A practical demonstration of grain and film size

I love Kodak's UltraColor 400 film. It's wonderful for my style of portraiture because it's just about the right level of contrast and saturation to make people look the way I want them to look, and it's easy to scan. Also, the lowered contrast compared to slide film gives you a useful overexposure latitude range (although not by that much... after a point, UC400 doesn't have such a beautiful tonality. It's very much designed to be shot with a correctly metered camera.)

I've been shooting it in both 35mm and 6x7 format lately, and so that gives me a great basis for comparison.

People in the 35mm and digital shooting worlds tend to place a lot of importance on having the sharpest lens and the finest grained film/highest resolution sensor. People shooting 6x7 or large format have far less to worry about. I wanted to try out Kodak E200 to see what it looked like for my next film comparison, since it was freshly-expired in 120 format at the local camera store, but I realized that I couldn't make any realistic assessment of how grainy it was in the 6x7 format. So, after playing with UC 400 in the 35mm format, I decided I wanted to know what it looks like on my 6x7.

Here's a frame from UltraColor 400 shot in 35mm format with a 50mm lens:


Here's a frame from UltraColor 400 shot in 6x7 format with a 90mm lens:

Kimberly Marvel

The big thing that I'd like to highlight is that, at a reasonably large screen size, the 35mm version has just a perceptible touch of grain, whereas this is completely gone with a negative that's over 4 times the size of 35mm.


Side note:

My current "main" camera is a Mamiya RB67 that I purchased with the proceeds from a stock photo sale. After switching to medium format, it's really depressing to scan 35mm images. Tri-X is a grainy film in the 35mm format, but in medium format, it is just a sharp fast film that's easy to develop. Even Delta 3200 starts to look fine-grained.

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