PDA

View Full Version : Loading film holders...



jpoutasse
19-Jan-2015, 10:38
I finally have a nice collection of 4x5 film holders and am wondering do you load all your holders with film just in case or on an as needed basis?

Thanks

StoneNYC
19-Jan-2015, 10:43
How much do you shoot? I load all my holders but I shoot often. If you won't exhaust the holders in a 2-3 month span, then don't load them all (and why do you have so many that you can't use them all in that time frame?) if you won't last a week or even a few days before running through them all, then yes, keep them all loaded. Keep good notes, don't end up out there and take pictures only to discover when you get home that you didn't have any film in the holders (yes many of us have done that) so just be methodical whatever you do.

ic-racer
19-Jan-2015, 10:52
I usually load up some holders just prior to going out. I don't like film sitting around in filmholders. To avoid mistakes, only let the white marker on the darkslide show when there is unexposed film in the slot and only put white darkslides in the camera.

StoneNYC
19-Jan-2015, 11:19
I usually load up some holders just prior to going out. I don't like film sitting around in filmholders. To avoid mistakes, only let the white marker on the darkslide show when there is unexposed film in the slot and only put white darkslides in the camera.

Or whatever side color you shoot to use for "exposed" vs "unexposed", I happen to do it backward, because I like the big black words I wrote on the white background reminding me "EXPOSED!!!" traditionally it's the other way around, but I found that white = light, so white should be exposed film and black = absence of light, so black should be the unexposed side, again your methods might be different, just find a system and don't vary from it.

Heroique
19-Jan-2015, 11:26
I think the more likely you are to make spontaneous trips into the neighborhood, the better it is to keep 2 or 3 holders loaded and ready to go.

In Seattle, for example, I've often awakened to light snow cover – which melts by 9 or 10 a.m. Very photogenic on the evergreen branches – but short-lived.

Since every second counts, having pre-loaded holders waiting in a pre-packed pack helps a lot.

John Kasaian
19-Jan-2015, 11:32
I like to keep a few (3) loaded holders at the ready. Most are either empty waiting to be loaded with the emulsion best suited to the next project, or are already loaded with exposed film waiting for me to get off my l@zy @ss and develop the the film.

jpoutasse
19-Jan-2015, 11:48
Thanks All!

Looks like the consensus is to have just a few loaded and ready.

I am new to 4x5 and am getting ready to load up and shoot my first film in my "new to me" camera. I have 15 holders but only because I won a group of 12 really cheaply at auction.

I appreciate the tips on keeping notes and marking the holders as well. I always tell my digital photography students to carry a notebook in their camera bag and keep notes.

I agree Heroigue, light (and melting snow) happens quickly so best to be prepared.

Jackie

SergeiR
19-Jan-2015, 12:00
I shoot a lot , but in bursts. So most of time all my holders, be it 4x5 or 8x10 are fully loaded, because i never know when someone interesting would come to visit or inspiration hits me like a shovel.. That typically leaves me with 20-40 sheets of each film ready to roll. I also always trying to keep 2-3 holders with color film , for very same reason.

BrianShaw
19-Jan-2015, 12:07
Please ask a follow-up question: how does everyone store their loaded film holders?

I load before shooting (and have the opposite color logic as Stone - ha ha) but often end up with a couple loaded but unexposed. I don't refrigerate or freeze film holders.

Jerry Bodine
19-Jan-2015, 12:28
Since you acquired your holders at auction and have not checked each one for light leaks, it'd be a good idea to label each holder with an identifying number and keep good notes regarding which exposures are made in which holder. Then if a holder leaks you'll have some way of determining which holder is problematic. Some folks use a system of notching the hinge flap with a code that shows on the developed film, leaving no doubt as to which holder caused a problem - different systems by different folks. As a beginner, though, you will hopefully not experience problems that ruin a once-in-a-lifetime shot before you can decide on a system you prefer.

John Kasaian
19-Jan-2015, 12:48
Since you acquired your holders at auction and have not checked each one for light leaks, it'd be a good idea to label each holder with an identifying number and keep good notes regarding which exposures are made in which holder. Then if a holder leaks you'll have some way of determining which holder is problematic. Some folks use a system of notching the hinge flap with a code that shows on the developed film, leaving no doubt as to which holder caused a problem - different systems by different folks. As a beginner, though, you will hopefully not experience problems that ruin a once-in-a-lifetime shot before you can decide on a system you prefer.
By all mean test with printing paper first!

