View Full Version : 4/5 Film holders

22-Mar-2004, 06:18
What is the best way to put 4/5 film in a camera without dust and scratches and still use a variety of films? Currently I am using clean and dusted double darks in the field and encountering some dust & or scratches. I am considering switching to quickloads, readyloads, quickchanges (if there still available), graphmatic backs or using a dark tent instead of a darkbag. Do quickloads and similar preloaded films still provide the same full 4/5 size images as double darks and will they keep the film flat? Are quickloads readyloads and polariod backs interchangeale? Is it worth compromising on cost and film choice for the convenience of a quickload? At this stage I am down to the dark tent vs the quickload. Any suggestions. Thanks L.

22-Mar-2004, 06:40
After much practice, I find I can load film holders in a darkroom with almost no dust problems. I use canned air both before and after loading the film holders. On the other hand, despite attempting the same procedure in film loading dark tents, they seem to be dust magnets. If the choice is between a tent or quickload, I would probably go with a quickload/readyload. They are horribly expensive, but you'll probably compensate by shooting less. Also you can get Fuji Acros in quickload which, because it does not require reciprocity compensation up to 120", would be very useful for night time shots.

Ralph Barker
22-Mar-2004, 14:18
I use Fuji Quickloads in a Fuji holder almost exclusively for color, and have used Fuji Acros Quickloads, too. But, as Ilford FP4+ is my "standard" 4x5 film, I still load conventional film holders for most 4x5 B&W work. I use a Harrison tent in the field, and try to be as careful as I can with cleanliness. Packing the loaded holders in anti-static zip locks helps, too. I also try to clean the bellows of the camera occasionally while in the field, as well. But, I still get an occasional dust speck. For me, it's not worth the loss of the emulsion choice for B&W. (Note: you can still get dust jumping onto Quickloads in the camera.)

As I understand, both Fuji Quickloads and Kodak Readyloads (single-sheet in both cases) will work in the current #545i Polaroid 4x5 holder. The dedicated film holders (Kodak and Fuji) are supposed to hold the film more precisely, many people have been using the Polaroid back and report no depth-of-focus problems in doing so. Although some people have had luck mixing the films and dedicated holders, others have had severe problems doing so. So, the safe recommendation would be to use the Kodak holder with Kodak films, and the Fuji holder with Fuji films. Or, the Polaroid holder for either.

Steve Baggett
22-Mar-2004, 16:27
I regularly use both (quick/ready-loads and film holders). If you are willing to make a little extra effort, you can almost get rid of your dust problems with film holders and a light tent. (*Almost*, being the key word). I use a Harrison tent (the 8x10 size, but only for 4x5 holders.) Clean your holders (with particular attention to the crevices) with an anti-static brush and be sure to blow air into the light curtain (blowing outward opposite the direction you insert the dark slide). The light curtains can hide a surprising amount of dust. Then put the holders in zip-lock or anti-static bags *immediately*. The next thing to do is wipe down the inside of your light tent with a wet cloth (not just damp, but somewhat *wet*). This removes surface dust but it also leaves enough moisture inside the tent to significantly raise the humidity. This high humidity inside the tent will remove a great deal of dust from the air. (This is why some people load their film holders in a steamy bathroom.) Doing this will reduce the dust problem to about 1 sky-dust-speck per 30-40 sheets of film, by my reckoning. (How do those specks always know where the sky is in the composition?) With regard to your image-size question, my Fuji Quickload holder (which I use for both Fuji and Kodak films) has an "image area" that is 1-2mm narrower across the "short" side vs. film holders, but is the same size as film holders across the "long" side.

22-Mar-2004, 19:40
>Do quickloads and similar preloaded films still provide the same full 4/5 size images as double darks and will they keep the film flat?

View Camera had an article that compared the flatness of film holders and the Grafmatic came out the best. I love mine and have minimal problems with dust. I load in my 'darkroom' (bathroom) and run the hot water first to knock the dust out of the air. I do the same when I unload them from my Unicolor drum after processing. I'm sold on the Grafmatics--won't ever use doubles.

Hans Berkhout
22-Mar-2004, 19:51
Apart from the above advice, also vacuum your darkslides, your holders as well as the inside of your bellows "regularly".

I sold some prints lately so I gave myself a treat (?): Kodak single sheet holder, 100 single sheet packets. If it wasn't for UPS charging Can$ 75.00 on top of the US$ 15.00 the deal wouldn't have been too bad. But it will be great for travel. At home I use also FP4+ and the Harrison tent.

Hans Berkhout
22-Mar-2004, 19:52
That's US$ 15.00 for shipping!

Frank Petronio
22-Mar-2004, 19:56
Once you commit to a digital darkroom, all but the worst dust is only a pain-in-the-butt, not a total image killer. Thanks to Photoshop I've rescued many older images that had nasty dust spots that would have been impossible to spot out.

Vacuuming the inside of the bellows and keeping the camera - and darkcloth - clean also helps. Many people "tap" their holders before inserting them into the camera, in the hopes of the dust settling towards the bottom, but I think pulling the darkslide raises it all over again. So pull the darkside gently!

John Kasaian
22-Mar-2004, 22:37
Do you keep your film holders sealed in plastic bags until use? Zip-locks work nicely, though I've heard some prefer to use static resistant bags intended for computer boards. If you're already vacuuming out your holders before loading, IMHO keeping you holders in bags will really help. ~Cheers!

23-Mar-2004, 04:09
Thanks for all the excellent replies. In answer to John I put the double darks in freezer bags as soon as they are loaded. I'm using the camera in the bush which doesn't help with dust and makes a darkroom unavailable. I shoot velvia which is available in quickloads and techpan which doesn't seem to be. So on the one hand I am tempted to go the harrison pup tent and on the other the Fuji quickloads and shoot the techpan on rollfilm. I probably won't be carrying the tent and double darks as well as a quickload though (starts to weigh to much). Many thanks again Lloyd