Problems loading the reel

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by hughesdih, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. hughesdih

    hughesdih TPF Noob!

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    Well, I've just finished developing my 15th roll of film. Every one that I have done so far has been ruined. I'm averaging about 5 usable pictures per 24 exp. roll. I've spent countless hours practicing loading the reel in the light. I still haven't done it successfully. No matter what I do I can not get it right. It's a stainless steel reel. Is there some secret to doing this? Has anyone else experienced such a horrific time with this? Is there a better, easier reel to use? Any advice would be appreciated. I'm considering bashing my camera into little pieces with a hammer. Either that or starting a bonfire in my backyard and burning all the film I can lay my hands on. If anyone can think of something less drastic for me to try to get this to work, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks,
    David
     
  2. nealjpage

    nealjpage multi format master in a film geek package

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    I use a plastic Patterson style tank with plastic reels. You start the film and then ratchet the film onto the reel. It works very well. I've never had much luck with the stainless steel ones, though everyone seems to swear by them.

    Are your ruined negs from the film not being spooled correctly and wrapping around itself?
     
  3. ilyfel

    ilyfel TPF Noob!

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    Hi david! I used to be in your boat. I used plastic reels before tho. Pratice in light but close your eyes too. Feel the reel with your hands and study it. And then close your eyes and feel and study it.

    Thats what I did. And in no time I was a pro!! Good luck!
     
  4. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    As ilyfel suggests, practice loading the reel in daylight and watch how things go wrong, then practice with your eyes closed. Problems often seem to be because of a misalignment at the start. That is usually the critical part of loading a stainless reel. If the film kinks and skips the spiral you often find that no matter how carefully you go back a little and try that lap again, you may need to go much further back - possibly even start again.

    While you are winding you need to listen carefully and feel for any sideways movement of the film. I also run the back of a fingernail (3rd finger, left hand) over the lap of film underneath the one that is going on, so that I can feel any kinks. Take care to ensure that the film is aligned with the reel. Is the reel damaged at all?

    What make of reels are you using? How is the film attached to the centre? Could you switch to a plastic reel? Some of us prefer stainless reels, some prefer plastic reels. Once you have got the hang of loading a stainless reel they are very fast to load.

    Good luck,
    Helen
     
  5. frXnz kafka

    frXnz kafka TPF Noob!

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    I've never had good luck with the steel reels, and really I don't think they're any faster than plastic reels. If you can switch over to plastic, that might make your life easier. Otherwise, just keep practicing. Practice with your eyes closed.
     
  6. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I’m another plastic supporter especially of the premium reels, they have nice tabs at start that help keep the film flat
     
  7. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Another vote for plastic reels. Some years back, in my very first darkroom class, we were given steel reels and film strips to play with in the light for a few minutes, while the instructor loaded some film in the darkroom. We then joined him to watch the development procedure - and his film came out ruined, stuck together and unusable, due to his own problems with the load!

    That made enough of an impression on me - I went out straight after class and picked up plastic reels and a Paterson tank. Aside from my own fumbling beginner's efforts, I've never looked back.

    Just continue to practice - whichever way you decide. Too many people swear by them for them to be poor; we just each develop our own comfort zone. You'll find yours!

    Remember the two most frustrating words are: "learning curve". ;) Stick to it!
     
  8. Skyhawk

    Skyhawk TPF Noob!

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    See if you can borrow someone else's steel reel and see if you have the same problem--yours may be slightly bent. A bent reel will make it near impossible to load film correctly onto.

    Also, instead of practicing with your eyes closed, practice in the darkroom with the lights out on your old spool of film.

    Nothing against plastic (still have several plastic tanks and reels) but I'm definitely in the steel camp.

    Keep at it--you'll get it.

    Jeff
     
  9. hughesdih

    hughesdih TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the advice. It's just really frustrating when roll after roll of film keeps getting ruined. Makes me not feel like even shooting any. Whats happening is that the films not going in straight or spaced. The film keeps touching other pieces of film so I'm getting huge splotches where the film is touching and isn't getting developed. One was even tightly wrapped completely around the center and I didn't even get a single usable picture! This after spending half an hour in the dark thinking I finally got it perfect. I guess all I can really do is keep practicing and try a plastic one if it doesn't start working for me. Thanks again
     
  10. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    re-read helen's comments.

    if you don't get the film started properly you will have all sorts of problems.
     
  11. Joxby

    Joxby TPF Noob!

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    I know it sounds stupid but make sure you round the corners of the film with scissors at the start of the roll, ignore that if y'allready do it.
    Took me 20 rolls to really get it together loading film, I still mess it up occasionally.
    Plastic - all my reels have been plastic, but I melted one with a hairdryer rushing things, the one I replaced it with was still plastic but different, it feels kinda like nylon, or at least it has nylon in it, film goes on it first time every time without exception...I dunno why that is.
     
  12. ilyfel

    ilyfel TPF Noob!

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    I'm sorry but I feel stupider after reading that.

    You take the film off the reel and slide your fingers down it to get all the stuff off. and then hang it to dry...

    Not blow it with a hot hair dryer
     

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