Shooting Brenizer method portraits on medium format film to simulate
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Shooting Brenizer method portraits on medium format film to simulate a large format look

The Brenizer method has been around for a while. In fact, it’s been around since long before it was called the “Brenizer method” – he was just the guy who made it popular so the name stuck. Essentially it’s a way to simulate the look of medium format film when shooting a small sensor camera like an APS-C or full-frame DSLR or mirrorless camera.

It’s a popular and well-known technique these days, but what happens when you shoot it with medium format film? Will it look like it was shot on large format? That’s what photographer Steve Schultz wanted to find out, so he shot some with his Mamiya 645 AF medium format film camera to see what happened.

The Brenizer method essentially involves shooting with a longer focal length and a wide aperture and creating multiple images that you can then stitch together in post. This is instead of simply shooting with a wider lens that typically wouldn’t provide the shallow depth of field that you’re after.

When doing this with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, and if it’s done well, it creates that wide angle of view and shallow relative depth of field that’s synonymous with medium format. Steve’s theory is that if you shoot it on medium format film, scan it in and sitch those images together, then it should allow you to get an even shallower depth of field for a given field of view. From the results Steve shows in the video, it certainly seems to have worked – on at least some of the shots – giving the portraits that large-format look and feel that even 645 medium format is too small to create on a single frame alone.

Depending on the lens you’re using, you can still get a more large-format look with a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless camera, but you’re typically going to need some very wide aperture lenses and you’ll be shooting a lot more images to stitch together than you would for the typical medium format look. The images should offer some pretty incredible detail when they’re all assembled, though, especially given the resolution of today’s cameras!

When it comes to film, though, I think I’d rather just shoot large format than to try to simulate the look with medium format and a bunch of post-work. Cool to see it being done, though.

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