how to load 35 mm on steel reels?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by bessa_L_R3a, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. bessa_L_R3a

    bessa_L_R3a Member

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    Hi,

    if this has been covered somewhere else on Apug, let me know .. Otherwise,

    I just bought the cheapest steel reels I could find and I tested a roll. I clipped the end into the center, but rolling seemed kind of difficult and how in the world am I going to know in the dark if the film is going on smoothly and not doubling up in the circles?

    R.

    I bought these generic reels from B+H for about 9 dollars apiece...
     
  2. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    So, these would be the reels with the clip in the centre, as opposed to the two little hooks which the Hewes reels use. The clip ones are much harder to load. If you are practising in the light, you can see if the film is going on evenly and you can feel it too so that you will know what it feels like when it is properly loaded in the dark.
     
  3. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi there

    using steel reels isn't difficult, but it isn't easy the first few times you do it :smile:
    sacrifice a roll of film ...
    cut the end off straightish, and clip it in the center. make sure
    you orient the reel to go the right way around :smile:
    look at the end of the reel and make sure the way you are going to spin
    the film is the same way the reel spirals ...
    curve the film slightly between your thumb and index finger so it is bowed
    and slowly turn the reel and the film should load onto it.
    i usually keep the film taut and every once in a while push the film into the reel
    to see if it moves backwards / is not bound up.
    with the lights on you should be able to see the film loading .. and get the hang of it :smile:

    if loading the film is easier with the reel resting on a table top instead of
    holding it in one hand and the film in another i have heard of people doing that as well.

    good luck!

    john
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    The way I usually do it is to let the reel roll on the table, steadying it with my left hand, and I push the film onto the reel, with the film I'm holding in my right hand parallel to the table. You should feel a little play in the film as you push it in.

    Try it first with the lights on, then with your eyes closed, then in the dark. When you can do it a few times in the dark with no mistakes, you're ready to roll.

    Hewes reels are more expensive, but they're also easier to load than cheap reels. Kindermann is good too, as long as they're not bent.
     
  5. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

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    Two words: Hewes Reels. Get yourself 1 more than you think you need.
     
  6. bessa_L_R3a

    bessa_L_R3a Member

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    well, you know what they say ... buy cheap, pay twice ... hmm or i can go return these, I guess ..
     
  7. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Bessa L,
    Having used "cheap" reels for more than 40 years, and also presently owning Kinderman, Nikor, and Hewes, let me say that there is no need to get any others. So long as your reels have no obstructions such as blips of weld, and so long as they are not bent, let me assure you that in the dark they are all the same: sometimes a bit cranky until you get the "feel." It is a question of getting the film centered on the clip, then bowing the film slightly with your "strong" hand and turning the reel away from the film. There is a knack and once you get it you are home free. Practice, practice, practice, with a roll of film. Do it in the light and watch how it goes in. When that is comfortable, begin doing it with your eyes closed. One thing I found helpful with 35mm reels is this: rather than pushing down on clip, reach underneath the core and pull the front of the clip down with a finger or fingernail. Then you can feel the film going in over your finger or knuckle. Getting the film on straight is the key; then winding with the proper slight bowing. It's like whistling; once you teach yourself how to do it, it becomes second nature.

    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
     
  8. David William White

    David William White Member

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    On your way to return...take a test roll. Try before you buy. Okay, I know that the general preference is for steel reels, and Hewes at that, but I've felt your pain and suggest you look at the vinyl reels. I'm absolutely delighted with my Paterson reels. You just push the film, spiralling inwards, and I find this works for me. So take a piece of test film with you and try every type they have.

    With 120 film, I found it easier to push film into steel reels as long as I trimmed the corners of the leading edge. (I can hear the laughter from the more experienced APUG members!)

    My brother prefers steel reels for 35mm, and for him just the weight of the cartridge is enough tension to properly thread film, and he can do it single-handed. But again, he's a real photographer.
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    One thing I find helpful is the sound. As you load the film onto the reel, if it is going on properly it makes a sound that is different than if it is binding.

    I also make a point of pushing and then pulling slightly throughout the loading process - if it is going well, it just walks in, whereas if it isn't, you will feel it bind almost immediately.

    It is necessary to practice, but it is really important to learn the feel (and sound) as soon as possible.

    Also, when you are learning, don't switch between a variety of film brands. The base that the film is on really makes a difference on how the film loads. After you get good with one type of base, it is reasonably easy to adjust to something different, but when you are first learning ...


