A man takes a photo on a Bronica SQ medium format film camera.

Comparison of the Most Popular Medium Format Film Cameras.


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A lot of photographers get the itch to upgrade to a medium format film camera once after they’re comfortable shooting 35mm. The increased detail and sharpness are definitely appealing.

If you’re considering making the leap, you’ll find that there are a lot of medium format film cameras to choose from. And unlike 35mm, you’ll also have to factor in your preference of image format.

We’ve gathered a list of the best medium format film cameras to help you compare your options. If you’re brand new to medium format, we’ve also included a quick overview to get you up to speed.

(Note – This article does not cover TLR medium format cameras – those will be featured in a separate, future list)

Table of Contents

A medium format film camera with a waist level viewfinder showing a floral scene.

What is a Medium Format Film Camera?

Let’s briefly cover the basics of medium format vs 35mm film cameras to make sure that we’re all on the same page. To put it as simply as possible, the difference between a 35mm film camera and medium format film camera is the size of film that they accept.

35mm Film vs 120 Film

When the average person thinks about a roll of film, chances are they are thinking about 35mm. This is the “standard” film size that comes in small, plastic canisters and preloaded in disposable cameras.

In this day and age, 120 film, aka “medium format film”, has a lot less mainstream popularity. It is a common mistake to refer to medium format film as “120mm film”, but you shouldn’t add the “mm” at the end.

For the most part, shooting 120 is reserved for professionals and advanced hobbyists who have already have significant experience with 35mm.

As we mentioned above, the major difference between these two types of film comes down to their size. Medium format is taller than 35mm, which means that there is more area to record a larger image.

This is the main advantage of medium format over 35mm – the negatives you create are larger, which provides more detail and can make your images appears sharper.

It’s the same concept found in digital cameras – the larger the sensor, the more detail is captured, which many equate with “better” or “higher quality” photos.

It probably goes without saying, but you should realize that 35mm and 120 medium format film are not interchangeable. 35mm film cameras were made to accept 35mm film and medium format cameras were made to accept 120 film.

So if you want to shoot 120 film, you’ll need an entirely different camera setup. Unlike 35mm, you’ll also need to decide between a few different photo formats that are available for 120 film.

120 Film and Different Photo Formats

When we say “photo formats”, this refers to the dimensions of the image that is recorded on the film. For 35mm film, almost all cameras record images in the exact same size: 24mm x 36mm.

For 120 medium format film, the different formats are named for their approximate dimensions in centimeters. The most common formats for 120 film are 6×4.5, 6×6, and 6×7.

Graphic demonstrating the size differences medium format film formats.

As you can see, the actual size of your images can vary quite a bit depend on which film format you’re using, but this can also impact the shape of your images.

With the 6×6 format, you’ll shoot perfectly square photos, which has a significant effect on the way you approach composition.

Now, it might seem like an obvious choice – if you’re upgrading to medium format film to get larger images, why wouldn’t you just use the largest option?

While each medium format film camera has a specific photo format they produce, they all take the same sized 120 film. So, the larger the film format, the less photos you get per roll, as they each take up more space.

There are pros and cons to each format, but it really comes down to balancing size vs cost. The difference in price can be pretty big – in our breakdown of the total cost of each film photo, we found that shooting 6×7 photos is 50% more expensive than shooting 6×4.5 photos.

Once you have an idea which film format you’re interested in shooting, you’re ready to start comparing some cameras.

Pros and Cons of Medium Format Film Cameras

To summarize what we’ve already discussed, let’s consider some of the pros and cons of upgrading to a medium format film camera.

PROS

  • Increased detail
  • Overall sharpness
  • Better bokeh / depth of field
  • Print larger photos without losing quality

CONS

  • Fewer photos per roll of film
  • Cameras are more expensive
  • Cameras are heavier/bulkier
  • Not everywhere develops 120 film

What’s Included in Our Comparison

We’ve gathered some of the most important specifications of each camera to compare. We’ve separated the cameras by film format and listed them alphabetically. Here’s what’s included:

Year: The year the camera was first released.

