Why are Paterson Reels so hard to load for 120 film and so easy for 35mm?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by BardParker, May 13, 2012.

  1. BardParker

    BardParker Member

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    New to developing film. Yesterday I developed 4 rolls of 35mm with my new Paterson Super System 4 Universal tank and 2 reels. Loading 35mm was easy. Today I tried for almost 2 hours to load 120 film on the Paterson reels. Practiced in the light, and then in the dark. Then tried to load 120 film in the changing bag. Reels were dry, but never could get more than 1/2 a roll on without binding. I finally gave up. Ended up wasting 2 rolls of film and this made me very grumpy! I watched several you tube videos and searched apug before trying. I can see that I am not alone in my frustration for loading 120 film! :unsure:

    I could try the cardboard feeding ramp tip for the Paterson reel, but i am about ready to consider the Samigon reel http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/122989-REG/Samigon_ESA325_Multi_Format_Autofeed_Reel.html

    or switch to stainless steel system for 120. If we took a poll, what percentage of you folks use stainless?...Thoughts?

    Kent
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2012
  2. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I'm fine with 35mm on plastic reels, but I LOVE my Hewes stainless reel for 120. It does take practice (find Jason Brunner's video on it), but it's so much easier than plastic for 120, imo.
     
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I find the reels you linked to to be much easier to load 120 on then the standard Paterson reels.

    You should be aware, however, that they are available under a number of different names: http://www.freestylephoto.biz/55043-Arista-Premium-Plastic-Developing-Reel

    I do not, however, use a changing bag. I've been loading film for decades, but changing bags and I don't get along.

    If you lack a darkroom, you may be able to load film in a closet, or with lights turned off at night.

    PS - I find the steel reels much easier than plastic for 35mm film, but cannot make the clips on steel 120 reels work for me.
     
  4. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    120 is tougher than 35mm.

    I do find stainless easier but there are tricks to loading plastic reels.

    I clip the leading corners at a 45, doesn't take much.

    The other thing is that I bend the leading edge back, two creases, 1 about an 1/8 or so back the other about a 1/4. Basically just trying to flatten out the curl.

    My reels don't have ball bearings either. Just use my fingers to hold the film as I rotate that side forward.
     
  5. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    I've used Patterson reels for a bit over 30 years. For me there is no problem loading either 35mm or 120 film. The 120 film is loaded with the taped end first so there is a little more rigidity and less curl. As Mark said I also clip the edges at a 45 degree angle. The tape has never caused any problems during processing or drying.
    I did try the stainless steel reels as well and never could get the hang of it. Old dogs and new tricks sort of thing.:whistling:
     
  6. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I use plastic reels and have used a change bag (these days have darkroom). When using a change bag it heats up (and gets humid) very quickly (after 2hrs it would be like a sauna in there) making the reels sticky. Can be done but not easy if your just learning.
     
  7. LJH

    LJH Member

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    Kent,

    In my experience, it is the leading edge's corners that create the issues. Put simply, I find that they rise slightly and run into the radiating "spokes" of the reel.

    As Mark suggests, clip the corners from the leading edge. Or, as I do, when the film binds up, simply feel for a raised film within the spool, push it back down (less than 1mm…) and keep going.

    Loading does get easier with practice...
     
  8. R.Gould

    R.Gould Member

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    Run a sharp pencil around the inside of the groves on any plastic reel before loading a film, 120 or 35mm and the film will just slip in no problems, I have done this for years, and the tip was given me by a photographer of long standing,
    Richard
     
  9. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    I don't think I would manage spooling 120 inside a changing bag. No problems though in a reasonably spacious darkroom. Try blinding a closet for a makeshift darkroom.
     
  10. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    Changing bag would be a PITA in my opinion. I use both Hewes reels in 35mm & 120 and late model Paterson tanks for 35, 120 and 4x5 via a Mod54 insert.

    As good as the steel tanks and reels are for 35 & 120, I find the Paterson tanks that much better in every way, loading, fast filling and draining, no leaks and better options for agitation. I also love using them with the temperature probe for my R&H Designs Process Master-II, a perfect match. I don't need to do anything to the film in terms of trimming or any of that, can almost always get two rolls of 120 loaded in under 5 minutes.

    It takes a bit of practice with either system and you can get really fast with either like I have, but I think the Paterson system is more dynamic once you really get cranking, the ability to soup 6 perfect sheets of 4x5 as easy and mess-free as any other format is some major icing on the cake.
     
  11. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    I have a couple of the Samigon reels, in addition to a large stack of Patersons. It's a bit easier to start a 120 roll on the Samigons, but you still need to clip the corners of the film or else there is some risk that the film will get hung up before loading fully.

    More generally: after using Paterson reels for about 30 years now - some of my reels date back to around 1980, and are still going strong - I have no desire to change to stainless, even for 120.
     
  12. Bertil

    Bertil Subscriber

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    Try this:
    (1) practise many times, several days (!) in daylight, really try to find the best way that fits your hands and make you succeed loading the film to the reel, choose a way of ditributing the things in front of you such that itshould be able to go into the bag.
    (2) Keep our eyes on how you work with your hands with the reel and the film.
    (3) Put your hands, film and reel into the changing bag.
    (4) Keep your eyes open and look at your hands reel and film AS IF there wasn't any bag, just as you have seen the whole operation several times before.
    (5) Load the reel!

