Let me show you something…


For the longest time, I was in the habit of prying open my film canisters (inside the changing bag) and tossing them in the trash.

(Which is rather counter-intuitive from a waste standpoint, and makes little sense when I was trying to find quality reusable canisters for bulk rolling).

Turns out, the best canisters were the ones I already had (er…or rather: was throwing out).

While this is probably out there already in some form, I wanted to share the method I was using with you.

  • When finished a roll, do not rewind your film all the way into the canister.  Leave the leader protruding somewhat.  If you have accidentally wound it in, use a leader retrieval tool, or use this method for extracting the end.  (I have not been able to make it work successfully…but I only tried once.  And not very hard at that.  Your mileage may vary).
  • Cut the end of the leader off to form a very gentle point–pictured in the photo above.  As it turns out, this also makes your film easier to start on the developing reel, and makes coiling a 36-exposure roll a sure-fire thing.
  • Toss everything into your changing bag as usual (minus your canister opener tool…) and add some scissors.  Feed your film onto the reel like so:


  • Keep pulling lengths of film out of the canister (in the dark!!! 🙂 ) and feeding it onto the reel.
  • When you have finished feeding the entire roll, you will be left with the canister wound tightly against the reel.  Measure a finger width from the canister, a make a cut straight across, like so:


  • You will then be left with an empty canister, and a secure leader ready to be taped to, and bulk loaded.
  • Not only will you reduce waste, but you will save money too!  (And feel generally better about yourself!)  These cartridges are certainly more reliable than the cheap plastic sort…


Enjoy, and good luck!



5 thoughts on “Let me show you something…

  1. Stephan Pot says:

    Hi Mark, great post. When I rewind I hold my ear against the back of the camera so I can hear when the film is released from the winding spool. Good idea too for reusing the canister albeit I have two remarks. I used bulk film in the 70ties and learned that after a short while one gets lines on the negs due to dust and other dirt that gets trapped in the velvet. Do tape the film well because it can easily be pulled loose when you get to that last frame 🙂
    Wish you and your family happy Holidays.

    • mewanchuk says:

      Thanks Stephan–

      Great idea on the listening. I crimp the end of each leader backwards as I load the film, so there is a tangible “catch” when the rewind is complete.

      As far as the canisters go, you must have worked yours pretty hard!! Dust is certainly a consideration (and something to watch out for). I keep each canister sealed in a film container when not in use, so hopefully accumulation is minimized. To be honest, these canisters have held up much better than the $2 plastic ones, where the felt falls out after the first load!

      All the best,

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