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Thread: Numbering/Indexing Film Holders?

  1. #1

    Numbering/Indexing Film Holders?

    Do any of you know how to rig a 4x5 film holder to number or index the negative? (a la Leica's MD2(a) model with the insertable information tabs). Or the Arca-Swiss numbering holders? I thought I had read about similar Graflex holders somewhere; but I not found anything yet.

    I bought several assorted 4x5 film holders a couple of years ago on ebay. One was an Arca-Swiss double sheet holder that has a transparent plastic tab on either side, with numbers 15 & 16 (Ithink). Their purpose is to facilitate your film management from exposure through archiving. The respective numbers are factory printed on the outsides of the holder. So you take your exposures (and Zone notes), then you can very efficiently separate the sheets for development (N, N+, or N-), and then keep track of the neg for filing and future use to match -up with your notes.

    I can not find any other such Arca-Swiss holders on the web - new or used.

    Do you have any suggestions on indexing/numbering?

    ps: I generally shoot landscapes and some candids (w/ a 4x5 Graflex Spd. Graphic).

    Thanks in advance for any illumination!

  2. #2

    Numbering/Indexing Film Holders?

    Make your own tabs using lazer printer transparency sheets and tape them to the hinged flap

  3. #3
    Jean-Louis Llech
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Beauvais - Picardie - France

    Numbering/Indexing Film Holders?

    1°) Lisco Mark II 4x5" film holders have a numbering mechanism and a reference number is "printed" on the negs.

    2°) The same process is also used on old Grafmatic 6 film-sheet holders.

    3°) Riteway sheet-film holders have a numbering wheel, as Grafmatic.(The Riteway has also a safety button which keep you from pulling the dark slide until the holder is really in place).
    Riteway holders are curiously not recommended for use with Linhof Cameras. I don't know the exact reason.

    Read also this useful thread

    You may code your holders with a small file, or make a label on a computer.

    A few years ago, I saved on my computer a thread about numbering film holders.

    I don't remember where I found it, but I give you here the thread, it will probably help you as well :

    "I went with the notched film holder idea. I learned about it in school years ago, and it's worked great. I notched the 10 holders I had in school, and after years of acquiring new ones and telling myself to notch them all, I finally did, and it's made life a lot easier.
    Originally I used a triangular file to make the notches. That was fine for 10 holders back then, but I now have approx. 40 holders, and the filing was taking WAY too long. So, I actually used a small drill bit on a drill press, not drilling straight down, but keeping the bit in one position, and moving the holder in and out to carve out the notch. Worked pretty good, and went a lot faster. Did all 30 in about 30 minutes.
    I can totally understand why some people wouldn't like to mess with there holders like this, and I can see how you could easily slip and ruin one. As you can see by the images I posted below, there is no light leak in past the notches, as long as you don't carve too far. I've been lucky in that not a single one of mine has had a problem. My method is this: notches for 10's on the left, 5's in the middle, and 1's on the right. So, 3 notches on the left, 1 in the middle, an 2 on the right is the #37."
    See this page for a few images to illustrate this better

    The thread follows with this : "Now, the way I usually shoot is to take two sheets (more if the shot warrants it, or the light is changing rapidly) of each shot, record the holder number and info (shutter, f/stop, lens, filters etc, etc) on my little digital voice recorder. When back home or in camp at night, I transcribe my notes to paper. Then I download one sheet from every setup into the same box (unless there are any pushes or pulls) and have the lab run them normal. When I get them back, I know exactly which sheet is which, and can judge how to run the remaining sheet from each setup if any adjustments in exposure are needed. I used to have to download into lots of separate boxes, and that is a real pain.
    I will admit the only problem I have with this method though. When shooting an image that is very dark or black on the edge with the notches in it, it is very hard or next to impossible to see the markings on the film, so that can make for guess work. The way I've gotten around that is that with my notes and memory of what order I shot them in, I'm able to narrow it down, and it all works out.
    Of course, Readyloads and Quickloads are great ways for easy organization, but they are a lot more expensive I'm afraid. I use them when backpacking, but stick to the holder most other times.

    Hope this helps,
    Best regards

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Farmington, MI

    Numbering/Indexing Film Holders?

    I have used v cuts made with an Xacto knife (cut into the hinged flap). I used a two digit approach, one on the left, one on the right. I quit doing it because the film that I use the most for my commercial work is Fuji NPL and NPS, which is sequentially numbered within the box- the numbers are on the edge of the film. I still use the notched holders for my personal B&W work.

  5. #5

    Numbering/Indexing Film Holders?

    Get 3 different shaped needle files. You will be treating these shapes as roman nunbers. The first shape is I, the second shape is V, and the last is X. Them file the film tabs about 1/16 deep as you put the numbers in the tab mark the number on the film holder. The file mark will show up on the film edge. I use a thin flat file, a round file and a vee shaped file.
    Richard T Ritter

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Numbering/Indexing Film Holders?

