comparing 120 film with 35mm

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by jgcull, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    I've seen several comments in different threads about negatives being great from some particular 120 size films, as opposed to what the same film may produce in 35mm size. Why is there a difference?

    There is an unmistakable difference between my 35mm negatives and 120s. I haven't been able to figure out why and bring the 120s to where I think they should be in quality, with a few exceptions. I'm thinking it has to do with my metering, because I'm not using the same metering devices between bodies. I know something I'm doing is bringing them up short... *but is there a real difference in the actual film between 35 & 120*?

    Thanks.

    Janet
     
  2. 23mjm

    23mjm Member

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    I shoot both 35mm and 120 in both my favorite film is Ilford Delta 100. The film seems the same to me in both formats. Obviously the 120 gives a bigger neg so the grain is not as apparent, but I have blown up parts of a 120 and the grain looks the same when I do. It is said that there is a different base in 35mm than 120 but I can't really tell.

    Oh yea I have developed 120 & 35mm in the same tank togather with great results. I also have not noticed a difference in exposure between my 35mm camera, 120 camera, and hand metering, the film reacts the same for all three.
     
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  3. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    >>>Obviously the 120 gives a bigger neg so the grain is not as apparent<<<

    So, that explains why I find it more difficult to focus 120? Or do you mean that just in the print the grain is not as apparent?
     
  4. 23mjm

    23mjm Member

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    Where are you having trouble focusing on the camera or while printing?? I use a grain focuser and I still can see enuff grain to focus. Even when using Efke25 in 120.
     
  5. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    Both are a challenge, really. I'm slow focusing in the Hasselblad, using the split image focusing screen. I can't move nearly as fast as I'd like with it, but I meant while printing. I use a grain focuser, too, but with some films I find it difficult. (My eyes were perfect for a long time, but it's not the case now.)
     
  6. 23mjm

    23mjm Member

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    Hummmmm---

    Might want to try a different grain focuser, I use this cheap plastic Peterson thing don't really like it but it works for me. One thing that might help is if you can find a line or sharp edge and use that for focusing. I find on 120 negs that areas with a constant tone are impossible to focus. I normally print 8X10.

    Focusing the camera that's a tuff one for me. I shoot Mamiya's and have never shot a Hassy. I do use a 45 degree split screen. Might want to try a Brightscreen but those are spendy!!!
     
  7. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    But other than the size of the negative, is there a difference in the same name-brand film from 35 to 120? I didn't want to hijack the other thread by asking this there, but in the "TMax 100" thread it was said, "I love T-MAX 100 in 120 size". Others have made the same comment, not necessarily about that film but of the size in whatever film.

    I'm wondering, is 120 TMax 100 different from 135 TMax 100?
     
  8. sanking

    sanking Member

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    135mm Tmax-100 has a thicker base than 120 Tmax-100. That is true of most films. This adds more B+F density but does not change the characteristics of the film.

    I only mentioned thate I like T-MAX 100 in 120 size because I don't use it in either 35mm or LF, becaue 1) I don't use 35mm format at all, and 2) the film has a UV blocking base that makes it unsuitable for printing alternative processes.

    Sandy
     
  9. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    One of the Kodak films is [or was] different between 120 and 35mm. 320 speed one. I"m sure somebody will remember the name.

    Slow speed 120 film is harder to focus with a grain focusser. There is just less grain to find. Just wait until you try 4x5 and grain is almost impossible to find. Some of the eastern European films have much more grain. More then I tend to like for 35mm but just fine in 120.

    If you think your metering is the issue then meter the same way for both. See how that changes things.

    I'm not sure what you are seeing. It seems like you're saying the 120 is worse? How are they different?
     
  10. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Along these lines I have not noticed much difference between the two in regards to TMX and TMY. Size only.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Sandy;

    Last I coated, all 35mm films and 120 films were on a 5 mil support, and 4x5 were on 7 mil support. The 5 mil is used to facilitate turning the sharp turns in the cameras, and allowing longer lengths to be spooled onto a roll. The 4x5 is designed to prevent buckling in the holder as are all ULF sizes.

    The use of UV or no UV may cause a change of a few microns, but this is peanuts beside 5 mil or 7 mil.

    PE
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Even if the emulsions are the same, you might find you like a certain emulsion at a certain enlargement factor, but not at another. For instance, you might like the tonality of Tri-X in medium or large format, where the grain isn't as much of an issue.
     
  13. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Ron,

    This surprises me. I thought it was you who told me that Kodak put their 35mm films on a thicker base than 120. Guess I got it mixed up.

