I fail at film.
August 5, 2008 4:23 PM   Subscribe

I just bought a Diana F+ camera and have some questions about loading the film.

I am more than comfortable with shooting digital but I've decided to give film a go. However, I have never ever shot film before and I can't seem to figure out how to load it!

The directions included seem to think that everyone knows how to load film and I can't find good directions on the internet either. It uses 120 film, and I am fairly certain that I've already destroyed one of the rolls while trying to get it into the camera.

So, my questions:

1. Do I need to be in the dark when I load the film? The directions don't tell me that I need to but poking around the internet, it seems like that might be the case.

2. How can I tell that I've wound it enough? I don't see anything in the little red window where I'm supposed to be seeing the number of the exposure.

I am using 120 black and white 100 ISO film if that makes any difference. I also have the little guy set to 16 exposures.
posted by thebrokenmuse to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 1. No, you don't have to be in the dark. Low light should be fine. At least, that was my experience with the Diana.

2. If you don't see anything in the red window, you've either wound it with the wrong side out or you haven't wound it far enough. You may have to wind it a bit before you see anything. You'll see nothing, then some arrows and then some dots that get increasingly bigger, and then you'll see your exposure numbers.

Also, http://www.rangefinderforum.com is your lord and master.
posted by katillathehun at 4:44 PM on August 5, 2008

I don't have a Diana, but I do have a Holga, which I understand to be similar.

1. You don't need to be in the dark if you are using 120 film, but it helps to be in dim lighting to avoid risking exposing the film.

2. As you wind the film on, you should see a series of arrows scrolling past, before the numbers start popping up.

On the back of the paper strip backing of 120 film are a whole lot of little numbers in different rows. These different rows correspond to different formats - in a Diana I think it takes 4x4 shots on what is normally a 6x6 film.

You might like to check out this link for some more resources. I see you're on Flickr as well - there are a few groups there on medium format photography that might help.
posted by minus zero at 4:44 PM on August 5, 2008

Best answer: Buy a roll of Scotch tape. Keep it with the camera. It's way easier to reload a Holga or a Diana if you actually tape the end of the new roll to the takeup spool. You may also need to jam a piece of the cardboard from the end flap of the film box itself under the other spool to keep the tension manageable.

Also, you'll likely be happier, initially, with ISO 400 film. Get the cheapest crap your local film store stocks-- I am a big fan of Arista.EDU 120, because it is total 1960s Soviet Bloc film and looks accordingly. The cheaper the roll is, the less bad you'll feel about mussing it, especially if you develop your own stuff.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:52 PM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 1. No. The backing paper on the film should keep the film safe from fogging for amount of time it takes to load a roll of film.

2. If you can't see anything in the window, you might not be loading the film correctly or your film might not have frame markers on the backing paper.

120 rolls are a layer of film with an opaque paper backing wrapped around a plastic spindle. The paper backing should keep your film from fogging when loading the film. The general procedure of loading 120/220 film goes like this:

1. Remove exposed film spool, lick the backing paper or whatever to seal the film, stick it in a dark container.
2. Remove the empty spool left from the previous roll, transfer it to the other end. It is the new take-up spool.
3. Place new roll of film where the empty spool was.
4. Thread end of paper backing from new reel into the takeup spool.
5. (depending on camera) Advance film so start markers.
6. Close camera, advance film to first frame.

Step 5 is kind of camera dependent and I wouldn't be surprised if the Diana doesn't require this step. It might be worth it to sacrifice a roll of film and just examine how the roll is assembled and whether or not the backing paper on the film you're using has frame markers. If it doesn't, you're going to have to guess, since a toy camera like the Diana doesn't have mechanical winder stops.
posted by strangecargo at 4:52 PM on August 5, 2008

Also: The red window isn't that awesome. You'll want to cover it with electrical tape or something similarly opaque when you don't need to use it. Otherwise, your film will fog.
posted by strangecargo at 4:55 PM on August 5, 2008

Also, this is my Holga bag. No frills, nothing awesome-- but it's black, and if I'm ever worried that I'm somewhere too bright to safely change out a roll, I can stuff the camera in there and use it as a changing tent.

Easily holds a Holga, so it'll take a Diana. Will hold as much film as you care to carry, and certainly a lot more than you can shoot in a day unless you're vastly more industrious than I am. Will also hold your extra takeup spools (ask your local nice photo developer for a couple just in case), your notebook and pen, and your roll of Scotch tape.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:57 PM on August 5, 2008

Here's a video! I totally botched my first load or two, don't worry. It's easy once you get the hang of it! Actually I still mostly suck at it, but sometimes that makes for more interesting photos. Best of luck!
posted by troika at 12:12 AM on August 6, 2008

FYI If you accidentally loaded 220 film you will not see any numbers as the film has no paper backing, only a leader and a tail.
posted by Gungho at 4:22 AM on August 6, 2008

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