Dust in film back loading

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Does anyone have solutions to dust settling on the film when loading backs. I sometimes have to use a changing bag for field changes which probably contibutes to the problem. As loading is carried out in total darkness its hard to know when and if dust is going to cause a problem when loading occurs.

-- Chris Hill (chris@hillphotos.co.nz), November 16, 1998


I have had very few dust spots on my negatives & transparencies since using a Honeywell HEPA filter in the small restroom where I load film holders. I first wipe down the floor, counters & any other surface which may have dust on it with a damp cloth. Then I start the filter running & let it run for about 15 minutes in the closed room. I go in and wait another five or so minutes & start loading film holders. Before loading I brush each holder with a large draft-person's brush to brush off any dust which might be on each unit. So far this has worked very well.

As for the dust in a changing bag I don't have any suggestions except that you may want to wipe down the interior of it with a damp cloth to at least collect & remove some dust. Good luck.

-- guy anderson (guymanderson@msn.com), November 17, 1998.

See also under "Film and holders Threads", various topics with "dust" in the title.

-- Alan Gibson (Alan.Gibson@technologist.com), November 17, 1998.

This is a big reason, along with the dead weight of the holders, that i use Fuji QuickLoad films and a QL holder.

You might check with a vacuum cleaner shop to see if they carry the Hoover low pressure/small nozzle adapter. It is designed for cleaning computer keyboards and other delicate equipment. I found mine at the M&M Vacuum Cleaner shop here in Houston, Texas.

-- Ellis (evphoto@insync.net), November 17, 1998.

A solution that was relatively easy for me to implement in my house was to use a spare bathroom for loading film. The key is to put hot water in the tub, and then close the door. I've never had a problem with dust as long as the humidity was high enough to cause some condensation on the mirror.

Here are a couple of things to consider, although I suspect that you're already doing them. 1.Blow compressed air through the felt at the top of the film holder. 2. Clean the holder and dark slide with a camel hair brush, or some other anti-static brush. 3. Avoid wearing clothing that sheds when you load your holders. Wool sweaters and flannel shirts are two great offenders.

I can't help you with the changing bag. I, too, have switched to Quickloads and Readyloads when I'm away from home.

I kow this is incredibly frustrating. Best of luck! Bruce

-- Bruce M. Herman (bherman@arctic.net), November 21, 1998.

I gave up using changing bags to load film holders when I was on the road or in the wilderness years ago precisely because of the dust problem. I now load film in one of the following ways: On the road I try to find a darkroom, or a hotel bathroom (or similar) that can be darkened and cleaned and load my film there. Sometimes the availability of a bathroom without windows makes my decision about which hotel to stay in. Many photographic retailers or studios have darkrooms they are willing to let people use either for free or for a small fee. In the wilderness I change at night inside a tent. The tent must be thoroughly cleaned first, and this can be a bit of a dirt problem, but if you are diligent enough you can clean things sufficiently. Plastic bags for all holders, brushes, blowers and cloths are essential as is a clean surface to work on. In the tent a clean plastic bag works great. I also try to carry as many loaded film holders as possible when travelling in order to reduce the need for changing. Readyloads etc. are great if you can get the film you want, but they are more expensive. I carry both regular holders and a few boxes of readyloads as a backup if I use all the holders and can't find a suitable place to change. Hope this helps in the never-ending battle against dust! Dory ;^D>

-- Doremus Scudder (ScudderLandreth@compuserve.com), November 22, 1998.

I must be the exception here, but I have had virtually no dust problems whatsoever in the many years that I have been loading film in a light tent in every type of situation imagineable. In fact, about the only times that I have had a dust problem was when I loaded film in a bathroom, etc. (If you do this, run the shower a little before you start). The smaller the space, the easier it is to control dust problems. Light tents are small. I was a bit surprised to see the previous poster's remark that he doesn't use a light tent because of the dust problem, and that he now loads film in a camping tent. It's just a bigger tent except that it's a lot larger and is infinitely more diffult to keep clean than a light tent. And, of course, it's not light tight. I don't know about you, but sometimes I have to reload during the day. Think about it....he and all his clothes, probably a sleeping bag, and who knows what else will all be in his tent when he changes film.

As I said, I have absolutely no dust problems with a light tent. I don't do anything special. But here are a couple things that I do that you may find of help. First, I always keep my holders in baggies, whether loaded or not, when I'm not using them. Also, every once in a while I open the light tent and turn it opening side down and shake it good. Wiping the inside with a damp cloth every now and then is a good idea too. When I really want to get the inside spotlessly clean I (you may cringe at this) gently wipe down the inside with an old tack cloth (available at any hardware store). I use an old one that has lost most of its tack. This works great for the inside of bellows too (camera or enlarger). It picks up every spec of dust. Next, I always brush off the holders BEFORE I open them to load. I happen to use a Static Master brush. The reason I brush it off before opening it is that, if you don't, dust on the outside of the darkslide will get caught in the felt light trap. Then I just take out the slide and brush out the inside. As a final touch, I give a gentle puff of breath (don't spit) on the holder and darkslide before re-inserting (compressed air works good for this too).

Lastly, remember that even if you do all of this (which only takes a few seconds), all can be lost if the inside of your camera has dust in it. If you want the inside to be incredibly clean, try the tack cloth.

That's it. No problem. Light tents, used correctly, are not only extremely convenient, but serve their purpose very well.

-- Tom Johnston (tajohnston@lucent.com), November 24, 1998.

One more thing: Before someone screams....obviously you only use a tack cloth on the inside of bellows and light tents. Of course you would never touch a lens, etc. with it. I use this when I am doing my periodic really thorough cleaning. Wash your hands before handling film and equipment after using a tack cloth. But, if you use a old one that has been exposed to the air for a while, as I recommend, it will leave no residue on anything. It is the ultimate dust remover.

-- Tom Johnston (tajohnston@lucent.com), November 24, 1998.

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