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  1. #1

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    Can't Load 120 film even if my life depended on it!

    Hey guys,

    I have a very perplexing issue loading 120 film into the Patterson development reel (and from searching the forum, I can see that I am not the only one with this issue). I have given up trying to do it consistently; after hours of practice, watching videos and reading posts - trying all kinds of home remedies, it still takes me 40 MINUTES sometimes to load one roll, and even after doing that, the roll is usually not properly loaded and can't be scanned properly (and I live in a very hot and humid place, so it is very uncomfortable and you can only get so naked )

    I routinely develop 4X5 sheets and I can load my Mod54 in less than a minute (typically 5 minutes if I take my time), so I just don't get why using the Patterson reel is so hard. Now, I've given up completely on getting the Patterson reels to work and I'm not ever interested in using them ever again for anything because it is awful rubbish (albeit it works fine for 35 mm, but I don't shoot that very often)

    Anyways (enough venting) I have seen recommendations to use Hewes steel reels, as well as getting the Samigon reels which have a "fool proof" guide for loading - but nothing conclusive and still seems hit and miss. I think the Samigon might work because I believe my main issue is simple getting the film lined up straight when entering the reel (120 film is very floppy). But, is there anything else I can try, like maybe an auto loader or something?

    Shooting film is fun, developing it should be equally fun! I have a backlog of important rolls that I am afraid to develop and it is getting to the point where it isn't making much sense to shoot medium format (which is a shame as I love using my RZ67). Any help please!

    Sorry for spewing words but after trying to load film this morning, I have lost all composure for at least the next 24hrs!

  2. #2

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    FWIW, I occasionally had problems if reels were not 101% dry, and particularly in warm conditions when hands were damp or perspiring (and. if you get agitated or flustered, hands get even moister). Light cotton photo gloves are a possibility.
    I see that you've practiced, but, for anyone who hasn't. it's worth trying with a scrap film, both in daylight then in the darkroom.
    (Apologies if that's all obvious).

  3. #3

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    Oct 2011
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    My advice is just get some SS reels and practice. I hold the reel and the end of the film with my left hand to start/center it in the reel, holding the film roll in my right. i then move my left hand and fingers to gently curl the film as it starts to wind, drop the film from my right hand to let it hang free, and then use it to gently turn the reel while still guiding and curling it with the left. A bit of practice and you will never go back to plastic reels.

    Wayne

  4. #4

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    Mar 2009
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    I use these reels. I also cut the taped end of the film diagonally.

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/55043-...eveloping-Reel

    They work far better for 120 than the patterson reels which I find impossible to load.
    Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts: Journalism - University of Arkansas 2014

    Canon A-1, Canon AE-1, Canon Canonet GIII 17, Argus 21, Rolleicord Va, Mamiya RB67, Voigtländer Bessa

    http://darkroom317.deviantart.com/

  5. #5
    frank's Avatar
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    I've got no problem loading 120 film on Patterson plastic reels. They do have to be perfectly dry. You may try scrubbing the ridges with a toothbrush to clean out any accumulated crud. Check to see that the ball bearing moves freely.
    My blog / photo website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/

  6. #6
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    I understand your frustration. Just loaded 2 rolls of 120 on plastic reels, the first went on easy in about 30 seconds, the second apparently had a little something tin one of the grooves and took about 5 minutes.

    With practice I have gotten fairly quick with JOBO reels, took lots of patience and experimentation and motivation to get reasonable at it. I find that C-41 processing is the most fun when I use my CPA2 and plastic reels are an integral part of that system.

    Tried Patterson reels at one point a few years back and struggled, didn't have the JOBO then so went back to steel as you are considering.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  7. #7
    cliveh's Avatar
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    In addition to what has already been said, before loading, take the spiral apart and run a pencil lead round the grooves on both sides. The graphite will aid the loading process.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  8. #8
    frank's Avatar
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    Is the problem you're having getting the film aligned and started, or once started, pushing it all the way in?
    My blog / photo website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/

  9. #9

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    Hi. I use Paterson reels for 120 and usually manage to load without problems. Two things have been helpful. The first is bending back the leading edge of the film at around a quarter inch from the end. Bend it back against the curl to the point where you make a crease, then fold back. This is a trick I learned from another forum user, and it works very well. The second point is to avoid putting pressure on the side of the reels, ie don't push the flanges together. I actually pul them apart gently when rotating back and forth. These things work for me, but in Scotland I don't usually have to battle heat and humidity! I hope you find a solution. 120 shooting is very enjoyable. Alex

  10. #10
    Rick A's Avatar
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    I am going to assume that the OP uses a changing bag, and frankly I don't have any words of encouragment for him. I will advise that switching to SS reels and tank should ease the problem somewhat. I found that film guides are a nuisance to help load reels and with a bit of practice the SS reels all but load themselves. The best thing to do(IMO) is not use a changing bag, and darken out a small room to load film, and then it shouldn't matter if plastic or SS is used.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum

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