Finger marks on film: does it matter ? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

It's sometimes difficult to handle film solely through the edges. Gloves can make feeling the film more difficult, and can add lint. If not using gloves, should one be concerned about touching the film and leaving finger marks ? I personally have not observed negative consequences of this on the processed transparencies. I speculate that the finger marks are washed away while processing the film. Is that correct ?

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (, November 18, 2000


I think the finger marks are washed away by the development process. However, I try to be as careful as possible about having my hands and clean and oil free as possible. I have found that a bit of fingernail polish remover on a cotton ball will remove just about all the oil from fingertips. I think hot, sweaty hands may leave enough moisture and residue on the film to harm it.



-- Doug Paramore (, November 18, 2000.

I am trying to remember, Adams got his thumbprint on "MT. Williamson" while he was processing, right?

-- Sean yates (, November 18, 2000.

After a couple of problems, I very carefully wash my hands using dish detergent to remove grease and oil as well as possible, then dry them well before handling film. No problems with fingerprints since.

-- John Hicks (, November 18, 2000.

Fingerprints usually are washed away during the films processing however fingerprints on processed film become very difficult to remove there is the added risk of scratching the films surface.

When removing negs. from their sleeves I normally use a pair of blunt forceps just holding the neg. rebate.

If I'm about to handle a fair amount of film I wash my hands thoroughly first in warm soapy water then rinse well in cold water to try and delay sweating.

-- Trevor Crone (, November 19, 2000.

IMHO a clean pair of hands is the answer!! Wash as much grease off as you can with warm soapy water and dry thoroughly before loading. I would have thought that any marks transferred to the film are then likely to be washed away in either the pre soak or the dev. Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, November 19, 2000.

Don't laugh but, I know someone who ruined a few sheets by putting moisterizer on their hands after washing them so they would be clean for handling the film.

As long as your hands are clean, free of oil, and dry incidental contact with the face of film shouldn't be a problem. I photograph in the desert and in the summer when its hot I have had problems with transparencies. I am guessing that the combination of surface sweat and a softened emulsion is the problem so now I don't do any field handling of film. I have been luckier with black and white. The finger prints on the transparencies didn't wash away.


-- Kevin Kemner (, November 19, 2000.

I handle, lots of wet sheets of T-55 negs to wash weekly, and raw negative, washing to me isn't enough. I now use rubber gloves from Best to eliminate the problem. and at home use gloves to load film holders, as i use the foloowing, 2 1/4 x 3 1/4, 4x5, 5x7 8x10, some instant some not


-- Bill Jefferson (, November 20, 2000.

I've been told by Aoyama Labs in Tokyo that the way to remove them is to run them through the rinse process again (or whatever it's called), but that may change the color (this is for color transparency film).

-- James Chow (, November 20, 2000.

When I used to use Velvia in 4x5 (pre-Quickload era)I loaded it with non-gloved hands. I never had any problems with finger prints. I even loaded film holders in a changing bag a couple times sweating the entire time. No problems. But a word of warning about loading B&W IR without gloves. Don't do it un-gloved!!! Your finger prints will always show. Always use gloves with Kodak IR. James

-- lumberjack (, November 20, 2000.

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