Thanks, folks! I had heard the Hewes brand elsewhere spoken of highly. My 120 reel is from Freestyle and looks like a bigger version of my 35mm reels, with the same sort of clip. I have one stainless reel with NO clip which seems impossible to load! I tried a loader which clips to the reel and has a curved channel to guide the film. Even in the light it didn't want to load.
Interesting that people seem to find 120 easier to load on SS than 35mm.
I think I'll try the stainless, but have my Paterson in reserve.
BTW, I wonder if running Paterson reels through a dishwasher - air dry cycle! - would clean them up? I imagine the stain mine have makes little difference, except aesthetically.
1) Dishwasher detergent is quite harsh, so be cautious;
2) Some dishwashers also dispense a rinse aid - probably not a good idea for reels.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
I wouldn't run plastic reels in a dishwasher. The stain is fairly permanent. You could soak them in oxiclean or something if you realllly wanted. Some of mine have a nice beige stain instead of white from use and it has zero effect on cleanliness or image quality.
In a fit of delusion after reading another thread here, I got some Nikor reels and gave them a try. It was a failure, and I had to switch back to my paterson reels mid-load. With 120, I find it easier to load the Paterson reels if I clip a leader first. I think what this means is just use whatever works for you and don't worry about what anyone else thinks is better.
Ijust loaded my first roll of 120 on the Arista stainless steel reel from Freestyle. A piece of cake! For whatever reason it was easier than loading 35mm on ss reels. So I may consider Hewes reels for 35mm if the Arista continues to be easy for 120.
I've used both extensively, and professionally so heavy usage.
Never had an issue with Paterson reels and that's all I use these days, but you do need to keep them clean. Some of my Paterson reels are probably about 40 years old and still load easily. (I have far earlier as well).
This is the trick to plastic reels, gotta keep them clean and dry. When you do this they last a lifetime and are sooo easy to work with.
I have 4 Patterson reels that are 30+ years old. Also have 5 35mm & 2 120 Kinderman SS reels with Nikor tanks that are even older. I use them all. If the plastic reels are drying I just load up the SS reels and keep going. The point being that they are all easy to load and all work great.
I have both, plastic and stainless. I prefer the stainless as it uses 1/3 less chemistry than the plastic. I do use the paterson style tanks when I get a roll that is unruly or damaged. The last roll of 35mm that I processed was in a plastic tank as some of the sprocket holes and edging were damaged. For 120 film, you don't always have to use the clip if you don't want to. I have loaded a few without using the clip without problems.