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Jimmy Li 8×11 cassette review

1st February 2019

Jimmy Li 8×11 cassette review

1st February 2019

Review and article author: Julian Tanase, Minoxit.Com | 9 September 2017

First getting a glimpse of his new design of a Minox film cassette, Jimmy was very kind in providing one such 8×11 cassette for my personal use; I have loaded it with Agfa APX 100 and it went into a Minox A/IIIs camera. I had no problems whatsoever in slipping it into the film chamber; the cassette went in like butter on bread, smooth and without no grating noises and without any resistance. We’ll see how it fares upon extricating it from within.

No labels or engraving. No fancy-schmancy “get me” message. Just clean, rugged metallic feeling. Durable chrome, brass coated. Period. Made to last. Period. All right, you get the idea…

It resembles very much the old Minox brass cassette. In fact, in looks confusingly similar, until you look very close; and then you see the major difference: durability. The old Minox cassettes were thin brass, and I have used some of them in the past. They were prone to jams and sometimes buckled during my attempts to remove from camera. This Jimmy Li cassette will not buckle; if anything, your fingernail may suffer from trying to remove from camera. But we don’t know yet if it jams; haven’t arrive at that part yet, in my review.

Heavier than the plastic one, definitely. It weighs 48 grams (coffin and cassette together), which may be a tad on the heavy side for some prospective buyers. Nonetheless, durability it’s what we are after, aren’t we? Well, if that’s we’re after, this item is virtually indestructible, in normal (more or less) condition.

Regarding the general dimensions, it is a copy carbon of its plastic counterpart (well, obviously)

From the first, the item appears and feels very solid and sturdy (nay, ETERNAL is the word). One has the feeling that such an item can outlast a Minox camera, which is no small thing, considering. It may outlast even a Minox user, I guess.

The general feeling is that this cassette means business, and that if you get 4 or 5 of these, you can safely say that you won’t need any other cassettes…ever. My opinion, anyways.

While it shows milling work onto the surface, it’s smooth and without any defects. Jimmy or the manufacturer did some sanding (light) of some of the plane surfaces, but it all blends in with the metallic aspect of the item. And to be fair, the surfaces are even and the light sanding gives that “je ne sais quoi” to the whole thing…

Have I told you it’s a bit hefty?…yes, it is. At 48 grams for the coffin and the cassette (unloaded), this shortens your options of traveling with lots of films in your bag. Not to mention the security controls in airports…imagine a situation where you have to explain the presence of 10 metallic containers in your bag. Plastic on the other hand…

But let us not loose focus on the main thing here: a replacement for 8×11 cassettes, which are becoming scarcer than hen’s teeth. A good replacement would benefit everyone in this 8×11 hobby, and supply us with an item which by the looks of it until this moment, will give the plastic cassettes a good run, for what it’s worth.

One of the things I want to check is the light trap on this cassette; it is what makes the difference between a good photo session and a ruined film, in my book. Light or (worse) scratches can deliver a heavy blow to the acceptance of this item in our community. I’ll pay attention and report as found.

So far, it would appear that Jimmy had lined half of the film well of the cassette with some sort of black fabric. Jimmy reports the fabric is actually black fiber material, we shall see how this fares against the film rubbing. I only hope he has chosen a non-abrasive type, and moreover, didn’t glued it using a hard glue (i.e. superglue or similar). This would penetrate the fabric and, upon setting, acting like a cheese grater onto the film emulsion. But the fabric is smooth on touch, not grating my fingertip when going over it.

The caps are solid, and they stay on, even on pressure. They are staying on only by pressure exerted by the cassette film wells.

The one other thing concerning the light traps: are they going to resist repeated washings ? I hope they will; it appears the cassette is perfectly washable, and being chrome with a brass coating, it will not rust (however, it can pit or oxidize, with time). Fabric staying glued on the cassette would be a heavenly thing.

Enough of this introduction; once I have the film done, I will develop and see what’s what. For your information, the cassette has been loaded with Agfa APX 100, factory issue.


INTERMEDIARY REPORT ON CASSETTE

Jimmy kept his promise and finished the work on the cassette. Actually, the work on it was almost over at the time when I was writing my first review of the cassette. All that remained to be done was:

  • darken the inside of both of the film chambers ;
  • lining the light traps with felt;
  • run trials in several Minox cameras;

He did so over the period of the last 2 months and here we have the first, Jimmy Li’s fully operational 8×11 brass film cassette; indeed, usable (at least theoretically) in all 8×11 cameras. Some non-Minox 8×11 format cameras may have difficulties in accepting this cassette, therefore jamming may occur. So, do try this cassette on your own risk in other cameras than Minox. That been said, Jimmy’s prototype of this cassette was tested in  Minox B, AIII, BL, C, LX, without any problems. Apparently, Riga has difficulties in accepting this cassette, so be warned if you wish to use it with this camera.

Inside the film wells, a black fiber layer has been affixed, in order to prevent film scratches and such. The fiber layer is not abrasive and it will keep the dust to enter the cassette. The layer is also affixed onto the lips of the cassette, so emulsion will not be damaged when film is transported onto the take up spool.

Without further due, I give you Jimmy Li’s 8×11 metallic cassette.

For those interested, Jimmy has started to accept pre-orders. Please inquire on prices and such, send him an email message : jimmy101cactus@hotmail.com .


