I went into a dark little room,having never seen a roll of 120 film unraveled, or having loaded a reel of any sort. The reel was second hand, and the previous owner somehow managed to assemble it with the take-up tabs not aligned (how!?). Not knowing any better, I didn't catch it, and having a great "how hard can this possibly be" attitude, I went it. Well... I got it done... almost half an hour later!!! Having to solve the reel in the dark with film in one hand was the worse part... Ah, memories
The reason I am relaying all this rambling - I did it without any prior practice in the light, and as such I highly recommend that anyone trying this NOT do what I did. It will save you so much headache, even if it costs you a couple bucks.
I think Nige summed it all up about as well as I have seen done anywhere - nothing to add except a couple minor disclaimers:
- myself and many others separate the film from the backing first, then load it. I find it much easier - but that's how I tought myself to do it. There is a definite adventage to doing it Nige's way: you don't directly handle the film. Having said that, I make sure my hands are dry and clean (I use an alcohol wipe right before I start - it degreases the skin and evaporates right away), handle the film very, very carefully and have never had any fingerprints or other film damage due to this. The decision is ultimately yours - I would assume that the size of your hands would probably have an effect on what you find more comfy?
- arrange the tank the way you will find intuitive. Nothing is critical here, so make sure it fits you and space where you are doing this. I would strongly second the suggestion to make sure the centre post is in place before you turn thelights out. Then be very careful to reach for and handle the tank gently, so as not to upset the post - make it fall out or just move out of its position. This is easy to do if you reach for the tank too abruptly, bump it with your hand or not make the mental note that there is a loose piece in there and move it too abruptly. It sounds silly - but just try looking for that little black piece of plastic in the dark (not that the colour matters, now that I think about it - if it was bright enough to matter, your film is ruined anyway).
Again - a lot to write for a couple of simple ideas that will become very self explanatory once you try.
Just a quick not on the tape at the end of the film. I find that the Ilford films are by far the best in terms of "build quality" - which means, the biggest pain to pull apart. Their tape is (out of the films I have used) the most uniform from roll to roll, spans almost the entire width of the film and seems to be attached most securely. With Ilford, I would suggest you separate from the backing tape very carefully as it requires a fair bit of pull - making it easy to rip something or get that static electricity spark and fog your film or both (and yes, it does happen - I have seen it with my own two eyes) Then just fold the thing (piece of tape) over, as unless you have a bunch of practive, you are likely to kink the film or handle it somewhere that you should not touch. Kodak is second, and most other brands seem to have a much smaller piece of tape (not covering the whole width of the film makes it easier to separate from the film) and the adhesive is not as strong. These are, of course, very un-scientific findings, and except for the tape size, they maybe somewhat subjective - has anyone else noticed that Ilford tape is harder to pull off? I just did a roll of Delta 3200 and Efke 100 tonight, loading them one after another into two tanks - and the experience seems to reinforce my findings
Best of luck with your film, Ilona!
Peter (the really long-winded)
I do all this in a changing bag. I pop the daylight tank, the reel and the roll of film into the bag. I trim the corners of the film, then begin to load it into the reel. I don't detach it from the backing first, I just let the backing curl up in my hands as I load the film.
At the end I pull the tape off and fold it over the end. As I'm doing it in a changing bag I don't have to worry about dropping the column for the tank, etc. it's easy enough to find inside the bag.
I now find 120 film generally easier to load than 35mm. I'm using Paterson universal reels and system 4 tanks.
This is really stupid - I think I have a majour psychological blockage... I can't imagine doing this in a bag! I know - I CAN NOT see what I am doing either way, it doesn't bother me in the dark, throws me off with the bag!!! How weird is that???
But you are right - not only do you not have to worry about lsing anything on the floor - its probably a more tidy way to do it. I always worry that I will drop something I need!
I used to use a change bag, but in summer the humidity/heat that builds up makes the plastic reels start to stick. Now I've got my dedicated darkroom, that's no longer a problem. I also stopped trimming the corners of 120, although I still trim 35mm. A good way of doing that I found was to poke the corner of the film into your finger and then follow your finger with scissors and you nip just a tiny bit off. Controling how hard you press the film into your skin lets you chop off however much you want (i.e. not much preferably)
Just to add an anedote... I didn't use a trial film either... managed to load it ok, but after processing, discovered I'd put it thru the camera inside out and had no pictures
Ah, yes....learning experiences are part of the process. The very first roll of film I ever developed came out with nice even development, good density and contrast, not one printable negative. The roll was full of half-moon kinks from 'fighting' it onto the reel, and some undeveloped spots where layers were touching. I decided it was necessary to spend more time practicing in the dark with a scrap roll. The next one was perfect, but I saved that first one as a memento to remind me that learning experiences happen.
Originally Posted by Nige
"I always take a camera, That way I never have to say 'Gee, look at that - I wish I had a camera'" -Joe Clark, H.B.S.S.
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The first roll film I ever developed was 616, in total darkness, chemistry in 5x7 trays, using the old "one end in each hand, middle in the solution, and raise and lower each end for several minutes" method.
Reels and daylight tanks - they are just too easy!
I periodically try the various types of reels, but with my one hand being the way it is, for 120 I keep going back to the Film Aprons and tanks designed for steel reels.
Well, the first roll I developed taught me (obviously) how to load film, but it also showed me how much my wife loves me: it was the dead of winter, snow everywhere and I had to turn all the lights out to have a dark room in the cellar. Well, she asked - how long will this take? I saw a friend do it, it took him all of 3minutes or so. I thought... maybe twice... no, lets say five times as much. So I told her - I should hope no more than 15 minutes. She decided to go out for a smoke, but I told her, if she does that, not to come in until I come and get her, because I was afraid of light possibly making its way in...
Well, she agreed to it... and she stood there, and stood there... freezing, while "learned" my lessons in total darkness! I love that woman!
Because I don't have a proper darkroom I always use a darkbag, I find it quite easy, loading film into the tank is much easier than loading 600ft rolls of paper into the magazines for my mini lab, which is sometimes a bit awkward.
Originally Posted by gnashings
The only problem occurs when you leave a crucial item (like the reel) on the outside of the bag, which I have done a few times!
Film's not dead, it's just got a negative image.
Wow! Thank you all for your answers! I can't wait giving it a try after all that I read here!
I already shot a roll of film with a newly-made pinhole camera. I gathered all my darkroom stuff so far and I noticed that I'm still missing bits and pieces (such as a thermometer).
I also had a look at Ilfords web site (great link btw!). In the article "Processing your first B&W film" and in the film fact sheet (HP5+ 400), they are mentioning some dilution figures when it comes to the developer, something like "stock", "1+1", "1+3", etc. I have no clue what that is. I have a Kodak powder developer that I first should mix. Is the dilution I will obtain then "stock"?
Also, I'm wondering if I have to maintain the tank at the right temperature (and then how I can do that). Or can I just process at room temperature and adjust the processing time accordingly? The latter sounds easier to me but I don't know what the impact would be on the whole process.
Oh yes, and also: can I process different types of film in the same developer solution? I mean, for example: I process HP5+ on Sunday. Can I process Delta 100 in the same used developer solution on Monday? Or do I need "fresh" developer?