View Full Version : Shooting blanks with a jammed film holder

Mike Lewis
6-Mar-2005, 12:29
Posted for your entertainment:

I recently returned from a short trip to West Texas; Big Bend and the surrounding area. I took photographs of wildflowers, landscape, etc. for four days, using my Linhof Technika with Fuji Quickloads.

On the first full day of photography I stripped a Quickload in my filmholder. I removed the sheet but couldn't figure out if the metal piece I saw in the end was part of the filmholder or the clip from the end of the stripped Quickload. Worried, I used my backup holder, a Polaroid 545i, for an unknown number of shots that day but resumed using the Fuji holder for the rest of the trip. I took about twenty exposures all together on the trip.

Or so I thought. As I was packing up to fly home, curiosity got the better of me and I started fiddling with the Fuji holder again. To my horror, I discovered that the holder would no longer "catch" the film and pull it away from its Quickload envelope for exposure. All of those pictures (or some of them, or a few of them) that I thought I had taken, I did not. I was shooting blanks. When I got home I disassembled the Fuji holder and out popped the clip from the end of the stripped Quickload. Nice trip, no pictures.


Bob Salomon
6-Mar-2005, 12:34
At least you saved the weigh, hassels and bulk of film holders. But then with 10 film holders you would have come back with images from the trip.

Gem Singer
6-Mar-2005, 12:49
Hi Michael,

I'm not entirely clear on this. After you stripped your Quickload holder and knew that it had a clip stuck in the bottom, you switched to using your Polaroid 545i for the Fuji Quickload films, and it seemed to be working. Why did you change back to the defective Fuji Quickload holder for the rest of the trip? Won't you still have the shots that you made with the Polaroid holder?

Ellen Stoune Duralia
6-Mar-2005, 13:01
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Chris is happily swirling his exposed 4x5 sheets in a solution of Tidybowl and toilet water as he's found that they clear so much faster that way...

(tee hee hee - sorry, couldn't resist)

Brian Ellis
6-Mar-2005, 15:00
I know exactly how you feel. The same thing happened to me with Readyloads a few years ago on a photography trip to Maine (I live in Florida). I spent a week making great compositions, too bad I didn't realize that on the first exposure the Readyload clip got stuck in the bottom of the holder so that every time I pulled up an envelope thereafter the film came up with it and there was no film in the holder. Not a single one of those great compositions resulted in a photograph. The Kodak rep was kind enough to send me some replacement Readyloads even though it wasn't the film's fault.

He also gave me a good tip for knowing when that is happening - if you rub your thumb and forefinger across the top of the envelope after it's pulled up and you feel a bump in the center area you know the film is up there when it shouldn't be. That was with the old double-sided Readyloads, I don't know if the same test works with the new ones or not.

Mike Lewis
6-Mar-2005, 15:42

I switched back from the Polaroid to the Fuji filmholder because of this: I was under the impression that that Fuji filmholder was working correctly if it "caught" the Quickload envelope when I pulled it out for exposure, leaving the film inside ready to be exposed. I was wrong; my experiment on the last day of the trip showed that a Quickload will "catch" when you pull it out in any case except for when you press the holder's sliding button to release the Quickload from the holder. Also, I wasn't sure that piece of metal I could see in the Fuji holder was from the Quickload or part of the holder itself. Now I know. Finally, I've had the Polaroid holder jam on me in the past, moreso than the Fuji, so I was sort of reluctant to use it. Big mistake. Lesson learned: Know Your Equipment.

The problem now is to figure out which of this stack of Quickloads have images on them. I took in two for processing: one from the day of the mishap with the holder and one from the last day of the trip. The first is a good landscape image; I presume I used the Polaroid holder for that one. The second is a smeared image, not black. Hmm. So I took in three more to be processed, all taken at the same time and place near the end of the trip. All three are black. I'm presuming I can re-use the Quickloads that did not "catch" in the filmholder, if I can figure out which ones they are. Is that right?

Alec Jones
6-Mar-2005, 16:28
Now you see the advantages of recordkeeping. Helps to number and record each one.

