Is 645 Medium Format Worth It?

For many film photographers, particularly those only recently getting into film, the question of going to medium format reaches everyone at some point. The smallest format, 645, is debatably not worth the additional costs over 35mm.

In this video brought to us by Kyle McDougall, there are several examples of photographs that were taken on 645 and 35mm. Given that 645 is nearly three times larger than 35mm, there is a substantial improvement in detail when comparing photographs taken with lenses of approximately equal angle of views. 

For those that are unfamiliar with the 645 format in the medium format world, you can expect to get 15 or 16 frames per roll, depending on the camera. Of all the three main formats in the medium format world, (i.e., 645, 6×6, 67) 645 is the closest to the same aspect ratio you’d get with 35mm, and being that it’s the smallest of the medium format options, it gives you the most frames per roll. While that may not seem like a huge deal, when compared with a 67 camera, getting an additional 50% more photographs for the exact same cost goes a long way. Personally, I hardly ever shoot my 35mm anymore compared with the amount of love that my Mamiya 645 Pro-TL and Mamiya RZ67 get from me. It’s not that 35mm doesn’t have its place in the world, it’s just not much more convenient compared with my 645 camera, and the negatives (or slides) just can’t go as far.

What are your thoughts on the 645 format? Is it worth the step up from 35mm?


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