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How many rolls out of Bulk?
Old 09-17-2008   #1
Rogier
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How many rolls out of Bulk?

I am about to order my first supply of film.
Since Tri-X is so popular and my mentor is 800% behind it I am going to start with this film.

Question:
36 exposure costs $3,95
100' Bulk roll is $47,95

How many rolls of film can I get out of a bulk spool?

The film loaders are cheap on Ebay. And the reusable cart-riches are also cheap. So that's not a real part of the equation.

Beside a possible benefit of savings it might be useful to be able to make custom size rolls of film. Like 30 exposures that fit on a contact cheat (not going to to the wet darkroom here...) Or make small rolls for experimental purposes like quickly shooting under the same conditions while experimenting (learning...) with different developers and or procedures...

Looking forward to your input!

Last edited by Rogier : 09-17-2008 at 22:39.
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Old 09-17-2008   #2
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No matter how hard I try to get 36 exposures, I always tend to get 19 rolls of 35 exposures from 100ft plus a little bit left over (perhaps 10-12 frames).

Remember that the last frame or so on each rolls will be unusable as it sees the light before going in the canister (you cellotape it to the spindle) if you use a daylight loader. That's how I get 35 exposures instead of 36-37.

If you have a darkroom you might want to look at those nifty table-top loaders from Leica, or simply stretch out 1.5 metres of film at a time - this way you don't lose that last bit on the roll.
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Old 09-17-2008   #3
Rogier
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Hmm indeed it sounds like my suspicion was right, that its not a great savings to roll my own. At least not for the amount of film that I will be shooting...

Have to check that out about Arista!
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Old 09-17-2008   #4
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Bulk loading really comes into its own when you can find cheap OoD 100ft rolls, or short-ends of movie stock. At the normal prices there doesn't seem to be that much of a cost saving. It's still kinda fun though

FWIW I tend to get about 17 1/2 rolls of about 36-39 exposures.
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Old 09-17-2008   #5
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Ah, but the savings come in postage if you don't live in the US, check the postage for 200 rolls vs. 10 100ft rolls.
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Old 09-18-2008   #6
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Quote:
Ah, but the savings come in postage if you don't live in the US, check the postage for 200 rolls vs. 10 100ft rolls.
If you live in the UK, 7dayshop charge a flat £3.50 postage for each order, no matter how large.
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Old 09-18-2008   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogier View Post
Hmm indeed it sounds like my suspicion was right, that its not a great savings to roll my own.
It depends on the film. With Ilford XP2 the cost is about ½ of what cassettes cost. I stopped buying XP2 in cassettes a while back. The downside is explaining the bulk concept to the counter staff in my local CVS. The upside is that Ilford pack very nice cassette stickers into their bulk boxes so you can cover up the Fomapan or whatever that's on the cassette.
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Old 09-18-2008   #8
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Bulk rolls also make a lot of sense for freezing, since the canister takes up a lot less space than the 18+ cassettes would.
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Old 09-18-2008   #9
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Over the years I've averaged about 21 rolls per 100 feet of film. At your prices, this is $2.88 a roll or roughly a 30% savings over pre-packaged. You could squeeze an extra roll out of this or more if you load in absolute darkness (the little bit of film that attaches to the spool always gets exposed when you load the cassette otherwise).

I tend to stick to pre-packaged film for important events like friends' weddings. The reloadable cassettes can/will open if dropped onto a hard surface.

If you are shooting over 100 rolls a year, you will really notice the savings. IMHO, below that it is really about flexibility (you can load a short roll of 10 exposures for tests, e.g.).

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Old 09-18-2008   #10
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I bought some Efke 100 in bulk last year. The cost of one bulk roll was half of what 18 pre-rolled cassettes would have cost. So for me, loading bulk is considerably cheaper.

Yesterday I ordered 300 feet of Polypan F 50. The 300'/90m roll cost me about $45 which includes shipping. Approximately 54 36-frame rolls.

Last edited by manfromh : 09-18-2008 at 07:45.
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Old 09-18-2008   #11
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"Bulk rolls also make a lot of sense for freezing, since the canister takes up a lot less space than the 18+ cassettes would."

