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Can You Shoot a Wedding on a Medium Format Camera?

Medium format cameras mostly live in studios, where the controlled lighting and less demanding autofocus and burst rates allow them to shine. What happens if you take them out of that environment and put them in the hands of a wedding photographer? This great video shows the results. 

Coming to you from John Branch IV Photography, this neat video follows him as he shoots a wedding using medium format. For the most part, full frame has long been the choice of the majority of wedding photographers. This is because the often poorly lit venues required better noise performance than APS-C, while the demanding and quick action necessitated better autofocus capabilities than medium format bodies. Yet, in recent years, cameras like the Fujifilm X-T series have made APS-C a more viable choice for the genre, while the modernization of medium format through the GFX series has done the same at the other end of the scale. There are a lot of advantages to medium format that appeal to wedding photographers, and as you will see, the experience of using it for a wedding is much better than it was even five years ago. Check out the video above to see it in action, and feel free to skip around to see how it handles the different parts of a wedding day. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Why not? I used to shoot weddings with a medium format film camera without auto focus, it was fun.

I just have to say it, been a long time coming. The attentive, "old" way of manual focus, exposure in your head or hand meter, anticipate instead of shutter burst, attention to detail, few rolls of film.....still got meaningful, good photos, even impromptu captures. I cringe seeing today's efforts with thousands of shots to cull through, with "untidy" results. There are of course some very good togs out there who think twice, shoot once and get creative, natural, beautiful images. It could be a good experience to practice fundamentals. Today's cameras have great features that make things easier but nothing beats knowledge and attention.

You wanna talk about cringe….you said togs.

An anonymous troll whose only input is to cringe about a well used abbreviation of photographer in a sentence that applauds using "very good" in their description?

"The term "TOG" is a very respectful, good term for photographer, in it's usual interpretation. If you are a "TOG", you can be proud."

Quite true. I only use E mount manual lenses with my camera in full manual mode as it suits my way of working and I don't need the benefits of autofocus and semi-automatic modes. I also don't 'spray and pray'. If I miss the moment, it just means I need to keep practising until I get better at being ready and spotting great moments. We certainly have the tools now to let our cameras do most of the work for us but there's nothing stopping us using less of these features and relying more on ourselves, like people would do in the film era. I have to say I'm still in awe of 20th century war photographers who were using very crude cameras by today's standards but could still get photo's with the added problem of being shot at by the enemy.

Back in the film days first all the shots were taken on medium-format which was larger than it is now! Then there was a transition to the candids, ceremony and family groups being done on 35mm and only the formals being done on medium format! We transitioned to using digital for what was the 35mm work then eventually digital for everything!
So of course medium format digital can be used for weddings!
The question is with the changes in usage and couples not printing for wall portraits like they used to why would you shoot everything on medium-format?
It goes back to the cost-benefit for a business! Will the extra expense for a medium-format system produce extra income? And will the client be able to see that extra quality? Most likely no!
On the other side as photographers, we all have our own way of doing things and what suits one photographer may not make sense to another!

If he uses it as a marketing tool it could pay off.

Wow. Us old timers only shot MF for years shooting weddings. This has got to be the dumbest question fstoppers have ever asked. Try shooting a wedding with a twin lens reflex and nailing it. Most young people today would have cried with the equipment we had.

It's true cameras now can do everything for us and people continually cry out for more features. I actually switched from DSLR to mirrorless ( I started with a manual film camera in the 1990's) deliberately to use modern, native manual lenses and take my photography back to a more basic approach, relying on myself, rather than the technology to get the shot. Saying that having an EVF and a tiltable rear screen is a bonus of modern technology.

Guys, forget about comparing film medium format to digital medium format. I don't think that has anything to do with the video. I think his point is more about file size combined with the number of frames people shoot today which is not something to take lightly or was not until recent computer power improvements.

My dad was a professional photographer in Ontario. I only remember him using medium format cameras Hasselblad, Mamiya . None of these has auto focus. He had a Nikon in case of a failure. He would attend the whole wedding from photos at the bride’s home, the wedding ceremony and a few shots at the reception. All with medium format 120 and 220 film.

And I bet he did not end up with 3-4000 pictures to edit at the end of the day.

Someone must get paid by the article.

Given the current sensor tech, medium format is needed in order to avoid overly small photosites that will lead to horrible SNR.

The GFX100s has very good auto focus performance, while it is not quite good enough for fast paced sports, almost anything less, it is very usable.

Hopefully it becomes more widely used so that more innovation and competition can happen for those sensors, thus making it cheaper and easier to get even higher resolution medium format sensors.

Wow 92 minutes...


Spoiler alert, yes. You can also wear Zumbas and shoot a wedding, don't ask how I know.

If I had a medium format camera I'd use it at my weddings. Ideal kit would be 1 med format camera for the slower stuff and 1 full frame for any action/ specialty lens needs. In my film days many years ago I would split the day between a hasselblad and various canon 35mm cameras.

I have a GFX100s, I couldn't imagine using it as the sole camera on the wedding day. Portraits yes, in fact it takes stunning portraits, but it's way too slow to use to capture fast moving action that occurs on a wedding day.

Couple that with the file sizes, and it's not a practical tool. Fuji users are better with the XH2s for the main wedding day.

Yeah-- if I had to use just one camera it probably wouldn't be a medium format.

Faster performance would be great to have for medium format (all of the resolution in the world means nothing if it misses focus), especially since given the current technology, there is a vast astronomically large gap between the image and sensor resolution and the resolution that everyone desires, thus if higher resolutions are available, it is hard to pass it up, at least not until people can zoom into/ pixel peep to this extent with their images.