Out of date Delta 3200 gone bad?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by noblebeast, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. noblebeast

    noblebeast Member

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    Has anyone else had a problem with out of date Delta 3200 failing?

    Here's the scenario: the film in question has been refrigerated (not frozen) since its arrival when it was still in date. It's about two years past date now. Over the last few months I've been attempting to shoot this film at 6400 and developing it in Rodinal 1:25 (looking for grain and contrast), water stop bath, T-4 fix. Every roll (35mm) comes out of the soup almost entirely blank. I've checked the meter I am using (Luna Pro F) and it is functioning correctly, the cameras are functioning correctly, and I have developed other film from this same bottle of Rodinal and it works fine.

    The time I got from the Massive Development Chart is 20mins @ 68 degrees. I've been adding time to the development, and last night took it to 30 mins with the same blank results.

    I think I read somewhere that unexposed Delta 3200 kinda 'dies' with age, but I can't find that post/article now. I'm pretty much ready to give up on this film for low light stuff, but I was just wondering if anyone else around here has had similar experiences with out-of-date Delta 3200, or if anyone can see any obvious problems with my rather simple process.

    Thanks,
    Joe
     
  2. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    D3200 at 6400 in Rodinal is a favourite of Les McLean for the effect you desire. Based on Les' data and the MDC time it appears to have been plenty long enough and 30 mins seems way too long. I don't think that longer dev time is going to achieve anything. When you say almost entirely blank, I think you mean there is a picture there on every neg but it's very, very faint.

    It does seem as if the film has died as the Rodinal works fine on other films. I have no experience of out of date D3200. Reports on other Ilford films properly stored and two years out of date suggest that they do produce printable negs.

    I think you have covered all the avenues and in the same situation I'd conclude that film has "died" as indeed it appears have all the D3200 films, none of which have "come out". I'd have thought that D3200 was OK or at least would have produced some sort of negs for two years beyond sell by date if properly stored.

    Could something have happened to it and the other D3200 films prior to arrival with you? Where did it come from and how was it stored prior to you getting it?

    pentaxuser
     
  3. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    TMZ-3200 develops a great deal of fog with age - apparently due to accumulated background radiation. Freezing the film doesn't halt the fog formation. I imagine the Ilford version does much the same.

    This does not explain what you are seeing. Try shooting at ASA 1000 and developing in D-76/ID-11 per Ilford instructions and see what results.

    If, as you say, the Rodinal is working with other films, ditto the camera and the meter, then the film does seem the likely culprit.

    There is one caveat on equipment: if you are shooting at very high or very low shutter speeds with the D3200 and not with the other films it may be camera shutter isn't working properly at its operating limits.

    You don't mention the subject matter or illumination level, but they may be having some effect on equipment operation, possibly the meter isn't reading very low light levels correctly.
     
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  4. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Ilford's Delta 3200 and its American cousin, Kodak's TMZ, have similar keeping qualities and they're not good. Both films tend to develop quite a bit of base fog with age, and with it a corresponding decrease in true film speed. The true speed of either is more like 800 to 1200 depending on whom you ask, with the Ilford stuff being a little faster (by maybe 1/3 stop) than Kodak's offering. That's a long way off the 3200 figure on the label; and to be fair, neither company claims that these film have an ISO speed rating of 3200. To get an EI of 6400, you are underexposing the film by about three stops. These films are meant to be pushed, and pushed hard, but you are asking an awful lot of it when you start pushing it that hard. That's part of your problem. The other part is your choice of developer. Rodinal, is anything but a speed enhancing developer, which is not what you need to get the speed you want from these films. Ilford's Microphen or Kodak's XTOL, or even D-76, would be a much better choice. And don't worry about either of these developers mushing up the grain. You'll get grain in spades no matter which developer you use.
     
  5. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Blank, as in nothing? or blank, as in no images (but good edge markings)? If the former, your film is probably kaput (or you have something wrong in your process). If the latter, your film is simply underexposed.
     
  6. Shelly Grimson

    Shelly Grimson Member

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    In the last few days I developed 3 rolls that had been kept in drawers and which were often exposed to summer heat on the 3rd floor of my Toronto home. Two rolls taken 38 years ago developed for 6.5 min in Dil B HC-110 at 68 degrees came out in what I would consider 8/10 condition with easy to print negs that showed a little fog. These were 120 size. A third roll - TX400 was developed for 5:00 minutes and was perfect (at least in looking at the contacts with a loupe). That roll was 21 years old since I shot the photos of my wife and friends just before my son was born I can be precise on the date. So what does this tell me? I put it out to the group.... All I know is that I never give up on old rolls that I find lying around. Film exposed or not, seems to be unbelievably resilient. When I get these results and call up my friends with the news and show them the photos they are blown away. I only hope our kids will have similar experiences when time catches up to them and memories our so much more sweet!
     
  7. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    I once shot a roll of Delta 3200 in 120 that was many years out of date & had been stored on a bookshelf. It had a good image but was heavily fogged all over. I don't understand how the OPs film is coming out blank however. That doesn't sound like an age issue.
     
  8. david b

    david b Member

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    Yeah I've got some D3200 that's a few years out as well, and when I developed it, I was surprised to see how fogged it was.

    Oh well.
     
  9. noblebeast

    noblebeast Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far.

    Yes, it has edge markings, and yes it has a lot of base fog. All but three of the 36 frames had no image whatsoever. The frames that have an image are so faint as to almost not be there themselves.

    As Pentaxuser noted, this is a popular combo of film/developer and seems to work well for others.

