Film

Stand / Cross process of C41 Poundland Film in B/W Chemistry

Together in Death. Olympus XA2 (the 50p camera project). AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 (Poundland Film) C41. Developed in Rodinal.

I recently asked on a photography forum for a developing recipe to cross process C41 with b/w chemistry.  I was tickled, but a little chuffed, when someone answered by giving me a link to an old post about the subject …. from one of my own posts here on my blog!

I hadn’t cross processed Poundland film to b/w for a year or two, and when I did, I used Ilford ID11.  This time I wanted to use a rodinal / R09 developer, and I fancied stand processing.

For the Digital / N00b crowd.  What am I talking about?

  1. Cross Processing.  There are a number of different processes for film, and for printing.  The most common three are a) C41.  This is the process for developing colour negative film.  Some b/w films have also been produced that require C41.   b) E6.  This is the process for colour positive transparencies / slides.  c) True b/w negative.  The oldest process that is usually still done by hand rather than a photo lab.  Cross processing takes place when a photographer uses a process other than that intended by the film manufacturer.  Many Lomo photographers cross (both ways) C41 and E6 in order to get bizarre colours on prints/scans.  I am cross processing C41 Poundland film in b/w chemistry, because it is ultra cheapskate and tight fisted.
  2. Stand processing.  Hand processing film involves agitating or inverting a developing tank filled with a film, and diluted solutions of developer  at set intervals.  Typical dilutions for example for the rodinal developer are 1:19 or 1:25 of rodinal to water.  This moves the diluted developer through the film emulsions at a proven rate.  With Stand processing, you use much weaker dilutions of developer, and instead of regular inversions – leave the tank standing for a much longer time.  It saves on developer, allows you to have a meal or watch a movie, and is similar in some ways to slow cooking.  You can be several minutes out either way without disaster.

The stand process that I ended up using this time was that as suggested by the Massive Dev Chart for XP2 C41 in Rodinal / R09.

The recommendation was 1:100.  Yes, a pathetic 3 ml of Agfa Rodinal for a single 35mm film in my Paterson tank.  The recommended time at the optimum 20C was 120 minutes.  I put my used Poundland film in the tank.  Added the very diluted Rodinal, gave it several inversions, then sat it down with a few taps to dislodge air bubbles.

I then took Anita out to the local flea pit (cinema) where we watched the Pixel movie.  I returned maybe 130 minutes later.  Emptied out the developer, stopped, fixed, and rinsed.  Hung up the slippery brown thing to dry.

The above image is one scan.  I did enhance the levels a little on the scanned image, using Gimp software, but not that much.  I worked out that 3 ml of my Rodinal cost me about 8p (GBP £0.08).  The film a quid from Poundland.  Altogether, film, develop, fix, and scan cost me no more than £1.30.

Tight fisted?

One more thing.  This isn’t just about process and cost.  How does the image look?

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Film Dark Room, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

Rollin’ One. Film onto a Paterson type developing spool

Boho. Anita tries out the Lubitel. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Ilford FP4 Plus 120 film. Home developed in ID11.

As usual, this post has little to do with the above image.  I’ve been home developing film for the past year or so, and in that time, I’ve developed too many films – 35mm, 120, b/w, C-41, and other.  It took me forever to learn how to spool a film onto a reel inside a changing bag with success.

Here is what I have learned as a novice.

Always freshly wash your hands with soap and water before any film changing bag work.  Make sure that they are then fully dry!

Avoid touching not only the inside – but minimise touching the actual edges of the film.  So many problems are down to a little moisture or grease (transferred from hands) along the edges of the film, where they spool (or fail to spool) on a Paterson developing reel.

Now to the films…

120 Medium Format roll film.  Inside the film changing bag, break the tape, then carefully roll the leader of the paper – while checking for the appearance of the plastic film.  When you feel the film emerge, roll them into two rolls – the paper you’ve already started.  Reel the film up in a separate roll- stroking the back, minimising touching the edges as much as possible.  When they meet at the taped end, tear off the tape, and discard the paper roll out of the way in the bag.  Now cut the corners of the film – taped end, so that the tape doesn’t smear or stick down the developing spool.  Introduce it carefully to the spool.  It should be easy to reel on.  Avoid touching those film edges.

