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03-30-2019, 12:58 PM   #1
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Film changing bag (darkroom bag? darkbag?)

I'm looking for recommendations about getting a bag to load film for development. Are they reliable when used properly? For the past three years since I started processing my own film, I've been working in a dark room (bathroom or closed), and while it's fine, I would rather skip the whole setup. For example, I can either wait for it to be dark outside, or play the game of "find the light leak around the door"
I shoot regular 35mm rolls, and develop in a small Paterson tank, one roll at a time, a couple of rolls a month.

---------- Post added 03-30-19 at 04:01 PM ----------

Right after posting this thread, I saw this Lab Box - PentaxForums.com

I am not opposed to it, but I like my paterson tank because I know it works


Last edited by aaacb; 03-31-2019 at 05:44 AM.
03-30-2019, 02:22 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I use a dark bag exclusively, because I don't have a darkroom. At first, the thought of using it to load film on the spiral and put it in the tank (I use a Paterson tank too) was daunting, but it very quickly became easy and I've never had a problem. Here's what I've learned:-

Always have a 'plan B'. If you feel you are going to make a muck of things, have somewhere to safely stow your film so you can withdraw, have a cuppa, settle yourself down, etc... before having another go. The tank will do for this.

I'm told it can get sweaty in there, but I haven't experienced this. Paterson reels won't work with moisture on them and your hands need to be dry.

Remove your wristwatch if it has a luminous dial.

ALWAYS check you have EVERYTHING you need: scissors, thing to open film canister, all the parts of your tank, your reel...

Watch you don't poke a hole in with scissors.

Ensure the zip is zipped and the flap is over the zip.

Shake it out occasionally so you don't get debris attracted to your film prior to loading in the tank.

Just relax and take your time.

---------- Post added 03-30-2019 at 09:25 PM ----------

Meant to say: Mine's a Paterson bag and seems very well made.
03-30-2019, 02:25 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I've been using a dark bag for the last three years and had no problems. Once you get one and see the design you'll realise no light can accidentally get in. The only drawback is on a hot day if you spend too much time getting film on the reel it rapidly becomes a sauna and sweaty hands means sticky film. But with experience you can get it done quickly.
03-30-2019, 03:23 PM - 2 Likes   #4
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I’ve used changing bags on & off for 50 years when between darkrooms, and while I prefer a darkroom, a roomy bag works fine. While I have Paterson & Jobo tanks, I find stainless reels easier and faster, especially for 35mm.

03-31-2019, 08:47 AM   #5
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Hi
I agree with TomB_tx steel reels are by far the easiest to load, I have used them for many years, I still have my Honywell Nikor I bought in the 70's. Having said all that I use the Jobo system, as I use my bathroom basin I do not want to drop a steel tank!

Furthermore I use a V large bag as I load film in it.
03-31-2019, 08:58 AM   #6
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I too have used changing bags in the field working with large format and limited amount of DDS (many years ago!), take some boxes of sheet film and some empty to hold exposed film and once all DDS exposed then offload into empty film boxes and load up fresh film ready to start again - mainly 5x4 but on occassion full plate or 10x8.

They do work well assuming the design and materials good. Most have a double sleeve system so once positioned light should be totally excluded from the bag.

The first one here is the one I am most familiar with

For most of us
Paterson Large Changing Bag PTP 125: Amazon.co.uk: Camera & Photo

For the well off hobbyist
Calumet Film Changing Room + Bag | Wex Photo Video

For the very well healed photographer
Harrison Film Changing Tents Archives Camera Essentials
03-31-2019, 10:22 AM   #7
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Used small film changing tents sometimes come up for sale at reasonable cost on eBay.
The one I bought is roomy and more comfortable to use than a conventional changing bag.

Chris
03-31-2019, 02:35 PM   #8
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I can vouch for the Calumet bags -- used one for 20+ years loading/unloading 4x5 film. I still have it in the closet somewhere. You need a little bit of practice folding it up and down but it's built well and does the job -- I used it everywhere including in tents on backpacking trips. As Chris above mentions the tents are a lot easier to use and a lot cleaner for your film than the changing bags that remain flat.

