35 or 120? You Decide…

Last week sometime, I saw the following tweet from Ade of the Sunny16 Podcast.

While I often try to work out what kit has been used for an image, I hadn’t tried a blind test. What I had done though, is shot the same scene on two formats and using the same film stock, camera settings and development, so I posted up the three pairs of pictures below and invited Ade and the Twitter community to work out which was which.

There followed some reasoned debate and both good and bad guesses. Ade and his fellow presenters then discussed the subject further on the Sunny16 Podcast – with more good and bad guesses!

To answer a couple of the questions asked on the show, I took the same picture twice because in this first example, I was travelling between Newcastle and Perth and saw the figure hunched in the seaside shelter and visualised the shot. The Leica was in my lap in the passenger seat of the car, the Fuji in the boot. I jumped out of the car and snapped with the first camera at hand, just in case the person moved on (as it turned out, he was still there when we left, still staring at the floor).

In these first two pairs, one picture uses a 35mm Leica M6 with a 35mm Summicron lens, the other, a Fuji GW690ii with it’s 90mm lens. Therefore, both give a similar angle of view, although depth of field will change with the same aperture setting.

Take a look and see if you see the differences:

Leica FP4 4 142Scotland GW106

The second pair of pictures was taken a couple of meters from the first. Again, I shot the 35mm version before returning to the car, collecting the 6×9 and shooting the same two scenes again.
I was using FP4+ in both cameras because I was looking for a consistent look to the pictures shot on the trip, regardless of which camera I’d used.

The same pairing, a different view:Leica FP4 4 141Scotland GW107

For the final pair (this one’s a bit easier), one picture uses an EOS5 using 35mm FP4+ with 40mm lens and a Graflex 4×5 using HP5:EOS5 FP4027Graflex HP5 855

To me, even when crunched through Lightroom to 2000px across, squashed again by Twitter or WordPress, there’s a clear difference in the grain size, although only because I’m in front of a large computer screen. Looking on a phone or tablet, it’s going to be a whole lot harder to see the difference just from the grain or resolution.

What does give clues though (although not in these examples) is the compression in depth of field that larger formats, and so longer lenses bring – Ade’s theory. I’ll see if I can find a couple of portraits, shot on different formats, that help explain what we’re talking about.

So anyway, how did YOU get on? Did you see any difference? Here’s the answer:

˙˙˙ʇsɹᴉɟ uʍoɥs sᴉ ǝƃɐɯᴉ ɯɯϛƐ ǝɥʇ ‘sɹᴉɐd ǝǝɹɥʇ ǝɥʇ ɟo ɥɔɐǝ uI


  1. The first two were hard. The online compression did all it could to make them equal, I could not really decide (on my phone – will try on the Mac tomorrow).

    The last one was quite obvious! So much more detail and precision… one day I’ll move to MF or even LF!

    Interresting test, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The difference I also tend to notice between MF & 35mm is the grain structure. The sky made the first two stand out to me. The third threw me though. Big monitor also but agreed would have definitely been harder to tell on a phone. Were they both scanned on the same machine?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, all scanned at the same resolution on the same scanner. Agreed on grain structure, and if there is little grain (or effect of grain) because of the film used, and the picture is only to be viewed on a screen, seems like there’s not a lot benefit of one over the other…


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