Load A Leica Bottom-Loader!
Old 06-08-2005   #1
doubs43
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Load A Leica Bottom-Loader!

There has been so many posts by people who find loading a bottom-loading Leica, FED etc. a chore that I've done a very quick down & dirty "How To" in pictures. I hope this will take the "mystery" out of stuffing film in the bottom of those cameras!

There are eight pictures so this will be done in two separate posts.

Picture One: You need the film, a pair of sissors and the camera.

Picture Two: Pull about 3 1/2 inches of film from the cassette. Four sprocket holes from the cassette, begin your cut and try to approximate what you see here. I add the little snips on the end to sort of round the leader but it's not necessary.

Picture Three: Remove the bottom of the camera body and remove the take-up spool.

Picture Four: Insert the leader under the flat spring of the take-up spool as shown. Note that the film is up against the flange of the spool at the top.

Picture Five: A closer view of the film in the take-up spool.

Now go to the second post for the remainder of the pictures and instructions.
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Old 06-08-2005   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doubs43
There has been so many posts by people who find loading a bottom-loading Leica, FED etc. a chore...
This may sound wierd, but I can load my M quicker than I can load my R2 or my CLE. I actually prefer bottom-loading.
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Old 06-08-2005   #3
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Picture Six: With the cassette in your left hand and the take-up spool in your right hand, pull a little more film from the cassette. Now insert BOTH at the same time BUT twist the take-up spool slightly clock-wise so that the film is against the back of the loading chamber and at 90 degrees to the flat spring that is holding the film to the spool. The idea is to clear the sprocket teeth. Seat both the cassette and the take-up spool at the same time. Note that the film is clear of the sprocket teeth.

Picture Seven: With the film rewind clutch in the film advance position (rotated back toward the film advance knob), make sure the rewind has engaged the cassette properly. Now pull the rewind shaft out and s-l-o-w-l-y take up the slack in the film. As you do, watch the take-up spool and ensure that as the film tension increases, the film holes engage the sprocket teeth. Seat the rewind shaft to it's normal position.

Picture Eight: Note that the film holes are engaged by the film advance sprocket teeth.

With the bottom still off, advance the film one frame and note that the film takes up and that the rewind knob turns to indicate that the film is being advanced. If all has gone as expected, you can replace the bottom, fire the shutter and advance the film once again and trip the shutter. Set the counter to zero and you're ready to advance to frame one and take pictures.

Piece of cake........ right?
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Old 06-08-2005   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayPA
This may sound wierd, but I can load my M quicker than I can load my R2 or my CLE. I actually prefer bottom-loading.

you're right ray, it does sound wierd!
-----------------------------------------------

nice job walker!
thanks,
joe
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Old 06-08-2005   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayPA
This may sound wierd, but I can load my M quicker than I can load my R2 or my CLE. I actually prefer bottom-loading.
I'm not surprised. Bottom loading may take a little practice but it's NOT as difficult as people make it out to be. Leica made bottom loaders for at least 30 years before going to an open-back loading camera and then it wasn't a fully-open type.

I just hope that this post will help take some of the challenge out of it for those who have never loaded a Leica through the bottom before.

Joe, this was a very quick project and not as comprehensive as I'd like to do. When I get the time, I'll try to do a better job with more and better pics.

Walker
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Old 06-08-2005   #6
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It's kind of like catching one of those public service anouncements that teach you something you didn't realize was good to know.
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Old 06-08-2005   #7
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bottom loading is easy and fool proof. you just need a pocket.
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Old 06-08-2005   #8
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It's all straight forward and easy for me until it gets semi-dark, such as an outdoor concert.


I like to visually check to see if the sprocket holes in the film are aligned with the sprocket teeth before installing the bottom cover. So I've added a miniature LED flash light to the lanyard of my light meter. Also, the film clip on the Leica take-up spool is a bit tighter than its Russian counter part. Having the light dangling from my neck helps here as well.

Another reason for the LED is that my light meter has no back-light.
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Old 06-09-2005   #9
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Thank you, Walker!!! Excellent timing!! I'm expecting a Zorki I in the mail pretty soon and this thread will be invaluable!!!
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Old 06-09-2005   #10
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For you FSU bottom feeders---er loaders it might be worth noting that some of the later FSU spools for these camera have a hook that hooks through a film sprocket hole rather than the Leica-Type tensioned clip. Makes for a sure-fire hook-up ....BUT... when you rewind, the piece of film right at the end of the leader usually breaks off at the sprocket holes where the hook is. It's a good idea to keep the camrera bottom down until you remove the bottom plate. Otherwise that tiny piece of film can get into the gear train and cause problems. Almost every FED or Zorki 1 I've ever opened has had at least one piece of leader floating around in critical areas or already jammed into a gear.
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Old 06-14-2005   #11
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For those hooked spools ... using fingernails, tear away the outer edge forming the last few sprocket holes so there will be no chips.
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Old 06-14-2005   #12
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I believe the original poster is providing a guide for loading film into a Leica thread mount camera, not an M. Loading an M is a entire different thing and it is fast.
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Old 06-16-2005   #13
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By now a book could probably be produced with all the articles that have been written about how to load a Leica RF. The story goes that the bottom-loading idea was to make a sturdier body. I don't have any screw-mount models, but I don't find my M4-2 so damned difficult to load.

