4x5 film holders

How To Load Sheet Film (Film Days, Ep. 2)

On of the things I hadn’t anticipated, when I decided to start practicing large format film photography, was that I would have had to load and unload film into holders in complete darkness.

When I went to the store to collect my new 4×5 camera, the owner asked me if I had any film holders. I think my puzzled look told him everything he needed to know about my naïveté and lack of experience.

So, right after getting the camera I had to go and buy some film holders, of which I managed to find only one in the whole city. Luckily I found a few more on eBay in the following days and for much cheaper. Those things are expensive for what they are!

If you don’t know what a film holder is, it’s just a rectangular box with a divider in the middle. You load a sheet of film on each of the two sides. The film is protected by a removable dark slide until the moment of exposure.

4x5 film holders

With the holders in hand and a box of film, I now just had to load the latter into the former. Sounds easy, but when you have to do everything without looking, by feel only, I can tell you it gets complicated pretty fast.

Now that I’ve acquired some skill in performing this operation I recorded a short video to show you how it’s done. I hope it will help you, should you decide to embark on the same journey.

Do not forget to check out my YouTube playlist, Film Days, and subscribe to my channel, if you want to follow me along as I make new discoveries in my dive into large format film photography.

Comments 1

  1. humm, reminds me of the days loading 6×6 film for developing or loading bulk 35mm film on cassettes to save $$$…some of my negs came out with streaks LOL good old days. Ugo thanks for sharing.

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