35mm.  If possible, keep the film in the cassette – don’t pull it out.  Either leave the tail out, or break open the mouth – fishing the tail out.  This way, you avoid contacting those sprocketed film edges.  Cut a generous tail off, and trim the leading edges.  Feed onto the spool.  When needed, pull more film out of the cassette, then reel in, until you feel the end and cut the empty cassette free.

Just recently, using the above (clean hands, avoid contact not only with the inside, but also with edges), I’ve been getting 100% transfers with no damage to film.  I wish I knew this earlier.

One more tip.  I’ve recently replaced my Paterson spools with AP System spools – that fit inside a Paterson tank.  They are a poorer quality – in that I find that I can adjust them wrongly – then they are a bugger to free up.  However, the thumb pads and long guides are easier to start films off.  They can be bought from FirstCall as spools alone, and they fit Paterson tanks.

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Film, 35mm, and scans, Rants and discussions

Film for the Digital Photographer (how we share film photographs online)

Feeling Negative. Taken with a Sony A200 DSLR and Sony DT 35mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

Digital-Film Hybrid Photography

This article is aimed at the new and curious. You may be a child of the digital age, or you may simply be struck with nostalgia. You’ve just seen that beautiful old film camera in that charity or thrift shop. Maybe you found it in your parent’s box room, or couldn’t resist it at a car boot sale. You love it’s retro look and feel – it’s so heavy, so real. You wonder if they still sell film for it. Does it still work? Can you get film developed any more? Even if that’s possible, maybe you enjoy digital photography, for it’s ability to share your images on Flickr, Tumblr, Deviant Art, or Facebook?

Now go to the Flickr social networking and image sharing website. Search for groups (now called communities) that cater for film or analog photography. You will find thousands of film photographers sharing thousands of images captured initially on film. Far from dead, it’s booming. Why is this? Can’t they afford digital cameras? Why are they still using film cameras?

First thing that I’m going to state that this is not a discussion on the tired and exhausted old Film V Digital debate. Digital won the mainstream. The newer generations of digital cameras are awesome. This discussion is about the new hybrid of the two formats – using film photography to create digital images. Images captured in silver emulsions that are later shared in the digital world.

Why bother at all with film? I can think of ten reasons:

  1. Price. I couldn’t afford a real 35mm SLR in it’s day. But I could afford to collect them now. I’ve previously posted on the subject of cheap film cameras. A camera can have a manitou. I enjoy bringing it back to life.
  2. Old film cameras can be awesome to use. The build, the look (increasingly copied in the “retro” styling of some new higher end digital cameras), the feel. I still get a kick out of forwarding the film. Many of them feel and look nicer than black plastic DSLR cameras.
  3. I enjoy opening a new film. I enjoy exploring the properties of different films.
  4. Patience in an age of instant gratification. Honest, it’s not rhetoric. There really is something about having to wait for your images. You have to use up the film then process it. Each image will have a cost. You may well find yourself thinking a little more before squeezing that shutter release. You can’t shoot off at a high frame rate – then sit down and delete away, all of those images that don’t look the best on that LCD. Each capture has more value.
  5. The analogue image. It’s real. Even when digitalised (scanned). You can still see the tones and grains of HP5. Believe me, a digital camera with it’s sensitivity (ISO) turned up, does not produce grain. It produces digital noise, and it’s not pretty. Just look through the images in the film/analog communities on Flickr. Elsewhere, all of these fake digital filters to recreate a vintage film look. You can create the real thing, dust, hairs, and all should you wish. Use an expired film to get those retro over the top colours. It’s real analog. A rebellion against digital perfection.
  6. Satisfaction and challenge. A lot of novice D-SLR users think that they’ve made an effort if they switch their camera exposure program to aperture priority. Believe me, if you recondition a film camera, use it in the field, perhaps setting fully manual exposure and focus controls yourself – maybe even without a light meter, then chemically process your film yourself, successfully scan it, then you feel rather more satisfaction if your final image is what you want. Instant gratification devalues effort and reward.
  7. Negatives. A digital file is stored as binary data, in a licensed format such as .jpeg. It is far from future proof – remember the VHS? Remember MS DOS? I love how we can store so many digital images – on hard drives, flash, memory sticks, or on Internet Clouds. However, it’s nice and more future proof to also own something analogue and material. A carefully stored film offers this. A hard master copy of your image. Years after .jpeg fades into obscurity, a film will still be there for either traditional printing or digital photographing/scanning. It’s real, not noughts and ones in the Digisphere.
  8. I’ve got to say it. Using a film camera is presently cool. So cool, that it’s spawned a new industry of Toy cameras from China. When everyone else on the street is packing a black plastic Canikon D-SLR camera, your film camera will stand out. People want to talk about it. People feel more relaxed to pose, after all – it’s not as though you are instantly going to upload a dodgy image to the Internet (are you?). On the street, a small zone focus 35mm compact camera is invisible. Anyway, the subjects are busy keeping away from that dude on the corner with the massive D-SLR, and Canikon photography back pack. Subtlety is not that. Ugh.
  9. Medium format film. You want a medium format digital camera, be prepared to splash out circa £45,000 for a new Hasselblad. Even those sensors don’t match the capture area of a 6cm x 6cm 120 film exposure. Medium format film is big, greedy, beautiful. Some professional studios still use, or have re-employed it for a reason. Many digital photographers, that are not interested in 35mm film, are tempted by a big fat Mamiya. Medium format film photography is just awesome.
  10. Because it’s still here! Enjoy film photography while it’s still cheap and affordable. Scare your future grandchildren with your lovingly stored negatives. Seriously, they will be in total awe.

