How to get film out of 35mm cartridge?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by mendel_leisk, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. I appreciate this is a very basic subject but anyways: I've just got
    a Pentax MZ-5n and am currently shooting a black and white roll I
    intend to process myself. I've never used a motor drive camera in
    past and always rewound my black and white home processed manually so
    as to leave the leader protruding, for easy install on reel for
    developing. I've looked through forums but have not found anything
    specific to my two questions.

    1. Does anyone know of way to rewind Pentax MZ-5n leaving leader

    2. What is good procedure for getting fully rewound film out of
    cartridge and on to reel in darkroom? Do you use any bottle opener?
    Any tips to accomplish this safely and efficiently?
  2. 1) Don't know<BR>
    2) I use a flat screw drived and just pry. If it's a bulk loaded of my own I can just push it off with my fingers.
  3. Hi, Mendel answer to part 2, Ilford film retriever for 35mm cassettes, made in uk, got one in my hand now.
    Regards Roy Ames
  4. leo


    I was taught to use a bottle opener. As with most photographic things, it helps to go through a dry run. So sacrifice a roll and open it up in the light. You can always use the film to practice loading the reel anyway.
  5. The can opener on any pocket knife will do the trick. Just lever off the cap on the end where the spool doesn't stick out.
  6. A bottle opener/church key works fine. One can also use ones bare hands and pry open the felt area; and then bend the sheet metal enough that one can pry the crimped end caps off. This is a good exercise in hand finger strength; but one must be carefull not to cut ones hands. When developing alot of rolls one gets good at this technique; but a church key is the easier method.
  7. I never liked the idea of a film retriever or leaving the leader out--why add the risk of scratching the film by pulling it back through the light trap?

    For most commercially packaged film I use a bottle opener. For bulk loaded film or any film that comes in a reusable cartridge, you can press the stem end of the spool on a table top while holding the cartridge in the center and the cap at the other end will pop off.
  8. Thanks for all the responses. Bottle opener on non-protruding end looks like cheap and ready way to go. Does end cap come off pretty cleanly, without distorting cylinder?

    The retractor would be more to my liking if it doesn't damage. I'll look into prices/recomendations from local (Vancouver, Canada) photo dealer. I like the thought of having the film sticking out a bit from undamaged cartridge, with leader already trimmed off, BEFORE I have to turn the lights out. Oh for the good old days with manual rewind...

    I did see one post on subject saying something to the affect:

    pry cap off, shake spool out, retrieve leader, slip back into open ended cartridge, with leader between felt strips, just to keep things contained and organized.
  9. <img src="">
  10. Just wondering, if I'm holding just spool and film: does film tend to coil semi-tightly against spool or try to straighten out and expand away from the spool?
  11. Note inconsistant shape of cassettes after being opened in total darkness by hand! I dont like to repull the film thru the felt again if possible.
  12. Kelly, thanks for pic. One advantage I can see with prying open the felt opening is spool and film are still "contained" but the barrier has been directly defeated. I have a cheepo roll of color film that I accidently wound right back in. Maybe I'll try earlier posters suggestion and try prying it open at felt strips.
  13. Most all 1 hour labs have gizmos for removing the leader. I have one somewhere in my ancient Polaroid 35mm instant development kit.<BR><BR>Last week I stopped by Walgreens to have them remove the leader on an unused film casette. I goofed up and rewound it by mistake; when using a AF camera that I am not that familar with.
  14. I have this really neat prong type thing for getting the film out in the darkroom. It's basically two handles sprung together. It fits around both ends of thecanister and squezeez. This pops the ends off the canister.
  15. Don’t make this hard. It is easy. Take the film magazine and gently lift off the end without the protruding core. It helps to pry at two places about 90 degrees apart. I would strongly recommend against pulling the film back through the slot. It’s not necessary. It’s easy to remove the film in a changing back, in a closet, or in a pinch under the blankets in a darkened bedroom.

    Kelly, there is no need to attack—that seems to be the right word—the film through the slot. It’s much easier and neater to pry off the end. The attack approach looks dangerous and unnecessarily difficult!

