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Thread: Cutting down film - tips?

  1. #1
    Scott --'s Avatar
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    Cutting down film - tips?

    Hi, all -

    I'm pondering a whole plate project in the immediate future. I've shied away from the format until now due to the film costs, but I have half a box of Arista 8x10 film that would be perfect for cutting down to WP. Having never trimmed film before, though, I've gotta ask - what's involved? How hard is it to do? Whatcha all use to trim it? Tips would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Scott

  2. #2

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    Re: Cutting down film - tips?

    It pays to visit the home page:

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/5x7.html

    Scroll down about 80% of the way. While Tuan discussed 5x7, what he wrote is equally applicable to 6-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches.

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    Re: Cutting down film - tips?

    I have never cut down film. But if I did, I would certainly use an ATN Viper. I am a new convert having been skeptical previously. But now that I have one, I can't imagine managing film in the dark without it.

  4. #4

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    Re: Cutting down film - tips?

    I like to leave this up to the pros (film material handling and repackaging companies)...much less hassle and perfect, dustless results.

  5. #5

    Re: Cutting down film - tips?

    Not a problem.

    First you need a Rotatrim trimmer. Then you need cotton gloves and a night vision monocle.

    Leave the IR off of the monocle and bounce a IR LED light bank off of an adjacent wall to insure no film fogging and go for it. This is how the professionals do it and it.

  6. #6
    Richard K. Richard K.'s Avatar
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    Re: Cutting down film - tips?

    Scott, I use a Rotatrim cutter with the optional(?) alignment edge. I first get a piece of scrap or developed "official" WP film (film that came from a Ilford or Kodak box) to set the alignment for the first cut. Have a 3 nest box open to receive the first cuts. Take the 8x10 (or whatever!) film and place it in position emulsion side up (to prevent scratching of the emulsion as you position the film) by placing against the bottom ledge simultaneously against the alignment bar. When I'm placing the film into postion, I first move the cutting head well away from the bottom and lift the clear plastic retaining strip up to allow the film to position without rubbing against it. Once everything feels snug, slowly make the cut but feel for and exert enough pressure on the film to prevent slippage. Take the wanted piece and place it into the nesting box. Go to the next sheet from the pile you placed in an easily in the dark reachable location and repeat but first move the cutting head away from the bottom. Once you have done this to every sheet in the pile, close the 3 nest box the usual way and turn on the lights. Throw away the cut strips (unless you used B I G film and saved the cuts in another 3 nest box). Get the exemplar piece of WP film and adjust the alignment bar for the next (last) cut. Repeat the previous procedure. That's it!
    Let me know where I confused you and I will try to explain better...
    When I was 16 I thought my father the stupidest man in the world; when I reached 21, I was astounded by how much he had learned in just 5 years!

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    Richard K. Richard K.'s Avatar
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    Re: Cutting down film - tips?

    I should have added that by making your 2 cuts away from the notch code, you preserve it! What Michael suggests above is a good idea but it's not really necessary if you are careful.

    Alternatively, you can just use scissors in the dark but I've never had a straight cut this way...
    When I was 16 I thought my father the stupidest man in the world; when I reached 21, I was astounded by how much he had learned in just 5 years!

    -appropriated from Mark Twain

  8. #8

    Re: Cutting down film - tips?

    I use a standard Premier paper cutter. On top in the landscape orientation (for my 3x4 negatives, you might tape it vertically) I taped down a piece of photo paper to the edge of the board to give me a flat smooth surface. You might tape it and cut it off. Then I took a piece of black mat board and held it back from the cutting edge for the width (3") of my film cut. ( I took a piece of film cut to dimension and used that as a template for position of the mat.) Now, into that vertical (top to bottom) mat edge, I made a measurement and a cut out for the length of the film (4"); Just like in landscape orientation. You need a good straight left edge. Perhaps rubber cement that down for a dedicated cutter. This cut out was made a few inches down from the top of the mat (that's against the top rail of the cutter) to give me enough edge above to butt my negative against for cutting the width. I cut emulsion side down and use a wipe to clean the photo paper underneath. Then it's cotton gloves and film holders. Make sure you press down enough to steady the negative so the cutter doesn't pull it. You might use a piece of mat. A sharp cutter is preferred. Practice with your eyes closed with printer paper. It's easy to do.

  9. #9

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    Re: Cutting down film - tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Kadillak View Post
    Not a problem.

    First you need a Rotatrim trimmer. Then you need cotton gloves and a night vision monocle.

    Leave the IR off of the monocle and bounce a IR LED light bank off of an adjacent wall to insure no film fogging and go for it. This is how the professionals do it and it.
    Rotatrim? Not the professionals I use. I'll render 200 to 300 sheets of 8x10 to 5x7 at a time and I'd sooner pay them a couple hundred dollars, be assured that the film comes back to me dust free then "go for it" using the method described above. Call Varo Technical Services in West Chester, Pa... you'll be surprised at how inexpensive this is.

  10. #10

    Re: Cutting down film - tips?

    The more alternatives the better.

    My experience is that if you have a reasonable quantity of sheet film to cut down doing it yourself is not that problematic. I have never had an issue with dust in my darkroom.

    Larger quantities would easily justify a third party service. I am pleased that frotog has such an entity to consider. The more that we can do to encourage people to consume sheet film the better as far as I am concerned.

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