Format: What photo format the camera uses. (6×4.5, 6×6 or 6×7)

Type: This list includes rangefinder and SLR medium format cameras.

Film Speeds: What film speeds the camera accepts (and meters for). Manual cameras with no meter are left blank.

Battery: What type of batteries and how many are required to operate the camera, including the meter (although some models can operate without batteries by not using the meter). Some battery types are now difficult to find, but an alternative is usually available.

Weight: The camera’s weight in grams. 454 grams = 1 pound.

Size: The physical dimensions of the camera in millimeters. 25mm = 1 inch.

Shutter Speeds: The range of shutter speeds available.

Price Estimate: An estimate of the price of the camera today (body only, unless fixed-lens). Prices are always fluctuating, but this is our best guess after studying the price trends on eBay and other used camera marketplaces.

$ = $250 or Under

$$ = $250 – $750

$$$ = $750 – $1600

$$$$ = $1600 – $2500

$$$$$ = $2000 – $3500

Best Medium Format Film Cameras – 6×4.5 Format

The most affordable medium format film cameras are usually 6×4.5 models. Many of the cameras cheaper themselves, but you’ll also save money over time by fitting more photos onto each roll of 120 film.

Many photographers looking to make the jump from 35mm choose a 6×4.5 model as their first medium format film camera. You’ll still get much larger negatives, but 15 photos per roll is a lot easier to swallow than the 10 you would get with a 6×7 model.

Illustration showing the size of 6x4.5 medium format film photos, using a US penny for scale.

Bronica ETR

Year: 1976

Format: 6 x 4.5

Type: SLR

Film Speeds: 25 – 6400

Battery: 1 x PX28

Weight: 1346g (with lens)

Size: 110 x 106 x 157mm (with lens)

Shutter Speeds: 8s – 1/500

PRICE ESTIMATE: $

Zenza Bronica ETRS medium format film camera.

One of the cheapest medium format film cameras, the Bronica ETR is a great way to start experimenting with 120 film. Bronica makes a few more appearances on this list and is known as somewhat of a budget brand.

Even though the ETR requires a battery to operate, you fortunately have a mechanical shutter for 1/500, meaning that this particular shutter speed works without a battery.

As with many other medium format film cameras, the Bronica ETR doesn’t have a built-in light meter, but there is a metered viewfinder that can be purchased. You could, of course, just use an external, handheld light meter, too.

The ETR was the first model, followed by the ETR-C which changed from a removable film back to film inserts. Next was the ETRS which upgraded to an interchangeable viewfinder system. The final model, the ETRSi, added mirror lockup, TTL flash metering, and a “bulb” setting.

More Resources: Bronica ETR Review on Kyle McDougall’s Site

Contax 645

Year: 1999

Format: 6 x 4.5

Type: SLR

Film Speeds: 6 – 6400

Battery: 1 x 2CR5

Weight: 645g (body only)

Size: 99 x 141 x 73mm (body only)

Shutter Speeds: 32s – 1/4000

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$$$

A Contax 645 medium format film camera.

While Contax is known as a cult-favorite brand for their 35mm point and shoots and rangefinders, they also produced a very popular 6×4.5 medium format film camera.

The Contax 645 was the first modular medium format camera to feature autofocus. Most other medium format film cameras, especially SLR style models, only offer manual focus, making this feature particularly noteworthy.

As one of the most recently released cameras on this list, the Contax 645 is packed with advanced features that are uncommon on other medium format film cameras.

More Resources: Contax 645 Review on Fstoppers.

Fujifilm GA645

Year: 1995

Format: 6 x 4.5

Type: Rangefinder

Film Speeds: 25 – 1600

Battery: 2 x CR123A

Weight: 815g

Size: 166 x 110 x 66mm

Shutter Speeds: 2s – 1/700 + B

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$$

Fuji GA 645 medium format rangefinder camera.

