5 Frames… With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film – by Jason Storey

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As if the year 2020 couldn’t get any worse for all of us; It was also the year in which I lost my grandfather. He passed in early June of, preceded by my grandmother in 2015.

The day after my wife and I flew to Indiana for the funeral I was sitting in my mother’s office (my old bedroom) and noticed an older leather case on a shelf next to her desk. Inside the case was an interesting looking camera; very basic at first glance. I could see the lens, a couple of windows, and a button protruding out of the side.


My first instinct was to press the protruding button and see what happened. There was a slight mechanical click noise and the front section of the camera popped out and extended showing me the bellows (I didn’t know that was what they were called at the time).

My late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, Jason Storey

I looked around the camera for markings to help me identify what I had just found and there, right on the locking slide latch under the leather handle was engraved: Jiffy Kodak Six-20 Series II. I had seen a folding style camera before. My father has a Polaroid Land Camera that was his fathers, but the film is no longer made so I hadn’t done more than open the camera and look at it a few times before.

The camera itself was in incredible condition for its age. Manufactured from 1937-1948, this camera would have been purchased probably in the early 40s as my grandmother used it as a teen. The camera originally took 620 film, which luckily is simply 120 film on a slightly different spool, and, is still sold on these spools by some speciality camera shops online. Without hesitation, I ordered a roll of ILFORD Delta 100 Professional.

I opened and cleaned off the cameras Twindar Lens, checked the bellows for any light leaks and tested that the shutter worked. The camera itself is similar to the older Kodak box style cameras in that it has a lever which can be pulled out or pushed in to change between 3 aperture sizes. The shutter is a fixed speed at around 1/45th and the lens has a simple focusing method of turning the outer lens housing to adjust for subjects within 5-10 feet or greater than 10 feet.

As far as viewing the subject through the camera, you have two small viewfinder windows, one for portrait and one for landscape. Both of the mirrors inside these viewfinders were loose and so I eventually replaced them. The camera shoots a very large 6x9cm negative. So you can get 8 shots per roll of 120 film.

The Ilford Delta 100 I had ordered arrived a day before my grandfather’s funeral. I loaded it into the camera and used the little red tint window on the back to ensure it was advanced to the first frame. The first picture I took with it was out in my parent’s backyard of a cherry tree that we would pick cherries from to make cherry pie when I was younger. As you can see, I was a bit shaky during this picture but I am still impressed that the photo is exposed pretty well.


5 Frames... With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film - by Jason Storey
5 Frames… With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film – by Jason Storey

The next photo I took was the day of the funeral. My family had all gathered at my grandfather’s apartment where some of the out-of-town family was staying to have some relax time and catch up with everyone. My grandfather had moved into this apartment in a retirement community about a year before he passed. He chose this apartment because right outside the back porch was a small pond and from his porch he could watch all the different types of birds that came by to drink from the pond. This was a photo I wanted to have knowing it is a view my grandfather would have frequently enjoyed.

5 Frames... With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film - by Jason Storey
5 Frames… With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film – by Jason Storey

After returning home to the Bay Area I decided to take the camera along with me during a hike near my home. I snapped this image of the surrounding area from up on the mountain during our hike. Please forgive me for the ample amount of sky in the frame.

5 Frames... With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film - by Jason Storey
5 Frames… With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film – by Jason Storey

Later in the month of June I took a few days to meet up with my parents in Colorado to do some hiking in Rocky Mountain State Park. It was here that I finished the roll of Ilford Delta 100, taking a few shots along the hike that turned out quite well. Even the one of the mountains which is underexposed in the foreground turned out better than I expected.

5 Frames... With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film - by Jason Storey
5 Frames… With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film – by Jason Storey
5 Frames... With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film - by Jason Storey
5 Frames… With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film – by Jason Storey

Using this camera has been a way for me to continue to keep the thought of my grandparents alive and well. Each time I take it out of the case and shoot with it I am reminded of them and it is an item I will cherish for the rest of my life. I had read the manual for this camera online but with it being so basic in operation I was not sure if any of the photos I took would turn out. To my surprise every photo I took was viewable and only one or two were slightly under or overexposed.

I currently have it loaded up with a roll of Kodak Portra 160 color film; the first color film this particular camera has ever shot..

~ Jason

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3 thoughts on “5 Frames… With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film – by Jason Storey”

  1. Dear Jason…..so sorry to hear about your Grandmother. Love the shots from your medium format camera…l prefer medium format too…and monochromatic film also. As writ in the recent past…Photography is on hold till the
    restriction s ease. I was in the US, Indiana in the 90’s, in the fall (autumn)…Bloomington to be precise…spent some time at Indiana U. I was in awe of the colour to be found in the woods/ forest….bush in Australia. Most of our trees are ever greens..

    Trust you find much joy and some solace using Grandmother’s 120 (620) roll film camera.. You have made an excellent start. It may also be interesting to see the effects from putting a roll of colour film through. Especially if the lens is not corrected for colour…could be quite abstract.

    Cheers to all Paul. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

    Reply
  2. Nice story. I too have my maternal grandfather’s Jiffy six-16 and have tried a adapted roll of 120 in it. Unfortunatelymy camera’s bellows have a number of light leaks that I unsuccessfully tried to seal. Enjoy shooting this camera and the memories you’ll get to save with it in the future!

    Reply

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