Why is it called "120"

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by dr5chrome, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. dr5chrome

    dr5chrome Member

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    I had an odd Q today that I could not answer...

    Why is 120 film called "120"?
     
  2. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Because it's came after 119 and before 121.

    Google has a LOAD of replies on this question.
     
  3. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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  4. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Pretty systematic for awhile with the 100 series. Although there seems to be no relation to the number and the film size. Two exceptions are those in the 600 series like 620 and 616 which designate a film of the same size 120 and 116 respectively but on a different spool. Then there is the oddball 828. The 28 may come from one dimension of the negative.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 3, 2012
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    it always amazes me that 120 is the last surviving non-cartridge roll film
    and that each box or folder was made to take its own special roll film ...
     
  6. DSLR

    DSLR Member

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    Because it's 120mm, duh. :laugh:
     
  7. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Not really, the width of the film was 70mm not 120mm
     
  8. nexus757

    nexus757 Member

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    Actually 61.5mm (not 70mm or 120mm).
     
  9. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    Didn't we already have a thread on this a few months back?
     
  10. kevs

    kevs Member

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  11. Benoît99

    Benoît99 Member

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  12. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    I have a Graflex Super D in 3-1/4x4-1/4 and there were roll holders for the older Graflex SLRs. These roll film holders took films labeled in the "50" series. The film for my camera was #51. I have a few rolls of Kodak Super-XX in this size that are "Develop Before Nov. 1949". The boxes are labeled as follows:

    KODAK
    SUPER-XX
    HIGH SPEED PANCHROMATIC FILM
    FOR 4 1/4 x 3 1/4 IN. GRAFLEX ROLL HOLDER
     
  13. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Why is it called an "iPhone?" Same goes for "iPad," "iBook," "iMac" and the ever popular "iBrator."

    In the case of film numbering, what was once an ordinal system became a complex nominal system. From there, names and numbers become traditional then, finally, a standard.
    The identifier, "120," was once a Kodak-specific number but, now, any roll film that is 61.5mm wide and which provides 12 exposures, 60x60 mm, which meets a few other specs is called "120" no matter who manufactures it.

    Today, we just call it "120 film" just the way most people call any given soft drink "Coke" even if they are drinking cherry soda.
    (That is mostly a regionalism of the Southeastern US but many people in other places have, at least, heard of it.)
    But for the foregoing history lesson, few people know why it's called "120" except to say that it's a number Kodak used when they invented it.

    In 50 or 100 years, it is likely that most people won't know that their smart phone is called "iPhone" because Steve Jobs got a wild hare up his butt and started calling everything, "i-Something."
     
  14. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i think agfa called it b2,
    at least that is the sticker in my agfa box ..

    it was just a kodak number specific for their cameras ...
    their other roll films 116, 620 &c
    might have been exactly the same film as 120 ( or b2 )
    but they had a different spool size to fit exactly in the camera it was designed for ...
    kind of ingenious of GE ..

    i wonder what the other manufacturers in the years between 1900 and 1945
    called all their roll films .. there were probably 50 companies all making film
    one wonders if they just made them as a direct replacement to kodak film
    " use dupont x22, it will fit in your kodak tourist camera instead of kodak 620" &c.
    or did all the film makers also have their own lines of cameras specific for their
    kooky film spools ...

    it would be great to harvest old film and old spools from the cupboards of the ancients, or other people
    who might have used these old films and do a material culture thesis on this subject ...
    ... or a paragraph in a blog somewhere ...
     
  15. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    If the question comes up, the answer will be "i-dunno".
     
  16. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    :D
     
  17. JPD

    JPD Member

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    B2 = 6x9-film = 120.

    B1 = 6x6-film = 117.

    In the beginning 120-film had markings on the backing paper for 6x9 only. Half frame cameras used two red windows. 6x6-cameras had to use a mechanical frame counter to use 120. 117-film had the same width but was shorter, and had markings for six 6x6 frames only. It also had another type of spool (flanges like 620 but center spool and hole like 120).
     
  18. AgX

    AgX Member

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    In Germany all companies used those letter-designations in those days.
    It may even have been an official standardisation designation.


    A detailed listing of the letter-code is to be found here:
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollfilm
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    JPD + AgX
    thanks for your insights !


    i guess like a lot of things in the first half of the 20th century things were regional
    it is kind of reminds me of fractional stops / apertures/ f-stops back in the day, each maker had
    its own system

    the american system,
    the stoltz system
    the zeiss system
    the voigtlaender system
    the goerz system
    the dallmeyer system

    or that some large format cameras, take a proprietary film holder
    because of a proprietary GG-back &c

    and it wasn't until a full global market that one system ( maybe the kodak system at least in roll film ) ... "one love" happened

    - john

    ps. dr5, sorry if i have derailed your thread ...
     
  20. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The emergence of any "one system" is also due to the decision of an inventor-manufacturer to give or not to give away the right for employing that system.
    And of course for the others to jump on that train.

    We had different situations in the past of the photochemical industry. Luckily it ended (so far of course) with a joint enterprise: APS
     
  21. DSLR

    DSLR Member

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    Jenny, i may not be a smart man, but I know 120 isn't 120mm.

    I was jk.