That’s some of the reasons that we bother to use film cameras for photography and for online image sharing. Ok, where do you want to take this? Can you still buy film?

Yes! Even in my local small backwater East Anglian market town, I can buy 135 (35 mm) photographic film from at least four different local outlets (even Poundland). I can buy a lot more online. As for 120 roll film, I can’t buy it here, but travel to medium sized town or small city, then yes – any real photography shop will sell it. Online I can buy it in many forms. Other formats of film? That can be tricky – but 35mm and 120 no problem yet.  If I go onto the website of a certain famous online auction company (starting with E), and look in the Cameras & Photography/Film Photography/Film category, I presently see a total of 4212 items listed.  It aint dead yet.

After using, how are you going to process your films?

  1. Take them or post them to a commercial photo lab. Yes they still exist. You’d be surprised, even locally you may have C-41 photo labs waiting for your film. I need to explain something to you. There are three types of photographic film. First. The reversal colour film. That is manufactured to produce E-6 processed positive transparency film for slides. Second type: C-41 processed colour and some C-41 b/w negative film for prints. This is the default for colour negative film. Third, so-called true black and white negative films – the bulk of b/w negative film. Many surviving local commercial Photo labs can only process C-41. So ask. Tell them what the film is. Not all staff are well trained. Postal specialists are a good option, but in order to reduce postal costs, it’s often best to wait until you have several films to send. Search online for their websites, or check the classifieds in Photography magazines (such as b&w or professional photography magazines).
  2. Develop film yourself at home. You do not need a full darkroom in order to develop film. All that you need is a film changing bag, so that you can load your film into a developing tank without any light reaching it. I’ve heard of some people light proofing a closet, or even using a bin bag under bed sheets. However, a good quality film changing bag is a good option. The easiest film to home process is b/w negative (not C-41), because it’s optimum developing temperature is a manageable 20 C with a fair degree of tolerance. You’ll need a film developing tank, measuring jugs, film changing bag, and chemicals: at least a b/w developer, and a fixer, maybe also a stop bath and wetting agent. Process is: developer, stop (can be replaced by a good rinse), fixer, a thorough rinse, and perhaps a wetting agent, then hanging and drying. It really is easy, once you have a technique. Should you wish to process colour negative film using C-41, it can be done at home, and economically (if you process enough film) but it’s optimum temperature is 38 C, with less tolerance. It usually includes C-41 developer, bleacher, rinse, fixer, a thorough rinse, finally stabiliser (stab). Better to start with home developing true b/w with an easier to manage optimum time and temperature.
  3. A common choice for many film photographers, is to home process true b/w but commercially process C-41. It’s up to you.

