How resistant is modern film to condensation?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by batwister, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. batwister

    batwister Member

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    I've managed to avoid condensation forming on my camera in the past, but after returning from a shoot early this morning, I took my Hasselblad out of my bag (after about an hour) and the prism viewfinder was soaked. When I removed the film back, water had also formed in the seams between the back and body. The darkslide and rest of the back, including the inside, was fine though and the film seemed ok, if a little cold - fridge temperature I'd say.

    I would assume the film wouldn't get as cold as the outer metal of the camera? I'm prepared for the worst, but having no experience of condensation ruining exposed film, I'd like to know how severely it can affect modern emulsion. Example images would be ideal.
     
  2. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    I have a number of film cans, both 35mm and 120 that I place exposed film in immediately after all exposures have been taken. This really helps with any condensation problem. This won't won't help with film still in the camera however. I am assuming you were first outside and it was very cold and then the camera was brought into a warm room. Do you have a room which is warmer than outside but colder than the rest of the house. A unheated porch, mudroom or garage? This would allow the camera to warm up more gradually in stages.
     
  3. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    For my 35mm and winter/cold shooting, I bring a gallon size Ziploc bag with me. Before going into the house, I put it in the bag and expel as much air as possible before sealing. Then, when it's at room temp it can be opened. In the bag it is exposed to very little outside air/moisture.
     
  4. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I've never worried about it, never really even thought about condensation inside the camera taking it between temperatures, and never seen a problem from it. I think the answer for that concern is "it's resistant enough."
     
  5. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Well this is the result of the negatives after getting them back from the lab.

    [​IMG]

    What puzzles me about this is that the last frame (top right) which had not been wound after exposure, is fine, yet frame 11 is extinct, ceases to be. Then frames 8 and 7 are good, but 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2 are gone? Where is the logic? The last frame was exposed to air when the condensation formed so it's completely baffled me that it's not faded.

    If anyone has any science that can explain this, please reply.
    I'm not sure that it has any consequence, but the film is Portra 400 rated at 800.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2011
  6. Simonh82

    Simonh82 Member

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    I'm not sure that condensation could cause blank images like that. I develop colour at home and start the whole thing off with a 5 minute pre-soak so i don't see how a moist film could do that to your images.

    Is there a reason you were under exposing? Did you push it or just develop at box speed? Could they just be really under exposed?
     
  7. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Hello Simon,

    The film was sent off to my lab (Peak Imaging, Sheffield, UK) for development as usual. I made a note that the film was rated at 800, as I did with a previous roll from the same batch of Portra, which came back fine.
    I've ruled out any mechanical failure through testing at all shutter speeds and apertures today. All of these images were made at f/22 (as always) at shutter speeds ranging from a few seconds to half a second.
    I was underexposing for more shadow density, as I find the new Portra to have, dare I say, too much dynamic range.

    I shot a roll of Velvia 50 in the same location at the same time of day at the same temperature, the previous day. Again at f22, with ranging shutter speeds. This roll was sent off together with the Portra and came back fine.
     
  8. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I would have the camera checked overall by a competent Hasselblad technician. That looks like either the shutter is not staying open long enough or the body baffles are not staying open all the time. If you can coordinate which length exposures were with the blanks or partial blanks, that could suggest the light baffles inside the body are not staying open because the control mechanism has failed. I had this happen to me with a Hassy 500C I once owned. One way to test this is to mount the camera on a tripod and dry-fire it with the back off at various shutter speeds. If I recall correctly, at speeds below 1 second, the baffles may not be getting out of the way because the regulator is bad, and so they are blocking part or all of your exposure. This would make sense under these circumstances that your Velvia (a much slower film, pretty much guaranteeing all exposures were longer than 1 second) was fine, but the sub 1-second shots were only partially exposed. Another thing to check is the aperture mechanism on your lens - make sure it is opening and closing properly when you trip the shutter. Point the lens at a bright light source and open and close the aperture - make sure it is changing with each stop. Lastly, make sure you are metering correctly. If you're already pushing Portra (I'm assuming Portra 400) one stop, if you goof your metering, being off a stop will put you on the cusp of your exposure latitude, and then add in reciprocity failure and voila - blank or nearly-blank frames.
     
