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Kodak Medalist converted to 120- any market?
Old 04-17-2018   #1
Dan Daniel
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Kodak Medalist converted to 120- any market?

I finally had time to go digging into a Kodak Medalist to see what would be involved in modifying the film chambers to work with 120. And I see a way to do it very cleanly. Basically you can machine out the film chambers and build a new wall with a larger diameter chamber for the 120 spool.

This does involve breaking down the camera to the bare frame to remove the film chamber parts. A good time to clean everything and get the full wind system, rangefinder, and shutter working well.

This would probably cost in the $300 to $500 range, including the overhaul. Camera itself, if I did it on spec, would add to the cost.

Just poking around to see what people think. Would you buy a converted Medalist? Would you send yours off to somebody to do this? Would you do it for $100 but no way for $500? Any comments appreciated!
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Old 04-17-2018   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Daniel View Post
I finally had time to go digging into a Kodak Medalist to see what would be involved in modifying the film chambers to work with 120. And I see a way to do it very cleanly. Basically you can machine out the film chambers and build a new wall with a larger diameter chamber for the 120 spool.

This does involve breaking down the camera to the bare frame to remove the film chamber parts. A good time to clean everything and get the full wind system, rangefinder, and shutter working well.

This would probably cost in the $300 to $500 range, including the overhaul. Camera itself, if I did it on spec, would add to the cost.

Just poking around to see what people think. Would you buy a converted Medalist? Would you send yours off to somebody to do this? Would you do it for $100 but no way for $500? Any comments appreciated!
just re-spool 120 film on to 620 reels if the heavy old beast with a great lens is not going to be your go-to camera for your life-long film shooting.

300-500 dosh can still buy a handful of 120 film if you hurry and get it now for your freezer.
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Old 04-17-2018   #3
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Some cameras are really picky about what film they will take. The Medalist hasn't been one of them in my experience. I've respooled 120 film onto 620 cores and have cut down 120 film to 620 size, both approaches work well with the Medalist. OTOH, with cameras like the Kodak Duo 620, you have to have the film on 620 spools or the camera jams up.

So I wouldn't see a big market for converted cameras, especially since the conversion actually breaks thru the original wall of the film chamber.

Just my 2 worth.

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Old 04-17-2018   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Daniel View Post
Just poking around to see what people think. Would you buy a converted Medalist? Would you send yours off to somebody to do this? Would you do it for $100 but no way for $500? Any comments appreciated!
I had mine recently CLA and I asked about converting it tp 120 (just the new roll side, not the take up). The reply was that it was too time consuming and they weren't doing it at this time. They mentioned they were considering it (I assume because so many people asked about it). Fantastic camera and lens. I'd probably pay $200 for the convenience which is probably too low.
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Old 04-17-2018   #5
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These folks have been doing the Medalist 120 conversions for ages. Here's their price scheme.

http://www.baldmtn.com/medalist_cost.htm
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Old 04-17-2018   #6
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Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
These folks have been doing the Medalist 120 conversions for ages. Here's their price scheme.

http://www.baldmtn.com/medalist_cost.htm
Ken Ruth is no longer taking orders. That's my understanding.
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Old 04-17-2018   #7
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I just now saw that. When I googled it, I was sent to the web page that gave pricing info. Later I discovered that he was now retired, and came back here to add that. In any case, those prices are interesting.
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Old 04-17-2018   #8
Robert Lai
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I had mine overhauled and converted to 120 by Ken Ruth. Mine had a decemented viewfinder eyepiece doublet, so Ken separated the elements and recemented them. The overall cost of the overhaul was over $600.

The camera came back dirty. Ken doesn't seem to bother to remove the metal shavings very carefully. Also, on one part of the film chamber wall he took so much metal away that he perforated through into the chamber behind the lens.

Anyway, after I had cleaned everything up, and sealed off the perforation with black metal epoxy, it has been a great camera.

Ken provided a list of the shutter speeds as tested. 1/400 was only about 1/3 stop faster than 1/200.

Frank Marshman has a stock of Kodak Flash Supermatic shutter springs (OEM - he bought as much as he could when Kodak was getting rid of them). He put a new one in mine, and the speeds all went up by 1/3 stop. However, the 1/400 is at best 1/2 stop faster than the 1/200 speed.

I tried the 620 respooling business once or twice before the conversion, and it's just too much headache for me. So yes, I did pay a lot to get this camera worked over. It is one of Kodak's finest, and deserves to be enjoyed conveniently.
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Old 04-17-2018   #9
Peter Jennings
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If you develop your own film, respooling 120 onto 620 spools isn't much more difficult than loading film onto developing reels. They both require practice at getting good at in the dark. But if you can already do one, then learning the other is much easier. I got a 620 spool from a long-expired roll of Verichrome and just used that to practice respooling with in daylight. When I was comfortable, I then did a roll in the changing bag and had no problems. So, to me, the 120 mod isn't worth the time, effort, or money.
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Old 04-18-2018   #10
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Thanks to everyone for taking the time to reply. Very helpful!

