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Thread: What’s the trick to unloading film holders?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2017
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    What’s the trick to unloading film holders?

    ...without damaging the emulsion, that is. 3 out of 4 sheets I developed today gave me serious trouble getting out of the holders (4x5, unloading in dark bag). In the process, I scratched the emulsion right around the notches in the edge of the sheet pretty good. I had just cut my fingernails, and didn’t have anything to get under the notch and lever the edge of the sheet up. Is there a trick to doing this?

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: What’s the trick to unloading film holders?

    One, longer fingernail
    sin eater

  3. #3

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    Re: What’s the trick to unloading film holders?

    Some film holders have a milled out semi- circle at the flap end of the holder so you can get under the film easily.
    Some don't. The least expensive option is...don't cut your fingernails before you need to unload holders.

  4. #4

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    Re: What’s the trick to unloading film holders?

    I always have a small 1" x 3" sheet of unprocessed film with rounded corners either in a corner of the film changing bag or in the darkroom hanging from a piece of string within arms reach. Always easily works and have never scratched the film in the holder.

  5. #5

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    Re: What’s the trick to unloading film holders?

    Great idea, Greg!

  6. #6
    lab black
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    Re: What’s the trick to unloading film holders?

    Guitar pick
    "We work in the dark, we do what we can, we give what we have."
    Henry James

  7. #7
    Foamer
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    Re: What’s the trick to unloading film holders?

    I suggest cleaning the grooves of the holder really well, and try polishing the flat surface behind the holder in case there's something slightly rough or sticky.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  8. #8

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    Re: What’s the trick to unloading film holders?

    Like Greg said... I keep a little piece of 35mm film end lightly taped to one of the boxes of film in the bag, and if I can't lift the sheet up in the holder, I use it to get under the sheet to lift...

    The next (sometimes tricky) step is to start pulling the sheet out, so when lifted, firmly pinch the top edge, hold the holder flap down with your other hand, and pull film at an angle that will just clear the end of the holder flap (that edge of the film has the biggest margin, so don't be afraid to give it a tight squeeze)..


    If you have difficulty sliding film in or out of a holder, a modern reason is that some films are cut with a moderately rough edge, so they can bind... One thing you can try is wiggling the film side to side slightly, or if it gets stuck, reverse the pull with some wiggling and feel if it starts moving...

    Also, if the weather is really soggy, or too hot/humid in the bag, the film can be a little sticky, or a wave or bowing of the sheet, that affects it's fit in the holder...

    Don't sweat, there's a solution!!! ;-)

    Steve K

  9. #9

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    Re: What’s the trick to unloading film holders?

    I use the Linhof GlassPlate/Sheet Film Holder. While they are thicker then sheet film holders as they also accommodate glass plates they have a spring loaded plate to adjust for the difference in thickness between glass and film, the flaps fold down so access for loading and unloading is far easier and they have an ejector lever on each side that pushes the film or plate out about ¾” so unloading is simple. The lever is because glass plate scratch easily and would be hard to slide out otherwise.
    Some also have a numbered friskit that exposes the number on the edge of the film or plate so you always know which side of which holder the film or plate was in.

    Unfortunately these have not been made for several years so you can only find used ones today.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    North Coast BC
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    46

    Re: What’s the trick to unloading film holders?

    Since you are using a changing bag; centre yourself and exude calm, as any hint of frustration will build up humidity in the bag and make things worse!

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