Surprised by how bad some stainless 120 reels are

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by CBG, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. CBG

    CBG Member

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    I thought I was being clever saving a few bucks on a no name SS 120 reel. It's been a very long time - maybe 30 years - since I wound 120 film onto a reel, but this thing was a nightmare. I can't wind it in the light with my eyes open! I had no idea how bad some reels have been made.

    So, I stopped trying to be clever and forked over a few extra bucks to get a Hewes ss reel. Totally different. Could almost wind it with one hand. The Hewes is how it should be. Slightly odd clip, but the spiral is right on.
     
  2. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Afternoon, CBG,

    I may been fortunate in not encountering any 120 reels I found to be poorly made (35mm is a different story), but I have no doubt that some clunkers are out there. Hewes reels are praised pretty much unanimously, and justly so, but, as I've posted previously in other threads, I have also found the Kinderman reels (both 120 and 35mm) to be of excellent quality. Nikkor reels are also well made, but I don't like the "springy-thingy" at the core, so I normally don't use them.

    Konical
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2009
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    When I came back to processing film and being away for many years, the good people at APUG, you know who you are, strongly recommended buying Hewes reels. After the reel loading learning period for 35mm and 120, I was very happy that I followed the advise.

    Latter, stainless steel reels from other manufacturers came my way. I have never used them. A quick inspection was all that was needed.

    Steve
     
  4. lns

    lns Member

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    I too heeded internet advice and bought the Hewes at the outset. Money well spent. The difference is even more pronounced for 35mm reels. When I had to use other brands in a photo class recently, I couldn't believe how poorly designed most of the motley collection was. One even had a sharp spike in the middle to hold the film, which must have been invented by emergency room doctors to drum up business.

    With the Hewes reel, you will spend more money, but you will only spend it once.

    -Laura
     
  5. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    I bought my SS reals back in the early 80's and have been using them ever since.
    Brand ???? I was living in Europe, some local stuff, maybe Kinderman.

    Hewes I came across on this site, but the old ones still need no replacement.
    Guess I have been lucky and carefull......

    Peter
     
  6. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser

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    All the 120 reels I have are the cheap Japanese variety.

    I found a problem loading SS reels is getting the film -exactly- centered in the spring clip. So, seeing as how there is always more than one solution, I stopped using the clip.

    I put an inch of the film into the 'cage' in the center of the reel, hold the film against one of the uprights as I start the first turn so it doesn't pull back and then wind the film on.

    The same technique is used with the Honywell Nikor (one K, no relation) made in MA 35mm reels - they have a wire bail around three sides of the cage so the leader doesn't stick out. The instructions are to stick the end of the film in the cage - no clip - and wind away. It works.

    The Hewes 35mm reel clip that engages the sprocket holes is a work of genius - though so obvious I wonder why it wasn't thought up a hundred years ago. It ensures the film is centered and also allows a bit of float .
     
  7. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I haven't used Hewe's reels but have a wide variety of reels obtained over the years, the only reel I can't use is one that has a weld broken on the starter wire. If you have the money buy the best you can get. I guess I'm just used to the imperfections and have honed my technique to accommodate the differences, and not all film stock is the same some is a little harder to load than others.

    $6.99 or $23.99 ?

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/sc_search.php
     
  8. clayne

    clayne Member

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    You'll easily save 17$ in time cost over your darkroom lifetime using Hewes reels. I recommend to support quality manufacturers and not poorly made crap.
     
  9. Ross Chambers

    Ross Chambers Member

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    Well, such devices were thought up a hundred or so years ago: I found it hard to understand that so many 35mm reel makers had passed on the advantages that the sprocket holes in 35mm offered when the motion picture industry had been built on them.

    BTW in motion picture technology there are negative and positive sprocket holes. The ones employed on negative "still" film look more like positive movie film.

    (the new employees in the cutting room were sometimes sent to the lab to ask for a can of sprocket holes)

    Regards - Ross
     
  10. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I am fortunate to already own, in good condition, Kindermann and Nikor SS reels in both 35mm and 120 and really like them. Recently, I purchased a couple of Hewes in 35mm and I like them as well.