StoneNYC
19-Jan-2015, 12:50
Since you acquired your holders at auction and have not checked each one for light leaks, it'd be a good idea to label each holder with an identifying number and keep good notes regarding which exposures are made in which holder. Then if a holder leaks you'll have some way of determining which holder is problematic. Some folks use a system of notching the hinge flap with a code that shows on the developed film, leaving no doubt as to which holder caused a problem - different systems by different folks. As a beginner, though, you will hopefully not experience problems that ruin a once-in-a-lifetime shot before you can decide on a system you prefer.

This is a VERY good point, on a bright sunny day I recently discovered that 3 of my 8x10 fidelity holders had leaks, they have color and IR film.

This means upwards of $20/image wasted.... Keep notes and test them all before taking a money shot!

John Kasaian
19-Jan-2015, 12:51
Please ask a follow-up question: how does everyone store their loaded film holders?

I load before shooting (and have the opposite color logic as Stone - ha ha) but often end up with a couple loaded but unexposed. I don't refrigerate or freeze film holders.
I don't refrigerate loaded holders, I just store them in a cool, dark place and in zip lock plastic bags. An empty Igloo or Coleman cooler works fine ( no ice, of course!)

Doremus Scudder
19-Jan-2015, 13:00
I have 50 filmholders in my U.S. stash, 25 or so in my European home. I keep them all loaded as much as possible. After I develop, and after the film has dried and is stored in negative files, I reload all the empty holders. Each holder goes into its own quart/liter size Ziploc bag, and is ready to go. Storing film in holders has never been a problem for me.

I usually carry six holders in my field gear (12 exposures a day is a lot for me, I rarely shot them all); in a camera backpack in Europe, film pouch in the U.S., ready to go, the rest are stored and waiting to be used. As I shoot, I cycle out the exposed holders and save them till I get at least six before developing/reloading. On road trips or when shooting away from home, I'll often shoot through the entire batch (I've shot twice and then some through my 50 holders on SW trips), unload the exposed film into boxes and reload on the road, bringing exposed film in boxes and many sheets exposed and still loaded in holders back with me to develop.

I divide my time between the U.S. and Europe, and holders can sit for six months to a year or more before being used. No problem as long as the holders are stored in a cool place. In the U.S., I store holders (except for the six that are in my field kit) in a large cooler. This lives in my car when on the road, or in a cool closet in the house when not. In Europe, six unexposed holders live in the backpack, the rest in stacks on a shelf in my "photo closet." I have never refrigerated or frozen loaded holders. They aren't sealed and that would just be asking for trouble. I store them in a cool (room temperature), dry place.

I have all my holders numbered and notched (so the number imprints on the edge of the negative) and shoot through them in numerical order, which is always in the order loaded, so the film is used from oldest to newest, keeping everything as fresh as possible. I also prevents having negatives with the same holder number near each other in my filing system and thus helps avoid confusion.

I can't really imagine just loading up a few holders every time I feel like going out with the camera... I like having everything ready to go so I can leave at a moment's notice; when I have a day off, or when the light is right or whatever.

Best,

Doremus

Drew Bedo
19-Jan-2015, 13:16
I load on an as-needed basis. for me, "as-needed" means that I load up the night before going out to shoot. When on vacation, that means every night after supper. My 4x5 outfit is stored in a closet packed ready-to-go, in a shoulder bag.

jpoutasse
19-Jan-2015, 13:34
Doremus, I would love to see a photo of how you notch your holders.

john7406
19-Jan-2015, 13:46
I mostly use 4x5 Velvia, which comes in 2 packages of 10 sheets. So I normally load/unload in increments of 5 holders. I tend to shoot in bursts, with long intervals in between. So before I go out, I unload and then re-load 5 or 10 holders (depending on how ambitious I am). I just don't like the idea of having virgin film anywhere but in a holder (or its original box). Holders are stored in 1-quart zip-log bags. I have an RPT wallet that can store six holders in individual zippered compartments - that's what goes in my backpack. Additional holders are stored in old Gnass lens boxes. I'm a fairly frugal shooter, so I've never made more than 12 exposures on a single outing (though I often go out more than once a day).

I have 15 holders and each one is numbered (on the outside). I have a spreadsheet, which I print and keep in my notebook. The spreadsheet lists what's in each holder and whether or not it's been exposed. When I photograph something, I make a note in the notebook and (among other things) I write down which holder(s) I used. I also put a small post-it note on the holder ("X" or "UX") indicating if it's been exposed. I do this because many of the holders are so worn that it's hard tell the "light" and "dark" slide tabs apart.

In the winter I shoot more B&W film, so some holders contain Velvia and others contain FP4. That's when the spreadsheet really comes in handy :-)

The one disadvantage to this is that I wait until I have 10 or 20 exposed sheets before I send them off to be developed. That's the other reason why I use the notebook - it helps me remember the details of each scene I photograph.

