View Full Version : getting film OUT of 4x5 holder

9-Feb-2013, 02:09
Although I 've been shooting largeformat for a year now, I would like to have some beginners advice...:o
I often struggle to get my film out of the holder. As the film is laying so flat against the back of the holder it is defficult to slide them out far enough to get them over the edge so you can grab and pull them out. When using my finger I somteimes scratch the film with my nails. What am I doing wrong? I am using old Riteway holders.

Ed Bray
9-Feb-2013, 02:19
This is the reason I only use Fidelity Elite or Toyo film holders. They have a small recess (1/2 to 3/4 inch) in the backplate which allows you to get a fingernail under and lift the film over the lip easily. I stuggled with other makes before finally deciding to just use those types.

Doremus Scudder
9-Feb-2013, 04:06
Depending on humidity conditions, filmholder type, etc. getting film out of filmholders can sometimes be a bear, especially if you unload with nitrile gloves on like I do.

Here are a couple of tricks:

First, don't press down on the film and try to drag it out of the holder; that just causes more friction against the septum and makes things even harder. Try to get the film edge up by getting under it with a fingernail (just the edge!) to get the film away from the septum.

Sometimes, holding the filmholder upside-down will help.

When my patience runs out, my foolproof trick is to breathe a nice bit of moist air on to the bottom edge of the film in the holder. A generous "huff" like you would use when fogging up your glasses for cleaning. Do this once or twice and wait 20 seconds or so. The moisture variation in the emulsion that you have just created will cause the film to curl a bit, freeing it from the holder and lifting a part of it away from the septum making it easier to grab.

BTW, I have a ton of different brands of holders, including Riteway (old and new), Lisco, Fidelity, Graphic, etc., etc., (no Toyos though...). I haven't noticed that one brand is better than another in this regard.



9-Feb-2013, 07:22
thank you for the the advice. It seems like it wasn't anything stupid from me, but just the way it is. I bought 6 fidelity elite holders today. I was a bit short in holders anyhow. I wonder if there is a difference. And I will give the breath-techinque a try if I will get frustrated in the darkroom getting a tricky one out!

Peter Mounier
9-Feb-2013, 08:18
If I blow a steady stream of air down on the film the wind will make its way under the film and lift it enough for me to get my fingernail under the edge.


J.B. Harlin
9-Feb-2013, 09:10
This is a common problem with ULF holders that do not have a relief to get your fingernail under. Here is an easy fix. . . drop by your local music store and purchase a few thin guitar picks. Gently slide the pick under the film edge and you will be able to get your fingernail in there and the film will be easy to removed. More info here: http://jbhphoto.com/blog/index.php/2009/03/20/is-that-a-fender-thin/

Jerry Bodine
9-Feb-2013, 12:56
You can also keep handy some round wooden toothpicks that come to a fairly sharp point. Push the pick tip under the film at its corner at the rail, then slide it along under the film toward the center of the film edge, keeping the pick at a slight raised angle to the septum while lifting the film enough to get a gloved finger under it. Nail biters should love this technique.