35mm bulk cartridges: How long do they last?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Worker 11811, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Bought a bunch of 35mm bulk film cartridges so I can roll my own.

    They are the Kalt brand, black and yellow metal carts with the snap-on end caps. (Made in Spain.)

    They work well but, after about 3 or 4 uses, I start seeing dark streaks (light leaks) along the edges, outside the sprocket holes of my developed negatives. After that, they get progressively worse and begin spoiling the film. Once the light flashing gets past the sprocket holes, I have to quarantine the cartridge and use a new one.

    I have saved a bunch of the plastic containers from my store bought film to keep the carts in. The carts are either in the camera, inside the plastic container or being refilled/emptied at any given time. I never let them sit out or roll around in a drawer or bang around loose in my pocket. (I learned my lesson when a couple of them got banged up and I lost a roll of exposed film.)

    Do these cartridges have a finite life or am I not doing something right?
     
  2. dances_w_clouds

    dances_w_clouds Subscriber

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    What I do is leave the cartridge separated when I develop the film and then see if any flaws show up on the film. Even the smallest problem they get trashed. I only use a small amount of film in bulk and the rest is pre-rolled. At some of Freestyles film prices you actually lose $$ if you bulk roll. eg. Legacy 100 @ $1.50 per roll.
    Mine are also colour coded with electrical tape so I can tell the type and speed of the film,
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2010
  3. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I've been spooling 35mm bulk film for more than 30 years, and I've been using a set of recycled Ilford and Agfa cartridges the entire time.

    Before spooling film, I clean the light-trap felt and check that the cartridge is still in good condition. Because the ends snap on, one concern is that the metal has not become bent so that the end cap is no longer light tight, or can fall off.
     
  4. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    I put a dash on the tape I have on there to identify the emulsion.
    I have the metal non DX type from freestyle and I've used some 4-5 times without ANY fogging at he edges.

    I also reuse the prerolled cassettes. I figure 4 reuses on those and then just chuck them.
     
  5. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    I use Kalt, and the Agfa type from Freestyle Sales. I keep track of number of uses for each cassette by adding a dot from a Sharpie each time I load. So far in over 20 years I have not yet had a light leak or scratching problem. I use the cassettes up to 8 times.

    I am careful to keep the cassettes clean by storing them, loaded or empty, in their protective canisters. I also clean the felt from time to time by inserting a strip of adhesive tape between the felt pads, then pinching the cassette together.

    Looking forward to reading other users' replies.
     
  6. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I find the plastic cartridges better for bulk loading. They are less prone to accidental cap removal and they seem to be more resistant to light leakage. They do have higher friction than the metal cartridges, which bothers the occasional motor-driven camera but this is not a major issue.

    Give some a try and see what you think.
     
  7. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    PhotoJim,

    The plastic cartridges that I have on hand have foam in place of felt. Is that what your have? The end caps screw on snugly into place.
     
  8. Softie

    Softie Member

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    My experience with the metal snap-on cartridges is that they leak into the sprocket holes on the first use. I'm not crazy about that.

    The plastic ones last until you start having dust/scratching problems, which for me is about 4 uses.

    Rolling your own is only cost-effective if you're shooting XP2 as far as I can tell.
     
  9. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I don't have any at my fingertips, but the ends are as you described. I thought they had felt, though.
     
  10. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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    I occasionally bulk load and reuse cartridges from any one hour lab. I find the Fuji ones work the best. I use them once and then they go in the trash.
     
  11. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    So, on average, you get about a half-dozen uses out of them before they go?

    What is is that wears out on them? Is it the metal ridge around the case or is it the metal cap that gets loose?
    I wonder if it is that gap in the body where it joins up with the metal end cap that wears and gets bent.
    I suppose it's futile to try to unbend them or to fix them once they go.
    Could you handle them more carefully?

    My teacher in high school used to bulk roll film for us students. I know he reused cartridges dozens of times before they wore out. And that is with high school kids handling them.
    (See in my post above in reference to losing a roll of film... :wink: )

    Were the metal ones made 25 years ago just built better?
     
  12. derwent

    derwent Member

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    How do you reload the used regular cartridges?
     
  13. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Some labs with regular cartidges retrieve the wound in leader (there are specific tools for doing this, or they can be improrvised), and leave a little tongue maybe 1/2" to 1" long hanging out of the felt. You tape the bulk film onto this 'tongue', and wind your bulk film into the cassette with it.
     
