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.

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