UPGRADE TO MEDIUM FORMAT
The key considerations to keep in mind
Many serious photographers aspire to own a medium-format system. Historically, medium-format film was used for its superior tonal range, detail and clarity (especially when producing bigger prints) and was often the preference of pro wedding, commercial and landscape photographers. In the digital age, the format is used for much the same reasons, although the technical considerations for upgrading are more complex. The larger sensor area allows for a greater number of photosites, but without making them prohibitively small, thereby increasing low-light performance and tonal gradation. However, with this increased quality comes a significant jump in file size. It is not uncommon for RAW files from 100MP digital backs to measure in the hundreds of megabytes.
Field of view and depth of field are also important aspects. The large sensor yields a unique view and minimises depth, which is desirable for portraits, but may create difficulties for situations where front-toback sharpness is essential. Medium-format
1 MAGNIFICATION The larger sensor area produces a greater field of view than a 35mm. The exact multiplication factor depends on the model, but the effective focal length is wider than the on-lens indication. systems themselves can be confusing, since the functionality is quite different from a full-frame DSLR. While the latter consists of a camera body and lens, with optional satellite accessories, manufacturers such as Hasselblad and Phase One have systems that must be tailored to the photographer’s requirements, with essential separate components. Discover the six key considerations of medium-format below.
2 SHOOTING CONTROLS Users often have to alter parameters using controls on the back and body. Menus are commonly accessed via the back’s LCD, although viewfinder choice may require setup using the in-camera menu.
3 LENS CHOICE The image circle of medium format lenses has to be larger, making them bigger and heavier. The size of the glass elements can limit circular filter use, but some models feature in-lens leaf shutters.
Embrace the advantages provided by a larger sensor, and understand the challenges
4 DIGITAL BACKS Manufacturers sometimes produce multiple back versions. Not every back is compatible with every camera, so make sure all features will be available with your chosen back-body combination.
5 MODULAR SYSTEMS The camera, back and viewfinder modules are often separate and can be swapped depending on shoot requirements – waist or eye-level viewfinders for example.
6 SIZE AND WEIGHT Almost every aspect of a medium-format system is larger than a standard DSLR. Users often shoot with their camera on a tripod and tethered to a laptop exclusively, for greater comfort.
BelowTHE PROFESSIONAL’S CHOICEA medium-format system represents a significant investment, but for professional photographersrequiring high-quality large reproductions, the commercial benefits often outweigh the costs
AboveMIRRORLESS ALTERNATIVE An effective compromise between the sensor advantages and system manageability may be mirrorless mediumformat options from Hasselblad and Fujifilm, which haveincreased portability and ease of handling