Cutting Negatives

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by sprouty, Apr 13, 2005.

  1. Ok, so this is obviously a stupid question (and I did search for a
    while) there an easier way to cut negatives than using
    scissors and guesstimating under a safe-light? (I use a small local
    communtity darkroom and inevitably there is at least one or two
    other people in vaious stages of developing or printing which
    precludes turning on the light). I realize the answer may be as
    simple as "No" or of course that I could coil the negs and cut them
    at home but I'm just wondering if maybe everybody uses a film cutter
    or some other nifty toy that I don't know about?
  2. Hoya used to make an inexpensive cutting light box for slide mounting. It was a small plastic box with a light under some white plastic. The negatives could be lined up nicely and a small kind-of guillotine cut them very neatly. It would do for any negs. Maybe you could find one?
  3. I have one of these dual format negative cutters that works very well.

    Neg. Cutter

    Always makes nice, straight cuts and allows for light to show up from below if you set it on a light table.

    - Randy
  4. I'd try and avoid the negatives coming into contact with any surface (a light box, a cutter, your fingers etc). Cut the negs in the light it is so much easier. Cut and put the negs straight into sleeves. Most people use sleeves that are clear so you can contact print them without taking them out. I have found with experience that finding the right pair of scissors is the important thing. The thinner the blades the more acurate I find I am. I also find doing it over a well lit, white surface so i can see frame edges is best. Also remember that with 35mm, the position of the scissors in relation to the sprockets on one side is where you are aiming over the other side. I find this mentally easier than trying to cut down the small gap between frames (which is often narrower than the pair of scissor blades so you can't see too accurately). Like I said laying them on something and cutting them is asking for trouble or at least means you have to be extra careful with dust etc.. If I have a particular favourite shot on a strip of five/six frames I am even careful to take the strip from the sleeve that involves the least distance travelled for my favourite neg. i.e. if it is to the right of the strip, I remove the strip from the right, so it only moves in contact with the sleeve for a frame or so's distance, and replace it from the same direction. All helps to reduce the risk of scratches and picking up dust etc.
  5. I string them out emulsion up on a towel too old to lint and the drying weight still on the end.

    Use small sewing scissors with blades about 1 in long. Add a desk light and gauge 6 exposures long so you don`t miscount.
  6. Hey guys, thanks for the tips. It looks like I'll be trying one of those dual format cutters that Randall recommended, since they are pretty cheap and are readily available. Also thanks for the tips on scratches and dust. I didn't realize that the emulsion side was that soft once developed.
  7. I like my Gepe cutter. It seemed like a lot of money for something just to cut negatives,
    however, it's some of the best money that I have ever spent on accessories. Once you
    have one, you will never regret having spent the money, as it is so much better than
    messing with a scissors.
  8. The best scissors I've used for cutting negs is barber's shears. Very narrow and thin -- you can see what you're cutting.
  9. I found an old Soligor slide mounting cutter in the odds and ends section of the local photo store. It came with its own lightbox, and the top part looks similar to Randall's film cutter - except that mine is 35mm only. Once the unusual bulb burt out and I could not find a replacement, I use the top alone now on my lightbox. The price was a princely $10. I suggest you look around at some of the more established photo stores and see what turns up.
  10. [​IMG]
    Hammann Cleaver (Filmspalter). With the 35mm model, in contrast to the 16mm version, one can splice back the negatives without any loss of frame content (not even the 1mm one gets in 16mm) and the "splice" is a whopping 0.03mm thicker than the film! Due to the wide spread acceptance of polyester stocks (which can't be wet cemented) these, by vast margins best splicers every made (and ever to be made), are more-or-less obsolete.. making them sometimes very inexpensive on the used market. New they are, of course, at over 500 EURO alone for the cleaver, hardly cost-effective for this application but used.. and a bit of luck...
  11. My hands are pretty shaky but I get by okay using a sharp pair of Fiskars or barber shears and powerful reading glasses. The reading glasses go on my eyes, not the negatives... just in case there was any confusion. ;>

    I rest my hands on a light table to steady them while cutting. Works fine for 35mm but is a bit more challenging with 120 because the spacing is sometimes a bit irregular.

    The most powerful magnifying reading glasses you can find at the pharmacy are usually too strong for reading at a comfortable distance, but I find them handier than a loupe for quick viewing of negatives and prints, cutting negatives, checking for dust on my glass negative carriers, etc.
  12. I have tried all different kinds of shears & scissors. I find longer ones to be more of a hinderance. I have settled on my all purpose, handy dandy Crayola kiddie scissors. they aren't the ones taht are way rounded for pre-schoolers (and airplanes), but they don't have a sharp point either. The cutting surface is about 2 inches long & is just perfect. I also use them in my changing bag since the tip isn't too sharp. I cut my negs & slides just using my desktop lamp and the length of my desk. I try to minimize surface contact. Oh and they are purple.... prettttty
  13. On the odd chance that this gets archived, I just wanted to mention that I recievied one of the Matin cutters that Randal recommended and it seems to work quite well. I ended up ordering it from George Themelis (see the link above) and FWIW he was a pleasure to deal with. He responded immediately to emails and even sent the cutter via USPS priority mail to me before my personal check had cleared. It ended up costing $34(US).

    Thanks again everyone for you help.

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