Cutting film for archiving : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

A simple question: how do you cut strips of film for archiving? I keep my negatives in plastic sheets that fit in a standard three ring binder. Each "row" on a sheet holds five frames, therefore i cut my strip of negatives into segments of five frames. I usually use sicsors to cut the negatives at the appropriate place, but this often makes for sloppy results. And, although it hasn't happened yet, i worry that I'll eventually cut into the frame of my negs. How do the pros and film processing places cut their negs in nice clean lines? any recommendations are appreciated (even if this means recommending a certain brand of sicsors).

-- Andrew Johnson (, February 14, 2001


Well, in our in-house lab here, we just use scissors, and a clean light table...gloves too. Years ago when I worked in a one-hour lab, we had some sort of Noritsu sleeving machine, if you could call it that. It had a sort of guillotine cutter on it for the negs., but that didn't guarantee a safe cut by any means. It was real easy to chop someone's neg in half if you weren't paying attention. My advice would be to just pay attention to what you're doing, and don't obsess about it too much. After you do it a few thousand times, you won't even think twice about it...good luck.

-- DK Thompson (, February 14, 2001.

You have stumbled on one of life's great questions - how not to make mistakes. The obvious answer is to do nothing. But this is the biggest mistake of all, since you will end up having accomplished nothing. The best solution is to not shy from anything - but to learn to concentrate on what you are doing. This sounds obvious, but how often are you thinking of the next thing you need to do or of something you've already done while you do a simple task, and end up screwing up? I find that concentrating on whatever I'm about gets the job done quicker, easier, and more often correctly and even creatively than when my mind is divided. The trick is to learn to do it amidst all the distractions that beset us nowadays. So go ahead and attack your film with scissors. Just pay attention!

-- Keith Nichols (, February 15, 2001.

Keith, you can post that answer to nearly everything! Very Good!

-- Nigel Smith (, February 15, 2001.

I know, that's downright philosophical. I think I'll hang your quote over our light table back here. But it's alot like loading s.s. reels or something, the more you do it, the less you think about it. After a while it's second nature. And yes, I have made a bad cut or two every now and then.

-- DK Thompson (, February 15, 2001.

Some (most?) 35mm cameras position the frames at a fixed position relative to the sprocket holes. If your camera does this, it can give you more confidence in cutting with scissors, because you can start the cut relative to the sprocket holes instead of trying to line up between the frames. The Leica used to be one of the few cameras that spaced frames so you always cut exactly between two sprocket holes, but I think most cameras now do this.

-- Tim Nelson (, February 15, 2001.

I used to work in a small pro lab in Melbourne (Australia), where all colour negs were cut into strips of 4 (as they fit in the wallets nicely), but as a rule for cutting negs, hairdressing or dressmaking scissors are good, and we always cut from the end of the roll to the start. This way you won't end up with a tiny strip of 2-3 frames (which lab machine printers hate!)because the last strip cut always has the blank film at the start, so you can cut it to the same length as say a strip of 5 or 6 or whatever you cut your strips to. Make sense? For my own B&W negs I use polypropolene sleeving which is expensive, but great - see through, dust free and archival.

-- Alison Spence (, March 06, 2001.

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