About all those articles - Did anyone ever hear of an INSTRUCTION BOOK - probably provided, at least originally, with every Leica ever made.
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Old 07-13-2005   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dll927
.....I don't have any screw-mount models, but I don't find my M4-2 so damned difficult to load.....
Is the M4-2 supposed to be hard to load? I thought it loaded just like the M4 and later M cameras.
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Old 07-13-2005   #15
Nikon Bob
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If the M4-2 does load like the M4 than it is very much easier to load than the screw mount models.

Bob
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Old 07-26-2005   #16
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For screwmount models, I would recommend the following in addition to the excellent info in the original posts...

If your camera has a "T" option (my IIIc has it...), remove the lens, set to "T" and fire the shutter which will open the shutter and keep it open. As you slide the film and spool in from the bottom, the film often snags on the edge of the shutter window and it is now easy to see and to gently guide it past that point with your finger and all the way in to place.

The operative word is GENTLY.

Hope that helps...

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Old 07-26-2005   #17
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Now that I have run some rolls through my IIIC, there is one thing that I have noticed that may make things easier for some people.

When you put the film leader into the spool, it should be jammed under the tab pretty good. If you tug on it, the film should offer some resistance. If it comes right out, pull up on the tab a bit until you can get it far enough for the film to do so.

When you are rewinding a roll, this allows you to tell when you have wound all the way back to the leader. Which I find makes things easier, when I am loading up reels.

Hope that helps people avoid the dreaded 36 shots of air that seems so common to first time bottom loader users

Richie
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Old 08-10-2005   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtl
I believe the original poster is providing a guide for loading film into a Leica thread mount camera, not an M. Loading an M is a entire different thing and it is fast.
My M3 loads with a take-up spool, not the three-prongs......
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Old 08-10-2005   #19
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As someone else stated, there is not much similarity between loading a Leica M and a true screw mount bottom loader. You don't even have to cut a special tongue when loading an M because the pressure swings up and out of the way.

A key in a bottom loader is to cut the tongue long enough so you can hook it to the take-up spool with the full-width film still on the cassette side of the actual 24 x 36 frame where the film is exposed. That way, when you begin pulling the film across, both edges will be riding on the film rails and can't curl up and get hooked in the frame. Another key is to make sure the leader sprocket holes mesh properly with the teeth of the take-up sprocket.

It may sound technical but it really isn't once you get the hang of it. I can cut an appropriate leader without using a template and the film will load properly the first try 9 out of 10 times (about as good an average as I have on a non-autoloading SLR). IT REALLY ISN"T THAT DIFFICULT.
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Old 08-10-2005   #20
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I wonder if Henri C-B found screw-mount Leicas hard to get along with.

Yes, the M4-2 loads like any other M series - which is a good bit easier than the LTMs.
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Old 09-06-2005   #21
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Excellent thread. Dare I add though, that its isn't mandatory to cut the film at all. All you need is a thin business card as follows.

1. insert the leader into the take-up spool as normal
2. drop the spool and film cassette into the camera, so they are just inside the base
3. slide the business card into the camera between the film and the shutter housing until you encounter resistance (you may need to angle the card to get it fully home). the card should be inserted at the centre point of the housing
4. push the film home, and wind-on one frame (hold the card while you do this, or it may get sucked towards the take-up spool). fire the shutter
5. remove the card, and replace the bottom. wind-on and fire the shutter once or twice more, then begin your shooting

Obviously it pays to practice this method with no lens mounted before doing it in earnest, but its much faster than trimming the film.
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Old 09-06-2005   #22
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TimF is right - both by Canon IID1 and IVf came with a thin piece of paxolin, slightly larger than a credit card for just this purpose. If you have a canon RF case with a slim pouch at the back, that's where the card should be.
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Old 09-07-2005   #23
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The "credit card method" for loading screw mount Leicas seems to be gaining a lot of popularity if the web sites I've seen are to be believed. I've tried it and it works BUT...

Inserting anything other than a properly trimmed film into the camera opens up unecessary risk to the camera innards. I've spoken to a specialist Leica repairer in the UK at length about this and he of course, gets to see the casualties from this sort of thing. In particular, poking fingers and other implements(!) through an open shutter to properly locate the film can easily lead to damage to the pressure plate. My IIIc had a seriously damaged plate (that put deep scratches along film) from a previous owner doing something along these lines but I was lucky in that a spare one was available-this won't be the case forever.