Huge 6 x 9 negatives exposed earlier that day in an 80 year old box camera. Captured as above image.

What to do with your developed films, and how to share them (online)?

Option 1. The whole hog. You love analogue. You like to go analogue all the way – no photons to electrons. Maybe you are a photographic print artist that wants to exhibit? You want to traditionally print on photographic papers, making contact sheets and using an enlarger in a darkroom – processing the photographic prints in trays of chemicals . That is so cool, that is where the real old magic of making images appear on paper is. However, I can’t help you any further, as it’s not a course that have taken, nor am I likely to take in the near future.

Why not?

  1. I like to share digitally. A true analogue print can only be appreciated by the human eye at first hand in the real world. Some might do this with galleries, clubs, and exhibitions.
  2. Space and family. You are going to need a real darkroom with running water (temperature controlled), space for processing trays, and an enlarger at minimum. I know that some people manage to do this in a bathroom. However, you are going to need to gain consent of other household members.
  3. Expense. My resources are limited.

Option 2. If you are having your films commercially processed, most photo labs offer to sell you a CD with their digital scans of your film. You see, most photo labs do NOT traditionally print. Their machines simply digitally scan the negatives following process, and these digital images are then printed. So those photographs that you get in the wallet from your photo lab are …. digital prints, not traditional prints on photographic paper. Still, if you want, you can also buy the used scans on a CD. One problem – they tend to be low resolution. You might be able to do better yourself.

Some independent photo labs might (if you inquire), skip scanning and printing all together – and for a lower price just develop your films for you, to scan for yourself at home. That way, you take control over their quality and save money. Other better photo labs will offer to scan your films at a better quality and resolution – for a higher price. Equally, a few specialist labs may even offer to traditionally print your photos on photographic paper in the darkroom.  Just don’t expect to find this service on the High Street, or cheap.

The question arises here, if you use a street or postal commercial photo lab that returns a wallet of prints with your developed negative films, why not just slip these prints into a bog standard flat bed scanner, and generate your digital files that way?  You can.  However, the quality (if quality is important) will not be as good as obtained by scanning the negative ‘master copy’ on the film.  Still, it is how many people share images online from their film cameras.  I don’t, because of a) the quality issue, and b) I rarely use a commercial lab anymore.

Option 3. Digitally photograph your exposures. This is admirably the most cheapskate route. Not had any success at it myself. You need to make some kind of light box, a digital camera, and preferably have a macro lens or lens extension tubes. If you get it right, you can not only save money and gain street cred, but you can produce those cool digital captures of film images, with the borders of the negative displaying the film legends. You simply macro photograph (with carefully focusing) the film. Special built zoom tubes for copying film are manufactured, although they tend to be pricey, and are usually designed for full frame DSLRs only. You then use software to reverse the negative image.

Option 4. Also often cheap. Buy a Chinese 35mm film scanner from Amazon/Ebay that uses a small CCD sensor to digitalise your images. Be aware, quality is limited, and that they can’t scan medium format. Still, they suit the purpose of some. I’ve recently seen these for sale in the local Aldi superstore!

Option 5, Use a Flatbed digital scanner (such as the Epson Perfection V500 or Canon Canoscan 5600f), that is affordable, but is designed to scan photographic film as well as flatbed documents. These scanners are essentially flat bed document and print scanners for home or small office use – but have a LED lamp built into the scanner lid, that directs light down through a film, held flat in a plastic mask. They are not perfect, as slightly bending film can take the film out of focus. Some users rectify this by using third part adjustable masks, or by using plates of special non-reflective anti-newton glass in order to present the film flatly between.

Personally, I use an Epson Perfection V500 scanner. It can scan both 35mm and 120 film, and can remove dust from C-41 images using the Digital Ice technology. The V500 is a bit out of date, it was mass produced, and is subsequently available and fairly cheap (around £160 new). I don’t bother with anti-newton glasses or specialist adjustable film masks. I simply use the default supplied Epson masks. Good enough for my purposes. If you buy a used model – make sure that the film masks are included, as they often part company with the scanner, if it has been used as a pure flat bed for documents. Additionally give consideration to medium format. Will you need to scan 120 film at some time? Does the scanner cater for that?

