Best 120 Film Camera (A Comprehensive Guide for Photography Enthusiasts)

120 film is a widely appreciated medium format for still photography and has been in existence since its introduction by Kodak in 1901.

Initially designed for amateur photography, it eventually carved a niche for itself by appealing to both professional and amateur enthusiasts.

This medium format film has withstood the test of time, continuing to be readily available and offering an excellent alternative to digital photography.

Among all film camera brands Hasselblad, Pentax 67, Fujifilm GA645, Mamiya C330, Rolleiflex, Bronica, Diana and Holga are the best 120 film camera models for medium format film photography.

When exploring the world of 120 film cameras, it’s important to understand why they have remained popular amongst photography enthusiasts.

The larger film size compared to 35mm provides a higher resolution and larger negatives, which translates into better image quality.

Moreover, the variety of cameras designed for this format offers you the opportunity to experiment with different styles and features.

As you delve into the realm of medium format film cameras utilizing 120 film, you’ll discover the unique charm and unparalleled image quality that has kept this format alive for over a century.

Embrace the challenge of mastering these cameras, as they offer an enriching and rewarding experience to enhance your skills as a photographer.

History of 120 Film


120 film is a film format still widely used in photography today. It was initially introduced by Kodak in 1901 for their Brownie No. 2 camera.

Initially designed for amateur photography, it has withstood the test of time and is now used by both professionals and amateur enthusiasts alike.

When you shoot with 120 film, you can appreciate the format’s long history and still enjoy its advantages in today’s world.

Some background about the medium format: 120 film’s name came about because it was the 20th daylight-loading roll film on flanged spools that Kodak produced, starting from 101 until reaching 120.

This numbering system became the standard for the format and continues to be recognized today.

Brownie No. 2

The Brownie No. 2 was the first camera to use the 120 film format. It was released in 1901, which means the format has been around for over a century.

This basic camera was designed specifically for amateur photographers and beginners, making it affordable and accessible for a wide range of users.

Even though the Brownie No. 2 was just the beginning, it set the tone for the future of 120 film. Over the years, various types of cameras have utilized this film format, and it remains a popular choice for medium-format photography.

When using a 120 film camera today, you are connecting with a long history of photographic innovation.

Although other film formats have come and gone, the 120 film format has maintained its presence in the world of photography, providing a link to the past and a versatile option for photographers of all skill levels.

Different Types of 120 Film Cameras


In the space of 120 film cameras, Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras are a popular choice among professionals and enthusiasts alike.

These cameras use a mirror and prism system that allows you to see exactly what the lens is capturing through the viewfinder.

With SLRs, you can easily change lenses to achieve various types of photography, from wide-angle landscapes to macro close-ups. The accurate framing and focus provided by SLRs make them a reliable option for your 120 film photography needs.


Rangefinder cameras are another type of 120 film camera that you might consider. Unlike SLRs, rangefinders do not have a mirror and prism system, which makes them generally more compact and lightweight.

These cameras offer a separate viewfinder and focusing window, and you can achieve accurate focus by aligning two images.

Many photographers appreciate the quiet operation and unobtrusive design of rangefinders, making them ideal for street photography or candid moments.

Fixed Focus Cameras

For a simpler option, fixed focus cameras provide an easy-to-use alternative to SLRs and rangefinders.

With a fixed focus lens, there’s no need to worry about adjusting the focus before taking a shot, as the camera is designed to keep everything in focus.

This makes fixed focus cameras a great choice for quick snapshots and capturing spontaneous moments.

However, it’s important to note that these cameras may have limited creative potential compared to the flexibility offered by SLRs and rangefinders.

Panoramic Cameras

Lastly, panoramic cameras allow you to capture breathtaking landscapes and wide vistas on 120 film.

These cameras feature either a rotating lens or a wide-format design that exposes more of the film, enabling you to create stunning panoramic images.

Panoramic cameras often require steady handling and precise composition, so it’s essential to practice and familiarize yourself with the camera settings to achieve the best results.

By understanding the different types of 120 film cameras – SLRs, rangefinders, fixed focus cameras, and panoramic cameras – you can choose the right option for your photography style and needs. Remember to consider the camera’s features, size, and functionality, as well as your personal preferences, to make a well-informed decision.

Best 120 Film Camera Models


Hasselblad cameras are well-known for their high-quality medium format photos. One popular model is the Hasselblad 500 C/M.

This camera is a classic choice for professionals and enthusiasts, known for its modular design and high-quality images.