  9. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Hey TheFlyingCamera,

    I've been checking all the shutter speeds and apertures for the last half an hour (might need to service it now anyway!) and everything is fine and synchronized.
    The thing about the Hasselblad is, when the shutter curtains close, you can certainly hear them and I listen out for them.

    This being only the second time I've pushed film, I'm willing to accept my metering was off, but it seems odd that I'd mess up 8 out of 12 exposures - finicky as I am!
    Several of the lost exposures were made at 1 second and longer, as I remember the second frame down on the third row from left was 1 second and I worked
    in this same shaded woodland area for a few shots. I also made an exposure of that 1 second scene with a different composition earlier on in the roll, which is lost.

    Unless there is something very sporadic happening with the leaf shutter (even though three rolls of this Portra 400 have come out fine, at faster shutter speeds)
    I can only narrow it down to metering I guess.
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    batwister:

    This looks to me to be an issue with your camera.

    You started this thread with a description of circumstances which lead me to believe that the camera was quite cold when you used it.

    The operation of the leaf shutter and other mechanisms in the camera may have been affected by the cold - especially if it has been a long time since the camera was CLA'd.

    I know you said that you had used the camera successfully in similar conditions the day before, but it may be that there was enough difference between the days to matter. And of course if the problem was contributed to by the cold, any checks you are performing in warmer conditions may not reveal the problem.

    I would suggest that the camera be checked by a technician.
     
  11. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Batwister -

    In your Hasselblad body, behind the mirror, there are a pair of doors/light baffles that open when the shutter fires. The firing sequence on a Hassy is as follows:

    -depress shutter button
    -shutter closes
    -lens stops down to working aperture
    -mirror pops up
    -baffles open
    -shutter opens
    -shutter closes
    -baffles close
    Winding the film advance then triggers the mirror to return, and re-cocks the shutter, opening the lens to maximum aperture for viewing.

    If those baffles are not operating properly, they can fail to get out of the way of the light, leading to partially exposed frames. This is what I'm suggesting you check first, by dry-firing the camera without a film back on, to observe their actuation. I don't remember if the problem with them occurs with short or long exposures - I THINK the problem is with exposures greater than 1 second because they don't stay open, but I could have it ass-backwards (it's been 15 years since I had the problem, on a body I no longer own). The suggestion to check the lens aperture diaphragm was a secondary thought, because you're shooting with the lens almost to minimum aperture anyway.

    Are you calculating reciprocity with these exposures? Although color negative film requires much less exposure compensation than black-and-white, it still requires one stop additional exposure for times over 1 second. Depending on your film, you may have to add two stops past 30 seconds, or some other time - be sure to check the films' data sheet.
     
  12. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Thanks for the info, although I'm familiar with the mechanics of the camera. It didn't click immediately what you meant by 'baffles' as I know them only as the auxilary shutter - might be a British thing.

    I think only a couple of exposures exceeded 1 second with this roll, but no longer than 3 or 4 and
    I do use a reciprocity chart yes. Even if I hadn't of accounted for reciprocity, it would only have
    been be a couple of stops difference and there would still be some showings of an image
    because of the massive dynamic range of Portra 400. Might have been a different story with
    Velvia.

    It seems the problem has been narrowed down to an intermittent shutter error in colder weather.
    I will observe the problem in similar conditions and make a test roll, perhaps uploading the results.

    Cheers.
     
  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    How cold was it where you were shooting? If you're having a temperature-related shutter issue, then you need to get your lens in for a CLA - those should be good down to 0 degrees Farenheit or below.
     
  14. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Around 10 degrees C.

    The body broke in cold around -6 in December.