Spiral jams loading the film
I am an absolute beginner in developing my BW film, I have just started a few weeks ago and so far I have processed 4 rolls (35mm, all 36 frames).
Almost all the times, when I load the film into my plastic reel (Paterson), I have jams at the end of the process, so I usually end up doing it over again 2-3 times.
I have tought that maybe I am not cutting enough leader away from the film and that the film reach some kind of physical "constrain" when I am about to finish, causing the jam.
Before wasting a roll doing a test in the daylight to see what happens, do you think that maybe cutting some more leader would help (with the risk of cutting through the first frame)? Or should I look for other causes?
I should add that my Nikon camera forces me to skip the first frames (making blank exposures) before the metering starts to work (usually 3 blank frames).
Last edited by sterioma; 11-15-2004 at 07:51 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I had that problem to after developing a couple of films. I got my tanks and reels used from another photographer and they had been used intesively. If you cut the corners on the inlet of the film aprox. 1-2mm and that dosn't help you should try cleaning the reels with a nailbrush some soap and rinse them with plain water and let them dry a couple of hours before using them. It worked wonders in my case. make sure the reels are dry and the tiny balls don't jam.
Paterson reels need to be absolutely dry or they won't work. This is part of the reason I prefer stainless, but if plastic works for you otherwise, and you need to develop multiple batches of film occasionally, you might try to pick up some extra reels, so you always have some dry ones.
Soren, David, thanks for commenting.
I forgot to mention that my spirals are always absolutely dry (I never develop more than one roll per day... or per week I should say). Also, I have bought them brand new. Therefore I would exclude humidity or dirty from the causes.
At times students have the same problem. What is happening with them is nerves. They are worried that they will not be successful, get nervous and then the hands get damp and the edges of the film react to the dampness and the film jams. The longer one wrestles with the film the less likely the film will go on smoothly.
It is not unusual for the first few rolls to be a problem, and occasionally later on, but that is not a regular issue.
In my experience, one's mental expectation becomes reality. When they expect to have problems they do. We have had several that had such problems I assigned them a visualation assignment to over come the expectation that they would fail.
Have you practiced with an old roll in the daylight, then close your eyes and continue to practice until your comfort level rises then go for the real thing?
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No problems with (a bit) wet plastic reels. Just cut the corners so they're not straight.
Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
"The camera can be the most deadly weapon since the assassin's bullet. Or it can be the lotion of the heart - Norman Parkinson".
Hmm... this is an interesting point, Ann! I might have a "performance anxiety" synthom in my own bathroom
Originally Posted by ann
Actually, my hands might become a bit damp after I get nervous about it... still I wonder why it always happens at the end and never in the middle or at the beginning.
Yes I did practice first in daylight and than in the darkness. But the film was a 24 frames only, hence my "theory" about the film being to long (since I might not be cutting enough from the beginning before loading).
Originally Posted by ann
Another possible factor is that it is not unusal to speed up the loading motion as you come to the end of the film. I used to be guilty of this. You should keep an even tempo from start to finish.
I use plastic reels and find i'm more likely to get jams with 36 exposure rolls than with 24. Whether it's because as the film gets to the middle of the reel the spiral gets tighter and creates more friction I don't know. If I do get a jam I just pull the spirals apart slightly, give it lots of little wriggles and that usually sorts it.
It may happen at the end because your hands become more damp the longer it takes to feed the reel.
The newer Patterson reels can be loaded if "damp". We have tested them vs the older version which could not be loaded if they came near moisture. However, as a beginner you will be more successful if the reel is complelely dry as yours seems to be.
Also, like many others I have loaded much longer runs of film than 36 with no problems.
At one time Ilford made 72 exposure rolls, great for sports and motor drives, but very thin and curled like crazy. Needed a special reel and had its own loader, which I could never use, but with some practice , no problem. However, it was short lived as the thinner base played havoc with the commerical processers so it went the way of the Edsel auto.