C-41 sheet film development woes

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by jperkinson, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. jperkinson

    jperkinson Member

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    Ok, here's the long-winded story... I really need to ask people's opinion on this...

    Last weekend I shot 4 sheets of 4x5 Kodak 400NC in my view camera for a project I'm working on... At the same time I shot some Fuji Provia slide film of the same subjects (I typically will do this - shoot 2 4x5 sheets and 2-4 6x6 slides at the same time).

    On Monday night I developed one of the sheets and it came out WAY underexposed. Well, I had bracketed so I went to the next sheet which was even worse (I figured I had miss-metered since it was a difficult shot). I went to the next pair that had been shot in nice natural light. Same thing...

    I got my slides back from the lab last night and they were perfect. So, it's not the meter. I calculated exposure correctly on the sheets. What went wrong?

    Well, I suspect it's my chemicals. I use the Tetenal 5ltr kit and it's been almost 2 weeks since I mixed the chemicals, the chemicals had been stored well, and only 2 rolls of 120 had been processed before these sheets (at initial time of mixing). Should I be mixing a new batch about once a week? Or does anyone suspect another problem?

    I'm shooting 2 more sheets tomorrow night and processing with fresh chemicals to see if that's the issue.

    Also, I'd like to know people's experiences with the Tetenal vs. Kodak C-41 kits.

    Thanks,

    John P.
    www.orbit1.com
     
  2. AllanD

    AllanD Subscriber

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    Could you have put the film in the DS the wrong way round ? I only suggest this because I have done it myself !
     
  3. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi John

    It is possible that the dev has oxidized and gone bad, I would suggest it is your chem. Can you not mix at time of procesing, we do small batches of C41 here sporatically and find mixing at time of processing is the best.
     
  4. jperkinson

    jperkinson Member

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    DS? Not sure what you mean, but I can say the film was loaded and developed in on of the J and C tubes with the right amount of devloper.

    I've been using these tubes for the last couple of weeks with very good b&w results, and I wanted to try it with some color stuff.
     
  5. jperkinson

    jperkinson Member

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    Hi Bob,

    I looked at the date I mixed it (Mar 21st), and that's exactly 2 weeks prior to this incident. I had marked 2 rolls of 120 souped on that mixture during those 2 weeks, and I know I've kept mixtures around for 3-4 weeks and used them without ill-effect.

    From now on I plan on only mixing 500ml at a time and using it all in one night..!

    I will do a test with fresh chem tomorrow evening...
     
  6. AllanD

    AllanD Subscriber

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    By DS I mean dark slide (film holder).

    I have used made up C41 developer that was older than 2 weeks, although this was a homemade brew kept chilled in tightly sealed bottles. I think the longest time between mixing and using was about three months ! I have never had an obvious problem with density (as judged by the numbers on the film rebate). I don't know about the commercial kits, but these devs are made to be robust.

    I use C41 dev on a one shot basis. In my CPE2, it gets well shaken and looks horrible when it has done its job, so I have never been tempted to put it back in the bottle.

    I know its obvious, but could your process temperature have been wrong ?
     
  7. jperkinson

    jperkinson Member

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    Hi Allan,

    I've made pretty much all the classic mistakes, but I'm very careful when loading $2+ sheets in holders..! :smile: I certain I didn't load 4 sheets wrong...


    It was very close to 100F, and if anything it was 101F (not lower).

    I just find it very hard to believe that the developer was oxidized. This entire thing is driving me crazy, and the weather here is horrible so it's kind of hard to get out side and take a pic. I guess I could use flash inside or something silly like that...

    Again, thanks for responding. I will be sure and do a test with 2 sheets tomorrow evening or by Friday for sure. I will post back with results...
     
  8. claytume

    claytume Member

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    I use the 5 litre Tetenal kit, I think they recommend 6 weeks shelf life after mixing. I've used it more than 3 months down the track with no problems. Just make sure all the air is squeezed out the bottle.

    Clayton
     
  9. stevewillard

    stevewillard Member

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    Hmm...

    If you exposed the negative film in the same manner as you did the slide then the negative will be greatly underexposed. To be more percise, proper metering for slide film requies reading the highlights. You do NOT want to do that with negative film. With negative film it is very important that you meter the shadows.

    -Stephen
     
  10. reinierv

    reinierv Member

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    Ever considered switching to a digital back....just kidding :tongue:

    I use amaloco chemicals and have used 1 month old developper and too low temperatures (34-36C) and still had decent results...

