Getting film from the camera to the lab : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

First a bit about myself. I have been shooting both 35mm and medium format for a number of years and have found myself shooting more architecture lately. Initially I bought a 35mm Nikon PC lens but have now decided to take the leap to large format for the movements. Using the excellent resources both here and elsewhere on the internet I have purchased a new Toyo 45CX ($550 at B&H) and a used Super Angulon 90mm f8 lens from KEH ($645). If I decide it's not for me then I should only be a couple of hundred dollars out of pocket.

Anyway, on to my question. I have been reading up on everything I can both on the internet and in books however, I have not seen anything that states how you get the film from the camera to the lab. Do you normally give them the film in the film holders or if you remove it, what do you put it in that is light tight.

-- Edward Hattersley (, July 11, 2000


You need an extra film box. Be sure to put the film inside a light proof pouch (such as the stuff printing paper cames in) because a box inside a box lid is not necessarily light tight. If you're using a local lab, they will (usually) unload your holders for you directly.

-- Bill Mitchell (, July 11, 2000.

Hi Edward, I had the same question when I first started a couple of years ago. I went to my local lab and asked if they had any empty film boxes they could give me. They had lots and gave me some. You simply put your film in the double boxes and take it to the lab. My lab also will take film in holders, but they charge .50 cents a sheet to remove them. This is ok if you only have 2 or 3 shots, but can be expensive and I like to keep all my holders loaded and not off at the lab.

Good Images to you, Bill

-- Bill Lindley (, July 11, 2000.

Edward, If you are using a trusted pro lab, you can just drop off your holders with them and the'll return them to you. Most of the time I do the box thing and the labs will always have tons of them but if you are out on a shoot and want to drop the film off immediately, you can with the holders too. Cheers

-- Scott Walton (, July 11, 2000.

B&H sells black plastic bags of the sort used for holding 100-sheets of photographic paper. They come in packages of 5 and are distributed by Delta.

-- David Goldfarb (, July 11, 2000.

Film boxes work fine - if they are double walled, you don't absolutely need a light-proof bag as well, though it never hurts. You can drop off holders at most pro labs, but be aware that you won't always get back the same ones you left at many places. I know several LF photographers who got stuck with an old beaten up holder rather than the nice shiny one they dropped off. If you label them very clearly, that should help a lot.

One tip if you do use boxes: TAPE THEM SHUT! It's easy for the lid to come off if people are tossing them around and being sloppy about it; taping something closed is a pretty universal clue in the lab environment that there are light-sensitive materials inside.

Just a tip .. Oliver

-- Oliver Sharp (, July 13, 2000.

This is one of those "I should have known better" stories. I almost always use regular film holders, the subjects that interest me are many times not in dust free environments. When I travel anywhere with film I allways use the shipping boxes and dark bags. When ever I make a film purchase I open the box and place a clean rubber band around the stacks of sheet film (over the card stock) then back in the box. I use this for exposed film as well. The reason is that I allways have film traveling in my vehical and I learned that for me and the dusty conditions that I'm in, this can do damage (enough to make a grown man damn near cry) to the loose sheets if they are not held tight. I personally think it is important to place the film in the box correctly (all notches in the same posistion)as this will at least reduce the damage from that one piece of gravel that gets between the best 2 exposures. I do not send out any LF to the lab but I would think the above would apply.

-- R. (Mac) McDonald (, July 13, 2000.

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