Cleaning Film Holders : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I keep my film holders in plastic bags until I use them. Still, whenever I go to a sandy place, dirt gets stuck in the holders' light trap and scratches my dark slides. Once grit is in there, I can't get it out. How should I clean my film holders?

-- William Marderness (, May 04, 2002


The best way to clean these is with compressed air,or a powerfull vacuum cleaner.I vacuum my holders,then brush them with an anti- static brush.One trick Ive learned:avoid sliding the sheets against each other when loading!This builds up huge static charges,which cause dust to leap at the film!

-- Edsel Adams (, May 04, 2002.

A blower attachment on an air compressor works wonders for this. I had used regular canned air to clean my 8x10 holders numerous times, but when I tried the air compressor, you would not believe the amount of dirt, dust, etc that came flying out of the light trap. The added velocity and volume of air coming out of an air compressor as compared to canned air makes all the difference in the world. If you don't have an air compressor, you could probably find a friend or local shop that does that you could use. Well worth the effort. My negs are a whole lot cleaner and my darslides slide a lot smoother since I gave my holders this treatment.

-- David Munson (, May 04, 2002.

First of all I remove the slides and give the holder a good blast with a can of compressed air (making sure I aim the nozzle extension into the corners). Then I give the holder a quick brush with an anti- static brush. I give the slides a quick brush too before reinserting them. I load up with film straigh after, and only pull the slides an inch or two out of the slot. Very little dust - touch wood!!

-- paul owen (, May 05, 2002.

Before rushing out to a local automotive or machine shop to blow out your film holders, one WORD OF CAUTION: most compressors used in heavy duty commercial settings have an inline oil system to provide lubrication to air tools. The last thing you need is to deposit a film of oil on your holders. Make sure that the air source is being provided by an oil-free compressor.

-- Matt Long (, May 05, 2002.

My air compressor was built for use with an airbrush and it has a small filter on it which collects moisture before the air comes out of the nozzle. They're cheap and easy to install.

-- Andrew Baugnet (, May 06, 2002.

An addition to Matt's posting. Even if there is no inline oil system all piston-driven compressors will have oil in the lines/tanks due to blow-by, not to mention moisture from condensation. Unless there is a maintained system of dryer, water and oil traps, I would advise staying away from any high pressure air.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, May 06, 2002.

I wipe the holders down with a damp cloth and then every now & then just wash them in the sink. After washing in the sink I slip the darkslide in and out a few times until it comes through clean... especially no used holders that have just come into my possession. This works well even though it takes a day to dry afterwords. A couple of times during drying I run the corner of the darkslide through the light trap & move it back & forth and it usually gets some grit & junk. A few times doing this and possibly another dunking & re-running the darkslides through gets it nice & clean.

-- Dan Smith (, May 06, 2002.

When at home, I'd recommend using a vacuum cleaner. Blowing with compressed air only moves the dust around. To get grit out of the dark side tracks, remove the dark slide, and tap it on the edge of the holder. In the field, I use an Ilford antistatic cloth to wipe the holders before reloading. I was using an ordinary paint brush to dust them, but recently have gotten static-electric 'spiders' on negatives and have stopped. I think the paint brush is still a good idea before putting the holder in the camera, however, especially, after you have opened and closed the plastic bag a few times.

-- Jay wolfe (, May 07, 2002.

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