    Did you accidently set something wrong on the camera (I know it is hard to check)? I once made the mistake of switching the flash sync from X to M and ofcourse all my sheets were blank. :mad:
     
  11. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I do a LOT of "Copying Art Work" - producing 35mm Transparencies for submission to Galleries and Art Schools. NO ONE is more critical of color fidelity than the Artist who painted the work.
    Therefore, all my work in done in the Studio, with Dynalites - and the only metering I do is incident - with a GOSSEN Ultra-Pro, and the "Studio" attachment.

    I'm a little puzzled as to the difference between exposure for Color Transparency film and Color Negative --- can you give a little more detailed description of why the shadow - highlight metering is necessary?
     
  12. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    "Amaloco" chemicals? - I've been searching for an alternative to Tetenal. Can you direct me to more information about Amaloco?
     
  13. jperkinson

    jperkinson Member

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    Okay, this is super embarrassing - but I'll be upfront and come back with my findings. In short, AllanD you were right! I loaded the film holders incorrectly, and I apologize big time for being a cocky bastard. You can read on if you wish to hear my sorted tale…


    First of all, yesterday after work I came home and shot 2 carefully metered portrait exposures in good natural light in front of the house. Later, I mixed fresh chemicals and processed the first sheet. SAME PROBLEM…GROSSLY UNDEREXPOSED…

    Just before cursing Kodak, I went and retrieved the sheet box and looked on the back. Those pesky notches..! I’m starting to think I’m mildly dyslexic…

    Anyway, on every b&w film I’ve used the notch is on top right (if viewing the emulsion side up with the sheet held vertically). This was my first box of Kodak 4x5 ever. Yes it’s true…


    Before I initially loaded my holders, I was looking carefully at the strange notch pattern, and somewhere in my crazy brain I decided that Kodak must be different. Or is it all color film? Or is it remembering that someone who said to me not 3 weeks ago that some notches are on the opposite side of the edge (this is true, someone said this to me)?


    Well, I put the damn sheets in emulsion side down. This was deliberate, and it makes it that much more embarrassing. I’ve never even had this happen with b&w sheets by accident, much less on purpose.

    So… I go back downstairs and correct my remaining holders with the Kodak color sheets (hopefully I didn’t scratch the emulsion) and I shot a test sheet indoors just to confirm that I haven’t gone completely crazy. It turned out perfect after development. Valuable and silly lesson learned…

    I’ll have to ask another question (as soon as all the laughter dies down)… Do any sheet films have the notches on the other side of that top edge..?
     
  14. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    A suggestion

    For those of you that use very little C-41 and are into compounding their own developers in the Nov/Dec 1995 Phototechniques magazine has an article by Patrick D. Dignan. Its title is "Dignan NCF-41 A divided developer that works" It is about a divided developer with A and B baths. The batths are kep seperate. The developer has unlimited shelf life. It is used at 75ºF.

    Bath A:
    Distilled water (300 ml)
    Sodium bisulfite .5 grams
    CD-4 5.5 Grams
    Sodium Sulphite (anhy) 4.5 grams
    Distilled water to make 500 ml total
    PH at 75ºF up to 6.5
    Time in bath A 3 minutes including drain
    Use continous or intermittent agitation


    Bath B
    Distilled water 500 ml
    Potassium Carbonate 53 grams
    Potassium Bromide .5 grams
    Benzotriazole (anti fog #2) 2 milligrams.
    Water to make 1 liter total
    (he mentions that he did not use the Benzotriazole
    time in bbath b 6 minutes including drain
    PH at 75ºF 11.8
    Use your chosen agitation method
    Rest of the development in stop, bleach and fix in regular chemicals

    @ 2:45 minutes pour part a back into bottle
    (no developing takes place in part a)

    Use part B 0ne shot
    @ 5:45 pour bath down the drain

    BATH A MUST NEVER BE CONTAMINATED WITH BATH B
    No prewet should be used.

    An Acetic acid stopbath is used.
    The bleach at 75ºF will be much slower. Film can stay in the bleach for 1/2 hour w/o a problem The film can not be over bleached. Remeber that the bleach is meant to remove 100% of the silver so over bleaching can not happen. It is entirely possible to under bleach.

    I have not tried this formula myself.
    For those of you not familar with his name Mr. Dignan has been known for a longtime in the photographic industry and is highly respected.

    This is said to be a very inexpensive developr.
     
  15. Poco

    Poco Member

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    "Do any sheet films have the notches on the other side of that top edge..?"

    Yes, all reversal films do so you can tell them apart in the dark. No, only kidding. As far as I know all notch codes are always top/right corner.

    If you still have one of those film holders loaded backwards, you might try to take a picture of today's eclipse.