*Very* Thin Pan F -- Help

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by bvy, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    My first film processing disaster occurred last evening. The negative was very thin -- almost clear at first glance. Some frames are featureless or blank. This was a roll of fresh Ilford Pan F that I shot in my Yashica T5 (same as the T4 Super) between April and July of this year. I developed in Perceptol 1+1 at 68F for 15 minutes, with ten seconds of agitation (inversion) every minute. I used 300ml working solution in my two-reel Paterson tank. The top reel was left empty. Then stop (1 min.), fix (5 min.), rinse, and Photoflo -- the usual routine.

    The exposed leader of the film developed black, as I would expect. It's the darkest part of the whole strip. The factory edge markings, however, are very faint, which I found odd.

    This was my first experience with Perceptol. I mixed the stock solution over the weekend and "proofed" it with a 2-inch-square piece of litho film I exposed in my Holga. I developed that by inspection in 60ml of 1+1 for 3 minutes, and the frame came out very contrasty as I would expect. So I think the developer is okay.

    That leaves the camera. I shot in a variety of conditions, but mostly in daylight and indoors with flash. The roll I shot previously in that camera (in March) was Superia 1600, which came out fine. If the camera couldn't read the DX for some reason (and I inspected that -- the contacts were clean), it would default to 100. But I'm seeing more than one stop underexposure.

    An interesting optical phenomenon: If I hold the film strip at an angle to the light, I can easily see positive images. And, very strangely, some of the frames reveal a lot of detail, everywhere in the frame, when viewed like this. But I think it's illusory.

    I'll scan the film this evening, but I don't have high expectations. Very disappointing, as I had shots from my boys' graduation party and other commencement activities. Not that I put all my eggs in this one basket, but still... Any ideas what could have gone wrong?
     
  2. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    Pan F edge markings are always faint. The rest I can't explain, however I have found Pan F to be an odd film, had more problems with it than any other film so I don't use it anymore. Presumably a lot of people have good results with it however.
     
  3. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    PanF is one of these films that you either love or you don't. I can't say I love it really, but I do like it a lot. I had similar problems with PanF and could not seem to get my exposure right as all negs on a roll seemed thin. Then I'd try a roll again and I'd have more contrasty dense negs than I wanted. It wasn't until I did some reading(not smart enough to figure it out on my own) that I found out the latent image holding ability of PanF sucks. If you expose the film and then let it lay around for a year or so you won't be very happy with the results. That's why I had problems. I would always have it in an old second body to use for just certain things and the times between exposure and development were very long. The funny thing is I have used very outdated PanF film and found it to be no problem, but exposed it's different. It's still a film with that certain "look" that I like. As for Perceptol? I like my PanF in Perceptol 1+3 and it works just perfect. I get fairly close to box speed, excellent sharpness and good contrast range. Just my 2 cents..............JohnW
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Your post covers all the "faults " I can think of except maybe exposure. So I'd look at shutter and aperture. You've even covered ISO settings. I'd forget about processing or developer or PanF itself being the problem.

    Most frustrating - I sympathise - but cannot really offer an explanation

    pentaxuser
     
  5. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Try exposing a roll at EI 25.

    Develop it immediately after you're done shooting, or as soon as is practically possible. The longer you wait, the more prone to problems it seems Pan-F+ is.



     
  6. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    I should have added that I would look into the film canister or DX code contacts in the camera(if it has them) as a possible cause. Many cameras will default to ISO/ASA 100 if there is no DX code on the canister. My speed for PanF in Perceptol 1+3 is ISO 32 and ISO 50 is max, but useable. I personally think DX coding was a step backwards in cameras, but that's just me and I'm from the old school anyway. JohnW
     
  7. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I haven't used PanF nor do I use a Patterson tank but my Kinderman tanks that hold two 35mm reels hold 16 oz or 500ml so at 300ml you may not have had enough working solution along with a camera malfunction. Check the battery in the camera and try a roll of say Delta 400 and measure how much a full tank holds and develop as per mfg's recommendations. If all is well that should eliminate the camera as the problem. There is also the possibility of Murphy's Law and that you thought you mixed the chemistry 1:1 but didn't.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  8. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Perceptol is a fine grain speed reducing developer. You can expect to lose at least 1/2 stop of speed.
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Yes. Ilford even notes half of the ISO box speed as 'normal' EI, and doesn't even give developing times for most films at their box speed.
     
  10. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    My thoughts exactly. Pan-F isn't noted for latent image stability, so I don't use it in 35 where it might take me several months to finish a roll. Otherwise it's a wonderful film.
     
  11. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I agree with Thomas Bertilsson to expose it at EI 25.

    I don't know if anyone else does this but I went to the Wikipedia page for DX codes and scraped and taped the speed code of a roll to make it a different speed. That worked great and I didn't have to worry about the override. It was a pretty easy job.
     