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  15. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    There is quite a variety of quality for reusable film cartridges. I've got some I don't use because they are sort of flimsy and I'm sure they'd leak or fall apart if I dropped them 2 feet. I've got other ones that have been used continuously dozens of times for years with no problems. It was 20 years ago when I bought them, so no guarantees they are still available. I'll try to put a photo or scan of them up.
     
  16. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Check this photo.net thread. There are some photos about mid-way down the page; just scroll down to see how it's done.
     
  17. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    "Were the metal ones made 25 years ago just built better?"

    From that time I used Kodak snap caps and Kalt—I still have a few of the Kalt. Currently I have been using the metal cartridges that Freestyle Sales is currently selling—I have used about 75 of these without problem, so it seems like the quality is fine.
     
  18. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I have looked at the ones from Freestyle. Thought about buying them. Maybe I will.

    But, judging by what you just said, I might need to be more careful with my carts, regardless of where they are made.
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I was given a bunch of 35mm Agfachrome from the 1970s. You cannot get it processed any more, but the cassettes are great for bulk loading.

    It was hard to discard the (process paid) film though.
     
  20. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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  21. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I have some of the black plain metal ones from freestyle and the sprocket holes of my film are always fogged. Sometimes it comes uncomfortably close to my film gate, too, so I've been kind of worried that maybe I shouldn't be trying to save money. It really helps with storage and if you are buying name brand film, can save significant money too.
     
  22. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    I would sure like to know what exactly is going on here. Is the fogging continuous and does it start at the very edge, does fog bloom around the sprocket holes (of course there is no film in the actual holes), run the entire length of the roll, along both the top and bottom edges, or just one?

    Could it be the bulk loader?

    In other words, why do some experience problems and others seem not to—handling issue, or inconsistent quality with the actual cartridges?

    Do you leave the rolls out in light for a prolonged period of time. I load in subdued light, and keep the cartridges in an opaque can until use, to keep light and dust to a minimum.
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i am still using some i got in 1981,
    no problems ...
    i don't change my razor after every use either ..
     
  24. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    In the U.K. but I suspect it is the same in the U.S. there are re-useable cartridges where the ends screw on which I think are better. You are unlikley to get problems with light leaks at the "snap-on" area. You need to check the felt light trap each time but these should last for at least 5 occasions befoe the felt becomes flattened or missing. Try passing a post-it note paper along the felt to catch any grit.

    Better and cheaper still is to get used cassettes from your local mini-lab for free and attach the bulk film to the end of the film in the cassette then use once only. Manufacturers' cassettes such as these run smoothly so avoid strain on the auto rewind motor of the camera.

    Best of all is the labyrinthine metal cassettes such as the Shirley-Wellard. They use no felt at all relying on the labyrinth inside the cassette like a bulk loader to actr a s a light trap. They are well engineered and will last a lifetime. The drawbacks are: They are rare so expensive nowadays and take a bit more effort to load.

    Roger Hicks on the Roger and Frances Photography site has an article on bulk loading which is free and he even gives the instructions on the Shirley-Wellard casssette.

    pentaxuser

    pentaxuser
     
  25. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I don't know. It must be due to some rough handling or just plain old poor quality. I have some reloadables that I've been using for 30 years and they're fine. I have some others that are just plain old crap. The ones that are crap are snap cap types from factory loaded film. The good old ones are identical to the metal snap caps that Freestyle is currently selling. The plastic ones with the screw on caps are good too, but they might be a little bit tight for some cameras. They work fine in all my cameras, and I doubt that they'd be a problem in any camera; but they are just a tiny bit more bulky than the metal ones.
     
  26. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    I've been using mine for over two years now, with little trouble. I use metal ones with snap-tops and plastic ones with screw-on tops.

    I get minor light leaks, too. Mostly along the top and bottom of the film, sometimes over the sprocket holes, but never over the images themselves. I use the plastic ones from KALT, too. I don't like them that much: the felt can shift around and sometimes come off, jamming the film or causing light leaks.

    Maker-specific cartridges are nice. I have a Nikon F one, but lack an F to try it with :rolleyes:
    Leica cassettes are also nice. However they can be a pain to load and unload, and a few times I've had them stick inside the camera.

    Minor light leaks don't bother me at all, as long as they don't affect images. I wish they had DX coding, as I use P&S cameras without manual ISO override.