    Sandy
     
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  15. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, enlarged to the same proportion and viewed at an equivalent (for image size) viewing distance, the grain and sharpness from the 35mm should differ from the MF image. You see the grain stays constant in size, but is made larger when you print 35mm. OTOH, the micro contrast of a 35mm image is higher giving the image more apparent sharpness.

    I have posted data on this from the article by Kriss in another thread.

    PE
     
  16. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Sandy, you reminded me of this. I'm going to the lab and measure it. I'll post the figures in a bit.

    PE
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Ok, I measured color and B&W 35mm and they are 5 mil + a hair. A fine hair for B&W and a thick hair for color. The 120 film was the same as the 35mm, or 5 mil + a hair. The sheet film was 7 mil + a hair. Same as for 35mm, the 'hair' varied for color and B&W. I have a roll of uncoated support and it is virtually 7 mil on the dot. That is the stuff from the formulary that I coat my 4x5 sheet film on.

    I have been using a 35mm strip to calibrate my coating blades to 5 mil. They are quick and easy to use and 0.1 mil or thereabouts is not much of an error. I use sheet film to calibrate to 7 mil undercut. So, I thought I remembered right and if I said otherwise, sorry.

    I would like to add that SO films are often coated on 2 mil support in order to load more film into cameras used for space missions and etc.

    PE
     
  18. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    If both size negs were properly focused in camera and we can eliminate that as a cause of lack of sharpness in the print then it's puzzling. I have focused 120 and 35 negs with a grain focuser and while the grain in 120 isn't quite as easy to focus as in a 35mm neg it isn't that hard either. There are a number of things to try/questions to ask yourself:
    1. Is the grain focuser correctly focused? The Paterson for instance has a focusing line across the eye piece. You move the upper part of the focuser like a telescope until the line is sharp and tighten the body at that point. Even if you wear glasses normally you can dispense with these for focusing as long as the line is sharp without glasses.
    2. Focus at max aperture
    3. If there is/are letters/figures on the neg such as notices, car number plates etc, use these or alternatively use lines in the neg such as fence posts, windows etc especially where a light area meets a dark area.
    4. Turn off the safelight to avoid diffusing the enlarger light.
    5. When the grain begins to come into focus, continue to alter the enlarger bellows until it gets to the point where the grain becomes slightly fuzzy again and then re-adjust to the sharpest point again. That way you know you have go to the sharpest point.

    Best of luck

    pentaxuser
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Just thinking out loud here....

    MF lenses may have different contrast and resolution than the lenses for 35mm equipment, so a film may be better suited to your needs in one of the formats.

    The other factor that might require consideration is that the geometry of the film may affect development somewhat.

    In particular, your method of agitation may interact slightly differently with the larger surfaces presented by 120.

    There may also be slight differences resulting from the fact that 35mm has sprocket holes, and that each "layer" of the 35mm film on the reel may be closer to the next one due to the longer length of a 36 exposure roll.

    I would think that each of these development effects would be small, but may be apparent.

    Any thoughts about this?

    Matt
     
  20. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    Over the years I've always "known" that roll film is thinner than 35mm. From the recent pdf of Neopan400, the only 120 size film I use, the thickness of 35mm is 0.122mm and the 120 is 0.104mm.

    From the latest pdf for Ilford Delta400, the 35mm is 0.125mm and the 120 is 0.110mm.

    From the Kodak pdf dated September 2001 the thickness of 35mm Tri-X is 5-mil and the 120 film is 3.6 mil.

    So it seems that things are now different, at least for the new Kodak films (or perhaps just some of them).
     
  21. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    First, when it comes to negative quality, there is really no substitute for square inches. Bigger negatives generally give better pictures.

    There have been some differences between 35 mm and 120 films in the past. That seems to be disappearing. The reason for the differences, when they occur, is the structure of the film. 120 film have a dead black paper backing. The back of the film is protected from the pressure plate, and the black backing helps prevent reflections. (This is not the case for 220, which is more like 35 mm.) 35mm films needed protection from the mechanical parts of the camera that touched the film back and the often rougher handling the film got from the 35 mm transport mechanisms. They also needed a more aggressive antihalation system (usually a soluble gray color on a back coating, and sometimes a gray colored film base). Most of the differences had to do with the antihalation coating and overcoatings. But even when the emulsions were the same, the differences in these other things made for a somewhat different look and sometimes different processing. To compensate, sometimes the emulsion was changed a bit. The more modern films are tougher, and antihalation techniques have improved, so the films can now be more the same.
     
  22. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, I can say that Kodak makes their own support and it might differ from Ilfords, but I did use a micrometer to measure the films mentioned above. I measured 3 coated film sizes and 1 sheet of raw stock. And I know that the dry coating thickness is not a great contributor to overall thickness.

    The only reference I find is this:

    "One TRI-X 320 Film (320TXP) is available in 120 and 220 sizes on a 3.9-mil acetate base, the other is available in sheets on a 7-mil ESTAR Thick Base. You can retouch these films on the emulsion or base side."

    None of the other Kodak files show data.

    So, I sacrificed 4 rolls of film for you guys and here is the result. I did not do any cut sheet.

    Kodak TX-135
    Efke KB100 5.6 mil or 0.156 mm (as far as I could read the scale as the needle was over the #s.

    Kodak TX-120 5.00 mil or 0.148 mm (same, needle covered the metric scale pretty much.)

    Ilford HP5-135 6.0 mil

    As far as I can find from my private notes, I used 7 mil estar for cut sheet and 5 mil acetate or estar for roll film when I made coatings at EK. All hand coatings were on 7 mil estar regardless of destination. I did B&W and Color coatings. After coating, the thickness goes up by a few hundred microns depending on what was coated.

    I also happen to "accidentally" have a 1000' roll of 3" film used in checking out the equipment. It is uncoated and since it was 3" it was destined for the garbage. Since its rescue it has served in some miscellaneous tasks here but i've never coated on it. It measures exactly 5.00 mil.

    Let me ask this, does any of this mean anything? The support is chosen for the camera rollers and to fit the film into the cannister or onto the spool, not for a quality of image per-se.

    PE
     
  23. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    My personal experience with 120 and 135 film is that the difference is more to do with the quality of the machining tolerances of the camera, plus the difference of lens manufacture.

    When was working in an industrial lab, we had 14 studios with about 20 photographers shooting mainly product pictures. Towels, sheets, cutlery, china, you get the picture. It was a factory and we were processing 4 rolls of E6 almost every 6 minutes from around 1000hrs to somewhere near 1930hrs 5 days a week.

    The 120 cameras were a mixed bunch. We had Mamiya RB67 and RZ67 cameras, Hasselblad and one lone Rollei which every photographer fought to use.

    When we walked to the film rack holding 4 rolls of E6 and placed it against the vertical light box, you could immediately tell whether the rolls were from the Japanese or the European cameras. Their respective lenses showed aspects I hadn't considered before.

    The Japanese lenses were really snappy, which is a not too bad feature.

    The European lenses were lower contrast, but their detail was astonishing. The European lenses were always used to shoot a stack of white towels with a white background. They were the only ones that made it possible to hold the fibres in the towels very well. The Japanese lenses were excellent but they weren't a match to the Hasselblad and Rollei lenses in that department.

    We also used 135 film a lot and all of it was Nikon with Nikkor prime lenses only. The Nikkor lenses were almost the same as the Mamiya lenses, slightly snappy.

    As a consequence of that I firmly believe that the way the lenses have been manufactured and coated, probably has more to do with how a film looks than the actual film itself.

    I think the machining tolerances of a Hasselblad camera, the way the film holder holds the film flat, plus the accuracy of the focusing of the lens to the film plane. Ensure that your negative will be more accurately focused and therefore making your negative one with superior tonality.

    Much like a slightly out of focus print compared to a correctly focused print, will outshine the poorly focused one.

    Mick.
     
  24. RobC

    RobC Member

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    delta is such a fine grained film the grain can be difficult to see, especially if you are using a fine grain developer.
    Might seem like the obvious, but have you focussed your focus magnifier properly?
     
  25. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    Mick, I'm so glad you made and explained those observations!

    About the focuser. I thought I'd focussed it properly, but I don't think I tightened anything down after focusing on that hair. I'm gonna look again!

    Thank you all! This is such good info I find here... except I don't have a clue what toe is. But I won't ask now.

    Thanks again.

    Janet
     
  26. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    again, Mick -

    Those comparisons describe so closely the differences I see between my Nikons and Hasselblad! You nailed it. I guess "slightly snappy" describes what I like, so I've got to figure out how to make my smoother Hasselblad look slightly snappy. Anyway, I'm curious - why did they all fight for the Rollei? (Maybe that needs to go on a wish list.)

    Thanks again for taking the time to post that very good and thorough comparison.