5 Best Budget Medium Format Cameras

The medium format camera is almost a niche found in the camera industry. Trying to find the best budget medium format camera can sometimes sound like an oxymoron. As you consider the features of these cameras, it is essential to look for the sensor size and image quality.

Hello, fellow camera enthusiasts! My name is Lavelle and I am a professional photographer and videographer. Since 2009 I have been delivering high-quality images and videos to customers across the United States, including by using medium-format cameras.

In this article, I will share my thoughts on some of the things you should look for in a good medium-format camera. I will also share the list of the best budget medium format cameras that I’ve found during my career.

Key Takeaways

  • Look for the larger sensor size as you consider the best budget medium format cameras.
  • The burst mode and autofocus responsiveness features are not the best on the medium format cameras.
  • Consider photo and video resolution of at least 50MP when looking for the best medium format cameras.
What is a medium-format camera?

A medium format camera uses a digital imaging sensor that copies or follows the size of a 120 film size. Medium format cameras capture images that are smaller than full frame or large format cameras.

The main difference between the medium format and the full frame is the sensor size. Full frame cameras use 36×24 mm sensors while the medium format uses a sensor that is smaller than 100×130 mm.

The price varies depending on the features of the camera, however, you can find a good medium format camera for as little as $150 and as much as $500 or more.

What Makes the Best Medium Format Camera

When looking for a good, medium-format camera, there are several important characteristics to consider.

  • Sensor Size: The larger sensor size in the medium format gives you better details in your images. Additionally, a larger sensor size allows you to get wide-angle shots and better production in low-light conditions.
  • Image Quality: You should look for cameras that give you excellent image quality with a minimum of 50MP. Medium format cameras typically produce clear, crisp images with minimal editing needed.
  • Resolution: Both photo and video resolution are important aspects of the medium format camera. Having a strong resolution gives you a better depth of field and dynamic range quality. 
  • LCD Size: One thing that can make a medium format camera stand out is the size of the LCD viewer. Since these cameras are somewhat bulky and heavy, finding the right LCD size is important. You should look for a size that is practical for viewing images.

The 5 Best Budget Medium Format Cameras

Here is my list of the best budget medium format cameras. 

1. FujiFilm GFX 100 (Best Overall)

  • Sensor Size: Medium format
  • Camera Resolution: 102 MP
  • Video Resolution: 4K at 30fps
  • LCD Size: 3.2-inch touchscreen

The top choice on my list may be surprising to some experts, however, the Fujifilm GFX 100 is a great option. With its excellent photo and video resolution, this medium format camera is sure to impress in many ways.

The 102-megapixel camera is the best on this list as is the 4K video resolution. The camera has a nice, comparable 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD viewer and a remarkable in-body stabilization feature.

The thing that I like about FujiFilm GFX 100 is the wide format motion capture feature. This feature allows filmmakers to produce excellent videos at feature film length quality for much less than the more expensive cinematography cameras.

The only thing that I am concerned about is the price of the unit. While the price is relative to this class of cameras, it is still more expensive than the others on this list.

My Verdict: Putting the price aside, this is the best all-around option for a medium-format camera. The features on this camera are excellent and the resolution for both photo and video is class-leading.

2. Hasselblad X2D 100C (Best LCD)

  • Sensor Size: Medium format
  • Camera Resolution: 100 MP
  • Video Resolution: None
  • LCD Size: 3.6 inch touchscreen

The next choice on my list is the Hasselblad X2D 100C. This model stands at a strong number two spot on my list primarily due to its impressive camera resolution and LCD screen size.

Hasselblad X2D 100C has excellent resolution quality at 100 megapixels. It is also designed very well and has an impressive touchscreen LCD. This brand is well respected in the industry and this camera represents its flagship mirrorless medium format.

The thing that is most impressive about this camera is the 16-bit color depth. With more than 280 trillion colors, it produces remarkable color imagery. It also has 15-stops of dynamic range that allows it to capture intricate details of highlights and shadows.

This camera does not have video functionality at all. This one missing feature would normally move it down to the bottom of my list since this capability is quite necessary in many cases. However, the other benefits of this camera are impressive enough to leave it in the number two spot.

