Preventing light leaks around edges of finished 220 film?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by randall cherry, Feb 12, 2006.

  1. Hello All,

    I am about to give up on using 220 film due to the last images on a
    roll frequently being ruined by what I believe to be fogging caused
    by light leaking around the edges of the film after finishing it off
    and removing it from the camera.

    I have experienced this problem with both a couple of Rolleiflex
    2.8Es, and two Mamiya 7IIs. I figured with a little experience, I
    would naturally get more adept at successfully winding-up and
    removing the film and the problem would go away, but even after
    shooting at least 100 rolls of 220, I still have these seemingly
    random light leaks causing bands across the last image or two of the
    roll. It happens with negative film, slide film and B&W film. I
    don't have this problem with 120 film.

    I load and remove the film in reduced light. If the roll comes out
    of the camera a little loose, I tighten it on the spool before
    putting it into storage. I've tried removing the roll immediatly
    after it has finished winding onto the take-up spool, and I have
    tried continuing to wind the take-up spool through approximatley a
    dozen revolutions after it has wound-up onto the take-up spool.
    Nothing seems to work.

    I prefer to use 220 film while traveling for space reasons, so I hope
    I can solve my problem. However, my upcoming mid-February trip to
    Canyonlands in Utah will be done exclusively with 120 film to avoid
    loosing images in this manner.

    What the heck am I doing wrong!!??
  2. Randall:

    Are you doing the processing? If not ask your lab for an opinion.

    May want to consider removing in a simple changing bag as well just to see.

    If all continues maybe decide to simply scrap the last two frames all the time & advance & wrap it up.
  3. david_henderson


    I use a lot of 220 in my Bronicas and Mamiya 7ii. Whilst I do get the occasional leak onto the rebate it doesn't hit the film- or at least maybe only on a frame a year. If its happening with both cameras and not at all on 120 its more likely to be a handling issue than a camera issue- but then you've got that far already. The only thing I'm doing that you don't specifically mention is to put the exposed rolls back into their sleeves in my bag- which will offer some, albeit incomplete - protection against post-exposure leaks. Frankly I'm not always even loading in subdued light- just working with my back to the sun in most cases.

    I wonder whether this is a lab handling issue. Can you try a couple of rolls elsewhere?
  4. Thanks for the responses.

    I am pretty sure it is my film handling that is causing the light leaks because I've tried two different labs with the same results.
  5. Randall:

    I have never witnessed how the lab does 120/220 - maybe they untape & load the cartridge so to speak in daylight & then insert into the machine?

    My thought is that this is the juncture where the slight fogging is occuring.

    That's my thought - hopefully others will know this aspect & chime in.
  6. I've had similar problems with 120 in the recent past. Mostly seemed to happen with Bergger film. The labe suggested that teh light seals on my Hassy back is faulty. I don't think so... both are about 1 year old and I never get light leaks with color film. I changed labs and it stopped happening. But as insurance, I now carry squares of aluminum foil and wrap my film after licking the tape.
  7. Brian raised a good point - I usually - not always - use plastic Adox 120 containers I bought from J&C a while back.

    I also have some of these:

    Lastly - I have just started using the Rollei R3 120 film & their cannisters are threaded & double sleeved to be light proof as it's a 25 to 6400 film - I am planning on keeping all of the used ones for post-shooting storage until processing.
  8. Hmmmmm . . . I wonder if things could be improved by a made-for-purpose light-tight film storage container?

    Anyone have any suggestions for such a contraption?
  9. The "Vari-Air" container linked in an earlier post looks good, but I need something that holds 25-35 rolls of film.
  10. Randall:

    Just get an x-ray foil bag so you can collapse & expand as needed.
  11. I am not that sure keeping tightly rolled film in the dark can eliminate the problem, as the response of the film to the light is pretty quick and so maybe in the removal of the film from the back. Tiny ongoing light leaks might be minimised, though.

    I have taken to carrying an old kid's pencil case. It is
    a) free
    b) dark as the zip is tight
    c) keeps the films together
    d) gives a measure of protection.
  12. Randall:

    I'm still not convinced that it's the lightproofing of the exposed rolls as it sounds like you are very careful.

