Six-20 Brownie C, 120 Film and Starbucks – Part 1

A few weeks ago I bought a Six-20 Brownie C from an antique fair. The seller quoted £5 and while I mumbled on about re-rolling film and how annoying it would be it turned into £4.

This isn’t my first Brownie, I have a Brownie Number 2 (120) and a Brownie Starlet (127).

The number 2 had no face but the lens was still there and works well.

I haven’t used the Starlet yet though I have been badly re-rolling 35mm onto 127 paper for a few months now with other cameras.

Here’s a sample of my bad 35mm as 127 photos from the Orion Camera:


Anyway moving on to the main event:
Re-rolling 120 as 620 and making photos with just one 620 spool.

Like most folks I looked on eBay to find the insane offers for 620 spools which average out at around £9 a spool and thought “screw this!”

It got me wondering what was similar in thickness to 620 spools when it hit me: Starbucks straws!

I don’t frequent eateries like KFC or McDonalds but they probably offer the same kind of straws.

So this is what I had; The Brownie open and ready, a 620 spool, a Starbucks straw, a roll of 120 film and some scissors and sticky tape.

Cut the straw to match the length of the 620 spool and roll the 120 film onto the 620 spool in either a darkroom or a changing bag. You should see the ‘Exposed’ message on the film when you finish but only lightly tape it together. We will be rolling in reverse soon.

Once that’s done you’re now ready to roll the film from the 620 spool onto the straw.

Again, I did the whole of this next part in my changing bag: make sure you have the roll of film, straw, sticky tape and the camera in the changing bag before continuing.

In the bag, I got a little piece of tape and taped the leader edge of the paper backing onto the straw as close to the middle as I could guess and started rolling.

I occasionally used one hand to hold onto the roll on the straw and feel around the edge of the straw/backing paper to make sure it wasn’t skewed (see shit drawing of that below).

As you start you must feel for the edge of the film as your rolling from the 620 spool because it’s easily missed and isn’t taped to the backing paper like the other side of the roll.

If you’re not careful you could roll up the backing paper and have the film hanging outside. I’ve nearly done it myself (see below).

Feel for the film and feed it into the roll you’re creating on the straw (see above again if lost) and keep going, pausing every now and then to make sure the paper and film aren’t rolling off the straw at funny angles.

As I neared the end of the roll I felt for the tape that holds the film to the backing paper (above), I rolled a few more turns then loaded the brownie.

On a ‘regular’ camera like, say, a folder camera similar in design to a Zeiss ikon Nettar (the back pops open like in the image below) it should be easier to load that kind of camera in darkness.

The trick here is to match up the holes of the straw to the bobbles for the spool holders in the camera. Once you’ve fed the other end of the paper into the 620 spool and loaded that spool in the camera you’re ready on the take-up whatever slack you may have and close it up. Once you’re sure it safe to do so take the camera out of the changing bag and wind the film until you see number 1.

At time of writing I’m half way through the roll so we’ll see how things go in part 2 ….

le fin


7 thoughts on “Six-20 Brownie C, 120 Film and Starbucks – Part 1

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