35mm or 120mm?: How to Choose the Right Film Format

In the world of film photography, the choice of format is important, influencing not only personal preference but also the aesthetic and storytelling potential of your final images. From classic 35mm to the precision of 4×5 film, each film format offers photographers a distinct set of characteristics and creative possibilities. Let’s explore the range of photography film formats and discover what makes each one unique and the right choice for your next film project.

1. 35mm Film: The Timeless Classic

Arguably the most iconic and widely used film format in photography, 35mm film has stood the test of time for its balance of convenience, versatility, and image quality. Its compact size and ease of use makes it a favorite among street photographers, photojournalists, and enthusiasts alike. With options of 36 or 72 exposures per roll and the choice of color or black and white, 35mm film allows phototakers to capture plenty of moments in a single roll. Whether capturing candid moments at home, documenting everyday street scenes, or working in the studio, 35mm film remains an ideal choice for photographers seeking to distill moments into lasting memories. You can shoot with 35mm film using disposable cameras, point-and-shoots, and single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras.

Browse Photodom’s stock of 35mm film and cameras here.

2. 120mm Film: Medium Format Magic

For photographers craving detail, dynamic range, and tonal depth in their images, medium format film is your choice. With larger negatives than 35mm film, 120mm produces larger images with superior sharpness and clarity, making it ideal for studio portraits, landscape photography, and fine art prints. Medium format’s larger composition elevates its images from mere photographs to works of art. While 120mm cameras may be bulkier and more expensive than 35mm options, the results they produce are notable, capturing the subtleties of light and shadow with unmatched precision.

See our stock of 120mm film here.

3. Large Format: The Pursuit of Perfection

For photographers who demand nothing but the finest quality and precision in their work, large format film photography represents the pinnacle of craftsmanship and artistry. Utilizing sheet film in sizes ranging from 4×5 inches to 8×10 inches or larger, large format cameras offer unparalleled control over perspective, depth of field, and image detail. While the technical demands of large format photography may be daunting: requiring meticulous attention to focus, exposure, and composition, the rewards are equally immense. From majestic landscapes to exquisite still lifes, large format film photography allows photographers to capture the world with breathtaking clarity and fidelity, producing images of unrivaled beauty and impact.

See our stock of 4×5 film here.

4. 110mm Film: Compact Creativity

Despite its diminutive size, 110mm film is a favorite among photo enthusiasts for its compactness, convenience, and quirky charm. Originally introduced in the 1970s as a format for pocket-sized cameras, 110mm film offers a unique aesthetic characterized by its small, square frames and distinctive grain structure. While not renowned for its image quality compared to larger formats, 110mm film excels in capturing candid snapshots, spontaneous moments, and nostalgic vignettes. Its small size makes it perfect for travel photography, street photography, and everyday adventures, allowing photographers to document life’s fleeting moments with spontaneity and flair.

See our stock of 110mm film here.

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Isis Jannierre
Isis Jannierre
New York City-based fine arts photographer, Parsons School of Design alumna - capturing and highlighting environmental, social, and cultural issues through an objective lens.
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