8 Medium Format Cameras for Film Photographers

Medium Format Cameras for Film Photographers - FilterGrade

Medium format photography is yet another realm of film photography that many photographers are intrigued by, but sometimes nervous to get started with because of the costs and because of not knowing what to expect. Many times photographers will have shot some form of film before, but this could be your first time shooting with film so it may be a little scary.

Regardless of where you started, shooting medium format is much different from shooting with a 35mm camera or a point and shoot, and it’s a great way to learn about light and how to compose an image. It has its own, unique feel that is memorable and powerful and once you pick it up, you won’t want to put it down.

To help you get started on your medium format journey we’ve decided to put together a list of some of our favorite medium format cameras for film photographers. Continue below to see these amazing cameras and their features.

1. Contax 645

Contax 645 2 - JCH - FilterGrade

Contax 645 1 - JCH - FilterGrade

(Contax 645: Japan Camera Hunter)

Highly regarded as one of the best medium format cameras available on the market, the Contax 645 is an absolutely incredible piece of equipment.

The Contax 645 offers a 6 cm. x 4.5 cm. film negative and was introduced in Japan in February 1999. Since its introduction it has been widely regarded as the king of medium format cameras for shooting portraits and wedding photos. This insane camera was discontinued in 2005, but has since gained even more recognition.

2. Mamiya 7

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(Mamiya 7 – NegativeFeedback)

The second medium format camera on our list, and with good reason, is the Mamiya 7. The Mamiya 7 is a unique piece of camera technology that we all wish we could own due to its beautiful, sleek design, its superior image quality, and the message it sends just owning one – this is the Louis Vuitton of camera equipment.

Although it is a bit expensive and these cameras are quite hard to come by, if you have the option to try one of these bad boys out, or even purchase on, you should definitely jump on that opportunity! The good thing about the Mamiya 7 is that it was introduced in the late 1990’s so it is still relatively new which means there are quite a few lenses available on the market for it if you are able to get your hands on one.

Another notable feature is that it is a rangefinder camera with built in display lines; however, the display lines are only visible for a certain range of lenses and you will need an external display line mount while shooting with certain lenses. Regardless of this minor setback, this medium format film camera is still noted as one of the most clean, professional cameras available for film photographers today.

3. Pentax 67II

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(Pentax 67II – Gear Patrol)

Next on our list is the Pentax 67. Originally the Pentax 220 which was created in 1965 as an SLR medium format camera system that was compatible with 120 and 220 film. The camera was later re-released in 1969 with improvements and with a new name, now the ‘Asahi Pentax 6×7’. Since then it has gone through a few re-introductions and name changes, ultimately ending up with the ‘Pentax 67’ and ‘Pentax 67II’.

Many photographers enjoy this camera for its vintage build and the variety of accessories and lenses that are still available today. Film enthusiasts and photographers all over enjoy the Pentax 67II because of its durable SLR build. Using this camera feels like shooting with a larger version of a 35mm SLR camera, which draws many photographers in because it does not require you to learn a whole new system. Rather it allows you to use the same style of camera, but now with more quality and more professionalism!

4. Mamiya RZ67 / Mamiya RB67

Mamiya RZ67 - FilterGrade

(Mamiya RZ67 – FilterGrade)


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(Mamiya RB67 – The Photoblographer)

Following the Pentax 67II are none other than the Mamiya RZ67 and RB67. We keep these two cameras as a combo pack because they are relatively similar and offer quite consistent images between the two.

The Mamiya RB67 was introduced in 1970 and the Mamiya RZ67 was originally introduced in 1982. Both cameras were brought to market as medium format single lens reflex, modular film cameras. With a modular camera build, this means you can modify and change/add on whatever you would like to your camera. This allows for a lot of versatility between photographers, meaning you don’t have to use your camera a certain way, or how other photographers use it, but rather you can build and create the camera that you can create your best images with.

