Film tent vs. Readyloads? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm going on an extended sea-kayak trip this summer for about 3 months. I've decided to take my Toyo 45AX as I can't bear to shoot the places I'll be in 35mm. My question is has anybody ever used a film changing tent, and if so would you recommend it for extended field use like this. I've considered using Velvia/Provia in quickloads, but for b&w the only thing available is TMX in readyload. I use tri-x or hp5 in PMK and don't feel like changing now. I haven't had good results with TMX in pyro. If a tent works I can avoid the whole quick/readyload issue and stick with my own holders and film combinations. I've also considered using Polariod T55 which I love, but I've heard that keeping it unprocessed for more than a week or so can be detrimental. Any help here is much appreciated!

-- Dave Aharonian (, January 29, 2002


Dave, Film changing tents can be used in the field, the only potential problem is dust getting into the tent and then into the film holders. If you are able to maintain an area that is relatively dust-free (say) inside your tent, then a film tent will work. It certainly gives you much more choice as regards film stock. I use the Calumet tent. It is very light, folds flat (approx 50x40x3cms) and has arm holes on the front panel (like the harrison), but unlike the harrison it is fairly cheap! It would be worth getting one and trialling it before your trip - they are handy to have in any eventuality, even if not for this particular trip. Good luck. Paul

-- paul owen (, January 29, 2002.

I second the Calumet tent. I haven't had any problems with it, and it is great to use out in the field. Heck, I even use it at home during the day to load my Jobo tanks and load film holders while watching t.v.. And it is a low cost alternative, too. I think I paid around $75 for it 6 months ago.

-- Andy Biggs (, January 29, 2002.

As a card-carrying TMAX-hating, readyload-eschewing, film-tent-owning photographer, it pains me to say this, but wouldn't the readyloads make a whole lot more sense? Sea-kayaking and camping = beaches and sand. This being a trip you probably aren't going to take every year, why take chances? Figure out how to use TMAX, spend the extra money on the readyloads, and save the space, weight, and risk of film holders.

If you really can't stand the thought of changing emulsions, I will say my changing tent works great. But I wouldn't want to bang it around or watch it catch the wind and blow into the surf. Also, they can develop light leaks, and you probably won't know it until you get home and process all your ruined negatives.

On the other hand, I sure did get a lot of light leaks from my old readyloads, too. But I think Kodak may have solved that problem with the new readyloads.

Finally, I think you're totally bonkers to ruin a perfectly good sea-kayak trip with a view camera. I'd throw a converted folder pinhole camera and an old Rolleicord in the sack along with a few pro packs of HP5 and call it good. It's all going to fall into the sea on your last day out anyway.

-- Erik Ryberg (, January 29, 2002.


Have you considered Fuji Acros in QuickLoad? Badger carries it. Otherwise, pack a tent. I took a Harrison Pup Tent to Europe... but hostels are not the same as a beach, and trains aint kayaks.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, January 29, 2002.

I have a Calumet Changing Room (by Red Wing)--the silver thing with sleeves on the front. I don't like having the sleeves on the front. I prefer the sleeves on the side like the Photoflex changing room. I went with Calumet because it was on sale, but all things being equal, I'd but the photoflex.

I've never used a Harrison, but I hear many people praising them. It appears that the "tent poles" can be broken down (like tent poles) and the "tent" folded up. That would be much more convenient for packing than Calumet's changing room, which folds into a large flat oval.

If it were me, I'd be tempted to pick up the used Horseman outfit my local shop has and shoot roll film. I know saying that is near blasphemy, but it's smaller, lighter, has 6x7 or 6x9 backs, dust isn't as big of an issue, and the film is easier to pack.


-- Dave Willis (, January 29, 2002.

Anticipated climatic conditions may affect the answer. For example, I used a changing bag while backpacking above timberline in Colorado. The wind was blowing so hard for part of each day that accumulated static buildup on all surfaces attracted a fair amount of dust to each sheet of film while loading holders. The dry air didn't help. I doubt that a tent, rather than a changing bag, would have made much difference.

