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Ikigai Camera - Buy Kodak, Fujifilm, Ilford, Polaroid and Cinestill 35mm, 120 and instant film direct from Melbourne, Australia. Film developing and scanning also available


35mm and 120 film reviews - Ikigai Camera Blog

Preparing your 120 film to send to us

Peter Davison

how to load and shoot 120 film

120 film was introduced by Kodak more than 118 years ago so it’s about time we get this right!

Every day we see 120 film that has been loaded or sealed incorrectly, so here is our handy guide to 120 film.

120 film is assembled from a long piece of film which is attached to a longer and wider piece of black backing paper with adhesive tape.

This backing paper is used to protect the film from light during loading, unloading shooting and storage.

120 film blank
120 film backing paper

The most common issues with see with 120 film are rolls that have been shot backwards, not started correctly or not sealed correctly.

If the roll is loaded backwards, all of your photos will be exposed onto the backing paper instead of the film and your roll will come out blank.

If your roll is not lined up with the film starting lines on your camera, some shots may be either partially or fully exposed onto the backing paper. This results in cut off shots, no shots or light leaks at the start of the roll that come about as a result of processing.

Before loading your film double check the loading operation either in your camera’s manual ( is a good resource for these) or a Youtube tutorial.

This way you’ll get the right number of shots every time.

loading 120 film

Step 1

Take the protective plastic off and dispose of responsibly (Easy so far, right?)

ektar 120 film packaging
ektar 120 roll

Step 2

Remove/discard the paper band sealing the unused film. Pulling the lip to create a small tear makes this a bit easier. If there’s a bit still stuck to the roll, don’t stress.

ektar 120 roll 2
120 tape remove

Step 3

Load your film and shoot.

Be sure to load it the correct way so you’re not exposing your photos onto the backing paper instead of the film. This happens more often than you’d expect and can be pretty heartbreaking.

Every camera is slightly different so check YouTube or the manual for the correct loading procedures for your specific camera

We offer free notes with every single dev and scan order, so if we notice uneven spacing, your roll starting too early, light leaks or anything else we’ll let you know.

Step 4

Great! You’re done. Here comes the hardest part.

Your roll should come out of the camera tightly wound.

Fold the narrower end of the white paper under itself and crease it before sealing the roll.

This small ridge (shown below) makes preparing your rolls for development easy!

If your 120 is sealed flush with the roll and not folded, opening it up in the dark can be pretty tricky! (We’re good, but not that good)

sealing 120 film roll
sealing 120 film roll 2

Kodak and Ilford rolls are sealed with tiny bit of moisture, so lick the end of the tape like a stamp before sealing.

Do not use transparent tape when sealing your roll. If you are worried about your rolls coming open, the best thing to use is a small rubber band.

We can quickly remove a rubber band, but finding where your see through tape starts and ends (especially in the dark!) can sometimes be impossible.

Thankfully, Fuji make this process way easier and use a pull apart adhesive strip that does not require moisture (thanks Fuji)

sealing 120
120 sealed roll

Step 5

That’s it, you’re done. If you’ve skipped to step 5, here’s the gist:

  1. Double check you’re loading your camera correctly

  2. Fold the lip under itself and crease before sealing

  3. Don’t use tape for safety - a rubber band is much better


Scanning slide film - Our Workflow

Peter Davison

How we scan slide film

 Processed with RNI Films. Preset 'Kodak E 200 v.2'

One of the great benefits with slide film is that you have a perfect reference for the colour and exposure for your shot right there on the slide.

Colour negative film on the other hand is always down to the scanner’s interpretation, and each scanner handles colour negative film slightly differently.

The only thing that influences how your slide film looks is the strength and temperature of the light behind it.


The Scanner

We scan slide film a little differently to most labs.

As you might already know, the two most popular industry scanners are the Noritsu and Fuji Frontier.

The Fuji is a great scanner in its own right, but simply doesn’t have a strong enough light source to scan slide film as well as the Noritsu HS-1800.

Typically when scanning film, a lab technician would feed a roll of film into a scanner and as each frame is corrected, the machine will scan that frame, and slowly feed the roll out.

Unfortunately, this method doesn’t let you look at the original slide as you’re scanning it, so you’re really just scanning blind.

By storing RAW scanning data locally, The Noritsu HS-1800 lets us feed your film, sleeve it then reference it on a light table before we make any adjustments to your scans.

This is how we get as close to the original slide as possible.

Frame by frame.

noritsu HS-1800 scanner


 Processed with RNI Films. Preset 'Kodak E 200 v.2'
e100 Lightbox ball photo
e100 ektachrome leaf
e100 ball photo

These shots of E100 are a great example. The scanner gets quite close on it’s initial scan, but a slight shadow adjustment, yellow and red channel adjustment was needed to match the original slide.

We always scan transparency film on the Noritsu by default, so no need to ask!

Have a question?

One Roll - New Kodak Ektachrome E100 Review

Peter Davison

ektachrome box E100 KODAK

More than two years ago, Kodak Alaris surprised everyone by announcing their plans to re-release Ektachrome into the market almost five years after they had announced its discontinuation due to lack of sales.

