Is my roll of film ruined?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by stacie_swope, Jan 19, 2009.

  1. I just spent the whole weekend taking a roll of 36 photos. When I got to my last picture, my camera did not rewind my film correctly. I opened the back, and my film was still unwound. I closed the back (mistake) and the film ended up reloading into my camera. It said that I had 36 pictures left. I then manually rewound the film (pushed the rewind button), and this time, it was correctly rewound. However, did opening the back and exposing my pictures ruin my whole roll? I am relatively new to film cameras. I am taking a photography class and this is my first time using a film camera.
  2. Get the roll developed and see what happened. That's all you can do. You may have lost a few, but the only way to tell is get the roll processed.
  3. If it was really bright, you maybe ruined the whole roll, but the likelihood is that at least some of the pictures on the take-up reel will have been sheltered enough that you may be able to salvage something. As Bob says, only way to tell is to develop. I wouldn't have prints made, for sure, until you know. Ask for "processing only".
  4. Opening the back of the camera in daylight before the roll is rewound will almost always destroy the roll of 35mm film. Something might survive, but really, there's not much hope. If it's a 120 film, those have a paper backing that's opaque; that may help to contain the light a little better and keep from messing up everything; but basically, opening the back before rewinding will usually mess up everything. Sorry.
    Don't feel bad. I messed up the rewind process on my first roll of film, and did the same thing. I felt crushed. And, embarrassed. And worried that I would get a bad grade. Somewhere in there, I loaded another roll of film, and tried to take some more pictures. That was over 20 years ago. I still mess up stuff, pretty much daily or every time, but it's been a great adventure. Keep on going.
    Even Robert Capa's photos of Normandy beach on D-Day were trashed by a processing error. Even Ansel Adams was dissatisfied with his first photographs; so, he set out to learn all he could about photography. Avedon started out taking ID card photos; he probably had his flubs, too. You're next. Good luck. J.
  5. If you have doubts, use a changing bag or an area of total (total, now) darkness. I recommend the changing bag for the camera kit. It can double as an improvised rain cover since most of them are nylon. They're inexpensive.
    In fact, if you learn to load the 35mm camera in the changing bag, you can learn to get a few more frames per roll. This strategy won't work if your camera auto-loads.
    I know that's miserly, but it works like this: when you load a roll, there is always a section that gets exposed to lots of ambient light; this part comes out as the all-black leader section. If you load in total darkness in the changing bag, you will only have to advance the film once, and release the shutter once. The section of film before the frames start will be slightly smaller.
    This can lead to the equivalent of several rolls of film's worth of "free frames" over time. Since each picture in 35mm usually costs about $1, start to finish, no matter what, you can not save, but conserve your resources the more frequently you load or unload in the dark. It'll get you about three extra shots per roll. Look at the frame counter. Those two dots before zero and the zero, those can have images on them if you load manually in the dark.
    You're still going to want to release that shutter for the first advancement because you don't want to walk around for a long time with the springs in the shutter under tension. Years of doing that as a habit can wear down the equipment. If you would be prepared to take the picture immediately after loading, then the leader gets cut down to just that first bit that wrapped around the take-up spool with the first advancement.
    Also, opening the camera up inside the changing bag will let you inspect by feel, so you can figure out if the film is right or not.
    When film is being rewound successfully, there is a little click at the end. This is the sound of the film coming off of the sprockets and flapping around a little bit inside the mechanism of the camera. Listen for that flapping-click at the end. Maybe that will help you know if the auto-rewind did its stuff or not.
    The reason why I mention this stuff is because I hope you can turn your flub into a refined loading and unloading technique. Not only can you get past that problem, but you can probably do the loading and unloading better than other people around you do if you work on your technique.
  6. 35mm film tends to be wound up pretty snugly on the takeup spool, which helps protect it in such accidents. I once opened the film door on my first SLR without rewinding and only the last few frames were fogged, thanks to the subdued lighting. The rest of the roll was fine. Even in daylight most film (other than infrared) will suffer only edge fogging on the inner layers of film, which will be the first frames on the roll.
  7. Don't feel bad - everyone does it. But mistakes like this are how you learn. It won't be the last "OH NO!" you have in film photography. My mentor and friend was shooting in rural Vietnam back in the 80's - she shot this wedding procession she chanced upon in the countryside - one of those deals where you just KNOW you're getting great stuff. After it passed she went to rewind the film, and felt no tension on the rewind knob. NO FILM in the camera. She just sat down in the weeds and cried. She's a very skilled photojournlist - so these kind of things can happen to anyone.
  8. You're out no more than the last 10 exposures. Film is pretty opaque.
  9. I doubt if you lost the whole roll. This is why my Canon Rebel Ti does it backwards.
  10. I once ( upon a time ) opened the back prematurely, and I was worried about damaging the whole roll, but only about 4 pictures were ruined. You just have to develop it and see what happens. Good luck.

Share This Page