What’s a med format camera?

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Medium format cameras are preferred by commercial and fine art photographers as they expose a larger area of film resulting in sharper images that can be enlarged or cropped more easily. Medium format film is 60mm wide and allows for larger negatives capturing more detail resulting in sharper prints. Medium format cameras can be equipped with interchangeable backs and specialty lenses. Digital technology can also be used instead of film.

Both commercial and fine art photographers prefer a medium format camera because it exposes a larger area of ​​film, resulting in sharper images that can be enlarged or cropped more easily. Most people use 35mm film in their personal cameras, which is the physical width of film, but medium format film is 60mm wide. Using a medium format camera, even one heavier and more expensive than a smaller one, allows the photographer more control over the image.

Because a medium format camera uses 60mm film, the developed image can be enlarged to cover a magazine cover, poster or even the side of a building with less grain or blur than would result with film small size. Larger negatives capture more detail, resulting in sharper prints. The higher quality also means it’s easier to retouch negatives, correct blemishes or tone down an unwanted glare. Film size is the primary motivation for professional photographers to upgrade to a medium format camera.

Medium format film, while having a standard width, does not have a standard span. Any roll of 60mm film, with a length of 120 or 220mm, can be exposed at varying frame intervals, unlike standard 35mm film. A popular size for portraits is 6 x 7, which means 60mm x 70mm, because it’s nearly square and allows for cropping to several common aspect ratios. Many magazine editors prefer proportionally sized photographs to a 6 x 7 negative. Some fine art photographers decide to use a 6 x 6 square frame because it creates interesting compositions. Other panoramic landscape or cityscape photographers expose a huge rectangle of 6 x 12 film with another aspect ratio framed, although they may only get ten shots per roll.

A special event, sports, wildlife, architecture, fashion or journalism photographer benefits from other accessories for a medium format camera. They can be equipped with interchangeable backs that switch the midroll between different film types without exposing the footage to daylight. For example, with a Polaroid film back you can take a test shot that immediately shows what the real shot will look like. Then, the back of the Polaroid can be peeled off and replaced with film for permanent image recording. Additionally, there are a wide variety of specialty lenses, such as macro or fisheye, that are compatible with a medium format camera. Digital technology has also been adapted to be used instead of film.

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