Processing 120 film compared to 35mm

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by whitney_mayer|1, Apr 16, 2008.

  1. I've been processing my own 35mm film(b&w) for a couple of years now, and I'm wondering what I'll need
    to do to be able to develop 120 film. I'm assuming the process is somewhat similar to 35mm. I'm new to
    medium format, so I'd appreciate any tips...
  2. A 120 reel remember there are more chemicals needed per roll and check the times on the charts some time are different for the same films in 120 and 35mm. if you have a plastic adjustable reel you are in business if not and you use steel reels you will need one.
  3. 35mm film is a LOT easier to load on a reel.
    120 is more subject to kinking which will cause cresent-=shaped marks on the film. I think it is more subject to "air bells". bang the tank on the table a few times. Learn ways of handling the film so it loads easily.
    sometimes it is possible with 120 to push it on the reel, which is almost impossible with the longer 35mm-36exp. The "ratchet reels" ( one flange wobbles) may actually work with 120. Look for someone who took a HS photo course, that may have the "FR Special" tanks thatr have a ss hook in the center which makes it easier.
  4. thanks...I just looked it up and supposedly the reel I have is adjustable, I just have to figure
    out how that works. I'll try it with a test roll and if it works for me.
  5. Loading the reel is fussier. You might sacrifice a cheap or outdated roll to practice in the light with.

    Otherwise much the same.

  6. In a few cases, especially if you check the data on Kodak's website, you'll see slightly different development times recommended for 35mm and MF versions of the same film. This is probably due in part to differences in film base - material and thickness.

    In practice, the differences usually appear to be insignificant for all but the most critical applications.
  7. Steel reels for 120 are more fiddly that the 35mm versions. Plastic ratchet type reels work easily provided they are clean and dry when you load them. You need more chemistry in the tank to cover the 120 size film. Everything else is the same.
  8. As others have already mentioned, loading the film is trickier. It would be a good idea to just open up one roll of film in the light and have a practice roll of film so you can get a really good feel for it.

    You said you had an adjustable I'm guessing it's one of those plastic ratchet reels - that makes the job easier but it's still harder to get it started without getting fingerprints all over the film. Also, if the film snaps while you're loading, it can produce a spark which will fog your film - like here:

    since the 120 reel is taller, you will have to put more chemical in to cover the film (plastic tanks usually have the amount necessary stamped on the bottom of the tank) on steel tanks just use the same amount you would for 2 35mm rolls.

    developing times are sometimes different - check with

    some companies use a different base for 120 film than for 35mm, and sometimes different anti-halation methods. Certain 120 films require a pre-wash to remove the AH dye prior to developing (efke for example).

    The construction of the roll is quite different. There is no can. The film is spooled with a black backing paper - if allowed to loosen while loading, it can fog, and the paper must be separated from the film when loading on the developing reel.

    none of this is particularly difficult, just takes some getting used to. just get a couple of rolls and practice. The trick is to get familiar enough with it to separate the film from the backing paper and get it on the reel without getting fingerprints on it or snapping the film.

    As for the film itself - just because you're using the same brand and film, doesn't mean it will behave the same way it did in 35mm and develop the same way. There are some films that I hated in 35mm that I love in 120, and vice versa. So just pretend you're shooting new films that are similar to what you've shot before and you'll be fine.

    However, the results are TOTALLY worth it. As far as I'm concerned, if you're processing and printing your own B&W, there's no reason to NOT shoot 35mm.

    oh, and I don't know if you're aware of this, but in med format, you lose depth of field! In some cases, it drops down to INCHES and really surprises you. It's something to get used to...your exposures are going to be much slower...weld your camera to a tripod.

    check THIS out:
  9. erm...I meant to say there's no reason NOT to shoot 120...someone should really put it an "edit post" feature.
  10. It's odd to me that most people think 35mm is easier to get on steel reels than 120. When I got started with B&W I only used 35mm for a few months before switching to 120 and found the 120 film far easier to roll onto my reels. Maybe people in general have more experience with 35mm film and so are more used to it?

    One thing I've found that helps dramatically is to spend the extra money for the heavy duty "Tundra" reels. For 35mm it's a no brainer, because the reels have metal sprockets sticking out where you can attach the holes on the 35mm film. Makes 35mm rolling almost trivial. And for 120 film, I found that it's almost impossible for me to mess up rolling the film onto the reel with the Tundra reels. The metal is so much thicker, it really guides the film onto the reel easily and holds the film in place. I used to have problems with the film separating from the reel during washing, but once I switched to the Tundra reels that all went away. With the cost of darkroom supplies on eBay these days, Tundra reels cost less than a Big Mac meal. Totally worth it.

    I definitely agree with Blarg, 120 film is my preference for roll film. Minimizing grain is so much easier when you aren't trying to make 13x enlargements from a tiny piece of 35mm film, you have a lot more resolution to work with for all your enlargements and especially if you need to crop, and it's just a lot nicer holding up a big chunk of film to the light for viewing. And personally I find the 6x6 and 6x7 formats to be much more focused from a composition standpoint than the 2x3 of 35mm.
  11. Have a look at this; it gives you some guidance on loading 120.

    Of course, it all has to be done in total darkness (but I couldn't figure out any way of photographing it). Other than that, it's just the same as 35mm. I use Paterson tanks and reels, and I recommend using the clip above the reel to hold it down in the liquid. If you don't have the clip then use elastic bands - and also mix 600 ml of liquid to give you some surplus above the reel.
  12. Hi, like Blarg said, waste a roll practicing with your eyes closed. I started with 120 many eons ago so I never had any major problems after the first couple. If you really have a problem, get a film apron. Freestyle has them. Can't get any easier then one of those.
    Good luck and very nice dog Blarg. Here's one of mine on 10 year old 120 Fujichrome.
  13. Forgot to add the dog.
  14. Boy am I bad at this.
  15. Follow the directions on the box.
  16. thanks john. dogs are great photo subjects. I'm not sure if I like now the picture turned out, but it VERY clearly demonstrated the DOF loss when you move to med format. You can really see the approx. 5 inch DOF band in that shot - I focused on her ear, and even the tip of her nose was out focus...but it also shows the amount of detail and texture 120 film picks up...even on this severely down-resed and compressed picture.

  17. Once loaded, like already mentioned, and extra bang or two on the tank to clear air bubbles, they can be a pain in the butt. Also if using steel reels, make sure the film is set true when you start or it winds a little crooked and has to be redone. Enjoy!
  18. I agree with Chris C., I find loading 120 to be easier than 35mm, and I personally dislike plastic reels. But, bottom line: practice and find the system that works best for you.
  19. I use a steel reel, which once i got used to it, i can load a roll of 120 as fast or faster than a roll of 35, I rarely shoot 35 anymore, once you see those big negs its hard to go back to smaller ones. good luck
  20. I can't load a reel of 35mm properly to save my life. 120 is much easier, I think. Then again, I prefer medium format and I'm just probably doing something wrong with the few 35mm rolls I've tried to reel. In any case, if you're still having trouble. Here's a how to reel 120 film video on youtube.

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