Convert 120 Roll Film to 620 Roll Film

Introduction: Convert 120 Roll Film to 620 Roll Film

About: hgv driver but only because it pays more than I can make otherwise

So you found an old medium format camera, and whilst it seems to work the currently available medium format 120 roll film won't fit because the spool is a little too fat and the drive teeth are too small to fit the 120 spool, It probably needs 620 film which if you can find it is stupidly expensive, there is at least one company making new spools, and several doing as we are going to do here selling 120 film wound onto old 620 spools and you're paying for the time.

Step 1: 120 V's 620

The film itself is the same stuff, Which is why we are able to do this. A paper light proof backing and a strip of film.
The differences are with the spools, 120 has a fatter core, wider thicker ends, and a larger drive hole for winding on the film

Step 2: Requirements

Access to a dark room, or changing bag you are going to need these to process the film later.
As that is covered here https://www.ilfordphoto.com I have no connection with the company other than using their film and chemicals which I buy locally.
At least 2 empty 620 spools 1to load and 1 for the take up possition, an empty 120 spool and a new roll of 120 film.
For testing an old camera basic black and white is best, I used ilford FP4 plus. The optics on many old cameras don't give good results with colour film anyway, 120 roll film is available in standard c41 processing negative, and E6 slide versions too so once you've proved your old camera works you can try colour if you wish too.

Step 3: Check and Recondition

Most of the 620 spools I've encountered are steel, I've seen one with an aluminium core, they need to be clean smooth and free from rust, whilst they tend to be blackened, bright spots won't matter, rust like mine has will. This rust is thankfully light a good scrub with a new wire brush took care of most of it followed up with some fine emery cloth, 800 to 1000 grit wet and dry would do. I should have followed up with some rust killer and sprayed it lightly with matt black paint, I made do with a black ink marker

Step 4: Transfer the Film

This has to be done in total 100% darkness, the illustrative pictures are done with just an old backing paper and no film.
Place an empty 620 spool, an empty 120 spool, and a new roll of 120 film and a small rubber band in the changing bag, or on the work top in the dark room where you can find them. Put your arms in the changing bag/ close the door and turn off the light.
Locate the 120 film break the securing tape, feed the tab into the slot in the empty 120 spool, identifiable
by its thicker core wind the backing paper and film from the new120 spool to the empty 120 spool keeping the roll tight.

Step 5: Re-roll to 620

You now need the 620 spool and repeat the process checking the lose end of the film lays taught with the paper and doesn't crease giving you a correctly wound roll of film. Which you now secure with an elastic band. It can be secured with tape in daylight if not going stright in a camera that can only use 620 spools
Some cameras permits as this one does the use of either 120 or 620 spools load the film close the back wind it to the used spool, without tripping the shutter. Remove the film and re-load and repeat with a 620 spool in the used spool position, this does risk the transport issues that the lose end of the film can cause.
You could skip this and just do the first step straight to a 620 spool. However there is a big disadvantages to this, the film is only attached to the backing paper at the start as originally wound, running the film through a camera the lose end first may result in uneven transport of the film or creasing, also the indexing will be back to front, you don't get an indication you have nearly reached the next frame, the roll says it is exposed when it is new and unexposed when it is used, which could get very confusing if you have several 620 spools wound.

Step 6: Use Your 620 Film

You've only bothered doing this because you've found a camera you want to test. So try it out see if it still takes good pictures, does it leak light, if it's more complex than the one I found which has fixed focus, shutter speed and appature does it focus.

Be the First to Share

    Recommendations

    • Make it Fly Challenge

      Make it Fly Challenge
    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest
    • First Time Author Contest

      First Time Author Contest

    Comments

    0
    randofo
    randofo

    2 years ago

    Thanks for the tip!