Getting the Look of Medium Format Using Smaller Sensor Cameras

Model: Bec Fordyce

Model: Bec Fordyce

Many photographers have long known about the panoramic stitch process; which in modern times been called the Brenizer Effect after photographer Ryan Brenizer’s use of it. Photographer Glyn Dewis recently shared a video on how to do it.

Essentially, what you’re doing is visualizing a scene in your head–so this first requires a specific creative vision. Then using a telephoto focal length (85mm lenses or their equivalents are recommended) you shoot little bits of the scene starting from the middle and going around. The important technical aspect here to remember is that your lens needs to have a very shallow depth of field, the exposure/white balance needs to stay constant, and your focus need to be locked in on your intended subject. Then you switch to manual focus to ensure that the lens doesn’t keep refocusing if you’re using an autofocus lens.

As Glyn demonstrates in the video, you then stitch the images together. This is much better with modern software and lenses. If you use older lenses and older software, you get an effect like what’s below.

This may indeed look like a mistake, but believe it or not after Photoshop accidentally created an image like this, I tweaked the images for days until I recreated the effect myself.

This may indeed look like a mistake, but believe it or not after Photoshop accidentally created an image like this, I tweaked the images for days until I recreated the effect myself.

Artistically speaking, it can work well with older software and older lenses, but you’ll get something like what you see above. It’s a different look than what everyone else has.

The flaw with this entire process is that you end up with a scene created because you’re literally pivoting the camera all around from one central spot handheld. To do it absolutely technically perfect, you need to use something like a Fotodiox Rhinocam. What this device does is allows you to move the camera into a specific spot each time you shoot a frame so that you have no worries about overlap. Additionally, it shoots every image on the same focusing plane–which to an absolute T, the Brenizer method does not.


The reason why this gives you a medium format look is because of the fact that the film plane/sensor is larger with medium format than with 35mm or APS-C. For the untrained eye that doesn’t know the first thing about true medium format though, this is all more than good enough.

  • Martijn ten Napel
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    Aren’t there other factors od the medium format more decisive? like the size of the diodes catching the light?

  • ShowHarmony
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    Looks like another pixel peeper special.

  • Andrew
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    Aside from being able to capture the scene in one shot, why is this ANY different than a larger format shot? You seem to elude to the fact that a “trained eye” would be able to tell the difference. So rip it apart for us, what’s the difference? The only thing I can think of is the slight misalignment in images that can be solved with no paralax multi-row/multi-column pano gear, and oh yea, movement (wind, cars, birds, models that can’t stand still, water, clouds, etc). Why should we all not run out and mortgage our houses for a PhaseOne, or start shooting 4×5 or 8×10 film negatives to get “the look”? All I’m saying is that it IS the same as these larger formats, with the difficulty being the things you can’t keep still, and the need for hardware and software that can handle stitching.