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Wow...my first try at home developing B&W was so bad...

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Well...I decided to try my hand at developing at home. I got everything ready and thought it would go reasonably smooth but...

 

The ONE thing that I didn't check out well enough was how to load the reel, but when I realized that I was committed inside my changing bag so I figured, the worst that could happen is that I'd ruin the film.

 

Well, I did.

 

I had a really hard time getting it ON the reel, and wasn't sure how tight it should be but after I was done developing, I looked up a YT video and oh boy....waaaaaayyyyy too tight.

 

So I finished it and it's drying but it's really bad. It will become my practice film when it's dry.

 

One question; do you like the steel reels or the "quick load" plastic ones?

 

The quick load plastic ones (that ratchet) seem much easier for a noob like me.

 

It was a good experience over all, it gave me an idea of what I'd need to do as far as the rest of the steps.

 

One thing I'll mention also, my changing bag is only 16" x 17" and it seemed really cramped. My instinct is to buy a bigger one that's sort of a pop-tent design but I'm wondering if that's just a knee jerk reaction to my experience?

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I load reels in a dark cupboard – works fine. I have never been a fan of changing bags – they seem cramped to me.

 

Keep your ruined film and practice, practice, practice.

 

Steel or plastic both work fine. No one markets a product that just doesn’t work. You need to practice with whatever you have, and get comfortable and competent in the light.

 

I worked for years with plastic Jobo reels and tanks that did not have a rachet system – the always reels must be dry, and the corners of the film have to be trimmed so there are no sharp, square corners to catch.

 

But that is all by the way – just practice with your ruined film. And never, never, never etc. give up. You will get it fairly quickly.

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Thanks Michael, that's encouraging to hear. 

 

I'm going to practice a bunch more before I attempt it on unexposed film again.

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I load reels in a dark cupboard – works fine. [...]

Steel or plastic both work fine. No one markets a product that just doesn’t work.

 

The cupboard or closet works. Before rebuilding the darkroom I would close the door upon a large heavy cotton cloth to assure darkness.

 

I prefer stainless steel reels because they clean and dry easily, and the plastic reels do not work in a Senrac dryer.

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Absolutely get a bigger changing bag. Then find a piece of what here in the States used to be called shirt cardboard (card stock?). Mine is 7 inches by 36 inches and I have a large bag from Freestyle. You can look it up to find its dimensions and adjust for whatever size bag you end up buying. Push the card into the bag so that it is forced to bow up in order to fit, front to back. Be careful not to let it crease, it should do fine. Loading will be much easier with the tented space.

 

You've already invested in the reels you have; don't re-spend it. I prefer the steel ones because I can re-load them while they're still wet from the last film. And don't underestimate the value of struggle.

 

s-a

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Film stock today seems to be thinner and more flexible than back in the 60s & 70s, and I found it harder to secure the end in the center of my old Nikor reels. A friend had given me a cole of Hewes reels which have a pair of prongs in the center that hook the sprocket holes and make loading much easier.

Also, "waste" a roll and practice loading first in the light, then in the changing bag. Once you get the feel of it, even with today's films, it is easy.

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It is normally a problem when the plastic reel is not completely dry. Suffering too long in a changing bag it is getting worse. I am using the Jobo system 15xx and 25xx. You can föhn them just before use to be sure they are really dry. They are made of Makrolon. Paterson is Nylon, they block quickly when just a little bit wet and the small ball bearings can get stuck by Calcium in the water and then the system is not working anymore.

 

For the rest: Just practice. For 35mm film the problem is mainly at the end. For 120 roll film can be curly they popped off the reel. Also the material which the film has been made can be different:

 

Tri-Acetate (normally used in 35mm) or Polyester (roll films) and their thickness resp. 125um, 100um. But never force a film on the reel because it will end badly.

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Practice loading your reel in daylight with a wasted film. Once you can do it easily then practice again with the changing bag. It's not that difficult but as others have said plastic reels need to be completely dry or the film will stick. 

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Just thought I'd come back and give a report on the second try.

 

I used a Patterson tank with the auto-loading plastic reels and everything went great, though the changing bag was very cramped. I ordered a larger "tent" like one though.

Thanks for all of the help; in the future I might give the metal reel another try, as I understand it more throughly now, but for the moment, it's plastic for me.

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Just thought I'd come back and give a report on the second try.

 

I used a Patterson tank with the auto-loading plastic reels and everything went great, though the changing bag was very cramped. I ordered a larger "tent" like one though.

 

Thanks for all of the help; in the future I might give the metal reel another try, as I understand it more throughly now, but for the moment, it's plastic for me.

 

Just use what works for you - I prefer the Paterson tanks/reels (even though I still get the odd annoying jam/reload!).

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Emphasise dry reels! Be careful in the summer, especially in a changing bag, if your hands are even a bit sweaty as touching the film and making it damp causes the gelatin to get sticky. With these precautions, a changing bag is an entirely practical proposition (and it also has its uses to remove film from a jammed camera).

 

Concerning 'thin' film, I used 120 and 220 roll-film for many years, which is thinner than 35mm. Provided that the usual dry precautions are taken, loading never caused a problem. (With practice, too, it is possible to load 2 120 films on an adjustable reel which takes a 36-exposure 35mm film. Once you have the feel, you'll know that the beginning first film has gone right to the centre, and you can load the second until you feel resistance, which is the beginning meeting the outer end of the first film. As with all such techniques, practice on 'scrap' film first!).

 

If the stainless-steel balls in a (Paterson-type) reel seize up, simple prise them out with a small screwdriver or nail file. Your (dry) thumbs can substitute for the 'ratchet' system - only a little practice is required.

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Changing bags have issues well documented here by our participants.

 

A tip - wash your hands with Fels-Napha before handling film. It will remove the top most dead cells that make dust and it will remove oil. Honestly, it works.

 

Oh, and after the hand washing do not be surprised that your smart phone does not sense your finger-touch for a while.

The stuff is that good.

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Changing bags have issues well documented here by our participants.

 

A tip - wash your hands with Fels-Napha before handling film. It will remove the top most dead cells that make dust and it will remove oil. Honestly, it works.

 

Oh, and after the hand washing do not be surprised that your smart phone does not sense your finger-touch for a while.

The stuff is that good.

Very good tip...thanks.

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I have used the ratcheting plastic reels with good results provided it was dry as a bone.  I had mixed results with standard stainless reels even with the little curving metal apron thingy, even with repeated practicing in the light, so I never attempted using them for exposed film.  What I use to this day (not sure if they're still manufactured but probably available used) are the Kinderman reels.  Those have a sharp prong in the center (or a clip in the case of the 120's) and a little tab on the outermost spiral.  There is a plastic loading jig with an apron to guide the film, it has a rod that goes through the center of the reel.  You then simply grab the little nub on the reel and turn it like a crank.  Film loads in a few seconds, never once had a misload.  I also have one of the loading jigs with a base that sits on the table (got it used and never saw another one like it). 

 

As for changing bags, I have a couple, but what I use is a Photoflex Changing Room.  It's like a tent that springs open and sits on a countertop, has a zippered opening and sleeves like a changing bag but it doesn't collapse over your hands.  Very nice to work in. 

 

/applications/core/interface/imageproxy/imageproxy.php?img=http://www.bhphotovideo.com/images/images500x500/Photoflex_AC_CROO1_Film_Changing_Room_25_41880.jpg&key=0eb635dd35f5f74c628bf1b74c0903d0d35ffdb6e4b80c920a2aca8eef0eb3df"> Edited by bocaburger

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I have used the ratcheting plastic reels with good results provided it was dry as a bone.  I had mixed results with standard stainless reels even with the little curving metal apron thingy, even with repeated practicing in the light, so I never attempted using them for exposed film.  What I use to this day (not sure if they're still manufactured but probably available used) are the Kinderman reels.  Those have a sharp prong in the center (or a clip in the case of the 120's) and a little tab on the outermost spiral.  There is a plastic loading jig with an apron to guide the film, it has a rod that goes through the center of the reel.  You then simply grab the little nub on the reel and turn it like a crank.  Film loads in a few seconds, never once had a misload.  I also have one of the loading jigs with a base that sits on the table (got it used and never saw another one like it). 

 

As for changing bags, I have a couple, but what I use is a Photoflex Changing Room.  It's like a tent that springs open and sits on a countertop, has a zippered opening and sleeves like a changing bag but it doesn't collapse over your hands.  Very nice to work in. 

 

 

Interesting! I never heard of this.

 

I do use this changing bag now...it's so much better than my small changing bag was.

 

Thanks for the info.

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I have no trouble with my Nikkors from 1960 with T Max, Delta, or Kodak IR which is about as thin and flimsy as possible.

 

I have a look alike Nikor that will not grab the end of any film.  Center hole accepts my finger,  real Nikons do not.  Constructions looks same exactly.

 

The trick is to start the film,  go three wraps, push some into be sure film is loose and in channel, couple more wraps, push in.  If film skips out,  it will not push.  Un wrap and try again.

 

I put the reel on the bench with the outer wire wrap clockwise ending at 7:00.    Notch to accept film  is at 12:00.  Push in end,  load clockwise.  Wrap. push.  wrap  push.  If you try counterclockwise,  it will not load period.

 

Practice with ruined film in daylight.

 

There are many knock off Nikons that are not worth zip.  Brooks, Prinz, and a few others.  Real Nikkors have no ID on them, so that makes buying used hard.   Also one bent out of parallel will not load.

Edited by tobey bilek

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You can tell a Nikor reel by the sound it makes when dropped onto a concrete floor. It is machine talk for, "into the bin"

 

Seriously, they are the best.

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I used Nikors for decades, until I was given a Hewes. Comparable quality, but the Hewes has a couple of prongs at the center start of the spiral that hook the sprocket holes of the film. Even easier than the Nikor.

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