View Full Version : How to Carry Film Holders

brian steinberger
24-Jan-2005, 21:49
I recently processed some film from a recent shoot and found minute dust spots on the film. Before I load the film I blow out every film holder with canned air and load the film in a clean area. I was wondering how everyone carries their film holders the field. I've been keeping mine in ziploc bags, one for color transparancy and one for black and white. I want to eliminate any chances of dust getting onto the film before exposure. I want everyones personal opinions. Thanks!

John Kasaian
24-Jan-2005, 23:17

I use zip locks for 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 holders, and dust proof zippered pillow cases liners from wal-mart for 12x20. So far I haven't had any problems, but plastic zip locks can attract dust via static electricity. If that is your problem there are specialized plastic bags for computer boards you can use(forgot the name of the suppliers, but there are people who post here that can recommend a supplier)

I think my capitol weapon for fighting demon dust is a little shop vac I use to vacuum my holders before loading. IMHO, compressed air just scoots the dust in the dark room around where it can lay in wait to ambush you the next go around. I like to get those unsavory dust devils contained in my shop vac.


Steve Bell
25-Jan-2005, 00:10
I'm new to 4x5, so I might be going too far in anti dust cleanliness, but so far it's worked for me. I pull out the slides, and use a new paint brush (this I later seal in a bag to keep it dust free) and brush away from me, then vacume, then refit slides, then store in individual self seal poly bags, 5 to a "Stewart" lunch box container. They stay like this until I load them. Just before loading I remove them from thier bag and give them a final blast of compressed air from a canister, then take them into the large cuboard I use for film loading/unloading. When loaded they go back into thier bags and get used, or go back into the lunch box and the fridge. Colour and B&W are packed together in my bag, I keep track of them by numbering each slide, so typically 1-10 may contain velvia and 11-20 FP4, this I note in my exposure note book.

Ralph Barker
25-Jan-2005, 00:22
Regular ZipLok bags are a great help in the field, but anti-static ZipLoks, like those used for electronic gear, are even better. Vacuuming and blowing holders helps, too, but don't stop there. Dust hides inside the bellows, too, just waiting for us to pull the dark slide so it can jump on our film. I've also heard that rubbing down the darkslides with a bit of orange cleaner helps to reduce static.

Graeme Hird
25-Jan-2005, 02:12
I use zip-up insulated lunch boxes from kmart for my 5x4 holders. Flick through the images on this link and you'll see them.




25-Jan-2005, 05:12
I've never used them but a couple places selling anti-static bags:

http://staticbags.com/ (http://staticbags.com/)
http://www.staticspecialists.com/index.html (http://www.staticspecialists.com/index.html)

Tom Perkins
25-Jan-2005, 08:15
Another thing you can do is carry an inexpensive paint brush in your pack and brush off the holder before putting it in the camera.

David A. Goldfarb
25-Jan-2005, 08:21
I very much like the 4" Kinetronics anti-static brush for all sorts of photographic uses (and my vinyl records).

Sharon S.
25-Jan-2005, 08:56
Also, if you load your film in a changing bag or tent, be sure that the bag/tent is dust free as well. Turn it inside out and give it a good shake or vacuum if you trust your vacuum cleaner.

Paul Butzi
25-Jan-2005, 09:20
I use extra tall 50 cal ammo cans like these at
http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ctd/product.asp?sku=ZAA%2D097&mscssid=NBHN2BQS6RAA8KD4XXP1NVT6RHQEAGS8 (http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ctd/product.asp?sku=ZAA%2D097&mscssid=NBHN2BQS6RAA8KD4XXP1NVT6RHQEAGS8)

I clean'em up, paint the outside white so they don't heat up as much in the car.

Pad the inside of them, too, so the holders don't rattle and get dinged up.

They're water-tight, air-tight, dust-tight. They're heavy, but I don't use holders unless I'm working from the car, so it doesn't matter.

