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June 11, 2014 / Aware of the Void

How to Retrieve a Film Leader – 35mm

Have you ever needed to extract a 35mm leader that you had rewound into the canister. I do this a few time a month to let me re-shoot rolls of film that have been sent to me for film swaps or when I do something silly.

You will need:

  • A roll of 35mm film with the leader out
  • something moist – in the video I use a damp paper towel but I have been know to use a human tongue.
  • the offending roll of film that you want to extract.
  • guile and wit (optional)

The process is simple:

  • slightly moisten the leader on the new film
  • insert it into the film you want to extract
  • turn the knob gently on the film you want to extract
  • you will feel it grab the leader on the moist film.
  • swiftly but firmly pull the two film apart.

If it does not work the first time just try again, it always works.

FancyΒ trying a film swap get in touch and we will set one up. Thanks for watching.



Leave a Comment
  1. dehk / Jun 12 2014 1:13 am

    Really…. I have 2 rolls I have to do now I don’t have to put em in different canisters.

    • Aware of the Void / Jun 12 2014 4:46 am

      Really!! I do this all the time. With the film swaps the film generally arrives full rewound so I have to do this.

  2. dehk / Jun 12 2014 1:31 am

    I am happy to report after many tries it worked. i had to roll it in a little more than you did!

    • Aware of the Void / Jun 12 2014 4:44 am

      I find that sometimes turning the knob the other way first can help, if the film has stuck to itself a bit it frees it up. Glad it worked in the end.

  3. joecrafted / Jun 12 2014 2:01 am

    I had been cracking them open and then putting the film in a reusable metal canisters. But I just retrieved the leader from a roll of Velvia I’ve been wanting to use with my Canon EOS 3 (which needs the DX code). Thanks!

  4. David / Jun 12 2014 9:00 pm

    Brilliant! Now I can stop trying to remember how to use that plastic thingamajig and scouring yard sales for Dyno tape.

    • Aware of the Void / Jun 12 2014 9:04 pm

      I never had much luck with the thingamajif either David – this always works for me…

  5. frauinga / Jun 13 2014 5:48 am

    Big fan of that plastic thingy…. πŸ˜‰

    • Aware of the Void / Jun 13 2014 5:50 am

      Had two, fecked two in the bin. I favour a different type of irritation in my life πŸ™‚ never really worked for me at all.

      • frauinga / Jun 13 2014 5:52 am

        I used to do the ‘put some cellotape on an old piece of film and use that’ trick, but that doesn’t work for me. The plastic thingy does. Never had problems. πŸ™‚

      • Aware of the Void / Jun 13 2014 5:55 am

        Yeah but Inge you are graced with greatness, us mere mortals tend not to have any luck with these things.
        On another note, I just finished shooting a film swap with your name on the roll.

      • frauinga / Jun 13 2014 5:57 am

        Eh… Right. And yay for the film swap!

  6. ThisHandcraftedLife / Jun 13 2014 10:27 am

    Lifelong mystery solved! Who knew?

    • Aware of the Void / Jun 13 2014 10:35 am

      I’m saddened to think that I’m removing mystery from your life πŸ™‚

  7. Joe / Jul 12 2014 2:58 am

    It took me about 20 tries and I no longer like the taste of emulsion, but I finally got it to work!

    Major props.

  8. idont / Sep 29 2014 7:03 pm

    You are “THE MAN!!!” many thanks, worked on the second try πŸ™‚

  9. gsburek03 / Jan 5 2015 7:54 pm

    Thank you for this tip…the photo store I go to couldn’t find the gadget to extract the leader.

  10. Kim / Feb 28 2015 6:48 am

    You saved my night! Was panicking since I didn’t have any double sided tape. This worked like a charm on the second try. *bows* Thank you!

  11. Colin / Sep 28 2017 9:17 pm

    Thanks for this – took me a few tries but very easy and useful to know!


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