Saturday, March 10, 2012

Roll Film Formats

Here are some reels from roll film cameras in my collection.

L to R:  127  620  120  116  122

I get questions frequently about identifying old cameras and asking what kind of film they use.  There is quite a variety, so the confusion is understandable, particularly in regard to Kodak as the company had a habit of reusing camera names, often applying the same name to cameras of different types and formats.  The name, "Brownie", for instance was applied to box cameras and folders, and they might use 127, 120 or 620 film.

The early Kodak folders did adhere to a system of sorts in which there was an association of model names and film sizes.  Thus, No.1 and No.2 Kodaks used 120 film.  No.1A Kodaks used 116 film.  No.3A Kodaks used 122 film.

Later Kodak model names left out the direct film size reference, with only an oblique gesture toward identification.  The Bantam series name, for instance, referred to the 828 roll film format.  The 127-format cameras were called "Vest Pocket" models by Kodak, and some other companies also used that association of model and film size.  Other companies used the term, "Baby", to refer to their small 127 format cameras.

The earliest Kodak film reels had wooden core spools.  As can be seen in this rotating 3D model, the ends were different, so there was a right way and a wrong way to insert the reel in the camera.

The Wikipedia Film Formats page has some comprehensive tables of the many film formats which have appeared over the years.  The tables include image dimensions, production years, and associated model names as well as a lot of other helpful data.

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