    The subject was a nekkid human, illumination was the modeling lamp of a studio flash without the softbox - plenty of directional light. I've used this same lighting setup with Pan F+ (not pushing the speed of course) and I know the meter is good at that level of light. Heck, I've used it for night photography and gotten great exposures. I was getting a fast enough shutter speed (15/100 to 30/100 @ f/5.6) so reciprocity failure should not have been an issue. And I was even opening up the lens a stop wider than the meter reading.

    It's just frustrating - the only time I've ever gotten useful pictures from Delta 3200 is when I rated it at 1200 and developed in Diafine. Not the look/speed I was going for with this project. I figure if Les McClean can get a film speed of 25,000 out of this stuff (developed in Rodinal 1:10 for 14 minutes according to his book) I should have been able to get the 6400 I was shooting for (...at?).

    I wish I could find the source for the information I read that stated Delta 3200 loses its 'super high speed' viability as it ages. Maybe Simon will chime in. I once read about PanF+ losing its latent image if the film wasn't developed very soon after exposure and found this to be true: I shot two properly exposed frames on a roll, then didn't finish shooting the roll till six months later and when it was developed the 1st two shots were weak, barely visible.

    Sometimes there's some truth to these wild Internet rumors!
    Joe
     
  10. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    sure the "high speed" becomes FBF after a while, but what is "a while" is quite difficult to say.
    Anyway your results are odd.
    Have you tried dumping a leader in the soup to see if it becomes black? or are your leaders black?

    I woudl try doubling the development time in a snip of a roll exposed as you mention (5-10 exposures) and see what happens

    Otherwise use D76 1+1 or HC110 dil H.. or heck why not Dektol
    should give you nice golf-ball grain and lotsa contrast
     
  11. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I don't know what could have happened except extreme underexposure. I have shot some pretty old Delta 3200 and got printable results. I figured it would be a waste anyhow, so I just loaded it into my C33 to burn through it. The rolls were about 5 years out of date, and were shot in horrid lighting: a dark apartment with light from a 14W bulb about eight feet away and some light bleeding in from the kitchen. I pushed the film, adding about 66% if I remember (20 min. instead of 12, I believe). I got good prints on grade 4 Emaks paper. Dark, but good pix of a fuzzy fat cat. If I didn't want it to look dark on the print, I would not have shot it in the dark, so.....I was happy.

    Based on these few rolls, if I were doing this again, to start my thoughts on exposure, I would probably assume that due to fog, the film is *at least* two full speeds slower than the manufacturer's stated ISO of 1000 (see data sheet). So, ISO 250 to start. The highlights of the film can only be pushed so far; three stops or so in my experience with my main developer (and that is only achieved after toning in selenium, and in situations in which there is enough light to expose so that important areas end up at what would be at least a middle grey tonality on the film with normal development, thus pushable to zone VII with development, and to VIII with toning). Because of the 250 base rating, everything ends up placed higher up the film's characteristic curve, which significantly eats up contrast, and puts an even tougher cap on how far the highlights can be pushed. After a certain point, all you would be doing would be adding midtone density while the highlights were creeping along slowly toward or already having reached max. density. As such, I would say that you should expect to be able to push no more than one stop with old Delta 3200 while maintaining natural looking tonal relationships. So, say 500 is the highest you could rate it. In that case, by rating the film at 6400, you have underexposed it by nearly four stops.

    This film isn't magic, as its nickname would indicate. To be able to push it well, it should be fresh, and exposed so that you get at least something important up to what would be middle grey with normal development. You can't push something that isn't there to begin with. You can only significantly push mids and highs.

    We'll see what happens with the 45-year-old Tri-X I just shot...I expect a black strip of film with extremely faint, grainy images with almost no contrast...if that.
     
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  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    "In that case, by rating the film at 6400, you have underexposed it by nearly four stops."

    To correct myself, it is actually nearly five stops if you assume EI 250 as the base EI.
     
  13. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    high speed film speed loss

    it is not just the super high speed films.

    I recently shot with some fuji NPZ800 c-41, and though only a year out of date, and frozen for 3 years, it is now a 400 speed film if you want detail in the shadows.

    The other recent weird speed experiment for me was some plux x 4x5 film from a camera show, expired 7/78, bought this spring. 11 sheets for $2. Mostly I bought it for the old box.

    I shot a reflection density target with a sheet from the old box, guessing to spot meter the 18% grey tab at an EI of 25, since the film would have slowed at least somewhat due to age.

    I then developed the film for 166% of the recommended time, just to make sure I got some image. Extra development influences the highlights more than the shadows, and I was intersted in establishing where the shadows would fall, to get off the shoulder of the film curve.

    Well, it turns out I now have 10 sheet of EI3 pan 4x5 film. So, my thoughts are to keep it for when I need to do a contrast reduction mask for a c-41 neg. Shoot the neg onto convetional b&w paper as a test print to establish exposure and any need dodging, and then expose onto the film for the final mask.
     
  14. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

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    Dear Noblebeast,

    Two years out of date you should still have got something...

    Base fog : Yes... speed reduction... Yes

    The key is probably A) How was it stored before you got it and fridged it ?
    B) Something else

    Of course : Have you got any more that you could test ?

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
     
  15. noblebeast

    noblebeast Member

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    Thanks for the reply, Simon.

    A) I'm not sure how it was stored, but I got it from Freestyle.
    B) You got that right, or were you recommending a Kinks album?

    This last roll was the end of my stash of 35mm Delta 3200. I have a roll of 120 that's been stored the same way, and may be out of date as well. Perhaps I'll do a little film speed test with it, metering at speeds from 400 up to 6400, developing for 6400, and then seeing what I've got.

    I still don't know why this film works great for others...

    Joe