Developing 120 Film: Help Needed

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Lobalobo, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. Lobalobo

    Lobalobo Subscriber

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    When I was a teenager, I used to process 35mm black & white film. Just recently (many years later) I started to develop 4x5 sheet film. And more recently still, I started to shoot 120 film, thinking it would be no problem to process. I was wrong, as I am having the hardest time loading the film into the reel for the developing tank. The film is way more tightly coiled than I expected and nothing I can do will get the film to slide in. The reel I have is fixed metal--in the old days, I loaded 35mm onto a plastic reel where the ends rotated back-and-forth independently--but I don't think it would matter. What I finally did is take advantage of the fact that the reel has lots of room on it and just loosely wound the film in from the center out hoping that the film does not make contact with itself at any point, but in the dark, of course, who knows. I haven't processed the reel yet, hoping for advice on how to reload with more confidence. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. jgcull

    jgcull Member

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    I almost always, in the dark, re-roll the film w/paper backwards - back onto the little reel. I keep a scotch tape dispenser in the darkroom, between the enlarger base and the wall & I tape the paper edge down to hold the film in place. I put the film either in my pocket (if I'm going to process it very soon) or in a black plastic bag in the drawer and let it sit till I'm ready to process. It may be there an hour or it may be there a day, but that helps to get the tight roll out of it. It only takes seconds to do, but it saves me lots of frustration.
     
  3. David Brown

    David Brown Member

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  4. OP
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    Lobalobo

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    Yes, on the steel reel and from the center, but can't get it under the clip and can't be sure that it's loading properly; the coil defeats everything. I don't doubt that others can do it, but I'm finding it much harder than 35mm. I'll try taking the bend out of it first, or get a plastic reel and try that too. Thanks.
     
  5. OP
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    Lobalobo

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    Great suggestion. Thanks.
     
  6. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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  7. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    I find it much easier not to use the clip in the center of the reel. If you're not precisely centered the film will never wind on evenly. I just start the end of the film between two cross wires, and carefully wind it on the reel. Try using a sacrificial roll of film in the light until you gain the skill.
     
  8. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I leave the tape on the film and start loading from the taped end, tear the tape to separate the film from the backing paper. The extra stiffness helps with centering it if you don't use the clip, or getting it into the clip if you do.
     
  9. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I find that merely keepin the leading end of the film pressed lightly against the core whilst turning on the first quarter turn or so works every time. No need to position the film under the metal clip at all. Try it, yu'll like it.
     
  10. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    Loading stainless steel reels takes a little practice.
    You may want to practice in the light with a sacrifical roll of 120. Keep trying it, then try it with your eyes closed.
    You will get the hang of it eventually, but make sure you have good reels; if they are bent they will give you trouble.


    However, you may wish to try a plastic reel, Paterson ones are excellent.
    As for the wide flange plastic reels. Just cut a piece of the film box the same width as the film and slide this in to the reel before going in to the darkroom.
    Now, you can use this piece of card to guide the film on to the reel by sliding the film along it.
    Once the film is on the reel good remove the card and save it for next time.
     
  11. Saganich

    Saganich Subscriber

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    Any stainless reel with a clip is far more difficult to load then stainless reels with slot or sprocket. My 120 reels have a slot in the center rather then a clip. The film just slides into the slot and you roll it on. I think it's Kinderman. The point is the reels with the clips suck, there are WAY better designs.
     
  12. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Lobalolo,

    You haven't mentioned the film type. Kodak film, which is mostly what I use, is reasonably stiff and presents about zero loading problems with a SS reel. I've often said that loading film onto a 120 SS reel has to be the absolutely quickest, simplest darkroom procedure there is. There is a slight exception, however, with any 120 film which is on a thinner, more flexible base, Foma 200 being the type I'm most familiar with. It's just slightly trickier to get started; as one of the previous responses indicates, keeping the tape on the film, folded over the end, helps. One small trick which may come in handy: Keep one fingernail or one thumbnail a little long and you can easily feel between the metal spirals to check that the film is in place as expected. With practice, this will become unnecessary, because you will immediately sense any skewed loading after a couple of turns.

    Konical
     
  13. OP
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    Lobalobo

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    Thanks to all; I'll try the sacrificial roll of film, bending out some of the coil, and probably getting a plastic tank. I appreciate all of the advice.
     
  14. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    I have two Kindermann reels that were very expensive but well worth it. I bought them a few years ago with a film loader. If it weren't for the film loader I still wouldn't know how to load 120 film by hand. B&H doesn't sell them anymore. The Kindermann film loader is great and loads film in less than a minute. Never tried any other type of film loader, but mine was a godsend.
     
  15. 77seriesiii

    77seriesiii Member

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    other than recommending the daylight transfer tech until comfortable, try taking small scissors and cut the corners of the film that you load under the clip in the center off, it may help. practice practice practice. A funny story on this is my wife tried loading our sacrificial 120 roll in daylight (she only ever used the plastic reels) and after 30 seconds announced success with "this is EASY!" I turn and look at what she did...dont do this BTW...She who must be obeyed wrapped the 120 film around the spindle, tightly. I chuckled and said "That is a method, not the preferred on though."

    have fun, kodak and ilford I found easy to load in the beginning.

    ./e
     
  16. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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  17. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    There's a clip in the middle. Attach that to the middle of either end. Then you curl the film into a slight half moon U shape so that the top ^ crest part faces out of the reel. The hardest part is getting it onto the feet where the track begins. This is best done by feel and a little pushing. After that you rotate the reel away from the film, keeping it curled, and it should slide on with little to no problem. If, after you're past the feet and begun rolling, you hear a crinkling or you feel that it is not perfectly level or it stops sliding easily, you're doing something wrong and you need to back up and find where the film jumped the track. I find it easiest to roll in a dark closet because you have more room than a changing bag.
     
  18. DWThomas

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    I've been slowly converting to not using the clip, just letting the end hang into the center and using light finger pressure on the end of the flm near the spiral to keep it from slipping until I get a half turn or so on the reel. I think 120 is more difficult than 35mm because the depth of the reel is less relative to the width of the film. It doesn't provide as good an alignment reference. If somebody made a 120 tank system with 6 or 7 inch diameter reels it would probably be easier. That said, sometimes it almost happens without even trying, but at least once, after about ten minutes of trying, I stuck the film in the tank loose, put the lid on, and went upstairs and took a break!

    DaveT
     
  19. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    In SS reels, both 120 and 220 reels exist. The latter are more tightly coiled than the former (to enable the longer 220 rolls to load) and are therefore much harder to load. If you've got a 220 reel, therefore, you might want to try a 120 reel instead.

    As others have said, plastic reels load very differently from SS reels, and you may prefer plastic for MF. Personally, the easiest-to-load MF reels for me are a couple of Russian designs. One is available in this eBay auction and in this one, too (I bought mine from the first seller), but this tank has the drawback to using twirl-stick agitation only (not inversion agitation). It's got the advantage that it requires less solution volume than other MF single-roll (120) tanks, so it's a little more economical to use.

    Another Russian tank design is rarer, and I don't happen to see one on eBay at the moment, but here are a few photos of mine, in case you want to keep an eye out on eBay: one, two, three, and four. It's a very flexible design; with custom spacers made by cutting some plastic tubing, it could handle any film size from 16mm to at least MF (and probably 70mm). My photos show it configured for 35mm, but it should be obvious how to reconfigure it for MF.

    Both of these designs load like Paterson tanks, from the outside in, but they lack the little ball bearings that Paterson reels use. I find this is good for MF, since I've always had problems getting the film to start loading on Paterson reels; the ball bearings seem to get in the way. I recently got my hands on a Jobo reel that also lacks the ball bearings, but I haven't used it yet. My guess is it would load as easily as the Russian reels that I like.
     
  20. kodachrome64

    kodachrome64 Member

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    A sacrificial roll is a must. I load my 120 and 135 on plastic Jobo rolls. The directions say to push it through by twisting the reels back and forth, but I just push the film all the way through without twisting at all. I can load a roll of either type of film in 10 or 20 seconds. I just cut a little bit off the corners (not too much) and it slides right on through.
     
  21. Rolleiflexible

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    I would caution against the suggestions
    that you not use the center clip to hold
    the end of the film. I used to do that
    until a roll worked its way off the reel
    during development. The result was
    pretty ugly. I thought it was a fluke,
    didn't learn my lesson, and spoiled
    another roll the following week.

    Make sure you're using good reels.
    I prefer the Hewes reels from England.
    Omega now sells them in the US at
    outrageous prices but they are worth
    every penny. A good reel practically
    loads itself.