Option 6. Buy a middle to high end flat bed scanner (£350 – £2,000) capable of film scanning, or an even more expensive dedicated film scanner. A drum scanner (outrageous money). Lots of money when you could have simply used traditional optic printing to produce that quality. However, they will produce the best quality digital images from your valued films. Only for professionals and wealthy enthusiasts.

In all cases, following digitalisation, you can use software to manipulate the images prior to sharing. Personally, I go with Option 4 (Epson Perfection V500 scanner), and then use open source software (Gimp 2.8) to clean up, maybe optimise a little, before online sharing. However, if you are one of these bizarre people that like spending lots of money on a restrictively licensed Adobe product such as Photoshop or Lightroom, then you can use that software.

There are lots of die-hards that will sneer at the digital manipulation of an image captured initially on film. Don’t worry about them, or just confess in any online share that you’ve done it. Let’s get real though. These are digital images, taken from analogue film. You cannot share analogue captures online or through your computer or phone. When you scan a negative, invariably the scanner will interpret it as it wants – and perform some manipulation in creating a binary image file. The same with those printed photographs from the photo lab. Unless carried out by a specialist, they will have most likely passed through digitalisation en route to the print. Their process scanners will have automatically manipulated them – adding sharpness, back light, and colour correction.

An important point.  The most expensive photograph ever sold (Rhein II by Andreas Gursky – auctioned for £2.7 million), is a film-digital hybrid.  Taken by a large format film camera, then scanned and digitally edited.

Conclusion

I hope that I’ve simplified the options for other novices that follow in my path. You have many options. You can stick to full digital. Why not? Digital is great for instant clean results. You can use a film camera – get the film processed commercially. That is equally cool. Keeps labs in service and in business. Or you can develop film yourself – you might discover some satisfaction that the instant age deprives you of. Heck, you could go for the full job – darkroom and traditional printing. Is it all worth it? The choice is yours.

Run Like a Dog. This photo captured on budget (Poundland) 35mm film in a Pentax ME Super raised 350 favorites and several thousand views on the Flickr website.

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Film Dark Room, Film, 35mm, and scans, Pentax ME Super 35mm film SLR

It’s about technique.

Arrrgh, Geee, Beee. Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland. Developed in Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry. Stitched together post negative scan with open source Gimp software.

Another day of nothing to do but demolish Poundland 35mm film.  Actually, it really is getting easier with practice.  I had a technique that worked yesterday.  Even managed to avoid running into the kitchen screaming “I need the kettle now!  I need temperature!!”.  No spilling of jugs of developer.  No chemicals poured into wrong containers (I’ve carefully numbered my storage drums and measuring jugs to match now).  Now I understand it (until some swot corrects me), the critical 38 C temeperature only really applies to the developing stage – so as long as I pre-soak in water at 38C (or slightly above), and develop at 38 C -/+ 0.3 tolerance, then I don’t need to worry too much about lower temperatures (30 C to 38 C) for all of the following baths – and I can use the water that I heat my jugs of chemicals in, for rinse.  The three scanned Poundland film negatives in this post, were all taken in the Pentax ME Super, using 35mm Poundland film (AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200), and were developed in Rollei Digibase chemistry.  The top image has been stitched from three exposures, post digital scan, using the free open source Gimp software package.  All taken in the last few days and quickly processed at home.

Colour test. As above image.

This will probably be my last post for a week or so, as my ISP wants paying and they are going to have to wait.  Maybe I should rename this blog The Broke Photographer.  Will catch up at the end of the month.  Take care.

I tell yer. I left my hard hat in here! As top image.

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Film Dark Room, Film, 35mm, and scans, Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II

C-41 Process and Me.

The General Cemetery. Wisbech. Olympus XA2 compact camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland. Developed in Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry.

For crying out loud.  I really do not like this C-41 process game, and it does not like me.  However, I’m sticking with it, but it is fighting me back.  Ok confession time.  First attempt.  Screwed up totally, although sort of salvaged a few sprocket hole images.  I’ve posted on that one before, so I wont go into detail.  Second attempt.  I accidentally poured some used bleacher into the fixer storage drum.  I’ve checked with the swots on an analog forum – the verdict is that it’ll gradually degrade and to use it ASAP.  I did however pretty well process a 24 exposure of 35mm, although it wasn’t a very good shoot.  I took it in my 50p Olympus XA2, and it included the above image, of the chapel of rest, in the disused General Cemetery in Wisbech.

