plastic or steel 35mm reels? tank?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by BetterSense, Jan 15, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I don't develop film yet but I'm thinking about getting into it. I notice that there are plastic and steel tanks as well as plastic and steel reels. Which is better, the plastic or the steel?
     
  2. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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    Elvis or the Beatles?
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Stainless steel.

    Now which is better, Canon or Nikon?
     
  4. KenS

    KenS Member

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    stainless...

    Kindermann 500 ml tank with 2 Hewes reels

    Ken
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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    Nikon.

    Hewes.

    All else is pretenders.
     
  6. JMC1969

    JMC1969 Subscriber

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    Stainless uses less chemicals if you are dumping. Just don't drop them.
     
  7. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    In case you haven't gleaned from the comments above, there's a great deal of personal preference involved.

    By in large, you use the same brand reels and tanks if plastic, SS is more interchangeable. I'm not aware of using plastic reels with SS tanks and or SS reels with plastic tanks.

    Here's my take:
    plastic reels are generally easier to load (a big plus if you're beginning)
    SS reels can be loaded if wet (in case you're developing one roll after another)
    SS tanks generally use slightly less chemical

    Starting out, I'd recommend plastic.
     
  8. waileong

    waileong Member

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    There's personal preferences, there's also characteristics of plastic vs steel. Do some online search and you'll find the strengths and weaknesses of each, then decide.
     
  9. JMC1969

    JMC1969 Subscriber

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    Yeah loading plastic reels while they are wet, is a head ache. I actually had someone bring me film that was wet itself (as an art project) and i needed to load it on plastic reels. There is a way to do it, but you will need a 5 gallon bucket. Load it under water, it works, I've done a couple of times.
     
  10. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    You gotta pick one. So you might as well go with what will work well a year or ten down the line.

    Get s.s.

    Take a roll of exposed film, and practice loading it on in the light. Get good at it. It'll come, don't worry.

    Now do it with your eyes closed, a few times.

    Then wonder what all the fuss was about. 8^)
     
  11. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    I prefer stainless reels. Many brands are fine, Hewes are great.

    Kindermann tops are fantastic because they pour fast. I use them on stainless tanks.
     
  12. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    I prefer stainless, but I have both, because my SS reels and tanks are pretty worse for wear.
    It's up to personal choice. I'd take whichever are more readily available, they both require some practice to get used to.
     
  13. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    I like stainless. If you get stainless, get the Hewes reels for 35mm. They make life so much easier. I use the generic steel tanks from freestyle/B&H with the black tops.

    The first reel I ever loaded was stainless and I had zero problems doing it. Just bow the film ever so slightly and it guides right in.

    On the other hand, if you get used to plastic, you are one step up if you end up using a roller base, Jobo, or Phototherm to do your development. I don't know if metal tanks/reels work as well there.
     
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  15. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    I prefer SS because of the above and they are easier to clean if needed.
    I never had any resudue with SS, in plasic a couple of times.

    Peter
     
  16. VaryaV

    VaryaV Member

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    Stainless..... for some reason I don't get along with plastic.....
     
  17. Mark_S

    Mark_S Subscriber

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    I use both - if I am processing by hand, I use SS for 35mm. Hewes are head and shoulders above the rest, much easier to load, and they don't seem to go out of alignment. Some older SS reels that have been dropped or bent are impossible to load. I can finish processing one roll on a SS reel, and immediately load another roll onto the same reel. If I have one or 2 rolls, I use the SS and develop by hand.

    If I am going to be processing a lot of film, I use plastic reels that fit in my Jobo Processor. Impossible to load when wet, but relatively easy when dry.

    Practice with a dummy roll in the daylight. It will make it all much easier.
     
  18. eskyone

    eskyone Subscriber

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    I have both and would not consider using the plastic again unless I had no other choice.
     
  19. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I have both and I prefer to use the plastic ones. It's just easier, and you know what? The film comes out looking the same. SS is fine if you like. I just don't see any great advantage to them for most tasks.

    Plastic tanks transfer less heat than SS tanks, and this is handy if you don't use a water bath for temperature control. Yes, plastic reels are a bitch to load if they're wet. But when they're dry they are a treat, especially for 120 film. Oh, and did I mention that they're inexpensive? You can get a tank and two reels for the cost of one Hewe's reel.
     
  20. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    Buy lots of plastic reels and keep them in a safe, dry place, then you won't have the loading when wet problem. I use the paterson tanks because that's what I've always used and I have an "if it's not broken, why fix it" policy towards these things.
     
  21. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    Go with stainless. Once you learn to load the reel, it becomes an automatic, unconscious act. I've never had trouble with steel reels. I once owned plastic and had problem with air bubbles. Yes, my fault, but I've never had a similar problem with steel.

    Peter Gomena
     
  22. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    If I may add my 2 cents... I started out years ago with the plastic reels and tank. During warm/hot humid weather the film could be really difficult to snake onto the plastic reels, especially when I used a film changing bag. Out of frustration one night, I smashed my first plastic reel and tank. Nothing like ruining a roll of film because you can't get it onto the reel. I wasn't set up to do tray developing at the time.

    I then got a Patterson tank and it was much better, but still found the film would want to occasionally jam or lock up before I got it loaded all the way, even when I trimmed the sharp corners off the leading edge of the film. They just seemed to sometimes snag on the reel spokes - not always, just sometimes.

    After practicing with a test roll of film a few times using a stainless steel reel, I determined it was better for me.
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i have both, but use stainless more often.
    a friend told me once that plastic is better
    mainly because your hands will warm up the chemistry
    in a stainless tank between the time you start and the time you stop.

    while that might be true, i just find it easier to use metal reels, and
    only use plastic when i am in a pinch ...
     
  24. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I'd start with a plastic tank and reel. They are easier to load and less likely to give you problems in the beginning. Patterson reels and tanks are good.

    You don't need a changing bag. After all these years, I hate changing bags.
    I just find a dark room/closet and load it in there. Much easier.

    I no longer own plastic tanks or reels and I find stainless steel to be easier to use (kindermann and hewes reels) but there's a learning curve. The plastic reels work fine, especially until you get the hang of things.

    Loading cheap stainless steel reels is hard, especially if they are bent. The clips are all wrong, in the wrong spot, missing, etc. Kindermann's are excellent, and there is a 35mm kindermann film loader that makes it extremely simple to load.
     
  25. DragonHrt

    DragonHrt Member

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    I like plastic. If you drop a SS reel there bent and never get them to work right again. I have 30 year old Paterson reels and tanks and they work just fine. Also with SS tanks it takes much longer to dump out developer when you develop 3 or more rolls of film you start getting uneven development.
     
  26. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Hewes reels, Kinderman tank and lid.

    Better in every way.