Good techniqueto UNLOAD Film Holders Inside a Changing Bag? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm travelling and having to change sheet film inside a bag, where it's not possible to blow on the film edge to seperate it from the back of the holder (to make it easier to remove). Hence this afternoon, had a hell of a time removing just 15 or so sheets, taking 2 hours, and possibly damaging the film from all the extra handling!!

Any real world secrets to do this trick? Thanks in advance. (And yes, I know I should have sprung for a good changing tent - but that wouldn't help this problem.) Andre

-- Andre Noble (, September 06, 2001


I don't understand the problem, could you elaborate on why it is difficult ? In my holders (standard lisco/fidelity), there is a small circular depression at the end. I use it to just grab the film between two fingers enough to pull it out, then I hold film by the edges. I never had any problems to unload 30 sheets in 15 min or less. If you're worried about leaving finger marks on your film, remember that they are washed out by processing unless your hands are extremely dirty.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (, September 06, 2001.

Don't trim (or bite!) your finger nails so close. There is an indent on the holder to slip your fingernail under the film.

-- Gary Frost (, September 06, 2001.

what kind of film ? are you using different film on this trip ? different emulsions ( I'm no authority, having used only three ) seem to act differently in the holders. but all the same, to take that long on 15 sheets indicates a problem - but before the LF detectives can solve your problem, you need to be more informative as to the exact conditions you're encountering. regards,

-- Michael Mahoney (, September 06, 2001.

Yes. I had the same problem. My nails is trimmed and I couldn't slip my nail under the film if holder is lay down. . Now I keep the holder verticaly, like this:[===] and film separates from holder bottom a little. It works!

-- Andres (, September 07, 2001.


A couple of points:

Make up a small knock-together / knock-down frame sized to snugly fit the dark-bag from electrical conduit and corners (or similar).

Place this in the bag before loading/unloading to keep the bag from falling onto the folder/film. It is light and doesn't take up a lot of room when disassembled.

Load/Unload only a couple of holders at a time. The humoidty inside the bag becomes quite high with lengthy durations of having your hands functioning inside the relatively light tight bag. The build up of humidity in turn causes the film to 'stick' to the septum in the holder.

If your travels include hotel rooms try to black out the bathroom, remove any fluoro's from their holders and work comfortably on the bench or lavatory lid. Be sure to wipe down any surface you intend using and perform the operation prior to showering, towelling or spraying.

In the hope that this is of some help I wish you safe journeys and successful shooting ... WG

-- Walter Glover (, September 07, 2001.

I use the bottle opener blade on a Swiss Army knife to remove film from 4x5 holders (really!). Slide the flat of the blade just under the edge of the film. When it pops up, pinch it between the blade and your thumb. It's easy to pull out.

I can feel you recoiling in horror....a knife blade to remove film? For one, the edges of the bottle opener are smooth, not sharp, so it's actually quite difficult to scratch the film. Second, you only need insert the blade a small distance under the film. Not as scary as it sounds.

I've damaged far more film with my fingers than with the knife.

Good luck!

-- Kevin Bourque (, September 07, 2001.

Walter: Spraying??? Like a cat?

-- Sandy Sorlien (, September 07, 2001.

I think he's referring to hair spray, etc.

-- Sal Santamaura (, September 08, 2001.

Q.-Tuan Luong : I'm using Fidelity Elite's, and the button you speak about does help - but in my holders, it's only on one side. It's also easier to unload E100SW, for example than the HP5+, and yes, I do like to keep my nails very short.

That's reasurring to hear about the fingerprints washing out during processing, but fingerprints on the emulsiom side can't be good at anytime....

I have a tool similar to the Swiss Army tool above, and will use that until I let a nail grow out a little. Andre

-- Andre Noble (, September 08, 2001.

Andre, Have you thought of getting rid of the changing bag and investing in a changing tent - no, not one of the horrendously expensive harrison jobs (as nice as I'm sure thay are!) but a Calumet? I got one and it really does the job! Like the harrison the arm holes are on the front panel and it is made of a double skin - silver outside and a black inner. It is simple to set up, you just untwist it , a bit like the lastolite reflectors, et voila a changing tent plenty big enough for changing film. Check out Calumets web site for dimensions and a pic, also it comes in a zip up pouch and is super light although it doesnt fold small - but ok for in a car/hotel etc. I paid about 55 UK pounds for mine and am very pleased. Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, September 08, 2001.

why would a cat need hairspray?

-- adam (, September 08, 2001.

Try turning the holder upside down so the film is helped away from the holder by gravity. It can make it a lot easier than trying to pry it away from the top when it lays flat.

-- Dan Smith (, September 09, 2001.

Dan, you are right. I did precisely that, and the other tips above too, like using the dull edged blade. Things went much easier second time around.

Paul, definitely gonna get one of those tents very soon. I am a masochist. I wanted to suffer through using a bag designed for pulling 35mm cameras, so I could then savour the relative ease of using a proper tent. Andre

-- Andre Noble (, September 09, 2001.

the cheaper tents (photoflex,calumet) are not guaranteed to be light tight. if you get one test it. don't use in bright light or leave your film out in them until you're sure. some people i know who use them always drape a heavy black cloth over it. harrison and shadow box tents are much better but much more expensive.

-- adam (, September 09, 2001.

What kind of numnuts idiot would market a changing tent that is NOT light tight? Talk about a lawsuit waiting to happen for designing a product that is not fit for the purpose for which it is sold!!!???

Might as well glue together paper bags from the supermarket & then wrap them in trash bags when it comes time to use it in the field.

-- Dan Smith (, September 09, 2001.

I don't understand the problem. I have no darkroom and have loaded and unloaded film holders in a standard changing bag for years, with no problems. But I don't think I have ever loaded or unloaded more than six holders at one time, usually four or less. Maybe he is trying to do too many at one time?

-- Dick Deimel (, September 12, 2001.


when one buys a photoflex changing room new there is a printed warning advising the product is not guaranteed to be light tight. this is one of the many reasons i use shadow boxes. a great many people use the photoflex without problems, though.

-- adam (, September 12, 2001.

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