Film Formats

Long time ago when I participated in such things as Review Nights at the Camera Club, I showed my series of photos from the Detroit Zoo to a local gallery operator who asked, “What camera did you use?”

Sure, that’s a curiosity we camera nerds get hung up on—but the camera is a tool.  Nobody asks a mechanic, “Hey what kind of wrench do you use?”  Or maybe they do.  

These were done with a 35mm Nikon FM3, but I also owned an Arca-Swiss view camera with a 6x9cm roll-film back.  Both 35mm and view camera employ a 2:3 aspect ratio.  The cameras handle entirely differently — the Nikon is really portable and quick to operate, the Arca-Swiss relatively unwieldy, though it  encourages an intensional and deliberate work habit.  And their resolution and grainy-ness differ widely, so the images hold differing amounts of information.  But we photo-philes gotta resist assigning ‘value’ to one format over the other.  Which is what I suspect this gallerist was getting at.

The top photo is, like I say, done on 35mm film.  I add the second from my old 6x9cm for comparison.  First one is from Zoo, the latter from Backsides.