If you are one of the film photography lover, choosing the right 120 film can have a significant impact on your final images.
Medium-format film, often referred to as 120 film, offers a larger negative size, which allows for greater detail, tonal range, and overall image quality.
With so many different film stocks on the market, it can be challenging to determine which one will give you the results you’re looking for.
When selecting a 120 film, consider factors such as color balance, grain structure, contrast, and ISO. Different film stocks offer unique characteristics and can greatly affect the mood and atmosphere of your photographs.
Some popular 120 film stocks include Kodak Ektar 100, Kodak Portra, Fujichrome Velvia, Lomography Redscale XR and Ilford FP4 are the best 120 film for medium-format film cameras.
Taking the time to understand the various options available will help you make the right decision for your specific needs and creative vision.
Don’t hesitate to experiment with different film stocks; you may discover that certain ones suit your photographic style better than others.
By familiarizing yourself with the best 120 film options, you’ll be well on your way to producing stunning medium-format images.
The Importance of 120 Film
As a photography enthusiast, it’s essential to understand the value of different film formats, particularly when it comes to 120 film.
A type of medium format film, 120 film falls between the popular 35mm format and the larger 4x5in size, offering a unique combination of quality and versatility for photographers.
When using 120 film, you’ll immediately notice the increased frame size compared to 35mm film. This larger image area allows for higher resolution and finer details in your photographs, without sacrificing the convenience of a roll film.
It makes an excellent choice for professionals and amateurs alike, providing a distinct aesthetic that sets your work apart from those using other film formats.
In fact, despite the rise in popularity of 35mm film for casual users, 120 medium format film continues to hold its own in the world of photography.
Its history dates back to 1901, with Eastman Kodak introducing the format for their Brownie No. 2 cameras.
While the 620 roll film, a similar format, has been discontinued, 120 film still remains widely available to photographers thanks to its adaptability and robust image quality.
One of the advantages of 120 film is the flexibility it provides for both professional and amateur photographers. You can use it for a variety of medium format camera types, from twin-lens reflex to rangefinder models.
Moreover, with 120 film, you have the option to choose from different frame sizes, such as 6×4.5, 6×6, 6×7, 6×9, and 6×12, enabling you to tailor your photographic approach as needed.
if you’re looking to elevate your photography game, don’t overlook the importance of 120 film.
Between its unique visual appeal and the creative opportunities it presents, this medium format film stock is an excellent choice for capturing stunning images that stand out in a sea of 35mm snapshots.
So, whether you’re an experienced photographer seeking to diversify your portfolio or an amateur embarking on a new creative journey, give 120 film a try – you won’t be disappointed.
Best 120 Film Brands
When it comes to shooting with 120 film, there are several popular brands to choose from, each offering its own unique characteristics and qualities.
Now, I will briefly discuss some of the most well-known 120 film brands, including Kodak, Fujifilm, Lomography, and Ilford.
Kodak is a household name in the world of film photography, and their 120 film options are no exception.
One of the most popular choices is Kodak Ektar 100, which offers fine grain and vivid colors, making it ideal for landscape and nature photography.
Another popular option is Kodak Portra, available in 160, 400, and 800 ISO, which delivers beautiful, natural skin tones and is perfect for portrait photography.
Fujifilm is another well-known brand in the photography world, offering Fujichrome Provia 100F and Velvia 50 as some of their top 120 film options.
Provia 100F provides natural colors, fine grain, and excellent sharpness, while Velvia 50 is famous for its rich, vibrant color palette and high contrast. Both make excellent choices for landscape photography.
Lomography is a brand that embraces the experimental and creative side of film photography.
Their 120 film collection includes a variety of unique and fun options, such as the Lomography Redscale XR, which produces images with a warm red and orange color shift.
Lomography is perfect for those looking to add a touch of surprise and artistic flair to their medium format photography.
Ilford is a well-respected brand among black and white film enthusiasts, and their 120 film selection provides excellent options for photographers looking to capture impressive monochrome images.
Ilford FP4 Plus offers fine grain and high sharpness, while SFX200 is a special infrared-sensitive film that can create striking black and white images with unique contrast and tones.
As you explore the world of 120 film, consider experimenting with different film stocks from these popular brands to discover the perfect aesthetic and feel for your medium format photography.
Different Types of 120 Film
120 film is a popular medium format film, known for its versatility and the unique qualities it brings to analog photography. There’s a range of 120 films available on the market, each with its own strengths and qualities.
Here, I’ll explore the three main types of 120 films: color negative film, black and white film, and slide film.
Color Negative Film
Color negative film is a popular choice for photographers who want to capture images with a wide array of colors.
These films feature a wide exposure latitude, allowing you to capture a greater range of brightness levels and avoid overexposed or underexposed images.
Some popular color negative 120 films include Kodak Ektar 100 and Kodak Portra 160.
When shooting with color negative film, keep an eye on your exposure settings to maximize the vibrant hues in your images.
Play around with different lighting situations to see how your chosen film stock reacts, as each one has its unique aesthetic.
