UN-loading film holders

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by BetterSense, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I haven't had a bit of trouble loading 4x5 holders, other than dust which I am slowly conquering. But when it comes time to unload them, I'm not sure what to do.

    I don't want to touch the emulsion because I have gotten fingerprints on the negatives that way. Even if I was willing to try to slide the film out, there seems to be a ridge there to prevent the film from sliding straight out. Yet it's really hard to pick the end of the film up with a fingernail, and then in order to grab it to pull it out, I have to bow it up a lot to fit one of my fat fingers underneath it, sometimes one side will pop out of the groove halfway, and I end up yanking the thing out of there rather than sliding it out of the groove.

    tips?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2009
  2. Joe Mace

    Joe Mace Member

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    I'm still a novice, so I appreciate your frustration.

    Just remember that the emulsion is only on the top surface, so getting your finger underneath a bit of the film's backside isn't going to hurt anything. Most film holders have a bit of dimple in center of the 'unloading' end, which gives you some space to grab the film end. Also remember that you do have space at the notched end, like the spaces that sit in the grooves, that never gets exposed.

    Mostly though, for me, it's been a matter of practice. Sometime the film comes out smooth as whistle, sometime I end up yanking the thing out of there rather than sliding it out of the groove. The more holders I unload, the smoother I get.

    Joe
     
  3. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Get a plastic plectrum from your local musical instrument shop, or cut one from a thin sheet of semi-rigid plastic. You can use this to hook under the leading edge of the film without damage... I wear late/nylon gloves when handling film in an attempt to avoid fingerprints on the emulsion.
     
  4. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    Do your holders have a depressed circle at the loading end of the holder? All of mine have a depressed area that makes unloading them fairly straight forward - it is 'deep' enough to allow me to slip a fingernail under the film easily (and my fingernails are usually very short)...

    - Randy
     
  5. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    You can minimize or eliminate finger prints if you thoroughly wash and dry your hands before unloading. Not to suggest mashing one's thumb onto the emulsion, but..
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    In recent years I've taken to wearing powderless nitrile gloves for loading and unloading--no fingerprints, dust or lint, and if I take the gloves off carefully, I can reuse them in the darkroom. I realized that this was necessary when I was shooting in Hawai'i for two months before I could process the film. Fingerprints that might not have been a problem had the film been developed promptly became a problem when the film couldn't be processed for a few weeks.
     
  7. Larry H-L

    Larry H-L Subscriber

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    OK, I guess I do it differently. I blow a puff of air under the film, it temporarily lifts, and I slide it right out. (Try not to spit)!
     
  8. domaz

    domaz Member

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    I find some holders are better than others about this. My older metal Fidelity holders have a pretty much useless ridge for pulling the film out, while my newer Fidelity Plastic holders are very simple. So don't rule out replacing your holders with newers ones, if yours are older.
     
  9. Marcus

    Marcus Member

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    This is an excellent idea! I have never had any problems before, but will certainly keep this in mind for the future.

    Marcus
     
  10. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Clean dry fingers should not affect the emulsion side. If your fingers are sweaty then there maybe problems. I never thought of it before but maybe loading film holders might be an indication for having a thoracic sympathectomy :smile:
     
  11. calceman

    calceman Member

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    Clean and thoroughly dry fingers. Use the depressed half circle, and if the sheet still gives me trouble, I put the holder up side down.
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i wash my hands and stick my fingernail under the edge and pull ..
     
  13. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I bite my nails, so I am an expert at rigging substitutes for them....

    I have to second the suggestion to use a guitar "pick" (plectrum is the official name, in case there was any confusion about that). Good idea.

    I usually use a razor blade or tweezers myself. I have also used the corner of a dark slide, ID cards, pieces of paper, as well as keys in a pinch.
     
  14. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    soaped and thoroughly rinsed, then THOROUGHLY dried hands.

    otherwise, in a pinch, nitrile powderless gloves (I seem to always have a pair on me for some reason or another).

    -Dan
     
  15. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Clean dry fingers -- hands/fingers do not produce oil -- that comes from touching various parts of one's head/face, so don't.

    Vaughn
     
  16. rphenning

    rphenning Member

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    I just hold the holder so the film is facing down, it lifts off of the holder and enough for me to get a nail under it and out. Let gravity do the work.
     
  17. Philippe-Georges

    Philippe-Georges Member

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    What I use is a home made, so called 'film tweezers'. This is an about 1,5 cm wide strip cutted out of the short side of a 'bad' sheet of film and folded in the middle. So I can slip one side of the tweezers under the sheet and use the upper part of the 'film tweezers' to protect the emulsion side of the film against finger prints.
    No plectrum (very good idea!) or fingernails, just a folded piece of film that is of the same material as the 'thing' that has to be handled.

    Philippe
     
  18. mikez

    mikez Member

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    David I am a big fan of nitrile as well. I'm a tray development guy (old fashioned I guess) and I love nitrile so I'm not sniffing fix for the rest of the week when I eat haha.
     
  19. Jim Cole

    Jim Cole Member

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    I have the world's greasiest fingers, so I use nitrile gloves as well for loading and unloading. They're pretty cheap by the box at the neighborhood drug store.
     
  20. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    Please explain