Change Tents ... the good the bad and the ugly?
Old 12-27-2017   #1
Keith
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Change Tents ... the good the bad and the ugly?

After about five years I'm very close to shooting a roll of black and white film and developing it at home.

I still have plenty of film in my freezer, chemicals etc and the only thing to finalise is somewhere to load the film into the developing tank. I now live in a very small cottage which is actually an old converted farm shed and no chance of creating a dark space for this sort of thing. I was never able to get on with a changing bag due to sweaty hands and a short fuze so I'm thinking of a small changing tent where at least the clammy hands will be less of a problem. B&H have a reasonably good looking small unit for just over eighty dollars.

Who has experience with these things and are you happy with the way they work for you?
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Old 12-27-2017   #2
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Hey Keith,

Used to shoot a lot of 16mm motion picture film, and used a changing tent all the time for loading and unloading the mags. The kind I have, they sell at B&H, but they're a bit more than $80.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ging_Tent.html

Your hands will still get sweaty, but you do have more room to move around inside. For all my 35mm and 120 film changing needs, I use a bag. I only do one roll at a time, letting my hands dry out and the bag air out a bit between rolls.

My issue with the changing tent is that it takes up more room than the bag, and I don't like leaving it set up all the time. But it does give move room than a bag.

Best,
-Tim
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Old 12-27-2017   #3
sepiareverb
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I used a tent once to load 4x5 film holders as an assistant years ago, worked SO much better than a bag. No worries with overheating for me, and I tend to overheat easily.
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Old 12-27-2017   #4
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I owned a Photoflex "changing room" and this worked well. It lasted for a number of years but eventually the lining became crumbly, and since it didn't seem like something that I could readily mend, I threw it out.
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Old 12-27-2017   #5
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I use a changing bag, and have sweaty hands. I wish there was some sort of "blower equipped changing bag" to ventilate the thing.
Washing my hands a while before I go in seems to help.
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Use Nitrile gloves
Old 12-27-2017   #6
f16sunshine
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Use Nitrile gloves

I use a dark bag to load tanks.
One way to avoid summer heat hands is to put on nitrile gloves before working in the bag.
Hands won't stop sweating but gloves keeps humidity from becoming an issue.
I've done that for years now.... it really makes a difference.
Those changing bags and tents make using daylight tanks possible almost anywhere.
I've not had a real darkroom now since 2011 but have developed many hundreds of rolls using a dark bag.
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Old 12-27-2017   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f16sunshine View Post
I use a dark bag to load tanks.
One way to avoid summer heat hands is to put on nitrile gloves before working in the bag.
Hands won't stop sweating but gloves keeps humidity from becoming an issue.
I've done that for years now.... it really makes a difference.
Those changing bags and tents make using daylight tanks possible almost anywhere.
I've not had a real darkroom now since 2011 but have developed many hundreds of rolls using a dark bag.

Thanks ... the thought of those gloves had crossed my mind. I know that even with a working space around my hands the sweat will be a problem and like you say the gloves mask that issue.
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Old 12-27-2017   #8
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Have you considered putting a cardboard box inside your changing bag? It ‘tents’ the bag so it doesn’t lay on your hands as you work and it costs... nothing. It won’t stop your hands from sweating but at least they won’t be sticking to the inside of the bag.
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Old 12-27-2017   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pentode View Post
Have you considered putting a cardboard box inside your changing bag? It ‘tents’ the bag so it doesn’t lay on your hands as you work and it costs... nothing. It won’t stop your hands from sweating but at least they won’t be sticking to the inside of the bag.


That seems very sensible ... and something I'll definitely consider. The only problem is, due to the incredible lack of space in this building something collapsible is preferable. Maybe something made of cardboard that can fold flat when not in use?
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Old 12-27-2017   #10
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Keith,

The changing bag I use is about 24" square, double walled, with elastic around both arm holes. After I put my daylight tank and opener and scissors, with a roll of film into the bag, I insert my left arm, which seals pretty well with the elastic on the arm holes. Then I separate the top and bottom of the bag (basically like blowing up a balloon) and then insert my right arm into the bag, where the elastic make a pretty good seal. This gives me an "inflated" changing bag at the beginning of the process. By the time I get the film open, and rolled on the stainless steal reel, the air has pretty much all escaped from the bag, but by this time I'm almost finished, so it doesn't matter so much.

That way I don't need the tent (which takes up a lot of room) and it is completely collapsible when not in use.

Just a thought.

Best,
-Tim
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Old 12-27-2017   #11
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I use a Nuritsu Dark Box.

Similar to using a blasting cabinet just stick your hands inside the cuffs.

They have removable jigs inside to make loading/unloading easier.

I think I paid like 50$ for mine plus postage. Will never use a bag again.

Edit: Noritsu Dark Box

I got mine from this seller a few years ago, looks like the price has come down a few dollars!

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?m...2F312020066054
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Old 12-27-2017   #12
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When sweaty hands turn the emulsion to glue, I put a sealed container of ice in the changing bag for awhile before putting my hands in there. Wrap the container with paper towels. Not only does the cool air help with the heat, but the ice cold container draws water out of the air. While not a perfect solution, it does help some.
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Old 12-27-2017   #13
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Drying tank and reels plus inside of changing bag and hands
with a hair blow dryer before loading has worked well for me.

Chris
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Old 12-27-2017   #14
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Just be quick!

