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Medium-format

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A medium-format camera uses roll film to take pictures with 6cm width. These often have interchangeable backs so film can be swapped mid-roll and Polaroid or a digital back can be used to instantly proof a composition or exposure. Medium-format cameras are costly and often bulky so tend to be used by enthusiasts or professionals.

Related Terms

This is used to describe the area of a film used by a camera to record a photo. A 35mm format camera records a 24x36mm image on the film. Medium format cameras record anything from 6x4.5cm to 6x17cm on 120 and 220 roll film. When choosing a medium-format some photographers prefer the square 6x6cm format because it offers an alternative shape to the conventional oblong, but also saves you having to think in a portrait or landscape way. The cropping can be done later when printing the results. As the format increases, potential quality improves, while the number of pictures that can be recorded on a roll of film decreases. You can shoot 15 pictures on a 6x4.5cm camera, 12 on a 6x6cm camera and 10 on a 6x7cm camera and just 4 on a 6x17cm camera.
A film holder, named after the company who made the first instant film. It fits on the back of a medium-format camera or slides into a large format film holder that takes instant-picture material.
An adaptor that fits onto the back of a large format camera to allow roll-film to be used back. Also used on many medium format cameras to allow film to be changed mid-roll.
If the camera has interchangeable backs you can change a film mid-roll so you could shoot colour and black & white within seconds of each other. This is also useful if you have several users using a camera - each could have there own film back. It's also good to record specific subjects on the same roll of film. For example you're out walking and you could take flowers on one and landscapes on the other. Many medium-format cameras have the option of changing format with different backs. You could, for example shoot 6x7cm, 6x4.5cm and 35mm from the same camera using three different backs. Polaroid backs are also available for many cameras.  This means  you could shoot a Polaroid print and instantly check lighting, composition or exposure and then replace with the conventional film.
Indicates the magnification and angle-of-view of a lens. The human eye sees things roughly the same as a 43mm focal length of a lens for a 35mm camera. Anything shorter is classed as a wide-angle, while longer focal lengths are telephoto. Because of the comparatively small size of the CCD in a compact digital camera it has a standard focal length of between 6mm and 8mm while a medium-format camera is around 80mm.
An extra feature found on only a few cameras that is used to lock the viewing mirror in the up position while the shutter is fired. The benefit is almost no vibration as well as the ability to keep up with an ultra-fast motor drive. This feature tends to be more common on medium format cameras because the mirror is larger and creates more vibration as it bounces out of the way of the film plane.
If the camera has interchangeable lenses you have more flexibility because the lens detaches from the camera allowing it to be replaced by a different one. Most 35mm SLR cameras and many medium-format cameras have interchangeable lenses.
Having an interchangeable viewfinder increases your scope to shoot from low down using a waist-level finder or to enable program exposure using an AE head. There are also options with magnifying hoods. Many medium format cameras have this feature, but only a couple of 35mm SLRs do.
A type of finder found on old collectable cameras and most medium format models. The finder has a hood to prevent light reducing contrast as you view directly from the focusing screen. It's called a waist level finder because to use it comfortably you'd hold the camera at waist level.
Many SLRs and medium-format cameras have interchangeable focusing screens. The benefit is that you can swap the standard split screen for a different pattern to suit the type of photography you are doing. The most common is a grid screen that has a grid of thin lines used to align horizontal and vertical points in the scene. This is a popular choice for architectural photographers and for copying. A plain screen is used for microscope and telescope work, and some prefer a fresnel for focusing with long telephoto lenses where the split screen version may black out.
A medium/large format camera with a fold-out baseboard that supports the lens board and bellows.
A medium or large format camera that uses a ground glass screen positioned at the film plane to view the image. Theyre also known as field cameras.