-- Peter Free (, January 30, 2002.

Dave, While working on a test using T-55, walking up stream in a shallow river, I exposed 60 packets, went home ant found that all packets had blocked. Which is the sheet face sticking to the negative, due to the humidity of the evaporating water the temp was around 90 degs. Save the T-55 for use at a later date. I never gave it a thought as i work with this film daily. Oh Well.


-- Bill Jefferson (, January 30, 2002.

I suggest a Mamiya 7II w/carbon fiber tripod.

-- Arthur Gottschalk (, January 30, 2002.

I suggest a Mamiya 6 or 7; or a Fuji 670/690. They are just better tools for the occasion. Have fun!

-- Roger (, January 30, 2002.

Hello David! The LF sea-kayak trip sounds like a great idea---very 1920's National Geographicy. Can you use the grafmatic film holder in your camera? It holds six sheets of 4x5 and as far as I know are only available used, but you might find it useful for your BW film. IMHO type 55 polaroid would be a great way to go. There was a thread a few days ago about it and someone suggested a more user friendly clearing agent than the usual sulfite(or is it sulfide?) Assumeing you've solved the logistical problems of sand, water, and salt air, sounds like type 55 was made for a trip like this. Good luck and don't drop it in the drink that last day out!

-- John Kasaian (, January 30, 2002.

Dave---I just read Bill Jefferson"s post. Never mind about the type 55!

-- John Kasaian (, January 30, 2002.

Dave - I have never used readiloads/quickloads but it seems obvious that at some point (amount of film), the tent and a few holders will be lighter, take up less space, and be far cheaper than quickloads. You need to assess how much film you'll need, then determine which works best based on space and weight. E.G. A harrison tent (which I have) weighs about 26 oz, a 50 sheet box of vevlia wieghs 10 oz., holders are about 6 oz a piece. When you get to the 150+ sheet range then I think the quickloads start getting bulkier and heavier than holders and a tent. Do the math ...

The dust problem can be minimized by wiping out the tent with a damp rag before loading. And if you are along the coast (sea kayaking) I wouldn't suspect dust to be an issue. One thing I will say is that for me the B&W film seems to attract dust far more than the Fujichrome - I don't know why.

Take the 4x5! I did a few Kayaking trips in SE Alaska and it was incredible, sublime beyond beleif. You'll want a big neg/chrome! Besides, you're not hauling it on your back! However, if you are in the PNW, it may be very wet/humid, which creates the opposite problem from dust. Robert Glen Ketchum did a book on SE Alaska and ended up using a pentax 67 becasue the condensation made it 4x5 too difficult.

-- hyperfocal (, January 30, 2002.

Thanks so much for the responses so far! I think I'm going to seriously look at a Harrison film tent. I'm not too worried about dust as I'll be travelling down the B.C. coast. I think I can also deal with the humidity. I have previously used my own holders here on the coast for short trips and didn't have any problems with moisture. Now if only I can convince Fuji to sponsor me!.......

-- Dave Aharonian (, January 30, 2002.

I second the Fuji 690/Mamiya 7 idea. Small, compact, outstanding lenses...less weight and fuss. The 690 takes incredible pictures, as does the 7.

-- george (, January 31, 2002.

Dave I have been using the Harrison Pup Tent for some time now and I can tell you it works like a dream. (not cheap though)I used to use a dark bag but keeping it clean, especially in the mts. was a real pain. Something else that you might want to consider is the Fuji Quickchange holder. Much like the old grafmatic holder with the six sptums but it holds eight sheets of film and of course you can use any film it doesn't have to be Fuji. Only problem is that is only available at Robert White in England or Japan. Nice thing is it will cut down on some bulk and weight. I notice you have a Canadian e- mail, I don't know where you live but the Harrison tents are available in Burnaby, B.C.

-- Adam Gibbs (, February 01, 2002.

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