45 What Film Size
October 2, 1996
For decades it has been generally accepted that larger film formats -- 6x7 and
4x5 -- sell better than 35mm. The theory being that when several different film
sizes are laid side by side on a light table the larger piece of film will be
easier to "read" and more likely to be chosen.
In recent years two developments have tended to change this assessment.
- First, many 35mm transparencies are "duped up" to 6x7 or 4x5 before they are
presented to the clients. This helps to equalize the film size issue.
- Second, a huge percentage of images used are currently selected from print
catalogs. In these cases the client making the selection usually has no idea
what film size they will be receiving.
Now, we are hearing that some clients are REQUESTING 35mm transparencies rather
than larger film sizes. The reason. These clients are doing all their layout
digitally. Therefore, when they get a piece of film the first thing they must
do is scan it to obtain a digital file. It is easier and cheaper for them to
scan 35mm than larger formats.
If you are spending a lot of money to "dupe up" with the hope of increasing
sales of new images several years down the road you may want to re-think that
In any event when choosing a film format for shooting remember - Good Images
Sell Best. Use the equipment you're most comfortable with. Worry more about
content, and less about equipment and film size.
Rules for supplying feedback
Feedback: by Brian Yarvin
October 15, 1996 -- I have been gradually moving my shooting from 35MM to Medium Format, starting first
with travel (I no longer do any 35MM travel.) and now moving into people and sports.
I find that there are other advantages to Medium Format besides those mentioned in your
article; since a Medium Format shoot generally produces less images, agencies are less
concerned about similars going "out of control."
In addition, larger images are more likely to be selected for catalogs. No matter what
they say, agencies are impressed by bigger film!
The most important point to make though, is that the facts are rarely what the agencies
say they are; one agency that says they only take larger stuff gets good file sales from
my 35s. Others who say format doesn't matter, have differences as great as tenfold on
MF vs 35MM sales rates!
You must test these things for yourself.