View Full Version : Tips on loading 8x10

20-Apr-2008, 11:26
New to loading 8x10.
Any tips would be great.
Also where is the best place to load 8x10 without a light leak?

20-Apr-2008, 11:36

Loading 8x10 is just like loading 4x5 except that it's just a larger sheet of film. As with 4x5 film, make sure the piece of film slides in under the proper guides on the side of the holder.

[I'm assuming you've loaded 4x5 film previously.]

You'll definitely need more room to load 8x10 though... I load mine in a dark closet late at night and haven't had any issues with fogged film. Just be sure the area is as dust free as possible.

Alternatively, if you get to know the people at a local lab, one of them may allow you access to their darkroom during quiet periods.


Randy Redford
20-Apr-2008, 11:44
You should look into one of the larger Harrison changing tents. I lowed up to 12 holders in there at one time with no problems.

Justin Cormack
20-Apr-2008, 11:47
I found it harder than say 5x7 as I cant get my fingers across and its a bit less rigid because of the size. I use a dark cupboard as its so much easier than my tent which is just a bit small. Just give up a sheet for practising.

Brian Ellis
20-Apr-2008, 15:52
8x10 wasn't just like 4x5 for me. I could hold a 4x5 holder in my hand, I couldn't do that with 8x10. I used to lay the 8x10 holder flat on a countertop in my darkroom, then held the flap open with my left hand while guiding the film in with my right. A little slower than 4x5 but just as easy once you get used to it.

It's strictly personal preference but I've never liked changing bags very much and used them only as a last resort when on a trip and I couldn't get the motel bathroom blacked out. If you load film at night you shouldn't have much trouble finding a bathroom or other place in your house that can be blacked out for the relatively short time it takes to load a bunch of film.

20-Apr-2008, 18:02
I load all formats from 35mm film to 8x10 film/paper in a Changing Room from Photoflex. It's a bit tight for 8x10 sheets, but doable.

John Kasaian
20-Apr-2008, 20:09
I'm left handed so flip these instructions if it suits you :)
before the lights go out I set the film box to my right, and the stack of holders on my left. The holders are empty, the slide locks (those wire ells) are disengaged and the dark slides are pulled about one quarter to half way out with the light colored side of the handle towards the outside (when you expose a sheet of film, you'll reverse the dark slide so the dark side is "out" indicating the film has been exposed.) The flap ends should be facing you.
Turn out the lights, let your eyes get used to the dark. You'll see any light leaks after awhile----if they can illuminate any of your work area you'll need to block them out. If not I don't stress about it.
Open the box of film and leave the plastic bag of film in the middle box half. Put the other halves somewhere where you can feel them.
Open the envelop and orient the film so the notches are either in the upper right or lower left corner (lower left preferred----if you forget which film you've loaded it is easy to get to the notch code in the dark--just slid the dark slide out and open the flap---you can then feel the notches)

With one hand ease out a sheet of film, discard any cardboard or tissue leaves seperating the film. At this point you can hold the film at it's edges and support it by your finger tips on the under (uncoated) side if you need to. Go ahead and use both hands if it make you comfortable. With practice you'll find that you can do it with one hand.

Step in front of the film holder. The flap side should be facing you. make sure it is open with your left hand and slide the top edge of the film in, hopefully under the retaining rails and not into the grooves the dark lide fits into. Slide the film "home" if it dosen't go in all the way or bind then you've got it in the dark slide channel. With draw it and try again. I'll use the thumb on my left hand to guide the edge of the film nito the proper channel if neccesary.
When the film slides in easily all the way, lift the flap back into position and slide the rest of the dark slide in, engaging the flap. If it binds or you can't put the flap back then something is wrong so take the film back out and try again. When everything goes together smoothly, then turn the wire 'ell' to lock the slide in place, flip the holder over and repeat and put the holder to one side.
When you've loaded your stack, be sure to put the envelope with the film back into the box before you turn on the lights.

You should practice this in a lighted room with a sacrificial sheet of film a few times, then try it with your eyes closed.

It's no different when the lights are out!

Dirk Rösler
20-Apr-2008, 21:30
Just like 4x5 but easier (because it's bigger). It's like switching from standard Lego blocks to Duplo blocks :)

20-Apr-2008, 21:44
I spread my free hand on top of the open holder, place the tip of my pinky finger and the tip of my thumb finger on the start of the 'groove' that the film goes into. That way once I know that the film is under the 'groove', I just slide the film on in and close her up.

I change film in a medium sized harrison tent, it's a little tight, but it works, and I've got no notion to get a larger one.

MIke Sherck
21-Apr-2008, 07:50
My hands are large enough that I can hold a 4x5 film holder in my left hand and use the ring finger and thumb to guide film under the rails. For 8x10 I lay the holder down and use those two fingers to guide the film. Needing a space to lay the holder down means that it takes considerably more room to load 8x10 holders than it takes for 4x5. 8x10 seems to be more sensitive to high humidity, too: when it gets too high the film seems to want to bind up more easily as it slides into the rails. Not a big deal, though: the humidity has to be really high for that to happen!


Jim Noel
21-Apr-2008, 10:33
An alternate method which requires less space.
Wash hands with soap and hot water 5-10 minutes before loading film. This is to remove oil from hands.
Remove the dark slide.
With film in correct orientation, slide 7" or 8" of .the film under the near guide.
Bow the film slightly and pop it under the far guide.
Slide the film in until seated.
Replace dark slide.

21-Apr-2008, 12:29
Jim, that's what I do, but I was afraid to speak up since it seems everyone else can just slide 'er right in! :) I actually wear nitrile gloves while loading film, a few pennies for gloves beats worrying about fingerprints, etc.

The reason I do the 'one side in, bow the film, second side in' is because I have a hard time keeping my film holder flaps from closing partway on me, and this prevents scratching the film, as I can hold the flap down with the pinky of my right hand.

Pete Roody
21-Apr-2008, 17:02
An alternate method which requires less space.
Wash hands with soap and hot water 5-10 minutes before loading film. This is to remove oil from hands.
Remove the dark slide.
With film in correct orientation, slide 7" or 8" of .the film under the near guide.
Bow the film slightly and pop it under the far guide.
Slide the film in until seated.
Replace dark slide.

I gave up on washing my hands. Try using nitrile gloves. They not only protect the film from fingerprints but actually make it easier to load film. The is a slight friction developed between the glove and film that makes it easier to position the film.

Mike Boden
21-Apr-2008, 18:03
I use a Harrison Tent, which I think is the medium-sized one(not exactly sure, though). Also, I've never really fussed with making sure my hands were extremely clean and oil-free, but obviously if they were covered in dirt I'd wash first.

Next, I hold the film in my right hand and hold the flap open with my left at the edge closest to me. I then insert one corner into the grove closest to me feeling with my left hand to make sure it's in. After that, I slide my hand to the other edge(which is away from me) and insert the other corner while feeling with my left hand that it's in. Once I know that both corners are in the groove, I will hold the flap down on the far side of the holder and slide the film in all the way. Sometimes you have to adjust the angle of the film to make sure it slides in smoothly.

Just like most things, it takes practice. My suggestion is to practice with a sheet outside the tent and in daylight. Once you perfect it with your eyes open, try with your eyes closed. Once you get that down, practice in a tent or whatever you use for a dark space.

Good luck!

21-Apr-2008, 18:06
any pros and cons with the film tents?

Mike Boden
21-Apr-2008, 18:08
The cons with tents are limited space and humidity build-up. But other than that, the portability is great. If you have a darkroom, use it instead.