A little while ago, I received a couple of cameras from a former co-worker of mine who was aware of my interest in analogue photography (thank you once again!). One item in this small collection, as I unboxed it, turned out to be the gift that kept on giving:
The camera in question is a Kodak Junior 620, a camera that was built between 1933 and 1939 (read more about it here), and it was (and still is) in perfect condition:
As beautiful as this object still is, I am not sure I will ever be able to use it in a meaningful way. The main reason for that is that it requires a film format that is no longer in general use (though I understand that it may still be available from specialist suppliers): the format is, and the clue is in the name of the camera, 620.
This film type itself is not altogether different from 120 (or medium-format) film – but the spools are different, and it is a bit difficult to respool the film for a number of reasons. Who knows, I might still accept that challenge.
One person who did accept that challenge, however, was a previous owner of the camera (whose identity is unknown to both me and the kind donor). For it turned out – the gift that keeps giving! – that the camera was still loaded with film.
As the film was jammed in the camera, and as it was impossible both to advance it any further or to rewind it, a quick trip to my dark room (by which I mean: my windowless bathroom… sigh…) was in order. To remove it in this way was not a huge challenge, and I was keen to find out what it was that had been hiding in there for an unknown period of time.
Well, let us just say, it was not exactly what I had expected…
The backing paper revealed that the film that had loaded into this camera was a Kodacolor-X CX120, with the added information that the way to process the film was coded “C22”.
While the name Kodacolor did ring familiar even to me as a black-and-white photographer, the process, C22, most emphatically did not. (Which is not saying much, to be fair, but still.)
A bit of research led me understand that (i) this particular type of film was produced by Eastman Kodak from 1963 to 1974, and (ii) the C22 process was discontinued, and superseded by the now common C41 process, also in 1974.
As Kodacolor-X CX120 is a 120 medium format film, and as the spools in the camera are still the original 620 ones, it was obvious that the film had been respooled and that it had jammed due to its properties which are just ever so slightly different from the ones required for 620 spools. (Note to self: bear that in mind for future experimenting with this camera…!)
A quick enquiry with my preferred photo lab in Vienna regarding the C22 process quickly resulted in a “yeah, basically you’re on your own, buddy”.
I thus decided to investigate methods to cross-process this colour film in black-and-white chemicals as my only viable option. After some consideration, I chose to treat the film like a Kodak Tri-X 400, using my go-to HC 110 developer (B dilution) for 8 minutes, and allowing it some 10 minutes in the fixing bath.
The results were positively haunting.
The film itself remained rather dense and yellowy, but (what I thought were) two – and just two – images had become discernible. Scanning the results as black-and-white, revealed, however, that, because the film had jammed, these two images were, in fact, both multiple exposures.
As I said: positively haunting!
Nothing is known about the identity of the young lady posing in these pictures – presumably at a countryside hotel or lodging.
There are at least two clues hidden in these photos that at least help to ascertain that these photos were taken in Austria: in one of them, a sign for a public payphone is (barely) visible in one of the many layers of images, and in both of them, there is an umbrella that advertises Arabia Kaffee, an Austrian coffee brand (with a remarkable history) that, prior to its being taken over and absorbed by Meinl, existed from 1892 to 1984.
This, in hindsight, made me wish I had used caffenol rather than HC 110, but then … how was I supposed to know! (Actually, I have never tried using caffenol before. High time to give that a go, too…!)
And speaking of curious finds, one of those days I really should post the cache of photos that I discovered in the box in which I received my enlarger.