The Age Old Debate: 35mm Full Frame Versus Medium Format Film

What photographer hasn’t thought about getting into medium format photography? This comparison provides some useful side-by-side work for you to make your own comparisons. 

In this video, Film Supply Club does a nice comparison of a 35mm camera (the infamous Canon AE-1) and a 645 camera (the quintessential film camera for wedding photographers). For photographers who have not shot medium format, the appeal is pretty strong. While the lenses are generally slower, the depth of field is generally more pleasant with some lenses, offering a full frame equivalent of f/1.2-1.4 maximum aperture. Further, with the bigger negatives of medium format, grain doesn’t disappear but is generally considered more pleasing. With that said, medium format cameras, particularly 67 cameras, are considerably larger and heavier. 

It should be noted that this comparison, while helpful, is not the end all, be all comparison — that would be impossible. As I’m sure you know, the lens choice makes a huge difference in the sharpness and depth of field. In addition, as noted in a previous article about film cameras, there are multiple formats that fit under the “medium format” umbrella — the 645 being the smallest format. Adding to the mix, the larger the format, the lenses are generally slower and there’s a larger disparity between the focal length and the full frame equivalent. 

At the end of the day, deciding on the camera that’s right for you is hardly ever as easy as a this or that comparison; however, this video offers a great introduction to comparing medium format and 35mm photography. Do you shoot medium format as well as 35mm? What are your thoughts?

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