    Joe Stephenson
  16. Yeah, don't bother with a film leader retriever, you'll end up with a better chance of scratching the film with one. I use a bottle opener and have had no problems while doing this for the better part of 15 years.
  17. I have used a church key for about 40 years; but have learned to open them without one really easy.
  18. Kelly, please explain to me what is a church key?
  19. Church key, a slang term for a bottle opener, is first recorded in 1951, although it is undoubtedly older. It's US slang, so called because the bottle openers resemble the heavy, ornate keys that unlock big, old doors like those found in churches. The origin may also be related to the irony of associating churches with drinking.
    Before pop tops this handy tool made triangular shaped holes in the tops of beer cans.
  20. Jeff has the derivation about right. The correct term is "hook-type can and bottle opener," or so I was taught. They used to offered free on the counters of package liquor stores; now there is usually a small fee. Pop top cans have made them somewhat less necessary than in the past. I believe that the only one we still own is in the dark room.
    Skoal, salud, and cheers,
  21. Well, I've been out taking advantage of a sunny November afternoon. Still wondering, when I've got the spool and film out of cartridge, in pitch black in my sweaty hands, does it behave, meaning stay coiled, or does it tend to unwind and make misery. Also, I guess no one has any ideas on how to rewind MZ-5n without sucking the leader right in.
  22. Mendel, I posted a very similar question in here several months ago.

    I got a few really good replies. One trick someone suggested to get the header back out involves using the header from another roll, wetting it and inserting it into the roll in question and letting it glue itself to the film. It works superbly once you get the hang of it. Check it out here :

    1) What I used to do with my N60 before I discovered how to take the header back out : Open the battery door slightly open so you can just release the pressure and "kill" the camera exactly when you need to, and press the mid-roll rewind button on the camera. I'm not sure if you camera has this function. What I'd do is watch the frame numbers count down on the display as it rewound, and as soon as the display read frame 0 I'd open the battery door killing the power instantly. If I was too slow I'd sometimes rewind it completely.

    2) I use a bottle opener to get the film out and wind it into the reel by hand. If you haven't already tried to load a reel yet, I suggest you try it with a piece of scrap film.

    Hope this helps!
  23. OK, tried Leonid's tip, sacrificed a roll of really old color print film I'd accidently rewound (unexposed) back into it's cartridge. Bottle cap remover works fine, using 2 or 3 lifting points, and film stays simi-coiled, expanding just a bit, but ok as long as you cup it in your fingers. It's been about 15 years since I tried feeding a stainless steel reel, so I'm going to practice my technique, eye's closed and peeking for more feedback. Thanks all for explaining the obvious.
  24. Gee-sh who would have thought that getting film out of the can would be so complicated!<P>
  25. I too have an MZ5n and process my own B&W. When rewinding, watch the counter count down from 36 or 24 or whatever. Have your finger ready on the back cover release mechanism of the camera body. One second after you see zero "0" on the counter, open the back cover. You'll find the film pretty much how where it was when you put it in. Saves licking film which doesn't taste too good. Works every time, and after a few rolls you'll fine tune your method a little. The worst you can do is open it a little early and lose a frame or 2. Now, once you done this make sure you identify the film as being exposed, especially if you currently identify unexposed film by the leader being left out.

    Darryn Richter
  26. It really isn't that complicated. It's not like film is made of high-tension spring steel that's going to shoot out across the darkroom into the fixer tray, knocking an open five-litre jug of Dektol stock onto the paper safe along the way. You just hold on to the spool, and it will stay in your hand.
  27. Thanks Darryn. So one second, close as you can judge, beyond moment "0" displays? Does it make any ominous noises when you do this, or just shuts down electrically?

    Since I'm not intending film to go back in camera, I'll probably stick with prying off cartridge end, per earlier posters. I've practiced on garbage roll and found it pretty easy. Old dog learning new tricks.

    I was just used to the other way. I would always crimp the leader of exposed roll on diagonal, to identify it.