Black and White Film
Black and white film, often abbreviated as B&W, offers a classic, timeless aesthetic to your photographs. By eliminating color, you’ll be able to focus on the contrast and tonal range in your images.
The most Popular black and white 120 films include Ilford FP4 Plus and Kodak T-Max 100.
Experiment with different lighting conditions to create striking black and white images. Shooting in strong, directional light can create deep shadows and highlights, adding drama to your photos.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and explore the full range of B&W film stocks to find the one that best suits your artistic vision.
Slide film, also known as reversal or transparency film, is unique in that it produces a positive image instead of a negative.
This means that when the film is developed, you’ll see the actual colors and tones of your image, rather than a color-negative version.
Slide film often has a more saturated color palette and finer grain, resulting in vibrant, detailed images. Fujichrome Velvia 50 is a popular slide film for 120 format, as it offers rich colors and clarity.
However, slide film has a smaller exposure latitude, meaning it’s less forgiving with incorrect exposure settings. Be mindful of your camera’s meter readings and adjust your settings accordingly.
Slide film can be magnificent when properly exposed, so take your time to understand the specific characteristics of your chosen stock.
In summary, whether you prefer color negative film, black and white film, or slide film, each type offers unique qualities to enhance your analog photography experience.
Experiment with different 120 film stocks to find the perfect fit for your artistic style and capture stunning images in this timeless medium.
Comparison of Top 120 Film Stocks
In this section, we’ll take a look at the key features and characteristics of four top 120 film stocks: Kodak Portra, Fujifilm Pro 400H, Ilford FP4 Plus, and Lomography Color Negative.
Kodak Portra is an incredibly popular 120 film stock, known for its warm, punchy tones and precise handling of skin tones.
It’s available in three ISO levels – 160, 400, and 800 – allowing you to choose the grain level and light sensitivity that suits your needs.
- Grain: Fine grain with a natural look
- Sharpness: Excellent sharpness, perfect for capturing details
- Resolution: High resolution, capturing clear and detailed images
- Quality: High-quality film stock for professional use
Fujifilm Pro 400H
Fujifilm Pro 400H has a slightly more muted color palette than Kodak Portra, making it an excellent choice for landscape photography and other instances where subtle hues are preferred.
- Grain: Fine grain structure and subtle texture
- Sharpness: Good sharpness, suitable for capturing a variety of subjects
- Resolution: High resolution for detailed images
- Quality: Professional quality film stock
Ilford FP4 Plus
A black-and-white film stock, Ilford FP4 Plus offers a timeless look and exceptional detail and sharpness.
It has an ISO of 125, making it a lower-speed option, but still versatile for a range of shooting situations.
- Grain: Fine grain, providing a smooth tonal range
- Sharpness: Excellent sharpness for crisp and detailed black-and-white images
- Resolution: Great resolution, capturing high-quality images
- Quality: A classic black-and-white film stock with outstanding performance
Lomography Color Negative
Lomography Color Negative film stocks are known for their saturated, vibrant colors and distinctive “Lomo” look. If you’re looking for a more experimental and creative option, this could be the film stock for you.
- Grain: Noticeable grain for a unique, textured aesthetic
- Sharpness: Acceptable sharpness, suitable for casual shooting and experimentation
- Resolution: Moderate resolution, adequate for most purposes
- Quality: A fun and creative film stock choice, not typically used by professionals
When choosing your preferred 120 film stock, consider the factors we’ve discussed – grain, sharpness, resolution, and quality – to make an informed decision and create stunning images with the film that suits your style and project the best.
Best 120 Film for Different Photography Styles
When shooting portraits with your medium-format film camera, the Kodak Portra series is an excellent choice.
The Kodak Portra 160 offers a natural skin tone rendition and fine grain, perfect for professional and film photographers alike. Paired with the right camera, you’ll achieve consistent results and high-quality images.
For landscape photography with your film camera, you might want to consider Kodak Ektar 100. This 120 film has vivid colors and exceptional sharpness, capturing the essence of nature in remarkable detail.
With a fine grain structure, this film provides a clean and vibrant look to your landscape images.
Combine this film with a high-quality medium-format camera and a tripod for stable shots, and you’ll be on your way to capturing breathtaking landscapes.
Street photography typically demands spontaneity and a fast-shooting camera. When using a medium-format film camera for street photography, the Ilford HP5 Plus is an ideal choice.
This versatile black and white film works well in various lighting conditions and boasts a wide exposure latitude, making it easy to capture those decisive moments in the ever-changing street scenes.
Whether you are shooting with a medium-format camera or a 35mm film camera, your choice of film can significantly impact your photography style.
Having the right film, professional photographers and hobbyists alike can achieve impressive results, regardless of the subject matter.
ISO and Exposure Latitude in 120 Films
When buying the right 120 film for your medium format camera, it’s essential to understand the concepts of ISO and exposure latitude.
ISO determines the film’s sensitivity to light, while exposure latitude refers to the range of exposures that can still produce acceptable results.
