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10-27-2012, 02:45 PM   #1
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germar's Avatar

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120 film dev reel loading techniques?

I am considering doing some black and white developing of 120mm and I am "relearning" the technique of loading film on Patterson style plastic reels. I have watched a couple of videos on YouTube showing the process, and a couple of the examples show the user peeling away the paper backing and allowing the exposed film to loosely curl in his open fingers. The demonstrator seem to have no problems grabbing and handling the film to keep it curled up. I was taught a very long time ago that touching the film (except edgewise) was a bad idea because skin oils could contaminate the emulsion. Is this not the case? Is it something that isn't a worry as long as you don't mash your thumbprint down on the film?

Also, one tutorial video shows the user pulling off the 120 paper backing and simply folding the masking tape over the edge of the film and loading it on the reel. Will having that adhesive tape in the developing tank contaminate the developer? Or does it NOT matter?

The last time I loaded a reel was 1983 when I was in college. My recent dabbling with a 645 wants me to try it again! Thanks for any advice.

10-27-2012, 03:10 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by germar Quote
allowing the exposed film to loosely curl in his open fingers.
It should naturally curl emulsion in.

QuoteOriginally posted by germar Quote
simply folding the masking tape over the edge...contaminate the developer?
I've on and off done that with no issues for Kodak or Fuji films.
10-27-2012, 03:11 PM   #3
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I always liked the Patterson reels better than the Nikkor- much less chance of dimples. The key to Patterson reels is they must be absolutely dry. I always would take all tape off- it won't hurt the developer but may leave residue. Then walk the film in- it's ok to touch the base, and once you get it started it works well. Practice in the light on a dummy roll first.
10-27-2012, 03:22 PM   #4

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I just went through the learning process too. Tough job.
MysteryOnion and Nesster gave some good advice.
I have lost a bit of dexterity in left hand so in the end I adapted a jig to hold the roll accurately in position square and in line with the plastic spiral.
Using that I can get it ready in the light and not touch the film in the dark. The paper just falls away.

10-27-2012, 05:53 PM   #5

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Wash your hands before handling the film. It helps a lot.

If you have a curtain rod in a bathroom you can seal up from light, that makes for an easy method to get the backing off the film. While the roll is in your hand, unroll it enough to just feel the end of the film. Tear off that much paper ( all in the dark, of course).

Clip the end of the film to a clip on the curtain rod. Pull down vertically to unroll the film while pulling the backing away from the film. When you reach the end, remove the tape and let the backing drop the the floor. While only touching the edges of the film, roll it back up. It's going to want to do that on its own so don't let go so you can control the rewind. It's pretty easy and simple. With freshly washed hands, incidental contact of the film's surface should not leave much in the way of oily fingerprints.

Last edited by tuco; 11-01-2012 at 10:45 PM.
11-01-2012, 01:41 PM   #6

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I used Patterson type spirals for 120 film. As tuco said, wash your hands with soapy stuff and let it dry completely. Then some finger contact even on the emulsion side should not cause problems. I lifted the backing papers from the leading edge and started to push the film only into the grooves, loading directly from the film spool. Make sure that the emulsion side faces inwards so that the spiral goes with natural curl. The backing paper will peel of and form a little roll on top. So I do not remove the backing paper before. The roll then becomes an infuriating roll of springy, curly stuff. Cannot see the backing paper doing anything but mischief in the developer tank

Takes me back! In a good way

01-15-2013, 06:50 PM   #7
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I've just started developing 120 myself. The tape on the very end, I just rip off. I then trim the corners so they don't catch moving around the reel. I've not seen any problems with leaving the tape on during development..

I find it much easier to just push the film onto the reel, instead of ratcheting it on. Just grab the edges and slowly push. Then you don't have to fumble around trying to ratchet and hold the film at the same time. The very last few inches of film I do have to ratchet a bit.

Have fun!

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