Medium Format Photography

Its rumoured that a Bronica Medium format camera from the 1960s, was used on the Apollo mission – it can be also converted into a digital camera – not that I can see why you would want to do this. I love the classic analogue look film creates.

I’ve been shooting with 35mm point-and-shoot film cameras for most of my life. I remember as a boy sitting with my dad in his loft, watching him develop his rolls of 35mm film. So I have a long affiliation to film. However, when I had the opportunity to acquire a Bronica, a Medium format camera, which I found in a local Charity shop, I jumped at the chance – for me Medium format is the next obvious step. After all, the image quality of Medium format cameras is a major advantage; whether they are film or digital!

When I had the opportunity to acquire a Bronica, a Medium format camera, which I found in a local Charity shop, I jumped at the chance

As you may know, the 120 film size has traditionally been used in Medium format photography. It’s much larger than the 35mm film format I grew up with. It is the foundation of modern digital photography today. Similarly, the sensors in Medium format cameras are much larger than the 35mm full-frame standard. One of the other advantages is most older vintage lenses can be made to work on new digital cameras, as a full-frame sensor is roughly the same size as a single frame of 35mm film.

Medium format cameras aren’t just known for their image quality; they’re also known for being ‘system cameras.’ This means instead of a single camera body, they are modular, made up of different pieces. This is what enables the conversion of old obsolete Medium format film cameras to digital. As different lenses, viewfinders and digital-backs can be fixed to most Medium format systems – depending on your preferences. I prefer the waist level prism viewfinder. To me, it adds a more classic and authentic field of view.

While there are certain specialist digital Medium format cameras, such as the Fujifilm GFX 50R, Medium format film cameras can easily be converted into digital cameras. This is done by simply replacing the 120 film magazine on the back with a ‘digital back’; all thanks to their modular construction. This is simply a digital sensor that fits into the space where the film holder used to be.

Its rumoured that a Bronica Medium format camera was used on the Apollo mission – it can be also converted into a digital camera – not that I can see why you would want to do this. I love the classic analogue look film creates.

While there are certain specialist digital Medium format cameras, such as the Fujifilm GFX 50R, Medium format film cameras can easily be converted into digital cameras.

Some camera manufacturers like Fujifilm, have added more megapixels also, as much as 100MP in some of their models. Fujifilm have even used larger sensors, creating an even greater image resolution. The 51MP GFX50S for example is approximately 1.7x bigger than a full-frame sensor they originally made. You get much bigger and better quality photographs using a Medium or Large format camera, compared to 35mm film.

Images taken using a Medium format camera differ slightly from those captured with a full-frame or a crop sensor camera. Most photographers agree the images look so much better, yet I’m sure the average person just viewing say your holiday snaps would notice little or no difference.

Medium format cameras do have the disadvantage of being big, heavy and sometimes fragile. They also get lots of attention, most times I’m using it someone will approach me, and ask questions about it. One disadvantage, is they do have a much slower burst rate, and less advanced focusing technology. This I understand could be restrictive in some circumstances.

Medium format cameras do have the disadvantage of being big, heavy and sometimes fragile

Medium format cameras are mostly used in advertising, portraits and fashion photography. But I use them more for Landscapes, as the slower style of shooting and depth of field, works better for my style, than say faster Street photography. A Medium format camera is used to shoot the bulk of magazine covers today. When working in a studio, image quality is obviously so crucial. A Medium format camera’s image quality, such as its sharpness and depth of field is a massive benefit.

I must stop waffling and dribbling over my passion for Medium format camera. I’ll post some images and write more about my experiences with my Bronica Medium format camera soon.

Any questions, drop me a line!

This article was written by © Christopher G – Narrating Images

Fujifilm Medium Format

Fortunately, one of Fujifilm’s goals was to make digital Medium format photography more accessible

Sadly I don’t own a digital Medium format camera. I do however own a Bronica, which is an analogue (film) Medium format camera. Bronica went out of business in the late ’90s, due to the popularity of digital. However both formats produce stunning images; but I appreciate I can’t really compare digital and analogue…..

Fujifilm was a latecomer to the digital Medium format market, yet they have not only caught up with their competition but have established themselves as a front-runner, thanks to their comparatively frequent product launches. Fujifilm’s GFX Medium format system was launched in 2016 with the GFX 50S, and since then, they have released four more versions – way more than any other brand.

Fuji, if you’re reading this, any chance I could borrow one?

Fujifilm was a latecomer to the digital Medium format market, yet they have not only caught up with their competition but have established themselves as a front-runner thanks to their comparatively frequent product launches.

Fortunately, one of Fujifilm’s goals was to make digital Medium format photography more accessible and announced their first camera would be available for less than £10,000. However, with the latest GFX 50 S ll body-only priced at just £3500, the secondhand value of their previous models has crashed. This did have a good impact on the Medium format market as a whole, and has made the older Fujifilm bodies particularly affordable; for some! I’m still going to have to stick with my X-series cameras!

