I recently got my grubby little mitts on a binder full of my grandparents' negatives from around the time of WW II. I plan to buy a proper negative scanner, but while I can recognize the classic 35 mm, there are also a great deal of a size that I can't quite identify. Going to Wikipedia doesn't really help, as there are tons of negatives which share sizes.

These were individually handcut and are from Europe after the war. The sizes of the actual images is roughly 6 cm x 6 cm (it might be a hair taller than it is wide, but it's difficult to tell). There are two types, both the same size. One is amber and has written along the bottom Kodak Safety Film 3251212. The other is very clear and colorless except for the image, and just says ADOX R17P.

I want to buy a negative scanner (possibly a photo scanner too as there are photos with no negatives as far as I know which also need to be preserved) but before I go spending the money, I need to know what size it is. Please help!


These are from film size 620 / 120 --- both are the same film except the 120 sported a more robust film spool. As a rule of thumb, the 120 size fit the more expensive cameras and the 620 size the amateur cameras. These negatives are format 2 1/4 x 2 1/4. Likely they were shot using a twin's lens reflex . The camera was likely held at waist height.

  • 1
    How do you conclude just from the film format, that the pictures were likely taken with a TLR?
    – jarnbjo
    Oct 20 '17 at 13:59
  • @ jambjo -- In that era, most 120 / 620 cameras made 8 exposures resulting in a negative 2 1/4 X 3 1/4. These were contact printed or slightly enlarged to 3 1/2 X 5 prints. The twins lens reflex became popular during this era. The square negatives were versatile, some were printed landscape (horizontal) and some portrait (vertical). This square format, 12 exposures on 120 / 620, was mainly the domain of the twins lens reflex. Oct 20 '17 at 15:14
  • Sorry, but your explanation is simply wrong. During the WW II era, there were only a few high end, expensive TLRs available on the market and although not impossible, it is not very likely that an amateur phtographer used one for family or leisure photos. There were however plenty of affordable 6x6 box cameras, folding cameras or more regular view finder cameras available at this time.
    – jarnbjo
    Oct 20 '17 at 21:43
  • As the OP states that these photos were from Europe but does not specify where, it's possible that they could have been shot on a TLR. Considering that Adox is a German film, they could potentially have had access to a Rollei or Foth TLR at the time, either their own or borrowed. Without knowing whether the photographer in question was an amateur or not, this is all speculation, albeit intreaguing speculation.
    – Alex
    Oct 24 '17 at 11:24
  • It was a TLR. Moreso, as it turns out, the negatives were in color. How on earth he got his hands on them with the poverty and all, nobody knows. He loved the thing tho and anyone else who tried to use it was massively confused by how he took pictures looking down at the camera. He was an amateur, but a life-long hardcore enthusiast. So, you're both right.
    – Broklynite
    Jun 17 '19 at 10:03

I asked B&H and they told me that it's standard 120 size film and recommended the Epson V600. Seems reasonable. Fingers crossed!

  • 1
    120 is a still quite commonly used film format and there are much better dedicated 120 film scanners than the V600 readily available. The question here is what you are willing to pay. If there are not too many pictures, you might be better off letting a scan service process them for you instead of buying your own scanner just to scan a few pictures.
    – jarnbjo
    Oct 20 '17 at 13:57
  • @jarnbjo The negatives are pretty private, so not the sort of thing to be sent out. I know the V600 isn't the best, but the next step up seems to be four to five times the price (and that's if you can find them anymore) so I'm okay with it I think.I plan to scan each at the highest resolution, and I've seen negative scans from it and they look pretty good. I'm open to suggestion, but I've already purchased the v600.
    – Broklynite
    Oct 21 '17 at 1:53
  • If it is for a one time job, it might not have been much more expensive to buy a decent used film scanner, yes they can really run into several thousand dollars, scan your images and then sell it again. But for that, there are also many caveats to consider. Many of the older scanner models are difficult or impossible to operate with a modern computer (hardware and operating system not supported). Give it a try with the V600 first. If you are happy with the results, then everything is ok.
    – jarnbjo
    Oct 21 '17 at 14:12
  • @jarnbjo started last night and am honestly stunned with the quality. I was anxious because it "only" went up to 12,800 dpi but all I can say is WOW. Also for some reason my hard drive is filling up super fast...the big issue is the encrusted dust on the negatives. Looks like moisture carrying dust got in over the decades. I'm too terrified to try cleaning the negatives with water the way I've read on here though, but dust rockets and camel hair brushes are useless.
    – Broklynite
    Oct 26 '17 at 14:54
  • According to reviews and real measurements, the V600 has an optical resolution of not more than about 1.500 DPI. It is a very common problem with flatbed scanners, that marketing numbers and reality are far apart. Setting a higher resolution in the scanner driver just fills your hard drive faster with larger image files, without giving you any more 'real' details. I would not recommend you to try to clean so old negatives unless you are very sure what you are doing. Attempting to do so can cause irreversibel damage to the emulsion.
    – jarnbjo
    Oct 26 '17 at 15:16

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