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Thread: On dust (or other nasty things on your film!)

  1. #1

    On dust (or other nasty things on your film!)

    Dear Contributors, about 8 months ago I posted a similar question and received many different schol arly answers, almost all of them seemed to assume, as I did myself, that the dus t or hair-like specs on my film (which were there before of shooting the film, t herefore resulting in a nasty-difficult to retouch black hair or spec on the fil m)came from the enviroment. The solutions offered varied from: "clean-your-room- and-don't-wear-a-woolen-sweater" to "buy-yourselves-a-decent-but-expensive-quick load-or-readyload-gizmo". The second option for many reasons, the first being the scarcely available film (qickload is not imported in the Netherlands and you have to order in England.. and last but not least the price!) made up my mind for me. So I set off to clean up my act although I have never had any problem before, fo r many years now. I could not get a spotlessy clean room so I bought a changing room from photofle x .I managed to buy an antistatic device from Simco to make my film-holders anti static. I bought new film holders. All this to no avail at all! There were less but there still were hair-like or specs nasties. I then did what I should have done before and loaded some unexposed films in my holders and done the normal operations but with the light on! Blew any dust away from the film, put it trough the antistatic thing,put the holder through the an tistatic machine, loaded several film holders, old and new, and opened them pul ling the dark slide as if I had to shoot a film and yes, there they were, the ha irs or dust particles on my film. Old and new holders had this. Repeating the pr ocedure several times gave erratic results. My deductions are that the hairs come from the velvet stripe inside the chassis( film holders). Does anybody have any advice about this? Please do not tell me to use quickloads or readyloads or to clean my room or anything of this sort because my experimen t clearly demonstrates that this factors aren't playing any role here. How is it possible that nobody else has this?Most Film Holders are manifatured b y the same company in America and they should be the same. I tried Old and new f idelity and Lisco, same results.Please help, I am going nuts!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 1998

    On dust (or other nasty things on your film!)

    I have a similar problem with my OLD wood 8x10 holders. They have a velvet strip which generates mega-static every time the (non-plastic) slides are removed. My plastic holders (Fidelity) do not have this problem.

    Question: Have you tried grounding the holders (i.e. running a wire clipped to the holder to your wrist or to the ground) when shooting? My guess is that the detritus on your film is not getting there when you load it; it's getting there when you remove/insert the dark slide at the time of exposure. Perhaps grounding the holder and/or slide will eliminate the static charge.

    Bear in mind that I have no idea what I'm talking about... just thinking out loud.

  3. #3

    On dust (or other nasty things on your film!)

    One article I read emphasized the importance of always cleaning the dark slide before removing. Otherwise the light trap cleans the dust from the slide as you remove it. Then when you reinsert the slide, some dust may be pushed into the holder. I have made it a practice to always clean the holders and slides before removing or inserting a slide. It seems to have helped. Also, insert or remove the slide slowly to lessen the chances of moving dust from the trap and generating static electricity.

  4. #4

    On dust (or other nasty things on your film!)

    I routinely blow out the velvet light trap strips w compressed air..and/or vaccuum them woth a mini computer vac I bought. These work well. What I've found about dust is 1. It won't ever completely go away. 2. If you don't bother won't bother you. I keep my darkroom as clean as possible..but when I load sheet film..I make sure that the air is still so no dust is the ventilation fan is off (or on very low). I also set everything out before hand and give the air a minute to settle down before I start working. I also open up, and clean out the holders I'll be loading ..reverse the slides..and set them into the holders pulled out so I have a stack of holders ready to go before I start loading. If the air is dry..I'll use an anti-static brush to brush off each sheet before I close the slide..if the air is normal or humid, I'll generally use compressed air on each sheeet before I close the slide..(aim the blast away from the other holders, too. I have minimal dust problems

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 1998

    On dust (or other nasty things on your film!)

    Is your darkroom very dry? You might want to put a small humidifier in your loading room.(which could as simple as a hot plate with a simmering pot of water, just be sure to turn it off when not in use). Another trick is to clean and load your film holders and then holding them face down, open and close them a couple of times while lightly tapping to knock any dust off.

