Any hints/tips to loading 120 reels?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Xia_Ke, Sep 24, 2007.

  1. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    I've got my first my first roll of MF hanging now to dry and man what a difference compared to 35mm! That being said, loading reels is a PITA compared to 35mm. The roll I developed today was Ilford HP5 120. Anyone have any tips/tricks to loading 120 film? Should I pull the film off of the paper backing prior to loading my reel? I loaded mine today still attached to the paper backing, just separating as I went a long, and it took me a few tries to load the reel. I'm sure this is due to my inexperience but, just curious if anyone has any tips to help make the process easier. Thanks in advance.

    Aaron
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Probably just practice. I usually roll the film on and separate it from the paper as I go. Be sure the reels aren't bent, and I recommend Hewes reels.
     
  3. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    Thank David :smile: I wasn't sure if I should separate as I go or separate before loading but, is definitely a whole other ball game compared to loading 35mm. Of course though, I thought 35mm was hard to begin with...LOL Guess I'll just have to get out and shoot a lot more. Makes for a good excuse "Honey I need to shoot some more so I can learn to load reels" :D
     
  4. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I separate it and tear it off first.
    If you are talking stainless reels, getting the film centered before starting to wind is key. Plastic or Stainless, I agree that practice is the path to success.
     
  5. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Assuming stainless steel reels:
    Unwind the film backing paper until the end of the film is exposed (in the dark of course!). Pick up the reel which you have previously laid with the clip nose pointing to the left (assuming you are right-handed) and lay about 1-2 cm of the end of the film on the upright part of the reel which is just to the left of the clip. If you now pull the film back slowly, you should feel the point where the end comes off the upright and rests against the clip. If you now push down with your thumb on the clip through the film, the clip will open and you can push the end of the film approx. 1 cm into the clip and let go. The point of this is to get the film correctly oriented up/down relative to the reel. You should now find that if you press lightly with your finger and thumb on the sides of the film, it will bow outwards a little and readily thread into the reel. To feed it, turn the reel while keeping the film hand stationary.

    If you have gotten the film started right it will load very easily. At the end of the film detach this from the backing paper. I prefer to pull the tape off the backing paper, leaving it on the film and folding the sticky end over onto the end of the film. If you pull the tape off the film, there will be a noticeable blue flash of static electricity (which doesn't seem to harm the film) and you might rip the film!

    Regards,

    David
     
  6. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    I do it both ways. If I haven't rolled a film in awhile, I usually take the film off first. One or two rolls that way, then I don't bother. Secret is to get the film well centered on the reel. And cheep reels aren't worth it.

    Hewes are suppose to be good, I am a Kindermann fan myself. The thing I hate most are plastic reels.

    tim in san jose
     
  7. catem

    catem Member

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    I find 120 much easier than 35mm, once you get used to it, less fiddly and the film is shorter.

    My method - extract the film first, gently peel off from the backing, lay the tape back over the film and wind on from that end. The tape makes the edge and corners firmer and easier to wind on. Make sure you pull the film well past the ball bearings, before you start winding, and always make sure the ball bearings are moving freely (and the spiral is completely dry) before you start. I use plastic reels and find them fine.
     
  8. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I use plastic reels and just hold the film and let the roll drop on to the table (clean of course!) and walk the film on to the reel letting the paper backing curl up. I rip the backing paper off at the end and usually pull the tape off the bottom of the film, but if it's hard to remove I just fold it over.

    That's just the way I do it: I claim nothing for it other than that... :wink:

    Bob.
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I use plastic reels in a changing bag with no problems. I sometimes carefully remove the paper from the tape and use the tape to attach a second roll.

    The reel has to be totally dry. any moisture will cause the film to jam. I run an artists paintbrush around the spirals of mine occasionally to clean it.

    For some reason, I find it easier to load two 120 films than one 36 exposure 35mm film.


    Steve.
     
  10. Jean Noire

    Jean Noire Member

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    I do the same as Steve. Ensure that the reel is really dry to start. The only problem sometimes is locating the start of the film in the reel but this improves with practice.
    Regards,
    John.
     
  11. thebanana

    thebanana Subscriber

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    Practice, practice, practice. It's worth blowing a roll of film to learn how to get it onto the reel effectively in the daylight. Makes doing it in the dark that much easier.
     
  12. DaveOttawa

    DaveOttawa Member

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    "The hard part isn’t the decisive moment or anything like that – it’s getting the film on the reel!"
    John Szarkowski
     
  13. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    Note to self, watch the wine intake after celebrating your first MF roll... Oiy my head...LOL

    I'm using Paterson auto-load reels in a changing bag. I did sacrifice a roll to a quick practice in daylight and didn't seem that hard but, once in the bag I was having a hard time keeping it straight. I just wasn't sure if I should take the backing off or if that even made in difference in helping load the reel. Guess I'll just practice both ways until I find what work for me. Thanks again everyone! This site is great. Everyone has been so helpful in helping me venture into the world of film. I can't thank you all enough.

    Aaron

    I'll have to agree with that!...LOL
     
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  15. catem

    catem Member

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    One word of warning about using changing bags..

    Sometimes it can all go wrong, with the reel not loading, for no apparent reason. If that happens consider if you're trying too hard/worrying/taking too long in a confined space (i.e. sweating a bit!) - if the atmosphere inside the bag becomes humid, then that will make loading difficult...I remember a couple of my first ever tries, using a changing bag in a class, and for some reason this happened with the first MF roll I tried, but never did with 35mm. If that happens, just leave it & go away and chill out for a bit :smile:

    by the way I hated using changing bags, and would say to try and get a blacked-out suitable space to use - but other people seem to do O.K. with them.
     
