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The Advantages of Medium Format Over 35mm


In digital photography, larger sensors generally equate to better image quality across a variety of measurables. If you’re curious about the advantages medium format cameras have over 35mm ones, Hasselblad has a new set of videos just for you.

The company, famous for its medium format cameras, partnered with photographer Karl Taylor for a series of 4 videos in which the $33,000 medium format H6D-100c is pitted against the $3,300 Nikon D850 in different scenarios.

“Medium format refers to the active image area, be it film or digital, with anything larger than the 24x36mm dimensions of 35mm film, also known as 35mm format, and smaller than the 4×5 inch, or large format, image area,” Hasselblad says. “Hasselblad’s large sensors mean a higher pixel count and a larger pixel size. With larger pixels, more light is recorded, enabling the sensor to provide better light gathering power.

“Combining this light gathering power, the sensor’s very low noise level and Hasselblad’s world-renowned image processing delivers an immense dynamic range, producing the stunning, life-like image quality of Hasselblad medium format files.”

Here are the four videos of the four comparison tests:




Depth of Field

For the fourth test, Taylor set up a tabletop scene and compared the depth of field captured by the two cameras at various apertures.

“Given the different format sizes between medium format and 35mm, we have different magnification, and this results in a difference of appearance of depth of field,” Taylor says. “Whilst 35mm maximum aperture settings may be larger on certain lenses, this does not always mean the depth of field achieved will be shallower.”

“Hasselblad’s 50MP CMOS sensor delivers a pixel size of 5.3 microns and the H6D-100c’s 100MP sensor delivers a pixel size of 4.6 microns,” Hasselblad says. “Compared with Hasselblad’s 50MP CMOS sensor, a similar resolution 35mm format camera would have a pixel size of around 4.14 microns, giving the Hasselblad a 64% increase in light gathering power.”

“The medium format image has a lot more bite and a lot more contrast, a lot more richness, but again it comes down to that smoothness of transition of tonal range that is afforded by the larger sensor,” Taylor concludes.