So, I have 3 levels of redundancy - the spreadsheet, the notebook and the post-it notes. Call me anal, but I've never had a screw-up. I've done lots of other dumb things instead (like open a box of exposed film thinking that it had already been developed).

scheinfluger_77
19-Jan-2015, 14:30
I stupidly did this once (with ice). Lost over 30 sheets of a hike up Sakajawia peak in Montana and Zion National Park. Was I sad. Oh, and I keep the holders loaded at all times and stored cool, dark, and dry as possible--no refrigeration of the loaded holders.


I don't refrigerate loaded holders, I just store them in a cool, dark place and in zip lock plastic bags. An empty Igloo or Coleman cooler works fine ( no ice, of course!)

Jerry Bodine
19-Jan-2015, 16:48
Here is a link (http://www.jbhphoto.com/articles/filmno/filmholder1.htm) to notching film holders - very well illustrated.

Jmarmck
19-Jan-2015, 17:37
I always have some B&W and color loaded. Like John7406 I will load 10 Velvia sheets, 5 holders. I use the same stradigity with B&W. But I always leave at least 6 holders empty so I can do a special load if needed. I made every effort on my lasted trip to keep at least 6 holders available for on demand. Despire that I did find myself at odds with a lack of empty holders.

I keep unloaded holders in a clean space with the dark slide slightly pulled so I know for a fact that it is empty. If a holder does not have the dark slide pulled then it contains film. Hopefully stupidity did not prevent the correct exposure indication side from being correct. I have a code that I use penciled on each holder as to emulsion type. I too may endeavor to notch my holders. I think I have one out of 45 that is leaking.

Stone, while reading up on loading holders I came across a comment by who I think was AA. He said that while reversing the use of light vs dark side of the slide is a personal selection it has an impact on those around you when you are shooting. What may mean fresh to you may mean exposed to another. So if you are with another LFer be sure they are aware that your system is not the standard.

StoneNYC
19-Jan-2015, 22:13
I always have some B&W and color loaded. Like John7406 I will load 10 Velvia sheets, 5 holders. I use the same stradigity with B&W. But I always leave at least 6 holders empty so I can do a special load if needed. I made every effort on my lasted trip to keep at least 6 holders available for on demand. Despire that I did find myself at odds with a lack of empty holders.

I keep unloaded holders in a clean space with the dark slide slightly pulled so I know for a fact that it is empty. If a holder does not have the dark slide pulled then it contains film. Hopefully stupidity did not prevent the correct exposure indication side from being correct. I have a code that I use penciled on each holder as to emulsion type. I too may endeavor to notch my holders. I think I have one out of 45 that is leaking.

Stone, while reading up on loading holders I came across a comment by who I think was AA. He said that while reversing the use of light vs dark side of the slide is a personal selection it has an impact on those around you when you are shooting. What may mean fresh to you may mean exposed to another. So if you are with another LFer be sure they are aware that your system is not the standard.

Thanks, good point, however I physically have written and big black sharpie "EXPOSED" so it's fairly obvious, which is why I decided this system in the first place. But I'll keep that in mind, it's really hard to find someone in general that's a LF shooter, let alone one that would come out with me here in CT it's fairly sparse on the LF end of things.

128313

Cor
20-Jan-2015, 02:16
I keep a couple of holders loaded with the various films I use, all the time. At least enough for a short outing. Main reason is that I keep most of my film stock frozen at -20degC, so it takes considerable time to warm up so the package can be opened without the film getting moist and thus ruined.

I see no harm in storing film in keeping a holder in a dry cool place, after all film holders are supposed to keep the light out, right ?

I use different film types, depending on the occasion (FP+, HP5+, Foma100 and MACO IR)

I apply the following routine:

Empty holder, used, no film: black side tab out.

Cleaned holder, ready to load: white out.

Loaded holder, with film: white side out, coloured round sticker with film type written on it (colour is related to the film) as well as the date.

Exposed holder: black side out, sticker.

Processing film: remove film, process. remove sticker, keep tab on black, back to square one..

hope this is of some help


Best,

Cor

Drew Bedo
20-Jan-2015, 07:09
A lot of good suggestions here.

I really like the idea of notching the film holders to code each sheet of film! The concept is simple and direct.

Liquid Artist
20-Jan-2015, 11:52
With 4x5 I prefer bringing along 1 or 2 with color film, 3 or 4 holders with ISO 400 B&W film and up to 6 holders with ISO 100 B&W film. Depending upon my trek.

