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  1. #1
    nsouto's Avatar
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    problems with steel reels

    Hi folks. Can someone with experience of these things in 35mm point me in the direction of detailed or usable instructions on how to load one?

    I've had the last two rolls ruined by incorrect loading. In one case, a kink in the perforations made it almost impossible to get the roll flat for scanning. In the other, portions of some frames didn't get any soup, and no: it wasn't under-filling! I suspect just plain old one-wind-against-another.
    I'm loading with a light tight bag. Tried numerous times outside the bag with ruined film to see if I can get the hang of it, but it always gets either a kink on the threads or portions of film touch each other.
    What's the secret?
    Many thanks in advance for any feedback.

    ps: I use a plastic Patterson style reel without the slightest problem. But the Kindermann uses less developer (250 vs 300) and I'm trying that.
    Cheers
    Noons (Nuno Souto)
    Gallery here

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    You need plenty of room to load a 35mm steel reel so a changing bag is far from ideal. There is a knack to doing it.

    Stick to using your Paterson reels dev is cheap ruined negatives can't be replaced.

    Ian

  3. #3

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    I've two suggestions:

    1. Use Hewes reels. Cheap generic reels can be made to work, but in my experience, Hewes reels are in an entirely different league than generic reels in terms of ease of loading. This is mainly because Hewes reels have two "teeth" that grip the sprocket holes in the film, which makes centering and placing the film much easier than the spring-clip used in generic reels. Hewes reels also use a thicker metal, which makes them less prone to being bent out of shape. Unfortunately, Hewes reels cost a lot more than generic reels, but IMHO they're worth it. There's another brand that I've seen recommended, too, but I don't recall offhand what it is. Note that Hewes reels are actually sometimes sold under other names, but there's usually some indication that they're made by Hewes, so you may need to read the fine print.
    2. Be sure you're loading in the right direction. Even with Hewes reels, it's possible to start loading backwards, so that the curve of the spiral would move inward rather than outward as you load -- but of course when you start from the center there's no way to move further in. Surprisingly, I've actually gotten pretty far loading a reel backwards like this, but of course the film buckles and touches itself and the result is pretty ugly.


    On a broader note, Ian's got a point -- 50ml of solution difference is pretty small. If you're happy with Paterson reels, it'll take a lot of rolls of film to make up the cost of a single Hewes reel from the cost savings of 50ml of photochemistry per roll.

  4. #4

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    Dear Nuno,

    If it is the volume (rather than the cost of chemicals) you are trying to save, look into a Jobo system and a 251X tank. It uses 170ml for a single roll and the convenience of not having to agitate manually is wonderful.

    Neal Wydra

  5. #5
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Sounds like you have a slightly bent reel -- buy a Hewes...worth every penny!

    vaughn
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  6. #6
    Philippe-Georges's Avatar
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    While the steel reels subject is on, I have a little question, if you do not mind?
    I have LPL (120 & 35 mm) reels, but I wonder if I can use the HEWES film loader (see attachment) to load these LPL reels.

    Thank you,

    Philippe
    Last edited by Philippe-Georges; 09-26-2008 at 04:44 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    "...If you can not stand the rustle of the leafs, then do not go in to the woods..."
    (freely translated quote by Guido Gezelle)

    PS: English is only my third language, please do forgive me my sloppy grammar...

  7. #7
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    tips

    centre - feel for the film and that is not projecting out un-evenly after winding the first half of a turn. If it isn't centred, then onece you get past the first half turn, it will not want to go onto the reel easily.

    once it is centered, and loading, hold the reel in one hand, and with the other hand, try to gently 'push back' against the film. If it has been loading correctly, you can learn to feel that 'give', as the film moves between being pulled against the inside of the spiral, and being pushed out against the adjacent further outer part of the spiral guide.

    I tend to load ss reels by guiding the film with one hand, and turning the reel, whilch is left resting on the counter. with the other hand. By not picking up the reel, I find I am less likely to twist the reel to allow the film to skip a track.

    I also have Paterson reels, and use them just as often.

    Frequently my unprocesed films start to pile up, and I will do a batch of them all in one evening. I sort the films as to which developer I like using with what, and then see what works out best.

    Usually I try to do 35mm c-41 on the steel reels, because I can fit 4 reels into the 1l of solution that I mix for my c41 work, and the steel transfers the tempering bath effect best. On the other hand, if it is 120 c-41 that is back logged, I will load them onto paterson reels, because, with care, two 120 films can be loaded onto a paterson reel, and then with 2 reels can do 4-120's in 1l of c41.
    my real name, imagine that.

  8. #8
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    Noons -

    Steel reels do provide an opportunity to practice swearing.

    One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to sacrifice a roll of film - load a reel with the lights on so that you can actually see what is happening at the same time that you feel what is happening. That's the best way to train yourself to react to the kinds of problems that occur when loading film. A bit part of the art of loading steel reels is learning how to manipulate the film, and the best way to do that is with the lights on. So sacrifice a roll of film, and practice, practice, practice - - -

    Other points:

    1. Make sure that you cut the end of the film squarely, and then taper the edges. Try to avoid rewinding the film all the way back into the cassette so that you can dress the end with the lights on before you try to load the film on the reel. A long, gentle taper makes for easier loading than merely clipping off the corners of the blunt end of the film.

    2. I'm right-handed, so for me it works best to hold the reel with my right hand while feeding the film on with the left. I use the index finger from my right hand to guide the end of the film into the catch at the center of the reel, and then as the reel is loaded, I have that finger ride gently against the back of the film. That way, if the film start to kink or buckle, I can sense the distortion with that finger in time to make corrections.

    3. Cup the film slightly between the thumb and index finger of the left hand. You want to cup it just enough to make "chord" across the cupped film slightly narrower than the interior width of the reel. Just be careful that you don't cup it so much that you cause bend marks in the film.

    4. Make certain that the two faces of the reel are absolutely parallel. Steel reels bend easily, and if the faces get out of parallel, they are a bitch to load.

    5. Hewes reels are the best, and the easiest to load. But other brands are OK as long as they don't get bent.

    6. And practice your swearing. Remember the words of Mark Twain - 'profanity offers a form of relief denied even to prayer.'
    Louie

  9. #9

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    hi noons

    there is a trick to see if your loading metal reels worked ...
    from time to time, push the film back into the reel, you should feel
    the film moving back and forth a little bit, that means the film is on the reel as
    it is supposed to be. curve the film a little bit as you wrap it.

    sometimes it is easier to waste a roll of film to see how it is supposed to look
    and feel, and then practice with it in the bag until you feel comfortable.

    good luck!

    john
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  10. #10

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    I've had the same sort of problem far too many times. I have also successfully loaded a steel reel in a changing bag many times. The problem is to get the film started straight. This is made worse by the fact that you may cut the leader (or trailer) of the film at a slight angle, making it hard to line up at the center of the reel. Be careful not to get the film at an angle to the reel or to twist it in any way. In general, if the reel is going to load properly, it will do so easily, without any effort. If you encounter kinks or any problems with the film going in the slot, remove it completely and start over. Sometimes this can be very frustrating, requiring ten or more tries. Usually everything works right the first time.

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