Medium Format Film Project

May 24, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Ya'll! Hope you're having a great week! Me? Super! Tomorrow I leave for a photography trip with my club and I'm super excited. But that will be another blog. This week I want to talk about a project I'm thinking of doing. If you follow this blog you know I'm in the middle of a film project and I'm really enjoying it. So I was thinking what kind of project can I do next year that involves film. Right now I'm shooting 35mm film and its easy to get and I' used to using it. But what about another type of film? Then I thought what about medium format film? Now I didn't know anything about medium format film. Never shot it and don't even have a camera that will shoot it.  So I had to start researching medium format film. Let me tell you there is lots to learn. First of all there is the film. The film most commonly used is 120mm film. There is also a 220 film that is basically the same as 120 but longer so you can get twice the shots on a roll. But 120 is the most common and many manufactures make it as for 220 I could only find one company that still make it and its in China. So that's the type of film but it's not that easy.  Depending on what camera you get determines what size the negative will be.  There are many sizes. There is 645 cameras. They make a negative that is 6cm X 4.5cm thus the 645. There is 6x6cm and 6x7cm they are kind of close a square and not quite a square.  Then there are the 6x9cm which is more a traditional aspect ratio. Now that's a lot to take in. The bigger the negative the less shots you get on a 120 or 220 roll of film. So with the price of film that has to be taken into consideration. The bigger the negative the more resolution and the less grain and sharper the image will be.  

Next is the camera type. I've only used 35mm before and have used SLR and Rangefinder type cameras but with medium format there are all kinds of cameras you can get and use. Like 35mm camera's these cameras are old and they really don't make them anymore. But there are so many different kinds. There is the twin lens reflex. TLR's. They are the ones with two lenses in the front and have a viewfinder that you look through the top while the camera is at waist level. There are foldable camera's. They fold up fairly flat and when you open them there is a lens and bellows system. But you must be careful when buying so you don't have light leaks in the bellows. There are Rangefinder type of cameras that look like their 35mm little brothers but much larger. These camera types are either fixed lens camera's or in the TLR's hard to find lenses to change out if at all. You have SLR cameras that look like the 35mm cameras but much larger!  Then you have system SLR camera's. The system camera's are more versatile than all of the above. They have interchangeable lenses. They may have interchangeable view finders. (A waist viewfinder and a conventional viewfinder.) The most cool thing is the interchangeable film backs. With these film backs you can shoot 120, 220, 35, polaroid, and digital if the backs are available. These camera's were mostly used by professional photographers. Some of the film backs also rotate so when shooting you can go from landscape to portrait without moving the camera you just rotate the film back. All of these cameras can come with a leaf shutter or a focal plane shutter. The advantage of a focal length shutter is the speed you can get faster shutter speeds. With a leaf shutter you can sync your flash at any shutter speed. Focal shutters are louder and leaf shutters are quieter.

So there is lot to figure out. What size negative and what type of camera . The prices of these cameras can go from 3 to 4 hundred dollars for a camera to thousands. This all depends on type, condition and of course brand. A Hassabald is much more expensive than a Yashica. I also need to figure out what I want to shoot in this project. I plan to shoot fine art type of photography. Landscapes and Still life. Shooting Medium format is a slow process. Not fast like 35 or super fast like digital. I have made a couple of decisions after all of the research I've been doing. I have decided on the 645 size of camera and negative size. This size is more than twice the size of 35mm film and should give me the look I'm Looking for. I have also decided on a camera. I purchased a system camera set up. It's a Bronica ETR SI. It has interchangeable Lens , film backs and viewfinders. I'll go over it in another blog. I got a great deal on Facebook Marketplace. I got it early so I could practice with it and I can use it in my film project I'm doing now so when I get ready next year for the Medium Format project I'll already be comfortable with the camera .

Projects are a great way for a photographer to learn more about theirselves and to challenge them in photography. I hope you can find a project that motivate you to get out and shoot. So until next week Get out and Shoot!


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