It is an awkward task to load reels, but that is all it is.... awkward.
It can be learned and once learned it becomes a simple task. The problem we learn to overcome is alignment. The base plate will greatly assist in alignment but you will not learn the "feel" that the plate replaces. Once you "get the feel" of right hand and left hand working together in the dark you will load six sheets quickly and smoothly.
You gotta hold your tongue just right and keep both eyes either open or closed:)
I have done it with and without a loader. I would not want to use a small changing bag - if only because I usually have a stack of darkslides to unload, the reel, and the tank. If you use the loader you need to get a feel for how much extra rotation is needed after the guide drops into the start of the slot. Putting the flow guides in with the 2509n reels is more fun still.
All reels have their issues. White nylon ones can get sticky if you use photo-flo on them (don't). If you break the sprocket hole on 35mm, it probably won't load. 120 can get crimped leaving half-moon marks on the processed film. With any roll film it is easy to wind up with a coil of film which is about as tame as an anaconda on speed.
When I first started, I had a large metal biscuit tin and a roll of tape on hand in the darkroom. If things go tout of hand, I sealed the film up and went and had a strong cup of tea. 8-)
Off-topic: good biscuit tins are a rare thing these days.
I have one but haven't actually used it yet. I've only practiced so far.
It's not too difficult in my dark bag; the trick for me is to come up with a method in the light. At first I loaded it with no thought of being in the dark or in a bag, watching closely, holding it to my face and the like. Then I figured the best way for me to feel for the channels, etc. After I have a system, I'll just load and unload while watching TV, only looking at it when hitting a snag. I guess the secret is a lot of practice before putting it in the bag (and then practicing in the bag).
This is what I did for the huge Yankee 4x5 tank I got from ebay. I found the 2509 without the guide easier to load in the bag than the Yankee with it's guide in the light. I have used the Yankee to develop, which is why I got the Jobo reel and tank.
The Expert tanks are undeniably superior, but are also far more expensive and don't work with the CPE2/+. Ok, I think the smallest ones can work, but aren't recommended due to overloading the motor.
Originally Posted by Sirius Glass
I never add "extra rotation...after the guide drops into the start of the slot." I just turn the reel until it clicks the requisite number of times. I've no idea why you'd turn it more. Adding the "flow guides" (is that what the "bat wing paddles" are properly called?) is quite simple. Remove the reel from the base (pull the guide away a bit with one hand and lift the reel off with the other) and feel of the film edges. The go pretty much centered over the area where there's a gap between the sheets. Feel into the reel just a bit and you can find the plastic tabs that snap into the guides. They snap right in.
Originally Posted by grahamp
To all that have trouble loading film: place your hand on a solid flat surface with fingers extended then hit each finger tip with a hammer as if you were driving a nail then repeat with the other hand, and try not to break the skin. Now when you can handle the film and reel without causing yourself pain you are ready to load as you are no longer handling the film too roughly. :D
I use a Photoflex Changing Room http://www.photoflex.com/products/changing-room1 ,readily available.
I put the 2509n reel on the center post of the 2521 with the clear side up. I lay the reel across the top of the tank so that the load slots are facing away from me. I pick up a sheet of film, turn it so that the emulsion is facing inward then find the slot the furthest away from me, start one edge then locate the same slot on the other side and start that side. Next I square the film to the reel and slide it in leaving about 1/4 inch of film above the reel edge and load the next. Once all 3 slots for that side have been filled I push the film in fully. The end cap for this side can be installed at this time or after the other 3 slots on the other side have been filled.
I ended up developing four sheets in trays in the bathtub. My knees and back are complaining but it was otherwise super easy. I might just refine this process to be more ergonomically comfortable and put the Jobo back up on the big auction site.
I could use that $$$ back to put into an enlarger so I can learn how to print!
I love the system. I quickly got the hang of loading it and no problem doing six sheets. What I loathed was spending all the time fishing around in chemicals with my bare fingers doing tray processing. Now I can throw the tank on the motor base and I am free to do other things. So much nicer.
TMTOWTDI of course.