View Full Version : Flattening Curly Film

26-Feb-2017, 13:17
I know this isn't a large format question, but this also seems to be one of the best darkroom forums on the net so I thought I'd try it here.

Lately, I've been working through some 35mm Plus-X of uncertain age. I'd guess it to be from the early 90s or so.

In any case, I'm having TERRIBLE time with it both bowing and curling. It starts out in a tight curl when I get it out of the can-in fact I've had to fight it and usually end up having to make two or three attempts at getting it onto the reel to avoid an overlap(I've even done the unthinkable and used plastic reels a few times).

My typical drying method(after a final wash in Photoflo 1:400 and finger squeegee) is to hang it from a coat hanger on the shower curtain rod and weight the end with a binder clip. With basically all roll films-both 35mm and 120-I can generally get perfectly flat film or at best it might have a slight curl. Even leaving this Plus-X hanging for a couple of days(obviously with a few breaks when I actually need to use the shower :) ) doesn't seem to make any difference. I've tried cutting the film, putting it in a printfile page, and leaving it under an encyclopaedia for a week-I still can't get any perceptible curl out of it.

I scan 35mm in a Nikon Coolscan V with the strip feeder. The holder keeps the frame I'm scanning flat, but the bowing often makes it difficult for me to start the film in the scanner.

I have the same trouble sometimes with my last stock of Efke, which I guess also translates to the few occasions when I shoot 2x3 sheet, but lately this Plus-X has been giving me more trouble than anything else I've seen.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make it more manageable?

26-Feb-2017, 21:03
If weighting down with encyclopedias is not doing the trick then I have no idea how to help.

I use old film stock all the time but putting them in PrintFile pages and then weighting down with heavy books is usually the best solution. You may have to leave the pages under the book for a week or two, assuming you haven't already tried this.

26-Feb-2017, 22:18
I agree, leaving cut film under a flat heavy weight for a few weeks usually does the trick... If the film is too dry, it will often curl also... You can try to steam up a bathroom, and hang up the strips using paper clips through the perfs, and weight down the bottom, then leave it under a weighted cover for days...

To avoid this problem entirely, after you dry your 35mm film, get a film core spool, or roll up the film backrolled, meaning with the base in (like an old projection filmstrip) and wrap a soft band or string around it... If you need to cut the film sooner, hit it with medium heat from a hair dryer for a few minutes, and let it cool for over 10 min, or if you are not in a hurry, leave it rolled up for a couple or few days before cutting... The film will be much more manageable then...

Steve K

27-Feb-2017, 19:36
A few years ago I came into possession of some old negatives which had been stored in film cans since the 1950s; it was hard to unroll them far enough to see what they were, let alone scan or print them. I tried storing under weights, etc. and got nowhere. Since there was nothing much to lose, I tried making folders by taping together the long edges of strips of mat board, carefully working in strips of six frames, and putting the assemblies in a warm (about 100-120 F) dry mounting press with the top closed just far enough to flatten the folders. I then turned off the press and let them cool under pressure, and they were just fine--flat and with no detectable damage from the treatment.

The process worked with both acetate and nitrate film; just don't think too hard about how a person would determine this...