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Introduction to Film Photography

Lesson 10 of 20

The Differences in Film Sizes

Sandra Coan

Introduction to Film Photography

Sandra Coan

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Lesson Info

10. The Differences in Film Sizes


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:11:53
2 Why Film Duration:10:59
4 Importance of Metering Duration:04:08
6 Metering for Color Film Duration:14:31
9 Metering for Indoor Shooting Duration:18:39
10 The Differences in Film Sizes Duration:11:05
11 Purchasing Film & Care Duration:05:04
12 Professional Color Film Duration:16:39
14 Consumer Grade Film Stocks Duration:06:31
15 Pushing Film Duration:18:44
16 Know Your Lab Duration:03:41
17 What To Look For In A Lab Duration:25:35
18 How To Find The Right Lab Duration:13:10
19 How To Safely Ship Film Duration:16:46
20 Get Started Using Film Duration:06:47

Lesson Info

The Differences in Film Sizes

This is my favorite part. (laughs) At the beginning of the class, I said to be a great film photographer, to produce beautiful film images, there are three things you need to know, right? You need to know your light, need to know your film, and you need to know your lab. We just talked about know your light, so now we're gonna get in to know your film. Where the fun begins, okay? So, film size. Know your film, here we go. Film size. There are many different kinds of film cameras, all right? There's small format, medium format, and large format. For the sake of this class, I'm gonna talk about small format and medium format. But Daniel Gregory is teaching an entire day on large format which I, personally, am really looking forward to. I think it's gonna be amazing. So, we're gonna talk about small format and medium format. And I just wanna take a minute to talk about what kind of film works with what kind of cameras and go over these kinda cameras. Pros and cons, why you'd want to choos...

e one over the other, that sort of thing. Small format, here we go. Small format camera. These are often referred to as 35 millimeter cameras, right? Because that's the kind of film it takes. These take 35 millimeters cameras. 35 millimeter film when you're buying it, looks like this, it comes in a little roll, a little canister. And it's called 35 millimeter and these cameras are called 35 millimeter because that's actually the size of the negative. I have one here. Really quick. This is a 35 millimeter neg. Right there, just that one little. It's about 35 millimeters, they're dinky. They're small, that's why it's called small format. Let me just show you that again. Right there. So, depending on the kind of 35 millimeter you buy, you're gonna get between 34 and 36 exposures on a roll. And it says, like this one's 24. That one's 36. That's what you wanna look for when you're buying this film so you're gonna know. Now, the benefits of small format, or 35 millimeter cameras. I think that these are great cameras to use when you're first starting with film. These are great intro to film cameras because they look a lot like, and they feel like the digital SLRs that we're all used to using, right? And if you have a film body in SLR film, in the same family as your digital gear, often times you can use the same lenses, which is awesome. This is a Canon Elan 7E and I've had it since forever. I think I bought it (laughs) in like, 2000 or something. And all of my Canon lenses that I have work with this body and I can use them with my digital Canon also. So, awesome. That's really fun. These are also really convenient cameras to use. They're easy to use, they're easy to understand. They're gonna feel and look like your digital SLR. You can use a lot of your same lenses. They're just comfortable, they're great little cameras. I think they're wonderful starter cameras. The drawback with small format is that, because you're neg is so little, that 35 millimeter neg, that we got here. The images that you get with this camera are gonna be grainier than with a medium format or with a large format. The grain personally doesn't bother me. I like a lot of grain sometimes. And because of the ease and convenience of these cameras, this is the camera I take on any family vacation, or if I just don't wanna think about it. If I'm just gonna go and shoot my family and we're just doing something fun, I'm gonna grab this camera. Another fun fact about 35 millimeter cameras is you can get them for really reasonable prices. I think this body here, the Elan 7Es, I think go for like $100 or less on eBay. I mean, it's awesome. That's another reason I take this one on vacation because I'm not worried about it. (laughs) I've actually gone horseback riding with this camera. Not that I go horseback riding a lot, by the way. But you can. These are the ones that I take with me on family vacations. And they're perfect for that kind of camera to have with you, you can take it in a boat. I would be a little more nervous with my Contax in a boat. Or, you know, just photographing my kids. And they're beautiful. Here they are. 35 millimeter. Medium format, now let's really get into it. If I'm shooting in studio, or if I wanted to take a serious portrait of my kids or my family, then I'd bust out my medium format cameras. So why medium format? Well, for starters, the negatives are much bigger. This is an example of a medium format neg. 645. Just let me pull it out here. So it's much bigger. Right? Than our 35 millimeter negative. So you're gonna get less grain, sharper images, and that's nice. So that's one reason. I'll put this back in there. That I love my medium format. The other reason is leaf shutters. (laughs) A lot of medium format cameras have leaf shutter, and a leaf shutter is a shutter that's made of these little metal leaves, just like it sounds. What's great about these shutters is that they are often placed in the lens or just outside the lens, like the Rolleiflex leaf shutter. The Hasselblads have leaf shutter lenses. And so you actually get less camera shake. You're able to handhold at a lower speed without getting any kind of camera shake, which is amazing. Which is kinda what we were talking about earlier. If you're a studio photographer, like I am, it also means that you're not limited by a sync speed. So we love that. Medium format cameras are designed to take either 120 or 220 film. This is 120, it comes in a roll, it looks like this. As of, I think, a couple years ago, 220 is no longer in production. I think you can probably still find it on eBay, some expired film. But, sadly, it is gone. You're gonna want to get 120 film for your medium format cameras. And then, depending on the type of medium format camera you use, you're gonna get a different number of exposures per roll of 120, all right? It's usually between 10 to 16, depending on what size. So let's just talk about what kind of negative you're gonna get from what kind of a camera and how many images you can get out of a roll of 120. I got my table of cameras. 645s are great. These are really popular medium format cameras. Again, they kind of look and feel like a digital SLR or like a 35 millimeter, the way you hold them, the way you look through them. And they produce a negative that is six by 4.5. Tada, which is why we call them 645s. The Contax is a 645, I have the Hasselblad H2, which is also 645. They're great. When we shoot digital, we're used to that kinda rectangle looking image, and a 645 is gonna give you something close to that. So it's not quite four by six, it's a little different shape, but it's familiar. So it's a nice medium format for people who are wanting to use it for work or like the ease of a DSLR or a film SLR. 645 is a great option for that. With 645 format cameras, you get about-- you get exactly, not about, 16 exposures per roll of 120. Then there's the 66. This is the classic square format, right? My dad calls it two and a quarter. He's always like "Are you still shooting two a quarter?" and I'm like "What are you talking about?" He's talking inches and I'm talking centimeters. (laughs) It's all the same. It's that square format, and that's what you get when you're shooting a Rolleiflex or one of the classic Hasselblads. Here's my Hasselblad which is a gorgeous camera. I have a prism on mine so I can look through it like I would pick up one of my 645s. But you can also take this prism off and that you have the waist-level viewer like you do with the Rolleiflex, so you're looking down. These are super fun cameras, I love mine. With the Hasselblad, I believe I get-- I know with the Rolleiflex, I get 12 images on a roll of and I believe it's with the Hasselblad as well. You get 12 images off of a roll of 120 and then they are that beautiful, classic, square shape, which is fun, perfect for Instagram. (laughs) That's why we shoot it. And then there's the 67. The 67 systems are like this Pentax 67. There's also the Mamiya 67. There's a lot of different kinds. These are really fun and they just give you that six by seven shape of a negative. So it's a little box here, it's not quite a square, it's a little thicker. It's really pretty. And these negatives are giant when you look at them on a roll of film. You get 16 exposures with a roll of 120 on a 645, on a 67, you get 10 exposures. It really does depend on the type of camera body you're using, how many exposures you're gonna get off of your roll of film.