The Fujifilm GA645 is definitely a one of a kind camera. While you do have the ability to control settings manually, the camera also has fully automatic functions, leading people to call the GA645 a point and shoot on steroids…fair enough.

Compared to other medium format film cameras, the GA645 is compact, lightweight, and comes with a fixed lens. A unique feature, for rangefinders and medium format cameras in general, is the built-in flash.

The standard version features a 60mm lens (equivalent to a 35mm focal length on 35mm cameras) and is probably the most popular of the bunch.

Other versions are the GA645W (W = wide) with a 45mm lens and the GA645Zi (zoom) with a 55-90mm zoom lens.

Oddly enough, photos are taken in the opposite orientation of any other camera – when holding the camera with a standard grip, you get a vertical photo. You’ll have to turn the camera sideways to take a horizontal photo.

More Resources: Fujifilm GA645 Review on Shoot it With Film

Mamiya 645

Year: 1993

Format: 6 x 4.5

Type: SLR

Film Speeds: 25 – 6400

Battery: 1 x 4LR44

Weight: 980g (body only)

Size: 124 x 102.5 x 124mm (body only)

Shutter Speeds: 4s – 1/1000

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$

Mamiya 645 Pro medium format film camera.

While Mamiya didn’t produce as many models as some of the other brands on this list, the company excelled at designing medium format film cameras.

The first iteration of their 6×4.5 format camera was the Mamiya M645, released in 1975. This model was heavy, rugged, and built to take a beating.

In 1993, the M645 was replaced by the Mamiya 645, which used a plastic shell to cut down on weight. In the 18 years between the two versions, camera technology made huge leaps, giving the 645 some significant improvements over the M645.

These upgrades include additional shutter speeds and the option to use a specialty viewfinder that provides aperture priority automatic exposure.

The last version was the Mamiya 645AF, released in 1999 and most significantly, featured autofocus.

More Resources: Mamiya 645 Review on Emulsive.

Pentax 645

Year: 1984

Format: 6 x 4.5

Type: SLR

Film Speeds: 6 – 6400

Battery: 6 x AA

Weight: 1280g (body only)

Size: 147 x 109 x 117mm (body only)

Shutter Speeds: 15s – 1/1000

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$

A Pentax 645 medium format film camera.

The Pentax 645 shares a lot of similarities with the other 6×4.5 models we’ve already covered. That said, there are some notable differences, as well.

The original Pentax 645 featured automatic exposure modes, which wasn’t very common for medium format film cameras. The 645 doesn’t use interchangeable film backs like most comparable models, instead utilizing film holders that cannot be changed mid-roll.

After 10+ years manufacturing the original 645, the Pentax 645N was released in 1997. The most significant difference was the addition of an autofocus system, which was becoming the norm by the late ’90’s.

The final film version of the 645 series was the Pentax 645NII, adding mirror lock-up and a slew of other customizable functions.

Interestingly, Pentax would continue to expand on this line, releasing two additional digital medium format cameras: the 645D and the 645Z.

More Resources: Pentax 645 Review on Scott Locklear’s Site.


Best Medium Format Film Cameras – 6×6 Format

The square, 6×6 photo format tends to divide people. Some love the unique look, while others would prefer traditional, rectangular images.

Whichever camp you fall into, there’s no denying that using a 6×6 medium format film camera forces you to get creative with your compositions. Here’s a look at some of the most popular models that use the 6×6 format.

Illustration showing the size of 6x6 medium format film photos, using a US penny for scale.

Bronica SQ

Year: 1980

Format: 6 x 6

Type: SLR

Film Speeds: 25 – 3200

Battery: 1 x 4LR44

Weight: 1500g (with lens)

Size: 109 x 92 x 179mm (with lens)

Shutter Speeds: 8s – 1/500

PRICE ESTIMATE: $

Bronica SQ medium format film camera

The Bronica SQ is what’s called a “modular camera system”, which means that you’re able to change a number of components to fit your needs. These interchangeable parts include lenses, film backs, viewfinders, and focusing screens.

