Best Reels for Developing 120 Film?
Old 06-15-2018   #1
giganova
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Best Reels for Developing 120 Film?

Hi all --

I have been using JOBO developing tanks for years for my 35mm negatives and always loved the system. But now that I am using more and more 120 medium format, I find the Jobo reels very frustrating! Getting the film on the reel is a pain, and the film gets stuck spooling halfway on the reel for every single strip of film that I am developing (yes, I cut the corners of the start of the film). Plus, I broke many of the plastic reels because the first "rib" on the reel is so whimsical. I slight pressure with your thumb and it will break.

Q: Are there better reels that I can use with my existing Jobo 1500 tanks?

Q: What system would be better to develop 120 film? I have no need for a single tank, I need a tank that can hold at least 3 rolls of 120 film.

Thanks!
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Old 06-15-2018   #2
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Long time ago, back in the 1970's, Patterson made plastic reels that loaded real easily. They were the reels with three locking nibs on the female side of the reel (where the two halves fit together). Not sure if they beveled the ribs where the film slides across or what, but they loaded very easily. The current Patterson plastic reels, with the two locking nibs, don't load anywhere near as easily.

So I switched to Stainless Steel reels. Made by Hewes, I believe. Took some practice at first, but now I can load them much faster than the original Patterson plastic reels. At one time you could buy a stainless steel tank that held more than two 120 reels, not seeing it at B&H at this time, possibly at Freestyle.

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Old 06-15-2018   #3
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For decades, I have used Nikor 120 and 35mm stainless steel reels and tanks with no problems (provided they were undamaged).

I cannot compare them to Jobo because I have never used Jobo.


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Old 06-15-2018   #4
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I was always a stainless steel guy when I shot film. The 120 stainless reels are made of thicker material than the 35mm ones so they are sturdier and less likely to bend if dropped. Because of that, I frequently used the off-brand ones like Kalt and they worked well. I also had a few Hewes and Nikor reels I picked up at garage sales over the years. If you can find them at a decent price, they're excellent.
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Old 06-15-2018   #5
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Old 06-15-2018   #6
giganova
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The Hewes steel reels that are compatible for the Jobo system look great ... but $50 for one reel?
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Old 06-15-2018   #7
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Hewes, cuz anyway you cut it you're going to buy then in the end.
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Old 06-15-2018   #8
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After decades of loading plastic, steel, and whatever reels, I now shoot such small quantities of film that developing one roll is an event. I've gone to make it as painless as possible and use an ancient daylight loading Agfa Rondinax developing tanks, both the 35mm type and the 120 type. These make it easy.

Of course, since they're continuous agitation systems, I've modified my EI and chemistry to suit.

(A modern rendering of this concept is in progress on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...ght-loading-fi ... They're working on it, hopefully I'll see product soon as my Agfa tanks are really getting old and fragile at this point.)

For my experiments with Washi-paper based 120 film, none of these reels work ... It's to fragile and delicate. They recommend open tray development, which isn't feasible for me since I no longer have a darkroom. So I picked up a couple of Kodakcraft 120/620/35mm tanks from the '50s-'60s that use the 'wavy edge' film separating skirt. These work great and are super easy to load, if utterly un-modern in their operation. Supply seems to be getting a bit scarce, but if you take care of the skirt and keep from cracking it, they should last forever. They work fine with the Washi 120.
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Old 06-15-2018   #9
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With a traditional tank Hewes reels are a no-brainer for 35mm fiilm, but for 120 any sturdy steel reel with a reliable clip will do.

For a Jobo? No idea. Perhaps you could sell a kidney or two (don't have to be your own) to pay for the matching Hewes reels?
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Old 06-15-2018   #10
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I have had ZERO problems loading the current Paterson System 4 plastic reels. There are two tabs you can easily feel at the film entry point. Slide about 4 inches onto the outer ring starting at the tabs, then "ratchet" the rest of the roll on. Super EZ. And the reels are adjustable for 35mm or 120.
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Old 06-15-2018   #11
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I've used the Patterson with the occasional issue with the first feeding in, but have always wanted to try the AP reel as it has large alignment flanges designed to help.
The AP is compatible with the Paterson system
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Old 06-15-2018   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodt16s View Post
I've used the Patterson with the occasional issue with the first feeding in, but have always wanted to try the AP reel as it has large alignment flanges designed to help.
The AP is compatible with the Paterson system
I have a mixture of the Patterson and Arista reels here, I have gotten to a point that I usually donít have too many problems loading 120 onto the Patterson reels (but, occasionally I do); the Arista reels (available at Freestyle) are similar to the AP reels in that they have a track feeding system to facilitate getting the film started on the reel, which makes them pretty much idiot proof. For 120, I have found them much easier and quicker to load than the Patterson reels.
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Old 06-15-2018   #13
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I have occasional problems with the Patterson reels with 120 film - not being able to advance the film fully onto the reel (especially in hot humid weather). Clipping the corners off the leading edge seems to help. Never a problem with 35mm in those same reels.
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Old 06-15-2018   #14
Bill Clark
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I use stainless for 120 film.

