View Full Version : marking film holders

Robert Skeoch
5-Oct-2004, 19:38
I'm looking for a way to mark my holders so I can keep track of which negative came out of what holder. Years ago I think I had a couple of holders with notches in them along the flip-up bottom portion. I guess I could use a small saw and notch my holders like that but maybe somesome has a better meathod for matching up the negatives and what holder number they came from?

Rick Heitman
5-Oct-2004, 20:51
Thats the best way I know of. I used a very fine file and grooved 8 backs all in a different location, then permenetly numbered each back and then took a sheet of film, lyeyed it in the holder and marked each groove of each back with its #. Now I know where every tranny comes from which back

Brent Doerzman
5-Oct-2004, 22:16
I went with the notched film holder idea. I learned about it in school years ago, and it's worked great. I notched the 10 holders I had in school, and after years of acquiring new ones and telling myself to notch them all, I finally did, and it's made life a lot easier.

Originally I used a triangular file to make the notches. That was fine for 10 holders back then, but I now have approx. 75 holders, and the filing was taking WAY too long. So, I actually used a small drill bit on a drill press, not drilling straight down, but keeping the bit in one position, and moving the holder in and out to carve out the notch. Worked pretty good, and went a lot faster. Did all 75 in about an hour.

I can totally understand why some people wouldn't like to mess with there holders like this, and I can see how you could easily slip and ruin one. As you can see by the images I posted below, there is no light leak in past the notches, as long as you don't carve too far. I've been lucky in that not a single one of mine has had a problem. My method is this: notches for 10's on the left, 5's in the middle, and 1's on the right. So, 3 notches on the left, 1 in the middle, an 2 on the right is the #37. See this page for a few images to illustrate this better I hope:


Notched Holders (http://www.doerzmanphoto.com/film_holders.html )

Now, the way I usually shoot is to take two sheets (more if the shot warrants it, or the light is changing rapidly) of each shot, record the holder number and info (shutter, f/stop, lens, filters etc, etc) on my little digital voice recorder. When back home or in camp at night, I transcribe my notes to paper. Then I download one sheet from every setup into the same box (unless there are any pushes or pulls) and have the lab run them normal. When I get them back, I know exactly which sheet is which, and can judge how to run the remaining sheet from each setup if any adjustments in exposure are needed. I used to have to download into lots of separate boxes, and that is a real pain.

I will admit the only problem I have with this method though. When shooting an image that is very dark or black on the edge with the notches in it, it is very hard or next to impossible to see the markings on the film, so that can make for guess work. The way I've gotten around that is that with my notes and memory of what order I shot them in, I'm able to narrow it down, and it all works out.

Of course, Readyloads and Quickloads are great ways for easy organization, but they are a lot more expensive I'm afraid. I use them when backpacking, but stick to the holder most other times.

Best of luck, and I hope I didn't ramble too much :) Take care!!

Ed Pierce
7-Oct-2004, 06:57
A small set of jewelers files, of various shapes, also works well. My system is half-circles=10's, triangles=5's, skinny rectangles=1's. I use the Roman numeral system. Be sure to scrape any loose stuff off and smooth it well with sandpaper.

Keith Pitman
9-Oct-2004, 00:22
Ralph Lambrecht has a very nifty binary system in his book "Way Beyond Monochrome." It's too complicated to outline completely here, but he uses a space for each number 1,2,4,8,16, and then a combination of notches in the margin of the light trap to signify the holder number. With these numbers you can get to 24 holders (8 + 16 + 24). If you have more holders, add more spaces: 32, 64, etc. It works very well.

13-Oct-2005, 20:39

With only 6 notches you can mark as many as 63 holders.
^^^^^^ = 1 + 2 + 4+ 8+16 + 32


Ed Richards
13-Oct-2005, 22:08
Once the film is out of the readyload and in the soup, I do not know how to relate it back to the annotated readyload envelope. Any tips?

Leigh Perry
13-Oct-2005, 22:12
64, if you start numbering at 0.

14-Oct-2005, 06:29
Leigh 64, if you start numbering at 0.

LOL! Be carefull. Someone might actually use it that way. Oy, who wants to file 63 film holders anyway?

Struan Gray
14-Oct-2005, 06:49
One other advantage of starting numbering from zero is that Fidelity and Lisco holders come ready-notched. Thoughtful of them, no?

John Cook
14-Oct-2005, 08:10
Notching holders is certainly a time-tested common solution. Just be careful you donít file too deeply. The more anal among us file notches only on the inside rail of the bottom flap.

Riteway holders, of course, are supplied with round numbered acetate disks on the bottom flap which can be rotated to imprint a negative number on the edge of the film.

Similarly, you can make your own numbered acetate tabs from lith film or from blank acetate sheet stock run through a photocopier. Or with a ruling pen and India ink on old cleared film stock. Some film holders have a square recess in the inside bottom flap where these little tabs can be glued.

A color lab tech I once worked with in Hollywood, had a very high-quality chrome plated diamond-shaped paper punch, designed to punch theater tickets. He used it to make notches (in the dark) along the edge of the transparencies to identify them with the numbered holders, as he unloaded them.

Single notches along the long film side each counted as One. Notches along the bottom each counted as Five. A transparency with two notches each along the side and bottom was from holder number twelve. One side notch and three bottom notches meant holder sixteen.

Just to round out all of my personal experiences, medical supply houses sell tiny rolls of pre-printed numbered and/or dated waterproof self-adhesive tape which can be used in various ways to identify hospital xray films and envelopes. These would also be useful on holders. A medical web-search might turn up something.

All sorts of useful stuff out there, sometimes in the darndest places!

14-Oct-2005, 10:20
Thank you very much for all of your responses. I feel like a child again, I'll be able to tell
them apart!!!
Thanks to all ...