When it comes to medium format cameras, square format or 6×6 is considered the standard image size. We’ve previously featured other frame sizes you can opt for, but to get the full experience, square format should never go missing in your film photography gear. If you are still missing one, allow us to give you more recommendations apart from these five square format cameras we already featured.
Rolleiflex TLR cameras
When it comes to shooting medium format films in square format, Rolleiflex cameras are premium and iconic choices. The Rolleiflex brand has become synonymous with Twin-Lens Reflex cameras, best known for its high-quality optics despite the simple construction. According to camera-wiki.org, the series began with the Original Rolleiflex 6×6 introduced in 1929, and was made for 117 (B1) film which yielded six frames on a roll. However, it could be converted to accommodate 620 or 120 film for 12 exposures. Improvements were brought upon by succeeding models, which, in this Rolleiflex buying guide by Colton Allen, can be classified into four main groups: Rolleiflex Standard, Automat, 3.5, and 2.8. Prices vary and there are many great models to choose from, but essentially, you can’t go wrong with any of them. If you can’t decide, we suggest the Rolleiflex 2.8F, which was available for 20 years with about 82,200 units made.
Buy Rolleiflex 2.8F: eBay
Yashica Mat 124G
Another popular 6×6 TLR model is the Yashica Mat 124G, made from 1970 to 1986. According to camera-wiki.org, it was the last TLR camera produced by Yashica. Despite TLR cameras being mostly obsolete at the time of its release, this model was still a success and remains an excellent choice for entry-level medium format. The Mat 124G and its predecessor, the Mat 124, were equipped with a four-element Yashinon 80mm f3.5 lens, a ground glass waist-level focusing screen, 3x diopter loupe for more precise focusing, and a sports finder. Other notable features include a Copal SV shutter with speeds of 1 sec to 1/500 sec, a coupled match-needle exposure meter, self-timer, and flash sync with electronic-x and bulb m modes.
Buy Yashica Mat 124G: eBay
If you prefer the design and handling of rangefinder cameras but want the extra resolution of medium format film, the Mamiya 6 will be of interest to you. Launched in 1989, it’s one of the modern rangefinders that continue to be popular today. It has a collapsing lens mount that accommodates several high-quality, interchangeable Mamiya lenses, such as 50mm f4, 75mm f3.5, and 150mm f4.5. Other noteworthy features mentioned by camera-wiki.org include a leaf shutter with a top speed of 1/500, flash sync at all speeds, an electronic self-timer, built-in dark slide knob and knob lock, center-weighted average exposure meter, and semi-automatic film loading.
Buy Mamiya 6: eBay
Pro Tip: Composing in the square format can be difficult. In some ways it’s about symmetry. But in other ways, it’s about finding a way to make someone’s eyes move around the image.
The Bronica SQ-Ai was part of the Bronica SQ series of 6×6 medium format SLR cameras introduced in 1980. As the slightly updated version of the SQ-A, this model was equipped with a specially dedicated motor drive that isn’t compatible with other SQ models. Other features noted on camera-wiki.org include off the film metering, TTL automatic flash through the SCA connector, a leaf shutter, and an interchangeable back system for shooting 120 and 220 films.
Buy Bronica SQ-Ai: eBay
Holga 120 cameras
Lastly, we can’t put together a list of square format camera without mentioning the Holga medium format cameras. While crudely made entirely in plastic, it has enjoyed a cult following in the last decade for the dreamy lo-fi photos it creates. Call it hipster or what you will, but it’s one of the film cameras that brought us Instagram — certainly a long way from its origins in 1980s China. It’s no luxury camera and looks like a toy compared to the rest of the cameras on this list, but it has spawned several versions with features like flash/color flash, 6×6 and 6×4.5 masks, wide-angle pinhole, stereo pinhole, and stereo lenses. If you don’t mind experimenting with the unpredictable side of film photography or even have a taste for cameras with a cult following, this camera is worth checking out. We recommend getting the Holga 120GCFN, which has a glass lens and a color flash.
Buy Holga 120 GFN: eBay