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70mm film and loading your own cassets

Roger Urban , Jan 05, 1998; 05:35 p.m.

I would like to know if anyone is 'rolling their own' 70mm film, how much savings you can incur by doing this, and what is a good source for equipment to do this? 70mm is not something you see advertised too much. Pentax 645, Hasselblad, Rollei, and probably others have a 70mm film backs available. Anytime you are shooting and don't want to miss good shots by having to change film, 70mm would be a good choice: under water, sports or weddings.

Yet, 120 and 220 rule the popularity. Perhaps it has something to do with the selection of available films.


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Hans Buchholdt , Jan 06, 1998; 06:54 p.m.

Good observation about the limited film availability in 70mm. The only film generally available in this size is Kodak VPSIII. I've been using Ektachome 200, which is only available by special order at remarkable expense....I have to order $20,000.00 worth at a crack.

Is there anyother way to use it besides rolling your own cassettes??? (the film comes many long rolls)

I'm using two Rollei 6008's in stereo for low altitude aerial photographic salmon stream habitat studies from a helicopter, so changing out rolls of 220 are out of the question for my application. I'm not doing it for the cost savings, although if one were shooting VPS I can see how there might be some.

Bruce Newnum , Jan 08, 1998; 10:58 p.m.

Roger, I agree with you and Hans that the non-availibility of film is probably the biggest reason for the lack of popularity of 70mm. I bought a 70mm magazine (used) for my camera a couple of years ago thinking that it would be great for wedding use. As Hans mentioned VPS, which is overrated at 160 ISO, is the only color film readily available to my knowledge. Until recently that was one of the main films used for portraits and weddings but many photographers are switching over to the newer high quality 400 ISO films. So far I haven't seen any 400 color films offered in 70mm.

B & H photo in NY carries TRI-X in 70mm. They also have 100' rolls of Tri-X and VPS 160. I seem to remember that they had Kodachrome 64 also, but I am looking at their most recent ad now and it is no longer listed.

I haven't rolled any of my own yet because I haven't determined the reliability of the 70mm magazine that I bought. That's another story. But my brother (a wedding & portrait photographer in S.D.) has been loading his own for several years. I don't think any special equipment is needed other than a perfectly dark place to work and some tape and sissors. On the removable back that I have I think I would just take the spool out of the magazine, tape the end of the film onto it, wind on the amount of film that you want, and put it in the magazine and close everything up before you turn the lights back on.

I hope someone from Kodak or Fuji reads this and gives it some thought. It seems to me that 70mm would be much more popular if offered in modern emulsions.

Sorry to be long winded, but you might also have a little problem with processing. Last summer I shot a roll of Tri-X to test my magazine because I experienced occasional double exposure on a couple of shoots. An employee at the color lab that I use was unaware that they could not develope black & white 70mm (I wasn't aware either) and fed it to their color processer and ruined the film. I was planning on having the file processed only, no prints, so that I could check for double exposed frames and then just print those frames that I wanted later. So I'm not using 70mm because I still haven't tested my magazine yet. But if I were sure it is working properly I would definitely be using it more, even with VPS.

Sheldon Hambrick , Jan 09, 1998; 10:05 a.m.

What IS 70mm used for? Is the advantage, being able to load your own from bulk? How many shots do you get on a typical 6x6 magazine if you load a full spool?

Roger Urban , Jan 09, 1998; 03:49 p.m.

I would use 70mm film casettes for any circumstances where I'd risk loosing important shots if I had to stop for a moment to reload 120 or 220.

Sports events and weddings immediately come to mind.

A while ago I checked the B&H price for a 70mm back for a Rollei 6006...it was something like $5,500 or so. Utterlly and completely ridiculous, in my book. [It amazes me and frustrates me that Rollei has their equipment priced so high in general. The amazing thing is why their Marketing department doesn't have better market penetration, as the 6000 series is a better deal than Hasselblad. The frustration is it costs an arm and a leg to put a system together. I think I just answered my own question.]

Anyway, Pentax has a 70mm film back for the 645 which is more reasonably priced at $840, and Hasselblad has one listed at $1183.

