Discussion in 'Large Format' started by johan_ditzel, Aug 29, 1999.

  1. Hello,

    A few weeks ago I started with large format photography. I own a Cambo 4x5 inch camera and a Durst Laborator 1200 enlarger with a color head CLS-500. I made some nice pictures last week in Paris and I am very impressed of the quality. Every thing works fine until now, but I have problems with dust on my negatives(4x5). Before loading the holders, I use a vacuum cleaner in a seperate room. I use a vacuum cleaner to clean the room itself. If the holders are loaded with film and I start with an exposure I clean the holders in the field with a brush before I remove the darkslide of the holder. Anyway, every negative that I made contains particles of dust. Because I use Fiber base paper it is possible to remove the scratches using a retouching brush. But my general question is: is it possible to make exposures on 4x5 inch film without any dust?

    Any recomendations are very welcome to this new 4x5 inch worker.

    Thanks in advance

    Johan Ditzel
  2. Make sure the inside of the camera is clean. Removing the dark slide can charge the film with a little bit of static electricity and cause the dust to be attracted to the film. Some people load the holders in the bathroom after running the hot shower to remove dust from the air.
  3. One of the problems with vacuums is that while on one end they are
    sucking, at the other end they're blowing! Generally speaking, the
    use of a vacuum is going to stir up the atmosphere. What I have found
    works very well, is to brush all the surfaces of my film holders,
    including both sides of the dark slide. I use a 1" camel hair brush
    which I keep in a zip lock bag when not in use and which I wash every
    so often. After I brush each holder, I put it in another zip lock
    bag. When I load the holders, I get everything ready in front of me,
    sit down and wait a few moments before beginning. I wear a short
    sleeved tee shirt when working, so as to minimize generating lint. I
    pick my film off the stack emulsion down, turning the film only just
    before I slip into the holder. This way, any dust in the air that
    settles on the film will fall on the back, not the emulsion. Avoid
    loading in very dry conditions. I too, run a shower in my motel room
    before loading on the road. This humidifies the room and also washes
    some of the dust down. I almost never have to retouch a negative
    anymore. The best of luck in perfecting your personal technique!
  4. What most people don't realize is that about 99% of all dust on sheet
    film comes from the light trap that seals the dark slide. They act
    like scrubber brushes and remove any dust on the slide when you pull
    it out. When you push the slide in, the dust is picked up and
    scattered over the film. You have to use compressed air with about 15-
    20 psi to blow a small dust cloud come out of the trap when blown.
    Too much air will damage the trap, so be careful. Also, make sure the
    slides are clean both sides, that is where the dust comes from that
    the felt trap picks up. Also, the longer the film is stored in
    holders, the better the chance of disturbing dust. Packing holders
    around on a few trips before actually using them is asking for
    Blowing the camera, especially the bellows, is needed as well.
  5. Johan,
    I have also been confronted with the problem of dust from the film holders. What has been said before on
    runnig a hot shower for a while in the bath tub helps. But you may consider the preloaded 4x5 QuickLoad
    from Fuji or ReadyLoad from Kodak. I found it is the only way to get rid of the dust. The sheets will cost
    a little more, but on my experience it is worthwile. Kodak has T-Max 100, a couple of color negatives and
    slides as well. Fuji has only slides. The first Kodak QuickLoad back was a nut.I had flatness problems
    with it all the time.But I have seen reports that the new version has improved. Someone to confirm?
    The QuickLoad back from Fuji is fantastic. I have used one for years, shooting hundreds of slides... and
    forgetting all about dust problems. Unfortunately, it is not well suited for the Kodak ReadyLoad (although
    you may use it but too tight). Then you have the option of a Polaroid back for both brands of
    film.(Personnaly I dislike it. It is thick and heavy to carry around and I am not sure of it's flatness).
    The Kodak ReadyLoad stand by two in one envelope.They require a little exercise to handle well. The Fuji
    QuickLoad are by one and should'nt be a problem as long as one will not insert them back to front.
    The only problems I had a couple of times was by freezing weather when the envelope stuck to the holder.
    But all this is just half of the problem. Dust in the laboratory is an other battle! You are fortunate to
    own a diffuse light enlarger. I am not keen on black and white but I worked on Ilfochrome, making a set of
    contrast masking negatives and exposing the sandwich...That was four faces to clean from dust! Im so happy
    the digital era has come!
    Have your pleasure.
  6. Using exotic procedures for managing dust out in the field when you
    camping in remote areas is not pratical or possible. I have resorted
    to preloaded film. I no longer the carry those heavy film holders,
    changing bags, or spend time loading film. Out of 150 frames in 30
    days of field work I have zero dust spots.
  7. How are you storing the holders and carrying them in the bag? For me,
    the dust problem was greatly minimized when I began keeping the
    holders in plastic zip lock bags. When not in use I keep the holders
    in the bags. When loading film, I first brush the holders with an
    anti-static brush, load the film, and put the holder back in the bag.
    It stays in the bag until I'm ready to make the photograph. As soon as
    the photograph is made the holder goes back in the bag, not to be
    removed until processing. This hasn't completely eliminated dust
    (Readyload, et al would do that but T Max in Readyload costs twice as
    much as non-Readyload) but it has eliminated probably 90%.
  8. I've been using quickloads but recently started using conventional
    holders for access to more emulsions. I have yet to have dust
    problems. For one, I use the Toyo holders (they claim the light seal
    doesn't fray). Second and most important, I load the holders in a
    changing bag in the shower (I don't run hot water beforehand). The
    showers in Japan are one-piece fiberglass moulded units of a sink,
    hose w/ shower head, and drain on the floor next to the sink (so by
    showering each day, you essentially wash the floor clean :) ). I
    carefully blast each holder off (inside in all the grooves and both
    sides of the darkslide) with canned air, and put them into a new
    ziplock bag immediately. I also blast off the exterior of the film
    box and put that into the ziplock bag, and then load all the contents
    of the ziplock bag into the changing bag quickly and zip it up.


    When shooting out in the field, I use a blower on the holder, making
    sure there's no dust on it before inserting it into the camera. I use
    a brush/blower on the darkslide, as static tends to attract dust.
    After I slowly remove the darkslide, it goes either into the ziplock
    bag (and gets cleaned with the blower before reinsertion) or into the
    quickload box. My philosophy is that if you keep the darkslide clean,
    dust won't collect on the light seal on the holder, nor will it
    collect on the inside of your camera. So far, so good. I won't vacuum
    holders or the bathroom...that blows dust all over the place.

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