The first medium format camera was invented in 1839 during what is known as the birth of photography. These devices are characterized as being able to capture images larger than the standard 35mm film but smaller than a four-by-five-inch photo. But because it took at least 30 minutes of exposure time to take a picture with this camera, ThoughtCo reports that photography didn’t become as accessible to the public until George Eastman, the founder of Kodak, invented the flexible film roll. He created films that came in many sizes– 120 being one of the most common ones with the same frame as the original medium format cameras. From this, photographers were able to capture wide images consistent with the medium format ratio.
As film rolls faded away and digital cameras rose, manufacturers started to emulate the original look that Eastman’s cameras could produce. Today, these devices are typically used in product and fashion photography since they typically create less distortion in photos than any other format cameras. There are many different cameras that can produce images in the standard medium format size– but not all of them are made the same.
Here are just some of the best medium-format cameras you can use in 2023:
1. Hasselblad 907X 50C
Hasselblad cameras are renowned not only for being able to take quality images but also for the craftsmanship that goes into building each model. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the brand would be included in this list. Their 907X 50C is known for being one of the smallest medium-format cameras on the market. But despite its size, it’s more than capable and easy to use– perfect for amateurs and professionals alike.
It is equipped with a 50MP sensor so it can capture even the finest of details. Its ISO can also go up to 25,600 so you will get crisp images even in low light conditions. Coming at less than two pounds, this lightweight medium format camera is the perfect choice for long photography sessions.
2. Fujifilm GFX 100s
One of the most popular models on the market is Fujifilm’s GFX100s medium format camera. It’s currently one of the bestselling medium format cameras on Adorama where users praise it for its responsiveness and compactness. Compared to the original GFX100, this camera is equipped with a smaller but more powerful stabilization system, giving users sharper images despite active movement. It also has an LCD so you will be able to see the quality of your photos with more precision. When paired with the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens, you’ll be able to get quality wide shots that the medium format is known for.
It has a much higher sensor, coming in at 100MP which might be too much for hobbyists but are great for professionals. It also has a maximum ISO of 102,400, making it ideal for night photography. This medium format camera might be small but it definitely packs great specs.
3. Leica S3
Known for their longevity, Leica released their newest model on the medium format camera with the S3. Being released more than a decade after its predecessor, the S2, this newer model was created with a lot of improvements. Firstly, Leica increased the sensor’s capabilities from 32MP to 64MP. They also added a 4K video feature to the camera, greatly improving its utility. The camera is also weather-sealed so photographers can use it during extremely rainy days.
One thing retained with the S3 is Leica’s classic look. Though it is bigger than the first two cameras mentioned, it remains sleek. Its ISO is capped at 50,000 but its 15-stop dynamic range allows for capturing less noise. One of its unique features is that it is equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities, meaning image transfer can be done wirelessly. This camera is great for those who are looking for all the basic specs without going overboard on features that they don’t need.
4. Phase One XT
While Phase one might not be a familiar company for novice photographers, professionals love the brand because it is able to deliver quality images. Their XT camera comes in a minimalistic square design that can capture full-color detail. It has great stabilization and a responsive focusing system– making it ideal for moving shots. It also comes with a Rodenstock lens that effectively reduces diffraction and color noise.
It has a 150MP sensor that greatly exceeds the detail quality of most medium format cameras on the market right now. The Phase One XT also has an ISO range of 50 to 25,600. Though it certainly isn’t the highest ISO on this list, it shows just how versatile it can be against different lighting situations. Its dynamic capabilities allow for extremely vibrant shots that users want from their medium format cameras.