Paterson for 35mm.
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Old 06-15-2018   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giganova View Post
The Hewes steel reels that are compatible for the Jobo system look great ... but $50 for one reel?

well worth it compared to any other steel reel out there. I don't want to think about how many 35 and 120 Hewes reels I use (for 1500 series tanks) but oh man, loading them is pure joy compared to other reels..
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Old 06-15-2018   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giganova View Post
The Hewes steel reels that are compatible for the Jobo system look great ... but $50 for one reel?
I don't get the cost of Hewes reels. Way way over priced.

My vote, Nikor or Kinderman. I use Nikors that my dad bought 60 years ago in both 35 and 120 that are still in perfect shape. I have other Nikor resls I bought used 40-50 years ago as we as Kinderman I bought both new and used 40-50 years ago. I've literally run tens of thousands of rolls on them with no problems. I'm guessing I spent an average of $5 each on the used one. $50 for a single reel, crazy!
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Old 06-15-2018   #17
Steve M.
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Paterson plastic reels are a breeze to load with 120 film if you remember to snip the outermost edges of the end that loads onto the reel. It also helps to give the film a twist backwards to take some of the curl out of it. Just make sure everything is bone dry. If the film or reel are not, then you will have problems. If you're having trouble, it also may be due to chemical buildup on the reels that you can't see or feel. Give them a good scrub with warm water and vinegar with a little baking soda.

These reels don't like it when you twist both sides back and forth to advance the film into them. Works much better to firmly hold one side and rock the other side back and forth. I never develop more than one roll of film at a time. If you have a problem anywhere in the developing process you have two or three rolls that are messed up. With one roll, that's all you can screw up. Mistakes happen. One mistake is preferable to three.
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Old 06-15-2018   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Cloetta View Post
I have a mixture of the Patterson and Arista reels here, I have gotten to a point that I usually donít have too many problems loading 120 onto the Patterson reels (but, occasionally I do); the Arista reels (available at Freestyle) are similar to the AP reels in that they have a track feeding system to facilitate getting the film started on the reel, which makes them pretty much idiot proof. For 120, I have found them much easier and quicker to load than the Patterson reels.
Useful info Larry, thanks.
I will have to acquire an AP reel and road test itt...
Likewise it's now only occasional issues I have with Paterson / 120, but that is too much
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Old 06-16-2018   #19
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I use Paterson for 35mm, but hate them for 120 - the ball bearing always seems to bite.
I use Jobo for 120, I push the film in, and use my fingers on the depressed areas to gently make sure the corners don’t catch. I hate the Jobos for 35mm.
I’ve never used SS reels, the buy in cost is prohibitive when I have a setup that works for me.
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Old 06-16-2018   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruby.monkey View Post
With a traditional tank Hewes reels are a no-brainer for 35mm fiilm, but for 120 any sturdy steel reel with a reliable clip will do.
Clips cause problems for me. I find it hard to center the film exactly between the flanges while inserting into the clip. And the off-center loading then prevents the film from loading properly. It doesn't have to be very far off to make the film bind and crinkle. So I just start the film onto the reel without clipping it. Seems OK.

Is it easier to center the film on the clip with Hewes reels?
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Old 06-16-2018   #21
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I use Jobo reels and take all the film off the reel, in a dark bag or pup tent.
Then cut the corners of the film and adhesive tape and load as usual.
The thicker taped end is easier to thread onto the reels.
The reels must be dry or the gelatine film sticks.
Good luck
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Old 06-16-2018   #22
leicapixie
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Steel reels are hard to use.
Plastic reels jam..
I prefer steel but try not to kink film getting new moons everywhere!
120 dries faster..
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Old 06-16-2018   #23
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I use off brand Paterson reels with the "cheater" tabs. Easy peasy. Works great for both 35mm and 120.


Steel reels I often get kinks in the film.
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Old 06-16-2018   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post

Is it easier to center the film on the clip with Hewes reels?
I believer it is easier with the Hewes. The shape of the clip sort of self-guides the film towards the center, increasingly so the further you push the film onto the clip. The other brands? Not as much, if at all.
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Old 06-16-2018   #25
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Any good quality steel works..even the el cheapo steel is ok..
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Old 06-16-2018   #26
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I too vote for Hewes. I have replaced all my various reels with Hewes and find them vastly easier to load. I might have actually shot 220 B&W had I sprung for a Hewes reel back in the day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emile de Leon View Post
Any good quality steel works..even the el cheapo steel is ok..
Better than a Paterson yes, but once you use the clip on a Hewes 120 reel you will know why they cost more. The films are forced into alignment right at the outset with all types of Hewes reels, so never any backing up to straighten films out.