With interchangeable lenses, you can easily customize your setup for every shooting situation.

Pentax 67

If you want to explore medium format photography with a more resembling SLR style, the Pentax 67 is a great option. With its large 6x7cm negatives, it produces high-quality images.

The camera’s design includes a mirror lock-up feature, which reduces the chance of camera shake, thus improving image clarity.

Here is the Specs of Different Pentax 67 Models:

Pentax 6×7

Pentax 6×7MLU

Pentax 67

Pentax 67II


1969 1976 1989



2 1/4 × 2 3/4 (6 × 7) Single lens reflex camera

Shutter speed 1 to 1/1000 sec 4 to 1/1000 sec
Flash sync X: 1 to 1/30 of a sec
FP: 1/125 to 1/1000 of a sec 5P: TTL 1/30

Multiple exposure



Mirror lock up



Self timer

No Yes

Strap lug




4LR44 / PX28

2x CR123A


Optional left

Optional left and
or right built-in

Battery ext










Fujifilm GA645

For an automatic medium format rangefinder, the Fujifilm GA645 is an excellent choice. This camera provides rapid autofocusing, aperture-priority exposure, and a built-in flash – perfect for street photography.

Its lightweight, compact size makes it easy to carry, ensuring you never miss a great shot.

Mamiya C330

The Mamiya C330 is a twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera, which offers the advantage of a waist-level viewfinder. With its interchangeable lenses and bellows focusing system, this camera offers incredible versatility.

The C330 is ideal for those who want a reliable TLR with the flexibility to achieve various shooting styles.


Famous for its classic design and superb image quality, the Rolleiflex series of TLR cameras are beloved among studio and portrait photographers.

The waist-level viewfinder enables precise framing and composition, while its renowned tessar-type lens creates sharp, high-quality images.


Bronica cameras are well-known in the medium format world for both their quality and affordability.

The Bronica ETRSi, for example, is an entry-level 6×4.5cm camera with interchangeable lenses and a leaf shutter system that enables sync speeds up to 1/500s.

If you need a dependable, modular camera system, Bronica models are worth considering.


Diana cameras, originating from the 1960s, are famous for their lo-fi, dreamy aesthetic. Their simple plastic construction and limited controls produce images with understated charm.

A modern version, the Lomography Diana F+, continues the tradition, offering users a unique and creative shooting experience.


Lastly, the Holga is a popular choice for those looking for an affordable and playful medium format camera.

Made of lightweight plastic, it is a fun, experimental camera, famous for vignetting, light leaks, and soft focus. A cult favorite, the Holga provides charming, unpredictable results.

Medium Format Film (120mm Film) Characteristics

Grain and Resolution

When shooting with medium format film, you can expect a considerable difference in grain and resolution compared to 35mm film.

Thanks to the larger film size, medium format film tends to have less visible grain and a smoother tonal range. This creates an image with higher resolution and finer details, suitable for larger prints and more professional outcomes.

Frame Sizes

Medium format film, also known as 120 film, offers variety in frame sizes, which have implications on the number of frames per roll and image dimensions.

Some of the common frame sizes include:

  • 6×4.5 – This frame size allows you to capture 15-16 images per roll and is the smallest format for medium format. It provides a rectangular image, which can be advantageous for landscape and portrait photography.
  • 6×6 – This popular square format allows for 12 images per roll and offers versatility in composition and framing choices. Due to its symmetry, it is often preferred by fine artists and photographers who enjoy a more balanced image.
  • 6×7 – With a slightly wider aspect ratio, this format gives you 10 images per roll. The additional width can result in a more immersive image that is excellent for landscapes, environmental portraits, and other wide scenes.
  • 6×9 – The largest of the common medium format frame sizes, 6×9 gives you around 8 frames per roll. This panoramic format produces an image similar in aspect ratio to 35mm film, while offering the advantages of medium format’s increased resolution and finer grain.

Bear in mind that each of these formats requires a specific camera designed to accommodate the chosen frame size. When selecting a medium format camera, consider your preferred aspect ratio, the number of frames, and your intended photographic subjects.

How Do You Operating and Settings 120 Film Camera?

Exposure and ISO

The exposure settings on a 120 film camera can be affected by the film’s ISO rating. The ISO measures the film’s sensitivity to light, with higher numbers being more sensitive.

When using a 120 roll film, ensure that you choose the appropriate ISO for the lighting conditions and adjust your camera settings accordingly.