Third attempt – just now.  I processed two 35mm films in the Paterson tank together.  Too early to say how they’ll turn out, I’ll see tomorrow.  However, I accidentally dropped 600 ml of precious C-41 developer to waste.  I wanted this stuff to last 6 – 8 months, but it isn’t looking good.

Maybe I’m just too much of a rush-about klutz to process my own C-41 colour film.  Too much worrying about temperature, too many jugs.  It’s certainly another learning curve.

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Film Dark Room, Monochrome, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

Off Colour

Anita and the Post Box. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS/B 80 mm f/2.8 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus 120 film. Developed in ID11

I know I keep putting off the C-41 thing.  I’ve got the chemistry, but right now, I can’t be bothered with colour.  I guess that my excuse is that I’m still scavenging five litre drums, so that I can properly mix all of my processing solutions, and store them properly.  So for now, I keep on loading those Ilfords into cameras.  Not all Ilfords though – I loaded a Firstcall 400S in my Olympus XA2 35mm compact today.  A very cheap, budget true black and white 135 film from Firstcall Photography.  I’ll see how it performs.  It’s the cheapest such film that I’ve seen on the markets, and 36 exposure.  Prices like that could almost lure me away from using the C-41 Poundland film.  Thing is you see, I’m really enjoying B/W film photography.  I’m not sure now if I want to dirty the bleach waters of C-41 yet.

For anyone interested.  For B/W processing, I use Ilford process chemicals, including Ilford ID-11, which I last bought in powder form, to make up five litres of developer solution.  Far cheaper than buying smaller packs, and it packs nicely into a recycled five litre drum (that contained car windscreen wash previously – well washed out), that you can squeeze quite a lot of air out, as you use it up.  The developer was muck cheap from an online dealer – but to make it even cheaper, I dilute my ID-11 down to 1:3 with tap water just prior to processing a film, at 20C.  This of course greatly extends process time.  For Ilford HP5 Plus film (my favourite) with no push, at ISO 400, it’s twenty minutes, with 10 seconds of gentle inversions in every minute.  Prior to developing, I’ve also started to pre-soak with tap water at 20C for three minutes.  Stop and fix solutions are re-used several times.  I use an extended Ilford rinsing technique – progressive inversions, and four rinses – with a fifth rinse at the end, containing a wetting agent.  I’ve stopped using a squeegee again (tram lines!).  It’s a long process, but it’s very cheap, and it’s starting to give me the developed B/W film negatives that I want.

Reading the above, I realise that yet again, I’m posting on techie issues, rather more than creative issues.  I recently read an opinion by someone, that photographers tend to divide into two different types – those that are very knowledgeable about photographic technologies, and those that are more artistic and creative.  I’m afraid that I’m more of the former.  I mean, why would anyone give a toss about how I process my films?

Cheapskate News

On a recent visit to the local refuse / recycling centre (what use to be tips), I spotted a load of old leather camera cases in the “Small Electrical” skip.  Please forgive my tight-fistedness.  I rummaged in the skip and found an old Kodak Box Brownie 620.  Whenever I spot an old box camera, I quickly open it up, check for used film and for 620 spindles.  This one had an empty 620 spindle.  I’ve posted on this subject before, but briefly, you cannot buy 620 film anymore, except for grossly priced, grossly expired rolls.  However, 120 roll film is widely available, and in a darkroom or film changing bag, can be rolled off it’s new 120 spindle, and with care, onto an old 620 spindle (lifting the taped end to release the slack), bringing any 620 camera back to Life.

I asked the refuse workers if they can sell cameras.  The reply was no, as they are classed as “electrical” and could cause an issue with health & safety.   I don’t know where that 620 spindle in my pocket came from.

620 spindle next to a 120 spindle, and one of my Box Brownie cameras.

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Film Dark Room, Film, 35mm, and scans, Lubitel 166B

Chaos Colour

Upwell Church and the Well Stream, Norfolk. Taken with Lomo Lubitel 166B camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film, developed in Rollei Digibase C-41 kit.

