Composition of Negative Film
Negative film is a photo material that, after development, displays the opposite color tone. The development of negative film generates the actual color tone of the image; the image transfers from a negative to a positive. Negative film comes in various sizes. The most common size is the 35mm film cartridge. In the middle of the 1930’s, 35mm film was also given the designation “135”. The film is, including perforation on both sides, altogether 35mm high and depending on photo quantity (12, 24 or 36) can reach a length of 1.6m. The format of 24mm (height) x 36 mm (length) for an image is designated as the normal format and has remained unchanged to this day. Digital camera image sensors with a size of 24mm x 36mm are referred to as full format sensors. Other common formats are 4.5 x 6cm, 6 x 6cm, 6 x 7cm, 6 x 9cm and are commonly referred to as middle format. The 6 x 7cm format is often considered an ideal format due to its appropriate size, fitting to most paper formats. On the market, middle format film has the designation 120, a designation given to the film by Kodak.
Negatives are available in both black and white and color. Besides the fact that black and white film is developed into a positive via tonal correction, there are several other key factors that differentiate black and white from color film. We will cover these specifics in detail.
As mentioned at the beginning, negative film is currently very popular among analog photographers. 35mm Film is available from manufacturers such as Agfa, Fuji, Ilford, Kodak and Rollei to name a few. These manufactures offer films with varying exposure sensibility (ISO/ASA), granularity, resolution and orange masking. A few of these parameters are not only important for photographers but also for analog photo scanning. This will be touched upon in greater detail in the “Scanning” section to come.
Negatives in the Digital Age of Photography
Nowadays, negatives are regarded as something special. Older negatives stand for the past; a past we would like to preserve; a piece of history we want to bring into the present. Like nothing else, contemporary analog photography and negatives embody the idea of conscious photography, of decelerating the pace of our hectic day-to-day lives; they embody the idea of manual, technical work with a result that we can hold in our hands.
Of course, this in no way means we have to rid ourselves of the digital world. On the contrary: digitalization provides us with the possibility of making the second step. Digitalization takes the analog, negative image and converts it to a digital, positive image that we can optimize and archive according to our needs, sharing the image with friends and family or posting it online. There are, however, several things we need to keep an eye on, which we will cover on the next page.