The other day I bought five fairly cheap rolls of Fuji Provia 100F from a site on the internet. Provia is not new to me but the 220-type rolls were. The “normal”-length 120-type medium format film gives 10 6×7 or 16 6×4.5 negatives depending on the camera (Mamiya 7 or Fuji GA645Zi are my usual choices). The 220-type yields twice as many! A whooping 20 shots of 6×7 or an astounding 32 6×4.5s.
In the digital world these numbers seem like a surprising few, as shooting away hundreds is no problem there. In the film world, suddenly having twice as many shots between forced change of rolls can make life a bit easier, specially if on vacation or when developing the film is not immediate. Often though, I am quite content with the usual limit of up to 10 or 16 shots and have problems finding something worth taking for the last two tree frames or so. (Just firing blanks does not appear to me as a solution, I am too much of a cheapskate for that:)
Anyway, here I was with a looong film strip. Of course I could not actually see it and there was some fumbling and investigation in the darkness when I tried to separate the film from its backing paper. The more usual 120-film is entirely covered, along its entire length, by backing paper. In order to get twice as much film on the same type of spool for a 220-type film a trick is used: Use only as much backing paper as is necessary!
The way this is done is via a leader of backing paper so that the film can be loaded, then the backing suddenly stops and the film is on its own, until the end of the roll where some backing paper yet again appears so that the film can be securely sealed and protected from ambient light. A picture explains:
Above the two parts of backing can be seen. The lower, longer, part is the leader for loading the camera and the upper, shorter one, is the tail.
Between the leader and tail comes the film proper. It was somewhat difficult to part the leader from the film in total darkness as it was glued with very sticky tape. With the film developed I now know that I can use a pair of scissors and make a cut just where one feels the paper end. Loading the film onto the spool of my Paterson tank was no problem. I remember having squeezed two 120-film onto the same spool before.
Here is the developed strip alongside the leader and tail backing paper. Loading the film into the camera was no different from with a 120-type film.
So, there you have it. Do not shun 220-type rolls, they are quite manageable, albeit a bit longer than usual.