Shutter and Flash

The camera’s shutter controls the amount of light that reaches the film by opening and closing for a specific duration. To avoid blurry images, hold the camera steady, and use a faster shutter speed.

When using a 120 film camera, it’s essential to understand how the shutter and flash settings work together.

Proper synchronization can result in well-lit and sharp photos. Make sure your flash duration is compatible with your shutter speed, especially when shooting in low-light conditions.

Light Leaks

One common issue with 120 film cameras is light leaks, which can cause unwanted exposure and affect image quality.

To prevent light leaks, inspect your camera’s seals for any damage and ensure the camera back is securely fastened. If necessary, you can add black tape around the camera edges for extra protection.

Loading and Unloading Film

Loading and unloading 120 roll film requires careful handling to avoid damaging the film. To load the film, open the camera back, insert the film roll into the bottom spool holder, and pull the backing paper across to the top spool.

Secure the paper to the take-up spool and wind it until the film’s starting mark aligns with a red index line or arrow on the camera body.

When unloading the film, wind it tightly around the take-up spool until the end-of-roll mark (found on the backing paper) reaches the red window.

Gently open the camera back, remove the spool, and secure the end of the backing paper with tape to prevent unwinding before processing. For cameras without a red window, follow the camera’s specific instructions for film advance.

Red Window

The red window, usually found on the back of a 120 film camera, helps you track the film’s progress as you advance it. It displays the frame numbers printed on the backing paper, allowing you to know when you have completed a full roll.

To avoid unwanted exposure through the red window, cover it with a piece of black tape and only remove it when advancing the film between shots.

In conclusion, operating a 120 film camera requires a good understanding of the camera settings and film handling.

By paying attention to exposure, shutter speed, flash synchronization, and careful loading and unloading of film, you can take high-quality photographs that showcase the unique characteristics of this classic film format.

What Are The Film Options for 120 Film Camera?

When it comes to using a 120 film camera, you have several options for the type of film to use. One popular choice is black and white film.

This classic film type provides timeless, high-contrast images, making it an excellent choice for capturing a wide range of subjects and scenes.

Black and white film is available from several manufacturers, including Ilford, Kodak, and Fujifilm.

While 35mm film is the most common roll film format used in photography, it is not your only choice. The larger 120 film format allows for bigger negatives, which in turn, results in higher resolution and better image quality.

As a medium format film, 120 film provides a distinct look and feel that can add depth and character to your photos.

Here is a comparison of common film formats:

  • 35mm: The most popular and widely available film format. Suitable for a range of cameras from point-and-shoot to professional SLRs.
  • 120 film: A medium format film that produces larger negatives for higher image quality. Compatible with a variety of medium format cameras.

In addition to black and white film, you can also choose from a variety of color film options. These films are available in different speeds and balance options, providing you with the flexibility to shoot in a variety of lighting conditions.

Some popular color film options for your 120 film camera include:

  • Kodak Portra: Offers rich color saturation and fine grain for remarkable portrait and landscape photography.
  • Fujifilm Pro 400H: Provides natural skin tones and a wide exposure latitude, making it an excellent option for various photography styles.
  • Lomography LomoChrome: A unique color film that produces creative and experimental color shifts, perfect for adding an artistic touch to your photos.

In summary, there are various film options available for your 120 film camera, including black and white, 35mm, and other roll film formats. By choosing the right film for your project, you can create stunning images that showcase your unique style and vision.

Developing and Printing Pictures with 120 Film Camera

When it comes to developing and printing your 120 film, you have several options available. One popular choice is using a professional photo lab such as The Darkroom. They specialize in developing all types of 120, 220, and 620 film.

The Darkroom processes Color Print (C-41), Transparency (E-6) and True Black & White film. They also offer density, color, and contrast adjustments for each frame, or you can opt for no corrections based on your preference.

At The Darkroom, you can choose between several scanning options to suit your needs. The Standard Scans are suitable for small prints, while Enhanced Scans will work for prints up to 11×14. If you’re planning to print large images, they also offer Super Scans.

In addition to developing your film, you might also consider ordering prints. The Darkroom provides both color and black & white silver halide prints.

For optimal results, they recommend choosing a larger resolution for your scans, giving you more flexibility when it comes to printing.

Another option for developing your 120 film is by using services like Boutique Film Lab, which can scan and process a variety of film sizes and formats.

While 120 film used to be the main format for amateur photographers, it now predominantly caters to professionals. Consequently, finding the best photo lab that fits your needs is crucial.