A film with a low ISO, such as 100 or 200, is less sensitive to light, meaning it requires more exposure time or brighter conditions to capture a well-exposed image.
With low ISO films, you can expect finer grain and more detail in your images. For example, Kodak T-MAX 100 is a popular low ISO film with a wide exposure latitude, offering exceptional detail and finish.
Higher ISO films, such as ISO 800, have greater light sensitivity which allows for faster shutter speeds or lower light conditions. However, they may exhibit more grain and less detail than low ISO films.
Kodak Professional Portra 800 is a popular high ISO film that provides fine grain, high sharpness, and vivid color saturation.
Exposure latitude is particularly important when shooting in dynamic situations or if you’re unsure about the optimal exposure setting.
Films with a wide exposure latitude can tolerate overexposure or underexposure and still produce acceptable images.
For instance, FOMAPAN 200 Creative is a black-and-white film with a nominal ISO rating of 200, but it can be overexposed by 1 stop (as ISO 100) or underexposed by 2 stops (as ISO 800) without changing the processing time.
When considering transparency film, also known as slide film, keep in mind that it generally has a narrower exposure latitude compared to negative films.
Therefore, it’s crucial to be more precise with your exposure settings. Fujichrome Velvia 50 is a popular transparency film that offers vibrant colors and high contrast, but demands accurate exposure control.
In short, understanding the differences in ISO and exposure latitude is vital when selecting the best 120 film for your photography needs.
Carefully consider the balance between your desired image quality, lighting conditions, and the flexibility of the film to make the right choice.
How to Shoot with 120 Film (Professional’s Tips)
When shooting with 120 film, there are a few important factors to consider to get the best results. Here are some tips to help you improve your experience and enhance the quality of your images.
1. Use a quality SLR or rangefinder camera:
Choose a reliable SLR or rangefinder camera that meets your needs. These cameras offer greater control, have built-in meters, and allow you to achieve a shallower depth of field, which can be an advantage when using medium format lenses.
2. Pay attention to the emulsion:
Pick the right emulsion for your project to achieve the desired visual effects. Different film stocks have varying characteristics, such as color saturation and grain structure.
Consider using Lomography B&W 120 films for dramatic versatility and a high dynamic range.
3. Understand your camera’s metering system:
Familiarize yourself with your camera’s metering options to get the right exposure. Some cameras have a built-in light meter, while others may require an external one. Ensure you understand how to set aperture (f), shutter speed (1/X), and ISO.
4. Focus on composition:
Good composition is key to producing visually appealing images. Take into account the rule of thirds, lines, patterns, and textures.
With 120 film, you can create images with a larger negative size to include more details.
5. Experiment with depth of field:
A medium format camera combined with 120 film allows you to achieve a shallower depth of field for beautiful bokeh effects. Play with aperture settings and focus distances to create images with varying depth.
6. Practice and patience:
As with any new medium, shooting with 120 film may require some practice to develop your skills. Learn from your mistakes and successes, and don’t be discouraged by the initial outcomes.
With these tips in mind, you can confidently use 120 film to capture stunning images with a distinct, classic look. Happy shooting!
Which 120 film is preferable for black and white photography?
For black and white photography, you may want to consider a classic option like Kodak Tri-X 400. This film has a versatile ISO of 400, making it suitable for a variety of lighting conditions.
Additionally, it is known for its distinct grain and rich tonal range, which lends a timeless aesthetic to your photos.
What 120 film is ideal for night photography?
When shooting at night, a high ISO film would be ideal to capture more light. You may want to try Ilford Delta 3200 for low light and night photography.
It has a high sensitivity and provides good contrast, perfect for capturing the magic of nighttime scenes.
How does 120 film compare to various film stocks?
120 film is a medium format film, which typically grants more detail and richer tonal ranges compared to smaller formats like 35mm.
However, the specific behavior of the film will depend on the brand and type you choose. For instance, a color negative film, like Kodak Portra 400, will offer a different aesthetic than a slide film, like Fuji Provia 100F.
What are the differences between 620 and 120 film?
While 120 film is widely available today, 620 film is a discontinued format. Both types of film are technically the same size; however, the key difference lies in the spool.
120 film comes on a larger spool, whereas 620 film features a thinner spool. Some vintage cameras designed for 620 film can be modified to accept 120 film, but it’s important to consult with an expert before attempting this.
Which cameras are best suited for 120 film?
Numerous medium format cameras have embraced 120 film, including the popular Holga series, Rolleiflex TLRs, and Hasselblads.
When you have decided to purchase a camera suited for 120 film, you’ll want to consider factors like build quality, lens options, and features, as well as your budget and personal shooting preferences.
What’s the highest quality 120 medium format film available?
The definition of “highest quality” can vary based on individual preferences and project requirements. However, if you’re seeking high resolution and fine grain, Adox CMS II might be a great option.
Claiming to provide about 500 megapixels for a 6x6cm image, Adox CMS II offers impressive detail and sharpness, especially when scanned at high resolutions.