How to Load Film into a 35mm Camera and Save Extra Frames (7 Steps)

How to Load Film into a 35mm Camera and Save an Extra Frame (7 Steps)

Guides and Tips

How to Load Film into a 35mm Camera and Save Extra Frames (7 Steps)

Since film is getting more expensive and each frame counts, the first frame is always interesting to look at because there is only half of the image and how can you save that half frame plus an extra frame gives you a total of 38 shots? (some 39 depends on the brand / person who rolled the film).

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Loading film into Leica MP
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How to load film into Leica MP

Step 1: Check if There is Any Film in Your Camera

By turning the rewind knob, check if there is actually film inserted. Otherwise when you open the back door, film is already exposed in the light and it cannot be recovered.

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Make sure there is no film in the camera

Step 2: Get the Film Ready and Let the Film Rest

Take the film out from the fridge and place it in the ambient environment and let it rest to match the room temperature, this process takes at least 30mins before you use it. The consequence will be taking fogged images with the moist.

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Load film into 35mm film camera

Step 3: Load the Film and Let it Sit on the Advancing Gears

What you need to avoid is, you don’t want the gear to tear the film stripes along the sprocket holes and cause your camera to jam. First, slowly extend the film to the right amount of length that you need and insert in the camera. Then check the film sprocket holes are properly sitting on the film advancing gears, usually on the right hand side next to the slot where you insert the film lead which we call it take-up-spool, some cameras like Nikon have a gap to fit the film lead. Then close the back door and lock with the base plate (if you have any)

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Inserting film into camera
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Let Film Sprocket holes sit on advancing gears
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Feeding Film Lead into Take-Up Spool
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Take Up Sool look
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Close the Back Door

Step 4: Advance with Film Lever for the First Frame

Wind the camera to let the shutter cocked, take that shot with your lens cap covered or simply hold it towards your body and take a shot. This is to keep the first half frame unexposed so that you can save one half frame.

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Advance the frame
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Covering the Lens for first frame to get extra half frame

Step 5: Make Sure Rewind Knob has Tightened

After advancing the film and shooting the first frame like Step 4. Rewind the lever/ turn the knob to make sure the film is tightened. The tension inside the film canister gives you the best indication of whether the film is properly loaded. In case that it doesn’t turn, you may just rewind the whole film and find a film lead retriever to take the lead out and do the same thing again.

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Rewind Knob
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Rewind after loading film

Step 6: Check the Film Counter

Make sure the film now is around 0 at the counter but if you are using Leica M2, you may need to manually change the film counter to show correct film count.

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Manually set ISO dial

Step 7: Double Check if the ISO Speed has Changed to Match the Film You are Using

Most importantly, make sure you check the ISO speed dial if your camera has a meter or it is a medium format camera that you would like to keep as a reference. If your camera has an in build meter then simply change the dial so that you get the accurate exposures.

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Change ISO Dial

You are READY to go!

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