To tell them apart I had a rubber stamp made up that allows me to note the film. Exp date, date and location of shot plus filters exposure and special conditions. All on a 2"x2" post it note.
I also store them in zip locks.

It works for me.

Oh, as for the dark slide.
I used to have it reversed, and prefer it that way. However I have switched over, basically just in case I go out with someone else and have to switch trade or borrow (loan) them back and forth.

Doremus Scudder
20-Jan-2015, 12:48
Doremus, I would love to see a photo of how you notch your holders.

Sorry, I don't have a photo handy, but my system is easy to describe. In essence, the notching is done exactly as shown in the link Jerry Bodine posted (post #19), but the numbering system is a bit different.

I use a modified Roman numeral system. A small half-round notch is 1 (use a small round file), A "V" shaped notch is 5 (use a "V" shaped file and don't file too deep), a small rectangular notch is 10 (use a square file and file just a bit in), a slender, vertical notch is 50 (as close to the "L" in Roman numerals as I could practically come, I use a knife file and just make a small slot), and a larger, half-round notch is 100 (like a "C" on its back, made using a larger round file).

If I use a period (.) for a small half-round notch representing 1, a small "v" for the notch representing 5, an underscore for the rectangular notch representing 10, a small "l" for the slim vertical notch representing 50, and a capital "O" for the hundred notch, then some examples would be as follows:

.v = 4
v.. = 7
._ = 9
_ _ _ v... = 38
_ l .v = 44
l _ v... = 68
_ O . _ = 99


etc., etc. I think this system results in having to file fewer notches than the one shown in the link referred to. I file notches with files similar to those shown in the link into one side of the filmholder flap (then you can always start counting at the outside edge), being careful not to go too deep (especially with the "l" for 50; I once filed too deep and got a small light leak that needed to be repaired...). Be aware that the notches will show up backwards on your film when viewing the image correctly. That means you'll have to learn to read the numeric code from right to left, as I do. I guess you could file them backwards originally and have them show up "normally" on the negative, but I've never had any problem.

Hope this helps,

Doremus

jpoutasse
21-Jan-2015, 05:12
Thanks for all the great information and tips!

steveo
22-Jan-2015, 05:21
I just write in pencil what film is in each holder after I finish loading a bunch. I usually only have 1 or 2 emulsions in stock at a given time and I've yet to venture into colour so this works well enough so far. Empty holders are stored with the slide slightly ajar, loaded have white tab out and emulsion penciled on the white notes area, exposed have the black tab facing and location/notes added to the notes area.

Oren Grad
22-Jan-2015, 20:58
For the formats I'm currently actively using I keep a stack of holders loaded at all times, both so that I can head out on the spur of the moment, and because I've settled on an efficient workflow in the darkroom where I mix the chemistry and set up the Jobo first, and while the temperature is equilibrating I load the drum and reload the holders. So by the end of the session I have finished negatives hung up to dry plus reloaded holders, ready to go.

Randy Moe
22-Jan-2015, 21:19
Lot's of great responses. I need a better system. I am going to follow Cor's system, think real hard about notching like Doremus and attempt to keep a spreadsheet like John.

My very bad system is failing me all the time. I forget, I rely only on memory, one of my consistent flaws is I rely on memory too much.

I often end up checking OE film notches...

Jmarmck
22-Jan-2015, 21:28
I'm guilty of that too.

>_____)_____)_____]
>
>___________)_____)
>___________)

Oren Grad
22-Jan-2015, 22:05
I should add, I'm almost entirely standardized on HP5 Plus in all sheet film sizes, so I usually don't have to worry about keeping track of holders loaded with different emulsions. Also, each side of each of my holders is numbered, and I jot down brief notes in the field to keep track of subject, lens, and exposure for each sheet. I've been fortunate in that I can't recall ever having a problem with a holder, but if something came up it would be easy to match the developed negative to the holder and side that was used.

Kirk Gittings
22-Jan-2015, 23:09
I hate loading film so I load up all the holders I have-wrap them in groups of 6 holders with saran wrap and keep them in a small fridge in my darkroom. If I think there is great light someplace I have been wanting to shoot they are ready and waiting for me so I can throw the gear in the truck and take off in a moments notice. There is nothing wrong with leaving film in the holders if you keep them clean and cool.

fishbulb
23-Jan-2015, 11:55
For what it's worth, here is my film holder process:

I just write in pencil on the white strip on the film holder (not on the dark slide). Each side also has a roman numeral in case I need to reference it for further notes.

When I load the film, I write the film type of film, or just ISO if that's all that is needed to differentiate them. For example, just '100', '125', '400' if I only have Ilford B&W films.