Does anyone develop their own B&W 70mm film? What equipment do you use and how much savings do you accomplish?

philip dixon , Jan 10, 1998; 10:53 p.m.

in answer to sheldon's question; i'm not sure how meny exposures you could get on a 6x6 back but with a full roll of VPS III in a 6x4.5 back i normally get a little over 600. the actual number varies, depending on how many times i have to open the back and cut off some film to send to the lab.

michael przewrocki switzerland , Mar 04, 1998; 06:34 p.m.

i use 70mm films for my panoramic-cameras. i use 30m on spool and 4.6m in cassettes. i used agfa xrs 400(new emulsion xrg). agfa delivers small amount or rolls(maybe 5 pcs). kodak has vhc 100 which is much better for aero-shots(green of vps III is very bad and is very grainy).new emulsion is available 120/220.do not know if 70mm. agfa has there aero-films called avicolor-avichrome-avipan. they have new films 200 asa. they are based on amateur-emulsions i was told by agfa-germany. they can be pulled very good. 1 stop over/ 4degree celsius underdevelop means contrast-reduction. you need jobo rotating processor cpa 2 at least. there is a drum for 5m film(cost around 500 usd-only drum) or you can buy 1.8m reel for ordinary 2500 tanks or testdrum(i use sucessfully-be aware of which shotnumber you have to cut the film when using 4.6m.i had fujicolor 400 asa old emulsion. i am looking forward to new nps /nph 160/400. who can deliver? konica has 160 asa colornegative in 70mm. ilford has xp2-400.kodak has different t-maxes. i have 3200. i will use 70mm-film in a special aero-panoramic-camera 180 degrees with negative size 57x235mm razorsharp results. pls let us know what films are around and who can deliver. i think we must send our questions to film-makers. kodak, fuji,konica,ilford, agfa. there are also russian films around. they do not make colornegative but b+w and slidefilm.if anybody knows of kodachrome 70mm let me know. i know only kodachrome 64/120. still available. i was told they had troubles with skin-tones.

Marcus Sleightholm , Jul 05, 2000; 10:24 a.m.

Hi there, I recently discovered 70mm photography and like you I had a few teething troubles. There are a number of emulsions out there including Tri-X (only available in the USA) Plus-X (only available in the UK) as well as E100S and Portra NC160. All can be got in bulk rolls of 100 feet, and the Portra can be found in 5m lengths in the USA. (Tri-X is apparently discontinued according to B&H in the 5m cassettes.) I use an Alden daylight loader (from B&H) and its so simple I don't know why they are not more popular. They also stock the darkroom loaders from Linhof and Kaiser, both of which can be used to load stainless steel developing spiral reels. Calumet/KJP in the UK and the US can get Kodak film either side of the Atlantic, only their UK branch offices have not been told of their presence on the internet nor of the dollar and sterling pricing for these products. Lots of Hasselblad back available from Mr CAD in Croydon at reasonable money - GBP 150-200 depending on cosmetic condition. Cassettes expensive at GBP20 each (the 5m lengths of film in cassette are USD23 from B&H or GBP26 from KJP web site. How Hasselblad can charge 38 USD or GBP38 for their unmarked own brand cassettes beats me. You can use them repeatedly without scratching if you are careful and clean them before each loading. Processing can be done by Joe's Basement on Euston Road in London at GBP 1.55 per foot, their quality and service is quite simply excellent.

Hope this is of help,

Marcus Sleightholm

(the crazy landscape photographer who wants a whole days photography without having to reload in the pouring rain in a gale.

Steve Bonderski , Jul 20, 2003; 09:34 p.m.

I roll my own 70mm film. Finding it rather hard to find a dealer who handles it, and only use it when going on a rather long trip. I like the size negative because enlargements do not get grainy. It is also rather hard to find a photo lab that will develop the exposed film. It can get rather pricey as well. Last time I had 2 rolls developed and contact sheets done ran about $160.00, but it can be a great savings when you can see which frame would be worth getting a regular print rather than a whole roll getting printed. I use Hasselblad for my regular medium format however I do have a Pantax 645.

Matt Ganley , Jul 24, 2003; 04:00 p.m.

I roll my own as well for the Agiflite I use (aerial work). To do this I mount the back on the camera, remove the cover and use the power wind to spool the film. Then I switch the roll over to supply side, thread it, and it's ready to go. I haven't had any experience with cassettes, though. I really like 70mnm format, and Agfa Aviphot 400 is a great,fast aerial film (I'm hoping to give it a try for other photos this fall).

As far as developing goes there are labs out there that can do it. HAS Imaging in Ohio does aerial film (I suspect they can do any length and type of 70mm film). I use Pacific Color in Seattle for 70mm color film. They are very reasonable. If you send them lengths, they do what is called a 'projected print' which results in a length of prints, about 2X the size of the 70mm film. Good luck.

Matt Ganley www.map-alaska.com

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