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Loaded film backwards? HELP

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Hi all, I'm a beginner and I am scratching my head at this. genuinely cannot figure it out. So the story goes,


I had a 400' roll of old double perf 16mm film

I sent it to a lab to break it down to 100' daylight spools

I get them back and shoot two rolls in my Bolex H16

The scan comes back completely red with little to no exposure

The lab includes a note that the film was loaded into the camera backwards and the light was hitting the remjet instead of the emulsion.


I cannot understand this for a few reasons

1. If it was the lab's goof and they sent me the spools wound incorrectly, it wouldn't matter because its double perf 

2. I cannot figure out how I could have even loaded the film backwards? I just grabbed another one of the rolls and tried to load the camera wrong and couldn't see how it was possible.


What am I missing??

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bolex h16 can be loaded "the wrong way" meaning that the film would unspool counterclockwise from the feed spool instead of the normal clockwise direction (the film coming to the feed side sprocket from the top instead of from the right) . I actually like to load one of my Bolexes like this because the feed side friction is too high on that camera and the image would be unstable if the film would be fed from the "right" direction. However, I use the normal single perforated film so I have to intentionally spool the film differently and load it this way. With 2R film it is possible to load the film the wrong way by accident just like you described if not checking how the emulsion side is positioned on the film roll and how the film unspools from the feed roll.

it is very easy to differentiate the emulsion side from the remjet side (emulsion is matte brownish or greyish depending on the emulsion type and the remjet side is completely black and can be a little shiny depending on the film type) . Emulsion side towards the lens and you are good to go

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normally the Bolex uses the same winding than most other cameras, EIB (emulsion in, B-wind) .

if wanting to load the camera "the wrong way" but still get an image like I do then you would need EOA (emulsion out, A-wind) . 

If having the normal 2R (two side perforations) film with normal EIB winding and loading it the wrong way you would have similar condition to EIA (emulsion in, A-wind) which does not work in any case because the backing of the film (remjet in this case) would then face the lens and not the emulsion side where the image would form. 

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@aapo lettinenThanks so much for your response and the extra info. That all makes a lot of sense. I'm pretty sure I loaded the film the "right" way, so the spool was EOA and I didn't notice? Which is odd because the other two rolls are EIB. I guess anything's possible. But how do you make the Bolex feed turn counterclockwise? 



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26 minutes ago, Frank Poole said:

@aapo lettinenhow do you make the Bolex feed turn counterclockwise? 



the feed axle just spins freely if it is rotated counterclockwise which is why I use it that way with the camera which has bad friction settings on the feed side. The image area of the emulsion touches the roller if the film is fed this way "from the wrong side" but I have never managed to get any scratches on the film by doing this... I have shot about 20 years with the camera so far 🙂 


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As Aapo said, the only way to load a Bolex with the emulsion side facing the wrong way is if you loaded the film with the spool upside down and the film spooling off counterclockwise from the left side.  It should be loaded like this, spooling off clockwise from the right side:



If you loaded it right, then the lab must have spooled the film emulsion side out.

You can deliberately load it backwards as Aapo described, because the feed spindle isn't driven by the motor. It will rotate freely counterclockwise on a ratchet. If you try to turn it the correct way for feeding (clockwise) when the camera is not running, it will feel stiff to turn, but once the camera starts to run, the resistance disappears. This is so that the feed spool doesn't keep spinning and unravel once you stop the camera (more of a problem at higher speeds).

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12 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

the feed axle just spins freely if it is rotated counterclockwise which is why I use it that way with the camera which has bad friction settings on the feed side. 

I'm curious why your Bolex would have a stiff feed spindle, Aapo. Once the camera runs it should turn as freely clockwise as it does anti-clockwise. 

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In spooling down 400ft rolls to 100ft rolls the typical procedure is to wind the roll down from the head onto the second rewind then spool it back onto 100ft daylight spools so the 1R is correct, so it would be EI and this is done with the film wound from top to top of the rewinds.

Winding from head to tail and then back would not be necessary for 2R film but would be the standard procedure.

To wind the film EO you would have to wind the film from top of one rewind to bottom of the next to get the emulsion to face out on the reel, a big difference from winding from the top of one rewind to the top of the other.

When using old stock like this you really have to check the film and make sure the original roll and the spooled down daylight spools are showing emulsion in before shooting.

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