Loading 120 film on developing reel

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by colivet, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. colivet

    colivet Member

    Messages:
    236
    Joined:
    May 28, 2004
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I need some help. I can't seem to manage to load 120 film into the damn developing reel. Is there a great trick to do this? Are there some reels easier to load than others?
    Thanks

    Christian
     
  2. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,709
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    Good Evening, Christian,

    There's no real trick involved; in fact, I think you'll find that loading 120 is quite a bit simpler than loading 35mm. (Now, 220 is another story!) If necessary, just do a little practice in the light before heading for the darkroom.

    Use a high-quality SS reel. The main thing is that the reel should have a very positive method of gripping the film at its core. Kinderman reels have a spike, an arrangement which I've found to be vastly superior to the spring-type device found on Nikkors and a lot of others. While I haven't used Hewes reels, I understand that they have an equally effective (some would say even better) method of grabbing the beginning section of film.

    With practice and a little experience, you should be able to go from taped roll of film to film completely on the reel in less than 30 seconds.

    Konical
     
  3. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

    Messages:
    3,221
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    S.E. New Yor
    It is particularly important, and difficult, to have the film centered between the top and bottom spirals before starting to wind the film. Concentrate on this at first and it will become easier and more natural with time.
     
  4. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

    Messages:
    474
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You didn't mention what reel you are using. If it is a plastic Patterson type then jump up and down on it and never use it for 120 again! I'm being a little sarcastic but honestly those things are a serious problem when it comes to 120. (at least for me) All too often the wider more flexible film base of 120 bends,buckles or jams with the auto loading reels despite ensuring that they were bone dry. Stainless steel is a piece of cake and can be loaded wet as well.
     
  5. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

    Messages:
    371
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Dry hands are very important, once the film gets damp it'll stick to the reels.
     
  6. BOSS565

    BOSS565 Member

    Messages:
    40
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I suggest practicing with blank roll of film in the daylight. I did this and was able to see what I was doing wrong. Then try it again with your eyes closed. If you jam up again you can take a quick look and see what you are doing wrong. After a little practice you will be ready for the dark.

    I also vote for using a good stainless steel reel.
     
  7. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

    Messages:
    1,602
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2005
    Location:
    Henrico, Vir
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    echoing everyone else, practice with a roll film in the light. I must have rolled my test film 50 times, first with my eyes open to see exactly what was going on and then with my eyes closed to make sure I could get it in the dark.

    Even though I use SS reels and consider them easier to load, I have on occasion had to use plastic reels and experienced no problems with them.
     
  8. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,560
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Pacific Nort
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Oh yea, two points here; the reel must be absolutely dry, any dampness on either the film or reel and STICK. Two, practice with a roll in the open with the lights on until you can do it without looking.
    I used to use the plastic reels with the grasp and release scoot it on method because I tried to use the metal reel once and failed. A couple of years later I thought the plastic reels were too slow and switched to the metal reels and finally got the hang of it. And it's like riding a bicycle, once you learn you never seem to forget it. So practice, and when you get it, you'll feel very accomplished.
    Regards,
    Curt
     
  9. colivet

    colivet Member

    Messages:
    236
    Joined:
    May 28, 2004
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Ok I do have stainless steel reel, I believe it's adorama brand, though it doesn't say anywhere. It does have a metal spring clip so I assume you hook the end of the film and start spinning the reel hoping the film will wind up perfectly in its track. I am no astronaut so this seems utterly difficult. Way easier is to do 12x20 in trays.

    Film is on its way so it will be a few days until I try it.
     
  10. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,404
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Location:
    Melbourne, A
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You don't really spin the reel. You should turn it slowly whilst slightly kinking the film as it feeds onto the spiral. Sacrifice an old film and practise in the light. Good luck. :smile:
     
  11. Soeren

    Soeren Member

    Messages:
    2,456
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Location:
    Naestved, DK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I must say that apart from the film curling and twisting in the dark I havn't had any problem loading 120 film on..................... Paterson reels.
    135 however is another story. If I don't clean my reels after developing some 120 films I'm sure to have problems loading the longer 35mm on them, they jam a little more than halfway through.
    Søren
    1 post closer to my 500 :rolleyes:
     
  12. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

    Messages:
    726
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I too find Patterson reels fairly easy to load with 120 (and 220). They need to be absolutely dry and you need to pull the film through the guides and little ball barings, rather than push it. Someone said they have more trouble loading 35mm. I tend to leave the leader out and put that onto the reel in the light, then do the rest in the dark. Obviously you can't do that with medium format, but it's no major problem.

