How Does Medium Format Digital Do vs Medium Format Film for Portraits?

How far has medium format digital come vs medium format film?

We’re very well aware of the fact that 35mm full frame lenses have improved significantly over the years. In fact, 35mm lenses can be used pretty commonly for portraits at this point. If you think about this, then medium format must have become proportionally better, right?


Medium format, for some, may be a very odd beast. A 63mm lens on medium format digital is almost like a 50mm lens equivalent on 35mm digital. But even at the smallest medium format, which is 645, a 75mm or 80mm lens is more like a normal option. So with that said, you get a 50mm field of view with even less of the scene in focus at a given aperture. Let’s take a quick, informal look at how medium format has held up vs film.

Fujifilm GFX 50s with 63mm f2.8 (GF Format)

The Fujifilm GFX 50s uses Fujifilm’s GF format. It’s smaller than any other medium format film standard. But Fujifilm’s lenses and technology are very ahead of many of the film cameras that have been around for years. So how does it hold up?

1/60th f2.8 ISO 6400

Bronica ETRS  with 75mm f2.8 (645 film)

The Bronica ETRS is one of the best and most affordable 645 cameras out there if you’re looking for something that offers good bang for your buck. The lenses were made by Tamron for years and some of them were said to be made by Nikon.


Shot with Kodak Portra 120. Outdoors during daylight

Pro Tip: the latest emulsions of Kodak Portra were designed to be scanned. We recommend Portra 400 more than almost anything else out there.

This image was shot with Kodak Portra 400 on a Bronica ETRS: which means it was done in the 645 format.

Pentacon Six TL with 80mm f2.8 (6×6 film)

Square format is personally my favorite. I use a Mamiya 6 as my main, every day film camera. But in this case, the Pentacon Six does a better job. The80mm f2.8 lens used with the camera was made by Zeiss.

Pentax 67 75mm f4 (6×7 format)

The Pentax 67 is one of the most lusted for medium format cameras. I’m in between this and the Mamiya RB67 due to the fully analog nature of the cameras and therefore higher reliability. Plus, the lenses are just fantastic.

Fujifilm GW690 III (6×9 format)

Lastly, we’re showing off the 6×9 format–this is one of the largest medium format camera options out there.

120 format

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.