Best of luck and have fun!

03-31-2019, 04:21 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Original Poster
Thanks all for your input and suggestions, I think just for ease of mind I'll get a dark bag.

---------- Post added 03-31-19 at 07:23 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Russell W. Barnes Quote
ALWAYS check you have EVERYTHING you need: scissors, thing to open film canister, all the parts of your tank, your reel...
Good advice, but I'd venture to guess that at least stuff doesn't get lost... While loading film today, I dropped the small scissors that I use to cut the film while loading the spiral. And because I couldn't find it in the dark, I used my teeth to cut the spool away
04-01-2019, 03:15 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by aaacb Quote
Good advice, but I'd venture to guess that at least stuff doesn't get lost... While loading film today, I dropped the small scissors that I use to cut the film while loading the spiral. And because I couldn't find it in the dark, I used my teeth to cut the spool away
This is true. I've had two 'near misses' with my dark bag. The first time I had spooled a 35mm onto the spiral when I spied my scissors OUTSIDE the bag on the table. I managed to tear the end off the film spool. Phew!

The last incident was when I tried to load two 120 films onto the same spiral - a hit-and-miss process in any case. I decided, in this instance, it wasn't going to work (I grasp the film lightly across the diameter and rotate the spool so the film hits the end-stop, then load another 120 film the same way), so I carefully wound the second film into the light-tight canister I'd put in the bag, and for some reason, I withdrew my arms and was about to open the zip to remove this film! At this point I asked myself what the hell I was doing, as the first film was still on the spiral in the bag, but not in the tank.

I folded the bag over the spiral, stuck my arms back in and loaded the spiral into the tank. I then developed it resignedly, fearing the worst. It came out perfect and I couldn't believe my luck! Sheer fluke must've prevented light entering the arm-holes and impinging on the un-loaded spiral.
04-02-2019, 03:43 PM   #11
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It costs more but the Photoflex Changing Room is nice. It folds out into a volume and holds its shape. Then folds backup much like a collapsible reflector. I use it for loading sheet film on trips.
04-03-2019, 06:48 PM   #12
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I use a standard 4x5-size changing bag for film tank loading and it's been working great for 20 years or so. Since I use stainless steel Nikor reels, it's no factor if my hands start to perspire a little. These bags are great for travel since they fold up nicely for packing, but they also come in handy in the rare instance (these days anyway) if loading infrared film on location into a camera where total darkness might be required.
04-04-2019, 08:05 AM   #13
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A bag big enough to have a camera inside is a plus. Last week I used a Pentax reloadable cassette in a Leica M5, which has the rewind crank on the bottom (as do the Minolta CLE and Zeiss Ikon ZM). That means the crank drives the bottom of the film spool. But the Pentax cassette (at least this one) didn't have a cross-web in that end of the spool for the rewind to engage, so the crank just spun freely.
So I put the camera in my changing bag, removed the bottom cover, and used my fingertips to rotate the cassette spool while urging the film across the rails through the open back flap on the Leica. Wore out my fingertips, but got it rewound, and the film turned out fine.
04-08-2019, 02:57 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by aaacb Quote
I'm looking for recommendations about getting a bag to load film for development. Are they reliable when used properly? For the past three years since I started processing my own film, I've been working in a dark room (bathroom or closed), and while it's fine, I would rather skip the whole setup. For example, I can either wait for it to be dark outside, or play the game of "find the light leak around the door"
I shoot regular 35mm rolls, and develop in a small Paterson tank, one roll at a time, a couple of rolls a month.

---------- Post added 03-30-19 at 04:01 PM ----------

Right after posting this thread, I saw this Lab Box - PentaxForums.com

I am not opposed to it, but I like my paterson tank because I know it works
Either is fine for 35mm but loading 120 into the reel inside of the bag is a night mare , so much so that I am going to order MEGA Universal Adjustable Reels. But 35mm is no problem.
04-08-2019, 05:10 AM   #15
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I’ve found loading 120 onto Hewes stainless reels is quite easy in a changing bag, although Jobo or Paterson type plastic are simpler.
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