Ratical : Analog Photography

A Catalog of Film Processing Mistakes

Sometimes advocates of film explain that "it's easy" or reply to complaints with "I never had that problem", but nothing about film is safe. In my experience, guarding against errors in processing and handling film requires a great degree of care. This article is a cataloging the errors I have made in handling and processing 120 film.

Hopefully creating a report of each failure will enable me to avoid these outcomes in the future. If you have successfully avoided some of these issues, please write and I will share your proposed solutions.

B&W: Underdeveloped on One Edge

As a whole this film was properly developed with the exception of the edge of the frame. This was using Microphen, which is a powder that makes 800ml at 1+0.

Conclusion: There was slightly less than 400ml of developer left—not quite enough to cover the reel in my Arista stainless tank. Mixing in slightly more water (20ml) would have prevented the fill line from becoming critical.

B&W: Flecks on Low-Speed Film

I have used Ilford Microphen with great results with HP5 for some time, but my experience with FP4 has been trajic. The entire negative appears to be covered with a tiny flecks—tiny jaged areas that are overdeveloped. I was confronted with the same result on several more rolls for FP4. When developing FP4 using DD-X with tap water or distilled the negatives are clean.

Conclusion: Even when mixed in water heated to correct temperature , Microphen does not seem to dissolve completely, leaving tiny crystals that prevent the film from developing evenly. I switched back to DD-X.

Color Reversal: Black Specs

This was the third use of an Arista E-1 kit that I keep in glass bottles. Subsequent uses of the chemistry did not exhibit this, which appears to leave the rinse stages as suspect.

The debris is very tiny, and until you zoom in it almost looks as if my monitor is dirty.

Conclusion: No verdict yet.

Color Reversal: Overexposed

I was careful to meter for a role of Provia 100F that included constant lighting and daylight, yet every frame was overexposed by a full stop. All of the frames also suffered from a yellow color cast (corrected in sample image to the right).

The developer is rated at eight uses, and this was the forth time. I verified that the calculation for additional time was correct for 1 stop push. I was able to confirm my indoor light meter readings using a digital camera.

Conclusion: Instead of 105°F the first developer was likely closer to 110°F.

Handling: No Exposures

This is a sad condition—the entire roll of Provia 100F was black except for the markings imprinted by Fuji on the edge. Since the frame numbers and other letters on the edge appeared I infer that I didn't make a mistake in development.

Conclusion: It seems that the film was improperly loaded into my Mamiya 645. I still do not know how this is possible since the takeup spool had the film wound as one would expect.

Last updated on December 17, 2020