I don't know how to get my film out of my camera.

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by noaspencer, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. I recently went on a trip to Florida to visit my oldest friend and used a roll of Ilford hp5 film to take a lot of pictures that I really hope I don't have to lose.
    Apparently while I was taking photos, the film got pulled out of the roll without me noticing, I have no idea when it happened, there wasn't a pop or anything. Now that I'm back home I was going to take what I thought was the last picture on the roll, but then the roll didn't stop. I was really confused and thought maybe the roll was longer than I thought, but after doing some research it can't be, bulk rolls of film are 18-36 exposures, and I was on the 37th. I try to rewind the film but it doesn't feel right at all, it feels like it's just spinning and there's no pull that there usually is from the film. So I go into my completely dark bathroom and open the back of the camera. From feeling around for a little bit I learned two things: the first was that yes the film did come completely out of the cartridge, and the other was that I had no idea how to get the film out of the camera. There weren't any ends to grab, so what I'm thinking is that the roll wasn't actually 35 exposures and I just thought it was since the roll never "ended" because it came out of the cartridge, and I rolled it up too far. I have no idea what to do. I'm thinking I'll have to buy red darkroom lights so I can actually look inside the camera, but I don't know if I can even get the film out.

    I really don't want to lose this roll, there are some really meaningful pictures on it.

    I also don't want to lose the camera either, on that note.

    Help :/
  2. Unprocessed film has to be handled in total darkness to prevent fogging. A darkroom safe light will fog your film.
    The test to determine if its safe to handle film is to sit in the room with the light off, door closed for 5 minutes then hold your hand 6 inches from your face. If you cannot see your hand then its safe to handle film. Be sure to turn a full circle while trying to see your hand. Is your room dark enough after all? If not and a trace of light is coming from one one direction only and its very dim turn your back to it and hold the camera close to you if you cannot block the light source.

    Now in total darkness open the camera back and slowly advance the wind lever while feeling the film on the takeup with your finger. You should feel a slight bump where the end of the film is, it may still have tape on it. Lift up on the end of the film and press the rewind button and pull the film out of the camera holding the film by the edges as much as possible once you have it started out of the camera.

    If you tried to wind too far on a short roll you would have encountered a wind that was difficult to advance. I think the tape that secures the film to the spool in the cassette came loose.

    Camera model, factory film or reloaded cassette info will help if further is needed.
  3. Yes I made sure it was completely dark, there are no windows and I blocked the light coming from under the door.

    The camera is a Canon Pellix Ql and the film is Ilford HP5 b&w.

    And when I felt around in it I didn't find any trace of the end of the film, all I felt were the camera parts and then the exposure of film that was lined up with the shutter because there's a little uncovered rectangle window type thing for cleaning the camera that I could feel it through. Sorry if I didn't explain that well.
  4. SCL


    You need to go into a totally dark room, or closet, taking a bath towel, await about 5-7 minutes for your eyes to properly adjust to the dark and see if there are any light leaks...if so (usually at the base of the door) plug them with the towel. Once it is completely dark, open the camera (by feel) and remove the film cartridge from the camera. Now twist it as if you are rewinding the film to determine if the film is actually in the cartridge and never properly loaded in the first place. If that is the case, you can turn on the lights and develop the film or have it developed....there are cheap devices to catch the film leader inside the cartridge, pull it out , for development. If, OTOH, the film isn't inside the cartridge, you go to the fixed reel inside the camera, and turn your film wind lever or knob until you find the end of the film. Press your rewind button, and grabbing the end of the film, carefully extract it. It will want to curl up and that is ok. If your film cartridge is a reloadable one you can reattach the end of film and manually wind it back onto the reel leaving about 6 inches for a leader sticking out. If it is not a reloadable one, there are a couple of choices, some cartridges have one end which was "snapped into place (the end which doesn't have a film winding protrusion). and you can bang the end with the film protrusion on the hard floor or other hard surface and the other end will pop off...you can now reload the film into the cartridge and snap the popped off end back securely into place. If this doesn't work for you, then merely wind the film around your finger, and once rewound, remove the roll and put it into a light tight container. If developing the film yourself, no problem. Most photo shops send their stuff out for development, so you need to find somebody who has an onsite darkroom to load the film for development. This could also be a local high school or college which has a photography lab.
    I know this sounds pretty complicated, but you can sort of practice in advance (without opening the back of the camera, so you are confident of the steps to take in the dark. Good luck, what happened to you has happened to lots of other people.
  5. Probably the quick loading mechanism which kind of wraps over the take up spool is making it hard to find the end of the film.

