Film developing reel recommendations
Old 08-07-2019   #1
CharlesDAMorgan
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Film developing reel recommendations

I've been using Paterson Auto Load reels with Paterson multi reel tanks for the last 2 years. I like the adjustability between film formats, and I thought I liked the auto load function.

I've never enjoyed loading 35mm but have had most success loading when I make absolutely certain there is no trace of the sprocket hole at the front of the film going on to the reel. Now the ball bearing is biting into the film and giving it a crease that then leads to the film inevitably finding its way off the reel, and much irritation and an ecstasy of fumbling in a hot and now sweaty loading bag.

Rather than replace with the same, I'd be interested in what suggestions and recommendations people have. I'd rather not switch tank systems at the same time (although I do get fed up with leaks from the inadequate lid sealing).
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Old 08-08-2019   #2
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now i mostly use Jobo, since i can easily switch between 120 and 135.
not fully happy though, as they are not easy to keep clean (to prevent sticking).

best reels i used were the ones from Hewes (stainless steel). perforation hooks on both sides, loading easy as pie.

cheers,
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Old 08-08-2019   #3
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I thought Hewes might be the answer. Someone was selling 4 of them (3x120 and 1x135) for £12 used, which struck me as a no brainer, so they have just been bought. Thanks!
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Old 08-08-2019   #4
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Try thoroughly cleaning the reels you have. Although I don't understand why, as everything used for developing is nicely soluble in water, they do get dirty. Some people report success with the dishwasher, I've used an old toothbrush and film glides in much better, although the problem with the ball bearing has only been an occasional one for me and solved by playing a bit with those balls . That's most certainly due to dirt.
Oh I see you found hewes reels cheaply, lucky you!
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Old 08-08-2019   #5
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Try thoroughly cleaning the reels you have.
That was my first thought. If you already have the halves separated after the final rinse - put the reels in a pail of water. Come back later when the film is hanging and give them a quick clean up with an old tooth-brush.

I always make sure to free up the tiny ball bearings on the outer edge of the spirals before loading film. They should freely rock back and forth when you tip the reel.
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Old 08-08-2019   #6
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Hewes. Hands down.
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Old 08-08-2019   #7
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Hewes are the best option, however, they may not fit in a Paterson multi reel tank The central core the plastic reels go on is too big for the Hewes but is a key part of the light trap!
Stainless steel reels work best in stainless steel tanks.
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Old 08-08-2019   #8
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I knew there had to be a drawback!

I've give the ball bearings a good clean but whatever I do the film leader catches a bit at the top, thus bending the leading edge.
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Old 08-08-2019   #9
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Hmmm, FWIW, I bought my Paterson tank when I was still at school ( 60 to 65 years ago) and have used no other make but have upgraded to the "System 4" tank once I stopped using 120. During that time I've had to remove wet film and do the second exposure and then replace it so my 2d worth is that they work.

One of the tricks when film jammed, iirc, was to tap then on the bench.


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Old 08-08-2019   #10
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I think everyone else has covered what I would suggest. Hewes stainless steel reels are what I currently use and I find them very easy to load. Like David, I started out using a Patterson tank back in 1975 (so a little later than David) and the plastic reels were slightly different back then. I still have one, and it has never jammed, although I do toothbrush it after every use. The older, original Patterson reels had three notched points where they joined (fit together), as opposed to the two on the current reels. I think they changed this back in the early 1990's or late 1980's. The ball bearings in the original were highly polished, and the plastic didn't yellow as fast as the newer ones do.

All that being said, I still find the Hewes stainless steel reels the easiest to load, use, and clean.

Best,
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Old 08-08-2019   #11
Erik van Straten
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With Paterson reels - I am using them since 1971 - it is good to start inserting the film with the end of the roll, not with the beginning. The "natural" curl of the film is stronger at the end. Just cut the film loose from its spool with scissors. The modern films no longer can be teared off. Take care not to cut through the sprocket holes. Don't forget to turn off the light.