    Apparently, some (nikons?) motor drive cameras can be adjusted to stop with leader out. I emailed Pentax on this, they've aknowledged receipt but nothing back as yet.
  28. David, I agree. I've been practicing with a scrap roll, film stays coiled, albeit a little looser, when out of cartridge. For a little humour, read Michael Veit's response at:
  29. The behavior of film varies with humidity and how long it has been tightly wound on a spool. Sometimes the film is relaxed and easy to handle; sometimes it has a strong memory and remains tightly coiled. You just have to be assertive and make it follow your will!
  30. I use the Ilford leader-retriever and I've never had a problem with scratched film. Otherwise just use a bottle opener and prise the bottom off the cassette.
  31. P.S. - the first 6-8 inches of the film are fogged/blank anyway and the leader-retriever only intrudes about 3" into the cassette.
  32. the first 6-8 inches of the film are fogged/blank anyway and the leader-retriever only intrudes about 3" into the cassette.

    You took the words out of my mouth.
  33. A beer bottle opener (church key) is the way to go. The end pops off of a 35mm container with ease. Besides, you'll need one if you plan on drinking decent beer. The good stuff doesn't come in screw cap bottles.

    When I worked with 35mm film, I kept a bottle opener and a small pair of scissors on a string and cheap carabiner I could clip to my belt loops. That way I didn't have to grope around the table for the opener to pop the can and scissors to cut the leader.

    D.M Elick
  34. I cast a vote for leaving the leader out or retrieving it. With the leader out, you can trim the film properly to load a reel and start loading the film before turing off the lights. Makes for much easier and consistent loading of the reels. Wish it would work with 120/220. FWIW.
  35. A further thought. When you unload the exposed film, make a fold in the leader to indicate that it is exposed.
  36. Mendel asked about Nikons that leave the leader out when they rewind. I don't know about all of the different models but I do use an F3 with MD4 motor drive and MF-6B back. The purpose of the back is to leave the leader sticking out when you rewind.

    There are really only two reasons why you may want this. First, if you want to change film in mid roll. I rewind, and write with a marker how many frames have been shot on to the film leader. When the film is reloaded, the camera is advanced with the lens cap on, back to the original frame count plus one for safety.

    The second reason is that I cut off the leader of the fully exposed roll so that it's ready for the reel, and also to prevent me from re-exposing the roll.

    As for opening the film can, I wind the leader back into the can after trimming it, and use a bottle opener like everyone else.
  37. A tip... if you ever use a can opener in a changing bag, or in any tight space, I reccomend wraping masking tape or some other tape over the sharp can opener end of the church key. It is easy to scratch film in the small space inside the bag.
  38. Another simple trick, maybe softer and safer than the bottle opener trick...:

    You can also use "Dymo" tape as a leader extractor. (Dymo is the brand; I'm pretty sure there are equivalent).
    As it is becoming old fashioned nowadays: Dymo is a slightly rigid plastic tape. It's designed to by punched by a special tool leaving letters on it.. For film extraction purposes, you just need the tape, which is cheap.

    On daylight:
    You remove protective layer of the tape. Insert the Dymo tape in the film canister, with the sticking side facing the inner side of the roll.
    Bring firmly the canister and the axis on which the film is rolled, so that the film won't turn into its cartridge. Insert the dymo until you feel it's rubbing on the film. Then, drag a little the dymo out, still holding the axis. This way, you push the dymo tape on the film to help them stick more firmly. Check if it is sticking hardly enough. If not repeat from start.
    Then, forget to hold the axis. If it sticks firmly enough, drag the leader of the film out of the canister.

    Then you can remove dymo and go into darkroom.
    Drag your whole film out.
    When you reach the end of the film (the whole length is out of the cartridge), just take scissors and cut.

    It also allows you to get the leader of the film out if you accidentally left your camera rewind the whole film.
  39. 1: I have a Pentax MZ-5n too. I wish it would leave the leader out...

    2: The "civilized" way is to use a bottle opener. The "efficient" way is as follows:

    1) Grab film cassette FIRMLY in hand, protruding end of spool projecting over the side of your hand opposite the thumb - outside your fist. Not too much, not too little.

    2) Slam fist down on firm surface.

    If this is done correctly, the lid pops off and remains in your hand. When it doesn't work, you can a) crumple the cassette, b) break the spool, or c) hurt yourself badly.

    Nevertheless, this is my preferred method...

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