    I cannot say the Hewes are better than the Kindermann and Nikor, however, the fact that you can buy Hewes new eliminates a potential problem.

    If you buy any used, it would be better to try before buy and if you cannot, you can end up with a problem reel in any brand.
     
  11. mhcfires

    mhcfires Subscriber

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    I have to agree with those who prefer the old Nikor reels. I have only one 120 nikor reel which I bought in the early 1970's. I decided I needed another one, bought one which has proven to be real PITA. Buy the right one the first time and spend the extra $$. It will save a lot of grief.

    m
     
  12. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Subscriber

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    I got all my reels from various places, I have now probably four 120 reels. Strangely, there is one that I just can't load to save my life, it totally sucks. The others are fine. What I find most amusing is that I cannot see any physical difference between the reels, they are all cheapie Taiwanese made reels just one of them really sucks. If I was buying new, I would probably get the Hewes too since they have such a good reputation. Fortunately, I have what I need now and they load extremely well for me.
     
  13. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Paul, try rolling the questionable one on a flat table and watch if it appears cattywampus as it rolls (sides will be uneven).
     
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  15. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    I've used many, many ss reels, and the Nikor and Hewes were always the best. If I needed a new reel today, it would be a Hewes.
     
  16. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Yup, I recently bought a larger tank and spent the money for a Hewes 120 reel. It's now my first choice even for a single roll. I'm not even sure why, but it's about 70% less annoying to load than my earlier reel of uncertain provenance (I did buy it new, but long ago).

    DaveT
     
  17. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I have to agree with everyone who said positive things about Hewes reels. Some years back, I bought four of the no-name 35 mm stainless reels and couldn't get them to load worth a damn. Immediately traded them in for four Hewes reels and never looked back. They are simply the best. I'm sure the other top brands are fine too, I just haven't used them. I also have a couple of no-name 120 reels that absolutely suck. But since I use the plastic tanks for 120, I haven't bothered to replace them. Eventually, I will replace the bad 120 stainless reels with Hewes items
     
  18. CBG

    CBG Member

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    I'm not the best at planning. I started this thread, and promptly headed out of town on vacation.

    So, looking back at it today I can see I'm not alone in my sentiments. The Hewes is so much better than the bargain priced reel. I will have to retrain myself to get the hang of their clip; somehow in the dark it's not intuitive to my hands. Regardless, once the film is centered and clipped on, it practically winds itself.

    Funny, thirty years ago, it seemed like any old reel was well made. Not so now. The quality seems way more variable.
     
  19. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Thirty years ago where do you think the reels were being made?

    I'll give you a hint: it wasn't China or Taiwan.
     
  20. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I have been the same 120 reels for many, many years. The oldest were Spiratone bought in the middle 1960s. I also have other no-name; as well as Nikor and maybe a Kinderman.

    I will accept what people say about today's el-cheapos. What I shall also say is that I rarely had much luck loading ANY 120 SS reel until I stopped trying to attach the film. A friend put me on to just holding the film against the central core, turning about 1/2-1/2 a turn, and allowing friction to hold the film. Ever since beginning this regime, they load just fine, that you very much.
     
  21. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    John, I agree wtih you 100%. Many years ago I had a couple of US made, el-cheapo 120 stainless reels and they were fine. Over the years they were lost. I replaced them with a couple of el-cheapo 120 stainless reels of Asian manufacture. The same trick doesn't work. The new reels just plain suck. I'm afraid the only real alternative for guaranteed quality new reels is Hewes.
     
  22. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Not sure if they're still making them, but King Koncept (sp?) SS reels for 35mm were another highly recommended brand. Jobo makes some very nice 120 ss reels.
     
  23. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I think these are both made by Hewes.
     
  24. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Thirty years ago, gas was 50 cents a gallon.

    Steve
     
  25. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Jobo stated that their SS reels are made by Hewes for them.
     
  26. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    steve

    i can do you one better :smile: when i was a kid it was 25 cents a gallon and then there were price wars and it would drop to 19 cents.