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Initial experience with running 120 film through #51 roll ho

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Joined: 21 May 2021
Posts: 38
Location: Boston area

PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2021 3:43 am    Post subject: Initial experience with running 120 film through #51 roll ho Reply with quote

I'm just starting to experiment with spool extensions, from an eBay seller ,that let the old Kodak #51)#50/etc. roll holders (try to) handle 120 film.

VERY initial observations follow -- I haven't actually gotten my first probably-successful roll developed yet, so this may turn out to be a complete failure, but....

To make this work, you do have to tape over the old frame-number view window. And I ​found that applying some thin self-adhesive UHMW (Teflon) tape to the edges the backing paper slides over made a huge improvement in how well film fed through this kludged setup.

You also need to figure out how much to advance the film to the first frame, and between frames, "by guess and by golly". Playing with some spoiled 120 film, my initial rule of thumb ipfor the #51 holder is to initially rotate the take-up key 9 complete turns (after loading, advancing to the arrows, and closing the holder). For the first 4 advances after that, 2 complete rotations of the key seem to work; after that, the take-up's radius has increased enough that I drop to 1 1/2 turns of the key (three half turns). This does waste some film between frames; someone with more patience could probably optimize it to quarter turns or something like that. Better would be to somehow see the markings on the backing paper, but that would take much more modification.

Then there's the question of whether you put the roll in the center of the holder with one extension at each end, so the film is centered in the original image space, or put both extensions on the same end so it's aligned with one or the other of the camera frame's original edges. The latter does put one edge of the film behind a guide surface and may keep it flatter, but you don't get as much benefit from the focusing screen guide grid.

I haven't figured out whether using the feed-spool lock lets me tighten and flatten the film before exposing, as seems to be its original intent (?). I did find that forgetting to release it before advancing to the next frame was a good way to spoil a roll of film....

The film does unavoidably wind up reverse-spooled, as the old #51 film did; the ratchet mechanism in the take-up forces that. The one lab I've contacted so far said they should be able to handle that if they are warned about it. I didn't ask them about the whether the inconsistent frame spacing will be an issue when they're ready to cut and print the developed negs. 'Course, if you're developing it yourself, you won't have to fight expectations.

It's a sloppy way to make a 3x4 old-style Graflex take 6x6ish exposures on 120 film... but it may be a viable alternative to paying the high price of 120 film holders that will mount on this camera, or trying to construct an adapter to mount a 2x3 120 holder on the larger camera, or other solutions. If nothing else, it's a cheap way to try running film thru the camera if you already have the old roll holder. Just don't expect too much of it.[/u]
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