    David.
     
  13. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

    Messages:
    1,063
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Location:
    Westport, MA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I can't load plastic reels with 120, be it Patterson or Generic.. I mean, I can get the film on there but I end up kinking the film pretty badly. I've smashed more than one reel before.. I'm thinking that high-humidity might have played a part in my troubles.
    Either that or gunked-up ball-bearings.

    I liked the jobo 120 reel, the real big/wide ones that also take 220 I think.
    Although I don't know if I was ever loading it properly; I just 'pushed' the film in. Worked well for me though.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. haris

    haris Guest

  16. htmlguru4242

    htmlguru4242 Member

    Messages:
    973
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2005
    Location:
    Sandy Hook,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I must agree that loading 120 onto a plastic reel is not a fun task. Loading 35mm onto one of the reels is quite simple, but 120 is quite a trick. I spend 5 or 10 minutes funmling with hte curling, buckling film (this is especially hard with a film like Lucky SHD, which is unbelievably curly ...)
     
  17. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

    Messages:
    1,670
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    They used to sell a device which cupped the film just right to fit on the reel and keep your hands from direct contact with the film. These were small curved sheets of metal with a lip on the edges to hold the film. Tried to find one for a friend but couldn't find any new. They came in 35mm, 127 and 120 film sizes that I know of. The 120 size is very handy and I use it routinely. Perhaps a fellow APUGer knows where to find one.
     
  18. markbb

    markbb Member

    Messages:
    585
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2005
    Location:
    SE London.
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I find loading 120 on to plastic reels a lot easier than 35mm. I don't unravel the whole film, but unwind until I find the film leader stuck to the backing paper. I tear the film off, leaving part of the tape stuck to the film, this gives it a stiffer leading edge. I hold the reel in my right hand, with my finger and thumb over the entry slots, and push the film in with my left (holding it at the edges). Once the ball-bearings are met, I hold the film and reel with my left, and pull the leader through the balls. Then it's just a question of cranking the spiral & unwinding the film from the paper in sections.
     
  19. rbarker

    rbarker Member

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    Rio Rancho,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A few "tricks" you might find helpful. Assuming you use your left hand to hold and manipulate the reel, and your right hand to hold the film, try this. First, make sure the open end of the spiral on the SS reel faces to the right. Once the leading edge of the film is under the clip, use your left-hand thumb and middle finger to feel the centering of the film in the center of the reel, and reposition the film if needed. Then, make sure the film is clipped such that it's square to the reel. Try to keep a slight, even tension on the film as you rotate the reel, and rest your right-hand thumb and index finger, used to guide the film, on the edge of the reel. That will prevent having too much arc or "pinch" across the width of the film. You want just enough to clear the outer edge of the reel.
     
  20. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,709
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    "It does have a metal spring clip so I assume you hook the end of the film and start spinning the reel hoping the film will wind up perfectly in its track."

    Good Morning, Christian,

    I don't know for sure about Adorama reels, but I have never encountered a reel with the center spring device (Nikkor-type) which actually "hooks" the film; instead, the end of the film is simply slid under the wire spring which is supposed to hold it, but does so far less effectively and reliably than the puncturing devices found on better-quality reels.

    You can use a paper punch to make a well-centered hole near the end of the film, then fabricate a small hook from very thin wire or a small paper clip. The film could then be "hooked" to the spring device, which procedure would probably result in the film's being relatively well-centered in the reel, which should, in turn, lead to easy loading. But all this is really unnecessary. Either top-quality reels and/or lots of practice with the cheaper kind should take care of your problem.

    Konical
     
  21. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

    Messages:
    474
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    LOL! I have smashed two plastic reels in frustration over the last 5 months trying to load 120 on plastic reels. (35mm is no problem) I've used the generic brands and the Patterson super system and they were both an equally horrific experience. In fact I have NEVER successfully loaded 120 onto a plastic reel without creasing it or damaging the film in some way. By comparison I successfully loaded a SS reel after practicing for 10 min. Can't tell you why everyone here has had opposite experiences but it is pretty funny to read these comments.
     
