120 v. 220 -- which do you prefer?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by PamelaHL, Jun 20, 2004.

  1. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

    Messages:
    59
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Location:
    Oregon
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I am thinking about getting an MF (Hasselblad 503CW) and am wondering if y'all have any strong opinions about 120 or 220 film? (If you happen to have any strong feelings about the 503CW or any other 6x6 MF, I'd be delighted to hear them, too.)

    Thanks!
     
  2. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Messages:
    2,767
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I like 120 because it's cheaper to buy two rolls of 120 than it is to buy 1 roll of 220 in most cases. If money wasn't an option I would shoot 220 as you have to reload have as often.

    If you're developing yourself 220 is longer which means more time rolling onto the spool.

    Not much difference really, I think it comes down to whether you want to spend more money and reload less often or vice versa. Also some films are not available in 220.

    Anyone else want to jump in here?
     
  3. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Lovely camera. I've been using a 501CM for many years.

    Used Hassy bodies, 80mm lenses and backs are widely available at good prices. A lot of wedding photographers have switched to digital and this has resulted in a lot of Hassy equipment on the used camera market.

    New Hassy lenses, in general, are grossly over priced, as are new Hassy accessories.

    The available range of 120 roll film emulsions is much greater than 220. IMO multiple 120 backs are a more flexible approach than 220's. If I was doing wedding photography, I might change my mind.
     
  4. bmac

    bmac Member

    Messages:
    2,156
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    When I was doing Weddings and Portraits, I used 220 film, more exposures per roll, less time spent changing film backs / reloading.

    For B/W it was always 120 so I could do N+/- dev when needed.
     
  5. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

    Messages:
    59
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Location:
    Oregon
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thank you for your feedback.

    I'd noticed that more films were available in 120 but hadn't realized they were cheaper.

    I shoot virtually exclusively B&W. I hadn't realized that +/- development would be available only with 120; why is that?

    I actually am not doing my own darkroom work, but my lab technician does it all by hand, and he will accommodate my requests for +/- development.

    Tom, I considered going with a 501CM but decided that I might wish I'd had the flexibility of the 503CW; do you have any thoughts about that? Do you find that you can hand-hold at some pretty slow shutter speeds?

    I also hadn't realized that it was the wedding photographers' switch to digital that resulted in my being able to afford a Hasselblad system! What irony.

    Again, my gratitude.
     
  6. bmac

    bmac Member

    Messages:
    2,156
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    You can do +/1 dev with 220, but I found that 10 exposures per roll (6x7) was about all I wanted to toy with when it came to +/-. With my shooting style, and the locations where I shoot, it was hard to get 10 shots that needed the same development, let alone 20.
     
  7. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    220 film is held flatter in the film plane (no paper backing). this is better if you shoot at wider fstops. Less chance of portions of the negative being out of focus. If you shoot at f5.6 or smaller, it won't matter.

    220 film will let you get 24 shots per roll, 120 only 12. this only matters if you can't take the time to reload/switch magazines (weddings/parades, etc.)

    Since the move to digital for weddings, and the resultant loss of this piece of the professional market, for film manufacturers, I think 220 film will disapear relatively quickly. 120 film will be around for a long, long, time.

    Since you only shoot B&W, I recommend you buy two 120 magazines and use one for high contrast subjects and one for lower contrast subjects then develop accordingly.
    Tom Duffy
     
  8. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,842
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Location:
    Rotterdam, T
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Some weeks ago Ilford announced they would stop producing 220 film.
     
  9. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

    Messages:
    59
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Location:
    Oregon
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Well, I guess all of this seals the deal. It'll be 120. In the process, I learned a lot from y'all. Thanks so much!
     
  10. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Member

    Messages:
    957
    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Very good advice Tom...

    Jim
     
  11. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,299
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Couldn't agree more with what was already said. I bought a 503CW recently at first with one 120 back. I now have three of them. There is just more variety of 120 film out there and that is why originally chose the 120 back.

    Now that I have more or less standardized on my film, and they are available in 220, I have been thinking of getting a couple 220 backs for my 'standard' film and using the 120 backs for the 'neat' stuff.

    Art.
     
  12. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The 503CW has OTF automatic flash metering capability - other than that it is like the 501CM. If the 503CW had been available in 1981 I'd have bought it instead of the 501CM.

    I can hand hold at very slow shutter speeds with reasonable success - however, with Medium Format, I shoot nearly everything with a cable release, from a tripod (I'm a sharpness freak).
     
  13. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

    Messages:
    59
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Location:
    Oregon
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks, everyone. I think that I will start with one 120 back and then keep in mind the idea of adding a second as a way to help me problem-solve time crunches, lighting issues, etc. (unless the store happens to have a used 'kit' with more than one 120 back; wouldn't that be convenient?). There's a wealth of info on this forum. Thanks so much for taking the time to offer some of your thoughts and experience to help me. Now I'm going to start a thread asking y'all why you chose MF in the first place ....