Important Info For Users of Kodak 120 Size Film - PLEASE READ

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by john sexton, May 17, 2016.

  1. Mr. Sexton,
    Thanks so much for the information on Kodak TMax 120 film problems. I finished processing 27 rolls from a trip to Paris recently, and had the trouble you posted about. Fortunately, only a few images were affected. I still have several rolls from the "offending" emulsions in question that are not exposed yet. I emailed Mr. Mooney today, along with several scans of the problem, as well as the invoice from Freestyle Photo.

    I found you post quite by chance, and I appreciate your help.
  2. Thank you for posting this thread. I was developed 2 rolls of Kodak T-Max 400 and discovered the problem immediately and was scratching my head to try to figure out why something like this would happen. I was going to take it back to lab that develops the film. Luckily this shoot was 'just for fun' and was not for a client. Scan-171127-0001.jpg
  3. Surely this problem must be due to the ink used, and not the paper?

    The film is obviously being darkened (chemically fogged) by the ink in order for the numbers to show up lighter in the scan/print.

    Does anyone use a red window in the camera back these days? Wouldn't the easiest solution be for Kodak to simply stop the archaic practise of printing numbers and their brand name on the entire length of the backing paper?
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
  4. The early Hasselblad backs require you to manually advance to the first frame by looking through a window. I'd say that those are the most common cameras in use that need the numbers(or at least the 1), although I also have a pre-Automat Rolleiflex and a 1930s Rolleicord that require using the ruby window to advance to the first frame.

    With that said, the lomographers and the like often like their box cameras and other low tech cameras, and on many of them still use the ruby window.
  5. As noted on Photrio (looong thread there), lots of those using 120 do need the red window numbers - Holgas, Dianas, old rangefinders, etc... Don't really need "Kodak" though. And there haven't been confirmed problems with other films, just Kodak. I've been using Fuji Acros and assorted Ilford and haven't had issues. There are not many companies (maybe even just one) making the backing paper now. The type of markings are up to each film company. Ilford's have gotten pretty light, but they're still visible through red windows. Supposedly Kodak has worked out a better formulation and newer rolls are ok (like really fresh ones, not right after the problem batches).
  6. Having words between the numbers helps to stop at the right place.

    Putting the film name in is convenient, as you might forget which film it is, if you don't use it for a while.
  7. "..Holgas, Dianas, old rangefinders,etc... "

    Ah, people messing about need the red window numbers. Not photographers seriously shooting film then?

    I would have thought that random letters and numbers popping up could only increase the Holga experience.
  8. There again, users of older Hasselblad backs need them, as do anyone using pre-war F&H products. I think Hasselblad held out with the "wind until 1 appears in the window" until the late 60s at least if not later. I'd say most folks using a Hasselblad of any vintage would be a serious photographer.
  9. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire, mostly on film.

    The problem is nothing to do with the red window, or you wouldn't see more than one set of numbers, surely? This is ink offsetting from the backing paper onto the emulsion. I've had it with Efke film, a few years ago. I guess either the ink or the emulsion itself wasn't as dry as it should be before the film was rolled up.
    There was quite a long discussion of the problem in the 127 group at Flickr (here, here, and here). A telling clue was that the number you would see in frame 3 wasn't a 3; so not from the red window.
  10. Dustin, nobody suggested it was due to a red window. The point is that frame number printing is only needed in old or cheap cameras that don't have an automatic frame spacing mechanism. Anyone with a halfway decent camera doesn't need the numbers, and therefore the ink could be left off the backing paper altogether.

    There's always Ilford film for those with a red-window fetish. Or Kodak could just just ask Ilford nicely where they get their ink from.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  11. There is still ink on the paper, yellow in the case of Kodak.

    Though there are some with black paper, and light colored numbers.

    But Kodak had this right over 100 years ago.

    120 film - Wikipedia

    says 120 goes back to 1901, other roll films even earlier.

    Did this ever happen in the early days?
  12. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    In the early days film was red blind, so the little red windows had no effect on back exposing film. The new films are sensitive across the spectrum so your red window will leak light onto the back of the film.

    If using 120, the paper backing should block a good amount of light if momentarily opening the red window.. but in subdued light, though a shadow may still appear.

    But Kodak's problem was from the ink used on a new formula paper backing that bled onto the film emulsion.Seems there is one manufacture of this special paper that supplies the industry... they make to each company's proprietary specs.

    There have been extensive conversations on PHOTRIO (APUG) with Kodak reps, a former Kodak engineer, B&H reps and many photographers noting serial numbers of problem emulsions and exp dates. Its been very well documented. BTW Kodak has replaced their film and were very professional handeling questions.

    Since then I believe Kodak has changed its paper backing.

    side note: I shoot at least 10 rolls a week and have never had an issue with number bleed. Ive had the bad batch numbers and still had no bleeds. Maybe I was lucky or the problem isnt entire batches and some good batches in the bad serial numberd lots were good?

    PS I remember a few Illford users chiming in about number bleed.. not sure if it was as bad as Kodak's problem.
  13. So 1960s Hasselblad backs are not "decent" cameras?
  14. Yes. And I presume by the time that panchromatic film came out, that black paper was good enough to keep the film safe.

    I do know some cameras with a green window, and also some have a door to minimize the open time.

    In the earliest films that I have, the back of the paper is light pink, with black numbering.

    That was before Kodak changed to their (I suspect) trademark yellow.

    Fuji likes green for their boxes, and GAF/Ansco used to make red boxes.

    The emulsion side is in contact with different parts of the backing paper before and after exposure.
    I don't know that I ever saw any discussion on which one was the problem.
    In high humidity environments, the paper might soak up some water over time, once the roll is unsealed.
  15. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    I noticed as I became more competent in photography that I was not in any rush to develop the film and see the prints. That was sort of redundant - I knew what I had.
  16. Either that, or I just forgot. I had some film 30 and 40 years later to develop.
    (One roll from my last days in my college dorm, another from summer
    before 8th grade.)

    But more often, I developed the film and didn't see a need to print it.

    Back to when I was about 10, I was spooling from 100 foot rolls.
    (Freestyle sold them for $5 each, including ASA 40 Panatomic-X.)

    I had negatives from scout camp 40 years ago that I never printed.

    Now I scanned them and put them up on FB for everyone to see and remember.

    Camp Oljato | Facebook
  17. When I started taking photos with my first camera (a Sears 127 aka Imperial Cubex), I never had trouble with frame number print through with the Kodak films I used (Verichrome Pan, Ektachrome-X, and Kodacolor-X) but a roll or two of Ansco black & white sometimes caused a frame number.

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