Henry Ambrose
25-Jan-2005, 12:05
I load my holders in my darkroom. Before I start loading I run the hot water and let it steam for a few minutes to raise the humidity in the room. While the water is running I wipe down my work area with a damp cloth. This will help settle any dust in the room and reduce the static charge that causes dust to cling. (I follow this routine when printing as well because its a lot easier to clean any spots off the negatives with a bit of humidity in the air)

Occaisionally, I brush out the holders with a Staticmaster brush and/or a damp lint free rag. The holders go into plastic bags and stay there until they go into the camera, then right back into the bag. I rarely load in a changing tent, rather I unload film from holders into a box for processing.

Starting clean and with a bit of huimidity is very important. In a space that is significantly heated or cooled by air flow the lack of humidity becomes an even bigger problem. In the summertime my air conditioning dries out the air a lot but its really humid here so its not too bad. Much worse locally is wintertime where the humidity inside really plumments.

Last, since we can never get all the dust, shoot additional sheets!

Eric Woodbury
25-Jan-2005, 12:11
I brush and clean the holders before loading with film. The holders with the shiny darkslides get a wipe of staticide once in awhile. Once loaded, all holders go into a ziploc bag, usually two per. These are stored in the 'standard' size ammo boxes that hold 9 each 57 holders. Ammo boxes are painted white and padded inside with matt board scraps. Before putting the holder in the camera, it is tapped and brushed clean to keep dust out of the light (not a dust) trap.

After all this I still get a spot ocassionally. Learn to spot negs or you can also abraid (pin pricks) the base side of the film above the spot with a sharp needle. This diffuses the dust spot and it goes away. Practice before touching up your 'moonrise'.

David Beal
25-Jan-2005, 12:48
Henry, did you by chance mean bathroom, rather than darkroom?

I ask because I load film holders in a small bathroom. First I vacumn it. Then, I run hot water in the shower, full blast, for sufficient time to lightly fog the mirror. I then evacuate with an exhaust fan.

In another room, I vacumn the holders and place each in a ziplock freezer bag. I keep each holder in its bag until I use it, and then it goes back into the bag.

About loading film in a tent or changing bag: I had to do this once, and was afraid that I would get lots of lint &c on the film. By trial and error, I found the largest cardboard box I could put in a changing bag. I then cut off the flaps so that I had a box with no top, 4 sides, and a bottom. I then cut out one of the larger sides, so that I then had a box with 3 sides and a bottom. I wiped down the inside of the box with a moist paper towel, let it dry bottom side up, and then put in the changing bag a small box of film, a few folders in ziplock bags, and lastly, the cardboard box, bottom up and open side facing the arm ports, and zipped up the bag. The box served as a skeletal support for the bag, and when I put my hands in, I could work under the "carport roof" that the bottom of the box provided. I didn't have any dust problem with the sheets I loaded.

No doubt somebody with a little mechanical aptitude could greatly improve on my cardboard garage.

Good shooting.

/s/ David Beal * Memories Preserved Photography, LLC

ronald moravec
25-Jan-2005, 16:33
After you clean the holders, carry in plastic bags. They belong in a case, plastic bag or in the camera. No exceptions. Dust the slide before inserting into the camera.

Invest in a Hunter hepa air filter for the darkrooom. Run it before loading and before processing film. Keep a cover over the open holders before loading and only uncover one at a time. The film needs a cover also so dust doesn`t settle on the next sheet while you are loading one.

There will still be dust inside the camera as there is outside air in there. The above procedures will get most all of problem solved.

John D Gerndt
25-Jan-2005, 20:24
I have a woodworking shop next to my darkroom, call it disaster if you want but in truth I have very little problem with dust. The humitity in that darkroom is around 70%. I also use a Zerostat gun to neturalize the charge on items before brushing (and on the brush). Darn thing works wonders.

I will second the notion that the bellows are a source of dust. They need to be whiped down witha damp cloth.

For storage I keep my holders in zip loc freezer bags that have been zapped with the Zerostat and blown out with compressed air. It just makes sense.


Henry Ambrose
26-Jan-2005, 07:01
I do mean darkroom, but it is a holdover from using a bathroom for a darkroom in the past! I have a very small darkroom so running the hot water works the same as a shower - just not quite as fast.