I was incredibly skeptical of the raves, but now rave too.
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Old 06-16-2018   #27
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I have zero problems with clean Patterson reels, 120 or 135. I can't even find steel reels in Europe. How certain reels work for some people and not for others is one of the big mysteries left in the world.
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Old 01-22-2019   #28
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I am using the small Jobo 1000 tanks for 35 years now, for both 135 and 120 film. The 1000 series tanks come in three sizes—small holds one 135 film (280 ml of chemistry), medium holds two 135 films or one 120 film (500 ml), and large is for five 135 or three 120/220 films (1,150 ml). The plastic reels are adjustable to 135, 127, and 120/220 film, and they are fairly easy to load and sturdy enough for everyday use.
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Old 01-22-2019   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
Clips cause problems for me. I find it hard to center the film exactly between the flanges while inserting into the clip. And the off-center loading then prevents the film from loading properly. It doesn't have to be very far off to make the film bind and crinkle. So I just start the film onto the reel without clipping it. Seems OK.

Is it easier to center the film on the clip with Hewes reels?
The 35mm reels hook into the film's first sprocket hole on each side, so it's basically impossible to load it crooked unless you've damaged the film beforehand.
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Old 01-22-2019   #30
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Quote:
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I have zero problems with clean Patterson reels, 120 or 135. I can't even find steel reels in Europe. How certain reels work for some people and not for others is one of the big mysteries left in the world.
I think there are a couple of reasons for this. One is manufacturing inconsistency. Not all reels, even from one manufacturer are the same. I once bought a few cheap stainless reels and was struggling to load them and was baffled because I'd never had difficulties with a stainless steel tell before. I looked closely at them and saw that the spots where the spiral was welded to the frame were so sloppy the film couldn't possibly fit into the spiral. Every single reel was useless garbage. I'd used reels of the same brand before and they were fine so it was a manufacturing defect but if one of these reels was your first experience with steel you'd never understand how people tolerate them.

Part is wear. Steel bends and plastic wears with time. Bent steel reels are more difficult of course, as are worn plastic reels. If you don't drop it steel well last indefinitely, plastic won't, but who has never dropped a reel?

Part is the kind of film you use -- different films have bases of different thicknesses and some of the modern thin polyester based films are more challenging with plastic than older emulsions with heavier bases.

And part is weather. Plastic definitely gets more challenging as the humidity goes up.

In the end, while any well made reel in good condition can work well, especially if the air, film, and your hands are dry; I find a well made stainless reel easier and faster. And Hewes reels are always well made and for 35mm worth the added expense. For 120 there are perfectly fine alternatives as the tolerances needn't be as tight. On the other hand, 120 is harder to load in plastic than 35 mm is.
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Old 01-22-2019   #31
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I've used Paterson reels since the mid 70s and I like them...I can load two rolls of 120 on each reel...I also have a steel tank and am good with loading 120 on those reels but have a tough time with 135...
Whatever you use just remember to keep them clean and dry them off after every use. They will serve you well for many years.
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Old 01-22-2019   #32
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Observations of a retired photography department prof:


* Most students are leery of SS because they think Paterson's will be easier to load. Initially, that is true.

* Once mastered, almost all find SS easier and faster, whether 35 or 120

* With wear and use the "slick" begins wearing off Paterson reels. After that they can be quite the PITA.

* Kindermann SS are superior to all other steel reel and tank brands with which I am familiar.


Based on three decades working with perhaps 50 tanks, 200 reels and I shudder to think how many photo majors. :-)
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Old 01-22-2019   #33
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I have Jobo tanks and after a lot of frustration trying to load their plastic reels I bought the Hewes 120 reels for Jobo tanks and haven't had a single problem loading film since then. They are expensive if bought new (though somewhat less from Freestyle) and they limit the number of rolls you can process in a Jobo tank compared (at least theoretically) to the Job Duoset reels. The Hewes 120 SS reel only holds one roll, whereas the Jobo plastic Duoset reel is supposed to be able to hold 2 rolls, so twice the rolls per volume. The problem is, I have never been able to load 2 rolls onto a Jobo reel, even one roll is usually a problem, so I've just accepted that I will use more chemicals.
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Old 01-22-2019   #34
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I always found JOBO easier for 120 than Paterson type. Paterson for 35mm, JOBO for 120.

How are you using the JOBO ones?
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Old 01-22-2019   #35
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I find the plastic AP reels much easier than the Patterson ones due to the large film guides. and they are good value too.
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Old 01-23-2019   #36
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I've only ever used Paterson reels and I find them easy enough to load. Hell... I can even do it blindfold! I actually find it easier to load 120 film than 35mm, and I take on board the useful tip mentioned earlier about only moving one side of the reel to ratchet the film on. 35mm can sometimes stick and crink the odd neg if I'm not careful.

As for 120 film, I can get two on one reel but it's an inexact science and depends on the film thickness. I wind the first film on, grasp it lightly but firmly across the diameter of the reel, and gently coax it round by holding the film steady and moving the reel until I feel the end stop. I can then ratchet another film on.

I've stopped doing this now as I've had a couple of 'overlap' issues costing a couple of frames: fortunately nothing I couldn't afford to lose. I think the first film can work its way backwards with ratcheting the second film. I'm loathe to use tape for joining or buffering as I think it might come adrift when in the soup and stick to a neg or several.
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