Mild-Life Crises: Wednesday’s Whacky Workshop, a Tutorial


How to Make Sprocket Hole Images (the old-fashioned way)


Putting the Wrong Film in the Right Camera


Putting the Right Film in the Wrong Camera

In case you were curious how images like the one’s in this post and this post were made….

You start with a camera that was intended to carry and expose 120 film (preferably one you’re not too worried about harming in the process…). You can also use a camera made to take 220 film, but I haven’t tried this….yet.

Enter, the Seagul 4A, a Chinese knockoff of the German-made Rolleiflex TLR (Twin Lens Reflex — one lens for viewing and framing, the other for exposing the film) introduced in the late 60’s and believed to still be in production. As you can see mine went around the block a few thousand times before I even got it. I got mine off eBay for about $70….I think….it’s been about twenty years….

If you’re not familiar with different types of film, 120 film, as can be seen here, is quite a bit larger than 35mm film and in this camera creates a square, 56x56mm image, 12 per roll,

Here is how the 120 film is normally loaded….

Opening the camera back (luckily for me, they kindly added an “O” and a “C”….)

First the empty spindle (from the previously shot roll of 120 film) has to be moved to the “take-up postion”

Next, the 120 (the “Right Film”) is loaded…

The tab on the end of the roll is inserted into a slot in the take-up spindle (which can be seen in a couple of the images in the previous set) and then wound on just a bit with the film-crank on the side of the camera (just to make sure it’s caught) before closing the back (I forgot to get a shot of this bit….)

When the roll is done, the film is removed from the take-up position. It has now been rolled up onto the spindle that was moved from the lower position which is now empty and ready to begin the cycle all over again….only THIS time……


The process for loading the 35mm film (the “Wrong Film”, still in its canister) is pretty similar with just a few adjustments….

Adjustment #1–the 35mm canister isn’t held in place like the 120 roll by the spindle-pin (I really don’t know if that’s what all these parts are called….I’m just making those bits up as I go…) SO Mr. Opposable Thumb is put to work. This can be a bit tricky as the film, having been wound up for a while (in this case quite a while–about 15-20 years), is trying rather persistently to roll back up.

Adjustment #2–the hack/mod-freak photographer’s second secret weapon (after electrical tape): Little Circles Cut Out Of Corrugated Cardboard. This holds the canister in place and helps to keep the film (Hopefully!) centered behind the lens during shooting. The film is then wound onto the take-up spindle as before, although this time with a bit more fiddling, a bit more cursing, and possibly some of the aforementioned electrical tape…or just plain scotch tape.

Adjustment #3–kind of hard to get a picture of this bit, but the 35mm canister doesn’t really fit into the camera…so you kind of have to step/sit/lean on it to get it to close tightly. And even then….I’m waiting for the day that a roll comes back with light leaks on it…or completely ruined from the back not closing all the way…but….so far, so good….

And….Adjustment #4…….

….As can plainly be seen in the above photo, the camera has to be opened and the film wound back into the film canister in complete darkness. The 120 has a nifty paper backing which allows the photographer to forgo the dark room and change film whenever and where-ever they like, but 35mm wasn’t really made for this sort of thing, so….

And there you have it….

One roll of very expired Kodak 100, color print film, hopefully with groovy sprocket holes and film-edge markings….provided the film is still any good….and provided I exposed it correctly (the Seagull 4A has no light meter) and provided the camera hasn’t sprung any light leaks and provided I can find somewhere to get it developed….anyone got any recommendations for a good through-the-mail developer who will do specialty processing?

4 thoughts on “Mild-Life Crises: Wednesday’s Whacky Workshop, a Tutorial

  1. You have amazing dedication and patience… that is all a foreign language to me. But I have to admit the irony in seeing you using a camera to take pictures of a camera… I’m really simple that way!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 🙂 I laughed when I saw your – I mean Mr. Opposbale THumb’s – solution to keeping the roll centered. Love it! The basic process is certainly familiar, from decades past. And Ouch! the canister is too wide! But Johnny perseveres….then another smile for the plainly seen complete darkness. Yes, very plainly seen. There’s a Canadian blogger named Al Mackie (Burnt Embers) who, last I heard, was going to try Canadian Film Lab. That doesn’t sound very convenient.

    Liked by 1 person

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