    With respect to the type of reels, personally I prefer the ones without clips or hooks, but instead a "C" shaped area that the film goes into, and then crimps slightly (hard to describe).

    Good luck. Once they begin to work for you, steel 35mm reels are the best to use (IMHO).

    Matt

    P.S. I have a very different experience with the 120 steel reels!
     
  10. Rick Jones

    Rick Jones Subscriber

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    I have always thought that trying to explain how to load a SS reel was akin to explaining how to ride a bike. However, R.W.Behan in his book "How to be Positive about the Negative" gives about the best and most entertaining advise I have ever read. "-- it can only be mastered by practice and that practice must begin in the daylight where you can see what you are doing wrong and finally what you are doing right. Sacrifice a roll of film. Then practice in the darkroom until you have your own personalized technique perfected, consistent and comfortable. The only advise I can offer at this point has something to do with Positive Thinking: maintain an aggressive and confident demeanor, seize the initiative early and maintain it and rely neither on faith nor on hope but only on your own innate ability, sentience, dexterity, practice and competence. You will prevail: countless others have before you."
     
  11. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Why buy cheap reels for your precious images?

    Are the reels bent?

    Even if the are perfect, you must practice, practice, practice loading over and over and over again to learn to load film correctly.

    First practice with a dummy roll many time while watching the reel. Then try doing it in the dark many times till loading becomes second nature.

    You must teach your body how to load film with little effort.

    Practice.
     
  12. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Wow---I couldn't disagree more. I almost gave up on 35mm because I couldn't get the film loaded on the reels without having it "jump the tracks" and stick together. I'd be spending what felt like an hour sitting in the dark, spooling film on and feeling a little kink and going "oh hell" and backing up a little, and eventually finding things so fouled up that I had to unwind the whole thing and start over...and at the end it STILL wouldn't be loaded right and I'd lose a third of the roll. (And always the best pictures. You know.)

    Bought a couple of Hewes reels and haven't had a significant problem since. As far as I can tell, the big difference is that my el-cheapo reels were made with a finer gauge of wire; the slightly larger wire on the Hewes reels makes a huge difference in keeping the film in the track.

    Your mileage may of course vary, but if you can reliably get a clean load on reels like my old ones, my hat is off to your patience and dexterity.

    -NT
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    this is kind of funny.
    i have some hewes reels and some cheep ones.
    i can't stand the hewes ones, and it more trouble
    than it is worth getting the film to stay in the
    little grabby-prongy things in the center of the reels.
    i never use them anymore, only cheep-ones ... and the plastic
    yankee ones + plastic ones for the unicolor drum --
    i never use them either, they are all bit of a pain in the neck.

    but, as they say ... YMMV

    john
     
  14. panastasia

    panastasia Member

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    The trick is to get the film going straight in the first turn, after that it's just a matter of turning the reel as you guide the edges of the film with your fingers (the turning reel is what pulls the film past your fingers while the tips of your fingers are touching the reel). Be carful not to squeeze the the film too much, or it will kink laterally and cause little black crescent shaped marks on the film when developing.

    Paul
     
  15. Doug Webb

    Doug Webb Member

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    You may be able to work successfully with the cheaper reels if you practice enough, but Hewes reels have a great reputation for a reason. A couple of things I have found about practice, if you sit down to practice loading the reels with a roll of film you won't be as relaxed and it won't feel as familiar in the darkroom if you stand up to load the reels in your darkroom, try either practicing while standing or find a way to sit in the darkroom to load film. Manual dexterity varies a lot from one individual to another and some people cannot get the hang of loading film until they can relax while doing it. You may have to practice quite a few times in day light and maybe many more times either with your eyes closed or in the dark before you get comfortable with it, don't stop your practice just because you have done it correctly a few times, you may have to get really comfortable so that you aren't stressed out by the loading routine. You sound like you have gotten off to a start in film loading where you associate film loading with frustration. I still mess up my loading at times when I am too tired, distracted, or frustrated about something else. With Hewes reels it makes a difference whether you cut the film straight across or at an angle. If you cut the film at an angle it is much more difficult to load the film. You can prove this to yourself in daylight by trying to load film that has been cut at an angle. Another related issue is loading the film in Hewes reels in the first sprocket hole on your film, if you load farther along than this you end up with a stiff little piece of film sticking out in the film path when you bring it around to wind it on. You can reduce failures by holding the reel in your right hand with your thumb over the end of one of the pins that goes into the film sprocket holes and inserting the bowed film with your other hand. You can feel whether the first sprocket hole is going over the pin that way and you can then move your thumb over to check whether the other sprocket hole is seated in the other pin. If you then pull gently and slightly wiggle the film from left to right you will be able to tell, with practice, whether the film is going on straight before you start winding. If you do this in daylight you will be able to see what happens when the film is not loaded straight at first. If you don't like loading it that way, load any way you like but stick your thumb or a finger in before you start winding to see if there is too much film extending beyond the pin and reload if you need to.
    Good luck,
    Doug Webb
     
