Black Specs on Prints

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by FilmOnly, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I have been dealing with finding good, reliable processing for a long time. I have yet to try home developing for a number of reasons (time, exposure to chemicals, and printing issues, among others). For the last year or so, I have had good success with a certain pro lab, but recently noticed a black spec on two prints. I know the spec was not anywhere in the frame when I took the shots. The spec is in a different location in each of the shots, and I believe that one appears in frame 8 and the other in frame 11. I called the lab, and was told that a black spec would not be something that resulted from processing (either developing or printing). The person indicated that it was likely a spec or piece of dust on my lens.

    I do not buy this explanation, and I cite two reasons for this. First, I have been shooting for years, and I keep my equipment very clean. On almost all occasions, I even blow off the lens (with a Giottos Rocket Blaster) before shooting. Second, a spec would have to be farily large to show up on a negative or print. If internal dust will not cause a problem (again, unless it is significant), then how could a tiny spec--especially on the front surface of the front element--cause a problem? The farther it is from the film, the less chance of a problem arising.

    This is the only thing that tempts me toward the dark side, d******. I am tired of having the best shot on the roll occasionally show up with a spec that I know was not there when I released the shutter.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Specs on a lens won't show on a print, they are talking rubbish. Sounds like you need to change labs.

    Ian
     
  3. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    Dust during printing will appear white on the print; dust on the lens will appear black.
    It could also be slight "scum" which you can feel on the print's surface although when I worked in a lab, this was a very rare occurrence.

    D***** is even worse for dust! As an assistant, I kept the lenses scrupulously clean, but dust would always find its way onto the sensor; after every shoot the camera would be sent for cleaning.

    Inspect your negatives - if you can see white on them in the same position as the print, it's dust at the time of exposure.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    We don't know what type of film, but even dust or white calcium bits would print lighter not darker with a negative.

    Ian
     
  5. Ian C

    Ian C Member

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    The lab’s explanation for the black spec is ridiculous.

    Here’s why. Consider a tiny point A of the subject. Light reflects in infinitely many directions from A to EVERY point of the front surface of the lens. Light rays from each of these points are refracted by the lens assembly and directed to the single point B on the film that corresponds to A.

    A spot on the lens will block only a tiny percentage of all the rays that form the image of A at B. The loss of a few rays won’t make any meaningful difference in the image on film.
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    With older deeply scratched lenses people used to fill the scratch with black paint - that didn't show :D

    Ian
     
  7. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    These responses are excellent--thank you. They indicate essentially what I had suspected.

    Ian C: your analysis in regard to light and how it reflects is exactly what I have understood.

    Ian Grant: with regard to your comment on scratches, I reply: exactly!

    I verified the frame sequence, and the specs appear on frames 2 and 9 (not 8 and 11). Also, I had shot frame 9 a day after frame 2 (I checked my notes). Further, the film used was Ilford Delta 400. The camera is an Olympus OM2n. The lens for frame 2 was a 50/1.8, and the lens for frame 9 was the 100/2.8.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 23, 2010
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    That confirms it's the lab, there's a similar post maybe yesterday or the day before with dirty B&W negatives. The issue is usually the training and quality of the staff, and how well they treat and maintain equipment..

    Doesn't Adorama or one of the other large companies now offer an Ilford service ?

    We saw the quality of Ilford's own mail order B&W processing on a factory tour and it's outstanding and the work is checked for quality, and reprinted if necessary.

    Find another lab, post a thread ask who's best in your part of the US.

    Ian
     
  9. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I am considering switching to (yet) another lab. I may open a separate thread for this, but, since this started here, can anyone suggest a lab? Since I already use mail order, location is not all that significant--as long as it is within the continental US.
     
  10. Mahler_one

    Mahler_one Member

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    Well, one of the sponsors on APUG does high quality black and white film processing, and the cost appears quite reasonable.

    http://www.coxblackandwhitelab.com/pyro.htm
     
  11. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    A little off topic but this is another cool thing to do related to what Ian C wrote above.

    A lens can 'see through' any object placed right in front of it as long as the aperture is wider than the object. Put a pencil right in front of the lens. You can 'see through' the pencil until you stop down to the point that the physical aperture size equals the width of the pencil.


    With respect to the original post, I'm not sure I follow. Is the defect on the negative the size of a pin hole or smaller? Or does it look like a worm or a fiber?
     
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  12. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I thank you for the Cox suggestion. I looked over their price list. I gather, then, it would be $7.00 to develop a roll of 35mm film, and another $8.00 for a set of corresponding 4x6 RC prints (i.e. "develop and print")? I just want to make sure I am reading it correctly.
     
  13. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Even an air bubble in a lens element will not be visible on a negative or print. So the speck of dust theory is more of a myth.


    Steve.
     
  14. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Okay all debating of lenses aside - what do the actual negatives look like under a loupe?
     
  15. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I do not have a loupe. I will go take a look at the negs.

    I apologize for my misspelling of "speck" in previous posts.
     
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  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    A 50mm lens for a 35mm SLR can make a useful loupe.
     
  17. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I checked the negs with the naked eye and in good natural lighting. Both specks are discernable. Each shows up as a white dot on the neg. One speck is quite easily noticed, and the other takes some more careful inspection, but it is there.
     
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Sounds like they run a dirty process line.

    Whatever, they are clearly incompetent trying to blame it on a dirty lens.

    Ian
     
  19. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I agree, Ian: the attempt to blame it on a dirty lens only shows their incompetence.
     
  20. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I think its $8.00 per print. A contact sheet would be cheaper.
     
  21. clayne

    clayne Member

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    How's the inside of the camera back look on the camera you used to shoot said film? It's totally possible this happened in processing of course but shit happens.

    If it's a black and white print you can always knife it and spot it. Probably not fiber tho.
     
  22. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I usually look at the shutter curtain, etc., after taking a roll out, and, with regard to said camera, I do not remember seeing anything amiss. I had said camera cleaned and checked before I began using it.
     
  23. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    The best lab I know of is the one in your house.
    I know how hard it is to get everything going (I've done it every time I moved for the last 30 years), but it's worth it if you can.
     
  24. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Possibly not the one specifically in my house!! But a good point.

    If you do your own processing you have complete control. The only thing missing is someone to blame when it goes wrong!


    Steve.
     
  25. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Could be some dust in the camera, just floating around not having much to do except piss you off.
    Try a soft brush for the inside, under the mirror too. Then a blower.