Steel Reels....Real Hard? MF film

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by BWGirl, Jan 11, 2005.

  1. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Hi All!
    I just bought a steel reel for the 120 film, and I'm a little concerned about trying to get the film into this thing in the dark. Up to now, I've used the plastic ones, and even though they are a PITA in the dark for MF, I do eventually get them on the reel.
    I hunted all over for SOMETHING that shows me how to get the film on the reel. I tried pushing in thru the spirals, but that does not work. I tried hooking one end under this little wire thing-y in the center and turning the reel while holding the film flat, but I'm concerned about my hands against the film.
    HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D
    TIA!
     
  2. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Let me see if I can use less than 1,000 words to paint the picture.

    Assuming you're right handed, first make sure the little step created by the end of the spiral is facing to the right. Break the seal on the paper backing, and pull off a few inches of the backing so you have about 2-3" of film free, holding the film spool in your right hand between your little or ring finger and the heel of your palm. Cup the film slightly between your index finger and thumb - just enough so it will pass between the spirals.

    Holding the reel in your left hand, thumb and ring finger in the opposing center openings, rotate the reel until you feel the retainer clip with your left index finger. Then, guide the film to the underside of the retainer clip, lift the clip slightly with your left index finger, and slide the film underneath the clip. You can feel that the film is centered under the clip with your left thumb and ring finger. Make sure the film is square to the center sprocket of the reel. If not, you can adjust that easily by loosening the tension of the clip slightly as you reposition the film.

    Once the film is secured under the retainer clip, start rotating the reel counter-clockwise to load the film. Keeping your right thumb and index finger on the edge of the film, you can maintain the even curve by resting those fingers of your right hand on the outside edge of the reel. As you rotate the reel with your left hand, just allow the spool to rotate in your right hand as the film is pulled from the spool. If you lose control of the spool (held between your right pinkie and the heel of your palm), no big deal - just let it drop toward the floor. Unless you're really, really short, it won't hit the floor. As you load the film onto the reel, you can feel for any kinks or misloading with your left index or middle finger.

    Once you come to the end of the film, where it is taped to the backing paper, just rip the tape and fold any excess tape over the end of the film. At this point, you should be at the outer-most spiral of the reel, and you should be able to feel an inch or so of space between the end of the film and the little step of the end spiral. Become one with that space difference (Grasshopper), so you can use that as an indicator of the film being misloaded - if the film jumps a spiral, the end of the film won't be in the same spot.

    Sounds complicated, but it's really (reel-ly?) quite easy. Some people have an easier time by keeping the edge of the reel on the counter top.

    Wow. I did it in 484 words! :wink:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2005
  3. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I think that MF is easier than 35mm because the spirals are looser.
    Tips that apply to both are: Make sure that the film is centered on the reel before you start winding and, while winding the film, occasionally stop and move move the film back and forth to ensure that it moves freely in between spirals and isn't binding. Nothing beats practicing with an scrap roll of film until you get the feel for it.
     
  4. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Jeanette, Neal is right - waste a roll and practice with the lights on, you will get the han of it. Also, I found that by cutting the corners off, on the end you insert into the clip makes it much easier. Ralph, has given a very good explanation of what you should do, the only thing I can add is I use the index finger of my left hand to 'feel' the film - it should not have any flat areas, which means it is binding.

    Hope you picked up a Hewes reel, they are the best. But for MF steel is sooooo nice once you have a feel for it. BTW, have never used a plastic reel so can not comment on that. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask here or pm someone.
     
  5. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    Hey Jeanette!
    Too weird, I dealt with this just last Sunday after my Paterson tank cracked.

    What I initially found very frustrating was that I didn't know if the film was wound correctly until it kinked or jammed, which doesn't happen with Paterson reels.

    In the half-hour that I spent practising the winding with an old length of film is the following: every turn or so, try to move the film back and forth in the reel. If the film goes back and forth a bit, that means that it is wound correctly, if there is no movement, it has jammed somewhere. If it has jammed, just do as we say in the Army: 'Suck back and reload' :wink:

    Truth is, in my newbiness, that I figured that 120 would be really difficult on SS reels. I found that after practising a bit that it is infinitely less frustrating than 120 on Paterson reels.

    Hope that this helps,
    Kent
     
  6. Jan Pietrzak

    Jan Pietrzak Member

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    Hey Jeanette!

    The other way is to find the tape end of the film. Take the film and tape off, fold the tape over. This gives you a stronger end to put into or the spring thing. Just one more way to work.

    Jan Pietrzak
     
  7. Thomas Wagner

    Thomas Wagner Member

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  8. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Looks like an apple peeler! haha :D Dang, now that's the thing to have! Auto winder!

    Thanks for all the suggestions! I do have a scrap roll of 120 that the dealer who sold me the Hassy gave me so I could practice doing just this!

    Also, I actually am LEFT handed...however since most of the world is geared to work with the wrong hand :tongue: I can do many things right handed! haha I've been practicing, but these tips have cleared up 'bad' things that I was experiencing but did not know why!

