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Dave Goodwin

Extremely Basic Questions :-)

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By way of context, I have no intention of working in the film industry or doing anything remotely professional.  I'm a 65 year old perpetual learner who's recently got hold of a 16mm Bolex and has decided to try it out.  I shoot film photography, also as a hobby, so I have some familiarity with film as the medium, but never any motion picture stuff.  So, some basic questions right off the bat...

I've bought a couple 100' spools of Kodak Tri-X.  Does this film, or indeed most 16mm film, come with some sort of leader on it?  I presume that when loading, after closing the door and advancing the footage counter to zero that the leader, if any, will have cleared the taking position.  Do I need to check?

Similarly, at the end of the film, do I just run it out onto the take-up spool, or is necessary to rewind it all back onto the original spool?  If I do just let it run through, is there a leader on the tail end and is there some way to secure the film on the spool?

I'm planning to load the first spool in very low light, even though that's not recommended by Kodak.  I'll need to see what I'm doing the first time.  My camera came with an old spool of film in it, so I have been practicing with my dark bag, but I still want to see it a little the first time and I am willing to take the risk as it will just be a test spool.  I should be able to unload in the dark bag easily enough.

My old practice film has no leader of any kind on either end.  That's why I am wondering what to expect with new film.

Thanks in advance!


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Camera film does not have any leaders, it is same stock the roll through. So you just load it and the it starts to expose the frames from that position onwards all the way to the roll end. When the whole roll is shot through and wound up to the takeup spool you will remove the roll and send it to the lab. Then use the empty feed roll as the next takeup spool.

Bolex uses daylight spools and you can really load them in normal light levels as long as direct hard sunlight does not get on the feed roll. You will typically expose and lose the first maybe 2 or 3 feets of film if loading in daylight whereas when loading in darkness you will save those feets and will start to expose from the same frame you leave to the gate when loading.  It is also possible to remove the shot roll in daylight. You will lose the visible outer layer and typically about half a turn or so if unloading very carefully so that it does not unwind at all. 

I recommend exposing something nnormally lit to the start of the roll so that the lab knows where the first usable frame is when they are stitching rolls together

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The approximates for ruined start and end of the roll when loading in daylight was for film with a remjet layer like colour negative films. Calculate a little more for b/w films without the remjet

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Welcome to the forum. I have shot digital and film in the past and now use digital only. I am also retired (72) and a hobbyist as well. With film still pics I have scanned them to get a digital copy which I could post process and post on  forums or emailed them to others. I still do that with negatives that my parents shot decades ago. With digital video, I  post my videos on youtube and share with others. I wonder what will you do with your films? The only thing I ever did with mine was project them in my living room  a few times over the years for family. 

Edited by Bob Speziale

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