Cutting a film leader certainly needs a bit of care and forward planning but it pays off in the end. I believe that brand new copies of the original Leica template are even still available although sadly, they aren't cheap. (The instruction sheets in boxes of Kodachrome even had cutting instructions and a template in the 1980s!) A properly trimmed leader and a bit of practice and you can load a screw mount first time, every time - honest!!
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Old 09-07-2005   #24
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Point taken Mark. It definitely needs to be stressed that any business card used for this method must be thin (no thicker than stiff paper really). If the film is pushed down sufficiently, there shouldn't be contact between the card and the pressure plate.
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Old 09-07-2005   #25
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Cheers Tim, I just don't want to see these beautiful cameras disappear! The few times that I've tried to load a film with a card have always left me fiddling with the film to make it sit properly on the sprocket drive. That's something I've never found with the longer leader as a gentle turn on the rewind knob after dropping the film and take-up spool into the camera always seems to make it hit the sprockets first time.

Until I found an ABLON template at a sensible price (very difficult), I used a homemade copy, put together from two sheets of thin brass (from a model shop) and in true "Blue Peter" style (apologies, that's a 1970s UK thing...), some clear sticky backed plastic which acted as a protective covering and a hinge. I guess a similar template made from thick cardboard would be just as effective.
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Old 09-07-2005   #26
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Mark

I have never tried the credit card trick but like you have made my own template from an aluminum T-square used for dry wall cutting. The film is held for cutting between the aluminum halves by large office paper clips. The longer leader works well as it should.

Bob
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Old 09-07-2005   #27
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Hi Bob. I tried to mimic the ABLON template shape with the brass sheets (it was thin enough to cut with scissors) to make sure that the leader didn't tear. The only advantage that the beautifully engineered Leica template really has is the locating pins for the sprocket holes which make the whole thing foolproof.

One caution to anyone cutting a leader - make absolutely sure that the cut towards the edge of the film as you cut the curve does not go through a sprocket hole as that's a recipe for bits of film in the shutter and torn film. If the film tears at allas you cut it (tricky to avoid this problem using scissors), resign yourself to a 33 exposure film and start again!!
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Old 09-07-2005   #28
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Do ABLONs still turn up on eBay? That's where I got mine; in fact it was the very first item I ever bought from that site, and (small world) the seller was a guy who worked in the Leica dealer I go to!!
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Old 09-08-2005   #29
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I've never looked for one on eBay - mine came from a "classic camera" dealer quite a while ago. Ffordes (a well known UK dealer, now in Scotland) are advertising a new template for around £50-60 and a UK camera repairer called (I think) Ralph Worman also advertises one on his web site but without a price. The latter looks pretty much the same as ABLON.
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Old 11-17-2005   #30
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I'm trying to load my IIIc for the very first time. When I try to put the film cassette and spool in, there seems to be something that prevents the film from slotting in easily. When I shone a light into the slot, I noticed that there is a metal ring that is attached to the back of body. (it seems to be about the same diameter as the front ring to screw the lens in). there are 2 points on this ring in the film slot which jut out and they appear to be blocking the film. Is this normal???
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Old 11-17-2005   #31
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I just checked my IIIc and think I saw the two points that you mentioned so I would guess that that is normal. Have you cut the leader as suggested?

Bob
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Old 11-17-2005   #32
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Yes, cut the leader, it is the only way the film will slot in. Make sure the film is wound on the take-up spool in the right direction too.
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Old 11-17-2005   #33
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Eureka!!! It works! I did trim the film as per the instructions and photos, but had to make sure the film leader was a bit narrower. Once again, this site has proven to be a source of invaluable information!
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Old 11-17-2005   #34
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Strange as I just extend the leader at the same width as the supplied short leader.

Bob
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Old 11-17-2005   #35
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I find reverse winding the film on the take-up spool-just a half-turn- helps get the film to load, untrimmed. I sometimes have to do the "through-the-lens" trick, but it doesn't take any force.
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Old 12-12-2005   #36
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All I can add is cut off 24 sprocket holes on the top half. Then when you load, allow the tinyest bit of full width film protrude from the cassette, 1/8 inch. Other wise what tends to happen is getting a full width from the cassette requires more force than the tension on the take up spool has and film does not transport.

It is also possible to set the camera on T, and just push the film against the pressure plate and up into the channel. Current 8 sprocket hole trim works fine for this technique.
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Old 12-12-2005   #37
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A whole thread about how to load a bottom loader... See? that's why i say "no bottom loader for me thanks".
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Old 12-12-2005   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pherdinand
A whole thread about how to load a bottom loader... See? that's why i say "no bottom loader for me thanks".
Just look at it as a labour of love for old things (my wife does)

Bob
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Old 12-12-2005   #39
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Twenty-two holes should do, Ronald: enough for me, anyway.
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Old 12-13-2005   #40
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I used to use 21 or 22 and had trouble. It is suppoed to be enough, but either the rewind clutch slipped or the film came off the rewind reel. Either case no transport.

Using 24 allows me to set the full width exactly so no extra force is requied to get the full width from the cassett. Might be something special with my 111f, I don`t know.

Never had a missload with the M3 or M6 as I can see the sprocket holes are engaged. I wish I could see what happens and then I could make a better analysis and fix. Two different repair people have looked at the camera and found nothing wrong.
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