  16. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    I prefer changing bags but I remember dropping film (35mm out of canister) onto the floor of the darkroom at high school and that's something I do not want to repeat.. hunting around a dark room for the film. At least stuff can't go very far in a changing bag.
    My hints & tips are to keep your fingers spread out and remember you have more than two fingers. When I load a 120, my index and 2nd finger are at the top corner of the film and the thumb and ring finger hold onto the bottom corner. That way I can sort of feel the corners going over the ball bearings better and gently angle the film up and over the balls and can do so at more or less the same time. Actually I find keeping the balls offset helps more than keeping them aligned does when you're loading 35mm. Also once you get it on the reel, you can keep the backing paper at bay by using your little fingers to kind of hold back the curling paper.
     
  17. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    Thanks guys :smile: Working in the confined space of the bag doesn't bother me at all. I like it for the reason Heather mentioned, that everything is right there and easy to keep track of. That said, I have no experience "out of the bag" so.... Heather, I'll have to try the offset loading. I found out quickly that holding it with just a thumb and finger in the middle is not going to work. I finally ended up unrolling the spool a bit and grabbing each corner to make sure both made it in the track correctly. It's all good though, I have plenty more film so I'll get lots of practice :smile:

    Aaron
     
  18. tac

    tac Member

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    I unwind the backing until I get to the film, then rip off the backing paper to expose 2 or 3 inches of film. That makes it easier to hold, without the extraneous backing getting in the way.

    With the Paterson reels, I find that it is easier to reach through the reel, pinch the corners of the film, and pull it onto the reel- only a few inches- just until it gets past the ball bearings. From there you can gently "walk" it on.

    Practice, practice.
     
  19. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    120 is easy. I quickly take off the paper back and tear at the tape and don't bother with peeling the tape off. It is so easy that soon you won't believe you ever thought it was hard. Just don't do the 3 inch 220 rolls. Those are a bad joke..
     
  20. light leak

    light leak Member

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    With the Patterson reels, I've found that a light touch is key. Even the smallest amount of pressure against the sides will bind your film. Be "dainty" with it and you'll have no troubles.

    Jonathan
     
  21. DaveOttawa

    DaveOttawa Member

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    One thing I don't think anyone mentioned is I cut the corners off the leading edge of the film for 120 & 35mm. I honestly don't know if it's essential because I've never tried loading without doing that though - but I've never had a problem with Paterson plastic reels & 120, in fact it is easier than 35mm.
     
  22. Mahler_one

    Mahler_one Member

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    Lots of wonderful suggestions, but the secret, as was said by all, is practice...completing film tests compelled me to load and process lots of rolls of 120 film. After loading about 5 rolls I lost the "fear", and simply made up my mind that loading the reel was not delicate brain surgery! I usually start with the loose end, put the film into guides on the plastic reels ( I use a Jobo ), and "walk" the film into the reel. I let the paper curl and fall away. If the film gets stuck, then I gently push the film along ( handling by the film edges of course! ) into the plastic grooves until the film is threaded onto the reel. If nothing else works, then I go to the taped end, remove the tape, fold over any remaining tape, and load from the taped end which, with the tape, is more rigid and sometimes easier to get under the guides of the plastic reel. If you get too frustrated, consider putting the entire unloaded roll carefully into the developing tank ( remove the center post of course ), put the top on so the tank is light tight, and go have a beer or walk the dog. It is amazing how the short break often removes any pent up stress, and doubt. Go back into the dark-room, take off the top of the tank, put the post in, and load the reel!

    Let us know how you are making out, and the very best of luck. You can do it!

    By the way...if you are impressed with the size of 120 vs. 35mm, wait until you develop your first sheets of 4x5 film and compare the detail with such rendered on your 120 film....and then your first sheets of 8x10, and compare such sheets with the size and detail of your 4x5 sheets....:}

    Edwin
     
  23. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    Thank again everyone for the advice! :smile: I'm sure I'll have it down in no time. Just bought a new light meter yesterday so in a week or so, I'll be putting the Yashica through it's paces. I can't wait :smile: These are nothing special but, thought I would share a couple of my first shots. I did adjust the exposure a hair is Photoshop as these were shot using the Yashica's on board meter.

    Happy Shooting Everyone!
    Aaron

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  24. pschauss

    pschauss Member

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    No one has mentioned the Nikor stainless reels. I have found that their clip makes it much easier to get the film centered. AFAIK you cannot buy them new.
     
  25. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I'm sure this is due to my inexperience but, just curious if anyone has any tips to help make the process easier. Thanks in advance.

    Aaron[/QUOTE]

    ********
    Stainless or plastic, I remove the paper. I load from the end without tape.

    With plastic, the reels must be completely dry before loading. Some people bevel the corners of the film before loading. After use, scrub the reel with a fiber "vegetable brush" using Bon Ami or Bar Keeper's Friend. Plastic reels must be kept scrupulously clean.

    The GREATEST single trick to loading stainless steel with MF film is NOT to use the little clip like we do with 35mm.

    Just hold the bitter end of the MF film in gentle contact with the center of your reel whilst turning maybe an eighth or so of a turn until the friction of the film itself keeps in in place. An old lab rat taught me that forty years ago, and since then I have never had a problem with the film jamming.

    As the others say, practice, practice, practice.

    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
     
  26. Ian Tindale

    Ian Tindale Member

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    I was going to reply to this
    but all I can see is the
    left hand edge of this page.