Processing two 120 rolls back to back in one spiral

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by marizu_okereke, May 9, 2009.

  1. I was advised by a more experienced photographer that I could load two 120 rolls into a single spiral and process them together.
    I could load them back to back with the emulsion sides facing apart (ie. not touching).
    I did this but when I looked at the films (Neopan 400) after the final rinse they were both stuck together with a purple liquid. I had noticed that my fixer looked a bit more purple than normal when I tipped it out.
    I panicked a bit and quickly loaded them into different tanks, gave them another rinse and fix just in case but I don't think that this was needed.
    Is developing in this manner really a good idea? The negs look fine.
    Does this purple stuff reduce the capacity of the developer to be reused?
    Thank you,
  2. I don't do it.
    I figure it costs me less than thirty cents to process each film. And that's using the developer only once. Is it worth the risk for thirty cents?
    If you really want to use the developing chemistry for two rolls of film, buy another reel and tank and run the stuff in the second tank.
    Your choice.
  3. Loading two films on one reel here is more often done with 35mm than 120. With 35mm it was often a 1950's and 1960's way of doing a rush job for newspaper work. The danger with a loading it wrong is grave. Many folks have more issues with loading 120 than 35mm; thus a double 120 load or even a double35mm load is often not worth it. One has to be carefull not to exhaust the developer if one has a super dilute ratio; one has of course double the film area per volume of developer. If they get stuck; using another fix and rinse can remove the areas that did not see any solutions.
  4. He probably meant load them end to end, not back to back. Quite a few 120 sized reels also take 220 film which is twice as long as 120. You do have to tape the ends together so the films don't overlap.
  5. In the 90s I have developed probably close to 1000 35mm films (Color-negative and BW) back-to-back without a single problem (apart from other errors like setting the wrong program in the Jobo-Autolab). Sometimes I've managed to squeeze four short (12 exposures) 35mm films on to one large Jobo reel.
    But I wouldn't do that with the somewhat wobbly 120 films. Some reels have clips - load one short film (120 or 35mm 12 exposures) to the end, push the clip in (to prevent overlapping) and load the next short film to the clip.
    I would try this in the light first to see how it works and to get a feel for it.
    Hope this helps and please excuse my english, georg.
  6. He did actually mean back to back. I was telling him that I couldn't get them to load end to end. He said that it would be fine as long as the emulsion sides weren't together. I think that he was probably right. The negs do actually look fine, now. They weren't actually stuck together, just held by the surface tension of the purple stuff.
    I won't be doing that again. I was in a bit of a rush. It was more the time than the cost. I already have another reel and tank but I was using that at the same time (along with a 5x4 tank).
    I never thought about using tape to load the two 120's.
    Thank you for your help.
  7. I imagine that loading two films back to back must be very difficult, I would not even contemplate trying it. I always develop two films at a time end to end in a Patterson spiral. I do not tape them (I cannot see in the dark to do it). I have never had a problem with ovelapping. I never process one film at a time, always two and it uses the same quantity of developer as one film.
  8. Yes, you can do it.
    No, it's not a good practice.
    If you want the best possible results with optimal consistency and reliability, load one roll per reel, use the appropriate amount of developer for each. Two rolls of film on one reel is still two rolls of film and using only enough developer for a single roll is risking inconsistent results, especially with very dilute solutions in small volumes.
  9. Sorry Lex, I do not think that you are correct.
    120 film is approx twice the width of 35mm. Therefore it requires twice the volume of developer. 120 film and 35mm both have the same area (you can contact print onto 10 x 8 with both). So if you are using twice the volume of developer you can develop twice as much film!
    I know, I have done it for years and it works!
  10. If I was in a rush, I would get a multi-reel tank. Never had any problems that way. Taping 2 rolls end to end would only work on a 220 reel.
  11. I don't think we're disagreeing, Norman, other than over semantics due to my sloppy writing.
  12. Marizu,
    The purplish stuff you are seeing is the anti-halation backing on the base side of the film. It is there to keep light from reflecting off the back of the film and causing little "halos" around bright spots. Some films have more and deeper-colored dyes than others. Some use dark cyan, some purple, some blackish dye.
    The anti-halation coating is water-soluable. However, if the film is touching back-to-back as in your case, there is no chance for it to dissolve (it usually comes off in the pre-soak or the developer). You can remove it by re-soaking the film. You may want to use a wash-aid and then a regular wash. You can see when the film has cleared. It will probably clear quickly. If you've fixed correctly, there is no reason to repeat this step. The trick is to get the back of the film exposed to water for the correct amount of time.
    There is no reason you cannot develop film as you describe, however, it is not common practice because it really does not save any time (especially if you have to re-soak your film to get the anti-halation coating to come off) and there are issues with developer capacities, and damage to the film while loading.
    But, if you have an adequate amount of developer, have good film-loading skills, are consistent in your processing and have adjusted your developing time to compensate for the increased amount of film and can easily clear the film after processing back-to-back, there is no theoretical reason why this method won't work. It is just easier for most to use one film per reel.
    You could get a double-reel tank (twice as big) that would speed up your processing if that is what you are after. As Lex and others have mentioned, the savings in developer is minimal and not a viable consideration.
    Doremus Scudder
  13. Doremus;
    a double pack/load DOES save time IF you have only some many tank/reels and have many rolls to develop.
    It is the SOLE reason many of us have used this method; TO SAVE TIME. Thus if one is in the field; on assignment; on vacation and one has say just one 32oz Nikkor tank; one can load just two 120 reel; or four 35mm reels. A double pack/load means one can develop twice as many rolls per hour.
    As a practical matter it is used radically more in 35mm than 120; and little used anymore.
    This method has worked. Debating it is like asking it is possible for man to go the moon, or shoot a wedding with a TLR! :).

