120mm vs 220mm Film: Difference and Comparison

Lets find out – What is the difference between 120mm and 220mm film?

In the 1900s, medium format cameras used either 120 or 220 films or both. The photographers use 620 films then. However, there were a few hand-rolled Lucky 220 rolls available for a while.

They are each 61mm (2.4 inches) wide. The main difference is the film roll length. 120 film has a backing paper and is 82-85 mm long. (32-33″)

220 film is twice the length of 120 films and is unbacked. It had a leader and trailer on the paper.

To utilize 120 or 220 rolls, you need an empty spool to wind the exposed film onto. If you’re shooting your first roll and your camera doesn’t have an empty spool, getting one may be difficult. However, it was not widely used, and consumers prefer the 120 films since it is more convenient to use.

In other words, what’s the difference? 61mm for 120mm and 220mm film. In reality, the 120 film is a black paper roll with a film strip tapped within that is pulled through the camera(s). They may advance the film by peering through a red window since the paper is marked.

120 Film

Due to the recent success of the Holga camera with 120 film, 120 film is still a highly popular medium format film. Eastman Kodak first used the 120 film format in 1901 for their Brownie No. 2 camera, which was the company’s first product.

It was the most popular format for amateur photographers and beginning cameras such as box cameras during this time period. 120 film became popular as a professional format as a result of the success of 35mm film.

Standard frame size and number of exposures are:

  • 6×4.5cm/16 exposures
  • 6x6cm/12 exposures
  • 6x7cm/10 exposures.

220 Film

220 film has the same width as 120 films, but has a double-length (144 cm), allowing for double the number of exposures per roll (compared to 120 films). ISO 732 also defines the dimensions of 220 films, which are as follows:

In contrast to 120 films, there is no backing paper behind the film itself; instead, there is just a leader and a trailer.

As a consequence, older cameras with a red window as a frame indication will have no printed frame numbers since the film may be loaded onto a long spool of film. (In addition, the light from the window would cause the film to fog.)

In addition, since the film alone is thinner than a film with backing paper, different positioning of the pressure plate may be needed to ensure optimum focus on the subject.

Some cameras that are capable of utilizing both 120 and 220 films will feature a two-position adjustment of the pressure plate (as well as a switch elsewhere to modify winding), while others will need separate film backs to accommodate the various film formats.

NB: 220 films are not available in the market.

120mm vs 220mm Film- Key Differences Explained

The medium format provides much higher technical quality than 35mm while being just as simple to use, thanks to the fact that the film comes in rolls that can be loaded in daylight just like 35mm.

You have no excuses since Mamiya, Pentax, and Contax all manufacture autofocus motor drive cameras and zoom lenses, therefore there are none.

The most common sizes and formats of contemporary medium format film are 120 and 220 format. The consumers need carefully examine the 120 and 220 film formats to distinguish them.

  • 220 film is double the length of 120 films.
  • On 120 films, the backing paper runs the length of the roll, while on 220 films, it runs just halfway and is taped to the film in the center.
  • People prefer to utilize 120 films in their cameras over 220 films.
  • Loading and unloading 220 film requires more care than 120 film, and the rolls must be very tight.
  • Some cameras, including the Mamiya and Pentax 67, can accept both 120 and 220 film. The photographers must relocate the pressure plate. The frame counter will count every frame.
  • Due to the absence of paper backing, 220 film is thinner than 120 film and requires a new pressure plate. However, certain cameras cannot utilize both 120 and 220 film simultaneously.
  • Cameras with interchangeable backs, as the Hasselblador or Rollei 6008, need separate backs for 120 and 220 film. This is a difficult procedure that costs a lot. They should choose one kind and stick to it.
  • The 120 film has a full length backing that may be put in the cameras with counter windows, while the 220 film does not and must be exposed via the camera’s glass (s). This is why certain cameras couldn’t utilize 220 film.
  • Another major benefit of 220 film is the double shot count. As a consequence, using 220 film costs a lot of money. The most common formats now are 120 and 220 film.

Final Thoughts

It was about 1902 when 120 films were introduced, and it is still extremely popular today. 120 film is a black paper roll with a strip of film taped inside that is pulled through your camera while you shoot. 120 film is available in a variety of formats. In the old days, when there were no fast wind levers, you could advance the film by peering through a red window in the back of the paper. The marks were for the 645 (16 shots), 6 x 6 (12 shots), and 6 × 9 (8 shots) formats, respectively.

The 220 film does not have a backing paper. Instead, with just a paper leader and tail, there is twice as much film as before. You will receive twice as many exposures as before. 220 film is not compatible with all cameras.

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