Good luck!


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Old 08-08-2019   #12
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I cut off the tapered leader and insert the end just into the Paterson reel before putting it in the dark bag. Then I pull the film a couple inches onto the reel to seat it well in the spiral before I start rotating the reel to draw on the rest of the roll.

On cameras with auto-rewind I put the cartridge into the dark bag with the tank and open the cartridge with a bottle opener. I cut off the leader and insert it into the reel. That is done blind, but I have not had any problem with getting it started. Having the roll of film outside the cartridge results in less drag on the film strip when rotating the reel and there is less likelihood of having the film jump out of the tracks.
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Old 08-08-2019   #13
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Another fan of the Hewes reels here. The 35mm reels are obvious; the two little prongs catch the sprocket holes and it winds on perfectly. The reels for 120 are even more clever; there is a kind of rail on each side that automatically self-centers your film even if you've clipped it on crooked. Its really easy.
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Old 08-08-2019   #14
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I've only ever used Kindermann stainless reels--the one with the pointed bit to catch the film. The design of the Hewes looks more intuitive, but the Kindermann is simple once you've done it once and I've never had any issues with it.
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Old 08-08-2019   #15
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I've come to the conclusion that it's one reel that is defective. Using my second was not an issue, so I've marked the offender to avoid it. Thanks to all for the advice, all very helpful. One of the real problems is if there is an issue while in the changing bag. I hate having lengths of film exposed to my hands trying to sort it, with the risk of touching the emulsion with a sweaty set of fingers.

When I move house (big if at present) a darkroom is priority number one.
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Old 08-08-2019   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesDAMorgan View Post
I knew there had to be a drawback!

I've give the ball bearings a good clean but whatever I do the film leader catches a bit at the top, thus bending the leading edge.
Not sure what you mean here, you should cut the leader off and possibly round the corners, or even start from the end as Erik suggests, although that's not practical in a changing bag. Leaders from cameras that wind with the emulsion outside are especially offensive, they curl strongly against the direction of the reel.
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Old 08-08-2019   #17
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I'm being imprecise, but I merely mean the front end of the roll of film, trimmed of the leader and cut so there is no trace of sprocket hole to catch the ball bearing as it is fed into the reel.
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Old 08-08-2019   #18
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much irritation and an ecstasy of fumbling in a hot and now sweaty loading bag.
^^^ Having had more than enough of this, I've gone a bit radical (read: "expensive"), and obtained a Lab-Box. I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but I'll report back when I have. Others here on RFF have used it, and the reports seem to be (largely) positive.


Should you ultimately decide that you are willing to switch tank systems, then it might be worth considering.
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Old 08-08-2019   #19
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I see. Perhaps the hole in the plastic, where the steel ball sits, is damaged.

Some more random advice regarding reels and tanks, although probably not your issue:
Only moving one half of the reel and holding the other still seems to work better than moving both.
The cutting off the leader can be done in the light as long as it's outside the cassette, I sometimes forget that..
The Paterson twisty stick is immensely effective at getting bubbles out, even if you use inversion to agitate thereafter.
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Old 08-08-2019   #20
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
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The Paterson twisty stick is immensely effective at getting bubbles out, even if you use inversion to agitate thereafter.

I always do that, automatically. It is better than tapping the tank on the the work bench. Tapping means cracking the tank in the end.


Erik.
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Old 08-08-2019   #21
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Not cheap, but they do exist...

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hewes-Stain....c100047.m2108
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Old 08-08-2019   #22
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They're tempting.