    To All; It is WAY easier to load a single film on ONE REEL. A double/load/pack is easier with 35mm than 120. An old roll of 120 can have a huge "set" in it in rare cases; thus a devil to load even if one is an experienced user.

    As mentioned before on has to be carefull not to have the developer "poop out"/exhaust if one has a double load/pack. Thus if you are a D76 1:1 user; using a straight D76 mix will be OK. Using Rodinal, HC110, Ethol Blue. Microdol ETC at some some super dilute brew can be problematical; if one has too much square footage per volume of developer.

    In a weird way this thread goes full circle; the double load method is what I did in Highschool for sports stuff in the 1950's. One shot many bulk film rolls of 35mm with an Exakta; one did a double load to save time; to save developer. One could develop twice as many rolls per hour; the developer blend/ratio was sized so it was dumped after usage; ie a one shot brew that had enough gunk to develop the many rolls.
    Shorts cuts in ways are common in many walks of life; often they can be more risky if one is the assuming type/soul.
    The SOLE purpose is to save TIME and or save materials.
    Doing a double pack has been done with reel and sheet films too. Some folks also pack more clothes in a washer; or more dishes in a dishwasher too; all have risks; all can work if one has common sense. Using a double pack goies back to the first Nikor reels in the 1930's; it is NOT theoretical; it is just old history being rediscovered by another generation.

    Jack; the method being discussed is NOT loading two 120 rolls on a 220 reel. It is about loading two films on one reel; a reel used typically for on film. One is placing both emulsions out;and loading two films on at once. Typically it was/is a method for quick newpaper work on a schedule; with 35mm.

    tO aLL;
    The whole double load method is risky; for the average JOE it has little gain. TODAY film is usually not used in a rush basis in newswork; digital is.

    The SOLE reason some of us have used this double/pack method is TIME; to develop twice as many rolls per hour. In past eras some folks shot say gobs of trix 35mm to get a few great sports shots; one or two for the local newspaper; that had a deadline One might shoot 8 rolls of tri-x; load up 4 reels; place them in a 32oz tank and have them developed; stopped; fixed in 1/2 hour.

    TATTOO on your arm the reasons this risky double pack/load method is/was used is MOSTLY TIME; some with savings of developer. In amateur work a double load is risky; one has no schedules; and often less experience in loading film.
  14. This thread explores an old rush film development method from 60+ years ago; one used when one shot film for newspapers. The SOLE reason it was used was TIME; to SAVE TIME; to meet a deadline.
    Today using a risky method makes little sense at all; one doesnt use film for tight deadlines anymore in most cases. Thus TODAY the whole reward to risk ratio is wonky.

    It is even more risky since today folks have issues with loading a 1930's Nikor reel; one that others had no issues with in the 1950's and 1960's.

    Adding a double load with 120 is even more risky; radically more than 35mm in my double load experience. I use to double load 35mm alot; and thought 120 was not worth the risk even decades ago.
    With the many "I have problems loading a 120 reel" questions on; advocating a double load scheme seems absurd for most all.

