Developing Film 3 – Equipment


Paterson Changing Bag – I’ve used several different changing bags over the years. The Paterson is the nicest I’ve found.

Safety Scissors – sharp enough to cut the film, not pointed enough to damage the changing bag. 

Hewes 35mm Reel – the easiest to load 35mm film reel ever made, and I’ve tried them all. 

Kindermann Stainless Tank – I arrived at my choice of the Kindermann tank backwards. Hand tremors make it difficult for me to pour liquids into most developing tanks. Kindermann made a funnel that makes it a lot easier. The funnel only properly fits Kindermann lids and they work best with Kindermann tanks. 

Kindermann Funnel – hard to find but it makes pouring the chemicals into the tank a lot faster, which helps with timing accuracy. 

15ml Graduate – for measuring the Rodinal. 

100ml Graduate – for measuring the fixer. 

300ml Graduates (4) – with color coded tape for developer, water stop bath, fixer, and wash water. 

Paterson Mixing Rod – the plunger shape produces more turbulence in the graduate than the old Kodak paddle style rod. 

Weston Dial Thermometer – accuracy is important, repeatability is even more so.

Paterson Film Clips – they just work. 

Not Shown – bottle opener for opening regular film cassettes, eye dropper bottle for Rodinal, nitrile gloves to minimize chemical exposure and my iPhone running the Massive Dev Chart app as a timer.

14 thoughts on “Developing Film 3 – Equipment”

  1. The problem I have with changing bags is that I tend to sweat quite a lot and in those bags I get a build up of humidity that just makes my films want to stick to the plastic Patterson reels. I know metal reels are supposed to work better but I never got the hang of those.

    For measuring my beloved Rodinal I use a syringe (without the needle…). The pointy bit just fits the hole in the Rodinal bottle perfectly and I can easily measure out 3ml (for stand dev) or 6ml or 12ml for standard dev of one roll.

    Massive Dev Chart is simply great! The best tool for the modern film photographer!


    1. Practice, practice and practice again!

      Having used dummy films to practice with and now never opening the film canister, my ‘Hama’ film retriever is invaluable tool. I just cut the film when you get to the end of the cassette, so no cut fingers or paint flakes from the empty cassette in the bag from trying to get the crimped ends open.

      I can now load two 36 exposure films on a Patterson reels in just over one minute.

      Massive Dev Chart, me too, especially when using the ‘Time/Temp Converter’ although I don’t use the timer, I have a ‘Smiths’ darkroom timer for that, mechanical, no batteries needed.


      1. Yeah, I don’t open the cannisters too. Best feeling of using a church key is for a bottle of beer, not film. But the sticky film on plastic reels is a real problem

        Perhaps me reels have deteriorated somehow. They are bone dry thoug…


      2. My film is in Leica FILCA cassettes. I leave the end sticking out when I remove them from the camera so I can cut it straight across and snip off the corners. It makes loading the Hewes reel very fast and absolutely foolproof.

        I have my own procedures in the MDC. I never had much luck with their recommendations. I just use it for temperature compensation and timing.


      3. Leica film cassettes are great, but only your 3F and Frank’s 3A can use them. Don’t fit in my M4. Have to find a good used Shelley Wellard cassette!
        Hewes reels we used at the art college and I had them off to a fine art of loading them, but that was in a darkroom with lots of room in the late 1980’s, not so certain about using one in a changing bag now.


      4. I have been told that Photo Flo is death on Patterson reels. I’d buy new ones, they’d work well for a while and then over time would become trickier and trickier to load. A friend who loves Patterson reels doesn’t use a wetting agent and never had a problem. I know it’s a small sample but others I’ve talked to have similar results.


      5. I’ve always used Kodak Photo-Flo wetting agent, and yet never had any problems. Maybe because I wash the reels well and make sure they are completely dried before putting them away.


      6. The later IXMOO Leica cassettes can be used in the M Leicas up to and including the early M6. They can also be used in the IIIf and IIIg, but not in the earlier LTM Leicas. (The FILCA can be used in any LTM Leica but not any of the M’s.)

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I had the same problem with Patterson reels. The Hewes reels, unlike other stainless reels, are so fast and easy to load that my hands aren’t in the bag long enough to sweat

      Syringes, except for big clunky plastic ones, are very difficult to obtain in New Jersey.


      1. Can buy those in any pharmacy. No questions asked. Guess if I bought needles too they’d like tl know why.

        I have always had great respect of Hewes reels. They look so hard to load…might try though


      2. I was doubtful too, having had bad luck with Nikor stainless reels, but the salesman at Fishkin Bros. in Perth Amboy was so insistent I finally gave in and bought one 35mm reel. After just a couple of rolls of film I went back and bought a second 35mm reel and a 120 reel.

        The 120 reel works very well _if_ you fold the tape over the end of the film to stiffen the edge.


    1. Sorry, didn’t follow the conversation…

      You might be right. I have two sets of tanks with two reels each. Put about 100 films through them. No way to know if some have been used more than others but all seem to block mire or less after loading half a roll.

      From then on I get just the smallest of movement of the reel halves. I can load the whole film but in the end it’s mm by mm.


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