The Kodak Six-20 takes 620 film (hence the name), which is 120 film on a 620 spool. After having made a spectacular mess whittling down a roll of 120 for my initial focus test of this camera, I decided this method of film-spool-adjustment was not the best use of my time. Also, that spool stuck towards the end of the roll, and I wasn't sure if it was my own uneven sanding of the roll, or a defect of the camera. I turned to Film Photography Project's website for a better solution, and not only found their 620 spools, but my searching also brought me to a video demonstrating how to re-spool 120 film onto a 620 spool. I'm good at loading film for development in the dark, so I thought this looked like the solution for me.
Re-spooling a roll of black and white took a fraction of the time that adjusting a 120 roll did, with no mess. Thank you FPP!
The camera has a fixed focus, with F/stops ranging from f/8 to f/64, so in order to maintain maximum depth of field I decided to shoot at f/64 for the whole roll. In my focus test I'd determined that I would meter scenes with my DSLR at f/22 (the smallest f/stop I have to work with) and then adjust the time by a few stops to reach the proper f/64 exposure. I've since rediscovered my grandfather's light meter, and since it has f/64, all I need to do is meter the scene with it and I'm done.
No batteries required.
The viewfinder took some getting used to. Rather than putting your eye up to it like a DSLR, you have to look through it from a distance and almost relax the focus of your eyes (similar to looking at one of those "magic" posters with the hidden pirate ship in the pattern) The viewfinder is also rather square, so the end image is larger than how the scene lines up with the viewfinder. In future outings I'll try to get a shot with my cell phone to compare to the end negative.
Another quirk to this camera is that the tripod mount is not flush with the camera body, so when trying to attach it to a standard tripod head the camera wobbles a bit in the horizontal position, and does not stay steady in a vertical position. I'd showed this to my dad while I was visiting him, and he suggested I cut a thin piece of craft foam into a square, with a hole in the center for the tripod screw - the foam helps fill in the space between the camera body and the tripod plate. I happened to still have half a sheet of 1/4" craft foam leftover from making all those custom mouse ears, so I cut a large chunk to keep in my bag for stabilizing cameras.
Craft foam and gaffer tape, I'm ready for anything!
I loaded the camera with Ilford 400 speed B&W and brought it along with me to the local botanical gardens for a test run along with my Graflex pinhole (which will be written up later). My exposures ranged from 1/2 a second to 10 seconds, which I was able to do without camera shake thanks to my cable release. The film counter lines up well, and I have 8 neatly spaced shots on my roll of film. The edges are a little burned from light leaks, so I might want to consider taping the edges of the camera prior to my next outing. But overall, I'm very happy with the clarity of this glass. I also noticed that the film became more difficult to wind right at the end of the roll, but didn't stick as badly as it did on the first test, so I believe the FPP spools should work just fine for me.
The closest fern was roughly 3 feet from the camera. Given the sharpness of the ferns in the back, I think 3 feet is just on the closest edge of the focus for this lens at f/64.
Three heron statues, I cropped this shot in a bit to cut out a light leak in the lower left corner.
One of the many waterfalls in the botanical garden.
Using the hand held light meter made for a far more streamlined, and more relaxing, shooting experience. It allowed me to concentrate more on composition and the other tests I wanted to run without adding calculations of exposure adjustments to the mental mix. In my next outing I will be sure to tape the sides of the camera to avoid light leaks, and will probably play with varying the f/stops to play with the depth of field a bit.