In summary, when developing and printing your 120 film, explore your options and choose a photo lab that caters specifically to your format and preferences.

By selecting the right lab, such as The Darkroom or Boutique Film Lab, you can feel confident in the quality of your developed film and prints.

Budget and Buying Considerations for 120 Film Camera

When looking for the best film cameras within your budget, consider several factors to ensure you make an informed decision.

Keeping in mind available options, think about what aspects are most important to you and what areas you might be able to compromise.

First, determine how much you’re willing to spend on your medium format film camera. It’s crucial to set a realistic budget to narrow down your choices.

You can find good quality film cameras in various price ranges, so be confident that you don’t have to break the bank to get started with medium format photography.

Research different film formats that the cameras you’re interested in can use. Medium format film cameras typically use 120 film and come in sizes such as 6×4.5, 6×6, 6×7, 6×8, and 6x9cm.

Each format offers a unique image aspect ratio that can impact the final look of your photographs. Choose a camera that supports the film formats you prefer and matches your creative needs.

Pay attention to the camera’s build quality and materials. Although your budget might be limited, it’s essential to find a camera that is durable and reliable.

Examine user reviews on various models to get an idea of their performance and potential issues. This can help you understand what to expect from the camera you choose in terms of its lifespan and effectiveness.

In addition, consider the availability of compatible lenses. The lens choice you have when shooting can significantly impact your results.

Be sure that your chosen camera supports interchangeable lenses or comes with a built-in lens that provides the desired focal length and aperture range.

Lastly, think about the ease of use and ergonomics of the camera you choose. You’ll be more comfortable and efficient using a camera that feels good in your hands and has accessible controls.

It’s also crucial that the camera operates smoothly and intuitively, allowing you to focus on your photography rather than constantly struggling with a complicated interface.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can confidently find a medium format film camera that suits your needs and budget.

Importance of 120 Film in the Digital Age

In today’s world of digital photography, you might wonder about the relevance of 120 film. Despite the rapid advancements in technology, 120 film has managed to maintain its distinctive charm and appeal.

This medium format film, introduced by Kodak in 1901, offers variety and quality that continue to captivate photographers.

You might be surprised to know that 120 film is still a popular choice in the photography community. Its resurgence can be attributed to the unique image formats it offers, including 6×4.5, 6×6, 6×7, 6×8, and 6×9 cm.

These formats provide different aspect ratios, which allow you to experiment with compositions and create images with a distinct look.

In addition, medium format film generally produces higher resolution images compared to 35mm film, providing your work with more detail and a richer tonal range.

Despite the pervasive digital dominance, the photography community remains enamored with 120 film. The tactile experience of using a medium format film camera and the anticipation of developing your images can be deeply satisfying.

Moreover, working with film encourages you to be more deliberate in your artistic choices, leading to more thoughtful compositions and interesting images.

The simplicity and elegance of analog photography can feel like a breath of fresh air in an age of digital overload.

Finally, the vintage aesthetic that 120 film provides sets it apart from digital image formats. There is an undeniable allure to the grain, color tones, and organic feel of film photography that digital images may struggle to replicate.

By choosing 120 film, you are embracing an artistic choice that can help elevate your work and set it apart from the many digital photographs that saturate our visual landscape.

In conclusion, the appeal of 120 film in the digital age lies not only in its unique image formats and qualities but also in the way it inspires a slower, more thoughtful approach to photography.

It offers a refreshing contrast to the rapid pace of digital technology, and its continuing popularity among photographers demonstrates that 120 film remains a relevant and inspiring choice in today’s world of photography.

How to Do Amateur Photography with 120 Film?

When diving into the world of film photography, you might want to consider using 120 film for your amateur photography adventures.

This format, introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1901, was primarily designed for beginners’ cameras like the Brownie No. 2 and has been widely used in various box cameras over the years.

One of the primary benefits of using 120 film is the larger negative size, which provides better resolution and detail than its smaller counterpart, 35mm film.

Photos shot on 120 film often have more depth and a smoother tonal range, offering a distinctive vintage appeal that many photographers find desirable.

To make the most of your 120 film camera, it’s essential to choose the right lenses for your shooting style. As an amateur photographer, versatility is critical.

Paired with a quality lens, the 120 film will allow you to achieve different focal lengths, capture vivid details, and produce impressive images with noticeable contrast.

