Step 1:

I assume you have a B&W film exposed and ready to develop.


You’ll need to get the following laid out on a clean table;

  1. Dark bag

  2. Cotton/micro-fibre gloves

  3. Closed film tank with the reel outside

  4. Film

  5. Scissors (for 35mm film)

  6. film picker or bottle opener (for 35mm film)

medium format

35mm format

Medium format:

All you need is your exposed film, gloves, the film reel, the developing tank and the film changing bag.

Prepare your film by cutting most of the securing tape, there where the film end is folded over. Doing this allows for easy opening within the bag.

Quick tip: Most film reels have a groove near to where the film gets inserted into the reel. To be properly oriented in the bag, I make sure this groove, seen where my left hand fingers are in the picture (right), is on the left hand side of where the film gets inserted (seen where my right thumb is positioned)

I also make sure that the centre column is correctly orientated to match.

This way, its easy to feel whether the reel is in the correct position, by firstly feeling the orientation of centre column and then feeling for the groove.

35mm format:

All you need is your exposed film, gloves, the film reel, the developing tank, the film changing bag, the scissors and either the film picker or bottle opener.

If you do not rewind your film all the way back into the canister, it will save you the cost of a film picker. It will also save you the hassle of having to blind-open the film in the bag, using a bottle opener.

NOTE: If your film leader is in the canister and you don’t have a film picker, then place the items into the bag. Only open the canister in the light tight bag!

If the leader is out, or you have used a film picker to get it out, prepare your film by cutting off the leader and rounding the edges of the film. This helps with the film transport in the reel.

Now extend the film out of the canister by approximately 7 to 8 cm, and load it about 2 to 3 cm onto the reel.

Place the film and reel into the bag, as seen in the last image. I recommend the use of a film picker, or better yet, just leave the leader out when rewinding.

You are now ready to place the items into the film changing bag.

The positions, shown in the image on the right, represent where I place the items in the bag.


If your leader was out, or you got it out with a film picker, then there is no need for the bottle opener.

If you don’t have a film picker and the leader is still within the canister, then place all the items into the bag.

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