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How to load 4x5 large format films into the standard film holder

Correct use of the pinhole camera 4x5 Magnificat

The few simple steps you need to load a 4x5 film

Often the photography executed by large format film 4x5 is considered a complicated activity that need specific knowledge about this matter. My opinion is that you must be very negatives in comparison to many web discussions that describe this matter such as anachronistic and complicated. The truth is very different, particulary if your approach to large format photography is executed through a pinhole camera such as our Magnificat 4x5

pinhole camera auloma magnificat 4x5

"In the picture the pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 with film holder installed. "

One of the most important thing that you must consider is that to shot large format photography you must use sheet films with dimensions of 4x5" or 101.6x127mm, sheet films are packed inside lightproof boxes, thus to avoid sheet films to be exposed when you open the box is necessary do all load operations inside a dark room or with the use of a changing bag.

large format film 4x5 inside a cardboard box

"An example of a box that contain large format films 4x5"

In this tutorial we going to describe how to load a sheet film using a changing bag, this because in this case you must be more careful than when operate in a dark room. In the dark room the operations are the same but don't need the same previously foresights to set the materials inside the changing bag.

A changing bag it is like a black sac that can be opened in one side, where is possible put all objects necessary to load the film. In lateral sides of the changing bag are available two lightproof sleeves where is possible insert your arms to have access and operate inside. How you can see isn't possible see anything inside the changing bag, so it is a good practice set all objects inside the changing bag in the right position before the start, to get less dificulties during the film load operations.

changing bag

"Example of changing bag Paterson ® to know more visit: www.patersonphotographic.com"

To be operative with our pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 you must get only two things: the sheet films box and the film holder to put inside the changing bag. Remember to close changing bag flap before the start.
When inserting the film holder inside the changing bag, don't forget the correct orientation of the dark slides, both must be inserted into the film holder with the white marker visible, this what mean, if pull out both dark slides and observe them you can see that in one side are completely black instead in the opposite side the handle is white or another pale color. This different coloration is standard reference for photographers that using large format films, the white handle visible on the film holder mean that below the dark slide there is a virgin film negative ready to be exposed, as soon as shooting the photo you must re-insert the dark slide but now will inserted with full black side onsight, the black color indicate that below the dark slide there is an exposed film negative. This practice helps the photographers, mistakes of shooting on negative film impressed previously can be reduced.

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pinhole camera film film holder

"Materials necessary to be operative with the pinhole camera Magnificat 4x5, Film 4x5 package and film holeder 4x5. How you can see the film holder own the dark slides oriented with white marker visible"

Now suit some cotton gloves or made in nitrile without talc dust to don't damage the film side with developing solution and then insert your arms inside the changing bag. The first thing to do is grab the film holder and pull until the half stroke the dark slide or pull out it completely.

dark slide 4x5 opened

"Dark slide pulled out until the half stroke."

After lifting the dark slide, yo must going to open the cover placed on the film holder bottom, to arrange the next film insertion.

Film holder 4x5 with cover opened

"Film holder with cover opened in the bottom"

Arranged the film holder, the next step is pick up a film from the box. Films inside the box are enclosed inside lightproof bag, often folded up many time around the films, for this reason when is removed from the box will be necessary unravel it and find the opening to pull out the film. Upon a time the film is in your hand, you must arrange the film in the right way before insert it into the film holder, obviously film manufacturers know that this operation is done in the dark, for this reason have developed an efficent system to find the right film position. All films own in one of the short side an asymmetric notch to identify its orientation. Each film manufacturers customise the notch shape, so don't be astonished when touching the notch you can find some difference in its shape if changing films supplier.

film 4x5

"How you can see in the picture the film own a notch to identify its orientation. Note! The picture shows a film already exposed. "

The film must be oriented as is shown in the follow picture, in other words the notch must be in the top right side in relation to the film holder entrance

film 4x5 insertion

"This is the right position of the film 4x5 during its insertion inside the film holder."

During the insertion is recommended to keep the back side of the film layed to the film holder layer, in this way the film can sliding into its seat inside the film holder.

film 4x5 into the film holder seat

"The picture shows how the film is well inserted into the film holder seat."

Upon a time the film is inserted against the end of the seat, you must close the bottom cover in the film holder and then close the dark slide until its edge will be wedge in the bottom door to assurance the film holder lightproof. The standard 4x5 film holder contain two films, one for each side, so if you want use entirely its capability you must repeat the operations described above also to load the film in the other side.
When both films result loaded, before open the changing bag, you shall put the bag that contain your unexposed films inside the cardboard box. Assured your films, you can exctract our arms from the changing bag and open it to remove the film holder ready to be installed onto the pinhole camera.
Pick up now the pinhole camera Magnificat 4x5 and in the back release the chromed knobs used to block the film holder clamps, so, move outside both clamps to clear the film holder seat, in this way will be easy insert the film holder in the camera back. To do that will be enough orienting the film holder as is represented in picture below and then sliding it into the seat until the stop.

film holder 4x5 loaded on camera

"The picture shows the film holder well inserted into the seat in the back of pinhole camera Magnificat 4x5, dark sliding handles point to the top and the film holder is against all faces of the seat."

After the film holder insertion into the seat, close both clamps and tight all four chromed knobs, thanks to the clamps shape developed by Auloma, the perfect closure of the film holder against the camera seat will be guarantee to avoid light leakage.

film holder 4x5 mounted on pinhole camera auloma

"Film holder mounted perfectly on pinhole camera Magnificat 4x5"

Now your pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 is ready to shoot.

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pinhole camera auloma magnificat 4x5

"Pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5"