Here are some explanations for terms and expressions
that are commonly used within the world of 120 film and medium format photography.

120 film

120 film is a type of medium format film that was originally introduced in the early 20th century by Kodak. From a roll of 120 film you usually get 12 square shaped photos (though the aspect ratio might differ depending on the camera or frame insert used). One large benefit of 120 film is that you get better tonality and finer detail compared to normal 35 mm film. The reason for this is that 120 film uses 3-4 times as much film surface.

220 film

220 film is similar to 120 film but there are two major differences: 220 film is twice as long, which means that you'll get twice the number of exposures from a roll of 220 film (normally 24 exposures). The other difference is that 220 film doesn't have the backing paper that 120 film has. 220 film only has backing paper at the beginning and end of the roll. If you want to try some 220 film we can recommend Kodak Portra ISO 400.


Aperture is the opening in a camera lens through which light passes to expose the film. When the shutter release button of your camera is hit, a hole opens allowing the film in your camera to catch a glimpse of the scenery you are attempting to capture. Aperture is measured in "f-stops." The size of aperture that you set will determine the size of the hole that opens. The larger the hole the more light and the smaller the less light.


This word is based on a Japanese term for the subjective quality of areas that are out-of-focus in photographic images. This is usually achieved by adjusting the aperture and depth-of-field in photographs until you get the desired blurry effect. Often this method is used when the photographer wants a certain subject or object to stand out, while leaving other images in the foreground and background blurry.


The name of the standard process for developing negative film.

Cross processing

Cross processing is the procedure when developing a slide film as if it was a normal negative color film. The results you will get are crazy colours, extreme saturation and very high contrast. Not all photo labs will let you cross process your slide film, but some will. Ask kindly. These two Fujichrome Velvia photos are examples of cross processed images.

Depth of field

This is the amount of distance between the closest and farthest objects that appear acceptably sharp when adjusting focus.


The name of the standard process for developing positive film, slide film.

Expired film

Undeveloped film changes over time; it loses contrast and color balance. Humidity and high temperatures accelerate this process. Therefore store your 120 film cool or frozen. If stored correctly you can usually use it several years after expiration date. If you enjoy experimenting, get some cheap expired 120 film of eBay and see what results you get! We have, for example, achieved very nice and pale results with expired Fujifilm Pro 400H.


The international standard for rating film speed is the ISO scale. Film speed describes a film's threshold sensitivity to light. Common film speeds include ISO 25, 50, 64, 100, 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600, and 3200. A film with a high ISO rating, for example Ilford Delta ISO 3200, is called a "fast film" and is very sensitive to light. It can be used in low light conditions, and the grain is also clearly visible. Films with low ISO rating are called "slow films" and are less sensitive to light, for instance Fujifilm Reala ISO 100. Those films need to be used in daylight or with a flash.


Lomography is the trademark of an Austrian company specialized in selling lo-fi cameras and photography equipment. The name Lomography has also become the synonym of a whole new genre of artistic experimental photography. Characteristics such as over-saturated colors, light leaks, blurring, and alternative film processing are often considered part of the Lomographic style. Another important part of Lomography is the spontaneous "don't think, just shoot" approach to photography.

Negative preservers

Archival pages that will keep your 120 film negatives well organised and safe for long term storage. Check out the products from Print File that we like to use.

Shutter speed

The shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter stays open when taking a photograph. This, in combination with the lens aperture decides how much light reaches the film. The shutter speed also alters the way movement will appear in pictures. Short speeds help to freeze fast moving subjects, while long speeds are used when seeking to intentionally blur a subject for artistic effect.


Many old medium format cameras are so called TLR cameras. TLR is short for Twin Lens Reflex which means that the camera has two lenses. One lens is used to take the actual picture and a second lens is used for the viewfinder system. The Lubitel is an example of a TLR camera.


Vignetting is the term for dark corners in the image. It is often an undesired effect caused by camera settings or lens limitations. However, it is sometimes purposely introduced for creative effect, or to draw attention to the center of the frame. Simple lo-fi cameras such as the Holga will give you lots of vignetting. In case you want to avoid it, buy a Lubitel or some other high quality medium format camera, for example Hasselblad or Mamiya.