  22. highpeak

    highpeak Member

    Messages:
    833
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2004
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I too find Patterson plastic reel is best suit for me in the 35mm and 120 world. I tried the SS reel, but it just not my cup of tea.

    what I do is remove the 120 film from paper back completely, line up the reel's intake notch, and insert the film in just a bit, hold it there and use other hand to pull the film pass the ball bearing, you will feel the tension change. then the rest is easy, just start twisting the wheel to load the rest of the film.

    anyway, light on practice is important and so does a dry wheel. Good luck!
     
  23. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

    Messages:
    744
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Wellington,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I picked up a Gepe 120 tank and reel at a photographica show last year. The reel is plastic, but loads from the centre like a SS reel. It also comes with a film loader/guide that clips onto the reel.

    You clip the loader/guide onto the reel and put everything in the darkbag. I then separate the backing paper from the film, letting the film curl under my hand. Then push the film through the loader and clip it onto the centre spike. You then hold the loader and wind the reel. 15s later, one film correctly loaded. Even works when the reel is damp and with creased film (which failed to load on another reel).

    Hewes make a similar loader for their SS reels (see here )

    Paul
     
  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,160
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    One of the reasons, I think, that some people find the plastic reels more difficult then the steel reels, is that the plastic reels flex more.

    If you are using the plastic reels, practice in a manner which concentrates on keeping the sides parallel. That requires a light touch, with even pressure from both hands. I think that for some people, this comes naturally.

    If you can't make the plastic reels work, the steel reels have some real advantages.

    You may find consideration of my circumstances (and how I've dealt with this problem) useful to consider.

    As I've mentioned before on a couple of threads, I have limited strength and dexterity with my right hand. As a result, I am not able to use that hand to guide the film on to the reel, I have to use it to hold and rotate the reel, while the left hand is used to handle the film. Because of the limited dexterity in my right hand, it is difficult for me to hold the plastic reels in a manner that keeps the sides parallel - they flex slightly, and go slightly out of alignment with each other as I try to feed the film in.

    The steel reels, being more rigid, don't have this problem for me. Unfortunately, the clips are another problem, because all of my 120 reels have clips that need to be activated by the hand that is not feeding the film :mad:.

    I've tried to come up with a method of activating the clips, using the fingers of my left hand (the one feeding the film in) but so far have not succeeded.

    From the descriptions here, it may be that the Hewes reels would be usable by me - but I don't have a source nearby that would allow me to try them out first, and they are somewhat expensive to import on spec.

    By the way, I have no problem using the steel reels for 35mm, at least the ones (Nikor and imitators?) that do not have a clip, but instead a slot that the film goes into and crimps slightly, thus holding itself to the core. I think that it is the additional stiffness (relatively speaking) of the film base, and the narrower width, that makes this possible.

    I am working on trying to develop the necessary feel to be able to position the 120 film on top of the clip, and to load it smoothly enough as to have it stay in place due only to the slight friction this entails, but so far have had imperfect (although improving) success.

    If all else fails, I can go back to my 120/620 Kodak developing aprons, but I would prefer to use the reels.

    Good luck, and keep practicing.

    Matt
     
  25. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

    Messages:
    371
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's all about practice and what you're used to.

    I have never used a Stainless Steel reel (never even seen one) but normally I have no problems loading a plastic reel.

    As I said previously, the most important thing is to have dry hands.

    During Winter I can load a reel in a changing bag before the bag gets too sweaty, but during spring and summer it's impossible. Outside humidity at 80-90% and temps around 90-100 do not make for happy 120 loading in a bag.

    I do the loading in the darkroom with the bits in a tray. Anytime my hands get too hot & sweaty I just wave them around :smile:

    Graham.
     
  26. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

    Messages:
    744
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Wellington,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another option, although limiting in other ways is the Agfa Rondinax 60 (and Loadamat 20 and similar) daylight loading and developing tanks. They are not suitable for inversion agitation, you just have to keep winding the little wheel.