Well that was a cock up.  Ok, not all of it.  Let me start from the beginning.

The plan was to go crazy, and to load a Poundland 35mm film onto the 120 spindles of a Lomo Lubitel 166B camera, expose it in a day, then develop it using the Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry kit.  My first ever attempt at C-41 colour film development.  A fun project.

The Lubitel 166B is a TLR (twin lens reflex) camera, built in the Lomo factory of the former USSR during the early 1980s.  It is designed to use 120 medium format roll film, exposing it in 12 frames of 6 cm by 6 cm squares.  It is an entirely manual camera, with no light meter.  They were mass produced in the former Soviet Union as a medium format camera for the masses – but with full exposure controls.  I bought mine at a car boot sale in Cambridgeshire for two quid (GBP £2.00).

I’ve already shot several rolls of Ilford b/w 120 roll film in it, and I’ve been pleased with it, although the Bronica SQ-A has replaced it as my number one medium format film camera.

I placed the camera in my film changing bag, with two empty 120 spindles, a small pair of scissors, and a 35mm cassette of Poundland film.  Later Lubitel’s have been fitted with masks for using 35 mm film – but the 166B was exclusively 120.  I rolled out the film from the 135 cassette, snipped it off, then rolled it back onto the middle of the 120 spindle.  Simple.  No masks or complications so far. I then fitted the spindle into the Lubitel, fed the end of the film into the second spindle, and then pulled it across – fitting the top spindle into the camera (all of this was done in the safe confines of my film changing bag).    I had already taped the red window over in case of light leak.  Shut the back, took out the Lubitel loaded with 35 mm.

In the field, I exposed the film using my usual Sunny F16 Rule of manual guess-timate settings.  I wound the film advance two full rotations between frames.  It turned out to be generous.  Next time I’ll use one and a half rotations, and should get an extra few exposures to my film.  I felt the 135 film release from the bottom spindle on my last exposure.

So far, it had gone very well.  The film had exposed quite well, although some wasted film between frames.  The Lubitel had performed well, and as expected, the whole width of the film, either side of sprocket holes had exposed, to give that sprocket holed

Leverington Church Spire. As above.

film look so beloved of the Lomo school of photography.

Then disaster struck.  I decided to rush into my first ever C-41 film development using the Rollei Digibase C-41 kit.  I did everything wrong.  I tried developing at a high temperature that I couldn’t sustain.  I mucked up solutions.  Last second realised that I hadn’t got a stopwatch in the house.  I dropped my beloved developing log book in water, losing my notes.  It turned into chaos.

I learned lessons, and I wont make certain mistakes again.  I’m not giving up with the C-41 colour film developing yet.  Indeed, I’m determined to do it better.  All of that lovely Poundland film demands it.  I was also quite pleased qith the Lubitel on 35mm.

More patience next time.  I’ll also try to C-41 develop at lower more sustainable temperatures.

This is partly what amateur photography should be about.  Challenges, learning, and improving.

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Film Dark Room

Bad Man! Stop that Cross Processing!

Bad Man. Olympus Trip 35 camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 C-41 film cross processed with Ilford B/W chemistry.

Sorry about that.  In future I’ll try to develop my Poundland film, and any other C-41 films (quite fancy trying some 120 medium format C-41) in full glorious colour!  I ordered the mini Rollei Digibase C-41 developer 500 ml  kit in the evening.  It arrived at my door mid morning the next day!  Well done to FirstCall Photographic.  It’s so cute that I don’t want to break the seal.  I already wish that I’d gone for the five litre Super Maxi size kit, but this will do for a tester.  Now I need a bunch of used 35mm colour films!  I have nearly forty AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 36 exposure 200 films from Poundland in hoard.  I just need to find something to photo.  I’m afraid inspiration is a bit short lately.

I took a quick snap with a DSLR of my new Rollei C-41 kit just now, and slotted it into my previous post below.  It seemed more appropriate for that post.

