Friday, April 3, 2009

Bulking up?

I seem to be getting back into cameras again in a big way this year (no doubt helped by my tendency to obsess on some technology, acquire randomly, and then feel guilty.) I took a couple sessions of black-and-white photo developing ages ago -- has it been ten years? gads -- and I'd like to get back into it again. I won't be able to sacrifice a bathroom as a darkroom right now, but at least I can get into processing again, and maybe eventually get a decent negative scanner.

Anyhow, I'm thinking about doing bulk-loading of my own 35mm film, even going go far as to see if anyone local has a bulk winder to spare. Anyone ever try this? Once you swallow the $30-$50 charge for 100' roll of film, the economics seem to work out well, especially if you use spent spools harvested for free from the 1-hour photo place as I intend to do.

Anyone?

Six days later...

My favorite thrift store comes through again. Why do I even bother with the other places?

Watson Bulk Loader

11 comments:

Oliver said...

I've got a spare bulk loader. Actually, it's my only bulk loader, but I never use it, and don't anticipate using it in the foreseeable future. No guarantees that some bit or other isn't missing, but it looks to be all there.

mpclemens said...

Sorry, that wasn't meant as a "please send me your stuff" post. I may have a lead from the local freecycle, I'm waiting on the guy to check it out.

Around here, slow ISO B&W film is nearly unobtanium. Bulk-loading would solve that, but at the cost of having a *lot* to shoot.

Hang on to that loader. You may get back into it when your little guy gets out of the one-man-hurricane stage.

jimoconnell said...

One thing to keep in mind is that bulk loaders are ideal to borrow for a couple of hours. Once you load the film into the loader, (in the dark) there's nothing to keep you from loading up 20 cassettes all at once and returning it. It only takes about 30 seconds per cassette to load.

mpclemens said...

That's a good point, Jim. I had planned on loading it all in one go anyway -- I've got kids with curious hands, and don't want to leave that sort of thing lying around.

Strikethru said...

Well, clearly I'm useless with anything photographic, but I share your covet - acquire - regret cycle in relation to vintage equipment.

Mike Speegle said...

I didn't even know you could bulk-roll. Color me intrigued.

mpclemens said...

It's like Costco, but for film. Buy a 100' roll, harvest used canisters from the 1-hour place, tape, crank, and cut.

And now a loader is "in da house" (as the cool kids say) so I have no excuse not to follow through.

Oliver said...

A friend of mine buys his bulk film from Freecycle. He swears by FOMA, which is surprisingly good for being made in Czechoslovakia.

mpclemens said...

Or Freestyle, although Freecycle may provide interesting results, too. :-)

In fact, I had looked at that very site and product, not the least because it's advertised as "student film" and as such, cheap. I likes me the cheap. Looks like it tolerates a broad set of developers, too.

DenisM said...

Just be carefull not to overload the roll, it can lead to scratches on the first frames. Stick to 35 to 37 exposures. Also, I find metallic rolls are more solid in the long run, more expensive at first but they will last longer. The plastic rolls are also very easy to accidentaly open, as they are quarter-turn twist caps. In any case, carry them in black plastic canisters like any other roll, load in the shade, because as well made as they can be, metallic rolls are not perfect when it comes to being light tight. Good luck. I haven't rolled since the '90s.

mpclemens said...

Thanks for the tips, Denis. I'd read from some folks that rolls of 36 were too tight on the spindle, so they stuck with 24 exposures or so.

For the actual cartridge, I'm using spent (metal) cans from the one-hour photo place at Walgreens. I picked up about 30 of them for free yesterday. They'll probably only get reused this one time, though, as I crack open the bottoms with a church key when it's time to spool the exposed film onto my reels.