117 Format

Historical Notes

In 1900 Kodak introduced the first camera with the Brownie name, the No. 1 and, as always, associated with it a newroll film format , later encoded with the number 117. It is a format that has remained, at least under that name rather not widespread, given the great harvest of news and developments in the field that were recorded at that time. The 117 format remained in production until 1949 with an average spread only in the United States. The camera associated withdrawn from the market in 1916 was rather a good spread with a little less than 370,000 pieces sold.


It is a day-loading film, then protected by a tight backing paper; in its standard form the single roll allowed to take six images in square format (6×6 cm). The film was coated on a support of a width of 6 cm and a length of about 42 cm and was wrapped around a wooden spool with a core size  virtually identical to 120 spool, while the flanges at the ends appear to be smaller . The loading inside the box camera was done quickly and the operation is the classic for spooled films, and then with the gradual shift, with each exposure, to a receiving spool in which the end the film was set to be sent to the service development.

Cameras and film

As often happened at that time, the format is mainly due to a single camera model, the No. 1 Brownie mentioned above; this is a fairly basic box camera, as might be expected, with a fixed meniscus lens and a rotary shutter with speed about 1/25 sec and B setting. The camera was designed for the rapid spread to massess and not to produce high-quality images: remember that at the time was a 6×6 considered an amateur format.

The 117 roll films were produced only by Kodak and only in black and white even though, according to some sources (to be verified yet), in the 40s were also introduced color emulsions in this format.

Use the 117 format today

The size of the 117 film is a great help for us to retrofit it with a 120 roll; having 117 original spools, you will notice, while winding film that it is longer than about 1 mm vs the 120 one: this can lead to leakage of light and it is recommended to handle the roll in low light. The only thing to do in order to operate would be to cut in lenght  the 120 film to about half of its actual size, in order  to respect the length of the original 117. If you do not have the spool, you can adapt the 120 one directly acting on the plastic flange dimensions to easily insert them inside the film compartment of the camera. An important note is to not expect images of outstanding quality.

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