Talk:120 film

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Reason for the name?[edit]

Who gave 120 film the name "120" and why?

Kodak did, and the number was arbitrary: they started with 101, and it was the 20th film size they'd introduced. Shalom S. 01:50, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

I'm only curious: Is there a citation or reference anywhere for this? And published information about "100" through "119"? I'm still looking through my library of photographic technology and history books. Walter Dufresne (talk) 14:50, 12 June 2012 (UTC)

120 and 220[edit]

What is the difference between 120 and 220, exactly?

How many exposures?

220 is 120 without paper tape this allow to double the lenght of the film but the camera must have a frame counter and must be absoltely light-proof, this is not the case of most the folders that have a hole with a red filter to see the numbers on the paper tape.

Hasselblad and Rolleiflex[edit]

User:Ericd removed the following passage:

- The cameras that introduced the medium format to the professional photographer, and established the 120 as the medium format of choice, was the Hasselblad and the Rolleiflex.

My comment is: On the grounds that it is inexact? Why? I could perhaps agree wrt. the Rollei, but the Hassy surely set a standard that should be mentioned... Also, there should be a link from 120 to some cameras that use it, I think...

Egil 11:53 Jan 27, 2003 (UTC)

At second lecture this not really inexact, the Rolleiflex, the Hassy and the best 35mm (Leica, Contax and Nikon rangefinders) replaced the 4"x5" like the Speed Graphic for many professional use, but professional 120 like the zeiss Super Ikonta existed before.
Your text was also misleading the reader because the 120/620 originally an amateur format as common as the 35mm today see folding camera. IMHO we should take some text from folding camera to explain the decline of the 120 as an amateur format and his rise as professionnal format and mix it with your text and rework that all.
Agreed, that seems like a very good idea. Can you do it? Egil 20:19 Jan 27, 2003 (UTC)
Yes but not now it's getting late.

Ericd 20:56 Jan 27, 2003 (UTC) you may be right but I have never seen bobbin in that context. Try a search on Google. Have a look at this page for instance. A photographer will speak of rollfilm and spool (take-up spool and giving spool).
Probably a US vz. UK issue, then? I still think bobbin is more exact. Perhaps something akin to GRP vz. fibreglass? --Egil 20:19 Jan 27, 2003 (UTC)


When was the 620 discontinued ? Ericd 19:29 Jan 27, 2003 (UTC)

How would I know? --Egil 20:19 Jan 27, 2003 (UTC)
Jeez, brownies used 620 film, which is why they're called "Brownie 620" cameras. Someone wanna change that?
Brownies were made from 1901 onwards. 620 film was made from 1930s or so. Not *ALL* Brownies take 620. I have a Brownie No. 2 Model E that specifically says "Use Film No. 120". It would not work with 620 film spools as the turning "key" is too large for 620 spools (see the photos I've posted to the article on the differences between 120 and 620 spools) Caradea 18:11, 8 February 2007 (UTC)


Exakta still produce camera ? Ericd

New table[edit]

I just moved a lot of frame size information into a table, which is easier to see at a glance. I added columns for the aspect ratio and nominal frame size, but it's mostly guess work. Since the nominal height of the frame is actually 56mm, I went from there trying to work everything out. The only problem is 6x12, which I figured was a 1:2 panoramic format. Well 2x56mm = 112mm, which is closer to 11cm. So, should it really be called 6x11, or is it actually closer to 12cm long? Everything else works out pretty well. Imroy 18:57, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Linhof's web site says 2:1 for the 612 camera. Six exposures on 120. Probably the frame of film is a bit smaller because of blank space between exposures (but I don't see actual dimensions on the web site). Linhof Fg2 20:54, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
After some experimentations with old folders I have reached the conclusion than more or less 2mm is not very important in on 120 film. Be aware that that it 120 film is a "de facto" standard that started before any official international, European or US standard. However, I think its possible to find some ISO standard for the 120 film that will give the "real" size of the picture, however it's "a posteriori", IMO. Ericd 19:31, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Exact length?[edit]

I did some searching for ISO 732 in an attempt to get an official figure on the length of 120 and 220 films. But not even a few P2P networks turned up anything. So the only route appears to be handing over 74 Swiss Francs to ISO just to get a few numbers. And even then it can't be easily cited here on Wikipaedia - no link can be supplied for other people to see so who's to say the numbers are correct?

So I pulled out some of my own film - a roll of Konica Minolta Centuria Pro 400 in 220 that I accidentally dropped and unrolled a few years ago, and a roll of Ilford FP4+ in 120 that a repairer recently used in testing the frame spacing of my Pentacon Six. The 220 was about 159 cm long, and the 120 about 81 cm (measurement doesn't include the piece(s) of tape attaching the film to the paper). Much longer than the 72/144 cm figures given in the article!

