This particularly pertains to darkroom workers who develop 35mm film.

If you use plastic reels you’ve probably found it is more than a little difficult to load (or reload) film onto a wet reel. That is because the water between the film and reel acts a suction cup and holds the film in place. You probably found that loading plastic reels in a changing bag to be can be challenging.

If you use stainless steel reels, you have probably run into a couple of challenges. The first is centering the film on the clip or spike. You probably noticed that if you’re off center the film does not spool on easily and may bulge causing the emulsion side of one layer to lay against the non-emulation side of an adjoining layer, causing the area of contact to remain undeveloped. Even if you’ve centered the film perfectly sometimes one layer slips into the adjoining layer’s channel resulting in an undeveloped area.

There is a solution to these problems. First; Hews makes reels where the spiral wires is a little thicker and folds the film in the channel more securely.  Secondly; Instead of a clip or spike holding the end of the film in place these reels use two prongs that go into the film sprockets, automatically centering the film and holding the film securely.

The top photo is the Hews reel, notice the prongs. They automatically center the film.

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Hews Reel

The bottom picture is a generic stainless reel notice how centering the film is hit or miss.

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Generic Reel