Oh well, at least you know several spots where you can go directly w/o hunting around. The landscape will still be there. Can't say the same for the flowers.

Tom Westbrook
7-Mar-2005, 04:53
> I don't know if the same test works with the new ones or not.

It still works with both Kodak and Fuji single sheet packets, though it's more like a dent (lowered area) than a bump (raised area). It's from a hole in the plastic sheet the film is attached to. Fuji's has a little cut-out in the white cardboard thing on the end to better feel for the dent. See www.butzi.net/reviews/readyquick.htm (http://www.butzi.net/reviews/readyquick.htm) for a great run-down on all this, with photos of how the packets are constructed.

Paul Butzi
7-Mar-2005, 11:05
Since I seem to be widely regarded as the readyload/quickload poster child, I'll weigh in here.

I wholeheartedly agree with Tom's comment that the 'feel the film carrier through the packet' thing works just fine - feeling to see if the film's in the wrong place is part of my routine when using packet film, so much so that I caught a malfunctioning holder on a recent trip, which saved me from a real disaster, since I then switched to my other readyload holder until I figured out what the problem was. It turned out that the readyload holder mechanism was jammed because of grit in the holder - I disassembled it, blew all the grit out, reassembled it, and it worked (and continues to work) just fine.

This highlights a real issue with readyloads/quickloads - if you have only one holder, it becomes a single point of failure that can ruin many images before you realize there's a problem.

That's why I now have THREE readyload holders - two single sheet holders, and my old version IIII double sided holder as the ultimate backup. On longer trips, I alternate holders, so that if one is malfunctioning and I don't catch it, I'll still end up with 50% of my film ok.

Paul Butzi
7-Mar-2005, 12:42
"Sounds as bad as a Wisner camera!"

How so? Equipment malfunctions. It's not pleasant, but it's a fact of life. I take steps to prevent the worst possible outcome by employing a simple preventative measure, and you compare this to a Wisner camera?

I confess, I don't get it. I use a Linhof TK45s. I've also used (and still own, actually) a Wisner 4x5 TF. The Wisner is a nice camera. It never let me down, never failed in a way I could detect. I like the Linhof better, but that a matter of preference, no a matter of reliability.

So how, exactly, does taking precautions against a hidden failure of a film holder compare to a Wisner camera?

To me, it's like complaining about taxes, and saying they're rather like overweight pelicans. It's an interesting statement but something of a non sequitur.

Paul Butzi
9-Mar-2005, 11:45
I think you're missing my point - I'm not suggesting that readyload holders are unreliable - I've used mine for years and have experienced exactly ONE failure of the holder - the one I described, which occurred because grit got into the holder - when I was on a beach, surrounded by grit which was being blown about by a strong wind. My point is that, even with a reliable system, it's worth taking precautions, particularly if you're doing work which can't be duplicated, and especially in hostile working conditions.

Lots of photographers use reliable equipment but still take the precaution of either having spares on hand, or of distributing the work across multiple pieces of equipment. Wedding photographers, for instance, routinely use more than one camera so that if one should malfunction, they don't have all the work spoiled, just some of it.

As for the problems with Wisner - I guess I'm not willing to engage in that particular dispute. It's pretty clear to me that you're not going to change your view, and to be frank, you've ranted on about it for so long and at such extremes of vitriol and repetition that I've pretty much decided to discount what you have to say about it.

9-Mar-2005, 17:20
How the hell did wisner get into a thread about a fuji quickload holder? One has nothing to do with the other.

Paul Butzi
9-Mar-2005, 18:24
"Go ahead Paul, discount what I ... write concerning the 'quality' and business practices of Wisner company. "

Ok. Done.

Has it occurred to you that perhaps the heat, venom, and sheer bloody-minded repetitiousness of your posting on this subject, and your consistent, unwavering determination to turn EVERY thread into a rant about Wisner and his evil ways - that very behavior is leading people to conclude that you're a nut case, and that you're actually achieving the very opposite of what you want?

Because there was a time where I gave your views on the subject considerable weight, and I no longer do.