I got hooked on the idea of using unsprocketed 35 mm film for panoramic photographs using my medium format cameras when I became aware of the existence of AGFA:s ASP 400S black & white film. You can't buy rolls of it but bulk amounts of 30,5 meters. My local (200 kms away) photography supplier Brunos Bildverkstad were kind enough to stock it after my request.
Earlier, I modded my other 6x6 cm Seagull TLR to make panoramic 3x6 cm exposures by taping up the film plane with electrical tape, and winding 'half-winds', which I've written about in an older post. By using the full width of the ASP 400S film there's no need to use tape. Also - using 35 mm cassettes as both feeding and receiving along with adapters to fit them in 120 format cameras (and others! Read on.) makes it very easy to load the camera i daylight and consequently make photographs without any fuss.
All of this is nothing new if you've used sprocketed 35 mm film in Lomography's Sprocket Rocket or bought bespoke adapters for 35 mm cassettes. My take on this is having as large a negative as possible without actually having to pay for the expensive panoramic cameras. Also, the ASP 400S offers several areas of usage.
So, when using the unsprocketed film in question in a 6x6 camera the image size will be 35x60 mm. One challenge was to make the film fit/sit in the medium format camera. Luckily, modern 120 format film spools are made of plastic and are easy to craft into adapters with the right shape given you have a paper knife and a hack saw with small teeth. The 35 mm cassettes are easily fitted into most 120 film cameras, both on the feeding and receiving end.
When loaded into a TLR the 'panoramic' position of the film is unfortunately vertical - from top to bottom as opposed to from left to right. We can all imagine what hassle it would be to make photographs with the TLR tilted to its side. You can add a sports finder, like I've done in the below picture. Or find a 'vertically exposing' rangefinder or viewfinder model medium format camera. There's lots of them out there, at very decent prices.
When the film is ready to be exposed in your camera there is a very important detail. Light sealing! First, the 'window' which displays the exposure numbers on the backside of the 120 film backing paper, sits on the back of many cameras. Needs to be blacked-out, not just closed!
Second, because of the presence of the 120 film backing paper some cameras are not as light-tight as 35 mm cameras so that needs to be attended to before exposures are made.
I've made exposures on the ASP 400S with my Elioflex II 6x6 TLR (pictured above), which are the photos that illustrate this article. In the near future I intend to use the film in my 127 format Yashica 44 and Bilora 44 cameras - vertical and horizontal exposures respectively. The 4x4 cm format cameras will only have a 0,25 cm gap on each side, effectively making 35x40 / 40x35 mm exposures.
I also intend to expose 35x105 mm panoramas with my recently purchased century old 116 format camera. (Which I used for the February 2020 Vinterspår / Winter Tracks exhibition.) One issue is the risk of not having enough tension in the film. It might sag due to the length because it traverses 105 mm. I may have to add some support in the film gap. Another issue is that the external finder is rather primitive and may be a bit off.
But that's another story.
Actually. I also plan to use the film in an Instamatic camera. More on that in another story.
Thanks for reading this post! Don't hesitate to comment, and check out my Instagram at #ourbooksmalmo. Visit my Etsy shop getOurBooks where there are cameras aplenty to choose from.
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