120 film is the film used in medium format cameras. This is oppose to 35mm film which if you are a beginner, you may be more familiar with.
The exciting thing about 120 film is that it is 6cm wide but the camera decides the length. Your decision on the length is up to you but this post will outline them briefly to help you decide.
Ultimately, you can crop a photograph so why care what shape the negative is. Well that’s not all there is to the size.
- 6×4.5 is 2 times bigger than 35mm
- 16 photos per roll of film.
- Camera example: Mamiya 645
- 6×6 is almost 4 times bigger than 35mm.
- 12 photos per roll of film
- Camera Example: Hasselblad 500
- 6×7 is 4 times bigger than 35mm.
- 10 photos per roll of film
- Camera Example: Mamiya 7, Mamiya RZ67, Pentax 67
- 6×9 is twice as big as 6×45, and about 5 times bigger than 35mm.
- 8 photos per roll of film
- Camera Example: Fujica GW690
Where size is compromised the amount of shots you get per roll is increased. Think of the cost here. There is a balance. Should you go for quality or cost? I suggest you choose quality and choose your shots more wisely, and try not to make simple mistakes. Bring lots of film with you. Or, go out with a 645 camera first and then you can do your final shots in a larger format.
The bigger the negative the better the quality, its not that different from digital images. More pixels more quality.
I have had trouble with 6×9 in the past and do not recommend it. Its out of date and many photo shops do not cater for it and will charge extra to do things by hand. Also in darkrooms you need an adaptor that is hidden somewhere. Nobody else will be using it – that may be a good thing if you like to be different, but it means you wont find equipment set up and ready for you. The nice thing about 6×9 is the shape, its nice and long and if you like landscapes, then you’ll like this shape.
6×6 is interesting because it is square. Some argue it makes you think harder about forming a composition, some say it removes the hard work. You loose the landscape/portrait decision altogether.
6×7 is a nice standard, you can’t really go wrong here.
645, there a two sides to this coin.
- almost as big and heavy as a larger camera.
- Much less quality than 6×7
- not much better than 35mm
- 16 shots rather than 12 or 10
- that’s it really…
For those of you who came here for a quick answer = 6×7.
Thanks for reading,