View Full Version : Anyone ever used ULF roll film?

03-15-2007, 04:40 AM
What I mean by this is the roll film used for aerial photography.

Some came up for sale a while back (a few years) at a bargain price. It was Kodak plux-X, I think, extra red sensitized and about 200 ASA.

It came in huge sealed canisters, like 35mm cassettes on steroids, which contained something silly like 60 metres of film!

So far so good. I had wildly over-enthusiastic fantasies about slicing this stuff up into a never ending suplly of 8 X 10 sheets. even bigger and less realistic fantasies included building a ULF panaramic camera, 8 by 24 or something :)

First problem was the aerial photo format is 9.5 inches square. Although the film is slightly wider than this, it isn't quite 10 inches across. So, it needed to be trimmed down to 8 inches wide then cut into 10 inch lengths.

Simple, right? Just set up a take up roller and a board with a knife blade set at 8" from a stop and run it through...

HA!!! :rolleyes:

I quickly found the film was some sort of indestructable plastic (mylay, maybe?) which was an absolute pig to cut and tough as old boots, but, if you did get it to cut then the cut would often wander off in it's own zig-zag fashion wherever it felt like it.... :mad:

Cutting it to length was a disaster, too. It was gelatine coated on one side only so after cutting went 'ping' and rolled itself into a tube about 1" in diameter. :confused:

Trying to wrestle this 1" tube into an 8 X 10" film holder - in the dark - was a nightmare. I eventually managed it, put the holder in my camera, pulled the darkslide and PING! - the film rolled up into a 1" tube and fell inside the camera.

So... I made a huge (and crude) roll film holder. This gave me a 9.5 inch square aperture which fitted the back of my 8 X 10" camera. I was quite proud of the device which used a rubber wheel of the correct diameter to measure frames as I wound on. It all seemed to work. That was a couple of years ago. I shot quite a few frames - maybe 10 feet, but to this day I still haven't worked out how to develop the damn stuff!! :confused:

I had a break from photography for a while to do a college course. This is now over so I'm returning to photography. I think I'll get back into it with some more conventional equipment!

But I still have lots of this huge roll film which is probably getting very stale and foggy by now. I just thought I'd see if anyone else has managed to tame it or knows of a way long (10foot+) lengths of 9.5" film could be developed in an amateur darkroom?
I ought really to give it a last try before I dump it.


John Bartley
03-15-2007, 07:10 AM
I use PlusX Aero in 9.5" x 125' rolls. I use a plain office paper-cutter with a stop block at 8" to cut the roll into 8"x9.5" sheets. The film curls into the emulsion naturally and is stiff enough that even if it's only supported on three sides, it doesn't sag (at least I've never had one sag). Here's a link to a webpage that I put together on how I cut my film. The page is only up during the day and is served from my home computer, so have patience if it's a bit slow :: http://oldradio.ca:83/Photo/Tech/FilmCutter/FilmCutter.html
I've only had one negative fall out of a holder and that was because I didn't cut it square and so it was only supported on two sides. This Film is tough, tough, tough!! Don't worry too much about scratching it. I've tried and I've not been able to. Also, and this is just "stuff" I've picked up from web research : the aerial ISO is 200 which is supposed to translate to a normal film ISO of 100, but I shoot mine at 25 which (for me) is just right for contact prints on AZO. I develop with D-D23 and at ISO=25, I use 5 minutes in "A" and 4 minutes in "B". Being a complete amateur and not a scholar, and with a zero tolerance for the mind numbingness of math and science (and with appropriately Canadian apologies to those who enjoy math and science), I can't give you any specs, numbers, test results etc. All I can say is that it works. The attached photo is a negative scan (and I suck at scanning) and was taken with a 16.5" Goerz barrel lens using a "yeah, that'll do it" method of timing the exposure while I stood in the snow beside a muddy road with dogs for an audience ..

Oh yeah ... I keep mine in a freezer ... all eleven rolls of it ...

cheers eh?

03-15-2007, 10:44 AM
Hello John,

Thanks very much for that link to your sequence.

I think my downfall was trying to cut the width down to 8" from 9.5".

Trying to slice off 1.5" with a knife cutter didn't work too well as the film tended to fold and slip under the knife rather than cut. I tried to make a widget where I could run the film over a static blade but the film wandered about too much and never cut straight.

I think, after seeing how you've managed, maybe I should have settled for 8 X 9.5, too.

I think I probably need a better cutter as well. Your comment about the blade being sharp and properly adjusted may be the secret!

I shall certainly give it another go :D

I wonder, though, if my film is coated on the same film material as yours? I really do find the tendancy to curl to be very severe. It is like a steel clock spring. The sheet that escaped from my 8 X 10 holder and fell into the camera was cut to a full 8 X 10 and supported on all four sides, but still managed to escape!

I have enough spare spools left, though, to maybe try re-rolling some up the other way round - maybe that might calm it down a bit ;)


03-15-2007, 10:59 AM
I also do all my 8X10 with roll film. I've used the Kodak and still have some but right now I'm burning through some Efke 10" Cirkut film. It's easy because all you do is make the one 7 15/16" cut and load it in the holders. I haven't been successful making 8X20 cuts......yet. I just use a cheap little plastic roller cutter. When I used the Kodak film I made several 10" cuts first and sleeved them in a clean magazine like shutterbut, then made a second pass down to 8" on them for the 8X10's. 10X12 would be easy with the Efke film. It's not all perfect though, you handle the film quite a lot and get some extra lint etc.

Here's (http://www.apug.org/forums/forum44/10481-bulk-lf-film-cutting-loading-aerial-roll-film.html) a link to a piece I wrote about how I cut the film.

John Bartley
03-15-2007, 12:19 PM
Hmm ... first a correction, then an answer.

correction ::

I said that I was using aero200iso, and I remember reading that somewhere, but for the life of me I can't remember where ... anyway, the plastic container clearly says ISO125, so maybe when I shoot it at 25 I'm not as far off as I thought. I also remember reading somewhere that aero film is rated differently and that for "normal" use to rate it at 1/2 the aero iso.

answer :

you were asking about film base etc ... my film is #2402 on an estar base.


03-15-2007, 01:14 PM
If cutting the film is too much of a hassle you might check with PhotoWarehouse and see if they would do it for you. I know someone else who had them cut their roll film and the charge was not all that unreasonable as I recall.

Several people have actually built cameras around this size film, using custom holder sizes of 9 1/2" X 20" and 9 1/2" X 24".

Just curious, is this size film still in production?

Sandy King

03-15-2007, 01:49 PM
I'm sure the film must stilll be in production because I know for certain the cameras are :-)

Not sure about Plus-X. Agfa were big in aerial photography but not sure if that went the way of the rest... I think Fuji were big in it too.


John Bartley
03-15-2007, 01:52 PM
This film is still listed on the Kodak webpage, so I would think it's still in production. The 2402 stuff that I use is specifically listed. Here's the specs : http://www.kodak.com/eknec/documents/3a/0900688a802b093a/ti0073.pdf


03-15-2007, 02:42 PM
Hello again.

I've just been up in the loft and dug out this film. I didn't realise I have 5 unopened boxes of the stuff!

It is made by kodak but it doesn't actually say it is Plus-X on the box. I'm not sure where I got that from - I think the people I bought it from described it as Plus-x but it actually says "PE-10" on the carton, whatever that means.

Curiously, the dimensions are all metric. The Kodak number is 2645, which doesn't appear on the kodak site. It does say it is an Estar base, but I'm pretty certain it doesn't have a red backing.