Kaiser reels have huge guide tabs leading the film in and are easy to load.... But so are Paterson reels if they are clean and totally dry.
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
I've used Patetson reels for 40 years or so.
My main complaint is the guide flange is far too small for 120 film
All great advice received so far; but here is a simple trick to getting the 120 started on the reel.
It gives the stiffness and guide to get the roll started in to the flanges...
Cut a piece of the film box to be the same width as 120 film and about 2 or 3 inches long.
Before you go in the darkroom slide this piece of card along the reel tracks into the beginning of the reel but not past the little ball bearings. Now when in the darkroom take your film and slide it along the card until it is past the ball bearings and pull in a bit more then remove the card and load in the normal way. You see the card acts like a guide and makes those springy films easier to get started.
I most often reverse curl the first 1/2 inch or so of my film before loading to help with the springiness.
I still have the same bit of card I cut out of a Fuji box a couple of years ago, I only replace it if it gets lost of to banged up.
I like my Patterson reels!
I've used Paterson, Nikor, Kindermann, generic steel and Hewes.
They all worked for me but I preferred the steel reels, I just didn't care for walking the film into the reel and prefer starting at the center and loading the film fromo the center.
For 120, I really like the Gepe "dubbeltank" with auto loader. I bought this for €1 at a classic camera fair in Holland. It's a plastic reel with loading guide, unlike many plastic reels, it is a centre loader. I've never had an issue with it, even when developing one roll straight after another. It takes less than 10 seconds to load a roll once it's clipped onto the centre. These do pop up on ebay, and it seems to have been sold under several brands.
I also have a Jobo tank with adjustable reels. That uses the push/twist type loading, and while I've never had a problem loading it, I always worry more when taking the developed roll off the reel - no problems so far, but I'm always more worried.
For 35mm, I have a small SS tank and SS reel (with the prongs). I'm not sure it's a Hewes reel, but it does look similar. I start that one in daylight with the film still in the cannister, then put the whole lot in the dark bag and continue from there. The riskiest part is cutting the film at the end in the dark.....
Whatever your reel, take things slowly and if it doesn't feel quite right, stop, go back a bit, then start again.
I clean all reels after with some dishwashing liquid and an old toothbrush.
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If you are still new to film processing and looking to buy new reels, I reckon you should just go straight to the SS ones. Send an email to Hewes, and they will post to you direct for cheaper than you will buy them new anywhere else. Practice loading them while you watch TV - once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature. Don't drop them onto a concrete floor and they will last you a lifetime.
If humidity in the bag is a problem, load each roll one at a time and put in the tank and close the tank. Open the bag completely and air it out for a minute to let fresh air in. Close up and do the next roll.
I've used Paterson and stainless steel with great success. I tend to prefer stainless steel.
I started out with Paterson reels for 135 and 120 under a black blanket in my bedroom, mostly at night. Try it, it really works, and you would have more room to move around with the reels.
In order to avoid stress to the film I first take the last bit of film out of the reel, clip the clip on it, hang it with all the film still on reel, then disengage the two halves of the reel, separating them just a bit, and move down while keeping them near each other. The film will gently "unroll" from the reel without any friction along the film guides and my hands won't touch it. At the other hand I seize the tail with one hand and clip the leaded clip with the other.
Originally Posted by P C Headland
I have difficulties in using the scissors in the changing bag too. I have to take care not to cut the bag tissue, which tends to fall over the hands, the inner bag is not visible so I'm not that comfortable, and I even find difficult to actually put the film inside the two blades.
Now I use small scissors (the ones for nails) that give be better "control" over what am I cutting. I find it is also not such a bad idea to just tear the film with your hands (that wouldn't work with polyester film though).
Great enthusiasm here for Hewes reels, but can I ask what tanks you use with them ? From what I read, Hewes don't make cylindrical, daylight loading tanks.
Does anybody suggest that processing is better with SS reels, or is it just a film loading issue/ preference ?