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06-20-2012, 05:50 AM   #1
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Tank Developing vs. Film Curl

I'm new to tank developing black and white film at home, although I have to say that I've very pleased with my efforts thus far. I have an "AP" branded plastic tank, but I believe that the same tank is sold under different brands - it's black with a red top and white spools. The only real issue I've experienced relates to loading the film onto the plastic spool. Having experimented a bit, here's what I've found to be the problem:

I have two film cameras - a Spotmatic F and a KX. On both of these cameras, the take-up spool (on the right side of the camera, as you look at the back of the body) winds the film in the opposite direction to the way the film is wound on the spool. If you imagine looking through the bottom of the camera body, the film is wound clockwise around the film cannister and counter-clockwise around the take-up spool. This is significant, because the only time I've experienced an issue with loading the film onto the developing take spool is when I've just taken the film out of the camera. In the dark, I can feel that the end of the film is curling back against itself, making its journey around the developing spool more difficult than it needs to be, causing the film to buckle before the entire film is loaded onto the spool.

So far, the only solution I've found that works is to develop the film several days after removing it from the camera. My theory is that the extended time wound-up in the film canister helps to restore the film's original curl, making it easier to put on the developing tank spool.

Has anyone else experienced this? Any chance the film I'm using (Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100) is especially prone to this, due to the film base used? The other option I've considered is switching to a stainless steel tank/spool. Has anyone who uses stainless steel spools found this to be an issue? I'm not processing a significant volume of film (I'm averaging about a roll a month), so I'm somewhat reluctant to switch for the sake of being able to process a roll the same day the film is done.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts/insights!

06-20-2012, 06:00 AM   #2
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Personally, I have the same Patterson tanks you do and I prefer the plastic spools to the stainless steel ones. I've never really had issue with the film curling too much and I've developed film that's been sitting around for months (and even sometimes years). My feeling is that you've either got old/defective spools or (more likely) you just need to develop proper technique in winding the film onto the spools.
06-20-2012, 06:38 AM   #3
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I would sacrifice a film and practice until you can wind it up into the spools with your eyes closed . . .
06-20-2012, 07:31 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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Funny as I just had this issue with Foma 200 from a Minolta that also does the reverse take up roll thing. The bit of film that has that backwards bend creates extra friction on the reel, making it difficult to get the whole thing ratcheted in. Another approach I thought of while this was happening: cut off a bit more of the leader side of the film, to get rid of the reverse-bent film.

06-20-2012, 10:37 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hilo Quote
I would sacrifice a film and practice until you can wind it up into the spools with your eyes closed . . .
This is the traditional answer, but does not really address the problem the OP is having. I own the AP tank, but have never used it for 35mm. My preference is to use stainless tanks and Hewes reels. The Hewes product is pretty much fool-proof once you get used to it and will even wind evenly when there is a reverse curl.

06-20-2012, 10:44 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I have several cameras with the reverse wind take up spool. If I'm having a difficult time loading because of the reverse bend to the film, I will coil the film up and load from the opposite end which usually won't have the curl. The only drawback with loading from the opposite end is using extra care to prevent getting finger prints on the film where the images are.

I use both plastic & stainless steel reels and they are both a pain with the reverse curl.
06-20-2012, 11:27 AM   #7
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Moved from Pentax Film SLR Discussion.
06-20-2012, 08:59 PM   #8
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Thanks, everyone, for your responses. As fate would have it, I finished another roll today, but it's too late for me to soup it tonight and tomorrow looks like a write-off. So, it'll have to wait until Friday. If I still run into trouble, I'll try Treker's trick of loading the film "backwards" onto the spool. Heck, it can't be any worse than the time I had to try 5 times in the dark, popping the spool open each time to start over. The good news was that I didn't lose any keeper frames to folds in the film, but I don't want to count on lightning striking twice!

06-21-2012, 04:29 AM   #9
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If you try trekers method, cotton gloves will stop the fingerprints.

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