    (good ob on the word count, Ralph!) :wink:
     
  9. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    The first roll of B&W film I processed was 120 and it was on the plastic spools. Took a little practice, but in the end I prevailed. Much easier (for me anyway) than the SS spools I've tried. Could never get the ends square to the clip.
    The first roll I put on the spool ended up with the paper backing half wound into it too. What a pain that was.
    I think it was Ann and Mr. Barker who helped with some timely advice on removing the whole paper backing first :rolleyes: then trying.
    Don't give up on the plastic ones
     
  10. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Part of the trick, I think, is not to assume the retainer clip is in the center of the reel. Often, they will slide to one side. Even so, they will usually hold OK. Just make sure the film is centerd by feeling the stub end through the side openings of the center of the reel, and hold the film square to the reel. By keeping the fingers of your "feed hand" against the edge of the reel, you'll avoid getting too much curve going in. It almost jumps onto the reel that way. :wink:
     
  11. mark

    mark Member

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    The true secret to steel roll loading.
     
  12. mikepry

    mikepry Subscriber

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    It's almost like trying to teach someone how to wiggle their ears. I really like the Tewes reels from England.
     
  13. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    This was causing me a lot of trouble on my 'dry runs' so I moved the clips with a pair of needle-nosed pliers...The reels loaded much more easily after that.

    Kent
     
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  15. captainwookie

    captainwookie Member

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    I had a hell of a time until I learned to feed the film as the reel is turned. If I rely on the turning of the reel to pull the film into it, or if I rely on pushing the film to spin the reel, I have problems. There is a nice, happy balance between the two, spin and push.

    Anyway, I imagine that are a lot of different styles out there.
     
  16. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Well, thanks to Ralph, I now know I load reels left handed. Of course, no one has ever seen me do this, but it's true.

    I usually pull all the film off first and start with the tape side in the clip. I use my pinky finger of my reel hand to keep it on the film as I wind to ensure I am not getting any kinks. As you get better and better, you will get faster and faster. I can roll a reel in less than 90 seconds (even after a beer or two) from peeling paper to popping it in the tank. It's been years since I had any moons on my film. Center the film and let the reel do the work.

    tim in san jose (just like Ralph)
     
  17. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    I have seen many medium format negatives scratched and destroyed by using the "easy loader", stainles curved metal thingie, throw it away and learn to load the reel the way it was designed to be loaded :smile:

    Now for those of you that have mastered loading the stainless reel, do you work with your eyes open or closed while loading reels in the darkroom ? :smile:

    Be surprised how many folks do work with their eyes closed when loading one of these reels, why not, that is how we learned! :smile:
     
  18. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I closed my eyes once, and fell asleep. I now have a circular scar on my forehead from the open stainless steel tank. :wink:
     
  19. photomc

    photomc Member

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    You mean I don't Have to close my eyes!!!!

    don't think, I could not do it with them open,
     
  20. Buster6X6

    Buster6X6 Member

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    Hi Jeanette
    I had the same problem trying to fumble in the dark with reel in one hand and film in the other.It had to be a better way.I bought my easy loader on eBay about year ago for couple of bucks.And I never looked back.Only once I had film crumble on me and I had creases in my negatives. But more I used it, better I got.Maybe it is worth a try.I have not had any film scratched yet.

    Good luck Greg
     
  21. bgilwee

    bgilwee Member

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    Steel reels

    I won't say how long I've been doing it, but I can load twelve rolls under 15 minutes. I "always" blow out my first exposure so I don't worry about half moons, I back up my image on frame two and three. Reels must be dry. The rest is just keep loading film.
    Brian
     
  22. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    I just recently made the move from 35mm to MF myself. I have crimped the first frame of the first three rolls (and the only three) that I have developed while trying to get the "_______!!" end of the film in the "________!!" retaining clip! I could have had 4 or 5 35mm reels loaded in the time it takes me load one MF. I can say is that, for me, at the moment, it's a "reel" b___tch! But, all I have to do is look at that big giant 6x7 neg and everything is ok again!

    I share your pain.

    Chuck
     
  23. MikeK

    MikeK Member

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    Great advice here, and another trick, when practicing loading in the dark, use your ears. The process should be silent. If you hear slight crackle you need stop and make sure the film does not have a buckle. Only takes a few times to get it right - but I have found the listening trick valuable.

    - Mike
     
  24. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

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    I look at my hands, even though I can't see them :smile:
     
  25. Frank F

    Frank F Member

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    Try the Hewes Reels. They are significantly easier to load.

    FOr those using JOBO Processors, JOBO makes a special Hewes reel that uses the plastic cores on the 1500 series tanks. Makes life really easy.
     
  26. Tammyk

    Tammyk Member

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    All I'm going to say is -
    YIKES@!!!!!!!!

    Being that I am really getting annoyed at having crescent moons in my shots :D , I am following this post with interest. MF loading is a total PITA for me too. Some days I can load in under 10 secs and others it's like it just isn't gonna happen. (using plasic reel). Good idea about taking the first shot for 2-3 frames...

    Good luck, Jeanette. :smile: