HOW TO EASILY LOAD A FILM ON A REEL? (Tips & Tricks)
When I started to process films by myself soon I found that loading the film on the reel was a stressful task for me. After 20 years I’ve discovered some tips and tricks which help a lot to do the job in a easy manner.
I fully recommend using a changing bag, even if you’re lucky to have a darkroom where you can switch off the lights. Why? Because everything you need is in the bag and you won’t loose anything. Imagine that your film or the tank light-proof cover slide off from the table by accident. What hell trying to rescue the stuff kneeling on the floor completely blind.
And now my tips and tricks:
First, forget those devices intended to pull out the film from the cartridge. In my experience, they’ve been useless most of the time. It’s better to leave the film leader out of the cartridge once you have finished it. Gently rewind the film and pay attention: you will notice when the film is released from the take-up pool in the camera. Stop rewinding at that point so, when you open the camera back, you’ll find the film cartridge with the film leader out, as an unexposed film cartridge. To avoid placing again the cartridge in the camera by accident, it’s VERY VERY IMPORTANT to immediately fold the film leader to highlight that it’s a film already exposed. Place the cartridge in its container with the end of the film bent around the cartridge and leave it for 12-24 hours (better in a fridge, as recommended with fresh films). This will help the film to load easier on the reel as the end of the film will better match the reel’s shape and the film can be inserted on the tank reel without any resistance.
Another trick that will help to prevent troublesome loading on the reel is quite simple. Cut the film leader, taking care to do a straight perpendicular cut between the film perforations.
And then cut the borders close to the perforations as you see in the pictures.
The resulting shape will better help loading the film. Simply load the film on the reel, a few centimetres, taking care not to go beyond the blank exposures. Then place everything into the changing bag. At this point, don’t forget to check that everything is inside it: the tank, the center column, the reel, the light-proof cover and scissors. You’ll need the scissors (small blunt tipped ones) to cut the film from the cartridge after completing the loading.
For many years I’ve being using a Patterson developing tank. But since I’ve tried a Jobo 1000 I’ve found that, due to its design, the way the film is loaded on the reel makes the Jobo’s system more dependable.