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Thread: 4x5 Film Loading. Handling film surfaces, and loading technique? Need your expertise.

  1. #1

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    4x5 Film Loading. Handling film surfaces, and loading technique? Need your expertise.

    I am a little bit confused when it comes to loading 4x5 film. I have been trying to load film by pinching the upper right hand corner of the film edges (not touching the emulsion or the backing face of the film). This relies on using the notch to get sufficient grip of the film, and totally avoids contact on either faces of the film. However this appeared to be somewhat clumsy, and a bit frustrating so I set out to research how other people load film. However, to my surprise, a lot of people appear to touch both surfaces of the film (emulsion and/or the backing surface) when loading. I am quite confused now on whether this is or is not appropriate?

    1. What is the correct way to handle a film while loading?

    2. Which surfaces are safe to touch?

    3. What is your method of loading film?

  2. #2

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    Re: 4x5 Film Loading. Handling film surfaces, and loading technique? Need your expert

    I only try to touch the edges of the film but I wear gloves just in case, I don't think there is a problem with touching the emulsion as long as you don't have sweaty hands

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    Re: 4x5 Film Loading. Handling film surfaces, and loading technique? Need your expert

    I wash my hands with soap prior to handling, and then try to be careful and avoid the emulsion as much as possible. It's not completely possible for my inherent clumsiness.

    That said, I have NEVER seen an artifact (fingerprint) on a negative that I can attribute to clumsiness. Even if I'm sweaty.
    Bruce Barlow
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    Re: 4x5 Film Loading. Handling film surfaces, and loading technique? Need your expert

    Quote Originally Posted by l2oBiN View Post
    1. What is the correct way to handle a film while loading?

    2. Which surfaces are safe to touch?

    3. What is your method of loading film?
    Ideally, you should only touch the edges. This is clumsey, and it's almost inevitable that you will touch the edge of the frame briefly. Just make sure that you hands are clean and dry. With practice you do get better.

    Wearing latex gloves will protect the film from your fingers, but will also interfere with your ability to feel and manipulate the film.

    My approach is to handle the stack of film to locate the notch. Then, with the holder on the table in front of me, I use my right forefinger to open the flap while touching the holder at the end of the metal strips that hold the film in place. That enables me to use the thumb and middle finger of the right hand to guide the sheet of film to the slots under those metal strips.

    After sliding the film into the holder, I use a fingernail to flick the end of the sheet while feeling the end to see if it feels right. If the film is inserted properly, I can sense that it is restrained by those metal strips on both sides. But if the film has slipped over one of the strips (instead of under it), that side of the film will 'flip out' further indicating that I need to take the film out and repeat the insertion process.

  5. #5

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    Re: 4x5 Film Loading. Handling film surfaces, and loading technique? Need your expert

    Wash hands, dry them, touch as little as possible- I pinch the area of the film that is the last part to go into the holder between my thumb and middle finger to get a good grip and make the process less clumsy- never seen a fingerprint on a final piece of film related to doing this. When loading the holder, if there is the least bit of resistance, something is wrong- start the loading process over.

  6. #6
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    Re: 4x5 Film Loading. Handling film surfaces, and loading technique? Need your expert

    I wash my hands first and then it doesn't seem to matter if I touch the emulsion. The only time I have gotten fingerprints from touching the emulsion was when I used a changing bag and my hands were all sweaty.
    Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do.
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    Re: 4x5 Film Loading. Handling film surfaces, and loading technique? Need your expert

    l2oBiN, I wash my hands first and than spash alcohol on both hands and let air dry. No sweat or oil to worry about. Never had a problem.

  8. #8
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    Re: 4x5 Film Loading. Handling film surfaces, and loading technique? Need your expert

    My method of loading sheet film:

    Wash and dry hands completely.

    Load on a clean dry surface in total darkness.

    Grasp the film firmly by the notched corner, between the right thumb and forefinger, throughout the entire procedure.

    Moisture, light, and dust are your enemies.

  9. #9

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    Re: 4x5 Film Loading. Handling film surfaces, and loading technique? Need your expert

    I always assumed fat (fingerprints) and the alkalinity of the developer would take care of each other if the oils weren't too excess. Never had a fingerprint on a developed negative, but I do wash my hands first.

    Dust is another issue.

    bob

  10. #10

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    Re: 4x5 Film Loading. Handling film surfaces, and loading technique? Need your expert

    There is absolutely no problem touching the back of the film. With a couple of fingers on the back side and one along each edge you should be able to get a reasonable grip. Also remember that the edge along the notches is typically covered for a couple of millimeters by the film holder so you can get your fingers on that without issue as well.

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