Julian Tanase Photography

My Minox journey continues…

Loading Minox tank

Loading Minox tank

Following a request of a Minox group member, I am putting here my take on loading a roll of 8×11 film in a Minox developing tank. Not exactly or exceedingly complicated, but certain steps need to be observed.


You will need your Minox tank, a pair of scissors, a hole puncher, and obviously, your Minox film cassette.

I would imagine that by now you are in your darkroom/closet/cabinet, whatever serves you as developing place. Your chemicals and utensils would’ve been already laid out for you, so we will not discuss this now.

LE – the puncher I used here (which was the one I had for the last 15 yrs or so) has been replaced with a similar one. The difference is that the old one (pictured here) punches a 6mm diameter hole, which is not exactly right for the Minox film width; if held wrong, it will damage the negative, cutting a too large hole in it. Also, when the negative base is too hard to cut (Copex, Rollei 80s, etc) this 6 mm puncher actually breaks the strip instead of cutting a hole into it.

Therefore, it has been replaced by a similar puncher, but with a punch diameter of only 3mm. Much better and much easier on the negative, as the retaining pin of the tank is about the same diameter. The film is much better fixed onto the pin, and no chance of slipping over the pin. 


You will notice that your cassette has two spools, united by a bridge. Put it in front of you on the table and turn it over: the spools are similar in shape and caps, but with different bottoms. The one with a shallow bottom is the one you have just emptied by shooting the film in it. The film has been transported to the other spool, the one with a deeper bottom. That is where your shot film is now.

If you have shot you shot all of the film in the cassette, there a good chance that you overshot the entire length, in which case, when you remove the cassette from the camera, you will see there is no negative showing between the spools. Get a black bag (a photographic one) and in complete darkness of its interior open the take up spool’s cap (the one with a deeper bottom), remove the film roll inside, put it back but leave a 5 cms out of the cassette. This will be your film leader, the one you will need to engage on the developing tank.

If the negative is seen between the spools, then the chances are you still have some frames left, i.e. not used. Too late now to use these, so take your scissors and cut the strip of film right near the film spool (the one with a shallow bottom). Then pull out some more of it from the take up spool, some 5 cms. Again, this is your film leader.

Get your hole puncher and punch a hole (sorry, I could not resist to this half-pun) in the film leader, right in the middle of the strip, at about 3 cms from the film strip end. You will have then this here:

Note: if the film is factory or lab loaded, you will see that the end of your film already has a hole in it. Use that, and obviously, do not use the hole puncher.


Take the spool section out of your tank and fix the cassette in the slot she is supposed to stay. There is only one way of doing this, so do not worry about how to seat it in the slot. Do not force it in, if there is a resistance, check to see if the lip of the tank spool is not impeding with the film or the cassette itself.

Make sure you have the cassette inserted correctly, and that the film leader is visible and at hand, thus:

Bring the tank spool lip to the same level with the cassette, so the steel pin and retainer are on the same level with the cassette, like in the picture above. Hold the film leader and insert its end onto the steel retainer, matching the hole in the film with the steel pin.

Once you hooked the steel pin in the film hole, make sure the pin is well fixed in the film hole, and the end of the film is nicely tucked under the retainer, like so:

Make sure the film is securely held, and insert your tank reel/spool in the tank, make sure you push the reel into the tank so there is not space left between the tank itself and the reel.

Once you done that, rotate the spool so it screws inside the tank, and do it slowly. Once you will meet a resistance of the spool being screwed in, stop: you have reached the entire length of the film.

Now you are free to start playing the alchemist, with your magical potions and such. Good luck!

PS – really, I could have made a video to this purpose here, but since there are a few ( I was told) on Whose Tube, I believe those would suffice.