Sorry, Jerry, but I gotta disagree.

A 100ft spool of film arrives in a little square box that occupies about 30 cu in.

I get about 18 36x rolls from 100 ft. I can store 16 of those cartridges (w/o canisters), sealed in a plastic bag inside a box that occupies 34 cu in. The remaining 2 cartridges I toss in my shoulder bag, 'cause I want to try them, soon.

I don't see a big space savings there.

(And I freeze a couple of empty canisters along with the 16 cartridges; when I take out a frozen cart, I let it warm up inside a frozen canister.)
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Old 09-18-2008   #12
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Quote:
The downside is explaining the bulk concept to the counter staff in my local CVS.
I know it will sound absurdly simple but I have found marking the cassettes "C-41" is all you need to do. I think they are just trained to look for C-41 so that is what I give them... on blue painters tape in Sharpie marker. I have not had a single problem for over two years just by doing this.
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Old 09-18-2008   #13
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Actually the Ilford XP2 sticker says C-41 fairly prominently. The real issue is staff turnover.
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Old 09-18-2008   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Marks View Post
Over the years I've averaged about 21 rolls per 100 feet of film. At your prices, this is $2.88 a roll or roughly a 30% savings over pre-packaged. You could squeeze an extra roll out of this or more if you load in absolute darkness (the little bit of film that attaches to the spool always gets exposed when you load the cassette otherwise).

I tend to stick to pre-packaged film for important events like friends' weddings. The reloadable cassettes can/will open if dropped onto a hard surface.

If you are shooting over 100 rolls a year, you will really notice the savings. IMHO, below that it is really about flexibility (you can load a short roll of 10 exposures for tests, e.g.).

Ben Marks

Have you ever had the cassettes get jammed in the camera?
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Old 09-18-2008   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRG View Post

Sorry, Jerry, but I gotta disagree.

A 100ft spool of film arrives in a little square box that occupies about 30 cu in.

I get about 18 36x rolls from 100 ft. I can store 16 of those cartridges (w/o canisters), sealed in a plastic bag inside a box that occupies 34 cu in. The remaining 2 cartridges I toss in my shoulder bag, 'cause I want to try them, soon.

I don't see a big space savings there.
I guess I was a bit too vague. What I meant was that a bulk roll takes up less space than 18 rolls in individual retail packaging (or 4 boxes of 5, or a 20 box, or whatever the commercial packaging is). Or if you prefer 24 exposure rolls, a lot less space.

Personally, when I load the bulk roll into cartridges and put the cartridges back into the freezer, I always put them in canisters to reduce the exposure to the high humidity. The water vapor will eventually diffuse through a ziplock bag, and without canisters anytime you open the bag to remove a roll or two the rest of the rolls are directly exposed to a waft of humid air that will condense inside after you close it back up.
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Old 09-18-2008   #16
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I also get about 19 rolls of 35, but my reason for bulk loading wasn't for the cost savings, but rather for experimentation. I would typically load 10-12 exposures into 5-8 rolls, then expose them in various ISO's, and develop in different developers using different EI's. Since I really don't do that kind of experimentation anymore, I don't bulk load anymore.

As someone stated, if cost is your primary purpose, and you like Tri-X, Arista Premium 400 behaves an awful lot like Tri-X at various EI's in various developers. It's really uncanny how much like Tri-X it is.
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Old 09-18-2008   #17
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"I guess I was a bit too vague. What I meant was that a bulk roll takes up less space than 18 rolls in individual retail packaging (or 4 boxes of 5, or a 20 box, or whatever the commercial packaging is). Or if you prefer 24 exposure rolls, a lot less space."

I guess. But a box of 16 rolls in canisters occupies about 72 cu in, compared to about 30 cu in for the 100 ft roll itself. Even that doesn't seem like a huge savings in space.

And I betcha quite a few bulk loaders sit around in fridges or freezers with part of a 100 ft roll inside, waiting for the next loading session.