    If it is just a money issue; just use a more dilute HC110 or D76 brew.
    The whole double load scheme works IF one has a good technique. With a poor technique one might be retouching out half-moons; curl, nick marks from the wedding images you just shot! :)

    I would wager that most photographers have never even heard of a double load method; it was used mostly where one had a tight schedule' mostly say 1960's era.
    Many posters here seem to doubt it or are confused; they mention taping. One does NO TAPING. One loads two rolls emulsion out at ONCE; each groove has two films in it. One might was well attack some more risky method a chap used in 1958 to fix a car quicker; in half the time! :)
  15. Why not just get a bigger tank? I have a Kindermann tank which holds 2 120 stainless steel reels plus a 35mm. I know that there are similar ones available for plastic reels too. It's just not worth the risk and as pointed out, not very good for consistency. Used film tanks and reels are practically given away now. Go that route.
  16. Russ; here I have never had any issues with developing consistancy using a double load scheme; thus at least with my experience the consistancy concern risk never happened. What is your source for this concern?

    At some point one doesnt have tanks a meter long.

    Mine today are nikors.

    I have one for one 35mm reel tank;

    two tanks for two 35mm reels or one 120 reel;

    one tank for four 35mm reels or two 120 reels .

    Another stainless nikor tank I own holds four 120 reels; or eight 35mm reels.
    I didn NOT always have the largest tank that would hold eight 35 reels
    Thus in the 1960's with my tank that is for two 120 or four 35mm; I would load say four; five, six; seven or eight 35mm films with this tank; on four 35mm reels.

    I actually get more consistant results using the quart tank than mile long 1/2 gallon tanks than hold eight 35mm reels; it fills quicker; one is not agitating a tank that is 14 inchs tall. Ones whole "develop" film scheme might be just using 1 quart volumes.

    As mentioned; the reason a double load scheme is used is to save TIME; one can process twice as many rolls per hour.
    It is not an issue with constancy with a good technique. It is a typical 1960's pressroom rush method.
    I really cannot fathom why it is questioned; or why one would do this in a non rush application. As many historical things; many will say it will not work; or not understand why it was done.
    Today most all do not shoot 8 rolls of tri-x in "shoot and scoot" for sports; going from school to school; then develop all eight rolls to get a few gems for a newspaper deadline. Today they shoot digital; you download the card; peek at them with PS Bridge; email the gems to each newspaper. The teenager next door does this with her laptop and a wireless internet connection while still in the school.

    Most folks today have no reason to double load films; the KEY risk is getting the film all boogered up if one has bad loading technique. Thus a bigger tank is warranted for most folks.
  17. I do it all the time (Either 2 rolls of 35mm in separate reels, or 2 rolls of 120 back to back in the same reel).
    My results are excellent and consistent - I use Xtol 1:1 and discard it every single time.
    The jobo reels I use have a clip that separate two 120 rolls from touching each other.
  18. I would suggest getting a larger tank that will hold 2 120 reels. Another option is when you get to the end of the first roll, peel the paper off the tape, but leave the tape stuck to the film. Then attach the beginning of the second roll to the first using the tape and then keep feeding it onto the reel.
  19. not a good idea. Period.
  20. Ton, what problems do you encounter developing two rolls in the same tank to base your advise on? Please share the dilutions you use.
  21. My point was that taping 2 rolls end to end would only work on a 220 reel. A 120 reel is not long enough to have 2 rolls end to end.
  22. Paterson plastic reels will take 2, 120 rolls end to end because it is made for 220. Years ago when I had a high volume portrait studio I used to do that. I loaded 6 rolls in a 3 roll tank and processed 3 of these, or 18 rolls at a time. No adjustment was needed for the processing time. I did not tape them together. There are certain perils in this and it should not be attempted unless absolutely necessary.
  23. It is not a good idea for most folks; more so with 120 films. That said it does not mean that all will have issues with a double load scheme. Folks skills vary. Some folks cannot boil water or even load film on a nikor reel or even figure dilutions!. :)

    Saying it is a bad idea is decent; it IS a bad idea for most all today; it just does not mean that others with more skills will have ZERO issues with this 60 year old scheme.

    In like manner today many folks cannot focus a TLR without a wazoo screen; after 99 4/10 percent of all TLR shots were shot with their stock screens. Other folks say driving a 1950's car is hard; one does not have power steering; or one has to use a choke in cold weather.

