storing negs and contact printing

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by sprouty, Mar 27, 2005.

  1. Now that I'm doing my own development and printing I have a (stupid?)
    question: how do any of you handle storing the "extra" exposures you
    typically get with a 36 exposure roll?

    This was never an issue with the local lab because they provided
    prints, a 4 x 6 mini-contact sheet, and negative carrier sheet that
    sort of folded back on itself for insertion into a 3-ring binder.
    This was convenient but expensive, and you still couldn't do an 8 x 10
    contact print.

    I know Print File makes a sheet that holds seven rows of 6 exposures
    but then how do you contact print the entire sheet? 11 x 14 paper?
    Or am I just missing a simpler solution?

    P.S. I'm assuming this is on-topic because this is common to the
    M-series...but I could be wrong.
  2. Archival makes negative holders that hold 7strips of 5 negs that fit perfectly onto s 8x10 sheet.
  3. You can squeeze six strips of six on an 8x10 sheet of paper but 5 is easier. My glass has black tape on one end so my contacts have a white strip at the end for writing nunbers. Every strip is numbered to match the negative sleeve. I used Savage brand glassines years back. Now I cut them from a roll of some sort of frosted finish plastic. All marking is done with Sanford Sharpies.

    I cut 9x12 (used) manilla envelopes in half and reglue them to get 2 envelopes big enough to hold 10 sleeves of negatives. Those are also numbered and dated. 50 of those fit in an 8x10 250 sheet enlarging paper box with room for the 100 matching contact sheets. The boxes are marked with numbers and dates like: June 1983 ~ Nov. 1983 / 20,501 ~ 21,000 on the end. The system has worked since 1961.
  4. If you are only concerned with B&W, my technique works well, about the same time as Al's!

    Use PrintFile or other clear neg bags. Write the Fim number and any other data you choose, on the edge strip with medium thickness sharpie. Cut film into strips of 6 frames. Contact print onto Agfa 9.5" x 12" paper. Agfa are the only manufacturer of this size, unfortunately.

    I used to do this for colour work as well, but recently, Agfa stopped producing 9.5x12 colour paper. They said I was the only person in the world using it! So why stop? ....I said.

    The reason I use this size is that I have created a clear film insert that is taped to the inside of the contact printer. It has printed on it (generated in computer and output on clear film)my name Phone mumber, etc + large frame numbers positioned to sit next to each image. This avoids relying on film edge numbers which are unreliable and confusing to clients who can't read etc. :))

    The great advantage, once you set the system up is that all data is automatically printed onto the contact shheet. Even if you write the wrong number on the film bag (which I have been known to do) the client still quotes the number referring the pic they want. It also halves the amount of writing needed as you only ever write ID data once, and it always corresponds with what is sent out to clients.
  5. Forgot to mention the other advantage is by using CLEAR neg bags, there is no need to remove film from the bag during proofing. Saves both time and risk of excessive handling damage etc.
  6. I use Print File negative sheets that hold six strips of six. After one or two rolls with extra exposures, I decided it wasn't worth my time or effort to deal with storing them.

    I bulk load most of my film nowadays, so I make sure I don't have wasted film at the end. If I'm using commercially loaded stuff, I don't bother to try getting extra out of the roll.
  7. Chris, My PrintFile bags take 7 strips of 6. Like you, I bulk load some of my film. Typically, get 38 frames per roll. This easily fits.
    The PrintFile ref. # is 35-7BXW if you are interested in trying them.
  8. If I have squeezed out an extra frame (#37), I usually look for a loser frame to snip off in order to only have 36, which is the number that fit into my preferred file pages. And after contact printing about 20,000 frames I quit doing it -- I can tell from the negs which frames I want to print.
  9. I try to stop a little before the end of the roll, so I will have only 35 frames, the right number to fit in my pages, which hold 7 strips of 5 frames each. Keeping the film a little shorter also helps the end to not hang over the edge of my stainless steel reels.
  10. I did consider those sheets when I switched from the old ones I was using (35-7B4 - I don't know what I was thinking!), but I like the 35-6HB style more, so I'm prepared to put up with not getting an extra frame or two at the end of the roll.
  11. Try scanning the negs, in Printfile sleeves -- 6 strips of 7, of course -- and making an electronic contact sheet. You need to scan in two halves and stitch the two together but it has the advantage you can then make enlarged contact sheets on an A3 printer. I haven't made a wet contact sheet in a very long time.

    You can't see as much detail on an electronic contact sheet but do you need to? I assume good exposure and sharpness in my negs: it's composition and the decisive moment I'm looking for.

    Having tried the 7x5s I can imagine nothing worse: throwing away 1, 2 or 3 of my negatives to fit in such a Procrustean bed strikes me as missing the point entirely.

    Of course the real prints are made in a real darkroom.


    Roger (
  12. I waste the first frame of each roll (i.e. start on frame #2). Then, shooting normally I get 35 shots that fit nicely on a PrintFile sheet that holds 7 rows of 5 exposures. I contact print this on an 8 x 10.
  13. Just bear in mind that one of the UK Leica technicians told me that winding head failures on M Leicas (including the double wind M3) are probably caused by years of users squeezing extra frames out of 36 exposure films.

    I appreciate that the 37th frame frequently comes without having to put extra pressure on the film advance, and on my M2 I am normally unsure whether I am on frame 34 or 36 anyway. But it is a good idea to go easy on the wind at the end of the film, especially if using a vintage body. Film is pretty cheap, after all; winding head repairs are expensive. Cheers, A
  14. Re. "UK Leica technicians" I was referring to a factory-trained independent Tech.
  15. I use the Print File ones that do 7 rows of five. Shoot rolls of 36 to 35. Problem solved.
  16. I special order 8 1/2 x 11" RC paper for contact sheets. They still make it. Mary
  17. Thanks for all the suggestions. Based on the comments it seems like there are varied approaches but also a lot of you don't want to bother with an extra frame. I can certainly appreciate that. I think if I take that approach then it would be a lot easier if could read a negative. Then I could clip, discard, and print on 8x10. Of course I also need to be less wedded to the idea that every frame is potentially good. Maybe as I get more experience this will become easier.

    For now though I think I'll try a few of the suggestions, (Agfa paper and the flatbed scan were both things I hadn't thought of).

    Oh, and just to be clear I never try to force a final frame from my camera. I just shoot until I feel a slight resistance when advancing then consider the roll done. None the less, I still seem to get at least three extra frames from every roll. I just thought this was "normal" for Leica M's.
  18. I shoot mostly "people pictures" and have discovered that some of my old shots, going back to the 1960's, have shots of just everyday folks who for whatever reason became famous since I photographed them. They might only be incidental characters in the original photo but some of those phots now have value. It really pays to keep all your negatives!

    Rather than end up with the occasional odd single frame I count how many exposures are on the roll of negatives and then divide it up into strips of either five or six frames, sometimes including a bit of leader just so no strip is too short.
  19. I've actually given up doing contacts, because I'm only interested in the one or two negs on each roll that are worth printing to 16 x 12. I find that I can tell all I need by studying the negs with a lupe. I look for composition first, then check shadow/highlight detail, and lastly sharpness. Those that look promising get printed on 5 x 7. The few that still seem good get the full 16 x 12 treatment.

    Old-fashioned thick emulsion films like Tri-X have a useful characteristic that if you examine them emulsion up under a bright light against a dark background, you can see reflected a positive image that gives you a good idea of how the positive will look. Can be useful when you're in a hurry.
  20. "...films like Tri-X have a useful characteristic..."
    Thanks I didn't know this. Tried it last night, seems like reading negatives is another learned craft.

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