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Film format

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This is used to describe the area of a film used by a camera to record a photo. A 35mm format camera records a 24x36mm image on the film. Medium format cameras record anything from 6x4.5cm to 6x17cm on 120 and 220 roll film. When choosing a medium-format some photographers prefer the square 6x6cm format because it offers an alternative shape to the conventional oblong, but also saves you having to think in a portrait or landscape way. The cropping can be done later when printing the results. As the format increases, potential quality improves, while the number of pictures that can be recorded on a roll of film decreases. You can shoot 15 pictures on a 6x4.5cm camera, 12 on a 6x6cm camera and 10 on a 6x7cm camera and just 4 on a 6x17cm camera.

Related Terms

Format (noun) is used to describe the area of a film used by a camera to record a photo or the way a digital file is saved (see film format). Or it is the way that a file is saved so that it can be seen and is compatible with other applications and/or certain computers (see file format). 'To format' (verb) is to lay-out or organize text on a computer, or to prepare a digital disk for use with a certain type of computer.
A medium-format camera uses roll film to take pictures with 6cm width. These often have interchangeable backs so film can be swapped mid-roll and Polaroid or a digital back can be used to instantly proof a composition or exposure. Medium-format cameras are costly and often bulky so tend to be used by enthusiasts or professionals.
Large format is the bread and butter tool of the professional advertising and commercial photographer. Its a big beast that takes a massive 5x4inch or 10x8inch negative. This format is often demanded by clients for use on billboards or in calendars. This type of camera has a range of film and lens movements that increase flexibility of the system making them a perfect choice for architectural photographers.
Light-sensitive film thats held in sheet film holders for use in large format cameras.
A two-sided frame that holds a sheet of film on either side for use with large format cameras.
The amount of a distant scene that can be viewed using a camera lens. This varies with the focal length of the lens and film format.
A new film format developed and introduced by Minolta, Nikon, Fuji, Kodak and Canon back in 1996.The system was developed to make it easier to load into cameras and offers many processing benefits. For more information, see "APS"
The image area that a lens covers that will produce good even exposure and sharpness. This should exceed the film format area to ensure theres no fall off at the edges. Also the covereing power needs to be large if a camera with lens movements is used.
A lens that's also called standard because it has a focal length roughly the same as the diagonal of the film format and is around the same magnification as the naked eye.
If the camera has interchangeable backs you can change a film mid-roll so you could shoot colour and black & white within seconds of each other. This is also useful if you have several users using a camera - each could have there own film back. It's also good to record specific subjects on the same roll of film. For example you're out walking and you could take flowers on one and landscapes on the other. Many medium-format cameras have the option of changing format with different backs. You could, for example shoot 6x7cm, 6x4.5cm and 35mm from the same camera using three different backs. Polaroid backs are also available for many cameras.  This means  you could shoot a Polaroid print and instantly check lighting, composition or exposure and then replace with the conventional film.
A film holder, named after the company who made the first instant film. It fits on the back of a medium-format camera or slides into a large format film holder that takes instant-picture material.
An adaptor that fits onto the back of a large format camera to allow roll-film to be used back. Also used on many medium format cameras to allow film to be changed mid-roll.
Camera movement usually found on large format cameras that allows the front lens panel to shift sideways parallel to the film plane.
An extra feature found on only a few cameras that is used to lock the viewing mirror in the up position while the shutter is fired. The benefit is almost no vibration as well as the ability to keep up with an ultra-fast motor drive. This feature tends to be more common on medium format cameras because the mirror is larger and creates more vibration as it bounces out of the way of the film plane.
A large format camera that is built on rail. Its lens is mounted on a front panel, the film is held in a rear panel and they're connected with bellows.
A format for storing digital photographs at different resolution settings developed by Kodak. PhotoCD can be order when you have a film processed and the lab will scan in the negatives and add them to a CD. One CD can hold up to 100 images, each stored in five resolution levels. You're asked, when opening a picture, what resolution version is required.
A control found mostly on large format cameras that allows the lens to be raised parallel to the film plane. Its used in architectural photography to ensure the verticals of buildings stay straight when shooting with wide angles from low viewpoints.
A medium or large format camera that uses a ground glass screen positioned at the film plane to view the image. Theyre also known as field cameras.
When you adjust the lens or film standard of a large format camera by tilting it sideways and then follow by applying swing to the same standard you’ll find that it will not be parallel in any axis to the other standard. To ensure sharp focus you then need to make multiple adjustments. A camera with yaw free movements allows the photographer to tilt and swing either standard without having to re-adjust after.
An imaging sensor with the same size as film used for the respective format of camera. See also Crop factor and APS-C.