Bulk loading film!
If you are tired of constantly running out of film and having to order more just to have to wait for the order to be sent to you or having to go to a brick and mortar store and paying more for a roll, then bulk loading is a option for you!
There is a audio version of this article if you prefer listening to me explaining bulk loading film:
It requires some practice but will reward you with the feeling that you can just visit your fridge or freezer and give yourself another roll and shoot away whenever you want!
The method is called bulk loading and you buy your 35mm film in meters instead of a roll at the time, usually 30 or 17 meter reels but if you go through Ebay you can find longer reels!
You have a good selection of black and white and c41 color films available including brands like Ilford, Fomapan, Rollei, Kodak, Polypan!
What you will need:
A film reel of your choice:
Search for 35mm x 30.5 meter in your prefered online store.
ebay for Kodak vision 2 or 3 35mm or polypan f 50
Empty reusable film cartridge
Bulk film loader (optional)
Some piece of tape to fasten the film to the cartridge, it could be electric tape of transparent tape, just make sure you use enough to fasten the film otherwise it could snap from the roll when you are shooting!
Take your 30.5 or 17 meter reel of film and load into the bulk film loader, please check the user guide for how to load the reel as different bulk film loaders may have different loading techniques!
Insert a Empty reusable film cartridge into the film loader and follow instructions for selecting amount for frames in order to successfully load your film cartridge with film!
You are ready to shoot!
Before you start:
This method requires practice in order for you to successfully load your cartridge with film, i highly recommend you to waste a roll of 35mm film and practice this method both in daylight and in the pitch dark before attempting it with your master reel!
Decide how many frames you would like to load into the empty film cartridge before hand as you will be working in the pitch dark and will have to trust your fingers and the sense of touch to get the steps correctly done!
My method is to use my arm length as a ruler, from my left to the right hand i get just about 1.65 meters which is 36 frames, your body may differ in length and size though!
Another method is to set a piece of tape on a surface that matches your preferred amount of frames and use that as a help!
This is another example where you should practice with a roll of film in the daylight to dedide which method work for you before attempting it in the pitch dark!
Before you start please read the user guide for the reusable film cartridges as they may differ in model and method of loading the film into it, i recommend Youtube as you get to see someone doing it and you can learn from that!
wash your hands before starting as you are working with the film and dirty hands will leave fingerprints!
- In pitch dark open your tin can that has your master reel, take out the film from the black protective bag!
- Carefully put the master reel in a secure and clean spot where it will not fall!
- Carefully pull out the length you want and cut it from the master reel.
- Put away your cut film in a secure spot.
- Now secure your master reel by putting it back in its protective black bag and in its tin can, this makes sure you still have your master source just in case something happens to the cut film and its much cheaper to cut another length then to loose your master source!
Please note which side of the film that is the emulsion side and which is the protective layer, it is important that the emulsion side is on the bottom side of the film!
As a tip the emulsion side is the one that feels mat and less smooth compared to the protective layer that is more glossy and smoother!
You can practice this by feeling any film in daylight and seeing which side is which!
- Take your cut film and tape it to the empty cartridge.
- When you have secured the film to the cartridge rewind the film but leave a small piece of the film exposed as you need it to cut a round shape like the one in the picture below in order to be able to load the film in the camera!
Please note that depending on the camera you are using the reusable film cartridge does not have any iso information, you will have to set the films iso manually in order for the light meter in your camera to give you correct exposure values!
Done, you are ready to shoot!
A notice about Kodak vision 2 or 3:
Kodak vision color cine film contains a layer called ramjet, it is as understand it a black protective layer that must removed either before loading the film into the cartridge or after when the film is being processed, most labs will not be able to remove the ramjet for you, please read this Flickr discussion regarding
Black and white cine film does not contain ramjet and is ready to shoot after you loaded into a film cartridge, develop it with a black white developer like any other regular commercial black white film!
That is the process of bulk loading film, it is a bit advanced in the beginning but as you get used to the routine it gets allot easier and more importantly removes that sense of feeling that you are running out of film constantly!
If you have any questions of comments please feel free to contact me on my email