Shooting film for the Accident Prone Pt. 1 - How to Save a Roll of 35mm That's Broken in the Camera

How to Save a Roll of 35mm that's broken in the Camera.

This will be the first part in an ongoing series on how to overcome the many difficulties accident prone, non-detail oriented people like myself have when first getting into shooting film. Who knows, this could help you even if you're a more methodical person.
Accidents do happen, after all! 



So I've been there. You think you have a 36 frame roll of film in the camera, and surprise! it was only a 24 frame roll! Turns out frame 26 didn't exist, and you hear the sickening snap of the emulsion tearing in two. Not to fear! This is fixable! 

A few things you're going to need to get your precious photos back in the canister:

  1. A film changing bag or a dark room & a completely opaque bag (when this happened to me, I didn't have a changing bag, so I used a backpack in a dark room).

  2. A bottle opener

  3. Scissors

  4. Acetate Tape (Scotch Tape)

So here's how this works:

*Go ahead and read through all the directions before you fumble around in the dark to do this*

First, put the whole camera into the changing bag, along with the bottle opener, scissors, and tape.

Second, open the back of the camera, and take out the canister. Pop the lid off of the canister with the bottle opener.
(Be careful to now bend the soft metal! It'll be a huge pain to get back on otherwise!)


Third, pull the spool out of the canister. Carefully feel around for the break. (Try to just hold it by the sprocket holes, don't want to ruin any exposed frames!)

Fourth, go ahead and cut straight across the film on both sides of the break so you have a nice, even place to tape it back together. 
Next of course, you'll go ahead and take a small piece of tape and connect the two sides. Just make sure it goes on evenly and doesn't hang out over the edge of the film.

*Alternatively, if you don't feel a break, the film might've come off from the tape on the spool.
If that's the case, wrap a piece of tape around the spool post, sticking it to both ends of the film.*

*So I didn't follow my own advice in the photos. Whoops*

Finally, slip the spool back into the canister. (It might take a few tries to get the film in through the little felt lined slot, but be patient and you'll get there.) Pop the lid back into the canister, feeling around the edges to make sure its on uniformly, then just slip it back into the camera. 
Go ahead push the rewind knob back into place and give it a few turns to make sure the tape holds.

Once you've done all that successfully, close the back up, and rewind the roll back into the canister....congratulations! You've fixed your mistake!
Go forth and conquer, you brave film photographer.