I have found some very old, like late 1940s, black and white negatives. The size is 2 1/2 by 1 5/8ths.

Can anyone tell me what film was used to produce these?

Just along the edges of the negatives are the words KODAK SAFETY FILM. There are no numbers. Also, I am an 86 year old woman, not too high tech, and filling my days now with going through hundreds and hundreds of photos, 35mm slides along with these very very old negatives.

These negatives were made by my late husband and many I have never seen with the black and white photos in the old albums he had. I remember film could be purchased by numbers like 126. But this is something I do not know too much about. I have an Epson Perfection V730 scanner but these negatives are too large to fit in the holder to scan.

Any help would be so greatly appreciated.


"Kodak Safety Film" is a term that Kodak applied to all of their acetate based films for a period of time. The word "Safety" meant that the film was less prone to spontaneous combustion than its predecessor. (Nitrocellulose films) The term appeared on virtually all formats and types of Kodak films for a few decades.

Kodak, Fuji and Ilford and others used a Notch code system to identify their films of all kinds. A series of notches or shapes is printed into the edge of the film, usually with code number as well.

If you know the code number and the notch pattern then you know what film it is, the name of the film, Tri-X for example, may not have been printed, just the codes.

This web search contains many useful links to learn more.

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Photos from Ansco Film Notching Identification Code (1948)

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  • Re, "...spontaneous combustion..." Nitrocellulose is the main ingredient in modern gunpowder, and an important ingredient in blasting gelatine (a.k.a., "dynamite"). Serious excitement if you have a large quantity on hand (e.g., a movie studio film vault) and it catches fire. Feb 1 at 16:26

The size you give, 2 1/2" by 1 5/8" is the "full frame" format for 127 film (not 120 as other answers have claimed -- 120 gives 2 1/4" width by 1 3/4", 2 1/4", or 3 1/4" along the film (also called 6x4.5, 6x6, and 6x9 in centimeters), while 127 gave 1 5/8" width and lengths of 1 1/4", 1 5/8", and 2 1/2" along the film

That said, without any identifying marks other than "Safety Film" we can only tell you the negatives are Kodak, and were made after about 1912 (Kodak introduced Safety Film commercially in that year, and phased it in across various formats over the next couple decades).

The 127 format became very popular during the Great War, when the Vest Pocket camera line was carried to the front by a large number of American doughboys. These compact strut-folder cameras gave high quality images, but could be stowed away to go places they officially weren't permitted, and as a result, provided much of the record we have of the real conditions at the front during the First World War.


This sounds like 120 film size. And it's the size you're really interested in I think, not the emulsion type?

Photo shops can scan your negatives for a few pennies per frame. Or you could try a bodge like this:


What's being an 86 year old woman got to do with learning a new skill? Go, girl!

  • yep, those measurements correspond with "645" format on 120 film
    – osullic
    Jan 31 at 23:55
  • Nothing in any 120 format is 2 1/2" -- the film isn't that wide, and none of the formats is 2 1/2" long. That length is about 6.5 cm, and the other dimension is close to 4 cm, making this 127 full frame, 4x6.5 cm. Very popular format from about 1917 to 1960.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Feb 1 at 18:18

Most films have identification text along the edges. If you look on the negatives you may see the frame numbers and some text which will identify the film type.

If you are looking at prints instead of the original film negatives then there really isn't any way to identify the specific film that was used to make the print.

  • 1
    Thank you so much, Bob. But I did go back and edit my original question, maybe that would make my question clearer. Thanks again.
    – Carolyn
    Jan 31 at 19:39
  • Your V370 seems to have a backlight strip in the lid just wide enough for a single strip of 35mm film or slides, so you can't scan your film without a bit of trouble. The measurements you give correspond to ​1 5⁄8 × ​2 1⁄8 "sixteenth-plate" tintypes, but you are describing negatives. These may have been taken in a camera intended for tintypes, but I'm speculating. You can send these off to a negative scanning service and have them digitized (scanned) and put on a CD so you can transfer them to your computer.
    – BobT
    Jan 31 at 20:17
  • Another idea is to go to a copy center (FedEx and others have them in the US) and see if they can scan these for you. They often have large scale digital printing capabilities, so they may have some negative scanning capabilities as well.
    – BobT
    Jan 31 at 20:25

Assuming that you have 120 negatives and that your goal is to find a negative holder that fits your scanner so that you can scan these negatives, try a Google search for "epson perfection v730 120 negative holders". I see a few aftermarket negative holders on Ebay that claim to work with 120 film.

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