I feel like giving up on home processing...

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by h.v., Feb 28, 2013.

  1. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    I've only been home processing my B&W film for a little over a month and I already feel like giving it up. But I've invested so much, like the convenience and long term affordability, so I don't know.

    For those of you who haven't been following, I've already had three issues with my home processing. First was seemingly underexposed negatives, then weird marks from temperature change and/or accidentally putting wet negs in sleeves, then water/chemical residue marks that wouldn't go away. Each time, the community of APUG has been very helpful in the problem solving, and I greatly appreciate it. So now I have a fourth issue and I'm not even on my 10th roll yet (9th, actually). I'm hoping you guys can help me out. The number of issues I've been having has been very frustrating to say the least. Is it normal to have this many issues in such a short period of time? I know there's a learning curve, but it feels like I'm having more issues than I really should. Whenever I feel like I'm getting the hang of things and it starts getting easier, another hurdle is thrown my way.

    So, let me explain, and then I will add images to further illustrate after.

    I've graduated to processing two rolls at a time now, first time was ok. Second time (yesterday), not bad either. On the two rolls I processed yesterday, one was from a Nikon F90, the other a Konica Hexar roll. Both HP5 in DD-X for 9 minutes. The F90 roll appears to be fine. The Hexar roll (why is it always an issue with this camera, never have an issue with F90 home processed rolls...) on the other hand, had a peculiarity.

    Much of the roll appears fine, good exposure, good processing, what have you. But the middle section of the roll came out extremely dark - so that means they're really bright. They seem very dense, most you can make out the photos somewhat against very bright light, but some look almost smudged (?). I don't get it - the entire other roll is fine, and about 40-50% of this roll looks fine too. The only thing I can think of is uneven development (but I would think this would translate to the F90 roll too) or something within the camera at the time of exposure.

    I don't know. All these issues are a big turn off. On top of this, I had a real fun (not really) time trying to get the damn cap off of the DD-X bottle earlier this week. Does it get better?

    Anyways, here are some photos

    DSC_0110.jpg

    DSC_0112.jpg

    I'll post some scans in a second.
     
  2. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    So the first two are ones that turned out fine, the last two didn't...

    img002.jpg

    img004.jpg

    img005.jpg

    img006.jpg

    The good news is it doesn't look as bad as it does right off the negatives. I think I can fix the overexposure with editing programs. But will this be an issue if one day I start wet printing?

    Also, even though these issues seem persistent only with the Konica Hexar, I have doubts that this was a camera flaw. I mean, the exposure was set to -0.3 or -0.7, so if anything, it should be underexposed, not overexposed. Plus I haven't had any issue with C-41 or any B&W that I got lab processed.

    People always seem to say that processing your own film is a breeze, so simple. Ok, to some degree, but there seem to be a lot of issues and annoyances too, maybe I'm just getting an unusually large amount of problems...
     
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    That looks like an exposure problem to me - as if the shutter on the Hexar was staying open too long.
     
  4. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

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    Yep, negs look fine, but the latter frames are overexposed.
     
  5. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    How though? I mean, I routinely underexpose my photos as it is. And it's not like it was so much brighter in those latter frames to warrant such a bright exposure. I've had C-41 done recently, and B&W back in Jan before I started home processing, all turned out fine. And until this roll, no issues whatsoever with overexposure on home processed rolls. I do have to say digital was so much easier, hardly any issues. It really takes a dedication to film to last through all these issues, not to mention past issues (some of which were documented on here).

    Thing is too it's been over 30 days so I can't really return it. I don't know if I could afford a repair. It's not something I would've thought I'd need on such a modern camera. Maybe my Yashica, but not this '90s camera.
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Did you accidentally change the film speed selection or exposure compensation for part of the roll?

    The camera might need a cleaning if it is nearly 20 years old - the shutter might be sticking in some circumstances.
     
  7. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I agree. There's no visible effect outside the frame area (well, a tiny bit of bleed at the edges), which strongly suggests that the extra light arrived while the frame was in the film gate.

    -NT
     
  8. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    I don't change film speed. I always shoot box speed, though now that I am home processing, I have been meaning to try different ratings. It is possible that I had a varying exposure compensation. I could've used both -0.3 and -0.7, either way, that should've made it darker, not brighter. I also don't think, based on where the overexposure begins and ends, that this was the issue. If I did change exp comp, it'd have been after turning the camera off then back on. I don't recall doing that at the intervals it switches to overexposure.

    Cleaning how - is it something I could do at home or is it a fairly cheap and readily available repair that I could get done?
     
  9. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    Are you by any chance shooting in Aperture priority mode? Konika Hexar (non-RF version) has the highest
    shutter speed of 250. With this film in bright daylight you must use aperture 16 or smaller. I see one of your shots has rather shallow DOF which leads me to think that you opened the lens too much and exceeded the maximum shutter speed on this camera. For daylight outside shooting, I would recommend switching to ISO 100 film, and watch your shutter speed/aperture carefully.

