Best Medium Format Cameras

Not so long ago, the best medium format cameras were incredibly expensive – not to mention cumbersome. To get top-notch performance, you had to have the deepest pockets, but perhaps the highest cost was the inflexibility of these cameras. However, much has changed in recent years, and today’s best medium-format cameras bear little resemblance to the bulky studio systems of just a few years ago. Where they used to be locked, with limited application in carefully controlled studio situations, they are now smaller, more portable, and more ergonomic.

The end result is cameras that are more portable, more convenient, and more powerful than ever. Whether it’s the Fujifilm GF 50R rangefinder-type Fujifilm GF 50R or the beautifully sculpted Hasselblad X1D II 50C, these medium-format wonders can be handled like the best mirrorless cameras.

Best Medium Format Cameras

Another thing: “medium format” sensors are available in two main sizes. There is the “full-frame” medium format, used by the Phase 1 and Hasselblad H-series cameras, which closely matches the old 645 film format. And there is a smaller size, halfway between this and the full-frame sensors, which is used by the Hasselblad X-D, Fujifilm, Pentax, and Leica cameras. Taking all this into account, these are the best medium format cameras you can buy right now.

1. Fujifilm GFX 100

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The GFX 100 is expensive compared to ordinary cameras, but in the world of medium format photography (sensors larger than 35mm full-frame), it’s a good deal. It’s also a revolutionary camera that changes our expectations of what medium format cameras can do. Its 100-megapixel resolution has defied our own test procedures, its internal stabilization is a first in medium format, and its hybrid AF (thanks to a recent firmware update) is a big step forward.

The downside is that the stabilization inside the body is a valuable additional assurance, but it would be unwise to rely on it, and although the body is relatively compact, when combined with Fujifilm’s medium-format lens, the combination becomes quite tiring for prolonged use by hand. But the image quality of this camera is simply spectacular, and once you’ve seen what it can do, all the handling difficulties are instantly forgotten. Overall, this is one of the best medium format cameras.

2. Hasselblad X1D II 50C

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Most professionals will always prefer function to style, but the X1D seems to target a very different, design-conscious market. It’s a much sleeker camera than the Fujifilm GFX 50R, although it shares the same dimensions and sensor features. It is also more expensive. However, Hasselblad lenses are superb, as is the image quality, especially the dynamic range. We have just completed testing of the latest X1D II 50c, which has a host of performance and operational improvements, including faster start-up, a larger, higher-resolution rear monitor, and an improved electronic viewfinder.

The contrast-based autofocus remains in place though, and although the image quality is quite superb – you can thank the Hasselblad sensor and excellent lenses for that – it’s not a camera that likes to be in a hurry. It is however beautiful to handle and, frankly, to look at! Overall, this is one of the best medium format cameras.

3. Fujifilm GFX 50S

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Fujifilm has turned the medium format world upside down with the announcement of the GFX 50S. Files with 50-megapixel resolution from a medium format sensor were now within reach of those (professionals and non-professionals alike) who couldn’t afford to buy a £20,000 Hasselblad, while the robust body of the Fujifilm GFX 50S was made of a weather-resistant magnesium alloy. The GFX 50S easily accommodates the large 117MB files generated by its sensor and resolution.

While the combination of an eye-level viewfinder offering 3.69 million dots of resolution, a 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen at the rear, and a small window on the top plate displaying the main settings, provides both convenience and a level of usability that quickly makes the camera an extension of your own arm/eye. So why isn’t it at the top of the list? The GFX 50S is a great “reasonable” purchase, but it’s outpaced by the resolution of the GFX 100, the GFX 50R is smaller (just) and cheaper, and the Hasselblad X1D II has an extra dose of style. Overall, this is one of the best medium format cameras.

4. Pentax 645Z

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If it’s a high-resolution Pentax camera you need above all else, you’ll be happy to know that this medium-format option handles a bit like a larger version of the Pentax K-3 DSLR – which means it’s not too intimidating for those who take the plunge. The 645Z, which replaced the old 645D, is rugged to the touch and weatherproof. It’s not afraid of rain, and it’s also one of the most affordable MF units on the market. It’s also flexible, allowing you to shoot up to 10 Raw files or 30 high-quality JPEGs at its maximum capture speed of 3 frames per second.

Although this is not the same as a high-end DSLR, most people will not buy a medium format camera whose priority is speed, but rather a resolution. Creative flexibility extends to the possibility of having a 3.3-inch tilt screen here, which is both capable of capturing live images and facilitating the recording of Full HD movies, for which a stereo microphone port is provided. Overall, this is one of the best medium format cameras.

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