The Four Best Medium Format SLR Cameras You Can Get

Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 shot wide open. You're not going to get bokeh like this with the Olympus offering.

Medium Format SLR cameras aren’t incredibly expensive compared to their digital descendants, but some of them can be quite pricey if you’re looking for the very best. Indeed, there are some cameras that when mentioned will make a photographer’s jaw drop. Medium format can give a photographer better image quality than 35mm and 35mm digital while also providing them with a fairly portable camera to do their professional work. But amongst those cameras, four stand out as some of our favorites.

Contax 645

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Long considered by many photographers to be the best film medium format camera ever made, what’s great about this camera is not only its autofocusing abilities and TTL metering, but the fact that it can use Zeiss lenses. In fact, the system has f2 lenses–which is incredibly tough to find with any medium format camera system because of how thin the depth of field is at that aperture.

The Contax 645 can also be used with modern digital backs if you choose to do so–or can ever afford to purchase or rent one.

Want one? They’re quite expensive, but no one that owns one ever complains.

Pentax 67

Pentax 67

Every photographer that uses their Pentax 67 holds onto it not only out of total love for the camera, but also because they know how excellent it is. The camera is a tank with a very loud shutter and build quality that is quite literally designed to take abuse. The fact that it’s the 6×7 format and not the 645 format also makes it capable of shooting a larger image than even their new 645 DSLR can.

The camera is great for landscapes and portraits, but we’re not too sure it’s great for much else besides stagnant subjects. It’s heavy, so handholding it requires you to have quite the strong arms.

While the camera had an improved second version, we’re recommending the first because it’s more affordable and still gives you what you need to get the shot.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II

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Very few people can handhold a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, though there are some who can. The camera is an SLR that uses the bellows system to focus, and is much more complicated than many SLRs. For example, removing and attaching the lenses requires you to use a ring around the lens and to line the ring up with specific dots. To take the lens off, you’ll need to make sure that the shutter is cocked and then undo the connection ring. Cocking the shutter is also different because of the lever used instead of the winding knob that many SLR cameras have.

Still though, it’s one of the best cameras that Mamiya ever made and it (and the lenses) still go for lots of money.

Hasselblad 500C

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Though Hasselblad has many other more complicated SLR cameras, we’re including the 500C here because it sold so well that the company only recently discontinued it. This camera is by far seen as the very typical 6×6 square format SLR camera that many others are based on. You can use the top down viewfinder, a prism finder, and other accessories to make this camera really rock for you. There are a large assortment of lenses you can use, too.