    If you do find it, when this happened to me I found it easier to put the film into a black 35mm film tub, after coiling it up tightly - and being sure to explain to the lab that there was bare film inside. Trying to push a 36 exposure film back into its original cassette is easier said than done.
  6. bad bad bad idea :(
  7. Red safelights are for seeing while printing on black and white photo paper, which is not sensitive to red light. They will just fog a modern film.
  8. I want to reiterate what others have said. The red safelight is for after the film has been developed. You can use a red safelight during the printing process. But before the film is developed, it can't be exposed to any light whatsoever.
  9. "So I go into my completely dark bathroom..."
    - Almost no domestic room is completely light tight and sufficiently dark to handle film. Unfortunately you've probably already ruined the film.

    However, if you're determined to try and salvage it you need a "changing bag". These are bags made of totally opaque material with elasticated armholes. You can safely open the camera in a changing bag and try to rewind the film onto the cassette. But this won't be easy. Cassettes are glued together these days and prising the top off usually creates dents such that they can't be put back together.

    I think you might have to resign yourself that the film is now ruined.
  10. I've accidentally opened the camera back fully in a bright sunlit room and only fogged the last two frames. I've opened film in a darkened room where one could barely see the outline of their hand after 10 minutes will no ill effect on the film but I kept the film away from the light source.
    A dim room that would require a 30 minute to 1 hour exposure time at f1 will not ruin a film in 5 to 10 minutes, a room that requires a 5 second exposure at f2.8 will fog a film in 5 minutes beyond use.
  11. I have never had the end come off on a commercially spooled roll, and only once on one I spooled myself.

    I did some with 1/4 inch masking tape, though I think I used two strips, but one came off.

    It shouldn't be hard to get out, but as noted above the QL Canon is a little tricky in the dark.

    But you need a place to put it. If you have a stainless steel film tank, you can put it in there without a reel, until you figure out what else to do with it. (Such as load it onto a reel and develop it.) Many plastic tanks are not light-tight without a reel in place.

    Assuming that it was hand spooled, you should be able to open the cartridge, retape the end back on, and then rewind it. If you want someone else to develop it, that is probably the best way.

    Otherwise, in the dark (changing bag is best, but a totally dark room works, too) press the rewind button, open the back enough that the QL flap opens, and you should be able to slowly pull it off the take up spool, all ready to load onto a reel and develop.

    But yes, the film itself keeps much of the light out, so in dim light only the last few shots will be ruined. Many years ago, I had a roll of Russian 35mm film, which comes on a spool, but no cartridge, and wrapped in foil. You (carefully) put the film in the camera. Maybe I used a changing bag (this was a long time ago), but I suspect that isn't usual.
  12. Were you planning on having the film developed at a lab? If so, I'd take the whole camera to them, explain what happened, and see if they'll take care of it. I imagine any lab that does B&W these days would be more than competent to handle it.

