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Loading bulk film
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 1:48 am    Post subject: Loading bulk film Reply with quote

A lot of film manufacturer's still provide 35 mm film in 100' "bulk" rolls of film and there are re-usable 35 mm film cassettes too.

Using a bulk film loader similar to the WATSON can save a lot of money over a year's shooting. I also like to be able to load short rolls, 6 to 12 exposures for testing cameras. Here is a description of my method. This process eliminates the totally exposed film at the spool end of the film. I do this in the darkroom, but I don't see any reason a changing bag would not work. Just make sure the bulk roll does not get exposed.

Bulk loader with film installed

I use the blue painters tape available nearly every where here in the USA. Three quarters on an inch wide, I cut it lengthwise to approximately 3/8" wide. Just easier for me to use.

Loader in full light with GATE CLOSED

Cartridge spool taped on. The tape must wrap around the spool stuck to both sides of the film.

Cartridge installed, notice the short length of the film between the cartridge and gate.

I put an empty cartridge in the actual loading position for reference.

Now our imagination has to get going. Turn off the light, open the gate then move the assembled cartridge into the loading position. Make sure the perforations are positioned on the cogs so that the counter works. If you leave the gate shut, the film might get scratched. Shut the door on the loader. Then turn the light on.

Note: The gate may need to be repositioned to close the door. Just make sure the door is completely closed and the gate open.

Turn the crank to load the desired number of exposures into the cartridge. I load two or three extra to allow of the 'leader' on the roll of film. Then shut the gate. Now the bulk roll is protected from light and the door can be opened.

Cut the film between the gate and cartridge. Remove the roll of film.

Cut the leader shape on the end of the film.

Wow, it is a lot easier to do than describe the process. Please feel free to offer corrections and suggestions.


PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your time to show and explain the process,I have not yet ventured into this area of loading your own film. Cool

PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks...... and B/W films keep (well I suppose there could be some exceptions ?) as now and again use my bulk FP4 I loaded into my Watson over 20 years ago.

PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Very useful, thanks for sharing,



PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice tutorial. I eventually bought one of these loaders, a Watson.

Before that I used a yardstick with pins hammered into it at the start then the 12, 20 and 36 exposure distances stuck vertically on the wall. I hooked a perforation over the appropriate pin and unrolled the film down to the start pin. I hooked it over the start pin then cut it from the roll. I then stuck the end to the spool and closed the cassette. Keeping the film taut I spooled it into the cassette. I didnt handle the film at all doing this.

Once in a while the curl would be too strong and it would spring off. I'd be feeling around in the dark for the film on the floor. Even then though I dont recall ruining any films.

The pins I used were those large headed type that come with new shirts.

Do it in the dark.

Last edited by philslizzy on Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:33 am; edited 1 time in total

PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Always fun dropping things in total darkness. The loader makes it a lot easier.


PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PWhite214 wrote:
Always fun dropping things in total darkness. The loader makes it a lot easier.


So true!! I dont use so much b&w these days