120 film in Hasselblad 220 magazine

There is a steady trickle of well-used but serviceable Hasselblad V-series camera   components coming on the market at sometimes bargain prices (well, by Hasselblad standards, anyway).  This is great if, like me, you like to use black & white film occasionally.

220 film backs are particularly good value compared with the 120  magazines. Of course, the trouble is that no B&W film maker produces 220-size rolls any more.

Many people don’t realise that it is possible to use 220 backs with 120 film; the film registers in the same film plane no matter what film you use and the difference in pressure from the pressure plate seems to have no practical effect on film flatness or transport.  The frame spacing is different, each frame having more space between it and the next frame in the 220 back. It isn’t a huge difference but you can lose the 12th frame if you don’t compensate. Here’s how: when loading the film, stop when the arrow is as shown in the photo:

loading 120 film in 220 back

Miss-align the arrows as shown when loading 120 film into a 220 Hasselblad back (this probably applies to other makes of film back too)

The 220 film magazine will wind beyond the 12th frame so with 120 film you will be exposing on the the protective paper – oops! You just need to watch the frame counter – when you have exposed the 12th frame, cock the camera to frame 13 then wind on the film fully using the winder on the film back.

Voila – there’s still life in those 220 film backs!

14 responses to “120 film in Hasselblad 220 magazine

  1. Thanks! Just got a 120 and 220 back with a kit I just picked up. Will be very handy to be able to use them both.

  2. Peter m Schulz

    Thanks for the update on the 220 film back I also do have this and works well in fact it is fitting better to my 500ELM body When I fit any of the other A12 film backs they need to be harder pushed in the body
    Dose any one can help me why that is all my backs 5 of them work 100% in the Hasselblad 2000Fc but seem to have this slight problem with the 500ELM body the 220 magazine is 100% click in place I know this sounds silly but what can be the reason
    Thank you in advance for any response I am 99% B&W film photographer

  3. Does the extra spacing between frames cause cut strips of film to poke out of plastic storage sleeves?

  4. Thanks for this article! I recently picked up a Hassie 500c/m and I was wondering does a 220 roll holder (spool take up) fit in a 120 film back? Got it from a flea market and the seller seemed like he mucked around with the components a bit

    • I’ve never tried a 220 spool in a 120 back but I don’t think there’s any difference in the spools, the difference is in the length of film, with the extra thickness accommodated by doing away with the paper except at the leader. What you can’t do is run a 220 length of film through a 120 back and have the frame counter work.

  5. Thanks for the very useful article, Mal. Although you published this in 2013, it’s clear that people are benefiting from it regularly. This has allowed me to go ahead and buy a Hasselblad with an A24 back at a decent price! Thank you once again, Rob.

    • Glad it was useful. Yup, using A24 mags with 120 film is just the same today! I recently looked into rolling my own: buying end-of-reel movie film, cutting to 220 length and loading onto 120 spools. The only film I could find was colour negative, which isn’t a problem as it can be processed in black and white chemistry, the main problem was the huge lengths and the cost of the film. Think I’ll stick to 120 rolls!

  6. williamaloeb

    I recently acquired an A24 film back with the intention of following the instructions in this article. Because 120 film has paper backing and 220 film has none, the pressure plate on an A24 is set to a lower height than on an A12. This means that the plate squeezes the 120 film more tightly than it does on an A12, and that the advance knob in the cartridge (the one at the right side of the photo) has to overcome greater resistance when you turn it. In my case, the knob could not overcome that resistance, but just turned uselessly by itself while failing to turn the takeup spool, so I could not advance the film at all. This could, of course, simply be a problem with the knob, but I don’t have the technical skills to adjust the tightness of the pressure plate in order to find out, so I’m returning the A24. I would love to try someone else’s A24 to see whether the knob is the problem, but I don’t think I’ll have that opportunity, and also don’t think I’ll buy another A24 to find out. If anyone is aware of an easy way to adjust the pressure plate, please let me know!

    • Sorry to hear you’ve had problems William. Obviously the two A24 backs that I use have worked reliably for me. Any differences in pressure plates have not noticeably increased friction and I have not adjusted mine, so I suspect the back you bought might be faulty.

  7. williamaloeb

    Thanks, Mal. Since you have been using them successfully, I suspect the same and I will try another.

  8. J E Perez E

    Excellent and sound advice. Thanks

  9. nikos mourikis


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