Lots of wonderful suggestions, but the secret, as was said by all, is practice...completing film tests compelled me to load and process lots of rolls of 120 film. After loading about 5 rolls I lost the "fear", and simply made up my mind that loading the reel was not delicate brain surgery! I usually start with the loose end, put the film into guides on the plastic reels ( I use a Jobo ), and "walk" the film into the reel. I let the paper curl and fall away. If the film gets stuck, then I gently push the film along ( handling by the film edges of course! ) into the plastic grooves until the film is threaded onto the reel. If nothing else works, then I go to the taped end, remove the tape, fold over any remaining tape, and load from the taped end which, with the tape, is more rigid and sometimes easier to get under the guides of the plastic reel. If you get too frustrated, consider putting the entire unloaded roll carefully into the developing tank ( remove the center post of course ), put the top on so the tank is light tight, and go have a beer or walk the dog. It is amazing how the short break often removes any pent up stress, and doubt. Go back into the dark-room, take off the top of the tank, put the post in, and load the reel!
Let us know how you are making out, and the very best of luck. You can do it!
By the way...if you are impressed with the size of 120 vs. 35mm, wait until you develop your first sheets of 4x5 film and compare the detail with such rendered on your 120 film....and then your first sheets of 8x10, and compare such sheets with the size and detail of your 4x5 sheets....:}
No one has mentioned the Nikor stainless reels. I have found that their clip makes it much easier to get the film centered. AFAIK you cannot buy them new.
I'm sure this is due to my inexperience but, just curious if anyone has any tips to help make the process easier. Thanks in advance.
Stainless or plastic, I remove the paper. I load from the end without tape.
With plastic, the reels must be completely dry before loading. Some people bevel the corners of the film before loading. After use, scrub the reel with a fiber "vegetable brush" using Bon Ami or Bar Keeper's Friend. Plastic reels must be kept scrupulously clean.
The GREATEST single trick to loading stainless steel with MF film is NOT to use the little clip like we do with 35mm.
Just hold the bitter end of the MF film in gentle contact with the center of your reel whilst turning maybe an eighth or so of a turn until the friction of the film itself keeps in in place. An old lab rat taught me that forty years ago, and since then I have never had a problem with the film jamming.
As the others say, practice, practice, practice.
John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
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I load the reel over an 11x14 tray. The tray holds everything. The empty reel. The tank. My problem isn't dropping stuff on the floor it's finding all the other stuff in the dark. I swear the gremlins move things after I turn the lights out :o
Originally Posted by Akki14
I gave up using plastic reels for 120 film. I could never load them even when bone dry. My sweaty hands in a changing bag would gum things up.
I know this is my preference but SS is much easier to clean, lasts longer, hewes and kindermann reels load easier once you get the hang of it, etc. Lots of benefits.
I've seen the Hewes and Kindermann names recommended several times before, what makes them easier/better than just your average SS reel?
Searching my way to perplexion
I think it's all in the clip. The clip does not move, warp or bend. Also the way the clip is positioned on the reel makes it very easy to feel the edge of the film against the bar on the reel w/ your fingertips. This lets you know if you've got the film on straight or if it's crooked. On the generic reels I have, the clip is on the bottom of the bar, making it much more of a guess if you have the film lined up straight. I know that people are nuts about these reels, I guess i'm one of them now.
Anscojohn; I do agree about not using the clip on other SS reels. If you can learn on a hewes, you can probably load anything once you get the hang of it. I still can't load plastic though.
I have Kinderman, Nikor and Hewes Stainless Steel 120 reels. I prefer the Hewes - I find them the easiest to load. I like the Hewes 120 rollfilm film clip system the best.
Originally Posted by t_nunn
Which ever reel type you use, sacrifice a roll of film and practice-practice-practice WITH THE ROOM LIGHTS ON until you get it right!
Then turn all the lights OFF and make sure you can do it in the dark.
BTW, make sure your reels are very-very clean and dry. I scrub my reels with a toothbrush, dishwashing detergent and hot water.
Everything is analog - even digital :D