Wrong ISO? How to Swap Out Film After You’ve Started Shooting? Here’s Your Quick Fix

Wrong ISO? How to Swap Out Film After You've Started Shooting? Here's Your Quick Fix

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Wrong ISO? How to Swap Out Film After You’ve Started Shooting? Here’s Your Quick Fix

Changing Your Mind: How to Swap Film Mid-Roll or Start Over for Beginners

Let’s imagine this scenario: you’ve loaded a roll of ISO 400 film into your camera, but then you realize that the lighting conditions or your creative vision call for a different film speed. What can you do? Thankfully, there are a few solutions to this problem. This post will guide you through how to safely swap film mid-roll or start over from the beginning.

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Option 1: Rewinding and Reusing Film Mid-Roll

  1. Find a dark space: The first thing you need to know is that film is extremely sensitive to light. If you’re going to be handling it outside of the camera, it needs to be completely dark. A darkroom is ideal, but if you don’t have access to one, a dimly lit room at night with the lights off and the windows covered should suffice.

2. Rewind the film: Your camera likely has a manual rewind knob or lever. You’ll want to use this to rewind the film back into its canister. Be careful not to rewind it all the way—you’ll want to leave the film leader sticking out so that you can load the film again in the future. If your camera automatically rewinds film all the way into the canister, you may need a film leader retriever tool to pull the film leader back out.

  1. Remove the film: Once the film is rewound, you can open the back of the camera and remove the film canister. Store it in a dark, cool place until you’re ready to use it again.

4. Load the new film: You can now load a new roll of film with the desired ISO into your camera.

This method allows you to reuse the partially shot roll at a later time, but it does have a couple of drawbacks. You will need to remember or make a note of how many photos you had taken on the roll, so you can shoot blank frames up to that point when you reload it. Also, opening the back of the camera in anything but complete darkness can risk light leaks that could ruin some of your shots.

Option 2: Shoot the Rest of the Roll and Start Over

If you’ve only shot a few frames, you might consider just shooting through the rest of the roll quickly to finish it and then start fresh with a new roll. You can take this opportunity to experiment and not worry too much about the outcome. Who knows, you might get some unexpectedly good shots!

Option 3: Push or Pull Processing

If you’ve already shot some images on the roll and you don’t want to waste them, you could consider push or pull processing. This involves modifying the development process to compensate for over- or under-exposed film. For example, if you shot a roll of ISO 400 film as if it were ISO 200, you could “pull” the development to correct this. Similarly, if you shot an ISO 400 film as if it were ISO 800, you could “push” the development. However, this will affect the contrast and grain of your images, and it’s best done by a professional lab that knows how to handle push and pull processing.

Switching from digital to film photography involves a slightly different way of thinking, but it also opens up a whole new world of creative opportunities. Happy shooting!

Reflx Lab 800
Reflx Lab 400D
Reflx Lab 500T (35mm Film)
Reflx Lab 500T (120)

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