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Film Dark Room, Film, 35mm, and scans, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

Cheap C-41 colour negative film developing

My cute little Rollei Digibase C-41 kit. Taken with Sony A200 DSLR

What a plonker!  In my last post my maths went to hell.  It works out much cheaper than I initially calculated, to develop C41 film using the Rollei Digibase kits.  The larger the chemistry kit, the cheaper that it is.  However, I’ve just ordered a small kit for now, to test the water with.  With this 500 ml kit, if I successfully develop 10 films using it, it works our to £2.70 per film (including the cost of delivery).  If proven successful, then I’ll order the 5 litre kit next.  I’ve calculated, that for  the 100 films that it is supposed to develop (100-110), and including delivery of the kit, the cost per film would be 49p per film.  Yes, that’s GBP £0.49 for a 36 exposure 35 mm film.  If true, that is outstanding value!  On a 36 exposure AgfaPhoto Vista Plus film from Poundland, that adds up to a film price + developing cost of 4p per exposure on colour film.  Wow.

Ok, you are perfectly justified to argue that digital costs nothing per exposure, except for a few milliamps of power.  That’s perfectly true.  However, it misses the point that shooting with film is challenging and fun (as can be digital).  In addition, there are the negatives.  Stored in binders, they are future proof hardware copies of your photography.  Digital doesn’t offer that.  I’ve recently been reading that for this reason, negative film images are being sort for time capsules.  No issues with binary code or digital compression formats in the future, if you archive in film.

So, next adventure – developing colour negative film!

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Film Dark Room, Rants and discussions

APS Film Cross Process

I had an APS film handed to me.  Found film that had apparently been used and then forgotten, only to be noticed by Nita while her father was redecorating his house.  I can’t really remember much about APS.  It dates to the late 90s, when Kodak heralded it as an advancement on 135 (35mm film).  It was promoted as a smart format, much in the way that Kodak Disk film was.  Looking rather like a 35mm film cassette, only with an oval cross section.  This one was Kodak Advantix Ultra (expired in 2001), Advanced Photo System (APS).

Nothing to lose, I attempted to crack it open in my film changing bag.  Bottle opener didn’t work, so cracked it open from the film exit using the handle end of a tea spoon.  Then went to spool it onto the developer reel.  Uh oh!

Now I understand.  APS was a smaller film than 35mm.  Enthusiasts didn’t like it.  Not only was it smaller, capturing less detail than even 35mm, but you couldn’t squeeze an extra frame or two on them (as with 35mm), and the Kodak processing units would pull them out for developing and scanning – then roll them back into the cassette, so no nice cut negatives were not returned with the prints – just the cassette.  Then it clicked with me.

All of this hype in the photography world today about sensor size.  When manufacturers started to produce DSLRs that were practical for the first time, the largest sensor that was also affordable, was comparable in size to an APS exposure frame, but smaller than a 35mm.  So they called this sensor size APS-C (Advanced Photo System – Classic) after the hated APS film format.  Later, they could manufacture sensors as large as a 35mm film exposure, but for now, at a price.  Up to now, this has become the choice of many professional photographers, but as prices start to drop, so more and more enthusiasts are entering the market for them.  The 35mm sensor size is marketed as “full frame”.  So, when they start to produce larger sensors, within the medium format film size range, at affordable prices (I know that they already manufacture medium format sensors for incredibly high prices), what are they going to call them, if 35mm is marketed as “full frame”?  Maybe “extra frame”?  The irony is that when 35mm film was originally introduced to the still photography world, some photographers regarded it as too small to be of serious use.

But getting back to my APS film in the changing bag.  It was too small for even the smallest setting on my adjustable Paterson spool.  So it was either try to proceed without spooling it, or give up on it and chuck it away.  I decided on the former.  I loosely dropped it into the tank, sealed it, and tried cross process developing in Ilford b/w chemicals.  I added extra developer, and agitated every 30 seconds.  As it turned out, I seriously over developed.  The digital scanner couldn’t even see the images they were so grainy and extreme.

Still, I could see enough to rediscover the forgotten images of Nita’s brother, to Lands End, Cornwall in 1999.

Found film. APS Kodak Advantix Ultra film, cross processed in Ilford.

Anyway, it was another journey of discovery.  In my first six months of home developing, I’ve now developed film in the formats of 120,620,127,135,and now APS.  Not bad, eh?

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