Film holder light invasion : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

"Shade the holder to prevent direct light from shinning on the light trap as you withdraw the dark slide..." (Phil Davis; Photo Techniques Magazine; march/april 1998 - The View Camera). Has anybody already had an unhappy experience of light invasion through the "light trap" of film holder while shooting? Do you think is really necessary to shade the film holder, as Phil Davis advises? (Sergio Caetano)

-- Sergio Caetano (, April 17, 2002



-- Alec (, April 17, 2002.

Sergio: It can't hurt to do that, but... I have a variety of film holders in 4X5 and 5X7. Three quarters of them were purchased used, most of those were very dusty and took a lot of cleaning. With the exception of some "Kodak" 5X7's which were ancient (1930's) I've never had a light leak. I don't let them sit there uncovered in the sun sitting up in the camera bag. I'm careful with them, but I've never taken the precaution you're asking about and I've never had a problem. Again, it can't hurt.

-- Kevin Crisp (, April 17, 2002.

Keep that film holder covered, especially if you are making a vertical shot!!! - or if the sun is striking the side of the camera...

-- Per Volquartz (, April 17, 2002.

When I first started with 4x5 I left the film holder uncovered with the dark slide removed while standing in sun light. The film was streaked with light leaks. Since then I've always kept the holder covered with the dark cloth as the dark slide is being removed and for the entire time the holder is in the camera after that. Haven't had a light leak since.

-- Brian Ellis (, April 17, 2002.

I never entirely remove the dark slide - ever.
Slide it out- leave it in place - snap shutter - slide it in.
Why would you want to entirely remove it? Seems like a gamble to me.

-- Matt O. (, April 17, 2002.

Thanks for shedding some LIGHT on this subject guys! I'll follow your advise. m.

-- miles feigenbaum (, April 18, 2002.

Sergio... if you want to try an experiment, put your film holders in the camera for 5 minutes with dark slide removed and sun pointing at the slot. Of course keep lens shutter closed. Then snap a pix of a number of that respective film holder. Be sure to underexpose and use dark colors so you can see the light leaks. I know it will cost a few bucks per film holder, but you will weed out the real bad ones and prevent your self from ruining a future shot.

A good rule to follow, is never take the dark slide out, until you are ready to fire the shutter.....because all film holders will probably leak some light, but its a cummaltive effect, so if the dark slide is not out for long, even the slow leakers will never ruin an image.

-- bglick (, April 18, 2002.

Sergio: I never had light leaks with my 4x5 holders (Fidelity & Toyo), but once had several pictures ruined that way with Horseman roll film holder (in vertical orientation). Since that day I always shade the light trap of the RFH with the dark slide when shooting verticals.

-- Jean-Marie Solichon (, April 18, 2002.

I never have problems with my Fidelity holders. I have frequently left these holders exposed to sunlight.

I remove the darkslide to reverse it so that I know that sheet of film is exposed.

-- neil poulsen (, April 18, 2002.

Film is cheap, but pictures are a lot of effort and sometimes unrepeatable. Be safe- shield the filmholder from the sun. I've known people who wrapped the entire camera in the darkcloth before making an exposure- that's not for me- but whatever it takes is what you need to do.

-- Mark Sampson (, April 18, 2002.

I haven't had any problems with light leaking in through the darkslide hole when the darkslide is removed. On the other hand I kind of pick my spots. If the back of the camera is in bright sunshine then I try to drape the focus cloth over the top of the holder, based on the "can't hurt to try this" philosophy.

However I always COMPLETELY pull the darkslide out of the holder. I'm very concerned that the darkslide - and especially in 8x10 - will act like a great big sail and cause some camera movement if there's any wind at all. Another advantage of pulling the darkslide out completely is that it can be used well as an ad hoc lens shade when neccessary; but mostly I pull it to avoid any possible photographer induced vibration.

-- David Grandy (, April 18, 2002.

Matt O, - "I never entirely remove the dark slide - ever. Slide it out- leave it in place - snap shutter - slide it in. Why would you want to entirely remove it? Seems like a gamble to me."

Am I missing something, or would that create the problem of not being able to switch from "silver to black" on the pull. This certainly isn't a requirement, but I find it helpful (at minimum I find it is a good backup system to my field/holder notes) Do you have some other way of keeping track or exposed vs non-exposed film?

-- jon fritsch (, April 18, 2002.

Sergio, take my word for it and avoid ANY sun light to strike the film holder, no matter how brief. It`s not easy when shooting in sunlight i.e. at the beach where I do a lot of shooting. Doesn`t natter if the film holder is fresh new out of the box.The sun is brighter than the film holder can shield. I`ve messed up a lot of wonderful shots because of it, so I now use graphmatic holders. NBB

-- Naseeb B Baroody MD (, April 23, 2002.

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