    EDIT: Of couse, there is always the possibility of shutter sticking in an older camera.
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    What seems to be happening is, on your second camera, it is intermittently over exposing by quite a bit. That has nothing to do with your darkroom skills or chemicals/processing. I had similar issue with my old Olympus OM-10. Either metering is flaky, shutter speed is unstable, or aperture is sticking/not stopping down. But, it has NOTHING to do with your processing of film. If it was uneven development, you'll be noticing problems in frames. Instead, you have perfect frame right next to bad ones. That's a sure sign the exposure is intermittently bad.

    This is your 9th roll and you solved that many problems? Seems you are too close to perfection to quit.

    I've been struggling with my medium format gear and I've spent more than dozen rolls!

    Tell you what.... that early in your learning process, using multiple equipment will confuse you. Stick with a camera that works. Process film ONE AT A TIME.
     
  11. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Anikin: I'm shooting in the Hexar's Programmed mode, which is said to act similar to Aperture priority on SLRs. Based on what I've read, I can leave the aperture dial ringed in at the maximum, f/2 and the camera will choose the highest available shutter speed until it reaches my set minimum of 1/15th.

    When it gets too bright (which is almost always when outdoors) it will override my chosen f/2 as it maxed out at 1/250th and opt for a higher f stop. You can see it on the top LCD too, it will show f/3.4 or f/8 or f/16 or f/22. And this has worked for me in the past.

    Yeah the one of the kiss looks strangely shallow in depth of field, I wouldn't have expected that. Incorrect meter reading? The meter has worked wonderfully in the past, I don't know how that could be the issue. I do wish this camera had TTL metering, and more "normal" buttons so I could easily shoot manual exposure like every other camera I have.
     
  12. kevs

    kevs Member

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    H.V., your negs look fine, the only thing I'd pick out is the pink-ish marks on the negs below your thumb on DSC_0110.jpg and DSC_0112.jpg - it looks a little like under-fixing to me (unless it's something the scanner's picking up that isn't there - I see you're getting quite some colour fringing there!). Sure some are vastly overexposed, but that's a camera problem and is no reason to give up home processing. You're doing a good job so carry on, especially since you've invested capital into film processing. Nobody gets it right 100% of the time, even us experienced folk have problems sometimes.

    The overexposure could be caused by a failing meter cell, wrongly-set film speed, sticky lens aperture, dying battery, sticky shutter or another camera problem. It looks as though it's getting worse as you progress through the film. I'd have the camera seen to, or use/buy/scrounge another camera. But don't give up home processing.

    Good luck,
    kevs
     
  13. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    tkamiya has good points. Nine rolls is not yet experience, and sticking with one set of things for a while is good. I've been doing darkroom work for 66 years and I still mess thing up occasionally. Hang in there and don't get discouraged.
     
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  15. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Thanks tkamiya, that was a helpful post. I know my Nikon F90 inside and out, I used it for everything, including street photography until January, when I got the Hexar. So I'm pretty comfortable shooting it, though you might be right that it might be best to stick with one camera. I've done that for the most part -- 7 out of 9 rolls were with the Hexar, 2 out of 9 with the F90, and my Yashica B&W rolls still get sent to the lab as I want to wrap my head around 35mm before tackling medium format processing. Still, if I didn't have the F90 roll processed at the same time, I might question more if it was my processing.

    I really don't want to have to give up the Hexar, it's been a dream to use on the streets. So much easier than my Nikon's or my Yashica. So this cleaning - would it be easy to do myself?
     
  16. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Kevs ... thanks. I should add that the negatives in the original post is only about half of the roll. After that second strip of overexposure, there's one more (which wasn't there as I was using it to scan), and then the frames are fine once again. I will go check the battery right now though, it looked fine last I checked. Film speed - no way, it shows me the DX reading for the ISO and it's always correct. FP4 comes in at 125, HP5 at 400, Portra at 160 or 400, Gold and Superia at 200, etc.
     
  17. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Don't give up! You've only been doing this for a month, and only processed 9 rolls. 99% of us made the same mistakes starting out (and the other 1% are liars). You've been learning (I bet you never put wet negs in sleeves again), and getting some satisfactory results. It will get easier. Your results will get more consistent. And, when it does, your sense of accomplishment will be that much stronger. Nothing worthwhile should be too easy...
     
  18. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Yep, exposure error not processing error. The processing looks very good actually.

    Some common causes:
    - film speed setting accidentally changed (OK, you checked that)
    - compensation setting accidentally changed
    - sticky aperture not closing down properly (shots wide open will be correct, shots at smaller apertures will be overexposed and have less DOF than expected)
    - faulty shutter running slow at some speeds
    - if the metering is via a separate cell instead of through the lens (TTL), did you maybe cover the cell up with a finger for a couple of shots?
    - if the camera has AE-lock, did you accidentally leave that on?