FINAL PART OF THE REVIEW

Here we have a brand new model (a second one actually) of Jimmy Li’s fully operational 8×11 brass film cassette; indeed, usable (at least theoretically) in all 8×11 cameras. Some non-Minox 8×11 format cameras may have difficulties in accepting this cassette, therefore jamming may occur. So, do try this cassette on your own risk in other cameras than Minox. That been said, Jimmy’s prototype of this cassette was tested in  Minox B, AIII, BL, C, LX, without any problems. Apparently, Riga has difficulties in accepting this cassette, so be warned if you wish to use it with this camera.

Inside the film wells, a black fiber layer has been affixed, in order to prevent film scratches and such. The fiber layer is not abrasive and it will keep the dust to enter the cassette. The layer is also affixed onto the lips of the cassette, so emulsion will not be damaged when film is transported onto the take up spool.

Main objectives of this review:

– How the item behaves at various temperatures
– Is the fiber coating from the insides of the cassette (cassette lips protection coating) scratching the film
– Is the film suffering from light leakage
– Ease of inserting and extraction of the cassette from the camera
– Max number of frames and film length – several film types
– Fiber coating – repeated washing

TEMPERATURE VARIANCES BEHAVIOR

I had the cassette in the refrigerator, and for a second trial, in a freezer. The refrigerator downed the cassette temp at +4*C and the freezer at -23*C.

The third trial was warming the cassette at some +38*C.

REFRIGERATION

The cassette entered the camera smooth, without any grating noises or issues. From what I was able to see and check, the cassette was flush to the camera well, and during push-pull action, no noise or cassette moving was observed. Film was advancing in a normal manner and there was no frame overlapping or anything of the kind. The cassette was loaded with film, which was developed and scanned afterwards.

FROZEN

The cassette was taken out of the freezer, temp measured at -23*C. I put it in a Minox camera, and in it went a bit freely, which may indicate that the dimensions were reduced by the temperature. However, when camera was inverted, the cassette did not fall off, which indicate that it didn’t shrink too much. The film was not overlapped and the taking out of the cassette (both at that low temp and after 15’ of sitting in the camera, at room temperature) went smooth and without any issues.

HEATED

The cassette was warmed at +38*C and went into the camera with a very small push needed. Indeed, the insertion went smooth, but not as smooth as at the room temperature. Looks like the brass expanded a little, but not to the extent of giving you a pain when to insert into the camera. I was not forced to heavy push the cassette in the camera, and I had no problems with extracting it from the camera.

After checking the fiber coating, I can safely say that it stayed on, and it was not affected by the heat. I can also report a rapid cooling of the brass. I cannot see any damage done to the fiber coating of inside the cassette. It didn’t became brittle or peeling off the metal.

FILM SCRATCHING

I could see no scratches on the film, which means the fiber coating applied onto the insides of the cassettes are not damaging the film.

However, it is yet to be determined if an extensive use of the cassette will modify the structure and behavior of the fiber coating, especially at the cassette lips, where film is coming out / goes in the respective film chambers.

One possible issue here, after a certain length of time of using this cassette: the fiber coating can act as a retainer for minute particles of chemicals which were not dissolved completely or dust grains. However, during this first trial, I had a look with a good magnifier and I could see no such deposits accumulated. So, do not forget to wash your cassette as thorough you can, this would help eliminate any particles. But be careful not to employ powerful jet washing, it could damage the coating.

LIGHT LEAKAGE

No light leakage, as far as I can see in this first film. The black coating and the good thickness of the fiber glued onto the lips of the cassettes is behaving well.

Again, only a repeated film loading and using the cassette for some length of time will determine if the fiber will remain in this condition or it will be damaged by chemicals and washing, thus scratching the film negative. This looks like a very good quality material and I hope it will give us a long use without any issues.

IN & OUT OF CAMERA

I have not encountered any issue with the inserting or extraction of cassette from the camera (if you recall, the camera used for this trial was Minox A/IIIs), in perfect working condition, recently overhauled by our good friend, Don of Dag Camera.

My main concerns were related to the moment of taking out the cassette actually, not inserting it; given the fact that the caps are staying on by the sole pressure exerted by film spool walls onto the cap itself, I was afraid that a cap or both could snap and reveal the film to light, during extraction of cassette from the camera.

However, no such thing happened while this trial was under run (although, in all fairness, I tried to make this happen with the cassette empty, and a cap did came off. But I know why that happened: once the film spools are filled with er, film, their walls are expanding towards exterior. More pressure outwards mean more stable cap).

FILM LENGTH

The cassette was loaded with a 40 exposures length of film. I have not encountered any frame overlapping or advance resistance.

That said, I advise users to get a very good (read extremely sticky)tape for taping the end of film to the take up spool. Being made of very shiny brass, it’s not very adherent. The tape I use, a 9.2mm Red Tesa, is perfect. I do not advise you to use anything like Scotch tape or similar (not sticky enough).

CONCLUSION

I have found this cassette to be a very good addition to my Minox gear; it would survive a nuclear blast, not prone to breaking or bending, light-proof, not scratching the film, and so forth. Period.

With the hope that my review will help you decide for yourself, I have to remind you that this review is by no means a professional opinion or advice of an expert, and as such, I cannot be hold responsible for any damage this item may inflict upon your photographic equipment or film negatives or the like. If you believe I can further help you decide for or against it, do not hesitate to contact me: minox@juliantanase.com

Best regards and take care out there! JT

 

 

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