Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/12/02

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Loading 35mm 36 exposure film
From: Henning Wulff <>
Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 21:31:01 -0800
References: <008501c17b70$4816ec60$6b38fea9@thunderbelly> <> <00b401c17b79$40742fa0$9865fea9@joe>

At 1:35 PM -0800 12/2/01, Joe Codispoti wrote:
>I have not been following this thread but after seeing so many posts, I feel
>compelled to contribute my left-brained experience on loading 35mm film:
>It matters not whether the reels come from Germany, Japan, England, or Libya
>provided that they be stainless steel reels. Some brands are stronger than
>others, but I have used them all and have no preference for one brand over
>an other.
>If you have problems loading stainless reels, follow these steps (initially
>in normal light with a practice roll) and you will become proficient in a
>very short time.
>   1.. Determine the coil direction and place the reel in one hand in such a
>way that when you start loading the film it will enter the coils correctly.
>   2.. Cut away the leader making the cut as square as possible ( I do this
>with my teeth)
>   3.. Hold the film in your primary hand.
>   4.. Squeeze the film ever so slightly so that it can be clipped or placed
>in the center of the reel making sure that the film is CENTERED in the reel.
>   5.. With the film firmly and lightly squeezed in the palm of your hand,
>place your thumb on one top side of the reel and the index on the other.
>This will insure that as you wind/insert the film into the coils, you will
>keep it aligned and prevent it from jumping/climbing over itself.
>   6.. After having wound 2-3 coils, test the load by pushing and pulling
>gently the film to and from the center of the reel. The film MUST move. If
>it does not it is wound too tightly.
>   7.. Continue winding and testing for looseness. The film must be LOOSE in
>the reel.
>   8.. At the end, cut the film from the spool, do a final looseness test and
>place the end of the film into the coil. At this point PUSH the film toward
>the center coil to insure that it will be the back of the film to be against
>the coils, not the emulsion. This will eliminate the undeveloped marks that
>obfuscate the frame numbers.
>The film is loosely wound when by pulling/pushing it makes a clear sound of
>moving within the coils.
>Once proficient, the entire process should take no more than 15-20 seconds.
>As you develop more and more film your own style will emerge and you will
>wonder why you were so apprehensive initially.
>If you are nervous about the first roll in the dark, pour yourself a Gin &
>Tonic or a Cuba Libre (or both) beforehand, swallow and go to it.
>  Now, where did I leave my Tanqueray bottle?

This is the way of it. 120, 35mm, no matter. SS reels, as long as 
they aren't bent or have funny 'improvements' in the core that 
interfere with just sticking the film in and start to spool it. I've 
helped various people learn the method, and practice it in the light 
first. Get old film (I just have to look in my film fridge) and load 
it 10 times in the light, and as long as you keep at it it will never 
go wrong again.

I have reels that I learnt on in the fifties, and some that I bought 
last year, and they all work fine. The Hewes are nice, but even the 
cheapest ones you can find will do the job if they aren't bent or 
have loose wires.

It's very frustrating learning in the dark. You start screwing up, 
kinking the film and skipping coils. Then you sweat, which doesn't 
help at all. Then you start at the other end of the film until that 
also is a kinked and buckled mess. Now your shots will never be as 
pretty as you envisaged them. So do it in the light with film that 
doesn't mean anything until you have it down perfectly.

I've used plastic at times, but while it works well enough, if you've 
got the experience, SS is more forgiving. SS reels don't care as much 
if you've got moisture on them, or if there are some wetting agent 
deposits on them. If you've got 20+ rolls to do in short order, give 
me SS. If you've got 4 or 6, either will do.

The main thing is: practice first in the light, and the second thing 
is: turn out the light when it's important. :-)

- -- 
    *            Henning J. Wulff
   /|\      Wulff Photography & Design
  |[ ]|
- --
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In reply to: Message from "kyle cassidy" <> ([Leica] SS & 120 and leaving the tank open (shallow leica content))
Message from Marc James Small <> (Re: [Leica] Loading 35mm 36 exposure film)
Message from "Joe Codispoti" <> ([Leica] Loading 35mm 36 exposure film)