For example, with a modular camera, you are able to interchange camera lenses, the viewfinders, the ground glass, film winders, and even the film backs. This is highly noted as a key feature of this camera by professional photographers because it allows you the freedom to shoot what you would like during a shoot – you could load one film back with color film, another with black & white film, and another with Fuji Instant Pack film and shoot all different types one after another rather than shooting one roll at a time. All the while, you can also change your lenses and viewfinders if you’d like to do that too.

Both cameras are widely used by professionals, especially those shooting in studio settings. One last key feature is the rotating backs on these two cameras. Rather than rotating your camera to change from portrait to landscape, you will rotate the camera back, allowing you to easily shoot without changing your body position.

Check out our tutorial for loading and un-loading the Mamiya RZ67 below:

5. Hasselblad 500C

Hasselblad 500C - FilterGrade

(Hasselblad 500C – Hasselblad)

Next on our list is the infamous Hasselblad 500C. When it comes to professional grade documentary cameras, the Hasselblad 500C has always been regarded as the best of the best camera models. Hasselblad originally began making cameras during World War II and have since been used for serious documentary projects across the globe and beyond with their most notable mission in 1965 when Hasselblad built a new and improved version of their Hasselblad 500C camera for NASA during the Gemini IV space mission. The modified camera featured a lightweight build with an extra long clip of 70 slides rather than the normal 12. This allowed these astronauts and documentarians to capture moments that we will never forget.

Now, the Hasselblad 500C is cemented in time as one of them most influential and important cameras of our time period. If its history is not enough to entice you, then I don’t know what is.

See images from Hasselblad in Space below.

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Hasselblad in Space 1 - FilterGrade

For more information on the Hasselblad equipment used in space by NASA, click here.

Also, see the Hasselblad 500C in action below:

And learn how to load this beast of a camera in our tutorial here:

6. Rolleiflex MX EVS

Next up on our list is our first TLR medium format film camera. For those that may not know, TLR stands for Twin Lens Reflex, meaning two lenses for one camera with the same focal length! One lens is what the camera will capture – the ‘taking image’, and the other image is what you are seeing through the mirror in your viewfinder, which you will be looking at through the top of your camera, usually held at waist level.

The Rollei Rolleiflex is a wide and diverse range of cameras that includes a vast line of cameras built by Rollei-Werk throughout the 1900’s but one of their most favorable models is the Rolleiflex MX EVS twin lens reflex medium format camera. This specific model was built in 1954 and was used for portrait and documentary photography.


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(FUJI GW690III – Japan Camera Hunter)

Still fascinated by that Mamiya 7 we were talking about earlier, but not willing to actually go broke for a camera? The Fuji GW690III is a great alternative for the Mamiya 7 as it offers a similar build and design, just a tad bulkier with a little more muscle on her too. Regardless, this camera is perfect for fans of rangefinder cameras that also offer superior quality.

This specific model shoots 6×9 cm. frames which about ~4-5x the size of a 35mm film negative or almost double the 4×5 cm. frame. One thing to note is that this camera does not offer a built in light meter so you will need to keep one with you!

8. Yashica Mat 124G

Yashica Mat 124G - KEH - FilterGrade

(Yashica Mat 124G – KEH)

Last but not least, the Yashica Mat 124G is a twin lens reflex camera that offers a crank advance method  and typically features a 75-mm 3.5 Lumaxar taking lens and a 75-mm 3.2 Lumaxar viewing lens. This model is quite hard to come by as it was introduced in 1957. TLR cameras have also begun to decline in usage because of their bulky build. Regardless, film enthusiasts still love these vintage cameras for their look and they are still great cameras for portraits and documenting still life.

Hopefully this list has helped you make a decision on which medium format camera is best for you! If you think we missed another great medium format camera, let us know – we love to hear what kinds of cameras you like too.

