Thursday, October 14, 2021

Using 120 Film in 116 Cameras

I have made quite a few pictures with my 116 cameras using 120 film with only minimal adaptations.  I loaded the 120 film roll into the cameras and rolled it onto the 116 reel, advancing 8 and one half turns to get to the first frame with the ruby window covered.  Two and a half turns between frames gets you five pictures from the 120 roll.  The process is particularly easy with the No. 1A Pocket Kodak because the boxy internal structure holds the feed reel in place with no need to directly engage the end disks of the reel.  Rolling the film onto the big 116 reel leaves the film edges exposed, so it is necessary to use a dark bag to open the camera, remove the reel and load the film onto the processing reel to go into the film developing tank.

While this simplest procedure mostly works, a few glitches can degrade the results.  The film rolls onto the take-up reel rather loosely and it can drift sideways, causing some misalignment of the image on the film.  An easy fix for that problem is to acquire some 120 to 116 film adapters like the ones sold by the Film Photography Project.

The adapters allow a tight fit of the 120 roll of film into the camera as well as the use of a standard 120 take-up reel.  That solves the problem of film misalignment, and the spacers also produce sufficient tautness on the film to help keep the film flat at the film plane.  The red adapter disks from the kit can be used alone to hold the film reels, but I found it helpful to insert them into the white holders to facilitate positioning the reels in the camera.  The tabs on adapters are a loose fit in the reel slots, so I put a small bit of tape over the tabs to keep them on while inserting them into the camera.

I found the small bubble level on ebay for just a few dollars.  Since the old folders have no accessory holders I just attached the level to the top deck of the camera with a piece of double-sided tape.

I have not seen any problem with film flatness even without a 120 mask for the film plane.  It would be helpful to accurate composition though to make a mask for the viewfinder.

Scanning the long negatives can be a bit of a challenge.  My old Epson Perfection 2450 flatbed scanner has a film holder with a 4x5 frame, so I make use of that to hold the  negatives in place by placing them directly on the scanner's glass and laying the film holder on top of the film.  With the emulsion side of the film toward the glass, the upward curve of the film helps to avoid Newton rings on the scanned images.

I shot Fomapan 100 in my last outing with the 1A Pocket Kodak using a tripod and cable release to ensure steadiness.  Most exposures were at 1/25, with apertures of f22 or f32.  I developed the film semi-stand in Rodinal 1:100 for one hour.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021


The best part of Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta for me is actually not the balloons, but the Flamenco dance performances in the Old Town Plaza Vieja which are staged by the National Institute of Flamenco.  I believe the small woman in the picture is Eva Encinias who founded the Institute as well as the unique Flamenco dance program at UNM.  The tall woman beside her is the head teacher at the Institute.

I shot a roll of Kentmere 100 and another of Kentmere 400 this time around.  Since I had two rolls of film to process I decided to try them both together using semi-stand processing in HC110 at 1:100 for an hour.  I was very pleased with the results which this choice yielded for the Kentmere 400.  The tonal qualities were very good and the grain was nearly undetectable.  I have mostly used PMK Pyro as a developer for Kentmere in the past with good results, but I thought the quality of the HC110 pictures made with my Nikon FE were just as good if not better.

The Kentmere 100 shot in my FED 1g rangefinder responded less well to the HC110 stand development, so I'll likely stick with PMK Pyro processing for that film which seems better able to handle the higher contrast of the slower speed film.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Acros 100 II

I can't say that the new Acros is the same as the old, but it is nice stuff in terms of grain and tonalities.  I processed these shots in Rodinal 1:50.  My old Silverfast scanning software does not have an Acros profile, so I tend to skip around to find one that produces what I want from the negatives.



I bought five rolls of the Acros 100 II from Adorama where it was on sale at about half the current price, probably due to the fact that it was close to the expiration date.  I have several rolls left, so I'll likely try the film in additional developers includiing PMK and HC110.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Exploring the Bosque

 I took a long walk with my 1A Pocket Special in the riverside forest at the east end of the Paseo del Norte bridge.  I saw some bike riders and skaters on the paved path that parallels the river, but no other people after that.  

I got six-and-one-half frames from this roll of Tri-X using some expired 120 Tri-X.  I think the century-plus camera has performed very well, but it is starting to show its age; there are some small light leaks appearing on the negatives and the ancient leather covering is disintegrating.  I think I will give the camera a well-deserved rest and move on to using a couple of my other, newer 116 Kodaks along with the very helpful 116 to 120 adapters.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Fomapan 400 Revisited

 I wasn't happy with some images on Fomapan 400 shot recently with my 1A Pocket Special and put them aside.  I started playing around with them again in Photoshop this evening and discovered that some rather radical adjustments to contrast, highlights and shadows revealed that there was quite a lot of useful detail available in the negatives.

The adjustments to the images got me a lot closer to what I want from my black and white medium format pictures in regard to sharpness and tonal range.  I'm thinking now that I need to take a close look at my Silverfast settings when I do the initial scans of the Fomapan 400 negatives.

The 116 to 120 adapters from the Film Photography Project look like they are going to make using 120 film in the 1A Pocket Special a lot more practical.  I also spent some time today in getting a better handle on advancing the film blindly since the red window is not of any use.  It seems that if I am careful in the advance process I could get as many as seven frames from a roll of 120.

Thursday, September 16, 2021


 I spent an hour at the Botanical Garden with my Kodak Reflex II.  I shot a roll of Fomapan 400 with the continuing hope that one of my usual developers would yield results that I can live with.  I processed this roll in PMK Pyro.

The negatives were very thin, looking like they could have used a couple more stops exposure or quite a bit more time in the developer.  

Meanwhile, Adorama had a half-price sale on Across II, so I picked up five rolls.  I also still have a few rolls of expired Tri-X that I like.  I'll play around with my few remaining rolls of Fomapan, but I'm not real optimistic about the prospects of getting what I want in regard to grain and tonal values.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

116 to 120

 I tagged along with a fellow New Mexico Film Photographer on a visit to the Old San Ysidro Church and Cemetery in the community of Corrales.  

We managed to get to the place shortly after sunrise and found some very nice light.  I was pleased to get seven frames from a roll of 120 in my 116-format Kodak No.1A Folding Pocket Special.  Unfortunately, the film rolled crookedly onto the take-up spool, so all the shots were a bit cockeyed.  I had taped the film backing to the take-up spool to try to avoid that, but to no avail.

When I first began using this camera I had put some foam padding on the end caps to keep the 120 ilm from getting off track.  That reel got lost along the way, and I don't have any suitable material on hand to duplicate that arrangement.  I decided I would try some 116 to 120 3D-printed adapters which would let me use actual 120 film spools on both ends.  I ordered the adapters from the Film Photography Project at a cost of $20, and I should have them in about a week.