Fujifilm has two options really, a 50MP or 100MP model. If 50MP is sufficient, you can choose between a DSLR-style body in the S series or a flat-topped rangefinder-style in the GFX 50R. To put this into perspective, my X-Pro 3 is ‘only’ 26MP. In either case, you’ll get a Medium format camera with current menus and none of the lags or sluggishness that most other used Medium format cameras have. Whether you choose 50MP or 100MP, you’ll get superb image quality, as well as amazing and varied colour adjustments that allow so many Fujifilm photographers to shoot JPEG-only.

Fujifilm’s GFX Medium format system was launched in 2016 with the GFX 50S, and since then, they have released four more versions - way more than any other brand.

Fujifilm GFX50R is perhaps the best Medium format camera for the money.
I like its size, small lens and the fact it has a flip-out back screen. Something the X-Pro3 does not have. Let’s also not forget the 3.69 million-dot viewfinder. Some say the autofocus isn’t as fast or as accurate as more recent models, and the sensor’s read-out speed makes the silent mode unworkable for fast-moving subjects, but the image quality looks excellent and the camera is, like all Fujifilm cameras, simple to use.

As enticing as the GFX 100's 100MP is, the GFX 50R is my favourite among the versions most likely to appear on the secondhand market right now.

As enticing as the GFX 100’s 100MP is, the GFX 50R looks like my favourite among the versions most likely to appear on the secondhand market right now. I appreciate the interchangeable viewfinders and handling of the GFX 50S, but the GFX 50R’s smaller proportions make it a better fit for my street, travel, documentary style of photography. One of the biggest reasons I got an X-E4 as a backup to my X-Pro3. The GFX is also well-suited to studio work and pretty much any other type of photography really; albeit its flat top means it doesn’t look as stylish as the GFX-50s. I hope that makes sense?

This article was written by © Christopher G – Narrating Images

Fujifilm’s first twin-lens reflex camera!

In 1954, Fujifilm introduced the Fujicaflex, which it developed to be the finest TLR produced in Japan.

A TWIN-LENS REFLEX CAMERA (TLR) has two vertically stacked lenses, one for the viewfinder and the other for shooting the actual photo. In Japan in the 1950s, demand for twin-lens reflex cameras (TLRs) soared for several reasons; they typically provided good image quality, were solid and durable, and were affordable.

In 1954, Fujifilm introduced the Fujicaflex

Due to the photographer’s usage of two lenses, what users saw in the viewfinder did not match what they saw in the image. It was extremely difficult to portray the subject’s relationship with the background as seen through the camera. Furthermore, the closer the camera was to the subject, the more difficult it was to achieve a precise focus, making shooting anything closer than a metre or two was problematic.

In 1954, Fujifilm introduced the Fujicaflex, which immediately became renowned as Japan’s best TLR. By integrating a cutting-edge lens that produced breathtaking, high-resolution images, the Fujicaflex differentiated itself from the many cheap TLRs on the market at the time.

A single mechanism altered the position of both the capturing lens and the viewing lens to achieve simultaneous focus, allowing photographs to be in focus at a distance of 70cm. A variety of other creative and forward-thinking features were also implemented into the camera. The side knob, when moved outward from the camera body, for example, changed the point of focus and moved the film ahead with ease. It was a nice touch that made taking pictures a little easier and quicker.

This article was written by © Christopher G – Narrating Images

The world’s first autoflash point-and-shoot camera

In the 1970s, point-and-shoot cameras became quite popular among amateur photographers. The film was loaded into a cartridge, and shooting was as simple as looking through the viewfinder and pressing the shutter button. When Fujifilm decided to get into the camera business, it worked with Kodak and signed a licencing deal. In 1975, the Pocket FUJICA line of point-and-shoot cameras launched, with five models ranging from entry-level to high-end.

After introducing the Pocket FUJICA in Japan, Fujifilm saw an upsurge in worldwide sales. In subsequent models, Fujifilm changed the orientation of the film within the camera from horizontal to vertical to make it easier to grip and eliminate blurry images caused by camera vibration. More people were encouraged to take up photography as a result of these and other advancements, resulting in higher sales.

Fujifilm kept looking for ways to improve the Pocket FUJICA range. Fujifilm was constantly seeking new ways to improve the Pocket FUJICA line. According to the company’s market research, flash photography is difficult and inconvenient for 75% of point-and-shoot camera users. As a result, in 1978, Fujifilm introduced the high-end Pocket FUJICA 550 Auto, which had a built-in pop-up flash. The flash was set to fire automatically, and the brightness of the light was adjusted to match the lighting circumstances. When combined with the camera’s autoexposure function, the autoflash made it simple to create beautiful images while avoiding costly mistakes. This was a first for a point-and-shoot camera, and it helped the Fujifilm Pocket FUJICA 550 Auto become another milestone device.

This article was written by © Christopher G – Narrating Images