After the release of the original SQ (named as an abbreviation of “square”), the Bronica SQ-A followed, adding mirror lockup and an optional viewfinder that allowed automatic exposure.

The Bronica SQ-B was the opposite of the SQ-A, removing features for a cheaper, simpler, mechanical camera.

Lastly, the Bronica SQ-Ai built upon the advances made in the original SQ-A and featured additional shutter speeds and an optional motor drive.

More Resources: Bronica SQ Review on Gregory Owain’s Site.

Hasselblad 500 C/M

Year: 1970

Format: 6 x 6

Type: SLR

Film Speeds:

Battery: None

Weight: 600g (body only)

Size: 170 x 109 x 104mm (body only)

Shutter Speeds: 1s – 1/500

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$$

Hasselblad 500 C/M medium format film camera.

It would be easy to make the argument that Hasselblad is the best medium format film camera brand of all time. The Swedish manufacturer is known for producing incredibly high-quality cameras built by hand.

Maybe the most iconic line they produces was the 500 series. Starting with the Hasselblad 500C in 1957, these cameras featured a leaf shutter design and a wide variety of Carl Zeiss lenses to choose from.

After producing over 75,000 copies of the 500C, the upgraded Hasselblad 500 C/M was released in 1970. Changes included an interchangeable focus screen and the option to use a prism viewfinder that contained a light meter.

Nowadays, the 500 C/M is the probably most common Hasselblad model that you’ll see.

More Resources: Hasselblad 500 C/M Review on Dave Carroll’s Site.

Hasselblad 503CW

Year: 1996

Format: 6 x 6

Type: SLR

Film Speeds:

Battery: None

Weight: 600g (body only)

Size: 180 x 114 x 110mm (body only)

Shutter Speeds: 1s – 1/500

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$$$

Hasselblad 503 medium format film camera.

The Hasselblad 503CW is another popular model, released almost three decades after the 500 C/M.

One of the most significant additions for the 503CW was an electric winder (the “W” in this models name stands for “winder”).

It’s worth noting that even though each of the successive models made improvements, the 503CW is still a completely manual camera that doesn’t even need batteries to operate.

A lot of the features remained the same – many people find that the appeal of a Hasselblad film camera lies in the raw, rugged simplicity.

More Resources: Hasselblad 503 CW Review on Beyond the Aperture.

Mamiya 6

Year: 1989

Type: Rangefinder

Format: 6 x 6

Film Speeds: 25 – 1600

Battery: 2 x SR44

Weight: 900g

Size: 155 x 109 x 69mm (Folded)

Shutter Speeds: 4s – 1/500 + B

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$$$

Mamiya 6 medium format rangefinder camera

Already quite compact compared to most other medium format cameras, the Mamiya 6 features three different lenses, each collapsing about 1.5″ into the camera’s body.

While not as sought after as its older sibling, the Mamiya 7, we think this has more to do with the 6×6 formats lack of popularity. If you’re into the square images, it’s hard to beat the Mamiya 6.

It’s also worth noting that this camera is different from the “Mamiya Six”, or the “Mamiya 6 Automat” which is a folding, mechanical rangefinder with no light meter. Still a cool camera, but a much different shooting experience.

More Resources: Mamiya 6 Review on Peter Jeffrey’s Site.


Best Medium Format Film Cameras – 6×7 Format

Many of the best medium format film cameras ever made utilized the 6×7 format. It makes sense – this format has always been geared towards professionals who demand the highest quality possible.

That quality comes at a price, with everything about 6×7 photos costing more. But if you bite the bullet and invest in a 6×7 medium format camera, you’ll definitely see the difference in the detail and sharpness of your images.

Illustration showing the size of 6x7 medium format film photos, using a US penny for scale.

