Best way to clean film holders?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Brad Bireley, Apr 13, 2006.

  1. Brad Bireley

    Brad Bireley Subscriber

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    What's the best way to clean film holders? I received 3 with the camera. One of the slides has a crack, can you get another slide for it?

    Sorry about all of the simple questions,
    Brad
     
  2. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Aside from brushing all the slots and interior surfaces of a film holder, the most important thing to realise is that most dust comes from the light trap that the darkslide slides through.

    Try this experiment: pull the darkslide out about two thirds of the way, grab it by the side edges and repeatedly slide it in and out through the light trap about ten times, each time sliding it just enough so its edge clears the trap in either direction. In effect, you're using that edge to scrape all the dust out of there. At the end of that process, I bet you'll see a light colored line of dust on the dark slide marking the furthest point you've pushed the slide through. And, presumably, you've pushed an equal amount of dust out the other side of the trap down into the open guts of the film holder.

    I do this in and out thing with every darkslide when I clean my holders and, though it sounds fussy, it only adds about one minute's time to the job and been the only thing that really solved the dust problem.
     
  3. Eric Leppanen

    Eric Leppanen Member

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    On my photo trips I take several cans of Dust-Off (pressurized air) to blast any dust off my film holders during changing. You can use the plastic straw that comes with each can to blast air into all the nooks and crannies of the holder.

    If you have a standard Fidelity or Lisco holder, you can purchase a replacement darkslide. B&H sells 8x10 dark slides for $20, plus used slides come up fairly often on Ebay.
     
  4. p krentz

    p krentz Member

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    I use my vacum to suck out the light trap after pulling the dark slide, and along the film groves. Pat
     
  5. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Wooden holders can be disassembled, the traps removed and cleaned: vacuum and masking tape.
     
  6. BradS

    BradS Member

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    I always give my newly acquired, used film holders a bath when I first receive them - if they're not really clean that is. I know, it sounds outrageous but it works well. They dry in a few days. Just leave the dark slides out until the light traps (the slot where the dark slide is normally inserted) dry.

    I use a vacuum on the light trap and the film grooves once in a while and always keep the film holders in zip lock bags. Works for me.

    I have a few extra dark slides for 4x5 film holders. Shoot me a PM if you need one.

    Brad.
     
  7. jonw

    jonw Subscriber

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    After you have cleaned your filmholders, I have found that anti-static bags sold by Gary Claunch at <staticbags.com> work great. They come in various sizes and IMO protect the filmholders especially after film has been loaded and subsequently exposed. It seems there is never enough time to get the LF gear out, so I try to minimize problems and this has helped. Jon
     
  8. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    Oh also Glad Zip Lock bags work wonderful once you clean them out. I store all my holers in these bags after a shoot and hit them with canned air.

    Kev
     
  9. scott k

    scott k Member

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    bag size and vacuum recommendation

    One film holder per bag or do you put in more than one? What size bags do you get? Sounds like a great idea! My zip-lock bags seem to attract dust.

    Anyone have a recommendation for a good computer vacuum? The attachments on our household vacuum are covered with pet fur!

    Scott
     
  10. jonw

    jonw Subscriber

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    Scott, they come in many sizes of anti-static zip lock type bags. checkout the website www.stacticbags.com
    I usually store 2 or 3 8x10 filmholders in the 11x14 bags. They keep static charges out and I have not have trouble with dust being collected by these bags as I had with the standard ziplock bags.
    Jon
     
  11. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I just use an anti-static brush and that does a nice job. I try to mess with them as little as possible. The advice about pushing the slide in and out to scrape out the slot IMO sounds like it will just wear out your lifght traps at 10X the pace if done too often. If you keep the DDS clean, this should not need doing very often at all.

    One of the most important things is to keep dirt away from them in the first place and that means sealed bags. If this dust does not get into the felt traps you wont need to remove it.

    I have found canned air pretty well useless as most dust seems to cling on (even to flat smooth surfaces) despite the hurricane unleashed on it. The natural fibre anti-static brush I got from framers supplier is incredible. It also is incredible for cleaning big negs (Called a Static Whisk or Wand or something- sorry it is in storage or i would be able to tell you for sure). until I got it I never would have realised how much of a role static has in attracting dust to the DDS and then preventing its removal. the anti-static brush sees to that.

    Be aware that in my experience, most of the dust that ends up in your DDS will have come from your camera bag or whatever the main carrier for the DDS is, so a sealed bag is needed to keep this out no matter how clean the photo bag 'seems' to be.

    Tom
     
  12. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    A great product for photo use that you may have in your cupboard already is Swiffer pads (the dry ones :smile:), they're excellent for capturing dust and lint. I vacuum old film holders, wipe them down with an ammonia-based cleaner (Windex), and then run a Swiffer cloth through the light trap. Once they're clean they go into a zip-lock bag.
     
  13. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Tom brings up a good point about using compressed air----if you try blowing out the dust, the dust has to go somewhere and you don't want it in your dark room!

    If I absolutely have to use compressed air, like if you buy holders that were stored in King Tut's pyramid for 3,000 years, take them to a gas station and use the tire air, them bring them home as vacume them thoroughly like a good scout ;-)

    Other thoughts:

    Some dark slides are made out of stuff that dosen't like water. For this reason I don't give them baths.

    Light traps also trap dust. This is one reason why I prefer the wooden black Eastman Kodak made by Graflex ones with the light traps that your can unscrew if the shop vac approach proves futile.

    Zip locks are the way to go. If static electricity is a problem,the anti static bags are the way to go, but it hasn't been a problem for me so I get mine at (ugh) Wal mart. For ULF size holders, (ugh) Wal mart sells dust proof zippered inner pillow case liners which look pretty classy and work well.

    For grime, a cleanser like 409, Orange or Simple Green---or worst case scenario Goof Off helps. Don't spray it directly on the holder, put it on a rag first.

    After you've got them to sparkle, a bit of wax along the edges of the dark slides will make them run smoother. Pledge, Butcher's Wax, Simonize, Blue Coral, Bee's wax whatever works---just use sparingly. I rub it in by rubbing the edges between the tip of my forefinger and thumb.

    I hope this helps.
     
  14. Eric Leppanen

    Eric Leppanen Member

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    I should clarify my suggested use of compressed air. Compressed air in my experience works well when used in an open area in conjunction with a changing tent and ziplock storage bags. Simply empty the holder, remove it from the tent, blast it thoroughly, place it back in the tent, load it, then store it in a ziplock bag. This protocol has worked well for me in the field and is relatively fast. I agree that using compressed air in a confined space like a darkroom or motel bathroom can be problematic, as the dust has nowhere to go.

    Regarding dirty holders that require serious cleaning: this discussion has joggled my memory and I now remember that I used Brillianize to clean my "new used" holders when I first got into 8x10. It reportedly was recommended by John Sexton for cleaning film holders (see http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/153350.html) and worked well for me. It can be purchased at a variety of places, including here: http://www.brillianize.com/.
     
  15. genecrumpler

    genecrumpler Member

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    Mr Sexton tells his students to ALWAYs keep film holders in a sealed environment ALL the time. I use a high quality brush to clean holders. So far I have not had any problems with dust.