    This is a method that works excellent for me at least, working in total darkness. Tried for several years to "remember" with my hands in the total darkness in the darkroom, but was often frustrated by being so clumsy. Detected that things run smoosly if I just open my eyes in the total darkness as acted AS IF I saw the whole thing in front of me - I'm not clumsy in the total darkness anymore!
    /Bertil
     
  13. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    I have used Paterson reels for more than 40 years with no problems.

    Key to successful use with 120 (I load two rolls on each reel as they are long enough for 220 which I used to use for commercial jobs):

    The reels need to be absolutely bone dry - any moisture will cause difficulties.

    You need to check that the ball bearings move freely - any resistance will cause problems using the reels.

    My practice has always been to open the backing paper to the point that you reach the start of the film then fold the very start of the film over and crease it so that, when you offer it up to the reel, it is more rigid.

    This works for me and I concur with the previous poster's practice advice which I have successfully used with students.

    I hope you find the method that works for you very soon so that you can get on with enjoying your photography.

    Best,

    David.
    www.dsallen.de
     
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  15. Trond

    Trond Subscriber

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    I also use Paterson reels with 120 film. I clip the corners, and bend the leading edge a little, so that it doesn't curve so much. Normally I will also develop two 120 on one reel. This can be done by using the tape on the first film to attach the second one. It takes a little practice to do, but it saves a lot of time.

    Usually I don't have problems with 120 film, but I have two Paterson reels which are very difficult to load with 120 film, so I only use those with 35mm, and even then they are a little tight.

    Trond
     
  16. Ed Bray

    Ed Bray Member

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    I hate Paterson reels for 120 but love the white Jobo plastic spirals, especially as they take 2x 120 on each reel without requiring the films to be taped together, they have a small dividing clip, but I really like the Paterson Super System 4 tanks for semi-stand processing so I had a neighbour who is a toolmaker skim the paterson centre column down to the same diameter as the centre hole of the Jobo spirals. The Jobo spirals will not fit the Paterson tanks without this mod.
     
  17. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    I love my Paterson. I have one reel that is always a bit stubborn, but the rest work like champs. I suspect it is the ball bearing causing problems, but usually I just live with the slight tightness. But you can't beat the Patterson overall, as others have said. I love it for stand development.
     
  18. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    If they are perfectly dry (I sometimes use a hairdryer) they are no problem. If not totally dry, several new swear words can be invented whilst trying to load them.

    My favourite is the Kaiser reel with its extra large tabs aiding the entry of the film into the spiral.


    Steve.
     
  19. BardParker

    BardParker Member

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    Wow, so many great tips!. I think my main problem may have been the humidity that built up quickly inside the changing bag. After 1-2 minutes, it felt like I was working inside a sweaty rain poncho. The reels were new and totally dry, and loaded fast in an open air-conditioned room. I had the open film reel looped around my left little finger, and was pulling the leading edge into the reel with my right hand. This worked great in the open, but was a disaster inside the bag as the film stuck to my hand and wouldn't roll onto the reel. Needless to say, last night, I was "very angry", like the Marvin the Martian cartoon. My wife was laughing at me fumbling inside the changing bag. Since it was Mother's Day, I had to be nice and not say what I was thinking!:mad:

    Today, I will try again in a dark, air-conditioned closet and use the wealth of advice offered here. My daughter gets home from College this week. She is an Art/Photography major in college in North Carolina. I bought her a used Hasselblad 500C/M on apug classified, (in great shape- thanks, illumiquest!). The 2 wasted rolls were my first trial rolls with the Hassy, but I'm not giving up easily! She will be really surprised when she gets home!:D

    Kent
     
  20. CatLABS

    CatLABS Subscriber

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    Like mentioned above here - Jobo is the way to go, changing bag or not - they are the easiest to load in all formats, especially 120.
     
  21. freecom2

    freecom2 Member

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    The Samigon reels are fantastic - probably the best darkroom purchase I've made. Loading onto Paterson reels isn't too bad, but the Samigon was a no-brainer and I'm so glad I purchased them.
     
  22. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I use the patterson reels and don't have a problem. Dry reels of course. I use a darkroom rather than changing room. I unspool the film+paper, winding the film back up as it is naturally inclined. peel the tape off the film where it attaches to the paper. Toss aside the paper and spindle. Feel the reel and make sure both sides are in the same position. Grab the film end in the middle and guide it into the intake of the reel. Guide it past the ball bearing, and start racheting the reel. My general experience is that once it's on-track through the ball bearings, it will continue like it's supposed to. When I have freshly trimmed fingernails, I spend more time peeling the tape off the film than I do actually loading the reel.
     
  23. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I find it easier to peel it from the paper and stick it back onto itself (or rather fold it over and stick it to the other side of the film).

    If I'm feeling adventurous I will use it to attach another film and get two onto the reel (this often results in even more new swear words being invented).


    Steve.
     
  24. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    There is no need to tape two rolls of 120 film together to load them in to a single Paterson reel.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  25. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    Exactly the opposite for me.
    I've used Patrson reels for years and never a problem with 120 but often have trouble getting a 36 exp 35mm on the reel.
     
  26. LJH

    LJH Member

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    Before changing reels, consider changing the bag to something like a Harrison tent.

    These are, IMO, one of the best products I have purchased.

    I, too, struggled with a changing bag, but have had no problems whatsoever with the Harrison.

    If you do consider this option, and can afford it, I would suggest getting the biggest tent that you can afford. Not only does it give you more room/more air/longer humidity build-up time, it will allow you to use it if/when you change to a larger format.