#120mmfilm – A common misconception thanks to the age of social media and hashtags…
If you’ve been on any form of social media in the past few years, specifically Instagram, you will definitely have come across one or all of the following hashtags that often accompany #filmisnotdead: #120mm and #120mmfilm right now. It’s great to see a flourishing film photography community online but there is still a lot that needs to be learned by newbie film photographers – such as the fact that there is actually no such thing as 120mm film…
The 120not120mm website, along with Bellamy Hunt at Japan Camera Hunter and Emulsive, are at the heart of the battle to rectify this common misconception. So where did this confusion come from? According to Bellamy, 120 is not 120mm wide but actually 61mm wide, and was named for being the 20th daylight-loading roll film on flanged spools from Kodak, and not because of its size at all.
It’s a numbering standard that began with 101 and continued on until we reached 120, which “survived the test of time and is the only medium format film still being produced today.” Along the way it was decided that since 135 film is 35mm wide, 120 film must be 120mm wide.
So how did this come to be a universally accepted non-truth? Without placing too much blame, Kodak’s designations became somewhat of a standard over time, given that they created pretty much all the designations that we still use today ie 110, 135 (35mm), 120 etc.
According to the website 120not120mm, “Its those standards which help ensure any interested party can use a set of predefined, universally understood specifications to produce a photographic film and/or cameras that use it. They are also the reason why you can use – for example – 35mm film made in the USA today in 35mm film cameras made a century ago in Europe”.
120not120mm.com also gives a few solutions that don’t involve shaming #120mm hashtag users. Instead, the site suggests spreading the truth via the #120not120mm hashtag on social media channels and directing people to the website where they can read up on the matter.