My Verdict: This camera gives you excellent photo quality and a great coloring system. The coloring alone is very notable, nearly removing any need for post-editing coloring. It is well deserving of its spot on my list.

3. FujiFilm GFX 50S II (Best Budget)

  • Sensor Size: Medium format
  • Camera Resolution: 51.4 MP
  • Video Resolution: 1920×1080 Full HD
  • LCD Size: 3.2 inch touchscreen

The number three choice on my list is Fujifilm GFX 50S II – the most budget-friendly camera on my list. Its photo and video resolutions are impressive, with a 51.4-megapixel camera resolution and full high-definition video quality.

It offers nice image stability, and great flexibility, and is very lightweight for this class of camera. It also has an ergonomically designed body style that is easy to grip.

The thing I like most about FujiFilm GFX 50S II is the affordable price point. It offers many of the features of its more expensive counterparts and while the megapixel count is less than the top two on this list, it still generates excellent image quality.

The main concern about this camera is the autofocus is sluggish compared to the other mirrorless cameras on the list. Having to wait a little longer for the autofocus to lock on to an image can be irritating and can cause you to miss that perfect shot in some instances.

My Verdict: You can’t beat this camera when it comes to the price point. While the price is the most affordable on the list, its quality doesn’t suffer much in comparison to the others here.

4. FujiFilm GFX 50R (Best Rangefinder)

  • Sensor Size: Medium format
  • Camera Resolution: 51.4 MP
  • Video Resolution: 1920×1080 Full HD
  • LCD Size: 3.2 inch touchscreen

Next up is the Fujifilm GFX 50R. This camera is a slightly older version but is still widely regarded as one of the best buys in the medium format category. The “R” in its name is for the rangefinder and this marks its standout quality.

The camera has a nice photo resolution of 51.4 megapixels and it has a full high-definition video resolution. The body design of this camera is impressive and it’s relatively lightweight for this class of camera. It is also weather and dust resistant.

The standout feature of FujiFilm GFX 50R is the rangefinder. It is remarkably accurate for framing and focusing. Along with the rangefinder, I like the processing engine which makes this camera great for documentary-type film shooting.

The biggest drawback is the burst mode is somewhat slow compared to the other cameras here. Additionally, the autofocus is not as responsive as most of the other cameras in this class.

My Verdict: This is a good camera at a good price point. The features are nice and are comparable to the rest of this field of cameras. The touchscreen is amazing and it produces great images and video.

5. Pentax 645Z (Best Sensor)

  • Sensor Size: Medium format Sony CMOS
  • Camera Resolution: 51 MP
  • Video Resolution: 1920×1080 Full HD
  • LCD Size: 3.2-inch touchscreen

The last camera on my list is the Pentax 645Z. I consider this camera to be the “sleeper” on my list. The Pentax brand has fallen somewhat behind the industry over the past ten years. However, this model makes the list because it has some nice features to contend with the leaders on this list.

This camera is well-built and very durable. It is also easy to use and is completely weatherproof. Even though it has been around for a few years, it is still remarkably relevant. The image quality is very good and it is an affordable option.

Another thing that I like about this camera is that it has a large sensor size with a good pixel count. It also has a very cool live view, which is another standout characteristic of this model. The tiltable LCD panel also adds a nice touch to this camera.

Unfortunately, it is a very heavy camera, making it difficult to handle at times. It is also an older model, coming out for the first time about five years ago.

My Verdict: Pentax 645Z is a good buy for the photographer who is working with a budget but still wants the power of the medium format camera. The features are nice and the image quality is still excellent. The HD video resolution is also comparable to the others on this list.

Final Thoughts

Medium-format cameras are making a huge splash in the photography market. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobby photographer, medium-format cameras can help you produce excellent images. With their large sensors and compact size, these cameras are made to impress.

There are some nice cameras in the market and along with the five cameras I’ve listed, a few other good options include the Leica S3 and the Hasselblad HD6. These are two more expensive choices but they offer excellent features in the medium format category.

Have you used a medium-format camera? Share your experience in the comments section below.

Until next time, have fun capturing the best moments in your life!

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