Large or medium format?
What are the benefits to shooting large or medium format. I am looking to invest into one of these cameras but don't know to much about them. I have looked into some of the older ones wich fit my budget but some seem a little to beat up. Any leads would be appreciated..


Comments (7)

The advantage of medium and large format in the film world was mainly picture quality. The negatives were MUCH larger than 35mm negatives, and the composition of the film was presumably the same, so you could get very detailed prints..

A digital medium-format camera (or a digital medium-format back) would presumably have a sensor that is much larger than a DX sensor or a 35mm full-frame sensor...

Comment #1


One of the benefits of MF is that you can get digital backs for the cameras with CCD's that offer you 39 or 40 megapixels. The prices and files are huge too but the detail makes up for it..

Regards, David..

Comment #2


The is a large difference between large and medium format photography. Using a medium format camera is much the same as using a 35mm film camera. Everything is just bigger and more expensive. But it still is basically a roll of film in a camera. That is loaded and unloaded in daylight. The film might be able to be process locally if you are in a larger city.

Large format is general considered to start at 4x5 inches and 20x24 inches is about the top. 4x5 and 8x10 are the two most popular sizes..

A large format camera (usually) requires each sheet of film to be loaded into a holder that takes two sheets. This process must be done in total darkness..

To take a picture with a large format system, one first sets up the camera, then one ducks under a cloth to compose and focus the image onto the ground glass focusing screen. A separate light meter is used to measure the correct exposure. Then the lens is set to the correct f-stop and shutter speed. Then the film holder is inserted into the camera. Then the dark slide is removed from the film holder. Then the shutter release is pressed.

Want another picture? Repeat the above..

After you get back home, the film holders are emptied (again in total darkness) and then the film must be processed by you or put into a light tight container and shipped off to a specialty lab for processing. If you want prints, you make them yourself in a wet darkroom or go through a scanning process that done by a custom lab (super quality) or a flatbed scanner (less than optimum performance)..

The big difference, composition wise, is that large format cameras allow the film and lens to be positioned relative to the film plane and subject. On most medium format cameras the relationship of the lens and film plane are fixed (just like in a digital camera)..

This ability allows for adjustment in the plane of focus relative to the subject. This is widely used to get greater depth of field in product shots or to correct converging vertical lines in architectural photography..

This is not to say that Im dumping on large format photography. Ive got an 8x10 sitting at home. Its just very different than using a roll film or digital camera..

Remember too that an 8x10 negative is about the same area as a roll of 35mm film. So a single snap of 8x10 costs about the same as a 36 exposure roll of the same stuff..

Still nothing short of a Better Light back is going to equal the impact of an 8x10 contact print or 80 square inches of transparency sitting on a light table.Hope the links below give you the info you need.Good luckJeffLarge format references:

Comment #3

Wow. Thanks! That was a great help. Looking at the prices of these cameras I better do it to make my investment back. Once again your knowledge is greatly appreciated..


Comment #4

If you're interested in experimenting with a larger format than APS-C or 35mm digital or film I think your best bet is to consider a medium format roll film (120 or 220) twin lens reflex..

A couple of good choices are the Yashica-mat 124

And Mamiya C220 or C330

Check out B&H photo and for example prices...

Comment #5

And yet you don't know much about them?If you are doing this for fun, go large format. You can get a servicable camera,a couple of lenses, and an enlarger for a couple of grand, or less..

Invest in crude oil futures - two years ago.KP.

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Comment #6

Mrxdimension wrote:.

If you're interested in experimenting with a larger format than APS-Cor 35mm digital or film I think your best bet is to consider a mediumformat roll film (120 or 220) twin lens reflex..

A couple of good choices are the Yashica-mat 124

And Mamiya C220 or C330

Check out B&H photo and for example prices..

These days, a Mamiya RB67 Pro S can be had cheaply. A real pro camera...

Comment #7

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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