If like me, you love shooting film, whether slide film, negative film or black & white, you may have been looking into getting yourself a medium format (MF) camera. MF cameras are available on the second hand market for a good price, and there is a definite improvement in image quality; stepping up to even the smallest medium format (6×4.5) means over two and a half times the negative size of 35mm.
It’s not all wine and roses with MF however; to get a decent sized negative, everything that sits in front of the light sensitive film; the lens and the camera tends to be “on the large side of things”. Think 35mm camera on steroids and you get the idea. If you haven’t seen and held a medium format camera in the flesh you will find it amusing the first time you pick one up.
Of the three largish cameras I own, the GA645 Zi is the biggest frame, as expected, but it’s not that much bigger than my Nikon F100 with its 50mm lens (bear in mind the GA645ZiGA645Zi weighs 972g, compared to 1.14kg for the F100 tank with 50mm f1.8G plastic Chinese lens, and 790g for the OM1n with 50mm f1.4 Zuiko lens. Considering the weight of the tough little mechanical OM1n, you wonder why Nikon couldn’t have made the F100 a bit smaller. The F100 feels like a solid indestructible lump.
The first Medium Format camera I bought was a Yashicamat 124G. The Yashicamat’s 80mm lens is equivalent to a 50mm on 35mm or full frame, I also had a close up lens to take closer photos. The close up sets from a rolleiflex TLR work just fine. All in all, it was a lovely introduction to MF, but I found it slow and clunky to use. Heres an example of a photo taken on the Yashi in the Cathédrale d’Albi in France. I placed the camera on the altar steps and set the timer. Even in its compressed format, you can see how much detail the 6×6 format captures. Not bad for a 1960’s camera, and it definitely shows the benefit of a fixed lens.