How to Choose Medium Format 120 Film

Published: 07th June 2011
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When you're new to medium format photography it is not that easy to know what 120 films to buy and what final results to expect. For that reason I have put together this guide to all of you who are just about to get started with medium format photography.


What kind of film?

First off there are 3 sorts of 120 film to use: color negative film, black & white negative film and color positive film. Negative film, or print film, is the most commonly used kind. It is typically a little lower priced compared to positive film (better known as "slide film"). An advantage with positive film is that it do possess a lot more detail in comparison with normal negative film. It gives you more natural colors and also lower perceptible grain.

For my part I really appreciate shooting black and white film. Mainly for the following reasons: As an inexperienced photographer it will be really easy getting great looking photographs with black & white film. I really like the classic old school style that you can easily produce with black & white 120 film. It works exceptionally well on these boring, rainy and gray days as well.


What ISO rating to choose?

One particularly important part to take into consideration when deciding what 120 film to buy is the ISO rating, or film speed. The ISO rating primarily have effect on these two factors: In what kind of lightning the film may be used, and the amount of observable grain in the photos. Ordinary ISO ratings include: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600. As a amateur medium format photographer ISO 400 is a good beginner's film. It's going to work nicely in a number of different lightning conditions. An ISO 100 film, a so called "slow film", on the other hand, is best used in bright sunlight or with flash. An ISO 3200 film, a "high speed film", can be put to use in badly lit environments without the need for a flash. High speed films typically have apparent visual grain and slow films rarely have any kind of obvious grain.

Experimental 120 films

What do you wish to accomplish with your photos? Will you be after realistic and genuine looking pictures or are you more of the experimental and innovative type? If the last option corresponds to you, here are several films which you might want to give a try:

-Redscale film, a color film that gives you warm shades of red and orange.

-Infrared film, a very special type of black and white film that also captures infrared light that usually not is visible to the human eye.

-High speed film, ISO 1600 or higher, commonly results in pictures with wonderful perceptible grain.

-Slide film, in case you decide to "cross process" your slide films, you can get crazy photos with over the top contrasts combined with extremely saturated colors.

Choose film after subject

If you are aware of what kind of subject you might be shooting, you are able to adapt the choice of film for that subject. In fact most films perform excellent for all-round photography however some films are created with a specific purpose in mind. For example: If you are shooting portraits and weddings, pick for instance Kodak Portra or Fuji Pro 400H. When you are shooting landscapes go for the well known slide film Fuji Velvia. For more film recommendations please visit Buy 120 film.

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