I’ll start off by saying that 35mm is really my favorite film format to shoot. I love my rangefinder cameras and the format just clicks for me. But man, I really do enjoy the look and the whole shooting experience of medium format film photography.
That 3D Look
There really is something magical about medium format. There’s that almost 3D look to the images that are really pretty seductive when you look into them.
I remember when I first started shooting with a Mamiya C330; I’d look at the scanned negatives and was just really amazed at the look of the photograph. So much depth. Beautiful detail.
Medium Format is Too Affordable
(when shooting film cameras)
This really is the reason I think everyone should at least give medium format film photography a try. It’s too affordable not to!
I’ve got two medium format cameras; a Mamiya C330 and a Mamiya RB67. Both systems, complete with lenses and other accessories cost me less than $500 each. Less than $500, man. For less than $500 you could be shooting medium format. That is so cheap, man.
If you do portrait photography, this is a no-brainer. Imagine being able to give your customers medium format quality for their portraits. How cool would that be? Very cool.
Prepare to Slow Down
Medium format is not about speed. These cameras aren’t something you’re going to want to use if you just want to get quick, fast shots. Medium format will slow you down.
With my C330 I’m looking down through the waist-level viewfinder. Wow, it’s beautiful. But you see the image in reverse. That takes a little getting used to when composing; focusing; making sure you’ve got things exactly how you want them.
It can be a bit challenging at first, but I find it kind of fun. It adds to the whole shooting experience. You really are more engaged in the process and that’s always more fun and rewarding.
When I took that shot of the mustang (top of the page) with my RB67 (truly a beast of a camera), he kept walking toward me and I was trying to keep up, keeping focus on his eyes as he came closer.
It’s not necessarily a great shot, but it’s one of the most fun experiences I’ve had making a photograph. I was smiling the whole time holding this big, heavy, chunky camera steady, constantly refocusing until I took the shot. Fun stuff, man.
So do it, man. Get into Medium Format.
Hey, when you’ve got a few extra bucks in the bank, think about getting rid of that by buying a medium format film camera. The image quality is really cool; it’s a lot of fun to shoot; and it’s a lot more affordable than the even “inexpensive” digital options that will cost you more than ten times the price that you’ll spend on a film kit.
Man, after writing this article I feel like going out with one of my Mamiyas. Fun stuff.