    It sounds great, but beware: the number printed by a Grafmatic will invariably be in an area you wish it wasn't. In fact, most used Grafmatics seem to have the numbering wheel removed. The notch system will solve that problem, anyhow.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  7. #7

    Numbering/Indexing Film Holders?

    It sounds from the original post that you want an outside numbering system for your holders.

    I have worked on several large scale projects (over 500 subjects, with exact records having to be kept for ID purposes later on) and simplest method is to take all of your holders and hand number them.

    If you are not into writing on you holders use tape and write on that. If you have used holders with writing all over them, buy a tin of BESTINE and use that to clean off all the pen and pencil marks. Bestine is paper cement solvent, and it is an old studio trick to use it to clean props and even the subject in still life. It leaves no residue, and removes almost anything. You can buy it at art supply stores that sell BEST brand paper cement.

    Number your holders 1,2,3,4 etc. and label one side "A" and the other side "B". If you shoot polaroid, than write on the back of the polaroid and/or exposure log... the lens, exposure, time/date, processing instructions and holder #7 side A, etc.

    If you have a problem with a leaky holder later, your numbering system will allow you to track it down right away.

    It sounds simple, and it is but how complicated do you want to make holder numbering??? If you want in internal code, filing notches is the easiest method....for Linhof and the other "numbered" holders tend to only go up to the number 12 (each side is numberd so that is a set of 6), and the linhof holders have to be bought in a complete set.

    If you are shooting slowly, I see no reason to use an internal system. The only people I know who use an internal system where the ones shooting 100 holders a day on fast shoots (fashion, etc.) and do not have the time to write down the holder number. If you are shooting landscapes and portraits slowly, writing down the external number will allow you to keep track of whats what.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Ottawa, Canada

    Numbering/Indexing Film Holders?

    If you send your film out to a lab, I can't see how just labelling the holders (i.e. no notches, etc) could help, particularly if you send a fairly large batch at a time...or am I missing something in workflow?

  9. #9

    Numbering/Indexing Film Holders?

    This is one of those perennial questions for this forum and I will promulgate my perennial answer. I tried notching the flaps on holders as well as using small, numbered transparency tabs taped to the flap. They work provided there is a reasonable amount of exposure on that part of the film. If there are deep shadows or a night sky in that area you still have no information recorded on the film. (Sometimes the tab would also intrude into the image area for a particlar way I wanted to crop the image when printing.) The method I now use avoids this problem. It allows for an unambiguous enumeration of 16 exposures. Simply take fingernail clippers or small scissors and clip a tiny portion off the corners of the film, during loading, in a binary sequence. You can do this easily in the dark while loading. This will number the film sheets 0 to 15 (1 to 16) and will always be present regardless of the exposure. Just pick an ordering and be consistent in using it. For example, let the corner next to the notches be the first position, and the next clockwise corner be the second position, and so on all the way around, clockwise, for all 4 corners. Let a “clipped” corner represent a binary 1 and an unclipped corner represent a binary 0. Then you clip the corners in the 0-15 binary sequence: 0000=0 0001=1 0010=2 0011=3 0100=4 0101=5 0110=6 0111=7 1000=8 1001=9 1010=10 1011=11 1100=12 1101=13 1110=14 1111=15. (It’s easy to learn to count in binary, if you think of it like this: “one”, “ten”, “eleven”, “one hundred”, “one hundred and one”, "one hundred eleven", "one thousand", etc.) For example, if you choose the ordering I mentioned above, sheet #5=0101 would have the corner next to the notches clipped as well as the “opposite” corner on the diagonal, and the other two corners unclipped. This is a very practical method and the sheets are permanently marked in an unambiguous manner. This will eliminate mix-ups when unloading and processing. If you need more than 16 identifiers per batch, then you could clip a notch along the top/bottom/sides of each sheet as an additional binary digit. In theory, this will give you 256 unique sheet identifiers. Personally, I’ve never needed more than 16 and have only had to clip the corners. Note that you are, in essence, doing the same thing that the manufacturers do with notch codes, except you are applying a unique notch code to each individual sheet in a set of 16. This method sounds a bit silly at first, but I can assure you it works well and is very practical.

  10. #10

    Numbering/Indexing Film Holders?

    I agree with James. Unless you are shooting a large number of frames in a single hit, it is easiest to just record details of each exposure as you go. With my current system, you could point to any one of my negatives and I could tell you; which box of film it came from, which holder it was exposed in, which camera was used, which lens, what exposure, which box it was stored in after exposure, the date of exposure, and the subject. I record details of the processing seperately. I only use a simple pencilled number on the holders.

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