How to load film into the reel for development?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by mingaun, Apr 17, 2011.

  1. mingaun

    mingaun Member

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    Hello,

    I am learning for the first time how to load a film to my single 35mm Paterson plastic reel.

    Are we suppose to load it as such that the emulsion side faces the inside of the reel?

    I have been practicing loading and I find towards the end it gets very tight and not smooth. Is this normal?

    Thirdly I find it takes a lot of strength to open up the reel after loading it and occasionally it will damage the film? Is this normal? Am I suppose to reel the film until all the film passes the ball bearing?

    Thanks
    Mark
     
  2. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    I don't like the ball bearings. I pop them out of all my Paterson Super System 4 reels.

    Yes, the emulsion side should face inside.

    It can get tight at times. I find if you tap the sides of the reels it will come free.

    Open up the reel after loading? I don't quite understand. I never open up the reels. I simply pull the film out to remove it though I must say I do it only with wet film which just slides right out after the final rinse.
     
  3. Mike Pieper

    Mike Pieper Member

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    I never open up the reel to remove the film. Just squeeze the edges of the film together slightly and the film will pull out very easily. I remove the film that way after it's developed and when I have trouble loading a reel (usually a 50 year old spool of 120 film that has a very strong curl) and want to start over. Anyway, you load the film on the reel the way the film naturally curls. Normally if the reel is dry, you shouldn't have much of a problem getting the film on the reel, so I'm not sure why yours is not going smoothly at the end. And yes, you load the film until it passes the ball bearings.
     
  4. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    one tip when loading is to keep your thumbs over the little triangle/notches where the film goes in. Then you can tell that the film is going in smoothly and not jumping out of the track.
     
  5. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    I find since you have to do this anyways the ball bearings are no help and only cause difficulty.
     
  6. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Youtube is your friend. I only recently started developing my own film and the instructional videos on Youtube were worth a hundred explanations.
     
  7. mingaun

    mingaun Member

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    What i meant was after developing, how do you remove the film from the reel? I find that i need to dismantle the reel and that is when i find the negative can be damaged. I cant pull the film out because it is suppose to prevent backward movement. Now sure if i am being clear. Sorry for this as i am a total beginner. I have looked at many youtube videos and in fact that is what i am using as a basis.

    Mark
     
  8. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    I open up my Paterson reels to remove the film and have never damaged the film. Been doing it that way for many years. Hold the reel horizontally and gently separate the halves. The film is left in the bottom half and is easily removed for treatment in a wetting agent (like Photoflo) before hanging to dry.
     
  9. mingaun

    mingaun Member

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    Thanks for the assurance Wade. Maybe it is because i am practising with an undeveloped film. Perhaps the developed one will be different.
     
  10. Mike Pieper

    Mike Pieper Member

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    As I mentioned before, you squeeze the edges of the film together slightly. This takes the film out of the track and then you can rotate the reel the opposite way and the film comes off the reel. Squeezing the film together lets you get by the film guides/ball bearings as you rotate the reel. You can do this when you want to take the film off the reel when you're having trouble loading it and want to start over. After the film has been developed, this is usually not necessary as the film will easily slip out. Photo-Flo is a pretty good lubricant.
     
  11. mingaun

    mingaun Member

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    Thanks Mike for that tip. Now i understand what you were trying to say. Will definitely give it a go.
     
  12. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Member

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    Mingaun, I used to have this problem with the film becoming hard to insert into the reel until I found out the absolutely definitive solution to this problem. I use plastic reels, like you. That means that the entire length of the film slides inside the reel during the movement.

    (I don't have stainless steel reels, but I understand that with SS reels the film does not "advance" inside the reel from the outer edge, but is instead "spooled" around the reel rocket from the inner part, but I might be wrong).

    I found that my problems were due to two mistakes in cutting the edge to insert inside the reel.

    The first mistake was to cut the leader with a U shape (almost a V shape). The "shoulders" were much lower than the "head" of the tip. That's bad because when you use a small tank like the Jobo 1500 series, when the film advances inside the reel it will be more and more bent and the "tongue" protruding beyond the margin sides will touch the film on the outer reel's groove.

    The second mistake was in cutting the corners of the film. If you watch YouTube videos you see that people just make a 45° cut taking out a couple millimetres at each side of the leader. When I did that, I had problems.

    Now I cut a very small but very "rounded" edge. Not bigger than a few millimetres, but rounded. Take inspiration from the way the film is factory rounded where the leader (the narrow tip with only one perforation) ends and the film begins being full heights. You will notice that the film margin is rounded. I now cut from that point, a very flat cut, and on the other side of the film I "replicate" the same round cut as the one factory-made on the other side.

    The film flies through the reel!

    (I'm sure this helps :smile: )

    Fabrizio
     
  13. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Strange... Because I often just tear the film instead of trying to peel off tape in the dark.
    I rarely have problems feeding film onto plastic reels.

    Further, I always take plastic reels apart when I'm done developing.
    It's easier to get the film out and you have better access for cleaning. I lay the two halves of the reels on the bottom of the sink and use the hose from the faucet to "power wash" them with hot water.
    Cleaned this way, immediately after use, I never have problems with reels getting sticky and dirty.
     
