.
It’s the cost that netted it this position on the list but make no mistake, if you need an MFC that’s capable of some heavy lifting then you’re best with this one.
Powerful 100-megapixel CMOS image sensor
4K recording resolution at 25 frames per second
Weather sealed to protect against the elements
USB 3.0, microphone, and headphone jack support
Intuitive touchscreen control scheme simplifies camera functions
Autofocus system is only suitable for still subjects
At the midpoint in our list is the Pentax 645z Medium Format DSLR Camera Body. The fact it’s just a body yet again means you can have a lot of choice in what lens you use, and the same goes for most of the medium format cameras in this list.
It sports a large 51.4-megapixel CMOS image sensor that’s capable of capturing more than twice as much detail as non-medium format DSLR camera models. In addition to that, the wide shots that this camera can capture are sharpened by the real time scene analysis sensor, an 86,000-pixel sensor that scans your prospective shots before and during photography.
Its maximum continuous shooting speed is three frames per second, which is more than serviceable for a medium format camera, though not the fastest out there. Whilst shooting you can also have a live view of what your camera is capturing thanks to an LCD panel that you can tilt to your viewing preferences.
51.4-megapixel CMOS image sensor
Real time scene analysis using 86,000-pixel sensors
Three frames per second maximum continuous shooting speed
Tilting LCD panel allows you a live view of your photography
The next camera we have is the Hasselblad X1D-50c, a product from a name with proven credentials when it comes to high-performance cameras. In fact, this camera is the first mirrorless digital medium format camera that was introduced to the world. It’s compact, too, enabling medium format photography to become more portable than it had been before.
On the spec front, this camera is sporting a 50-megapixel CMOS image sensor that’s capable of an 8272×6200 top resolution. It reports its image captures through a 920K pixel touchscreen display that shows in 24-bit RGB color, allowing you to see what you’re recording in crisp, color-accurate detail.
The X1D-50c also has decent peripheral support, having USB 3.0 support, a microphone, and headphone jacks, allowing you to get as much functionality out of the camera as possible by pairing it with other tech.
The first compact digital medium format camera, making it more portable than other options
50-megapixel CMOS sensor supports an 8272×6200 resolution
920K pixel touchscreen display with 24-bit color
Peripheral support with USB 3.0 support, headphone jacks, and a microphone
Last but certainly not least is what could be considered the budget option of this list, another Pentax camera, 645D 40MP Medium Format DSLR to be exact. This listing, like the rest, is for the body only so that you can match it with different lenses for different performances.
This camera is packing a 40-megapixel CCD sensor, which is humble compared to some of the other cameras on this list but is by no means one to turn your nose up at. The top resolution this model is capable of is a very wide 7264×5440, great for high resolution imaging and large printing applications.
For the lowered price, you get an 11-point SAFOX IX+ autofocus system that helps this camera perform better in different light levels by sensing the area’s light wavelengths and adjusting accordingly. This makes the Pentax 645D a great budget option for those in search of a versatile medium format camera.
It also supports both SD and SDHC memory cards in a dual slot configuration, so you’ve got both data storage options covered. The body of the camera itself has a fixed back, meaning that it can’t accept digital camera backs to achieve different resolutions, adding versatility. Whilst this is uncommon with medium format DSLR models, the upside to this closed back model is that it's fully weather sealed, able to resist heat, cold, and dust.
A 40-megapixel CCD sensor capable of a 7264×5440 top resolution
11-point SAFOX IX+ autofocus system uses a light wavelength sensor to improve focus speed in a variety of light levels
Buying medium format cameras is a significant investment, so you want to make sure you have the right kind for the photography you have in mind. Medium format cameras allow photographers to capture larger, crisper images, and come in digital and non-digital variants. We’d recommend grabbing a digital one where possible since they have a larger sensor and benefit from higher ISO settings.
Below we’ve got a breakdown of the types of medium format cameras and the features you’ll find in them, along with which features and properties we think are best. These include the image sensors, aperture, lenses, and whether they have ISO settings.
Types of Medium Format Cameras
Since medium format camera (MFC) can be a broad term, it’s no surprise that there are a few types of cameras within that group. These are, in the order we’ve written about them, twin lens reflex (TLR), SLR, viewfinder, and rangefinder.
Twin lens reflex MFCs use two objective lenses that are the same focal length, one being the standard photographic objective lens and the other being the view lens. The view lens connects to the viewfinder and most TLR MFC’s focal lengths are fixed. They tend to use a leaf shutter system, meaning they’re quiet to use, operate at high speeds and don’t suffer from much shutter vibrations.
MFC SLRs are the same as your standard SLR cameras, but instead they have larger film sizes and are much more flexible in terms of their wide range. This makes these the go-to for close ups and telephoto photography where you need sharp composition with very wide angles.
Viewfinders are lightweight cameras with fixed leaf shutter systems, and the MFC variants of them tend to be older models. Some of them are folding cameras, which makes them easy to store and carry for traveling but aren’t usually a photographer’s main MFC.
There are a few other kinds of viewfinder MFCs like press-style and miniview cameras, as well as monorail studio cameras that are capable of perspective control movements that make them ideal for photographers looking to capture city environments. Which ones you get will ultimately depend on your photography requirements and style.
Finally, for those with more niche and specialized needs, there are cameras like panoramics or torpedo cameras that reach up to a 6x24cm range, some of them allowing 360-degree imaging.
Rangefinder MFCs are much smaller than TLRs, making them best for point and shoot photography. They’re quieter and perform well in dimmer lighting, but this comes with the downside that they have limited focusing ranges, and their lenses rarely exceed 200mm for the sake of them being more compact. You’ll find most of these have fixed lenses, but there are body only variants that allow you to swap out lenses of your choice for the situation.
Medium format cameras could be described as heavy hitters when it comes to their image sensors. This is because medium format cameras are designed to take in long, wide scenes, and so don’t crop images like other cameras do. Instead MFCs can go all the way with large, full-frame sensors that are capable of soaking in the entire shot.
The two main types of solid-state image sensors you’ll see with MFCs are CMOS and CCD sensors. CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) are named for their construction, where the hardware is based on a foundation of silicon wafer.
CCD sensors are Charge-Coupled Devices that are more power hungry and light sensitive than MOS image sensors. The way they shutter is also different, too, with CCD’s supporting a global shutter whereas CMOS use a rolling shutter.
Global shuttering is when the entire frame is captured at once, making them better for capturing moving objects or wider vistas where you want minimal change in object positions in the frame.
Meaning International Standards Organization, ISO in photography is a quantified measurement for how sensitive a given camera is to light. The higher the ISO settings, the more sensitive and capable a camera is when photographing in low-light conditions.
For medium format cameras, this depends on the type of photography that you have planned. Since they offer a very high standard of performance and often come with high price tags, it’s assumed that medium format cameras will be used in a controlled setting where the light can be managed separate from the camera.
They also tend to be used on tripods and not handheld, so have long shutter speeds that don’t work well with high ISO settings. This means a lot of MFCs have little or no variability in their ISO settings.
If you want some variable light performance in a medium format camera, then you should go for a digital one, and make sure it has the right ISO capabilities you want beforehand by looking into the product.
Last Updated on 2020-12-07 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates
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