Blank Rolls

Our Lab

“Why are there no images on my roll” or “I got a blank roll, why?”

Let’s face it, some rolls just don’t turn out. We often call these rolls “ blank” as a catch all. In this post, we want to unpack why this happens and also name the different types of occurrences because they are not at all alike. By naming the problem accurately, you could avoid repeating it. 

A blank roll is actually a roll that is completely clear, not even with faint images. It only shows the imprint from the manufacturer along the edge (like, Kodak 400). Those markings get developed with the images, and if you can see them then the film was properly developed. 

The most common reason for a film to be blank is a loading mishap or simply bringing an unused roll of film to the lab for processing. We can help you load your camera in ways that will almost completely eliminate the chance of this happening (more information about loading film below).

An underexposed roll is a negative that has very faint images that are not scannable or printable. Old timers referred to this as a “thin negative” and it means lack of light to the film either because of exposure, camera problem, or actually no light. Disposable cameras can often show results like this.

A fogged roll is totally black, and even the film markings on the edge are black (this is true in color and b/w films but the opposite is true in slide film where a clear film is fogged). You can trust the processing because black means density and density is what gets developed in chemistry. If the film is totally fogged edge to edge or close to it then the back door of the cameras was opened and the amount of light that came through fogged the film. A second or so of the back door being open can cause this much damage.

A totally clear film with no edge markings was never developed. 

Look at the picture below to see what you have. The top shows a fogged roll. The middle is a blank b/w roll. And the bottom is a blank color roll.

Here is a video that shows how to load an SLR camera properly:

Here are also some written instructions for loading an SLR camera: 

Don’t let getting a blank roll back in your order discourage you though because I bet you that any film user you talk to has had a roll come out blank before. It is one of the risks we take when shooting film but don’t let it stop you from taking more film photos. If you want to come into PhotoLounge and have us take a look at your camera or go over how to load your camera we are happy to help you. No appointment is necessary.

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