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Why Medium Format?

Whether you are new to film photography, reviving a long-forgotten hobby, or currently shooting with 35mm film, medium format film will maximize your fun and creativity while creating beautiful art. Three years ago, I decided to return to film photography for the first time, since the arrival of the consumer digital age. I purchased a used 35mm camera, and quickly found myself becoming frustrated with those tiny rectangular negatives. I had difficulties such as getting crisp sharp images through manual focus and transferring the negatives into quality digital images. The larger format provided by 120mm film and a larger camera solved many of my issues, and I began to fall deeply in love with film photography.

Medium format cameras are unique.

These days everyone has a smart phone, and every tourist seems to either be touting a DSLR or a selfie stick. Locals see us coming and keep a wide berth. Shooting with a medium format camera will open a travel or street photographer to an entirely new world. People see the unusual looking camera and actually want to interact with you and to be photographed. Having a camera that people are interested in opens up a photographer to new experiences, whether it be a networking or an adventure opportunity. This advantage alone makes up for carrying the bulky weight of it. And although the camera itself may draw attention, a waste level viewfinder offers the ability for stealth shooting to catch natural and unexpected moments.

Medium format cameras are cool.

There are so many varieties of medium format cameras to choose from, each with their own distinct style and look. Whether you are seeking a hip new look or prefer  something with more classic elegance, there is a medium format camera out there to suit your personal style. The camera itself can even be integrated into your digital photos. For example, take of photo of the waist level view finder for a unique perspective, or use the camera as a prop for a portrait. And although I prefer function over form, I will admit to purchasing several cheap semi functioning cameras because I enjoy having them as bookends on my shelves at home.

antique camera bookends film photography art

Medium format can be inexpensive.

If you are like me, then photography is a black hole into which my disposable income is instantly sucked, and film photography has only made the problem far worse. However, with that said, one can get into medium format photography at a reasonable price. There are plastic cameras available for as little as $35, and a nice used twin lens reflex can cost as low as $150. There are cameras that at once upon time were so expensive only a 1%er could dream of owning; now these are available for a few thousand dollars. A roll of film is around $5.50, and I average about $3 per roll for development costs at home; to send film out for development can cost around $7 per roll. You don't even need a darkroom to process the film; checkout my post here for info on processing without a darkroom.

diana f+ lomography camera

The Diana F+ is a new hipster style camera that can be purchased at

rolleiflex twin lens reflex camera

The Rolleiflex and other similar TLRs have a classic look that transports photographers back in time.

holga medium format camera.PNG

Holga 120N sells on Amazon for $34

Medium format produces high quality photos.

Medium format is the 1080p HD version of the film world, and quality is the number one reason I recommend medium format. I only put it this far down the list, because I thought that most people thinking of getting back into film aren't doing so in order to take a step up in quality. But, this just isn't the case, I have several 10"x10" medium format prints on my wall at home that are nicer than prints off of my Nikon D810.  The quality  can be so high that to get a vintage look on scans from my Hasselblad negatives, I have to use a snapseed filter! Film photography does, however, provide a myriad of creative options and there are some very fun ways to play with film and lenses that will achieve results more interesting than any snapseed filter.

Medium Format will improve your overall photography skills

Although the process of taking a photo is slower than most of us are accustomed to these days, there is something about knowing that you only have 12 shots and the lack of instant viewing, that will rapidly increase your photography skills. After a few weeks of practice, I was producing 9 to 10 great shots per 12 shot roll compared to the same 9 to 10 great shots out of 1000+ of  on my phone or dslr. Within a few months of taking up film photography I found myself more thoughtfully composing my digital shots as well, and walking away from a photo taking trip with less total photos and many more incredible shots.

hasselblad 500cm view finder great wall of china
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