Cutting 6×9 sheet film from 120 roll film

I was given a camera for my birthday which takes sheet film in 6×9 format – or possibly 6.5×9. It’s hard and expensive to get hold of sheet film in this format these days so I thought about cutting 6×9 sections from a roll of 120 film, which is 63mm wide. Roll film is different from sheet film, in that it is thinner and designed to be rolled up. I’m not expecting good film flatness but at least it should work.

Advance apologies for these pictures. Tonight I’m too busy making things to worry about practising the art of photography, so these were shot on my iPhone.

Ilford FP4+ and sheet film holders
Ilford FP4+ and sheet film holders

In order to be able to cut the film into neat 90mm sections in the dark, I made a little tool out of some wood. It was pretty simple to make, and the only thing that really needs a comment is that I chiselled out a section of the base piece to allow the clothes peg to sit flush with the base.

Film cutting tool
Film cutting tool

It’s simple to use. In the dark, you unroll a section of 120 film along the base of this tool, between the two outer guides. You push the film up against the end stoppers on the right hand side, and use the peg to hold the film flat(ish). It won’t be perfect, but at least it won’t roll itself back up into a tube. Then you use a knife and cut along the pre-made groove to slice a rectangle of film in the perfect size.

Here are some pictures of my using the tool. I’m just testing it in daylight with the backing paper from 120 film, not the film itself.

Film cutter
Film cutter
Film cutter
Film cutter
Film cutter
Film cutter

Unfortunately, while the tool worked well with backing paper, I ran into problems when using it with real film in the dark. The film is tougher than paper, and the knife pops out of the groove quite easily. Here you can see all the accidental scores that missed the groove.

Bad cutting
Bad cutting

Unfortunately, doing that means you end up with a piece of film in the shape of a parallelogram 🙁 Here the film is upside-down so it didn’t curl up. The parallelogram is reversed.

Bad cutting
Bad cutting

The parallelogram film is useless as it can’t be loaded into the sheet film holders. One roll of 120 film should provide eight sheets of film like this but I only managed three nice square cuts. I have four film holders, so the fourth is filled with a wonky sheet of film that will probably pop out easily. We’ll see!

As soon as I get the chance, I’ll shoot these four (or three) frames and see what I get. If I don’t have luck with cutting my own film from rolls, I might consider buying some 6.5×9 film, although at almost £1 a pop it’s rather expensive. For comparison, I pay £3.50 – £4.00 for a roll of 120 film, which would give eight pictures of this size.

2 Comments

  1. January 25, 2014
    Reply

    why don’t you put a 63*90mm piece of wood/metal/plastic above the film, to use as a guide for your knife and to press the film down more securely?

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