    What was trivial in one generation becomes hard with another; and is deamed impossible in the 2nd!
    Yet others cannot use a manual meter or manually focus too. In cooking folks skills vary too. It is the nature of man to say anothers scheme from 1950 is impossible; or bad; often it is by folks with zero experience in even trying the alternate scheme.
    The whole double load scheme was in the great photographer Andreas Feininger's workshop in Pop photo in the early 1950's; a monthly "how to" column that had a great following.

    In that era folks experiemented more; had less cash; and better skills. In pre WW2 Pop Photo articles; one had columns by others in making ones own darkroom trays out of wood and ball jar wax as a sealant; or how to shoot sports with a TLR; the sports camera of that era.

    There are all sorts of shortcuts and tricks used in many industries to save time. Today many are lost with time; omitted from books due to the liability factor. If you misloaded ones film wrong in the 1950's one might be called a dunce; today many folks cannot admit their doofus ways; and want to sue. Thus many old tricks are purposely removed from books; it keeps one in a safe pampered region.

    A double film load on single reel is just an ancient trick to save time. In the same era folks with Exakta's shot partial rolls; they had a take up spool in another cassete. One might deam this too risky today too; some might not burn off some blank frames and loose a shot.

    In my business I often have folks give me unused flashbulbs; today some consider them to be like nitro or cherry bombs or M80's. One chap was going to give them to the hazmat yearly dump area; thus I got more spares for nothing.

    Developers list the number of square inches of film area per gallon of diluted brew. With a denser pack of film; one just makes sure one has still enough to fully develop the film.
    Some of us started with ortho Verichrome and "see sawed" in soup bowls under safelight. Today one might argue that is too risky; one might use the soup bowls for soup again; or scratch the film; or mix the tri chem packs wrong; or try to watch the Cisco Kid at the same time with the Philco and fog the film.
  24. Kelly I am now rather intrigued by this technique after initially being horrified. What I'd like to know is the type of reel we're talking about (Steel? Plastic?) and exactly HOW one can load two 120 reels on a single reel. Is a 220 reel needed? Can you put the old Feininger article in PDF form?
  25. The question on this thread is about loading two film rolls back to back.

    Several have mentioned end to end; this is a different issue. Here one feeds in one roll; then another. Or one tapes them and send them in as one long roll. ie two 120 on one 220 reel; or an two ancient 18 35mm exposure rolls on one 36exp 35mm reel.

    With a nikor Stainless Steel 35mm reel; a back to back load means one has say two 36exp rolls with the emulsions out; one has the pressure plate sides touching. One loads/spirals both in the stainless reels groove at one time. With 120/620 one has both paper sides touching; emulsions out. Here I find this a more hairy thing to do than two 36 exp rolls.

    If one attempts any of these schemes try it with some do not care rolls; the last thing ione wants to do it ruin some good shots with a ruined load that ruins ones films.

    In loading nikors; I can HEAR if it is loading correctly; even with a back to back load scheme. With the teenage girl next door; she had to have her ipod earphones surgically removed :) to get her to listen how a single film loads OK on a single reel. Thus here I want music off; fans off; ipods off when I load a critcial roll; or two at once. I can HEAR the wretched film going off track; binding; getting loaded wrong.

    My older brother use to load two 36 exp rolls on a twisty type racheting Yankee reel/tank unit in the early 1960's; both emulsion out. It worked ok until the unit was worn. One has twice as much film to feed in there; any minute thing can cause a hang.

    My experience is mostly with loading two 36exp 35mm films on a ssingle 35mm reel made for a single 36exp roll. One has them back to back; one spins the reel and works in two rolls in a once; two pieces are in each spiral.
  26. Russ; loading two 120 rolls of tri-x on one stainless 120 reel can be done; its just abit hairy.
    It is dangerous if one has some old film that has a curl/set in it.
    One takes the two say finish ends of each 120 rolls and makes sure one has them back to back.
    One can feel where the paper backing is; which way the curl is. One piece is curled the same way/lay as the stainless reels spiral the outboard guy has the opposite curl; it does not want to drop naturally in the groove; the curvature is backward. One spins the reel in one hand; and feeds in both films with ones other two hands! :) Some 120 and 35mm stainless reels have a starter spring clip dealie to hold the film at the inboard center part of the spiral; others do not.
    Break out a few dud rolls of MF or 35mm and try it; its a more hairy procedure than a single roll of film.
    I do not advocate it as a great thing to do.
    If one wants to pinch pennies one can just use a more dilute developer brew.
  27. There is definitely not impact to the times or quality of my workflow.
    I agree that for someone trying to learn, or just developing a few rolls a year, they can do one at a time.
    As far as people thinking the combination of their tank capacity and developer dilution may be too weak, they should test it.
    There is really nothing to it:
    1- load first roll
    2- lower red clip
    3 - load second roll
  28. Ok; dumb questions here!