I just think the space-saving argument isn't all that compelling; there'd best be some other reason for bulk loading. (And in the case of Arista Premium, I'm not sure what that reason would be.)
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Old 09-18-2008   #18
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I have 18 36-frames films out of a bulk roll.
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Old 09-18-2008   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thardy View Post
Have you ever had the cassettes get jammed in the camera?
Nope. Only exception was the M7 which used to grab the film canisters with its DX-reading nubs. But that was all cassettes, not just re-usable one.

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Old 09-18-2008   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRG View Post

I guess. But a box of 16 rolls in canisters occupies about 72 cu in, compared to about 30 cu in for the 100 ft roll itself. Even that doesn't seem like a huge savings in space. I just think the space-saving argument isn't all that compelling; there'd best be some other reason for bulk loading.
You can guess if you like; I'll stick with the scientific method:

http://picasaweb.google.com/JayThirs...32461669376338

On the left, 400 feet of bulk film. Comes in at 8"x8"x1.75". On the right, the equivalent in prepackaged film, 72 rolls stacked up as compactly as practical in approximately the same footprint. Comes in at 8"x9"x6". Works out to about a factor of 3.8 times as much space. Now, no doubt somebody will say, "No fair, he could have taken them out of the packaging and they would have been quite a bit smaller!" So? This is how I store them in my freezer, so this is the comparison that matters to me. Keeping them in the box makes it a lot easier to identify them at a glance in the stacks, it makes it easier to keep track of the expiration dates, and it makes it easier to sell outdated boxes on eBay if I feel like it.

But the bottom line is, if an emulsion I like is being discontinued and I want acquire a stash for posterity, bulk is the way to go, if I can get it.

Last edited by Jerry Thirsty : 09-18-2008 at 17:41.
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Old 09-19-2008   #21
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Did anyone mention that Freestyle is selling house labeled Tri-X in 36 exp. rolls for $2.00? At that price, "rolling your own" doesn't seem economical. If you must load from a roll, Freestyle also sells their private label Tri-X in 100' rolls for about $30. I did the math and you're only saving about $0.25 per roll. YMMV.
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Old 09-19-2008   #22
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"You can guess if you like; I'll stick with the scientific method:"

Gosh, that was ever so scientific ...

It remains true that 100 ft of film occupies just under 30 cu in, and fills (for most of us) around 18 36x cartridges. Of those, you can store 16 cartridges in about 34 cu in (w/o canisters) or in about 72 cu in (each inside a canister).

Hey, do whatever works for you, and enjoy it. Personally, I can't see space-saving as a large enough virtue to justify bulk-loading --- not given the downs of bulk-loading. The main virtues would seem to be a) it might be a lot cheaper per roll, and b) you can make rolls of 20x or 12x or whatever strikes your fancy. But (a) need not hold --- witness Arista Premium --- and (b) doesn't help on the space-saving front.

Finally, as has been pointed out repeatedly (in earlier threads), if you really need to store large quantities of film, it might be smart to pick up one of those little dorm-sized refrigerators. You can get them for a song at garage sales and such, and the cost of operating one is piddling compared to other photo expenses.

"Did anyone mention that Freestyle is selling house labeled Tri-X in 36 exp. rolls for $2.00? At that price, "rolling your own" doesn't seem economical. If you must load from a roll, Freestyle also sells their private label Tri-X in 100' rolls for about $30. I did the math and you're only saving about $0.25 per roll. YMMV."

Several times, at least in an earlier thread about Arista Premium itself. But the point is still entirely sound.
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bulk loader
Old 09-19-2008   #23
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bulk loader

If you are going to bulk load don't bother with a loader as you loose too many frames at the start and end of each roll. Just load the film in complete darkness the lengths don't need to be exact. In the UK 7dayshop film is so cheap there is not much savings on bulk loading.
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Old 09-19-2008   #24
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Yes but the loaders are so much fun to use. You can load while you're watching footy on the telly! Worth a frame or two here or there to me...
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Old 09-19-2008   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRG View Post

Gosh, that was ever so scientific ...
Glad you liked it. Hypothesis, experiment, results, and reporting all in one neat package.

Quote:
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If you really need to store large quantities of film, it might be smart to pick up one of those little dorm-sized refrigerators.
No thanks, freezers do a lot better job, I think, and I've already got one full of film and paper. No real point in sacrificing floor space for another. But thanks for your concern.
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