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Thread: How many film holders?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2020

    How many film holders?

    Hi All,
    Hopefully this is the correct subforum for this question. I am curious to know how many film holders most of us own (and use). Not talking about a collectible old wooden film holder, but the ones you actually load and use.

    I shoot 4x5 and currently have 11 holders, so 22 sheets of film can be ready when I am on a road trip.

    Do most of you carry a changing tent and just reload more often?


  2. #2
    Eric Woodbury
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Re: How many film holders?

    I've only used a tent when I travelled overseas. In the states, I drive. On a long trip of a couple weeks, I'll take 50 holders. I have a few more than than for both 4x5 and 5x7. I shoot 4 different films for 4x5, but mostly FP4 and HP5. Typically only 2 films for 5x7, but sometimes a third. I have never shot them all and seldom shoot a dupe.

    A friend that takes long long trips for months used to take a similar amount. Once every 10 days or so they'd take a break from the camping pace, rent a motel room that had a bathroom without a window, and reload holders that way.

    A short trip, I'll take 20.

  3. #3
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: How many film holders?

    Road trip, no changing bag, perhaps a couple weeks or three. (Changing tent for over-seas) What I take:

    4x5 -- I have no idea anymore...rarely used. It usually does not go unless specialty needs for a super-lightweight set-up.
    5x7 - about 12...not many...but I just got some, so I need to do a recount. While on a dayhike -- 5 or 6 holders
    8x10 - 30 or so...about right. On a dayhike -- 6 or 7
    11x14 - about 7 that I really trust, 4 older ones. On a day hike...are you kidding me? On a half-day hike, two to four holders
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2019

    How many film holders?

    For anything more than a morning hike nearby, I will take ALL of them for the system Iím carrying.

    For 8x10 thatís 8. 4 in my car, 4 in my bag. I will load them with b&w or color depending on what Iím shooting/where Iím going.

    For 4x5 thatís 12. Similarly, 6 in bag, 6 in car.

    Changing tent and film boxes (including an empty one to unload) are always in my car if Iím staying overnight on location.

    My approach works on the basis that most of the time I shoot sunrise/sunset only. I may shoot b&w during the rest of the day, sometimes. Then after dinner I reload everything Iíve used for the next morning.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 2020

    Re: How many film holders?

    All, thank you for the answers so far!!

    I appreciate the added information about your approaches too. I tend to have some with me, some in the car (or otherwise not too far away), and it is usually a mix of film stocks. It has so far not been an issue, as I am finding that I shoot fewer images that I plan to when I pack up, but in the future I want to push to shoot more. Might be time to add another 5-10 holders.

  6. #6
    Maris Rusis's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Noosa, Australia.

    Re: How many film holders?

    About 30 in 8x10 and 4x5 formats plus 6 Grafmatics in 4x5. The idea long ago when I got the holders was to be able to load out a complete 50 sheet box of film in one go and not have to re-freeze some left over sheets. Remember when film came in 50 sheet boxes?
    Photography:first utterance. Sir John Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society. "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..".

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin USA

    Re: How many film holders?

    Before this COVID mess, for the past several years I’ve done two extended photography road trips per year with my 4x5 camera, and I have about 80-90 film holders that I load up for each trip. Earlier in my LF career I had fewer holders and relied on a changing tent to allow me to reload holders during each trip. I still bring that tent and some extra film (in boxes) along on my road trips, but have not needed to reload any holders in the last 2-3 month-long trips where I started with the 90 or so loaded holders. Since I have that many holders, but would never want to run out of film in holders when on the road, I don’t foresee leaving my changing tent at home.

    My film holder strategy is based on the premise that I don’t camp, but stay in motels throughout my journeys, so can fairly easily reload holders along the way (using my changing tent). I also like to have holders with 3-4 types of B&W film, and 2-3 types of color film, at the ready for me to select on any given day when I'm out in the field and choosing subjects. I don't take more than maybe 20 holders with this mix of film choices with me in my car each day, as the rest of my 90 or so holders will be back in the motel room. In the field I generally work out of the back of my car, or short hikes away. Others here have described how they label their holders and keep notes on each film that is exposed, and for that I use a piece of 3/8in. gaffer's tape on each side of each loaded film holder, and write my exposure and development notes on those tapes (along with date, subject, etc.). I use different colors of tape for each type of film, to help me be double sure which film I'm using for each image. If I have to empty and reload some film holders along the way during my trips, I then need to have some way to keep those pieces of gaffer's tape and the films in the right order so that I can know what to do with development of each sheet of film when I get back home. That is not too difficult or cumbersome, but it is easier when I get home if I have enough film holders to last me the entire trip without having to reload any while traveling (thus my loading and preparation of so many holders for a month long road trip).
    Last edited by JMO; 9-Mar-2021 at 13:07.
    ... JMOwens (Mt. Pleasant, Wisc. USA)

    "If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all." ...Michelangelo

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Re: How many film holders?

    4x5 holders, not counted them in decades, not used then in decades. Stack about 16" fills the entire length of their case. And... two graphmatics that were once used often. Still have a stack of spare film septum that are not bent or abused.

    5z7 holders, maybe 50 known good holders. Typically 12 holders easily meets the film needs for an entire day. If more images are needed, have taken more than 20 holders for a single project that is know to require lots of film. 6-8 holders fit in the Pelican case with the Sinar Norma and all needed except tripod.

    13x18cm holders, about 30 (Fidelity & Linhof combo plate/film). There was a time when significant amount of 13x18cm film was being used. There will come a time when the frozen supply of Agfapan APX 100 is gonna run out. Then these holders are likely going to be retired.

    8x10, one. It is a reminder of them old days.

    Mention of film changing tents, much like the previous post, did this decades ago... to discover dust and ick was too much hassle and wrecked too many images. Some time circa later 1980's, the solution was to have and used a LOT of film holders and never use a film changing tent. On trips, finding a dark closet to change film can work.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    South Dakota

    Re: How many film holders?

    I generally take about 6 holders out with me for the day. If on a trip I'll simply reload them at night in a bathroom. I don't think I've ever taken more than 10 LF in a single day. With 8x10 I'll take two holders.

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

  10. #10
    ic-racer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Re: How many film holders?

    8x10 I have only ten. I got 4 new ones when they were still available, some of the rest are like new, so were very expensive, that is why so few. My 8x10 bag holds three at a time. That works out OK because I'll shoot 5 sheets; just enough for one run in the Jobo Expert drum.

    4x5 I have so many I don't know. When I got into 4x5 people were giving these away. My bag only holds about 6 at a time.

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