The Person Behind The Lens
Thank-you for being here as part of the Essential Film Guide!
I'm Joe, I am a wedding photographer who shoots film at weddings on both 35mm and medium format film.
Learning all about film has been an expensive and tough journey- gathering all the info I needed, along with trial and error, it wasn't like I didn't have previous knowledge either.
I had to ask labs, friends & YouTube a tonne of simple questions just to find out some of the basics.
So here we are, a no nonsense guide to save you time and money to all the 'essential' information in one place, skippable adverts, and time saving answers to the questions you didn't yet think to ask!
WHAT FILM CAMERA?
Getting a good film camera is pretty simple, especially when buying your first, as you hold no biases or comparisons. eBay is a great place to pick up a 35mm for a low cost.
The reason it's pretty simple is because your film stock of choice is literally the camera's sensor, so the stock you choose is important to the final outcome.
As long as the camera has the range of lenses you desire, with good f-stops and well-made glass, the body just needs basic functions.
I took some of my favourite photos right away using a 35mm film SLR camera (PRAKTICA B200) that was given to me by a neighbour.
Being in the experimental phase really allowed me to feel free from knowing what gear was considered 'better' and I felt less worried about the exact exposure because the results didn't matter so much at the time.
Here is the collection of photos I took on my first shoot.
35 MM vs medium format
Sizes of film
This diagram shows different film sizes in relation to each other.
The two popular film sizes on the market are '35mm' and '120' (Medium Format).
Anything from 6x45 up to the 6x9 are all considered '120 medium format'.
There are larger sizes, but its not worth getting into here.
35mm film negatives are the smallest in size, shown in the
Pros & Cons
Pros of 35mm vs Medium Format
- 35mm is less expensive and you get 24 or 36 exposures/photos out of a roll, as opposed to around 10 to 16 so you will not need to change films as often.
- Developing and Scanning at the Lab is less expensive.
- The cameras are smaller, cheaper and lighter than Medium format.
Cons of 35mm vs medium format
- 35mm is a smaller piece of film, so the detail is not as good with a more visible chunkier looking grain.
-35mm does not enlarge as well because the detail isn't there like medium format
Medium Format 120
Medium format cameras use the '120 film'.
It's important to note here that no matter the format size of the camera, '645' / '6x6' / '6x7' / '6x9' they all use this same 120 film.
This is because each camera format will shoot different sections/royalty space of the 120 film strip, meaning the larger film area is exposed, the less photos per roll the camera can shoot.
The 645 format gives you around 16 images, whereas a 6x7 will give you only10 photos from a roll of 120.
notes - there is also such a thing as 220 film, this is just like 120 film, but twice the length. According to 'google', there is no backing paper on the 220 film, unlike the 120, I have not shot any myself.
Medium Format Focal Lengths
POINT AND SHOOT CAMERAS
Many 35mm Point & Shoot Cameras have had a surge of popularity, with help from celebrities like 'Kendall Jenner' and 'Zendaya' showing off their Contax T2 models, this means these cameras are becoming less available in good/working condition causing the prices to rise.
It's no surprise they are popular, they allow you to feel creative by removing the complications of setting and slip into your pocket. Not to mention the Auto Flash makes it so easy to use in a variety of situations very quickly.
These are actually my favourite film cameras to whip out during the wedding, you barely need to think about anything!
A list of popular 35mm film cameras
Canon A1 - very popular
Canon 1n - takes canon digital EF mount lenses
Nikon F4 - takes nikkor lenses
A list of popular Medium Format film cameras
Contax 645 - very popular
Pentax 67 - popular
Hassleblad 500 series 6x6 or 6x4.5 backs available
Fuji gw690 6x9 size negatives very large
Bronica SQ AM
A list of popular Point & Shoot film cameras
Olympus MJU II