Robert, I saw your comments elsewhere about the conversion that you had done. Ater looking over that thread and the photos from people, I knew that I would want to approach it differently. By stripping the camera down and removing parts for machining, dust and chips won't be an issue. And since so much of the camera will need to be reassembled and adjusted as part of this, I would simply do a thorough overhaul.

As others have said, I respool 120 onto 620 for using my Medalist. I'll probably convert one of mine for the fun of it and see what I think.

Thanks again!
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Old 04-18-2018   #11
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The option seemed desirable at one time, but after seeing some photos done of the work, I've decided to keep my Medalist all-original. I think my money would be better spent on film for the camera.

Now if I could send you a box of 120 film and 620 spools and you'd respool everything for me for a reasonable cost, like $3-$4 a roll....
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Old 04-18-2018   #12
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For reference, I picked up an already-converted Medalist II a few years ago for $300. I haven't seen many other converted ones for sale so I'm not sure how people value them.

If anything, the price of the Medalists dropped since then. People tend to be less willing to put money in to servicing cameras with lower price points. It may be hard to find a sufficient number of people willing to pay for conversions at this point.

That said, I think you'd have the market cornered. It would be great to have someone both actively doing the conversion and as an expert in CLA'ing the cameras.

I'd pay $300 for a combined conversion/CLA to someone I trusted to do it right. Without an existing body of work demonstrating ability (or a reputation for servicing the camera), I'd have a hard time putting down that much.
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Old 04-18-2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Daniel View Post
I finally had time to go digging into a Kodak Medalist to see what would be involved in modifying the film chambers to work with 120. And I see a way to do it very cleanly. Basically you can machine out the film chambers and build a new wall with a larger diameter chamber for the 120 spool.

This does involve breaking down the camera to the bare frame to remove the film chamber parts. A good time to clean everything and get the full wind system, rangefinder, and shutter working well.

This would probably cost in the $300 to $500 range, including the overhaul. Camera itself, if I did it on spec, would add to the cost.

Just poking around to see what people think. Would you buy a converted Medalist? Would you send yours off to somebody to do this? Would you do it for $100 but no way for $500? Any comments appreciated!
Hey Dan,
hope you're good.
I just thought I would share this link with you. I know very little about the Medalists, being 620, umm, there are great cameras out there that take 120. Still, I have not been blind to the performance of their Ektar lenses. They do seem to be something very special (I always felt a Medalist would be the one camera to tempt me to bother re-rolling 120, just because of its lens, but you know how it is, too many cameras, not enough time, yada yada).

Anyway. I follow Christopher Schwer on Flickr. He does some beautiful black and whites with various classic cameras you would like. And this image from him popped up the other day. I'm almost reluctant to post it, because it seems too good to be true and if so it may send prices north. If it is, readers, keep it under your hat please. Some of us might want a Medalist at a decent price...

But from what I can gather, using the accessory back you can fit a rollfilm 120 mag and shoot 120 that way. Maybe even in several aspect ratios? Not ever having even handled a Medalist, I was having trouble getting my head around whether or not you'd actually get infinity focus this way.

But I think the penny's dropped. They have a retractable lens. And page 35 of the user manual (that shows a photo of the accessory back) refers to a "Compensating Key for Difference in Film Planes" (a sort of tab visible on the top of the accessory back). So I'm guessing that when this is used the lens extension can be reduced, fractionally, to restore the back focus on infinity to the correct position. Does this sound right? Remember, I've never seen one of these peculiar but fascinating things in the flesh.

Chris's image shows boxes for a Medalist accessory back and also some "Kodak Tourist Adapter Kit". The former is on offer at present on eBay for only $40 or so.

I don't know if you'd still have to turn the body wind knob or not. The manual mentioned something about a cocking lever for the shutter. Obviously you'd use the wind knob or lever on the back to advance the roll. But it all sounds very interesting indeed, and very do-able. And I can't see any reason why, if you had more than one compatible back, that you couldn't even do mid-roll film changes if you wanted.

Seems too good to be true, doesn't it? So, what am I missing?

