The best medium format cameras
This week we've got another camera round up for you. Hopefully the post on medium format a few weeks ago has inspired you to try shooting on a different scale, and if so, these are the best reviewed models to start you off on your medium format journey. These can be expensive, especially compared to 35mm cameras, but renting is always an option. You can read our previous post for more information about the different ways to get your hands on one of these! As always, there are so many camera options out there and this isn't an exhaustive list, just some of the models that top the best reviewed lists and come highly recommended for beginners to this format.
Photo by @shotnotfromthestreet
- A favourite with many for its beautiful, sleek design, this is one of the most sought after medium format models.
- The Mamiya 7 is a 6x7 rangefinder camera with interchangeable lenses. It takes both 120 and 220 film. With 120 you get 10 exposures per roll.
- Superior image quality, with a super sharp lens that produces clean, high resolution photos.
- Built in light meter and auto exposure - also has auto exposure lock, so you can point the camera at the subject, half press the shutter and lock in exposure before shooting. The auto exposure makes this camera a great choice for beginners - takes away some of the worry whilst you get used to medium format.
- Quick to fire.
- Portable for a medium format model and not too weighty.
- Relatively new (was introduced in the late 1990s) so there are many different lens options you can swap out and play with.
- Excellent rangefinder patch.
- An easy and straightforward camera to begin shooting on - has rave reviews and crowds of supporters.
Photos on the Mamiya 7 by Brendan George Ko
- The Pentax 645N has many great features for anyone just starting out with medium format - the primary one being its autofocus. It has less manual features than other cameras on this list, so if you are after something that feels more similar to a modern DSLR this might be the option for you.
- 6x4.5cm negative size, eye-level viewfinder, interchangeable lenses and backs. 15 to 16 exposures per roll.
- Easy and comfortable to use, quick for beginners to wrap their head around.
- One negative is that this is a very loud camera - not an issue if you enjoy the sound of a shutter closing but something to bear in mind!
- Nice LED viewfinder display - in manual mode shows how many stops you are from perfect exposure.
- Portable enough to travel, this camera is reliable, takes high quality images and boasts some great features.
- There are multiple cameras within the 645 family - the original 645 has less modern features but is still a brilliant camera and will be much cheaper than the updated 645N and 645NII which offer you the choice of manual and auto focus.
- Fully mechanical with manual focus. The Mamiya RB67 is a 6x7 waist level viewfinder. You get 10 exposures per roll.
- Bear in mind, this is a beast of a camera and very heavy. However, that does mean it's super durable. Using a tripod when you shoot on this will allow you to experience the RB67 in all its glory, without having to hold it up!
- Has a toggle between portrait and landscape mode.
- Produces really high quality images with sharp lenses and a bright viewfinder.
- Modular build so you can change and adapt the camera. This allows for loads of versatility and for you to build and create the camera that best suits you.
- You can interchange camera lenses, viewfinders, film winders and film backs. This is one of the reasons it's so popular with professionals in studio settings - you can load up multiple film backs with different film stocks and quickly change them, rather than shooting one roll at a time.
- Rotating back on the camera. To change from portrait to landscape you only need to rotate the back without needing to change your body position.
Photos on the Mamiya RB67 by James Madison (portrait) and martinjroos (landscape)
- This is a great option if you love the retro vintage look. It comes with a lower price tag than the Rolleicord and Rolleiflex cameras that often top these lists but produces photos of the same quality.
- Twin Lens Reflex camera, manual focus, waist level viewfinder and 6x6 cm negative size. You get 12 exposures per roll.
- This camera has a fixed 75mm f/3.5 lens, but don't let the inability to interchange lenses put you off - this is a beautiful and incredibly sharp lens.
- Light and small so easy to carry around, simple but durable construction.
- This is a great choice if you are searching for a TLR medium format model and frequently comes out top of photographers favourites lists.
Photos on the Minolta Autocord by @noahrevans4 (left) and David Mee
- Introduced in the late 1950s as an affordable, intuitive camera for the masses, the Yashica Mat is still a popular choice today
- TLR 6x6 camera, produces 12 exposures per roll.
- Another great option if you prefer that vintage look and the retro crank winder.
- Comes highly recommended for portrait and still life photography. Been described as the perfect camera for a "more contemplative style of photography".
- Fixed 80mm f/3.5 lens which will give you a similar angle of view as a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera.
- Functionally a very simple camera, so easy to get to grips with as a beginner - delivers outstanding results.
- Focus is smooth and easy and the camera is super portable, sitting comfortably in your hand.
Photos on the Yashica Mat by @alicethetriplet (left) and @marcagentique
Cover photo by @paulliptrotartist