View Full Version : loading 120 film onto reels for developing

steve barr
19-Apr-2005, 16:17
I have done 35mm for years and will TRY 120 and 220 Black and White for the FIRST time but AFTER I get some help and advice from you fine people!! I have the Jobo adjustable reels and of course the tanks and chemicals...........So tell me about the'paper backing' ????????? Would this 120 be ok to do in a light bag?????????? I have to use what I have as things are tight!!!! So if you have time to go thru the loading process and ANY other hints and/or advice I would be GRATEFUL!!!!!!!! Thanks for your time and effort. I hope to do this, this weekend!!! Just put my new Durst M670 Color Kis Kit together and am looking forward to printing my FIRST 120 prints!! THANKS!!! steve

19-Apr-2005, 16:29
1) Adjust the reels for 120.

2) I'm used to the 2500 type reels. Either raise the red tab if you intend to load 220 or two rolls of 120. Or make sure it's lowered if you intend to load only one roll of 120. If you're loading two rolls of 120 per reel then you'll need to lower the red tab after the first roll is all the way on. I guess you need to lower it for 220 to.

3) Paper backing is taped at one end. Not a big deal. Just make sure you load the film and leave the paper backing off.

4) I don't like bags. It's easier to use a closet at night if you don't have a darkroom.

Have you used the reels for 35mm? If so it's basically the same other then the red tab and leaving the paper backing off.

BTW 120 is medium not large. You might want to try www.apug.org

Gem Singer
19-Apr-2005, 16:42

You might be able to get a wider range of responses if you post your question on the B&W Photography - Film and Processing Forum, at www.photo.net.

19-Apr-2005, 16:46
It is a LOT trickier than 35mm. The problem is the film is so wide that it's easy to kink it, giving you little cresent moons in the negatives. My very best advice is to sacrifice a roll and practice, practice, practice in the light, then practice, practice. practice in the dark, until you get it right.

Henry Ambrose
19-Apr-2005, 18:17
I use Jobo tanks and reels mostly the 1500 series. When you pull the tape that holds the paper, fold it over and stick it over the end of the film - this helps to stiffen the film and the tape does not cause a problem with your chemistry. Next, bend the end of the flm back against the curl thats taken set, this will help you feed the film into the reel. If you do this just right you can actually push the film most if not all the way on the reel. Don't crimp it back just bend it enought to take the curl out.

I also suggest using a closet or windowless bathroom instead of a changing bag. Put a towel at the bottom of the door to block the light. Test this by standing in the dark for a couple of minutes - if you still can't see light after two minutes, then you're good to go.

Craig Schroeder
19-Apr-2005, 18:32
With traditional wire reels, the biggest factor for me is in getting the alignment started correctly. Develop a feel for that aspect and the rest just falls into place. Again, practice on a donor roll until it becomes natural for you. Tell these guys it's for doing your 6X17 stuff and maybe they'll get off your back!

Steve Feldman
19-Apr-2005, 18:36

When I started using medium format b & w film I had the worst time getting the lead edge started on the reels. The fix is to trim off the lead edge corners just a little bit. Has worked fine for the past 15+ years.

Your mileage may vary.



Terence McDonagh
20-Apr-2005, 05:51
Am I the only one who found loading 120 easier than 35mm? At least it's large enough to actually get your fingers inside the reel to start the loading. Horensetin's book on Basic Black & White photography was a huge help to me when I started doing my own developing. Written at a very basic level, it is very easy to follow. And I agree that a dark closet or bathroom with a towel shoved at the bottom of the door is a way to go. Changing bags are a last resort for me.

Bob Fowler
20-Apr-2005, 08:48
I find that 120 reels, be they stainless steel or plastic, are far easier to load than 35mm.

Maybe it's just because I really don't like shooting in 35...


Matt Mengel
20-Apr-2005, 09:29
When you peel the tape off-do it slowly. You can get static "lightning" marks on your film. Especially in the winter when the air in your house is dry. It looks cool in the dark but can ruin your film.

Graham Hughes
20-Apr-2005, 10:30
I've never had a very easy time loading 120 onto plastic reels, but I find it very smooth for loading onto the right sort of steel reel; after some really miserable experiences with cheap ones in 35mm I went to the Hewes stuff and it really is that good.

Michael Kadillak
20-Apr-2005, 12:14
I had one hell of a time loading 120 on to the plastic reels you mentioned until I got an infrared monocle for my darkroom work. Best $250 I have spent on darkroom equipment in a long time. I can do one plastic 120 reel in less than one minute from start to finish. It is like working with the lights on. Also comes in handy when loading ULF holders and conducting tray development by inspection.


Donald Qualls
20-Apr-2005, 16:19
I do a lot of 120 (most of my photography is MF), and I do all of it in a changing bag. When you break the tape holding the tail down and start to unroll it, the paper and film will separate spontaneously; you just need to be alert for when you come to the tape that holds them together. I don't peel the tape off the film, I peel it off the paper, fold it over the film and stick the peeled bit down on the base side; with the stainless reels I mostly use this gives a little easier end to manipulate into the clip in the reel, and does no harm with plastic reels -- plus it avoids static marks on the film, though those don't matter if they affect only the part that was under the tape, since it won't have any latent image on it anyway.

FWIW, I had trouble loading my first few rolls of 120 on stainless -- buckled film left pressure marks (they look like little crescents, light on the print), but I haven't had one of those in quite a while, and the stainless reels are faster loading -- not to mention I have a tank that holds two of them, while I'm limited to one reel in my Paterson plastic tank. I haven't yet tried joining two rolls end to end to fit two in the Paterson (in imitation of 220) -- but I've got a backlog of 16 rolls built up right now, so I might give that a try (it'll save me hours if it works, and cost me a roll of film if it doesn't -- maybe not even that, if I plan my loading correctly).