    What I do when I have to resort to holders is to vacuum them (Hoover makes a USD 20.00 accessory low pressure wand and brush option to fit most standard size cannister vacuum cleaner hoses) and then store them in ziplock bags to carry them into the field.

    I am surprised to read that there are no Fuji Pro stock houses in Holland as Fuji has a plant near Amsterdam I believe.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 1999

    On dust (or other nasty things on your film!)

    There is no simple answer. Dust comes from everywhere and unfortunately homes in on film because it will hold a static charge BECAUSE it is plastic. Grounding might just help, dryness contributes and humidity can help, dust from the velvet is definitely a problem and all of the cleaning recommendations are good. I live in the Northeast USA and humidity is high. I have very little dust problem even with VERY casual quality control. I got a lot from all of these responses and will use some, just to avoid the occasional problems I have. Most of mine come from travel. I might add that flying with loaded holders is a no-no because the rarified air and dryness cause the film in holders to suck in dust. I fly with factory-packaged film only. Driving with unprotected film (ZipLocks are great) drags dust in too. Especially trucks with tailgates that aren't air tight. The vortex behind the vehicle pulls dust inside. Don't forget about the inside of your camera. Drawing out the slide creates a charge that attracts dust from the bellows back to the film surface. This has to be cleaned also. Expansion and contraction of bellows like an accordion pulls dust inside. The inside of an accordion gets pretty dirty. Bellows create a mini-environment between the film and the lens. Related but different subject, if you load in a dryer or wetter place than you are shooting the sudden humidity change can warp film too! Let it set for a while for the film to flatten again. Carrying the camera opened with no lens can introduce dust and humidity. It's amazing we get any good negs.

  7. #7

    On dust (or other nasty things on your film!)

    Dear contributors, Thanks for the most helpful advice. However I have to come back to the fact that as I said in my original posting, the hairs and specs are most definitely produced by the velvet strip of modern, new!!! and old(er), Lisco or Fidelity film holders, both in 4"x5" and 8"x10. Of all the suggestions the one to wash the holder and vaccum clean while wet seems a promising one and I would like to know more about the method. Again the dust, specs or Hairs doesn't come from outside the holder. This was my original thought and I spend lots of time and money to no avail in this direction (new camera,new film holders, antistatic ionizating machine, Changing room from photoflex). Probably the best is to vacuum clean the strip before loading but results aren't entirely satisfactory. Thanks and regards.

  8. #8

    On dust (or other nasty things on your film!)

    The velvet stips inside the holders most likely is not the cause. I had a similar problem until I got mean and really used some real serious air to clean out the holders both ways. That air can you use just doesn't have enough power to do an adequate job getting out all the dust. I use an air hose at work and really give the holder a good going over. First blowing into the trap one direction and then another. I mean I really clean them. And the holders immediately go into a freezer size zipper lock bag. I shoot out in the boondocks alot where there is an awful lot of dust and dander. I also take my dog with me most of the time. Before I started using this method I had lots of dust and hair. Now I have maybe 1 holder out of ten with any contaminants at all. As soon as I clean them they go into a bag and when I load them I only take out 4 or 5 at a time and they go right back into the bag. And before I put them into the camera I pat them on my hand to dislodge any dust or debris that got onto them between taking them from the bag and the camera. I also clean out the inside of my camera before every shoot. If I'm out in the dirt I clean the camera inside and out every morning and afternoon. If you still have the problem after this I'll be surprised. Also Ellis is right on about the humidifier. I use a hot plate in the darkroom when the santa anas blow in the fall. Humidity drops like a rock. 8-10 percent's not uncommon. Good shooting. james

  9. #9

    On dust (or other nasty things on your film!)

    I thought I was going to be home free by using roll film holders on my Horseman 980--WRONG. I was dismayed finding black marks on my prints. I never got them from my Rollie! My solution has been to thoroughly clean out the film holders particularly the trap, not remove the slide all the way, but to it's marked clearance line, and I don't advance the film until I'm ready to shoot. This takes great discipline!

  10. #10

    On dust (or other nasty things on your film!)

    James... I like your concept of blowing the trap with highly compressed air.. tell me what air compressor do you reccomend and where do you buy them for this purpose. Thank you.

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