After each exposure I write the subject, aperture, shutter speed on the film holder. That way I know what side of what holder had what image, so if there are light leaks etc. I know what holder it was.

After the film is developed, I can safely erase the notes on the film holder (assuming no light leaks etc.), or transfer the notes to a spreadsheet, notebook, etc. as needed.

* If the film holder still has notes on it, I know there is exposed film in it. (the position of the dark slide will also tell this)
* If the film holder has no notes but has an ISO number, I know it's unexposed film.
* If the film holder has no ISO number and no notes, it's empty.

I use Fidelity Elite holders and haven't had any issues with the pencil marks coming off... so far. If anything it requires quite a bit of erasing to fully remove them. I keep them in individual quart ziplock bags except when in use. I don't refrigerate or freeze them. When both sides have been exposed, I flip them upside down (dark slide handles pointed down, still in ziplocks) in my camera bag so that I can quickly see how many unexposed holders I have left, and so that I don't accidentally draw an exposed holder out from the stack and put it in the camera.

appletree
28-Jan-2015, 19:46
Interesting information. Thanks all.

For my MF and 35mm, I started taking notes about 6+ months ago. It helps to know f-stop, shutter speeds, filters used, etc. Although I tend to bracket sometimes and it can make it difficult as sometimes when scanning then uploading to lightroom it shuffles the images, so it takes a few minutes to sort.

Looks like people honestly use any holders they can get their hands on. And mainly because one will own so many. I love the idea of having some empty and some loaded ready to go. When traveling I expected to carry 6 or so and then load each night in a hostel using a Harrison pup changing tent.

I am going to research using paper to test the holders. Although I can imagine how it works and what a smart idea. I decided buying Chamonix holders is money I could use for a lot of other gear/film, and keep my eyes peeled for Toyo holders. Although I will probably get some when I find a decent deal otherwise go with Fidelity, etc.

Anywho, thanks for the information and experiences. Helpful to get a system from the get-go and limit the "steepness" of my learning curve.

Jmarmck
28-Jan-2015, 20:03
I prefer the older Riteways. Just seem better built but there is probably little difference. You can get them ranging from $4 each to $10 dollars. They seems to be getting cheaper too.
There is enough around that you can afford to be somewhat picky too.

I agree. Do not waste the cash on newer expensive holders when the older ones work just as well. Just Ma Humble Opinion.

Liquid Artist
28-Jan-2015, 21:47
There is also a chance you'll be adding or switching to a larger sized camera before updating your film holders.

appletree
29-Jan-2015, 12:04
Ha I think 4x5 is as big as I plan on going!!!
Lots of lenses to get, changing tent, film, holders, upgrade my v500 to a v700, developing, printing, MF, pinhole camera I want, etc etc....that I want to continue accumulating/working on.

But I suspect that has been said around here more than once..... ;)

Thanks again for the advice.

DrTang
29-Jan-2015, 13:51
empties are in/go into a plastic storage bin

I load a group of holders when I think I might shoot something.. then put them in opaque plastic bags I get from Freestyle and those go into zip locks .. and then into the fridge

good thing I hate vegetables because there is plenty of room in those bins at the bottom..occassionally something spills down there but the ziplocs do a yeomans job

there is always some holders loaded and ready down there..and I grab those first when going shooting so they aren't there forever

I don't mark or notate anything unless I am mixing films..say tmax and fp4..I'll mark the holders for processing

I'll be shooting in a studio mostly..so even if I do have a holder with a small leak..it may not ever show because of the black opaque bag it lives in when loaded/exposed and the dark conditions of the studio

graywolf
30-Jan-2015, 15:32
I use a memonic:

Exposed to LIGHT
Exposed to DARK

Meaning black side out has only been exposed to dark (unexposed), and silver side out has been exposed to light (exposed)

The slide locks show if there is film in the holder or not. Locked means the holder is loaded, unlocked means the holder is empty.

I learned this back in the 1960's with a Press Camera, and since I mostly use my Crown Graphic it has stood me in good stead. With a Press Camera used handheld, you tend to shoot more than you do with a view camera. At one point you web-experts convinced me that I was doing it backward and I wound up double exposing a bunch of film and when back to the old way. I apparently at one time thought about notching the holders, but I guess I never did that because my negs do not show any holder notches. I do have the holders numbered (odd on the front side, odd on the back side). I usually load a box of film into the holders, and put them in the camera case (metal box), when shooting I usually just drop a half dozen holders in my jacket pockets. But, once again, I am usually shooting Press Camera style for fun. Mostly my view camera is used for B&W studio product type shots, I just borrow loaded holders from the Graphic's case for those.

As they say: different folks, different strokes.