FYI, Mike has copies of the instructions for the camera and also the accessory backs here.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 04-19-2018   #14
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The accessory back is for sheet film. There is also an "extension" back that uses sheet film and is used for macro work.
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Old 04-19-2018   #15
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I had a Medalist converted by Ken Ruth 8 years ago, and while the ergonomics of the camera are not great it takes superb images. Ken was really helpful and he would take the time to explain things over the phone. Something I always remember him telling me is that if you want the absolute best sharpness from the camera (indeed any camera) only wind to the next frame when you are ready to shoot as ideal film tension can only be maintained for so long.
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Old 04-19-2018   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
The accessory back is for sheet film. There is also an "extension" back that uses sheet film and is used for macro work.
Hi Mark,
It appears to be possible, though, to also use the accessory back to fit a roll film magazine. See the link below.
Cheers,
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Old 04-20-2018   #17
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Thanks again for the comments. I will go ahead and convert a Medalist, use it as a prototype and a sample for myself. Then I'll see if it is worth even discussing with others. I'll report back later on the mod.

Brett, the back you reference looks interesting. But it strikes me that the guy is darn close to a basic view camera with roll film back by the time you do all that. I have a 105mm Ektar (same design and quality as the Medalist lens) that I used on a Horseman VH with a Horseman 6x9 back. This also gave me the option of others lenses and swings and tilts.

Part of the attraction of the Medalist is its relatively compact size and integrated use. For your info, the Medalist has both a simple frame counter/ shutter cocking mode of operation where you fire the shutter, wind forward, fire, etc. Well, after the ritual to get to frame 1. The integration is not absolute, though. I use a cable release with mine. This bypasses the shutter release. So after I take a shot, I need to push the shutter release (shutter is now uncocked and does not fire) in order to release the film wind system. And there is also a separate shutter cocking lever if you want double exposures.

All in all it's a rather annoying camera to use. And very 'American' in its blocky design and clunky mechanics- no fine German engineering and machine work here! If it wasn't for the lens I doubt few people would bother with it.
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Old 07-02-2018   #18
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Daniel -
I like my Medalist and use it a lot. I would be interested. I will check back to see how you made on converting yours. Please consider offering a feed-side only conversion (as did Ken Ruth).
Regards and good luck!
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Old 01-25-2019   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
I had mine recently CLA ...
Hi Beemermark,

I just got a Medalist II, and am looking for a recommendation reference for CLA. While there are many references to Ken Ruth at Bald Mountain, I see that he retired a few years back. Your post came up in a web search, for more recent Medalist CLA.

I am a newbie poster, here, though I have landed on this forum a number of times in the past few years, doing research as I've added Japanese 35mm rangefinders to my collection.

More recently, I have added a Rapid Omega 100, and a Mamiya Super 23. I plan to shoot with the medium format RFs, as I get them tested, and find subjects worthy of the format.
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Old 01-25-2019   #20
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I acquired a nice Duo 620, and I have some of the Kodak and Argus pseudo-TLRs that would be fun to use but haven't attempted to do the re-spooling yet. It has crossed my mind that some mechanically inclined tinkerer with plenty of time on their hands could come up with a hand cranked re-spooling rig that one could operate in your changing bag or tent. Anyone on here ever rigged such a tool together?

Stan
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Old 01-26-2019   #21
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^ It's really no big deal to reroll . A couple of practice rolls outside the bag and you're good to go , honest . Peter
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Old 01-29-2019   #22
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agreed, re-rolling 620 to 120 in the dark is not that hard, a rig would be overkill. you need to manually retape the film on both ends anyway, which a rig a would not help with.
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Old 01-31-2019   #23
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If you roll 120 onto a 620 spool with care, you can then roll it back onto another 620 spool and won't need to bother with the re-taping of the start of the film. I saw this [technique explained by Mike Connealy and it really is quite easy.
https://connealy.blogspot.com/2009/12/120-to-620.html
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Old 01-31-2019   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hayesbd View Post
If you roll 120 onto a 620 spool with care, you can then roll it back onto another 620 spool and won't need to bother with the re-taping of the start of the film. I saw this [technique explained by Mike Connealy and it really is quite easy.
https://connealy.blogspot.com/2009/12/120-to-620.html
This really is insanely easy. All you need to watch out for is the film curling at the loose end on the second roll through. Make sure its tucked in and you are good to go. 120 to 620 to 620 gets everything snug, the numbers in the right place and the film-to-paper repositioning correct.

A dark bag is one of the most useful things to own. And very cheap compared to camera modifications!
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Old 02-01-2019   #25
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Originally Posted by Scrambler View Post
the film curling at the loose end
That's basically the only thing that is an issue when rolling 120->620 directly - just retaping the start of the film. Given the time to roll 120->620->620, it's probably the same amount of time to go 120->620 and retape the end... but I might try this mentioned method anyway.
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Old 02-01-2019   #26
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Indeed, there is more than one way to do it, it all depends on what you find most comfortable.

I just roll the 120 film off the spool and into my hand (keeping in in a roll of course). I remove the tape when I come to it, so the film is free to adjust itself as-needed. Then I roll it onto a 620 spool and when I arrive back at the beginning I re-attach the tape. The concern exists of course that the film might shift out of position fore or aft, but I have not seen that to be the case.
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