Shooting with Medium Format Camera / Film inside US National Parks (Landscape Photography)

Since we drove on on our long summer trip, I was able to pack a lot of camera gear. I shot intermittently with my iPhone 7s, my DSLR (Nikon D700), and my medium-format film camera, a Rolleicord (see below). My mom found the Rollei at a garage sale years ago for about $5! I keep it in an antique leather case that I bought at a camera store in Switzerland. The camera still makes gorgeous images with striking texture, depth, resolution, and wide dynamic range. I use Richard Photo Lab to develop and scan my film, and buy 120 film like this.

I believe that shooting with film periodically is important if you want to really understand photography and hone your skills and technique. If you are a film skeptic, or are afraid to shoot with film, then consider the side-by-side comparisons below. I’d love to hear your opinion! Comment below this post to let me know which format you prefer! In each of the comparisons below, you will see the digital version on the left, and the film version on the right.

Left: Nikon D700, 24-70mm/f2.8. Right: Rolleicord, Kodak 120 film, ISO 400

Notice the differences in tonal range, detail, difference between areas of highlight and shadow, white balance, sharpness, and texture. (In some of the film images, you can see some streaks that are likely the result of the camera being somewhat damaged internally and scratching the film as I wind it.)

Left: Nikon D700, 24-70mm/f2.8. Right: Rolleicord, Kodak 120 film, ISO 400

 

Left: Nikon D700, 24-70mm/f2.8. Right: Rolleicord, Kodak 120 film, ISO 400

Below, the image on the left was shot with iPhone 7s in “Portrait mode,” which is the same thing as shooting with a shallow depth of field on a DSLR or with film (in other words, with a wide aperture). In my opinion, this particular comparison clearly demonstrates the continued superiority of film. But what do you think?

Left: iPhone 7s in Portrait mode. Right: Rolleicord, Kodak 120 film, ISO 400

 

Left: Nikon D700, 24-70mm/f2.8. Right: Rolleicord, Kodak 120 film, ISO 400

There’s something special about shooting with medium format inside the national parks, where Ansel Adams once created film images so iconic, that they almost singlehandedly caused the nation to fall in love with, and decide to forever protect, its parks.

Scroll below to view the film images that are partially shown in the comparisons above, along with a few others. At the end, you’ll see a couple from four years ago taken at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. These were on the first roll I shot on this summer’s road trip…when I mailed in the film, I’d totally forgotten what was on the beginning of the roll! That’s one of the beauties of film…it basically lasts forever if stored properly.

Which is your favorite?

Rolleicord, 120 film/400 ISO; Grand Teton National Park, 2017

 

Rolleicord, 120 film/400 ISO; Grand Teton National Park, 2017

 

Rolleicord, 120 film/400 ISO; Jackson Hole Ski Resort, 2017

 

Rolleicord, 120 film/400 ISO; Grand Teton National Park, 2017

 

Rolleicord, 120 film/400 ISO; Grand Teton National Park, 2017

 

Rolleicord, 120 film/400 ISO; Grand Teton National Park, 2017

 

Rolleicord, 120 film/400 ISO; Grand Teton National Park, 2017

 

Rolleicord, 120 film/400 ISO; Glacier National Park, 2017

 

Rolleicord, 120 film/400 ISO; Grand Teton National Park, 2017

 

Rolleicord, 120 film/400 ISO; Arches National Park, 2013

 

Rolleicord, 120 film/400 ISO; Arches National Park, 2013

Find Your Park! – H

Note: I always size my blog images for the web; they aren’t print quality. If you’d ever like a Print of any of any of my images, just contact me and I’d be happy to help. High resolution digital images are also available for licensure.

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