Cut 120 film to 127 format with the FCK127 Mk.III


That is a long title. I was going to write a post about a new to me camera and add a little about the cutter…BUT after using the cutter, I decided to focus on that rather than the camera. I love this little 3D printed contraption.

Photo from the website used with permission.

I want to be upfront…I have nothing to be upfront about 🙂

I have previously used the same people for the Fakmatic adapter for the 126 Instamatic format. That took me some time to use successfully, so it gave me pause. I did eventually get it working, it seemed dependent on the camera and I eventually found a good one.

I bought the FCK127 adapter so I could use my Yashica 44 and a VPK I recently got, without going bankrupt. At first I thought it was a little expensive and times are tight. I had to really think about the purchase and I had a bit of buyer’s remorse. Then I figured, if I cut a few films I would save the cost of the machine quite quickly. I am so glad I decided to go for it…it is awesome. I haven’t used any other 120 film cutter just this one, but I can’t imagine how it can be improved upon. When I wrote to the maker for permission to use that photo, he explained you could buy the kit in parts to do a variety of jobs. For instance you can use the box to cut 120 to four rolls of 110 film too. Here is their webpage with the components. It is a family run enterprise, with the wife packing and posting the items.

I could write lots about how to use it, but the website has all the information you could need. When the adapter arrived it included basic written instructions and a QR code to a video with clearer instructions. Here is the video for your ease.

When it first arrived, I tried it out with a used roll of 120 film with the backing paper only. I then went straight to cutting an actual film, it was that easy.

I ended up cutting four films back to back. I put the device in a dark bag to save the cut off , but really I felt confident enough to use it in the light. The cut off piece is the right size to be rerolled into a 110 cassette, but I haven’t tried that yet. I emailed the developer and asked if there would be a 110 adapter at any point. He said he was working on it, but the cassette is very small and tricky so it is at the development stage. I will keep looking back for that. For now, I have placed two of the cut offs in a black film carton for future experiments.

If you read the information on the website, you will see there is a slight issue with the cutting process. This comes down to the fact that 120 film is longer than 127. So when you cut it down, it might not fit inside some 127 cameras as it is fatter.

To overcome this issue he suggests cutting away some of the backing paper to make the whole roll thinner. I did that and successfully put two rolls through a VPK.

HOWEVER…all was not perfect.

Firstly, when cutting the paper I fogged the ends of the film. This was fine as there was still enough unfogged film to make it viable. Unless you do it all in the dark, which I personally don’t advise, I found fogging the end of the roll unavoidable. You can choose to cut off less paper, but then the rerolled film might be tight inside a VPK for instance.

Secondly, by cutting the paper I found the film had a tendency to unroll. Film is obviously less pliable than the paper. By cutting the paper, the ends want to straighten out before you get it completely on the 127 spool. You have to decide what you want. Do you want the spool to fit inside a tight space better? Or are you confident you can roll a firmer end onto a spool? I chose the latter and it worked out ok.

To avoid the unrolling I taped the 110 cut off down very securely before transferring the other part of the film to the 127 spool. Then I opened the device in a bag to check if it had unwound. If it had, I rerolled it onto the spool in the bag. Taping the 110 part down meant I could save it for later uses.

Once some of the backing paper is removed at the beginning and end of the roll, the 120 film will fit onto a 127 spool without any overlapping of the top and bottom. This keeps it light tight. The film does go right up to the end of the paper so there is very slight fogging at that edge. This doesn’t seem to affect the photos.

UPDATE: After trying this a few times, I also found you need to tape down the end of the film before it goes back on to the 127 spool. Sometimes the film is taped at that end, sometime it isn’t. It depends on the manufacturer. If it isn’t taped, the film could jam inside the device. If you are cutting the paper and expose it anyway, check and tape it then. Otherwise, put it in a dark bag just to check it is taped to the backing paper and tape it if it isn’t. A quick check with some spare tape on your hand could save your film. This is important and I forgot to mention it when I first uploaded this post.

Anyway, the Yashica 44 was a perfect camera to try a roll in as it has a winder and stopper, you don’t need to rely on the backing paper numbers. BUT…another BUT, in a VPK for instance, you need to estimate how many turns to advance to avoid overlapping the shots. I found for a VPK you turn 5 half turns for the first 3 shots, then 4 for the remainder. That should give you 8 shots without overlaps and is easy to remember.

Finally, here are some sample shots from the Yashica 44 with Ilford FP4 cut to 127.

I scanned them with the pixl-latr using one 35mm and one 120 gate.

The photo of the miner sculpture is fogged, that was the first shot on the roll where I exposed the film.

As you can see I love this little device. It will help me use my 127 cameras in the format they were intended to shoot. If you have a 127 camera and don’t want to pay for hand cut films, then this is the device for you 🙂

Oh and I found this website with instructions on how to reroll 110 film which you can do with the off cuts. I will try it at some point.

Categories: Expired Film, home processing, Photo PostTags: , , , , , , ,

6 comments

  1. Hello I found your article and it was very interesting. I have a VPK and was wanting to put some film through it eventually. 120 film has a much wider range available, so I like the idea of cutting it down to 127 using an easy adaptor.

    The problem of the 120 roll being too long and so the spool becoming too wide to fit in the camera is a disappointing issue though. I don’t really want too much hassle for what is just a hobby project, and the less steps the better. I was wondering if you knew whether or not the 120 cut down to 127 spool would fit better in other similar cameras that are based on the design of the VPK, such as the Picolette? If so I could look into getting one of those models.

    I actually like the size of 127 film cameras, and I like the aspect ratio of 6.5 x 4 as well. If you have tried the 120 cut to 127 film in any other 127 film cameras, could you let me know how common an issue it is that the film spool doesn’t fit?

    Thank you.

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  2. I found cutting the paper wasn’t too much hassle really. You have to cut it anyway to make the V shape for slotting it in the spool. so you just cut a little extra at that point. I haven’t used the picolette, but if it is a similar small size then the same issue will occur. I have used cut down film in a Yashica 44 and I also cut a little extra off for that, but it didn’t need it. The 127 spool top and bottom diameter is smaller so you will always need to cut some paper off in my opinion. To use the range of 120 films in a 127 camera, cutting the paper is a small price to pay in terms of hassle and time.

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