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  1. #1
    yeknom02's Avatar
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    Dumb Question of the Day

    I was wondering why 35mm film has a tapered leader. Why not just cut it off straight across?

    (I feel ashamed asking this, since I'm an engineer.)
    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST
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  2. #2
    Poohblah's Avatar
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    my best guess is that it's an attempt at saving a few inches of emulsion per roll.

  3. #3
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeknom02 View Post
    I was wondering why 35mm film has a tapered leader. Why not just cut it off straight across?

    (I feel ashamed asking this, since I'm an engineer.)
    **************
    That's the way Oscar Barnack wanted it. BTW, the late model Practika cameras did not require a tapered leader.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  4. #4
    Worker 11811's Avatar
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    Sharp corners catch on sprockets, film gates and rollers.

    Rounding the corners and tapering the ends of the leaders makes them easier to insert into their slots and run through the cameras, processors and/or projectors without the film getting hung up and being destroyed.
    Randy S.

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  5. #5
    SteveR's Avatar
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    My Yashica Lynx has a slot sized for tapered film on the take-up spool, so when I bulk load I always have to cut a little notch in the leader so I can load it. That's probably a product of film having a taper though, rather than a reason for it...
    ____________________________________________

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  6. #6
    brucemuir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveR View Post
    My Yashica Lynx has a slot sized for tapered film on the take-up spool, so when I bulk load I always have to cut a little notch in the leader so I can load it. That's probably a product of film having a taper though, rather than a reason for it...
    Yep, some cameras need the little tongue to load into the takeup spool. A lot of manual Nikons are like this.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by brucemuir View Post
    Yep, some cameras need the little tongue to load into the takeup spool. A lot of manual Nikons are like this.
    Both of mine are, Nikon FG and Nikkormat FT. 20 years apart they look almost identical inside.

  8. #8
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    Indeed. If the film were straight-edged, the film that was not held into the slot would stand up from the wind on spool thus enlarging the diameter of the wind-on portion of the film which could lead to scratching and other in-camera defects.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
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  9. #9
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    The slot in the loading area is often not wide enough to take the full width of the leader, so it is cut down to a universal fit.

    ( Was checking and just opened the camera back, but unfortunately there's a roll of Velvia 100F mid-way in there... )

    My neighbour is an engineer and asked me around Easter this year, while manhandling 'Brutus', if left-handed people have difficulty with cameras made predominantly for right-handed folk. What-ho. Well, do they?
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    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
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  10. #10
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeknom02 View Post
    I was wondering why 35mm film has a tapered leader. Why not just cut it off straight across?

    (I feel ashamed asking this, since I'm an engineer.)
    I expect the origin of this is historical - probably related to something about the configuration of the original Leica cameras.

    Of course, if one is manufacturing film, one is going to make the film to fit the cameras available.

    Now, if one wants to build cameras to compete with the Leica cameras, one doesn't want to make them in a way that won't allow them to use the film that is already available.

    You can see the trend...

    So I expect that the answer to the question is - because it always has been done this way.

    By the way, it wasn't a dumb question.
    Matt

    “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

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