Must resist, must resist...
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Old 08-08-2019   #23
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The Hewes reels are great. I've used them when I was doing film. But the Kalt brand of generic reels I bought at B&H at the time was pretty darn nice. Don't know if they're still available but I would recommend them if you're moving from the Paterson system and don't want to spend a fortune on stainless steel.
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Tank/reel choices
Old 08-08-2019   #24
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Tank/reel choices

Since you've taken a plunge on 4 Hewes reels (if 12 pounds can be called a plunge - envy here), you will need a new tank. The best choice would be a new steel tank with a plastic top, as opposed to the older style using a steel top - less leaking potential). Do the world a favor and put the Paterson tank, reels and all in the garbage. I've been doing this for 60 years, and I've never seen/used a tank worse than Paterson's. The 5 dollar Yankee plastic tank I bought in 1959 was as bad, but that's not a comparison worth considering.

To anticipate blow back from the many Paterson users: cheap plastic; design which mixes huge volumes of air into solution if used for inversion; leaks like a sieve with inversion; twist reel agitation uneven.
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Old 08-08-2019   #25
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Quote:
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Hewes. Hands down.
I'm going to jump into this one. I have used the Nikor stainless reels and tanks all my life. I don't usually have too much trouble with 35mm, but it's hard to get 120 film started on the reel. It crinkles and I get static marks from the crinkling. The film may not be centered properly on the reel when I clip it under the clip. The centering is better if I use a reel that has no clip; but then the film wants to shift in position during processing--usually, to the center of the reel, where it doesn't belong. Sometimes when I use a reel that has no clip, I tape the film to the crossbar at the end of the film. That works. Mostly.

If I got a Hewes 120 reel, would it ease my problem? Or should I switch to Paterson?
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Old 08-08-2019   #26
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Old 08-08-2019   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
If I got a Hewes 120 reel, would it ease my problem? Or should I switch to Paterson?
I have been using Paterson since 1970. Although 120 film is harder to load than 35mm, I can recommend Paterson. What is important, is that the reels are as dry as the Sahara. Practice with a piece of useless film in daylight and in the dark. If the film does not go in smoothly, it can be because the reel is too new. If so, you can lubricate the reel with a soft pencil, gradation "B" or softer. Not only the start, but the whole way. In any case 120 film is much shorter than a 135mm film.

Good luck.

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Old 08-08-2019   #28
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Quote:
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If I got a Hewes 120 reel, would it ease my problem?
Yes, absolutely. The Hewes 120 reel has two little "rails" (just more of the same bars the reel is made of actually) which help guide your wayward film back towards the center. It might be almost impossible to load one off-center.
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Old 08-08-2019   #29
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I'm going to consider getting the Hewes reel. I wasn't expecting that price, though. $55.00 and that is a discount price!
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Old 08-08-2019   #30
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Hewes are certainly the best but I wouldn't scoff at a Nikor reel. I learned to develop with stainless Nikor reels and have always chosen them personally. Sometimes I was forced to use Paterson reels that had been dropped 1000 times by students in the loading room then cracked and never worked perfectly. The Hewes is great but for my money, I have to stick with the Nikor.
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Old 08-08-2019   #31
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I'm a long time Paterson plastic reel person. Here's a trick I didn't see mentioned in the thread. If you're having trouble with the film jamming up it could be because the film is thicker. This almost always happened to me with Ilford FP4 causing no end of grief. Now with a thick film such as FP4, I re-roll the film into my hand first so the leader end is on the inside and the spool end is on the outside. I then trim the spool end and feed it into the reel. That way the tighter wind of the film from the cassette goes in first and ends up on the tight spirals of the reel. No more jam ups. I learned this bit of magic from a Youtube video and it works every time.
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Old 08-08-2019   #32
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Thanks all, again, for your continuing tips and thoughts. I might treat myself to a new tank too - such is the leakage from the tanks I have I have stopped inverting and instead use the twisty stick. I can't find Nikor or Kalt here, but there are also some European alternatives to Hewes.

After two painless reels yesterday after abandoning the broken one (fortunately no damage to emulsion), this time a 120.
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Old 08-09-2019   #33
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I've just looked on ebay and Paterson tanks seem to sell from about two pounds.