    How does that little red deal keep many feet of two 120 films from touching each other; ie the non emulsion sides from touching?

    Is that a 120 or 35mm reel or a 220 reel?

    ***Re :your quote way above:" The jobo reels I use have a clip that separate two 120 rolls from touching each other."

    It here looks like what you mean as back to back is end to end; ie one is loading two 120 rolls on a 220 reel?

    What I have been mentioning as "back to bacK" is the two film are right NEXT to each other on the reel; the backs of each film are in contact or darn close.

    Maybe the red deal has a magical force field?
    or are you meaning the films are end to end ( ie the first roill of 120 is deep in the spiral; the second roll on the outer radius spirals?
  29. The first roll goes in all the way to the center of the spiral (this is pass the red clip). When you load the second roll, the red clip prevents it from reeling pass it.
    Here are my perfect renditions of the two rolls:
  30. All six reels I have (regular plastic - different brands), are adjustable for the height of film (either 35mm or 120).
    Length wise, if you can fit 1 roll of 35mm you can obviously fit two rolls of 120 in the same reel.
  31. Kelly, regarding the emulsions back to back (i.e four rolls of 120 per reel), I don't do it because it affects the flow in the agitation and it is unpredictable on what it can do to the film.

    I've only done it a few times to process unimportant shots (i.e. lens testing).
  32. Hi Mauro. Here is my goober diagram. Looks like we are the new Pablo Picasso's!
    What you are calling back to back is what I call end to end; thus there has been some confusion.
    What I call back to back is difficult; dangerous; filled with minefields.

  33. You almost hypnotized me.
    Yes. -With your definitions- Back to back is only for proofing or testing lenses for me. End to end is my normal MO.
  34. I am always using the red clip on my 1501 Jobo reel to develop 2x 120 roll film together. The 1501 reel is standard equipped for 1x 135-36 or 2x 120 roll film development. It's a very simple and reliable system. Only when you have a very curling roll film it's difficult in handling. But I have always a second 1520 tank by hand If I have to switch to a seperate development.
  35. Before everyone rushes out to buy Jobo plastic reels, be aware that they won't fit onto Paterson-type center columns (if that is what you're using). Hole is too small.
  36. Correct. You are better of buying the 1500 tank that includes one 1501 and add a second 1501 to it.
  37. Mauro,
    Delta 100/ID-11 (Zone system) and no I don't have problems but I don't go looking for them either. If it works for you, just great.
  38. If you really had to do a lot, fast, you might be better off with bucket processing in total darkness. My guess is just load the reel, run it and run the next. You'll lose more through one good mistake than you will gain by rushing.
  39. Kelly: I was interested in your mention of doing the film in a soup bowl. That is how a Chinese friend used to do it when he was back home. He just unrolled the film erratically and threw it in a bowl of developer. Agitation was achieved by moving it around once in a while with his fingers (ouch fingers!).
  40. Ton, I thought you were referring to "end-to-end" load not "back-to-back".
  41. stb


    I put 2 120 films on Paterson plastic reels all the time, end to end.The tricky part is to align them reasonnably well with no overlapping at all. I use the adhesive tape at the end of the first film to glue them together. Never had a problem with that procedure.
  42. OK, it's a 4 year old thread. Just my type.
    I have one of those Patterson Super System tanks. It holds 2 plastic reels. You can do one 120, or two of the 35mm variety. I pulled a reel out, ran one roll of exposed 120 film all the way into the reel (you can tell by feel in the dark when it's in all the way). I then threaded another roll after that one, and stopped when it was fully loaded. Why tape them? It seems like one more thing to go wrong. I don't think they'll creep on top of each other in the tank. I'm going to do this w/ D76 at full solution, not 1:1, agitate a lot, and I expect it will work fine.
  43. You can have an overlap. THE reason that a Jobo reel has a Red clip which prevents this and seperate roll film 1 to the 2 nd.

Share This Page