    If you DO develop yourself, you already have all of the skills and facilities you need to salvage it. Go into whatever dark place you load your developing reels with the camera. Lay the camera front down and open the back a full 180ยบ. That will get the quick load plate out of the way. Then hit the rewind button on the camera, which will allow the take up spool to turn freely. Turn it until you find the end of the film, then grab that and you can just pull the film out of the camera.
  13. edit before posting - Ben's ideas are sound.
    If there is film lined up with the shutter, as in right in the middle of the area the film crosses between the cartridge and the take-up reel, then it isn't all on the take-up reel and you should be able to feel the end of the film between the shutter area and the cartridge. If you can feel the film, make sure you only touch the edges and run your fingers along it to find the end. Keep in mind before you start that you need a light-tight thing (like a developing tank) to put it in once you get it out of the camera. Can you say where you are? Maybe there's a member nearby who's got some experience in unloading cameras in the dark (usually happens to all of us at some point).
  14. There's another possibility -- the film may have been loaded incorrectly and was never run through the camera at all.
    The only way to tell is to open the camera up in complete darkness. If the film is on the take-up side get it back into a cassette other light proof container.
    If the film is inside the cassette already, it's probably unexposed.
  15. That's certainly always worth considering, but with that said it's very difficult to incorrectly load a Quick Load camera. Basically as long as the leader is pulled to the orange mark, you are virtually assured quick loading. I've had a couple of FTs, an FTb, and a Pellix all with this system, and don't recall a single misloaded roll. I still use my FTb regularly.
    As it so happens, I have a Pellix sitting on my desk. Mine is more or less retired as the mirror is covered in cleaning marks and also has some damage(a ripple) at the top that does show up on the film. The finder also is quite dark(likely due both to the mirror damage and the fact that they were never that bright to begin with) that I find focusing with anything slower that f/1.8 difficult-the last lime I used it my FL-mount 58mm f1.2 lived on it for the entire roll.
    In any case, here's the loading mechanism-as I said it's pretty much fool proof
    Granted if the film was never loaded properly, you should be able to tell pretty easily as the leader is-of course-distinctly shaped and should be easy to find.
    Not too long ago, I had a roll break on rewind. It was the first time it's happened to me, but I suppose I've been lucky in the past 12 years(got my first SLR in 2005) to have not had it happen earlier even with bulk loaded film. The film was Rollei 400IR, which is on a super thin base(the stuff is a real bear to load onto reels). I was shooting it in my Nikon F3, and since it was my first roll of the stuff I was primarily just walking around the front yard eyeballing compositions, focus, and exposure. For anyone who's ever shot IR film, you can probably relate to doing this as an R72 filter is more or less optically opaque, so with an SLR you have to take the filter off, focus, compose, meter, note the focus distance on the scale and then move that spot to the IR index, and put the filter back on. The extremely slow speed(I was at ASA 6) means that you're mostly working at wide apertures if you want hand-holdable exposure times, so actually refocusing is important. In any case, to get around to my point, I finished the roll and started rewinding it. I felt a drop in resistance, so gave it another turn or two. I then got back inside and found a nice tear over the film gate and about half the roll still on the take-up spool. At least I got about 15 frames off of it, and even some halfway decent ones :)
  16. If you get it in the orange range.

    For all 35mm cameras, I always watch for the rewind knob to move.

    I have a recently bought Pellix, and have only had one roll through it, not yet developed. No problem with loading, though I do wonder if the little pads get old, and not grab as well.

    The mirror on my Pellix is a little dusty. (I believe it was in the case without a lens, such that it is leather dust.) I haven't tried to clean it, as that might make it worse.

    As I said, I have never known commercially loaded film to come off the spool. There is even the story about Nikon motor drives being strong enough to break the spool before the tape comes off. (And drag spool parts through the film gate.) The tape is very strong. For home spooled with masking tape, it only happened to me once, and I suspect that I didn't do a very good job of taping it with the 1/4 inch masking tape that I had. (Well, maybe two strips.)

    But if it didn't load properly, then rewinding would wind the short leader in. For a 36 roll, it is usually easy to tell the friction difference between a fully rewound roll and an empty spool. Maybe not so easy for 24. You might feel the end as it goes by the exit slot. If you turn the rewind knob the other way, it should feel very different as the film moves toward the outside of the spool. If it still turns easily for more than a few turns, the film is off the spool. (Maybe more than a few for a 24 roll.)
  17. Instead of a very dark room, I'd get a changing bag and just open up the camera in that, and get the roll out. Something similar happened to me once (the sprockets were tearing up the holes, as it turned out), and spinning the centre column of the film roll back, I managed to get the film back in (required a lot of patience, but it worked). Developed the roll afterwards, and it turned out fine.
  18. Indeed. In fact, when I load a roll of film I take up all the slack to make sure that I get an accurate measure of the rewind.

    The New F-1 actually had a bit of an interesting feature in that it had a clutch in the rewind knob. If you folded the lever out, it would engage and allow you to rewind the film. If you folded the lever down, there was just enough friction for the knob to turn as you advanced the film, but it wouldn't turn if there was any pressure applied to it. That saved it from snagging, especially if you were running a motor at 5fps.

    One thing I do have to give Nikon credit for is keeping the manual rewind knob on the F4, F5, and F6 despite having built in motorized rewind. Not only can you rewind quietly if need be or rewind with the leader out, but can verify that the film is advancing. Granted, these cameras are also "smart" enough to recognize wrongly loaded film.
  19. Remind me, the Canon VI has a fold-in rewind knob (especially as the optional meter covers the knob). When folded in, though, you can still see the shaft that rotates, with a little orange line on top. You have to rotate the meter to get to the rewind knob, so don't rotate it back until you verify the film is moving.

    With 24 exposure rolls, you need to take up the slack, usually not for 36 exposure rolls.

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