View Full Version : Frame Spacing issues with older Linhof Rollex backs

David A. Goldfarb
27-Oct-2003, 13:26
Not long ago I picked up an older 6x6 Rollex rollfilm holder for 4x5". The back looked to be hardly used and when I tested it, it had a very positive feel, but when I processed the film, I found it had a very slight frame overlapping problem at one end of the roll. I sent it to Frank Marshman who examined it, and he says he thinks it is not repairable (he didn't charge me, by the way, even though he did take it apart and clean and lubricate it, since he couldn't fix the problem). Unlike a modern back that uses a feeler wheel to detect the linear film travel, the frame spacing is determined on these backs by turning the knob a fixed number of revolutions. Film is thinner than it used to be, so frames will overlap slightly at the beginning of the roll and move farther apart toward the end of the roll.

Has anyone else experienced this and possibly found a solution, or are earlier Rollex backs just obsolete, at least in 6x6?

Sal Santamaura
27-Oct-2003, 14:40
"Film is thinner than it used to be..."

Does this problem exist even with TMX/TMY, which are currently the thickest 120 films available?

Larry Gebhardt
27-Oct-2003, 15:46
I bought one of these in 6x9 format. I shot a bunch of rolls of black and white with out problems. The last two rolls of Fuji Provia and Velvia came back with overlapped frames. I though the back was broken, but I guess it is just unasable with color. Actually the frame overlap is only 1-2 mm, so unusable is a bit harsh. The black and white films I was using by the way were Ilford FP4+ and HP5+.

I guess this news will drive the price of these backs down a bit, which sucks since I was thinking about selling mine before I found this problem out.

Larry Gebhardt
27-Oct-2003, 15:49
Just had a thought. Try bulking up the take-up spool with masking tape or paper.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
27-Oct-2003, 17:37
I had the same problem with a 6x9 Rollex. I even sent it to Marflex, who charged me but didn't actually fix the problem. From what I have gathered from other users, this is a serious problem with the Linhof Rollex (but not the Super Rollex) backs. I think one is best off avoiding them.

David A. Goldfarb
27-Oct-2003, 21:19
Is T-Max still on a thicker base? I seem to recall that it originally was, and this caused some problems with certain film backs, and that they changed it to a thinner base.

In any case, thanks for the confirmation. The seller may take it back or we may agree to some partial refund, in which case I may try that masking tape idea. Meanwhile, just to be sure the problem isn't the spool, I measured the cores of a couple of old metal film spools just to be sure, and they are the same diameter as modern Kodak spools.

Sal Santamaura
28-Oct-2003, 13:06
Yes, T-Max is still on a 4.7 mil base, as it has been since around 1988. When it was first introduced in 1987 Kodak used a 5 mil base, but Mamiya backs in particular jammed with it, so the reduction occurred very quickly. Until Agfa discontinued it last year, Agfapan 25 held the 'thickest' distinction with a 4.9 mil base. Yet another reason to lament its demise.

David A. Goldfarb
28-Oct-2003, 13:52
Thanks for the info, Sal. I don't shoot a lot of TMX, but if I get stuck with this back, that may be a solution.

John Downie
28-Oct-2003, 16:12
I don't have an answer here, but in thinking about it I thought of a word (which may not be novel, but was independently thought up).

"ReBay" - a verb meaning to resell this sort of error. Like "re-gifting"

Sergio Caetano
1-Nov-2003, 20:21
I think Mr Salomon could say something about that.

Bob Salomon
2-Nov-2003, 08:21
Say what?

If this is a Rollex roll back (knob wind) it is obsolete. If it is a Super Rollex (lever wind) then what vitage? Some of these are so old there are no repair parts any longer.

David A. Goldfarb
2-Nov-2003, 08:42
Thanks for the confirmation, Bob.

I made a deal with the seller for a partial refund in the end.

I also tested with T-Max 400, running a test roll through and marking the frame lines in daylight, and it looks like it should work. Since some people said that Ilford films worked for them, I glanced through some technical data sheets to get some numbers on base thickness:

T-Max=4.7 mil

Ilford rollfilms=4.3 mil

Efke rollfilms=4 mil

Fuji transparency films=4 mil

New Tri-X and Kodak transparency films=3.9 mil

Old TX and TXP (what I used to test the back originally)=3.6 mil

Sal Santamaura
3-Nov-2003, 09:08
Current Ilford data sheets for FP4+, HP5+ and 100 Delta (I can't get the 400 Delta .pdf to load at the moment) indicate 4 mil rollfilm bases, not 4.3 mil.

