Dust on film loading

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I started to use 10x8 because contact printing is the finest form of photographic printing but after a year of it my experience tells me that there is one problem which is quite a lottery, dust on loading the film, I've tried most of what has been suggested on this forum, but it's still a chance thing and it seems to me the only solution is readyloads, well it's not going to happen is it. What frustration.

-- Chris Kargotis (chris@kargotis.freeserve.co.uk), June 23, 2001


I'm a relative newcomer to large format, and read all the precautions about dust, and thought it would be a constant battle, but it's been anything but. I've yet to encounter a dust problem of any kind, and I've started to get rather careless about dust prevention and still haven't seen the dreaded dust. I'd be willing to bet most problems are related to the humidity in the location where you shoot. I'm on an island, it's frequently cloudy or raining, and the relative humidity is always high. Ensure your loading/unloading area is somewhat humid, run the shower for a few minutes prior and see if that helps. I also insert and remove the darkslide VERY slowly, to prevent static which may agitate any existing dust. Hope this helps.

-- Michael Mahoney (mmahoney@nfld.com), June 23, 2001.

Chris: Suggest you vaccuum out both your film holders and camera as a start. Then keep your film holders in a plastic zip-lock bag until you are ready to use them. You have a problem that has plagued LF shooters from day one. Good luck with it.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), June 23, 2001.

Another solution is to buy a small clean air system (abt.15-20 bucks) for a unit that will clean a 15x15 room. Just turn it on about 1/2 hour before loading your holders, or the shower route is very good also. Pat

-- pat krentz (patwandakrentz@aol.com), June 24, 2001.

I have found many of the suggestions on the several threads on this subject useful. However, I would have to say the biggest cause of my dust spots has been purchasing and using used film holders. When I started out in 4X5 I bought new ones (lisco's, fidelity's and toyo's) and I managed to go for about 8 years with only one spot I can remember. Then I started using 5X7 film, discovered Ebay, and bought a bunch of used holders which seem to have dust problems. That being said, the following have helped a great deal:

1. Blow compressed air out the light trip and watch the cloud of accumulated dust; 2. A HEPA filter cuts down a lot on darkroom dust; 3. The moist bathroom trick works really well; 3.5 Use a spray bottle of water to mist down your working surface for loading and your clothes before you start loading. 4. Vacuum out the holders with a shop vac; 5. Keep the film in the plastic lined pouch it comes in until you are ready to quickly load it; 6. Get the dust out of your camera; 7. Keep the film holders in zip lock bags; 8. Dust the holders before you put them in the camera; 9. Pull the darkslide slowly.

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), June 24, 2001.

If you run a humidifier, it will keep the dust down. Some people have set it for 65%. In the New England area where I live, during the winter months when it is drier, I tend to use one in the darkroom to keep the static down also. Canned air and an anti static cloth works well for me.

-- Scott Walton (f64sw@hotmail.com), June 25, 2001.

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