Day 64: 35mm vs 120 Film

35mm film is the most common film used. We all have seen those little rolls and the negatives with the little holes on the sides.

120mm film is used in medium format cameras and they’re cut larger so their negative strips also look different.

The thing to remember is: It’s the SAME. FILM. Minus some different material backing for some technical reasons I don’t know, Fuji 400 35mm and Fuji 400 medium format film is the same film cut differently. Think of it like getting a full sized bottle of shampoo vs getting a travel sized bottle of the same shampoo. They’re the same stuff, just in different sized bottles.

The difference is, a medium format photo will give you a higher resolution, and because of the sensor and the size of the film, your colors will be more true to life and your images will be of an overall higher quality. A medium format camera allows for more information to be received by the sensor which also results in a higher dynamic range. A higher dynamic range gives you better tonal value so your colors are smooth and beautiful, while a smaller sensor won’t have as much information in the details.

I however, LOVE 35mm film. When I look at my 35mm work vs my 120mm work, I love them both. I think they both produce gorgeous colors, and the fact that 35mm is much less expensive also gives it a nice boost in its favor!

Below I’ve put together some examples for you. The left is a medium format image while the right is shot on 35mm. Same subject, same lighting, same film, different formats!

I know when you get into film, you think “I NEED A CONTAX AND FUJI 400 FILM” because that’s what everyone else uses, but you absolutely don’t need to go with the flow here. Your own personal preference matters and for me, I shoot 35mm all the time. For each family shoot, I might shoot one roll of medium format for every two rolls of 35mm. I just have my lab scan the 35mm at a larger size so I can print larger but I feel like I still love the colors and texture that comes out of 35mm. I hope this sheds some light on the film world for you and I’ll see you tomorrow for day 65!!

Day 98 is currently reserved for any questions you have throughout the 100 days. To submit a question, please click here!¬† If you’re interested in supporting this project, please share, PIN and comment! Any other questions, comments or ideas, please feel free to email me at denise(at)denisekaris(dot)com

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris

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