Class Description

Stop with the excuses, grab your film camera and get out there and make amazing images! If you’re comfortable with your DSLR and post processing, then learning to use your film camera is easier than you think! In this beginner course, Sandra Coan walks through how to shoot with film so that you feel comfortable, confident, and excited to take the best pictures! She’ll talk about choosing your film and how to find and work with a lab to process your images.

This course will cover:

  • The differences and similarities between film and digital
  • How a camera meter works and how to meter for film
  • The different film options and how they affect your photo
  • How to find the right lab to process your images

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of using film. Sandra will show you how to slow down during your photo shoot, focus on what you’re trying to capture, and ultimately get a great image straight out of camera.


a Creativelive Student

Sandra is a gifted teacher!!! I've been following her work for years and know what an incredible photographer she is - but to be able to teach the way she does is truly a rare gift! I've been shooting film on and off for years and was amazed at how much I could still learn from Sandra's class. She presented the information in a way that was so easy to follow that you couldn't wait to get started. It's wonderful to learn from someone who is clearly passionate about their craft - but who is also excited for others to succeed at what they're teaching.


Amy could not have said it better in her review of this class! I am also a film shooter (have been shooting film personally for 8 years and professionally for 4) and even as someone who understands a lot of what Sandra was talking about, I STILL found this class to be incredibly helpful and learned a lot. Sandra is such a great teacher and an inspiration to so many film photographers. Great class! Thanks Sandra and Creative Live for putting this together for us.


Sandra is not only an insanely talented photographer but she's a gifted teacher. I've been shooting film for weddings and portraits for 5 years and even studied it in photography school so I'm not new to film by any means. But I've allowed myself to be so intimated to create portraits with film using strobes for far too long. But not anymore. I'll be 100% honest when I say that the information she teaches in this course, to a seasoned COMMERCIAL photographer mind you, may be insanely simple. But that's the beauty of it!!! There is no reason to over complicate shooting film with strobes. It's the simplicity and straight forward, clear as day information that Sandra teaches that's essential to rejuvenate today's overly 'tech obsessed' world. Film is alive and well! Sandra's course is gold when it comes to getting that appreciation for our craft back! I'm jazzed and ready to slow my roll down! Thank you, Sandra and CL! The value of this class is far more than that of the strobe kit I finally invested in (HOURS after the class!). : )