Spiral film loaders

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On another thread I posed the question of how to load stainless steel reels such that the film went on correctly and no pictures were lost. There were many great and helpful suggestions.

Of further interest to me, and possibly others, I have since discovered that Calumet sells an inexpensive film loader for Kinderman stainless steel reels, and Hewes manufacturers film loaders for their 35mm, 120mm and 70mm reels, and the also accept custom orders.

There may be others available elsewhere, but this is all I've discovered so far.

For anyone interested, you can view the Hewes spiral film loaders at http://www.hewes.co.uk and navigate there by selecting the products link, then the spiral film loaders link.

Or, visit http://www.calumetphoto.com and search for 'film loader' to see what is available.

For a reasonable fee, an idiot could become a film loading master, with nary a shot ruined due to errors in film placement on the reel.

-- Roger Urban (roger_urban@yahoo.com), April 02, 2002


For far less money, get some old, expired film. Sit down with short lengths and just practice loading in the light. After you do it 50 times, you'll not have any more problems. This is NOT rocket science. You just have to do it right - the same way - every time.

-- Alec (alecj@bellsouth.net), April 02, 2002.

One "trick" to loading these reels was shown to me by a Paul Baron, a friend of mine in high school. It really works.

As you load the film onto the reel, gently push the film toward the reel and pull it out slightly. Film which is properly feeding itself onto the reel will move slightly, perhaps a quarter inch (Canadians and Eurpoeans please multiply by 2.5 or a conversion factor of your choice) as you push and pull. Film that isn't loading properply binds and won't move at all.

Feed half a rotation, push and pull, feed another half rotation, check again. There is a natural rhythm to the process and you receive constant feedback that the film is loading properly.

-- Ed Balko (veggie@monmouth.com), April 02, 2002.

With 35 mm film the easiest way is to just just leave a little of the leader out of the cassette when you rewind the film (or use a film grabber and pull a little out if your camera automatically rewinds all of the film into the cassette), extend the leader to a couple inches, cut it square, insert the leader onto the reel in daylight and get it started properly while you can still see, then go into the darkroom and complete the chore. The only difficult part of loading a steel reel is getting the film onto the reel and started properly. If you do that much in daylight the only part done in the dark is rotating the reel and that's simnple once the film is properly loaded. Of course you can't do this with 120/220 film so for that just get a plastic tank and reel. I always found the plastic reels much easier to load than the steel reels.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlink.net), April 02, 2002.

Although the loading of 35 mm film is off topic I want to take issue with the idea of leaving the film's leader sticking out of the cassette after the film is exposed. I know that's so you can trim the end before you try to load it onto a reel. But I've never had problems tearing the film in the dark into a squarish shape for loading.

I did however reload a roll of exposed film and double exposed the lot. I promised myself (twenty years ago) that I'd never do it again and I've never let the leader stuck out since.

-- David Grandy (dgrandy@grandyphoto.com), April 03, 2002.

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