I bought one at about that price, with a Kaiser thermometer both new in box, for a friend a while ago.



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Old 08-09-2019   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Maslak View Post
Here's a trick I didn't see mentioned in the thread. If you're having trouble with the film jamming up it could be because the film is thicker. This almost always happened to me with Ilford FP4 causing no end of grief. Now with a thick film such as FP4, I re-roll the film into my hand first so the leader end is on the inside and the spool end is on the outside. I then trim the spool end and feed it into the reel. That way the tighter wind of the film from the cassette goes in first and ends up on the tight spirals of the reel.

This is what I've said above. The end of the film must go in first.


Erik.
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Old 08-09-2019   #35
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This is what I've said above. The end of the film must go in first.


Erik.

+1


I have destroyed endless HP5+ films before doing that.

This page here has a few pics.
https://www.kpraslowicz.com/2009/04/...or-development
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Old 08-09-2019   #36
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Quote:
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Thanks all, again, for your continuing tips and thoughts. I might treat myself to a new tank too - such is the leakage from the tanks I have I have stopped inverting and instead use the twisty stick. I can't find Nikor or Kalt here, but there are also some European alternatives to Hewes.

After two painless reels yesterday after abandoning the broken one (fortunately no damage to emulsion), this time a 120.



Nikor Tanks were American made and were discontinued decades ago. I have several made in the 1960s! The Kalt tanks are rally made in Taiwan and a lot of companies sell them under different names. Kalt is an American company that markets darkroom stuff. You can probably find the same tanks under a European marketer's name. They're well made and less expensive than 'brand name' tanks like Hewes and Kindermann.


I have a video showing how to load the 35mm Hewes reels. They have a unique device for securing the film in the middle of the reel that makes loading them very easy and nearly impossible to screw up.


https://youtu.be/HHLvxVDUZHE
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Old 08-09-2019   #37
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Here's my two-penn'orth…

I've only ever used a Paterson tank so can't comment on any others. I've never really had a problem loading film and I actually find 120 easier than 35mm.

I keep the little ball-bearings lubricated with a soft pencil so they are free to rattle back and forth, and not jam. After use I separate and wash my spirals in warm soapy water - occasionally using the dishwasher, top shelf only. I let them dry naturally on the window sill on a bit of kitchen towel.

With 35mm film, as has been said, it goes on easier if wound on from the inner end. But it's easier to get on from the leader end if the film has stood around a day or two and the tension acquired in the camera has relaxed with the film wound back into the canister.
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Don't Store the Paterson Tanks with the Lids Attached
Old 08-09-2019   #38
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Don't Store the Paterson Tanks with the Lids Attached

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesDAMorgan View Post
Thanks all, again, for your continuing tips and thoughts. I might treat myself to a new tank too - such is the leakage from the tanks .........
A Tip: When not in use, store the tank with the lid laying loosely on the top.

I've been using two Paterson System 4 tanks for over a dozen years - and - while doing inversions, only get at most a couple of drips at the start of the fix, if I didn't burp the lid. In fact, I feel comfortable walking around a carpet floor - while inverting the tanks during fixing.

Tip # 2, which is the same as mentioned above for 120 film, I start by inserting the masking taped end of the film into the reel - after the corners have been snipped. Once inserted, just gently grasp the tape end and pull it past the starting channels. Good luck, because it's all done by feel, including snipping the corners.
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Old 08-09-2019   #39
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I don't use 120, but 135 film.
I don't like metal reels for it at all. I use same white plastic reels for years.
I put film at the edge of the reel where balls are. Film spool unrolls film by gravity to the floor, I rotate reel sides and it takes film in.
I use bulk film and load less than 36 frames. It makes loading easy.
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Old 08-09-2019   #40
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Whatever you buy, I’d recommend new reels so you can guarantee they are clean. Don’t expose them to any wetting agent or stabiliser. It makes them sticky and hard to load.
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