Medium Format Forum

Register a free account now!

If you are registered, you get access to the members only section, can participate in the buy & sell second hand forum and last but not least you can reserve your preferred username before someone else takes it.

How can you tell if an A12 magazine has film in it


How can you tell if an A12 magazine has film in it (without opening the insert)? Sorry if this has been asked before.
By looking at the indicator on the left hand side ('inside' the key that is used to unlock the insert).
It is linked to a feeler, sensing the diameter of the film roll, and shows white if there is film inside, gradually changing to red when the roll's diameter decreases as film is transferred to the take up spool, letting you know how much film is left on the roll.
Mind you, it is rather course mechanism, and the indication is not very precise. The frame counter on the other side is an exact indicator of how much film is left.

If the frame counter is beyond 12, the indicator on the left showing red, its still best to give the wind crank on the magazine a number of turns, to make sure that if a finished roll is in the magazine, the trailer is wound around the roll before you open the thing.

You could use the wind crank on the magazine. Give it a turn and feel whether it is pulling film through or not. But that requires you to be able to tell by judging the amount of drag/force needed.
And you'll get spacing problems on the rest of the film, if there is one inside.

You do not have to open the insert to see whether there is film in the thing directly.
Opening the insert will expose lots of film, and reset the frame counter and spacing 'mechanism'. So if you do that, notice there's film inside close the thing again, you will have wasted a few shots, and will have spacing problems for the rest of the roll.
A better way is to take the slide out, in dim light, and see if there is film in the film gate. That way, you will only waste one frame.

However, and concluding: film is cheap. If you lost track, just use the wind crank to fully wind any film that might be inside the magazine to the take up spool, remove it (or find that there's nothing inside), and put in fresh film.
Thanks for the info. I have never learnt to use the red/white film indicator because I had heard that it was unreliable. The mag in question shows that it is wound on to frame 3 and the red/white film indicator is all white. That should mean there is film inside.

Qnu mentions using the film crank to test if there is film inside but on my mag, once the film is wound on for the next shot, you cannot wind the crank on further to test for "drag". I could take a shot and then test for resistance when I wind on but, of course, part of the drag would be resetting the shutter and mirror. So, it would be hard to isolate the pull of the film.

Is there any way to test for the resistance of film using the wind on crank without taking a shot?

My first Hasselblad had manual mags (which I have since sold) and I now miss the window through the back of the mag which allowed you to see the backing paper numbers. I guess that feature was removed to cut costs?

In summary, I think Qnu's idea of removing the film slide in a dark area and manually checking for film is a great idea, which I will use.

Thank you.
How about going into the darkroom (or a totally dark room ;-), pulling the darkslide and probing with your fingers? Works well..
Except for the nice fingerprint on the film.

You can feel the film without putting greasy fingerprints on it. A bit of dexterity will do ;-)
Surely any exposed frames on the take up spool will be "backing paper side" out. You don't have to touch the pressure plate area.

With the frame counter on "3", most of the film will still be on the 'feed spool' and the indicator should show (mostly) white when there's indeed film inside.
So yes, there probably is.

The crank you could use to test is (as mentioned) the one on the magazine, not the one on the camera.
This wind crank (not a very good way to test for loaded film) is blocked only for the first shot. After the first image is exposed, you can use it as much as you like.
You will absolutely have to (be able to) use it after the last frame is exposed.

So yes, there is a way to test for resistance using the wind crank.
Just use the wind crank...

(But be sure you know what it should feel like, and remember that spacing will probably be off after you do this).


When 'reaching in' through the film gate (slide out), you only get to feel what's exposed when the dark slide is out. Which is either the pressure plate or the emulsion side of the film. You cannot reach the backing paper on the take up spool.

If you do this, and you can feel anything not being the pressure plate, there will be film. (Unless you have put something else entirely inside
On my 500C/M, I cannot wind the film crank on. The gear won't let me. I can turn the crank the other way but it is totally free-wheeling. Can you turn your film crank on between shots?

I still think Qnu's idea of testing with the slide removed is the best solution.

Thanks every one for your replies. I am pretty sure there is film in the mag. What I should do now is orgainse a few bets. Any takers?

If your magazine's wind crank still is blocked after the "nr 1" frame has been exposed, how do you transport the "nr. 12" frame to the take up spool afer it too has been exposed, and wrap the trailer around it so it's safe to remove the film?
("This wind crank [etc.]")

If you really cannot wind the film using the crank, you have bigger problems than not knowing whether there is film in the magazine...

Testing with the slide removed, when the indicator says there is film inside, probably is not the best solution, no...
Qnu, you are right. I thought I could not wind on the film mag crank but, after testing with other A12 mags, I put more pressure on the crank and was able to move it forward.

I guess the pressure required is another indication that there is film in the mag.
my film sticks at the end of a spoon sometimes when shooting fuji and it almost always rips off the little licky-sticky tape thing at the end of the roll. I have to crank that last bit real hard and the little piece rips right off. Then I have to track down some new tape to hold the roll together.

And thanks for this thread. I never knew about the litte red/silver indicator on the side of the film holder. You learn something new every day!!!