In a market where the number of slide film stocks has dwindled to three, this news deservedly created quite a lot of excitement and although it did take a year longer than expected, Kodak’s new slide film finally arrived late last year.

We prepared a review shortly after the film arrived in our hot little hands, but ultimately decided to hold off until the dust had settled and we had a chance to use the film in a variety of different conditions.

The History of Ektachrome

For the uninitiated, Ektachrome was originally launched in 1946 and was a film designed to be simple enough to be developed by the end user using an E-6 process, whereas Kodachrome used the incredibly intricate and difficult K-14 development process, making home development impractical.

While Kodachrome now has a certain nostalgia and romanticism surrounding it, it certainly was not the only slide film used by professional photographers in previous years.

Ektachrome was easier to process, had finer grain, accurate colours, pushed well and was sold in various high speed versions, allowing photographers to shoot in more situations.

The look of slide film quickly became synonymous with photo journalism publications for these reasons.

The New Film

The new E100 is said to be based on Kodak’s previous E100G version of Ektachrome that was discontinued in 2012, and for the most part, this seems to be true.

The new E100 has extremely fine grain (RMS value of 8 - the same as Provia 100F) very true to life colour, great skin tones , very neutral colour saturation and nice sharpness.

Colours have a slight pop to them, but this is not over the top and is quite scaled back. Your overall result should be very true to what your eyes see.

This is both a blessing and a curse. This film will not be a crutch and make an average lighting situation look good like colour negative sometimes can.

E100’s exposure latitude is actually quite decent for a slide film too, though we suspect the true ISO rating is slightly below 100. Your mileage may vary, but we found that our images with + 2/3 EV were better exposed in general.

Fujifilm’s Provia 100F is a similar film, but definitely much cooler in the shadows and has a slight saturation and contrast boost. Provia can go quite blue when you’re shooting in the shade without a warming filter, so we’re glad E100 doesn’t suffer from this.

We absolutely love how E100 handles night scenes with neon too. The projected slides of these images look stunning. While E100 is a daylight balanced film, we can see many people using it for night shots.


We have pushed E100 up to 2 stops without issue. Shooting the film at 200 with a 1 stop push results in very similar grain and a slight increase in contrast.

Pushing to 400 also yields a decent image with barely any shift and only slightly more noticeable grain as you can see in the image below/on the right.

It’s best shot at 80-100, but we wouldn’t hesitate to push it further if needed.

Cross Processing

Thankfully, like E100G, E100 also cross processes quite nicely, giving intense saturation and contrast while maintaining skin tones. The tint with Provia 100F can be quite green and sometimes uncorrectable so it’s good to know E100 cross processes decently, even if it’s an expensive endeavour at $20 a roll.

Photographer - James Juranke - E100 XPRO

Photographer - Harry Toumbos - E100 + 2 stops -

The Future of Slide Film

Writing a film “review” on E100 is difficult task because Kodak truly do not make any “bad” films.

E100 is a great film. We do wish there was a Kodak option for more surreal saturation and that larger formats will eventually be offered, but it is still early days and the future does seem promising given the reaction to this film.

120 and 4x5 Ektachrome is reportedly on the way. There are even rumours Kodak is getting back into the E6 chemistry game and are considering new Ektachrome lines.

This is a great, modern film and the quality is on the level you would expect from Kodak.

It’s great to finally have a Kodak option for slide film once again.


Shooting Kodak Portra 800

Peter Davison

kodak portra family 35mm and 120

The Portra Family

Kodak’s Portra film line has been around for just over 20 years at this point, and although there have been some changes along the way (in particular the replacement of VC and NC), Portra 800 has remained largely unchanged since its release. 

Chances are that if you’ve shot Portra before you’ve either tried either 160 or 400. Grain is fine, skin tones are great, they both push well and they are, by all accounts, excellent modern films that can handle most of the lighting conditions you’ll run into. 

So why would you shoot Portra 800?

Despite Portra 800 being the oldest emulsion of the bunch, it really is quite underrated in a lot of respects. You may just need to use it in a different way than you'd expect.

Kodak Portra 800 - ISO 200 - Mamiya 6 + 50 f/4 - Frontier

Kodak Portra 800 - ISO 200 - Mamiya 6 + 50 f/4 - Frontier

Light and Over Exposure

As a rule of thumb, colour-negative film is quite resilient to over exposure. How resilient depends on the film you're using. If you over expose Kodak Ektar by more than two stops for instance, you may start to see some colour-shifts. If you over expose Fujifilm Pro 400H by as much as 5 stops you'll likely still get a beautiful photograph.

Portra 400 handles a stop or two over without much issue. Anything further than this and you may start to have some trouble with skin tones going a bit yellow. It also handles a stop of under exposure quite well too, which makes it an incredibly versatile film for most uses.

When we shoot Portra 160, we generally try and shoot it at 100-160. It seems a little more sensitive to under and over exposure than Portra 400 but the skin tones are spot on when you nail the exposure. 

Portra 800 is different to the rest of the Portra family in that it just sucks up light and loves over exposure. At box speed, it does its job but in our opinion it doesn't truly shine until you start giving it more light. 

