Oct 29 2008

Medium Format: Do You Need It?

Published by at 6:13 am under General

If you’re like many photographers, you’re always looking for the perfect image. In addition to a good, well composed photo, you want the best technical quality. You want your photos to show the fine textures, subtle hues, and crisp edges of your subject matter. You want the ultimate image.

If you need this type of image, medium format is here to help. Medium format, in contrast to 35mm, uses a much larger film size. By using a larger film area, medium format cameras, such as the famous Hasselblad 200 series can capture significantly more information, and therefore a much sharper, more vibrant image. The large a slide or a negative is, the better image it will give, since the larger area allows for so much more photographic information.

Medium format gear is “professional” gear, meaning the quality is very high. Some of the best lenses ever made have been for medium format cameras. You’re not going to find much cheap, low quality consumer grade glass in the medium format world, though TLR cameras like the Yashica TLRs can be a little cheaper. Rather, the finest lens makers of all times have tasked their best engineers with the mission of creating amazing lenses for their medium format cameras. Most of these lenses will create images of the highest quality possible.

All these factors add up to give you an amazing quality image that will blow away any 35mm image taken under similar conditions. If you look at a medium format negative or slide under a loupe, you will be shocked by the magnitude of detail that is visible. It’s hard to describe, but the difference is immediately visible and striking. This is not a small quality improvement that is visible to only an elite few, this is a radical change in the quality of your photos.

Indeed, it is this quality that leads many professionals to deal with the added cost, size, and weight of medium format gear. To be sure, its not the most convenient and affordable of formats. The larger negative requires a larger, more complex camera to deal with. A larger lens is required to focus enough light to expose the medium format film pane. These larger, more complex cameras and lenses are also significantly more expensive than 35mm cameras. For the amatuer, medium format is not ideal. Rather, it is for the professional or advanced photographer who demands the best looking images possible at the cost of portability.

So, should you go out and buy a medium format camera today? Typically not, given the way medium format is so complex. However, if you’re looking to greatly improve the quality of your images, and you’re not too daunted by the complexities and expense involved with a medium format camera, you should start shopping for one today, as nothing else will fulfill that desire as well as medium format camera can.

One response so far

One Response to “Medium Format: Do You Need It?”

  1. iPhoto | Video, Photography and Camerason 29 Oct 2008 at 9:26 am

    iPhoto | Video, Photography and Cameras…

    Nice sharing. We all love photography and lets share the passion in keeping our best memories!…

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