how to load film in a rolleiflex

Loading a Rolleiflex 2.8F with 120 film is, to me, even easier than loading other medium format cameras. There are a few basic steps that you must adhere to and then you are good to go and ready to shoot with this absolute gem of a camera.

  1. Move the original, empty spool that was in the lower chamber to the upper spool chamber to become the take-up spool. Pull out the upper knob to make this possible.
  2. Unwrap the bellyband adhesive from the film and insert into the lower chamber with the colored side of the film backing paper facing out.
  3. Begin to thread the film up to the empty take-up spool. The key NOT TO BE MISSED piece here is this: thread the film UNDER the first metal bar after the lower chamber. This is the film feeler mechanism and if you miss this part, the camera will not detect your film and you will hand crank all the way through the roll without the exposure counter turning to “1” and you will have wasted your film roll, unless you have a darkroom bag and the ability to spool it back onto the original roll.
  4. Place the paper leader (the more narrow portion at the beginning of your film) through the narrow slot on your take-up spool. If you’re having trouble getting the take-up spool positioned correctly, I’ve found that sometimes I need to push the shutter button to allow me to use the crank to turn the take-up spool into the proper positioning.
  5. Once you’ve got the film through the narrow portion of the take-up spool, turn the crank about 3/4 of a turn (or a bit more). On Kodak film, I do this until I see the start arrow that extends the width of the film.
  6. Close the back, turn the crank until theNo. 1 is showing in the film frame counter window.


And I will ALWAYS preach, read the manual to every camera you work with. You can learn so many things that you never even thought you needed to know.  My Rolleiflex was an eBay special and didn’t come with a manual so I’ve found an incredibly helpful site with the entire manual uploaded here.

As always, feel free to comment with questions, or follow me over on instagram @nicolebaas or on snapchat for behind the scenes username: nicole_baas

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