  14. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Member

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    I'm with worker 11811 about the reel-in-stabilizer issue. My first attempt was to open the reel and let the film fall (actually "splash") on the stabilizer bath. The film tends to whirl and you have to use some prongs to separate it and be sure it is souped correctly. Besides, you have final bath everywhere...

    I now just put the entire reel with the film inside in the stabilizer bath. I agitate it very gently for 30 seconds or so and then let it sit there for a couple of minutes (that's overkill, but nobody actually gets killed, so I do it).

    Then I open the reel while keeping it horizontal, take the upper half of the reel away while keeping the film still orderly spooled on the lower half of the reel, in my left hand. Then with my right hand I take the upper film clip and snap it to the free outer edge of the film. I then proceed to slowly raise the film and hang it to my film dryer. Finally I attach the lower (leaded) film clip. This procedure allows me to hang the film without touching it with anything.

    After this I immediately rinse the reels with hot water. If some chemical residue builds in a few years, I now know it is something that can be cleaned with an energetic wash. E.g. a wash in the dishwasher, the dishwasher soap being pretty much aggressive, would certainly deal with any deposit for which one would not call an exorcist. After the dishwasher treatment I would add a hot-water wash.

    When I bought my second-hand reels they had a different colours than they have now. An old toothbrush and some dish soap and hot water made a big difference.

    So my idea is: forget what they say about final bath building deposits; use your reels to minimize hand contact with film; rinse the reels immediately with hot water; if there is some deposit after many, many rolls, there's no dirt which cannot be washed away.

    Fabrizio
     
  15. mingaun

    mingaun Member

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    Thank you all so much!! I was just about to try developing when i found out that i did not have any wetting agent. Just ordered it and now have to wait another week before i can do it.

    I have one last question. Can i just take the lead film and thread it into the reel in daylight and then slowly spool it in the changing bag. This is because the first bit of the film is not used anyway. In this way i dont have to struggle in the dark to feed it into the reel and i can also nicely shape the film leader using Fabrizio's method.
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I assume you are working with 35mm film. If so, and if the leader is still out of the cannister when you have finished rewinding, it is an excellent idea to prepare the film before loading. You can also begin the loading as you have suggested, as long as you are careful not to go too far.

    And by the way, if it were me and I was developing my first film, I would probably go ahead and develop it now. Just get some distilled water to finish the wash. You may end up with a water spot or two, but maybe not. And you are certainly not going to hurt the film by not using the wetting agent.
     
  17. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I'm not sure what you're talking about... Film can never be exposed to light, not even for a split second until you are done developing it.

    So, if you are asking whether you can open the cartridge and begin to load it, no. You will spoil the film.
    If you are asking whether you can use a leader retriever tool to pull the head of the film out of the cartridge, feed it onto the reel then put it into the changing bag and pop the cartridge open, yes you can do that but it's a whole lot of fussing for little payoff.

    Best Solution:

    Get a piece of film to practice with. It can be a piece that you have already developed or a piece that you accidentally spoiled. You could even sacrifice a roll of film in the name of science. It doesn't matter.

    Take your practice film and practice loading your film right there in the daylight. Do it several times until you can do it with your eyes shut. From that point you should be able to do it in the darkroom or in your changing bag without problem.

    Fussing around with retrieving leaders and half-threading film isn't productive and you're just flirting with disaster.
     
  18. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Yes, you can trim the leader and insert the first couple of centimetres onto the spiral in the light while the rest of the roll is still in the canister; this is much much easier if you set your camera not to rewind the film all the way back into the canister but to leave the leader showing. Don't pull out more than the 8cm or so that gets exposed when you load the roll into a camera. Once you have the spiral primed, put the whole lot into a dark bag and wind away until you reach the end then just snip the film off at the canister with scissors and put the spiral into the tank.
     
  19. mingaun

    mingaun Member

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    My leica M3 allows me to rewind and leave the leader out. That way i will feed the beginning into the reel and the rest will be done in the changing bag. Should be much easier then.
     
  20. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    This is what exactly what I do and as far as the bearings, for those of us who had the Paterson tanks at Brooks Institute we were told to take out the bearing in the reels. I did and load them quickly. At Art Center College of Design they didn't care what we used as long as we got results. I used my stainless steel tanks while there, bought from Freestyle.

    I almost always use a stainless steel reels however and use the Paterson system when I have a lot to process. I find there is less hardware to clean with stainless steel. A tank, reel, lid and cap. With the Paterson system there is a tank, reel, center column, retaining clip, lid and cap.

    It takes some practice to load film at first but it becomes second nature in no time. With 120 roll film I make sure the leading end doesn't have a corner that's curled, other than that it's about the same as 35mm.

    Good Luck,
    Curt
     
  21. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Member

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    I'm one of those who take the leader out of the canister (135), cut the leader and trim (as explained) the head, and insert the head for around 3 cm inside the reel. I put everything in the dark bag, and work from there. If there is any problem, you can always reload all the film inside the canister (leaving outside just a few cm of head) and open the dark bag and begin the process again.

    I don't like taking all the film out of the cartridge first, as I feel this increases film contact with dust and with fingers and risks of microscratches, which I want to avoid (I scan at 4000 ppi and everything matters). Also my changing bag is pretty small and the film would be all around my hands. When I loaded the first reels I had problems and the operation took time and my hands begun sweating in the changing bag.

    Now it's all very fast. I do clean my hands with soap anyway not to live evident finger marks on the back of the film.

    Fabrizio