Film Swap with Fotobes Aug 2015

LC-A 120 and Pinhole film swap with me and Toby Mason, aka fotobes. A full write up can be found below the images. This project was also featured on

The Idea

Back in June 2015, Toby Mason and I discussed working together on a film swap, and we both were keen to try something a little different. We had always loved images created with pinhole cameras and Lomo LC-A’s, and with my experience with pinhole cameras, we agreed to attempt a series of swaps using one of my Noon pinhole cameras, and Toby’s Lomography LC-A 120. The 120 film format was chosen as it was felt that this would allow for a better chance of getting frames accurately aligned.

The Method

We met up again, armed with an LC-A 120 and a Noon 6×6 pinhole camera, and a sacrificial roll of 120 film. We spent a lot of time trying to work out how best to load the film into the LC-A 120, and where to mark it, so that the frames would be exposed in the right place on each camera. We soon discovered that there was variation as to where the film ended up, even from the same starting point, which would mean an element of pot-luck as to whether the frames lined up successfully. Frame alignment was further complicated as the LC-A 120 advances the film mechanically, whilst the Noon pinhole camera utilises frame numbers printed on the rear of the film paper, viewed through a ‘red’ window on the rear of the camera.

We ran a film through the LC-A 120 twenty or so times, starting at an 8mm offset line from the arrow marked on the film backing. We marked where the film ended up on the centreline on the viewfinder each time. There was an overall range of about 15mm, which, although seeming quite a large range, the 8mm offset starting point centred the cluster quite nicely on the viewfinder. We decided to run with the 8mm offset for the first film and see how it went. I then had to run the film the ‘wrong’ way through the pinhole, so that it wasn’t upside down.

Another issue was that when the film had been shot through a camera once, the film would be on the wrong side of the backing paper. Once the film had been shot the first time, I unwound the film it until it got to the end of the film. I then taped the film to the backing paper, and ran it back through a camera to the start. If the film was slightly loose, it was necessary to peel back the manufacture’s tape and pull it to remove the excess bulge, and then re-tape it. Later, this tape would have to be removed before the film was developed.

From there we agreed to start by shooting two rolls of film each, and then swapping films, and re-loading in each other’s camera and shooting again, to see what images came out.

The Results

The rolls of film were developed by The Vault and Colourstream in Brighton, but as frame alignment was slightly off, the negatives were left uncut and I scanned them manually. We subsequently found that the space between frames on the negatives was inconsistent, so it was unrealistic to expect frames to be aligned. At first it had looked like a nice standard 65mm from the start of one frame to start of the next. We discovered a general variation of 60-65mm but for some frames a variation of 80mm. We decided to accept that frame alignment would be random, and to look for less conventional results from the next rolls of film, some with two or more overlapping frames.

After the first 4 rolls had been developed, I changed from using a Noon 6×6 Pinhole to a Noon 6×12 in an endeavour to increase the chance of good overlaps.

The visibility of layers from each camera was also hit-and-miss, which is what had been expected, due to the slightly unpredictable nature of pinhole camera exposure. The first 6 rolls of 100 ISO films were shot by both at 200, however it was decided that the last 4 rolls of film would be shot by Toby at 400, and me at 200, to improve the visibility of images from both cameras. I also used an iPhone App to assist with exposure times.

The Films

The following films were used:

2 x Lomography Color Slide 200 (cross-processed)

3 x Lomography Color Negative 100

1 x Fuji Velvia 100 (cross-processed)

4 x Kodak E100VS (cross-processed).

The Conclusions

This was a thoroughly interesting project for both of us to be involved with, and it was definitely challenging due to the unique characteristics of both cameras. Good results weren’t perhaps as frequent as with more conventional filmswaps (using 35mm film, and the same cameras for each side of the swap), but when successful images were achieved, it certainly felt very worthwhile. The combination of the great lens of the LC-A 120 and the uniqueness of the pinhole camera complemented each other beautifully on quite a few images.

Toby “fotobes” Mason work can be found on the websites below.