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15 Replies to “8 Medium Format Cameras for Film Photographers”

  1. If I had the money and time I would 100% buy one of these cameras. My first DSLR was actually a Pentax K30 so there is a special place in my heart for that company (even though I have now jumped brands) so I would get a the 67II. It must be nice to be rich to afford all these things!

  2. Timothy Gasper says:

    All very excellent cameras. I have and love the Hasselblad 500 CM. That Pentax I have always wanted, but if I buy even one more camera, my wife will beat me….again. I also have a Rollei 6006, Mamiya C330 Pro f and, one which I feel MUST be on your list, the Fuji GX680. I know, I know….very heavy and unwieldy, but it is so damn good of a camera. Thank you for the article sir.

    1. Mike says:

      Thanks so much Timothy! Sounds like a great camera, going to look up the GX680 right now to learn more and see some examples. :)

  3. Ok’ D says:

    The Manila 645e should have been on this list!

  4. You seem to forget the Bronica SQ range

    1. Jerry says:

      I agree, the Bronica’s are usually skipped. I think it is because they have electronics and repairs are difficult to get.

  5. Eric says:

    You haven’t looked at the really modern medium format cameras from the 1990s and 2000s. Rolleiflex 6008af and Rolleiflex hy6 mod2 can both still be had brand new with 6×6 and 6×45. Both have autofocus, leaf shutters and motor drive with various auto and manual exposure modes. Both have a range of around 50 lenses in both Zeiss and Schneider glass. So disappointing to see the same old hackneyed choices being trotted out

    1. M Yong says:

      Thank You. I thought no one made new 120 film cameras. I went to Rolli website and sure enough.
      Then I have to ask do I want a 50’s -70s used camera that is sold overpriced on Ebay, KEH or a new one with customer service.

  6. Ian Chandler says:

    As a Hassy owner I’m biased of course but everything I’ve bought was used. From 30mm to 500mm I’ve got about $12k tied up. On a walkabout I take the phenom swc and a 150mm. Heavy but manageable. Here’s the thing. Square format gives you choice or full frame. Think about that viability. My canon 40d lost its shutter, 5d lost its mirror. 5d2 now has issues. Theres almost $10k pooched while my ‘blads roll on. One day a digital back will be added but u can shoot a lot of film full frame in the meantime. Want a system? Nothing compares value for money and results.

  7. Colin R says:

    Building an outfit around the Hasselblad or Pentax 67 is difficult (supply) and potentially very costly. The Mamiya TLRs are rugged, versatile and more affordable. Close focus by bellows, no batteries. Shame to see them overlooked here.

  8. Timothy Gasper says:

    These are all excellent choices, but I am sure some fine MF cameras have been left out….perhaps because the list might read like a novel. The 500CM is also an excellent one, but being similar to the 500 C, perhaps would be redundant. I love the 500CM. It’s very versatile and being able to use interchangeable backs makes more practical than TLR’s. But I do love the Mamiya C330 Pro. Interchangeable lenses, just not for the backs. I also love the Rollei 6006 and 6008. Only problem is, batteries. Using them in the field for long periods of time is NOT what I would ever do. That’s why I always go for the 500CM, Mamiya and/or the Fuji GX680. I know, I know…..very heavy and bulky, but that never bothers me. Along with the huge Bogen 3036 tripod. I guess I’m just used to it. But I certainly would love to at least touch that Contax. Oh yeah.

    Thank you for the article and the memories.

  9. Timothy Gasper says:

    On the Hasselblad 500 C video….was that young man using a light meter at all? Or maybe the wind knob had one in it? I never saw him taking any readings. If he didn’t….well that might explain the results he got. Just wondering.

  10. Robert A Jaquess says:

    You left out one of the best series and that is Makita C220/ C330 TLR 6×6 medium format cameras. These were the only cameras at the time with interchangeable TLR lens.

  11. Bob says:

    The last camera listed is a Yashica Mat 124G … NOT a 120G (there is no such thing) as your title and description says.

    1. Mike says:

      Thanks for the heads up Bob, we’ll update it.

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