Using 35mm film in a 120 camera

You quite often see pictures shot on 35mm film that include the sprocket holes. To do this, you need a camera that takes bigger film than 35mm film – such as 120 film.

I’ve tried using 35mm film in my LOMO Lubitel before with reasonable success, except that the red window fogged the film in a few places, even though I taped it up. This week I decided to try again with my Mamiya RB67, which does not have a red window. The film would be kept in complete darkness, although it would need to be unloaded in a darkroom.

I followed this guide which explains how to modify standard 35mm film cartridges to fit in a 120 camera. It’s a pretty simple procedure, and basically involves chopping up an old 120 spool to make “plugs” that pad out the 35mm cartridge. The guide also explains how to wind the film back into a second 35mm canister if you want to unload in the light send it off to be processed, but I wound the film onto a bare 120 spool and unloaded in my darkroom.

Modified 35mm film with a 120 spool

The RB67 usually takes negatives that are 70×60mm in size. The 35mm film is 35mm tall, so when you string it across the centre of the RB67’s film gate, you end up with a wonderful 2:1 panoramic negative that is 70×35mm in size if you include the sprocket holes, and an even wider-format 3:1 70×24mm negative if you choose to crop out the sprocket holes. On this occasion I decided to leave the sprocket holes in the picture.

Unfortunately it seems my C-41 stabiliser has gone off, and it made sticky marks across the tops of most of the negatives. It doesn’t seem to be easy to remove without damaging the film. It wouldn’t dissolve in warm water and I don’t want to smudge or scrape it off. While the iPhone and Android users are bickering over Instagram, I’m in my darkroom doing it properly! 😀

Nonetheless, here are the best shots from the roll. I went up Troopers Hill in the evening, hoping to catch the sunset for the Photo Challenge, which is “into the light” this week. But with the “wrong” film in the camera, the film counter tells lies and I ran out of film before the sun actually got too low in the sky. Never mind – I know how to use the technique now, so I shall return another evening this week and shoot into the sun, through the hazy urban atmosphere.

View from Troopers Hill
View from Troopers Hill
View from Troopers Hill
View from Troopers Hill

One thought on “Using 35mm film in a 120 camera

  1. I did a similar thing in my 127 camera and made the ilm go from canister to canister pretty cool for the red window I suggest 4 layers of film backing paper taped on either side of the hole with black duct tape


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