In hard economic times, using film can be expensive. Fortunately for people who love black and white photography, there is an answer!
However much we love film, it can be an expensive business. But for lovers of black and white photography, home development has always been a way to make some savings. However there is another device, which you might find online, or behind some boxes in a garage or in an attic. They are usually very cheap to buy and, can offer you incredible savings over and above home development. It’s called a bulk film loader.
Isn’t it pretty? Like a giant plastic slug. In fact they come in different shapes and sizes. What you will need to begin working with this device is very simple, and will start making you savings in minutes
What you will need:
- Bulk film loader
- Darkroom bag
- Reloadable film cartridges (can be bought or recycled)
- Bottle opener (to take end off film cartridges)
- Bulk roll of film (I’m currently using 100ft of Orwo, you can also buy Ilford)
Take the bulk film loader of your choice and open the top part. Inside you will see a spool to place the roll of film on, and you will notice the lid slides up and down to create a little gate and shut it again at the side of the loader. Beyond this gate will be some sprocket wheels and a wind on lever. Familiarise yourself with all this by touch in daylight. Then place it and a sealed roll of bulk film inside your darkroom bag. Working by touch, open the bulk loader, open and take out the bulk roll of film, place your bulk roll of film inside, untape the end of the film, and then feed the loose end through the gate and towards the sprocket wheels. Place the lid back on the bulk loader, make sure it is completely sealed, and then you can remove it safely from the darkroom bag. The lid should also be turned at this point so that the gate is ‘shut’ at this stage, thereby stopping any light entering the loader.
Now, in daylight, to create your own film cartridge, you first unclip the area where your loose end of film is lying over the sprocket wheels, and remove the bottom plate.
You will now see the film lying over the sprocket holes. I’ve added a bit of tape here to keep it in position when this compartment is closed. Make sure to keep it in line and engaged with the sprocket wheels.
Take your cartridge, it is pretty obvious at this stage from the crank handle where it needs to be inserted. Keep the pointy end of the cartride pointing away from the crank handle in the same way as you keep it towards the bottom of your camera when inserting a cartridge in your camera. Think of the crank here like the rewind knob on your camera, except it’s going to work in reverse and load rather than unload your cartridge.
Disassemble the cartridge, tape the end of the film to the spindle, and reassemble the cartridge around it again, making sure the metal ring clips back on tight. Insert the cartridge in place at that point into the loader and push the crank leaver into the cartridge. NOW RESEAL THIS COMPARTMENT. With the compartment completely resealed, turn the lid of the loader to ‘open gate’ so that film traverses smoothly over the sprockets as you turn the crank.
Turn the lever to pull film into the cartridge. On the loader I have, each ‘click’ signifies a frame. You can now make your own film cartridge of whatever length you like-four frames is a minimum and 36 is a maximum, but if you ever wanted a 12 or 16 frame cartridge, now’s your chance. When finished, turn lid to CLOSE the gate, open that compartment again, snip off the loose film, and remove your cartridge. Cut a leader on your loose tip of film and you’re done. The savings made by this process can be considerable. A 100ft roll of B&W will give you up to 684 shots, working out at about £2.10 for every roll of 36 exposures. You will be making savings within minutes compared to store or even conventional online buying. All that remains to be done is to pick a good camera and :