New Kodak Backing Paper

A few weeks ago, I picked up a Yashica A TLR and was eager to test it.  I bought a fresh 5- roll-box of Kodak Tri-X 120.

When I opened the film, I was surprised to see that the backing paper design was different and had a waxy sheen to it.  I found that, in use, it was a little more difficult to pull the paper tight at the end of an exposed roll, perhaps due to increased thickness of this new backing paper.  Or maybe because of its slicker surface.

Left: an exposed roll with the new backing paper, Right: an unexposed roll of the older backing paper.  Notice that I didn’t wrap the new film as tightly around the reel as the old film came shipped.

I did a little research to find out why the change was made.  As with everything on internet chat forums, I found many different perspectives, presumptions and the usual irate comments.

It seemed the best thing to do was to ask Kodak.

This past March, Tim Ryugo, a veteran Kodak employee (since 1979, WOW!) who is currently an account manager for Kodak Alaris reached out to me to test their new P3200 film.  I figured Tim could give me a straight answer regarding my questions about the new backing paper.  Here’s our conversation:

Johnny:  “Hey Tim, I have a Kodak product question. I usually shoot 35mm and 120 only on occasion. Last week I bought a fresh box of Tri-X 120 and found that the backing paper has a glossy wax coating. In all my years of shooting, I’ve never seen this. A few shooters I talked to said that their recently purchased Kodak 120 has this new backing also. Just wondering if there was an announcement about this that I am not finding and what the purpose is. I’d like to share the info with the community. Thanks for any help!”

Tim: “Hi Johnny, In 2015- 2016, we experiencing incidents of frame numbers appearing on 120-format film negatives. Manufacturing over time has made modifications to the backing paper which we believe should minimize the potential for this type of blemish going forward. What we have done is add a primer/lacquer under the coatings that add glossiness and perceived thickness to the paper. The paper material is the same as the older paper. The sheen is the only thing different due to the primer/lacquer.”

Johnny:  “Thanks so much for the detailed explanation, Tim. Some folks are having trouble with how tightly the new film backing can be wound around the reels to make it light safe. Any thoughts/advice on this? Would it be okay if I quoted you in my Facebook photography group? Much appreciated!”

Tim:  “I recently shot the film on my Pentax 6 x 7, and I also use a Fuji 645 wide without issue.  the issue may be the adhesive on the “after exposure label” may not stick as well as they are used to. A light lick is best with no seconds.  the tab needs to be folded over so that the label sticks to label.”

Johnny:  “Great advice! I have yet to process my first batch of this film which I shot in a Yashica TLR. I didn’t have any trouble but see what you mean about the adhesive.”

Tim:  “ie label to label. the natural thing to do is that if the label doesn’t stick…is to lick it again…and then again..leaving no adhesive.  We have asked mfg to add or change to a more aggressive adhesive ( and also remove the blue dye.”

Johnny:  “Right, I see. Good to hear improvements are still on the roadmap.”

Tim:  “this will take some time to turnover. btw. it’s ok to quote me. also if your group has more questions. they can write to —goes direct to product management.”

Johnny:  “Perfect, really appreciate your help!”

First let me say, it’s fucking cool that Tim not only works for Kodak but he actually shoots film too.  He’s not just shoving a product he doesn’t use; film made for film shooters by film shooters!

EPSON scanner image
© 2018 Johnny Martyr – Yashica A | Yashikor 80mm 3.5 | Kodak Tri-X 400 | Kodak HC110b

As you can see from a couple of my first Yashica A images, there don’t appear to be any issues with light leaks due to improper tightness of the paper.  And, to boot, I was using the red window advance method, in bright sun.  Of 60 images, there was NO bleed through of frame numbering on my shots.  If you are having trouble with the new paper, hopefully, Tim’s recommendations are helpful.  From my first impressions, however, Kodak is still kicking ass!

EPSON scanner image
© 2018 Johnny Martyr – Yashica A | Yashikor 80mm 3.5 | Kodak Tri-X 400 | Kodak HC110b

Thanks for reading and let me know how your Kodak 120 is working out!

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6 thoughts on “New Kodak Backing Paper

  1. Thanks for that info on the new Tri-X in 120. Nice to know that someone in the company is paying attention to such issues. I’ve experienced problems with several films including TMAX and HP5 because of low contrast numerals being hard to see through red-window cameras. The problem is aggravated when shooting in bright sun conditions because the eyes are less able to accommodate. In those conditions. The result is skipped frames and light leaks due to exposing the window to direct sun to help in seeing the frame numbers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Mike. I have found that some res windows are also very dark and, you’re right, aren’t compatible with the ink used on the backing paper. I think that in Kodak’s case, the yellow paper was exacerbating this issue. Now the paper is white with black text so maybe that will help. Check back in when you pick up some new film and let us know how it goes!


  2. Thank you. I read this article on the FPP blog/podcast. This has solved a mystery. I was wondering about the frame numbers appearing on several negatives of a 400Tmax 120 film. Here is an example .This roll had an expiry date of 02/2017 and the photos were taken while still in date but were developed after expiry. The paper backing was black and white as in the above photo but did not have the shiny coating. I thought it was something I had done but it looks like there was a problem with the backing paper used by Kodak.


    1. I’m glad the interview was useful, Adrian. And sorry to hear about your trouble. Kodak now seems to be aware of what batches of film had substandard paper and you can contact them for more information to help you identify any older unexposed film you still have. But everything moving forward should now be good!


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