David A. Goldfarb
3-Nov-2003, 11:07
It's more ambiguous than that, actually. They say .110mm=4 mil (which it doesn't) on some sheets and ".110mm" on others. I suspect the .110 mm is the more accurate figure, since they cite it more often, and maybe they regard that nominally as "4 mil". Either that or there's a wider tolerance to these numbers than the figures might lead us to believe. 1 mil = 0.001 of an inch = 0.0254 mm.

Anyone with a micrometer calipers and a fixed roll of HP5+?

Sal Santamaura
3-Nov-2003, 13:30
Actually doing the division for 35mm, rollfilm and sheets, it seems Ilford rounds off from a precise metric measurement to the nearest whole mil. Caliper measurement will have to wait until this evening when I can access some developed film and the instrument.

Larry Gebhardt
3-Nov-2003, 14:40
Just another thought. On my next roll through my holder I am going to try advancing the film about an inch or two past the arrow. This will make the roll thicker before the counter starts. Given that it tends to bunch the spacing there is plenty of space left at the end, even if the frames are no longer touching.

David A. Goldfarb
3-Nov-2003, 15:08
Larry, if that works, it would be a real solution. Alternately, I was thinking that instead of putting masking tape on the spools, it would be much easier and neater to put a couple of strips of masking tape across the backing paper at the beginning of the roll to get a little more bulk.

Larry Gebhardt
3-Nov-2003, 17:48
David, I sacrificed a roll of Velia to test it. I first ran the roll through with the start arrow set in the window/slot - you know what I am talking about. Marking the frames with a marker showed most were overlapped or touching. I then rewound the roll - I don't think this could mess it up because the counter works off the takeup spool. I then tried it with turning the takeup spool exactly one extra turn - I marked the silver wheel with a marker for this. I then marked the fames again and there was about 1 to 2mm between all frames and I had about an inch and half of extra film at the end of the roll. I think I would call this a very workable solution for my 6x9 back. I suspect it may work for your 6x6 as well. Maybe try 3/4 or 1/2 if you run out of film.

David A. Goldfarb
3-Nov-2003, 18:16
Not a bad result! Thanks for trying it out. I'll have to try shooting a roll of RMS (base thickness .098mm like Velvia--closer to 4 mil than Ilford--I have lots in the freezer) with an extra revolution or two past the arrow sometime soon and report back.

Something I haven't thought about is the thickness of the backing paper. There are quite a few revolutions wound onto the spool at the beginning and end of the roll, and I don't know whether that has gotten thinner over the years.

Another interesting thing I've observed is that other MF cameras I have of similar or older vintage like the Voigtlander Perkeo II (circa 1956) or Voigtlander Superb TLR (1933-38), managed to design a frame counter with a feeler wheel, so the thickness of the film doesn't matter.

Sal Santamaura
3-Nov-2003, 19:11
OK, here's a measurement update.

My Mitutoyo digital caliper reads only to the nearest 0.01 mm. Therefore, when selecting 'inches' for display, it shows four digits after the decimal point but jumps in .0005 (0.5 mil) increments. Given that resolution limit, here are some readings just taken of the clear area of 120 films developed in Microdol-X (except where noted), fixed and washed:

100 Delta: 4.5 mil

FP4+ (PMK): 5.0 mil

Delta 400: 5.0 mil

100 TMX: 5.5 mil

Acros: 4.5 mil

I guess emulsion plus any gelatin back- and/or overcoat add to base thickness; data sheets only specify the base. In summary: these are not data for a scientific treatise, but hopefully an interesting anecdote anyway.

David A. Goldfarb
3-Nov-2003, 19:47
Well, it's a relative comparison, so it may be possible to guess what films might work if others work. Thanks!

David A. Goldfarb
23-May-2004, 18:43
Another update:

I'm testing some of the New ClassicPan 400 (which is supposed to have a higher Dmax than old ClassicPan/FortePan/ClassicFilm 400), and it's thick enough to work in this back. According to the Forte website, they use a 0.1mm base, which would be about 3.9 mil, so any of the films thicker than that should work, though the thickness of the paper backing may also be relevant.

23-May-2004, 18:58
Maybe it's setup for Soviet film? -) I think this problem is common with the older Kievs. They came setup from the factory for thicker film.