View Full Version : cutting film

jj golden
2-Apr-2007, 17:29
hello all, someone today gave me 4 boxes of 8x10 sheet film, it is expired but kept cold. the problem is i dont have an 8x10 camera, mine is 4x5. what i want to know, has anyone ever cut down 8x10 film to four 4x5 sheets? im aware this may be a dumb question:) but hey we are talking about 400 sheets of free 4x5 lol.

Jeremy Moore
2-Apr-2007, 17:35
i think you'd do better if you just sold the 8x10 film here and bought 4x5 or traded it for some 4x5 film. cutting down film can be a big pain when you only have to cut something in half let alone chopping it down into fourths!

2-Apr-2007, 17:43
I really don't know. 8x10" film is becoming a protected species and here you are, asking for advice on how to quarter it.

I cut down from 10-15 metre roll film (1.2-1.5 metres wide) and I can honestly say I don't enjoy it. Having to scrub down all of my work surfaces with alcohol, turn on the centrifugal filter and particle extraction unit to clear the darkroom of dust at least an hour before hand, prime the jigs, prep the spare foils and boxes, and then don on gloves and plastic apron to stop my woolly jumper getting dust all over before sectioning the film into sizes is a downright nightmare. The only reason I persist is that there is no alternative for certain format sizes.

At the end of it, I still find I have handling marks on the film. You may be best off selling off the film and using the funds to buy factory cut 4x5". Factories do tend to cut film professionally - far better than any of us bona fide amateurs can hope for :)

Glenn Thoreson
2-Apr-2007, 17:44
Since it must be done in total darkness, keeping the edges square is a huge problem for me. You also have to cut off a corner or something to indicate the emulsion side. You will only have one sheet with factory notches. Scratching is also a huge issue, as are fingerprints and dust. Simply put, it's a big pain. I'm sure there are better options.

2-Apr-2007, 20:25
I cut down from 10-15 metre roll film (1.2-1.5 metres wide) and I can honestly say I don't enjoy it. .... .The only reason I persist is that there is no alternative for certain format sizes.

Rob, are you cutting down color aerial film for ULF? I've heard of people doing that and I'm curious how it comes out...


Michael Kadillak
2-Apr-2007, 20:46
There are two necessary components to successfully cutting sheet film down and I recommend that you consider making the investment.

First is a Rotatrim with the two support bars. I would recommend at least the 12" model and prefereably the 15". Nothing works better for cutting down paper or sheet film.

Second is an inexpensive infrared monocle that allows you to see whta thte hell you are doing and keep things straight and manageable. This is what the pros use. The secondary benefit is that you can use the monocle for Development by Inspection.


Colin Graham
2-Apr-2007, 21:39
I've cut 12x20 down to 5x12 in the dark on a Dahle trimmer. Not as nice as a rototrim but it is possible. But I think Jeremy's suggestion is a good one. I'd just as soon not have to do that again if I can help it.

Brian C. Miller
2-Apr-2007, 22:04
If you'd like to trade for 4x5, PM me.

Robert Ley
3-Apr-2007, 10:29
Where can you get an inexpensive IR monocle that can be used in a
Darkroom? I have the need to cut down color paper and would prefer to do it in total darkness.

3-Apr-2007, 11:28
Rob, are you cutting down color aerial film for ULF? I've heard of people doing that and I'm curious how it comes out...

Hi Alec,

I believe it is aerial film (all those non-descript boxes of rolls) (not colour though). I found some Panatomix X which is now all but down to the last few sheets. A lot of lith (transfer) film; IR as well as Kodak Plus X. I'm not a great colour shooter (especially for personal work) and I would worry about the colour shift towards magenta especially with those dodgy Kodak rolls I had (Agfa rolls on the other hand seem to go luminous green!).

In terms of how the film comes out - the base is thin; it's very easy to shaft a cut-sheet in a holder and crinkle it out whilst attempting to make an exposure. It isn't always necessary to notch the film since the curvature indicates where the emulsion side is.

When it works, it's as beautiful as the best things that go right in life. The main problem is the hit-rate is not good. If I was still doing this for a living I would not be doing this for a living. FYI, Agfa too released an ISO 200 red-sensitised film decades ago which has a peak spectral sensitivity around 740nm - near IR. It is so affordable cutting down this film from 15 metre rolls to play around with. Modern IR film has unfortunately completely priced me out of the market at over £2 per sheet. Maybe it's just my hit-rate that needs to improve?

An IR monocle gimmick would be welcome. At least in theory the idea is very appealing although I'm not sure I really need it even if I want it. All those years ageing the darkroom, I still like the darkroom principles.

QT Luong
3-Apr-2007, 11:39
I'd agree both with the suggestion of the Rotatrim, and that the activity is worthwhile only if the target size is not commonly available. It's very difficult to avoid dust.

3-Apr-2007, 11:45
Btw - the Rotatrim is not the only possibility. The FrameCo Mat Master with an acrylic cutting base is equally effective.

It's advantage is that it around 1 metre wide and does not require the film roll to be 'slotted' through the holder and cutting edge. I seem to get less abrasion marks on my film using the FrameCo compared to the Rotatrim, however that may be because the Frameco is larger and easier to handle with it's built in clamping edge.

PS - if you're trying this at home, it might be worthwhile thinking about covering the emulsion layer with paper when cutting to reduce the surface scratches/marks.

John Bartley
3-Apr-2007, 11:46
I cut down 9.5" x 125' aerial film to fit 8x10. I use a paper cutter of the type that you find in a paper supplies store - nothing special. I don't have a darkroom, or special fans or filters or night vision gear, just a bathroom that I can make light tight. I set the paper cutter on a sheet of plywood that I have cut to fit over the tub. I wash and dry my hands well so they aren't oily. I do a quick damp mop on the floor and walls to make sure that there's no major dust (we have a dog and a cat). The film cuts just fine as long as you're using a sharp paper cutter (one which hasn't been abused) and I have yet to have any film emulsion damage or fingerprints on the film. Total equipment outlay .... about $50 for the paper cutter (which I also use for paper).

This link is available during the day (eastern Canada) only : http://oldradio.ca:83/Photo/Tech/FilmCutter/FilmCutter.html


Jim Galli
3-Apr-2007, 12:05
Here's (http://www.apug.org/forums/forum44/10481-bulk-lf-film-cutting-loading-aerial-roll-film.html) a little piece I wrote about this a couple of years ago over at APUG

Robert Fisher
3-Apr-2007, 12:29
Jim, thanks so much for posting the information.

Eric Woodbury
3-Apr-2007, 13:24
I used to cut 8x10 tech pan film to 5x7. I still have some of it. I borrowed a paper cutter that a photo shop owner in town had. It was a like a normal paper cutter as I recall, but it had a clamp. I'd put 10 or 20 sheets of film on the thing, clamp it down, and cut. The film didn't slip. I don't know who made it or anything else about it, but it can be done.

You might go to a print shop and see what they have. I know the print shop new door here has a big electric paper cutter that could cut film if you could get it in the dark.

Wayne Crider
3-Apr-2007, 18:38
I do the same as John above but use lintless gloves to hold the film down. Emulsion up, two cuts and a jig out of mat board. Pretty simple, but I am considering going the Rotatrim route only to get a sharper cutter. You need to hold the film down real good.