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Your Guide to Half-Frame Cameras

Half-frame film cameras are awesome, and here is everything you need to know about them.

Image of a harbour taken on Yashica Samurai using Kodak Colorplus film.
View of the sky and trees taken on Yashica Samurai camera using Kodak Colorplus.

What is a half-frame camera?


Half-frame film cameras are a really simple concept; they create an image on one half of the frame at a time. Normal full-frame film cameras create an image across the entire frame that measures 36mm by 24mm, whereas a half-frame will create two images on one frame that each measure 18mm by 24mm.


They use the same, normal 35mm film stocks that any other 35mm film camera would use.

Canon Demi 35mm half-frame camera.
View of the inside back of the Canon Demi 35mm half-frame camera.

What are the benefits of using a half-frame camera?

Because the camera is taking two images on one frame, you can get more photographs on one roll of film. For example, if you have a 36-exposure roll of film, you can create 72 photographs on that roll.

Sometimes you really don't want to waste another frame taking the same image from a different angle or with different settings, but having more images on one roll, taking multiple angles feels less wasteful.

When you're taking twice the amount of images on one roll of film, each image costs less. If you bought a roll of Portra for £14, each half-frame photo on a 36-exposure roll only costs you £0.19 rather than £0.39 on a full-frame.

How do you get half-frames developed and scanned?


Film from half-frame cameras is developed the same way as normal film.


When it comes to scanning, let your photo lab know that it is a half-frame. They may scan each individual image for you or they will scan the film as normal and you will have two images on one scan. You can then easily crop these images into two yourself. It shouldn't cause any issues at all.

View of half-frame 35mm film negatives held up to a light.

Will my images appear lower quality when scanned?


The physical image is smaller, so scanning at a higher resolution is recommended. If you are planning to create huge, gallery prints from your negatives, a half-frame is maybe not the best recommendation over a full-frame.


Some of my sharpest and highest quality images have come from my half-frame camera. All of the film photographs shown on this blog post are created using half-frame cameras.

View of cathedral with flowers in the front. Taken on the Yashica Samurai 35mm film half-frame camera.

Is the viewfinder different?


Yes, but no. The viewfinder will show you what will appear on your negative as a normal camera would. The only difference is that sometimes these viewfinders are a portrait frame instead of a landscape frame.


The Yashica Samurai has a landscape viewfinder as the film is loaded vertically into the camera. The Olympus Pen has a portrait viewfinder as the film is loaded horizontally.


What's your favourite half-frame camera?


My personal favourite half-frame camera is the Yashica Samurai. It has a unique grip for holding the camera easily and looks a bit like a vintage camcorder. I take it with me almost everywhere and it has never let me down when it comes to sharp images and well-exposed frames.


This camera is always a talking point, but more importantly, it is so easy and fun to use.

Person holding Yashica Samurai 35mm film half-frame camera.

Summary

Half-frame cameras allow you to take more photos on each roll of film, which ends up making using film cheaper for you.

Most half-frame cameras are really easy to use and there is a small range to choose from.

Tell your lab that it is a roll of half-frame photographs, but there should be no issue with them developing it as normal.

Our range of half-frame cameras can be found in the Point and Shoot section of our website.