Fujifilm GF670

Year: 2009

Type: Rangefinder

Format: 6 x 6 / 6 x 7

Film Speeds: 25 – 3200

Battery: 1 x CR2

Weight: 1000g

Size: 178 x 109 x 64mm (Folded)

Shutter Speeds: 4s – 1/500

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$$$$

You may be surprised to learn that Fuji was still releasing brand new film cameras as late as 2009. As one of the last true analog models produced, the Fujifilm GF670 really went out with a bang.

There are other compact medium format film cameras on this list (like Fuji’s GA645, mentioned above) but it’s hard to beat the folding lens system incorporated into the GF670. Both aesthetically and functionally, this is truly a beautiful piece of equipment.

Another fantastic feature is the ability to change between 6×7 and 6×6 format by switching a lever on the camera (although you cannot change formats mid-roll). Best of both worlds.

As the GF670 is a fixed-lens camera, Fuji also released the GF670W, which features a wider, 55mm lens. The standard version is usually preferred as it has a faster lens and with a more versatile focal length.

While the Fujifilm GF670 was released in Japan, other markets saw the same camera branded as the Voigtländer Bessa III. The Fuji versions are much easier to find nowadays.

More Resources: Fujifilm GF670 Review on Japan Camera Hunter.

Mamiya 7

Year: 1995

Type: Rangefinder

Format: 6 x 7

Film Speeds: 25 – 1600

Battery: 1 x 2CR1/3

Weight: 920g

Size: 159 x 112 x 123mm

Shutter Speeds: 4s – 1/500 + B

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$$$$

Mamiya 7 medium format rangefinder camera.

The Mamiya 7 is the absolute holiest of grails for many film photographers. It takes wildly sharp images and is much lighter and easier to handle than most other 6×7 cameras.

With its advanced, automatic features, some people jokingly consider this the world’s biggest point and shoot.

There are twice as many options of lenses over the Mamiya 6, including an extra wide lens. A unique option is an additional insert that can be used to shoot panoramic images on 35mm film.

You’ll see two versions, the Mamiya 7 and the Mamiya 7 II. While there are small differences (the II can take double exposures and comes in different colors than the original), they are pretty much the same camera.

More Resources: Mamiya 7 Review on Photo Thinking.

Mamiya RB67

Year: 1970

Format: 6 x 7

Type: SLR

Film Speeds: Any

Battery: None

Weight: 2900g (with lens)

Size: 139 x 104 x 226mm (with lens)

Shutter Speeds: 1s – 1/400

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$

Mamiya RB67 medium format film camera.

As we’ve mentioned, Mamiya really knew what they were doing when it came to medium format film cameras. While the RB67 offers a completely different experience than the Mamiya 7 above, it is equally as beloved.

The Mamiya RB67 is a modular, SLR-style 6×7 film camera. It is completely mechanical, not requiring any batteries to operate. Where the Mamiya 7 shines in its compact form, the RB67 is a massive camera, originally intended for studio use.

While stylistically similar to the Hasselblad medium format cameras of the same era, a unique feature on the RB67 was the rotating back, from which this model got it’s name. The camera accepted special film backs that could be rotated 90 degrees to change the orientation of the image without moving the camera.

Later versions included the RB67 Pro-S in 1974 and the RB67 Pro-SD in 1990. While there were definite changes to these later models, they weren’t anywhere near as significant as those found in the RZ67, featured below.

More Resources: Mamiya RB67 Review on Beyond the Aperture.

Mamiya RZ67

Year: 1982

Format: 6 x 7

Type: SLR

Film Speeds: 25 – 6400

Battery: 1 x 4LR44

Weight: 2400g (with lens)

Size: 133.5 x 104 x 211.5mm (with lens)

Shutter Speeds: 8s – 1/400

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$

Mamiya RZ67 medium format film camera.

While maintaining the essence of the original RB67, there are significant differences on the Mamiya RZ67. For starters, the camera shaved off 500 grams by switching to a plastic exterior.

Most importantly, the RZ67 introduced electronic components, including the shutter, meaning that it’s not a mechanical medium format camera like the RB67. Fortunately you still have a mechanical shutter of 1/400 that works without a battery.