I have a Calumet/Photoflex type tent. Works great and I've had it for many years. I am so used to it that when I try to load film in the dark i have all kinds of trouble doing it!
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Old 12-28-2017   #15
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What about a Rondinax? No darkbag required.

https://rondinax.wordpress.com/
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Old 12-28-2017   #16
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I hear you with the sweaty hands. In Melbourne I didn't have an issue, but back in Brisbane, so sweaty. I use a bag, load my reels first thing in the morning when it's cooler and the humidity is lower (even if I don't develop until that evening), and move fast. I've had to become much faster since moving back to Brisbane.

The other issue is the tap water is pishing 30 degrees C this time of year, so I use a lot of ice.
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Old 12-28-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PRJ View Post
Just be quick!

I have a Calumet/Photoflex type tent. Works great and I've had it for many years. I am so used to it that when I try to load film in the dark i have all kinds of trouble doing it!
+1

Thats the trick just get better at loading reels, working for local newspapers 20 years ago and still shooting B+W film and having to dev everything yourself you soon got pretty quick!
I've found with changing bags they can never be too big.
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Old 12-28-2017   #18
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I`m going to try that cardboard box idea .... thanks
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Old 12-28-2017   #19
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Rondinax...sounds interesting.
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Old 12-28-2017   #20
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seven thin metal or fiberglass wands. four of them the same length for the uprights and three longer ones for the crossbars. I made mine hinged so they would collapse when not in use. You cut them to the correct length to fit the bag size. The only tricky part is finding the hinge that you want to use. I took a wooden spool that looked like a yoyo and drilled holes where I needed them and pushed the wands into the holes. It was very secure.
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Old 12-28-2017   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rybolt View Post
seven thin metal or fiberglass wands. four of them the same length for the uprights and three longer ones for the crossbars. I made mine hinged so they would collapse when not in use. You cut them to the correct length to fit the bag size. The only tricky part is finding the hinge that you want to use. I took a wooden spool that looked like a yoyo and drilled holes where I needed them and pushed the wands into the holes. It was very secure.
Tinker-Toy rig? Or use one of the more current kids construction sets?

To hold the bag up away from hands.
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Old 12-28-2017   #22
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I bought a length of 3/4" pvc pipe, a handful of pipe fittings, plus 4 rubber feet. Built up a frame that serves as an internal support to a normal dark bag. Comes apart to stow flat when not in use.

Used this setup for years and years for processing countless rolls of medium format while living in equatorial Africa. And still works to this day.

As mentioned earlier, handwashing with dish liquid and thorough drying immediately beforehand helps a lot.

Oh, and I should mention one other huge advantage: air conditioning!
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Old 12-28-2017   #23
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Just go in a closet after nightfall and shut the door. I can't tell you how much work and planning I put into blocking out the light in several windows in my bedroom so that I could develop and print w/ my enlarger until a light bulb went off (dimly).......just wait until it gets dark. Duh.
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Old 12-29-2017   #24
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Years ago I used a bag with a collapsible plastic framework. I assume that's the same thing as what is referred to as a tent nowadays. It was a fantastic solution to using a 4x5 in the field. I can recall sitting at the picnic table in several National Parks campgrounds in full daylight while loading/unloading 4x5 holders--no problem except for occasional winds. The framework was essential to me as I wouldn't consider using the bag without it. My only suggestion is to get a much larger size than you think you will need. You need room inside to move things around and not having enough space will certainly make the experience frustrating for the short fused.
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Old 04-20-2018   #25
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Old 04-20-2018   #26
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How long is it taking you to load the reel and what kind of reel(s) are you using? I have the white plastic Patterson type with the small ledge to get the film started in the reels. After many reels loaded I can have one ready to go very quickly. Sooner you get out of the bag the better �� You'll get faster the more you do it.
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Old 04-20-2018   #27
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Keith , go to a hardware store and get yourself a small 8" or 10" fan and simply put it in
the end of the changing bag and go to the dimmest part of your place , your smile will go from cheek to cheek . Trust me on this one , I've used it for a couple of years.
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Old 04-20-2018   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmyjoe View Post
Hey Keith,

Used to shoot a lot of 16mm motion picture film, and used a changing tent all the time for loading and unloading the mags. The kind I have, they sell at B&H, but they're a bit more than $80.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ging_Tent.html

Your hands will still get sweaty, but you do have more room to move around inside. For all my 35mm and 120 film changing needs, I use a bag. I only do one roll at a time, letting my hands dry out and the bag air out a bit between rolls.

My issue with the changing tent is that it takes up more room than the bag, and I don't like leaving it set up all the time. But it does give move room than a bag.

Best,
-Tim
I went from a change bag to one of these pup tents - couldn't be happier.

My last round of development last month, for some reason, was a horrible experience of loading reels with 120 and 135 films - I had to pull the reels apart a number of times to start again. Extremely frustrating, but having the room in the tent and the inside being held away from my hands and the working space is about the only thing that saved my patience...
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Old 04-20-2018   #29
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Keith,
I use a Photoflex bag like the one listed on the B&H site. Works like a charm and folds up for easy storage.
I too live in a small cottage and this is the best solution I've come upon.
Paul
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Old 04-20-2018   #30
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Calumet makes a great changing "tent". Tons of room and it folds up flat.
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Old 04-21-2018   #31
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Changing bag and build a wire frame to hold it up and open. #10 is ok.
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