Kodak Portra 800 - ISO 200 - Mamiya 6 + 50 f/4 - Frontier

With Portra 800, we rate our camera to ISO 100 or 200 (effectively giving the film between 2-3 stops of over exposure) and develop as normal.

If you're struggling for light, it will do the job at 800, but in most respects Portra 400 will do it much better, especially pushed to 800. 

With 2+ stops of over exposure, grain is fine, saturation is nice and punchy, and best of all, those great skin tones remain in tact.

Kodak Portra 800 - ISO 200 - Pentax 67 + 105 f/2.4 - Noritsu

Kodak Portra 800 - ISO 200 - Pentax 67 + 105 f/2.4 - Noritsu

To Push or Not to Push

We're planning a more in-depth article on pushing and pulling, but for the purposes of this article we thought we'd just touch on it in relation to Portra 800.

When we say we're "rating" our film at 100, 200 or 400 ISO what we mean is we're telling our camera that the film inside is "slower" than it really is. When we do this, what we're effectively doing is allowing more light onto the film than its sensitivity rating requires.

The final photograph doesn't become brighter or blown out because of the nature of colour-negative film and its dynamic range. By allowing more light than the film "needs", you're really just adding more information onto the negative.

There is no pushing or pulling involved as these are "chemical" processes (either increasing the time the film is in the developer or decreasing it)

All we are doing here is giving the film more light and developing the film as normal. 

Kodak Portra 800 - ISO 200 - Mamiya 6 + 75 f/3.5 - Frontier

Kodak Portra 800 - ISO 200 - Mamiya 6 + 75 f/3.5 - Frontier

The Best 200 Speed Film Ever Made

This is slightly tongue in cheek, but you won't know until you give it a shot. If you're looking for tight grain, great skin tones but still want to retain some Ektar-ish saturation and contrast, Portra 800 is definitely worth your consideration.

All of the shots contained within this article were shot at 200 ISO, developed in Kodak chemistry and scanned on either our Fuji Frontier or Noritsu HS-1800. 

Kodak Portra 800 - ISO 200 - Mamiya 6 + 50 f/4 - Frontier

Kodak Portra 800 - ISO 200 - Mamiya 6 + 75 f/3.5 - Frontier

Have a question? Let us know! We're always happy to help you get the best out of your film.


One Roll - Cinestill BwXX (Kodak Double-X)

Peter Davison

cinestill bwxx kodak double-x ikigai

Most of us know of the Cinestill brand from the infamous 800 speed tungsten film with the crazy highlights you either love or hate (we love it for the record).

Cinestill have now added a black and white stock to their mix with a limited release re-spooling of Kodak Double X motion picture stock.

This definitely isn't a new film, and people have been re-spooling bulk rolls for 35mm still camera use for years, but it's nice to have a readily available source from a company with a decent track record. 

Originally released in 1959, Kodak Double-X has been used in many Hollywood movies such as Casino Royale, Kill Bill and Cinderella Man to name a few.

One of the interesting things about this stock (and something that can't be said for many others) is that is has been almost entirely unchanged since its originally release.

Cinestill recommend this film be developed in D-96, but it can be a little hard to get so we just used tried and true Kodak XTOL at a 1:1 ratio.

Despite it looking grainier than one would expect from a 250 ISO film, it isn't entirely unpleasant and it is definitely quite sharp while still maintaining a classic look.

There are so many black and white films on the market these days, you might think a film that is slightly slower and grainier than the rest would be a hard sell, but Double-X has quite a cult following. 

I guess the old adage is true; if it ain't broke!

BwXX is sharp, has nice tonality and has great dynamic range. If you can get past the grain and want to try a piece of cinematic history, it's hard to go wrong.

Want to try some?


Kodak Gold 200 - The Latitude of Consumer Colour Negative Film

Peter Davison

kodak gold 200 ikigai camera 35mm film

One of the reasons colour negative film is so great is because it generally has a pretty wide exposure latitude.

If you've under or over exposed your film (within reason), you will still more than likely get a useable image out of your negatives whether it be a print of a digital scan. 

We've seen plenty of these comparisons with higher end films like Portra 400 and Fujifilm Pro 400H, but thought we'd do a quick writeup for those who are shooting film on a budget!

For our test, we set up a tripod and shot a roll of Kodak Gold 200 at 3 stops under, through to 5 stops over. 

We were actually quite surprised with the results of our test because Kodak Gold is quite a cheap film. Despite being less than half the cost of Portra 400, colours held up very well even underexposed. 

Anywhere between -2 stop through to +3 stops gave us useable results that scanned well. 

-3 stops resulted in an image that is quite grainy and muddy in the shadows, but may still be salvageable if you were desperate.

After +4 stops we start to see a bleaching effect on the film, colours start to shift and detail is lost in the highlights. Again, this may still be useable if you were desperate. 

It's always best to err on the side of over exposure and try to shoot in nice light when possible. 

We always rate our Kodak Gold at +1 stop (i.e. set your camera ISO to 100 instead of 200), and meter for the shadows.

What do you think? Join the discussion on Instagram here

Want to try some?

Kodak GOLD 200 - 35mm - 36 exp
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