There was even a metered viewfinder available that would allow you to shoot in aperture-priority auto exposure mode.

The bottom line is that the RB67 is a solid, mechanical machine where the RZ67 features more advanced, automatic features.

More Resources: Mamiya RZ67 Review on Emulsive.

Pentax 67

Year: 1969

Format: 6 x 7

Type: SLR

Film Speeds:

Battery: 1 x PX28

Weight: 2300g (with lens)

Size: 184 x 149 x 156mm (with lens)

Shutter Speeds: 1s – 1/1000

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$

Pentax 67 medium format film camera

The Pentax 67 is a distinct looking camera, especially when using the optional wooden grip. With a rugged, all-metal construction, the 67 is durable, but also quite heavy and bulky. This isn’t the camera to wear around your neck all day.

The Pentax 67 is very comparable to the Mamiya RB67 mentioned above. Both are simple, fully mechanical machines beloved for their reliability and high-quality.

Without any electronic components to cause complicated issues, the Pentax 67 is the true definition of a workhorse. Taking photos on this camera is a slower, more deliberate process, but the images you can create are well worth the extra effort.

More Resources: Pentax 67 Review on Peter Jeffrey’s Site.

Plaubel Makina 67

Year: 1979

Format: 6 x 7

Type: Rangefinder

Film Speeds: 25 – 1600

Battery: 2 x LR44

Weight: 1250g

Size: 115 x 56.5 x 162mm (closed)

Shutter Speeds: 1s – 1/500

PRICE ESTIMATE: $$$$

Plaubel Makina 67 medium format film camera.

It’s hard to think of a better place to end this list than the iconic Plaubel Makina 67. This 6×7 rangefinder features a built-in, 80mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens with a folding design similar to the Fujifilm GF670, mentioned above.

With the camera closed and the lens folded inside the body, the Makina 67 is hardly bigger than a 35mm Leica rangefinder.

The cameras compact form combined with the large photo format make this an impressive and versatile machine.

There is another version of this camera, the Plaubel Makina W67, which features a wider, 55mm, f/4.5 lens.

More Resources: Plaubel Makina 67 Review on 35mmc.


Do you have a favorite medium format film camera? Did we miss your favorite model? Let us know in the comments.

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Tom McDermott

ALSO the Bronica ETR SI and the Mamiya RZ67 cameras have internal “leaf shutters” inside the lenses, allowing for 1/500th Sec. flash syncs, soooo great for outdoor shooting, weddings, and people shots.

Tim Gasper

Thank you sir. Very nice and thorough list. Of course there are others which could be included to fill out the list of medium format options, ie., Fuji GX 680 series,Fuji 690 series and maybe others I can’t readily think of. I also love how you put in current approximate prices and sources for reviews. Keep it up and thank you again. BTW….the Fuji GX 680 is fantastic for both portrait and landscape photography. I absolutely love mine. Have a nice day.

Last edited 11 months ago by Tim Gasper
Edhulk hgzzcbnmm

Nice article. You did not mention. TLR cameras and that some medium format cameras can also take 22O film. You listed ebay but not dedicated camera places like KEH. Where I bought my Rolleichord.

Al Wood

What kept the Bronica GS-1 off the list?

Agfarapld

There is also the Fuji GSW 6×9, a fixed 90mm multicoated lens on a rangefinder body (also called “the Texas Leica” because of it’s size). The lens is extremely sharp with hi contrast. There is also the Fuji GS 645, a very compact rangefinder camera with a collapsed bellows. There is the Horseman series of 6×9 mini press cameras with lenses on lens boards ranging from 65mm to150mm. It’s very light for it’s size and fun to use. The later models feature Graflock rotating backs and ground glass. For their features, they are moderately priced and plentiful on the used market. Finally, another suggestion are the Mamiya Press 23 series which combine multiformat capabilities with a wide range of lenses and rangefinder focusing. These too are plentiful and moderately priced on the used market.

Last edited 11 months ago by Agfarapld
James

Fuji folding GS645s also is primo.