When using 120 film, it’s essential to understand your camera’s format. It comes in various aspect ratios, including 6×4.5, 6×6, 6×7, 6×9, and 6×12, providing options for square or rectangular images.

When choosing a suitable camera, consider your preferences for print size, composition, and the desired aesthetic you want to achieve.

To gain the best results, experiment with different film stocks to determine which works best for your camera and the subjects you’re capturing.

Some options to consider are the Berlin Kino 400 120 for monochrome versatility, high dynamic range, and rich tonality.

Lastly, always keep in mind the importance of proper exposure and focus. The larger negative size of 120 film is more forgiving when it comes to exposure latitude, but it’s still crucial to meter your scenes correctly and adjust your camera settings to achieve the best results.

By carefully choosing your camera, lenses, and film stocks, you can get the most out of your 120 film photography journey. With practice and patience, you’ll soon be creating unique, captivating images that showcase the character and depth of this classic film format.

Cultural Impact and Legacy of 120 Film Camera

The cultural impact and legacy of 120 film cameras are undeniable. These cameras played an instrumental role in shaping the field of photography and documenting the world around us.

With a rich history dating back to the early 20th century, they have left a lasting mark on society, particularly in regions like Hong Kong, known for its vibrant arts scene.

120 film cameras offered a unique medium for photographers and enthusiasts alike to capture stunning images. The versatility of medium format film, combined with the ease of use of these cameras, allowed for a wide range of artistic expression.

This helped forge strong connections between photographers, and fostered a sense of community in places like Hong Kong, where a distinct photographic culture began to take shape.

The proliferation of 120 film cameras in the era of urban expansion also led to a surge in documentary photography.

They became indispensable tools for capturing important milestones in the development of modern cities, such as the transformation of Hong Kong’s skyline, the birth of its iconic high-rise buildings, and the bustling harbor that is synonymous with the city today.

As the world transitioned to digital platforms, the charm and aesthetic of 120 film cameras persisted. They offered a nostalgia that modern digital photography couldn’t reproduce, preserving the distinct visual style of the medium format film.

This has inspired successive generations to revisit the medium, breathing new life into the scenes it portrays.

Moreover, the influence of 120 film cameras can be seen in contemporary cinema, fashion, and advertising. Iconic visual narratives and imagery from this vintage medium continue to inspire directors, photographers, and stylists today.

In Hong Kong and beyond, the cultural significance of these cameras is recognized and celebrated, further emphasizing their enduring legacy.

In conclusion, as you can see, the 120 film camera has left a profound impact on photography and visual arts around the globe.

From shaping local cultures like that of Hong Kong to inspiring new generations of artists, the cultural legacy of this iconic medium format camera lives on.


What are the best affordable medium format cameras?

Affordable medium format cameras are available from a variety of brands, including Mamiya, Bronica, and Yashica. Some camera models to consider include the Mamiya RB67, Bronica ETRSi, and Yashica Mat-124G.

Keep in mind that the Sekor lenses for the Mamiya line are relatively inexpensive, making these cameras a great starting point for those new to medium format photography.

Where can I find medium format cameras for sale?

You can find medium format cameras for sale at various online retailers and camera specialty stores, as well as on auction sites like eBay.

Additionally, you may find used medium format cameras for sale in local camera shops, camera clubs, and online photography forums.

How does a Hasselblad compare to other medium format cameras?

Hasselblad is known for its high-quality, professional-grade medium format cameras. While they tend to be more expensive than other brands, many photographers consider the image quality and build of Hasselblads to be worth the investment.

In comparison to other medium format cameras, Hasselblad offers a range of lenses, interchangeable backs, and accessories that can enhance your photography experience.

However, personal preferences, budget, and shooting style will ultimately determine which medium format camera is best for you.

What Nikon and Canon models offer medium format?

Nikon and Canon do not manufacture medium format cameras. Both companies are focused primarily on 35mm and digital formats.

If you are interested in medium format photography, consider brands like Hasselblad, Mamiya, Pentax, Bronica, and Yashica instead.

What is the difference between 120 and 35mm film?

The primary difference between 120 film and 35mm film lies in the size of the film and the resulting image. 120 film is a medium format film, offering a larger image area than 35mm film, which is considered a smaller format.

The larger image area of 120 film can result in greater image detail, dynamic range, and tonality compared to 35mm film.

However, the trade-off is a lower number of exposures on a roll of 120 film and potentially higher equipment costs.

Conversely, 35mm film is more accessible and affordable, with a higher number of exposures per roll and a wider range of camera options.