Who makes the most user-friendly reels?
I'm still new to developing film, and I currently have a 0% success rate in developing a roll of film without issues (120 and 135). In every case the fault lies with the reel (in some cases, my inability to load it easily). The three main issues I have are:
- film not developing in places (I'm guessing it's touching in the reel)
- film creasing due to the ball-bearings jamming on bending film
- it's just to darn hard to do in a bag!
I've come to the realization that Paterson reels are just a lazy design, as someone with my limited film experience can find ways of improving it, while still making it out of moulded plastic for the same manufacturing price. Those guys just don't seem to care about how their product is used. It may not impact you experienced guys, but they make life harder than it needs to be for us beginners.
My main complaint is the guide flange is far too small for 120 film, and doesn't cover the ball bearing, which is the obvious place for the film to need guiding. Is there any reel that does? I'm trying to look at an AP ones online and I can see the nice big flange, but not how it grips film.
Are there any better reels than this out there?
Also, does anyone know who sells these?
SS relees Hewes aré the best ones, you can buy them in Freestyle ( www.freestylephoto.biz)
I love my Patterson. I do 35 and 120 and have never had a blown roll.
1) Load a test roll in daylight. Sure it is a waste but seeing the magic might help
2) I have never used a bag. When I am in complete darkness my sense of feel is amplified by the loss of sight. That extra feel I believe to be the determing factor.
Sorry to hear of your results thus far. When I learned darkroom in class my teacher insisted upon proficiency of #1 above before even trying #2 above
One more thought - are you using 500ml of chemistry to cover the 120?
I had cheap reels that looked fine but actually caused the film to buckle when I tried to load them. After one bad experience I went with Hewes and have never had a problem since.
My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus
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Yeah, I'm using 500ml of chems. My first roll of film I thought "this looks easy enough" and just charged in. After about 5 min I decided sacrificing another roll to practice on the second reel would not be such a bad idea, so I played in the light. I had no problems with the practice roll, but the ball bearings jammed on the first roll still in the bag and tore it in two (diagonally, so there was no way to develop both halves of the roll to salvage something). I suspect the difference in film stickyness between the practice roll and real rolls is what is throwing me.
Since then, no more tears but every roll has had either a patch of undeveloped (usually costs me 3 frames or so) and/or some creases that a real estate agent would say "adds character" (and I say are unacceptable).
I know people say you shouldn't touch the emulsion, but is it really that big of a deal if you have clean hands? I've tried latex gloves so I could handle the roll more without fear of leaving oil behind, but it hasn't really helped. I've also noticed that the leader develops just fine even though it is handled without gloves.
Also, all the reviews I've read about Hewes reels say they're far better made than generic SS reels (which I believe), but are they as idiot-proof as a good plastic reel can be?
Good Evening, Postalman,
The 35mm Hewes are about as idiot-proof as anything can be. The two small prongs in the center virtually guarantee correct alignment for the film. Even good plastic reels can cause problems unless completely dry and carefully cleaned; they're much less idiot-proof.
ive used the Pat brand reels for ages and have found that moisture is the main problem espescially when loading in a changebag, hands moving within that closed space inevitabley causes moisture levels to rise and some emulsions gets sticky. I always run a small hairdyer on a warm low setting over the reels to eliminate any skerrik of moisture AND with super clean hands. . . have never had a problem. If you can eliminate the changebag all together and load on a bench in a darkroom its very troublefree.
I like the wider flange AP reels for 120, but I really don't have any problems with the ball bearings. I do check them before each use though, to make sure they move freely.
I've never had success using a changing bag. If I'm somewhere where I cannot make a room totally dark during the day, I load my tanks at night and develop the next day.
I prefer stainless steel for 35mm. I would prefer it for 120 as well, except I have difficulties using the clips, and I need some way of affixing the film, because I use rotary processing.
I truly don't know how anyone could load reels wearing vinyl gloves. It might be possible to use nitrile gloves or cotton gloves - but I've never tried.
One lesson that I have learned is that loading reels requires a gentle hand - one shouldn't push or hold them heavily - fingertips are best. And the film should go on in small steps, with frequent checks to ensure that it moves freely when on the reel.
I also recommend that one listens to the sound of the film as it advances on to the reel. That sound provides excellent feedback.
“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