Doing some searching now I turned up this page. It says you need "30 inches" (76.2 cm) to get eight exposures of the "original" 6x9 format, and then says most manufacturers use 32-33 inches (81.3-83.8 cm). That matches my measurement. I'll be adding this as a reference unless I can find a better one. --Imroy (talk) 11:18, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Seems to me that the film tends to go a little past the usual end. For cameras that don't use the red window, there might be some uncertainty. Also, when you load it into the reel, for reels that spool from the inside out, a few cm of film isn't usable. (I have one that has a sharp hook in the center to hold the film. You don't want that though an actual image.) It would be interesting to see what the ISO says. Gah4 (talk) 21:46, 2 May 2016 (UTC)

What is the width in millimeters?[edit]

This Wikipedia article is very strange. The most important fact about 120 film -- the width of the film -- is mentioned only near the end of the article in a section about non-120 films. Furthermore, the width of 120 film in millimeters -- which is the standard way of measuring film -- is not mentioned at all. Instead, the width is awkwardly described as 2.466 inches. Realute (talk) 01:48, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

Unless you are starting a film factory, or processing equipment factory, it isn't very important. All you need to know is that the film you buy is right, and the development tanks are designed for that width. Gah4 (talk) 02:17, 3 May 2016 (UTC)
Look under 120 film#Frame sizes. - Denimadept (talk) 02:54, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
I have no idea why Denimadept is telling me to look under "Frame sizes". Maybe it is because Denimadept does not understand the difference between frame size and film width. In any case, everything I wrote in my original post remains true -- unfortunately. Realute (talk) 04:28, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

If anybody wants to learn how to properly write a Wikipedia article about film, take a look at this article:

Notice that the most important fact about 135 film -- the width of the film -- is mentioned in the article's first sentence. And that fact is provided in both millimeters and (parenthetically) inches. Realute (talk) 05:06, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

I just figured that was the relevant bit. - Denimadept (talk) 05:08, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

I still don't see the actual width of the film mentioned anywhere - I might deduce the nominal width is 6cm, but nowhere is it actually explicitly stated, and the nominal width may not be the actual width. As the previous poster said, surely this is THE most important attribute of the film? (talk) 00:03, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

When 120 film started, metric units were rare in the US. Exactly why 35mm is metric, I don't know. But for roll film, the width of the spool and the backing paper are more important than the width of the film. The film is usually slightly narrower than the paper, such that the paper makes a tight seal against the spool. Gah4 (talk) 04:25, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

The older size 116/616 roll film was exactly 70 mm. Dicklyon (talk) 22:15, 2 May 2016 (UTC)
There is the well known story that Edison, when asked about the size of a movie film frame, said "About an inch by three quarters". That would be about 18mm by 25mm, close to the size of a 35mm movie film frame today, and half frame for still 35mm. But that doesn't all explain the source for the film width. Possibly it originated in English units, and was later rounded to a nice metric size. I suspect it isn't an accident that 70mm is twice 35mm, but again, it might have been a later rounding. Gah4 (talk) 02:17, 3 May 2016 (UTC)
It seems that 35_mm_film#Early_history says that Edison made his film 1.375in, which comes out to 34.925mm. I suspect that 35mm is within the tolerance. The early roll film widths were likely in inches, and later converted to convenient metric units. Gah4 (talk) 02:29, 3 May 2016 (UTC)

Frame numbering[edit]

"the four standard image formats (6×4.5, 6×6, 6×7, and 6×9; see below) are printed on the backing paper." All that I have seen, and I have a backing paper roll sitting here right now, are numbered for 8, 12, and 16 frames. There are two or three sets of numbers for each. Gah4 (talk) 04:27, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

For 6x9cm, the numbers are 1 to 8, for 6x6 it's 1 to 12, for 6x4.5cm, it's 1 through 16. Is that what you're asking? Cameras for each size put the red window over the appropriate line of numbers. - Denimadept (talk) 16:31, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
For 6x7 it is 10 frames/roll, but there aren't numbers on the paper for that. The article indicates that there are. Such cameras position the film without a red window. But I really wanted to know if some actually did, and I hadn't noticed. Gah4 (talk) 17:13, 18 May 2015 (UTC)


6×4.5 is the smallest and least expensive roll-film frame size; equipment to take photos in this size is also the lightest. Seems like 127 and 828 are smaller roll film formats, with smaller image size, but both are pretty much discontinued. But since the whole idea of medium format is larger image area, why the interest in smallest? (Kodak seems not to consider 35mm as a roll film format, where roll films have the paper backing.) Gah4 (talk) 21:49, 2 May 2016 (UTC)