I finished what I thought was a 36 exposure roll of film earlier, but once I got it out of the camera I realised it was only a 24. I am using an old Ricoh XR2 camera which has manual film advance so it didn't automatically wind back; it also didn't protest when I wound it past 24.

The film seemed to wind back into the canister without a problem. Will the film be damaged or ruined in any way, or will the last frame just be massively overexposed from having 12 shots exposed on it?

  • 1
    Why not get the film developed and find out?
    – Evan Krall
    Jul 30, 2012 at 4:13
  • 1
    Because it's not a C41 film and so is not cheap. Jul 30, 2012 at 14:27
  • I think that's worth mentioning in the question.
    – Roflo
    Apr 10, 2014 at 14:30

4 Answers 4


For most film camera shutters, the mechanism does not 'cock' until the film advances. If the film does not advance then the shutter is not able to release. Unless your camera broke the sprocket holes on the film and simply advanced without moving the film, I suspect you got lucky and found your 24 roll was significantly more than 24 frames.

  • The camera in question is now over 30 years old, so I'm not sure if it has the feature you mention. In any case, I know most films have a couple of extra exposures, but 12? Jul 22, 2012 at 19:45
  • 2
    30 years isn't that old, especially for a film camera. 1979...heck that was when Olympus OM1s, Canon AE2s were made, and those I consider thoroughly modern SLRs. <showing my age>
    – cmason
    Jul 23, 2012 at 12:56
  • Worth mentioning that a film canister labelled as for "24" exposures usually contains enough film for at least 28 exposures, if you're very stingy with how much wind-on you do at the start. That said, it would almost certainly not fit a whole 36 exposures onto it in normal circumstances. Apr 11, 2014 at 3:08

It really depends on the camera (and I don't know how the XR2 works).

Many of the later-model (mid-'70s and beyond) consumer-oriented cameras had a slip clutch on the winder mechanism to deal with those instances where the user "knew" that their cartridge had more exposures than the camera said there were. There was usually a little bit of extra force required to overcome it, but allowing the slip made more sense than either letting the winder mechanism self-destruct or chewing up the sprockets to the point where rewinding the film might become impossible. (Cameras that were designed to accept a motor drive or winder usually didn't have a slip clutch; they relied on the degree of force required with a fixed mechanism to stop the winder/drive.)

If that is the case, you'll likely have twenty-five or twenty-six clean exposures and one frame with multiple exposures (probably out of register). As for damage to the camera, the next roll of film will tell—if this "safety valve" has been used often enough over the life of the camera, there may be little to tell in terms of the winding force, but as long as the mechanism can advance the film eight sprocket holes before enabling the shutter release (even if that takes more than one full pump of the winding lever), you should be okay.


I'm not familiar with that model, You probably either have multiple exposures on the last frame or a broken reel.

Mind you, it's usually possible to get an extra couple of shots on a typical reel by not winding it on any further than absolutely necessary when you load it.

Ahhh, the days of film, were every frame was precious.

Excuse me, I'm going for a short reminisce. I may be some time...

  • Does a broken reel mean I won't be able to have the photos developed? Jul 22, 2012 at 19:42
  • You should still be able to have it developed. I would take the whole camera to a trusted shop and ask them to open it and extract the film. It will probably be fine. Good luck. Let us know how you get on.
    – AJ Finch
    Jul 23, 2012 at 7:29
  • 1
    I've already opened it - the film wound back into the casette without a problem. I'm wondering now whether I loaded it properly - I have a feeling it wound back in too quickly, and it would explain the lack of a problem winding through 36 exposures. Damn, I like film, but it's a pain in the neck! Jul 23, 2012 at 7:35
  • A broken reel should not mean you can't develop the photos, especially given you successfully wound it back into the canister. Worst case scenario is that only the last frame has damaged sprockets (and multiple exposures), which shouldn't affect your ability to develop it. Apr 11, 2014 at 3:12
  • 1
    I'm assuming that the camera isn't broken in any way and the film actually was winding properly - if the film advancing mechanism of the camera is broken or it wasn't looped into the take-up spool properly, all bets are off. That said, I've often felt that a film seemed "too easy" or "too quick" to wind back only to find that it worked fine. So if you don't mind the expense of processing it either way, it's worth a try. Apr 11, 2014 at 3:14

Late answer, but for posterity I post.

As you already say in the comment above this anwer: it is probably a case of not loading the film properly, the film leader slipped off the take-up spool and every exposure was made on the same part of the film (basically on the leader)

The good part: if you can extract the film-leader again (there are pretty cheap tools for this) you can actually use the film again. I would make sure to skip the first 1 or 2 frames, just in case though.

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