I have shot and loved film for a long time. It occurred to me not only do I have a lot of film gear, but I have also acquired a lot of “new to me” film gear . I want to keep all of that in a usable state for a long time to come, but I don’t want to pay a lot for film and chemistry. Kodak D-76 is extraordinarily good and cheap, and most black and white film is inexpensive. But what about bulk film? For years I’ve wondered about rolling film myself using the bulk 100 foot film rolls – as professionals, schools, and people that just use a lot of film do. This Christmas I decided to take the plunge. At the Photo Warehouse site, they sell a bundle that includes the loader, some empty film cassettes, and a 100 foot roll of Ultrafine Extreme 400 film (quite inexpensive but also quite good). For a bit over $100.00 US after standard UPS ground shipping, bulk film can be discovered. Considering the film itself costs about $35 US, and one can easily get about 18 rolls of 36-exposure out of a 100 foot roll, the cost savings add up rather quickly after the cost of the film loader and cartridges.
Firstly, let us examine the package from Photo Warehouse.
In the package received today we have:
One Lloyd film loader
One 100 foot roll of Ultrafine Extreme 400 film
A sack full of ten empty, reusable film cassettes.
One package developer (might as well get that to save on shipping later).
One package fixer (again, stock up and save on shipping later)
The trick to making it all work is getting a large 100-foot roll of film into the lightproof loader without exposing it to any light. Doing this in full light would be no big deal – but doing it in complete darkness will prove to be a bit more of a challenge. Fortunately, YouTube is extraordinarily helpful in teaching how to work with bulk film, but there are many out there who, like me, have wondered – how exactly does bulk film work? This video explains the loading process clearly.
Watching this video closely, I got my nylon changing bag and unloaded the film from its plastic container and inner plastic bag. There was no hub on the film roll, so I had to watch it not to get the film to uncoil. I managed to get it untaped and by some miracle, it went right through the felt light trap on the film loader. After reassembling, I had it done in about two minutes. Did I manage to get it done without fogging anything? We’ll have to wait and see when I get a couple of rolls shot.