So previously we have talked about some great budget medium format film camera options for those on a budget, but all of those cameras were manual focus only. Today we wanted to bring a few options into focus that feature something that many of you can’t live without – Autofocus.
There are a few things about AF with these cameras that needs to be said. It’s not lightning fast, but it is pretty accurate. Just don’t expect to get the sort of AF performance that you get these days, these camera are decades old after all, AF technology has advanced quite a bit. That said, if you manage your expectations, you should have no problem getting great AF results using these cameras.
Editor’s Note: because you’re probably going to say this, the Contax 645 isn’t really for beginners.
Pentax 645 N
Pentax has always had a solid budget medium format offering, and just as many of you know these days with the 645D/Z the 645N is a similar story. The body is built very well, though given the age and use that some of these have gone through, your mileage may very but you can find these for an incredible bargain if you aren’t worried about it being a little ugly. The newer variant, the 645N II is mostly the same camera with an improved viewfinder, metering, and AF performance.
The one quirk with the Pentax 645 film cameras is that they don’t use interchangeable backs like most other medium format film cameras do. This means that you can’t change between films at one shoot, you have to go through your entire roll before you can switch out the film. So that is one thing to note, but if you don’t see yourself constantly needing to switch out films, these are great cameras.
Mamiya 645 AFD
Similar to the Pentax 645N in terms of features and performance, the Mamiya 645 AFD has the benefit of utilizing separate backs with dark slides. This means that you can have several backs ready to go with varying film, allowing you to shoot multiple rolls throughout a shoot without having to go through an entire roll before being able to change films. This could come in handy if you were shooting a black and white roll and and color roll for example, as it would allow you to shoot both formats.
There are newer AFD II and AFD III models which offer some increased performance if you have the budget, but even the plain old AFD model here will net you around $1,000 for a basic kit.
There are some other great medium format film options with AF out there, but you start getting expensive really quick after the two options noted here. So if you are wanting medium format film on a budget, we suggest having a look at these two options!