  16. Paul VanAudenhove

    Paul VanAudenhove Member

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    The most important advice here is to practice, practice, practice! When I switched from plastic to steel reels, after reading a similar thread here on APUG, I started in the daylight to see what I was doing. Never had much luck with my eyes closed; maybe just uncomfortable that way as Doug suggests. The real breakthrough for me was practicing while reading APUG! Eyes on screen, hands under table... got very comfortable that way. Now it's second nature. Hope this works for you.
     
  17. jackc

    jackc Member

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    Using a Hewe reel, there's no such challenge (or for that matter any challenge.) The Hewe has hooks that lock into the sprocket holes of the film. Place the cut film end on the reel stem (where the hooks are located), then roll! Straight is the only way it will turn out. Nor is there any possibility of a slip. All the way through, 5 seconds work. I got it right the first time, and every time since. Did not need to practice!

    BTW, Hewe reels says "Made In England" on them.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2008
  18. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

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    I have found that running my fingers along the outsides of the spiral, starting from the centre and moving outwards, every couple of turns helps to check if the film is not going on straight. If I feel film protruding outwards then i know that it is not going in straight. Sacrifice a roll and practise. Like the others before me have recommended, do it in daylight where you can see what you are doing first. Then try it with your eyes closed. Once you learn how to do it, you will wonder what all the fuss was about.
     
  19. Cruzingoose

    Cruzingoose Member

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    I use Kindermann reels and have some other brands. An easy way to load them is to warp the film just enough to fit in the reel. Don't use the clips, if you do, you are likely to get the film cocked slightly and it won't spool without crinkling. Just put your thumb over the clip. Hold the film loosely between the clip and your thumb. Once you make the first turn the film will spool easily. Remember to keep the film warped.
     
  20. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I just want to put in my two cents, again, about all the "knowledge" concerning "cheap" ss reels. I started loading with "cheap" reels (Spiratone--anyone here remember Spiratone?) when the only "good" reels in the US were Nikor. And that is Nikor with one "k" and it has nothing to do with the Japanese company. At any rate, Kindermann reels were not around in the benighted areas of New Jersey where I lived at the time if I could have afforded them. I could not afford Nikors, btw; and Hewes was still an unknown--perhaps they were not even in business then? At any rate, I am still using all of the "cheap" reels, as well as Kindermann and Hewes I have acquired over the years. As long as the ss reels don't have welding blips on them--; and as long as they are not bent; they are all look the same in the dark.
    Give the newbies a break. Tell them to practice, get the hang of it, and get on with it. Harrumph!

    John (world-class curmudgeon), Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
     
  21. David William White

    David William White Member

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    Bessa L:

    Earlier in this thread, I suggested finding a reel you can live with. You can practice and master the art of loading steel reels as most suggest, or you can stop sweating it and get on with the fun part.

    I'm very reluctant to say this out loud, but developing film isn't like fixing a swiss watch. I can hear the perfectionists out there jumping to their keyboards, but...if you're sitting there thinking you'll never get the film on the reel and see your wonderful exposures, and this whole endeavor is threatened, then:

    Go into a dark room with a jug of developer, a jug of fixer, and a bowl. Fill the bowl with developer, pull the film out of the cartridge and drop it into the bowl. Give it a slosh now and then. Or if you want to get fancy, hold the ends of the film and see-saw the film through the developer. When your watch beeps, dump the developer and fill the bowl with fixer. Final rinse in the kitchen sink, dip in Fotoflow, and hang to dry. Print, and enjoy. Improve your technique later. Learn to load the reel of your choice without scratching or creasing it when you are tired of slumming it.

    I've done the bowl thing, and even the "shake-and-bake" in a ziplock bag, in the strangest places when travelling. No biggie.

    "Reels? We don't need no stinking reels!"
     
  22. bessa_L_R3a

    bessa_L_R3a Member

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    thanks david william .. interesting suggestion!

    i'm back to my plastic reels, though ... they work very well when i'm not confined.