    Maybe try a new lab or ask your existing lab how they go about setting it all up just prior to developing.
  13. I think Nick is right. The streaks happen in a few microseconds. I would suspect the roll is not being wound very tightly by the camera which would point to the resistance of the film spool. It cannot happen with 120 because of the paper backing. I would suggest you forgo the last frame or two as someone previously mentioned if you can't find out what's going on. For vacations 220 is worth the reduction of film changing as you well know.
  14. Randall,

    I have had occassional problems of your kind. It has always been a result of loosely wound take up spools. I use Hasselblads and older mags seemed to be the most frequent source of trouble. Newer magazines have a tension devise that makes the film wind on tightter. I never have problems with them.

    The suggestion is that maybe if there is a tension devise in your camera, it may need servicing.

    The other precaution I always observe, with all cameras, is to turn my back to direct sunlight when loading film. That could be the very moment your 'loosely wound' film gets its light hit! Direct light is the big danger, as opposed to diffuse light.
  15. Couple of thoughts:<br>
    1. I use a Mamiya 7 and crank the advance lever a number of times more than strictly necessary to be sure the film is as tightly wound on the take up spool as possible before opening the back. I also manually take up all slack after taking the film out (do this in subdued light) before taping it down.<br>
    2. I use an opaque film bag I get from Photographers Formulary for storage until I take it to the lab. The bag I use is meant for 4x5 film holders, so it's long a narrow and will easily hold quite a few rolls of 120/220: . You can also use those bags enlarging paper comes in.
  16. Tom,

    The film storage bag from Photographers Formulary sounds like a good idea. I went to the PF web site, but they don't have much to say about the bag. Could you provide a description? I am especially interested in hearing about how the bag closes or seals shut. How many rolls can you fit into the 4X5 bag?

  17. I know this thread is long dead, but I just noticed that the question about how labs handle 120/220 has gone unanswered. So, for everyone's interest, I'm dragging this thread out of the ashes...

    In labs that use a continuous feed 'minilab' type processor (as opposed to a single-tank rotary processing), the film must first be removed from its spool. This is done to get rid of the backing paper and allow the film to be taped directly to the leader card (which pulls the film through the processor).

    With the Fuji C41 and Agfa E6 machines at work, the procedure I follow is this: I take the roll of film (still sealed) and a 120/220 "cassette" (a little box which holds the unspooled film in a roll and allows it to escape through a felt light trap) and put them in a changing bag or dark box. Inside the dark box, I tear the sealing tape and unroll the paper leader until I feel the start of the film.

    I remove the film from the paper (with 120 this is easy since this end isn't actually attached to anything, with 220 it needs to be untaped), and start coiling the film into a tight little roll. When I reach the end of the film I untape the film from the backing paper and then put the now-free roll of film into the cassette, leaving just a little bit sticking out for later.

    Then I lock the little cassette, open up the darkbox, and now in the light I tape the end of the film I left sticking out to a leader card and stick the whole thing in the processor. Once the processor is shut, the film is slowly drawn through the light trap (in the dark of course) and into the first developer. After it has finished unspooling, the machine can be opened and the cassette can be saved for later re-use.

    The astute reader will notice that there are at least two things that can be gained from this. One is that edge fogging with 220 film is very rarely the fault of the lab. Unless some bonehead unseals the roll in the light, the entire procedure is done in the dark so there is no chance for the last frames to be fogged. (Even if the light trap in the cassette is leaking, that would fog the first frame, not the last one, since the film is rolled up starting with the end of the roll.)

    In my experience, 220 edge fogging occurs because some cameras don't keep enough tension on the film spool, causing the film to be wound loosely. Since 220 has only just enough paper to protect it from fogging, if the roll is even slightly loose light will leak under the edge of the paper and fog the last few frames. To wit, I've never seen edge fogging on even the sloppiest 120 spool.

    It also follows that since the start of the roll is left sticking out of the light-trap to facilitate taping it to the leader card, it is possible for a sloppy lab tech to pull out a bit too much and ruin part of the first frame. I've never done this myself, but I do know of others who have. (Keep in mind that in a smaller lab, the bulk of film is 35mm and you can haul out the first 6 inches of 35mm film and usually not worry about it.) The lesson here is that since there's usually a bit of leftover film at the end of a 120 or 220 roll, I wind medium format cameras a bit PAST the "Start" mark when loading since that way, there's a bit more space left at the beginning of the roll where it's most prone to fogging. (This is especially important with my Blad, since it likes to start right at the beginning of a roll.)

    Hope this helps!

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