    So if I were you, I would do some testing alternating between larger and smaller apertures to see if that causes a difference. Shoot one scene at (for example, choose appropriate metering settings for your light level) f/2 1/250 then f/8 1/15 - they should have the same density but differ in depth of field and maybe motion blur.

    If you get a density difference from that test, you're getting closer to finding the problem:
    - if the small-aperture shot still has shallow DOF, then your aperture is probably sticky (failure to stop down before shutter opened).
    - if the DOF change is appropriate, your shutter might be slow on some speeds so test it on all speeds. One or two speeds might be bad on a mechanical camera, highly unlikely on an electronic.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2013
  19. swchris

    swchris Subscriber

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    You mentioned that recent C41 rolls turned out to be ok. Did you look at the negatives, or only the prints?

    C41 can bear quite a bit of overexposure. I once shot a 400 film with 100 setting by mistake, and just looking at the prints I
    didn't see a problem with them. Ok, comparing them with correct exposed prints reveiled that they are not as good, but
    I saw it only when comparing them side by side.

    So it could be the camera had the problem before and you just didn't notice it.
     
  20. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    If you're getting such good results in just 9 rolls worth of experience you are making wonderful progress. We all make mistakes. Those more experienced than me have made more of them, I still have to make them as I catch up. And the more issues you discover, analyze, and fix, the better you get.

    As to your question regarding overexposure when wet printing, it'll actually be easier to print through a dense negative using an enlarger, than it is to scan one, at least today.


    Stay with it, you're doing very well.
     
  21. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Subscriber

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    I was helped through some of these start up issues by having a very good teacher way back in junior high school watch all that I was doing and evaluate results after every roll. We used the school's film, had to use the same camera for the semester, and basically it was all about eliminating variables. This has carried over to my more recent darkroom/processing work at home, and while I have experimented more than I probably should have with different film, much of my process is the same for each roll.

    It sounds like you've gotten a lot of the basics honed in and are almost there, so keep at it. Maybe shoot only the Nikon for b&w at home until you get the Hexar figured out.
     
  22. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Do you do this intentionally and if so why?

    That being said I find nothing wrong with the exposure of your negatives. They certainly appear to be within the latitude of the film. I am unfamiliar with the Hexar but from descriptions it appears to average the scene. If so then large portions of sky or shadow can throw off the metering. Meter on the most important element of the scene.

    A last question is why are you using an aperture of f/2?
     
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  23. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    First of all, looking at the negs I see a lot of bleed between frames and the rebated edge on the overexposed frames. To me that says that if you changed nothing between the good shots and you see this overexposed result, you have a camera failure. Looks to me like the shutter is sticking or the aperture is sticking. Look into the lens from the front and the back with a magnifying glass and see if there is oil on either the aperture blades or the shutter blades. Most probably the shutter is causing the problem.

    Secondly, take the camera and open the back or remove the back and aim the camera at a table lamp or some light source (illuminated white wall) and run twenty to forty exposures. Look into the back of the camera and get some sense of the amount of light you are seeing and then run the exposures. You will be able to see a much brighter 'flash' if you have a sticking shutter or the aperture blades are not closing. Between the lens shutters are extremely vulnerable to the slightest bit of oil. If the camera were left, for example, in a hot car during the summer months, the oils/grease will migrate from the focusing helicoid into the shutter blade/aperture blades. If it is not a migrating lube problem, then I would suspect a failure in the electronics.

    Be sure when peering through the back of the camera to try all exposure modes including manual to see if the auto modes may be failing. Hopefully, this way you will be able to isolate the reason for the heavily overexposed frames. Also, try and duplicate the shooting situations you encounter by running the open back test outside. It is more difficult to evaluate in bright sunlight since your pupils will be closed but with that much overexposure you certainly will see a difference. Try different apertures, such as 16, and run a batch of dummy exposures. F16 will be obvious when you look through the back. If it fails to close down, you will see it immediately.

    Lastly, doing the open back exercise may help if it is a camera that hasn't been used much. I typically will run a 100 open back exposures at all apertures and all shutter speeds with a new(used) camera just to exercise because most cameras I buy are likely to have been sitting in the closet and not used for a while.

    It is definitely an exposure problem with the camera. Now it's up to you to find the issue! Good luck!
     
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  24. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Don't give up! It does get better. I think that your problems are not darkroom related, rather overexposure or camera problems.
     
  25. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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    It is pretty much impossible for individual frames on a single roll of film to develop to different densities. Your problem is with your exposure, not developing. :smile:
     
  26. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    These older cameras just go buggy some times. I processed 8 rolls of 120 tonight which I shot last weekend on my trusty RZ (never had a problem) and about half the frames were wildly underexposed, just the opposite of what you experienced. There's almost nothing there. I'm seriously pissed right now, as I spent a total of four hours in the car to shoot these 8 rolls!

    Stick with the camera that is working, and keep your eye on it, as it's liable to STOP working. :smile: