BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: Best Photographic Equipment to Buy : Film-Based Camera Equipment : Camera Film

Photography Question 
Norman Fortin

Large Format Photography

Hello all,
I am interested in large format photography - 4X5 - and have learned quite a bit from several books. I have taken a course on photography, but it just touches on large format. The only thing that I have not been able to find out is what to do with the sheet film after it has been exposed.
I know that you must remove the film from the film holder, but after that, what do you do with it? What do you put it in? In what do you ship it to the processor in?
The film that I have came in a three-piece box and a sealed heavy-duty packet.
Any help will be gratefully appreciated. Thank you.

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1/1/2005 9:08:39 AM

Vince Broesch   It goes to the lab in one of those 3-piece boxes. You might have to ask the lab to return your used boxes, and ask if they have a few that they can give you. Of course, you have to keep track of which box you have new film in and which box has exposed film. (You don't need the packet, but put a rubber band on the box to be sure it stays closed tight)

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1/1/2005 3:02:47 PM

Norman Fortin   Thanks for the response, Vince. I thought that is what you are suppose to do, but was not sure. And thanks for the tip about asking for the box to be returned. I would never have thought of that.

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1/1/2005 8:01:32 PM

Vince is correct with the process on downloading your film holders into the boxes the film came in. Collect as many boxes as you can. I have some other thoughts you may be interested in. I shot 4x5 with film holders for close to 20 years before they invented Readyloads, and I have never looked back. I own 60 film holders and a changing bag that went on a lot of jobs. I learned to hate cleaning and loading holders. The problem was keeping the holders and the changing bag clean and free of dust, which shows on film. When you are on the road it makes the job even more difficult. The reason why I accumulated so many holders was to lessen the times I had to download and reload film. I also learned the hard way that when I was traveling - possibly weeks at a time, and had to load/reload every day - I ended up with more damaged film. The reason, as I mentioned, was that it became more difficult to keep film and changing bag dust free. I used anti-static brushes, canned air, and other tools. That dust got on the film and then downloaded into the boxes, where it vibrated between sheets of film and caused scratches to the film. So the more holders I had, the less load/reloading, the less vibration time, the less scratches on film. But then came Readyloads. Ahhh!

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1/2/2005 1:00:23 PM

Michael H. Cothran   I use a local lab for 4x5 processing, and they keep a large supply of these
3-piece boxes on hand, as well as a black room for their customers. I go to the lab, enter the black room, and unload my film holders into the boxes they provide. As an added benefit, I can also reload fresh film back into my holders while I'm in the blackroom, so I don't have to mess with a changing bag. This lab is Chromatics, and located in Nashville, TN. Perhaps there's a similar lab where you reside.
Good luck,
Michael H.Cothran

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1/5/2005 7:22:49 AM

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