The main reason I was attracted to half frame photography was the ability to shoot 72+ shots on a roll of film. For someone on a budget , this is an enormous benefit. You are literally doubling the productivity of a single roll of film and thus halving your costs associated with development and scanning. Now that comes with a drawback of a smaller negative size decreased resolution which may limit one’s ability to make large prints, but for web work and small prints this is minor issue. This decrease in resolution is just another way to say increase in grain. Grain is such a polarizing topic, some people love it, others hate it. Some grains may be more appealing than others, but grain is almost always visible in half frame photography. I found that using modern films like Acros or Portra can minimize it’s effect, but there is no escaping it. I’ve also found using traditional emulsions like HP5 or Tri-X can yield some beautiful grainy images that would be difficult to duplicate in full frame 35mm film without push processing.
Another reason I found half frame photography so appealing was that I loved shooting vertical and (most) half frame cameras have a vertical viewfinder. The ratio is also a 3:4 ratio which makes more appealing vertical composition than the 2:3 ratio of standard 35mm photography. Coincidentally, half frame cameras share this vertical ratio with many medium format cameras which produce a negative 4.5cmx 6cm in size. Not so coincidentally, the majority of print media is vertically oriented and with the increase of media delivery on mobile phone platforms, the vertical composition will likely overtake horizontal in the near future (wait they’ve been saying that forever)
The vertical composition, paired with the ability to take 72 shots on a roll of film really make it easy for half frame shooters to do diptychs, triptychs, panoramic sequences and photo collages. For me this was a huge draw. Diptychs and triptychs allow some real creative freedom and make it easier for me to tell a story. I also love panoramic landscapes or shooting a scene from several angles and stitching them together to make an altered reality. I always felt too stifled by a traditional 35mm camera when attempting projects like this, but with the half frame, not so much.
Speaking of landscapes, another side effect of the smaller negative is an increased depth of field. f/8 behaves much more like something between f/11 and f/16. People who are looking for blurry backgrounds will be disappointed but those looking for everything to be in focus will be really happy.
Most half frame cameras are also quite compact. Not everyone cares about size, but for me it’s paramount. I shoot all the time and I like to keep a camera in a pocket or in my hand. I can't stand wearing a neck strap and I don’t like carrying a camera bag around everywhere I go. Super cliche mottos like “ the best camera is the one in your hand” or “f/8 and be there” sound redundant after awhile but in the end they are true.
Dan Marinelli - Founder