Numbering 4x5 Film holders
| I went with the notched film holder idea. I learned about it in school years ago, and it's worked great. I notched the 10 holders I had in school, and after years of acquiring new ones and telling myself to notch them all, I finally did, and it's made life a lot easier.
Originally I used a triangular file to make the notches. That was fine for 10 holders back then, but I now have approx. 40 holders, and the filing was taking WAY too long. So, I actually used a small drill bit on a drill press, not drilling straight down, but keeping the bit in one position, and moving the holder in and out to carve out the notch. Worked pretty good, and went a lot faster. Did 30 in about 30 minutes.
I can totally understand why some people wouldn't like to mess with their holders like this, and I can see how you could easily slip and ruin one. As you can see by the images I posted below, there is no light leak in past the notches, as long as you don't carve too far. I've been lucky in that not a single one of mine has had a problem. My method is this: notches for 10's on the left, 5's in the middle, and 1's on the right. So, 3 notches on the left, 1 in the middle, an 2 on the right is the #37. See below for a few images to illustrate this better I hope:
Now, the way I usually shoot is to take two sheets (more if the shot warrants it, or the light is changing rapidly) of each shot, record the holder number and info (shutter, f/stop, lens, filters etc, etc) on my little digital voice recorder. When back home or in camp at night, I transcribe my notes to paper. Then I download one sheet from every setup into the same box (unless there are any pushes or pulls) and have the lab run them normal. When I get them back, I know exactly which sheet is which, and can judge how to run the remaining sheet from each setup if any adjustments in exposure are needed. I used to have to download into lots of separate boxes, and that is a real pain.
I will admit the only problem I have with this method though. When shooting an image that is very dark or black on the edge with the notches in it, it is very hard or next to impossible to see the markings on the film, so that can make for guess work. The way I've gotten around that is with my notes and memory of what order I shot them in, I'm able to narrow it down, and it all works out."
One more piece of advice, having to do with how you load your film into the holders. Most people are taught to load their film with the film’s cut notches in the bottom left, near the flap. I load them with the notches upper right instead. The reason for this is so that the numbering notches don't accidentally get cut off by the film’s cut notches, making for tougher identification.