  12. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    Whoops! I didn't read fully again and see you have DX coding and have checked it. Tom is right on slight over exposurefor PanF. You're using Perceptol1+1, which isn't as "speedy" as 1+3 and if the camera defaulted to ISO 100 you would then be well over a stop less. Perceptol stock is, for me anyway, about a stop slower on box speed to begin with, but if you dilute and lengthen times you can get some of that back.
     
  13. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I recently shot and processed some PanF that someone gave me. I found I needed to almost double the indicated development times. Also, even at an exposure index of one-half box speed, the shadow detail was weak.
     
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  15. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    Yup, but it's still a pain in the butt. Of course it's the only way to have control. It's along way from the +2 to -2 ASA dials on the ancient 35mm cameras. Ahhhh, progress! Porters Camera Store used to sell DX code stickers, which made life a little easier.
     
  16. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    Yup. I exposed a roll at 25, but it took about six months to finish it, and then it sat for a month before I developed it, and then it came out thin enough to be almost useless.
    I did find a solution, though.
    Stick to FP4+.
     
  17. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    The old PanF I bought and used was cold stored and really pretty good. This stuff was so old it predated the + by about four years and was just plain PanF.
     
  18. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    I've had thin negatives several times, PanF just one of the many. I find that I need to be careful when working with diluted developer or old developer. I use Xtol exclusively. Lately I've been using it fresh, 1+1, and then being a bit generous with dev time and temp. Developing at 72 degrees Fahrenheit, 10 minutes, for 400 speed Tmax is my normal Summer trick. I've been happy with the results.
     
  19. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    Yes, I forgot to add that when I develop PanF 120 using Perceptol 1+3 I always use a two reel tank with one roll of film. That way I know I have enough developing agent per sq. in. of film and the Perceptol won't poop out on me.
     
  20. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    It was a fresh film and was shot between April and July. It is now the beginning of Sept so some frames only had to retain their latent image for maybe 5-6 weeks. The OP seems to be saying that the film is so thin as to be almost blank. If the latent image problem of PanF is that bad and somehow I doubt this, then one wonders why it doesn't come with a very clear warning from Ilford that no more than say 3 weeks should elapse between the earliest exposed frame and development.

    His development time in the Ilford specs is covered by EI 50. Would a one stop underexposure result in what the OP describes to us? Again I doubt it

    It sounds as if the tank holds 500ml and he has filled it with 300ml but except during an inversion the film on the bottom reel should be covered with developer and even during inversion of a second or so will still have some developer on the film's surface.Besides which, if it was too little developer which failed to cover all of the bottom reel then wouldn't we have a portion of each frame properly or nearly properly developed and the rest blank?

    I still cannot make it add up to a problem of the magnitude described, given what he has done

    pentaxuser
     
  21. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    My experience with Pan-F which I use in 120 only is it is a nice slow film with really fine grain. I rate at 25, develop in perceptol 1+1 at the time given by Ilford for 25. Works fine for me. Agree the edge markings are quite faint.
     
  22. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Well,

    If the OP really wants to get to the bottom of this problem, only one variable should be changed every time a film is processed.

    If a different film developed as expected, then the developer is likely fine.

    If the negative is really faint, one or more of four things happened, and we eliminated the developer, so that really makes it three things:

    1. The camera does not expose the film correctly. Maybe the automatic settings in the camera doesn't work below ISO 100? I don't know. Just thinking out loud.

    2. The film was laying around too long and its latent image did not retain its strength in the developing process. I think we can not say for certain that this is true, because if there were months between the first and the last frame being exposed, then the problem should be worst on the first frame, and least bad on the last frame.

    3. Somehow the developer got contaminated prior to, or during the process, or something else happened that drastically decreased its activity.

    I don't know what else it could be. If it were me, I'd put another roll of Pan-F+ in the same camera, but shoot the roll quickly and develop immediately.

    The whole latent image thing is weird, considering I have developed film that was exposed in the 1960's that still came out OK. I can't believe that a couple of months will make that much difference!

     
  23. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Pan-F does like to be developed as soon as possible after exposure and is more sensitive in this period than other films I have used, from Ilford or anywhere else. Their quote for latent-image quality in PanF is (as with all most of their films) 'up to several months' in ideal conditions, but who could precisely compare that statement with your circumstances?! In the section of the product information covering recommended developers, Ilford do not actually suggest using Perceptol except at stock strength - I hadn't noticed this before for some reason, though I tend to use diluted ID11.

    The positive image you see is, of course, by reflected light from the silver which is present. As a desperate-rescue attempt you could try selenium toning the negs, to beef up whatever image there is (but don't be too optimistic).
     
  24. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Sounds eerily similar to my own story, except that I shot at box speed.

    Indeed. I've read lots and lots about this combination, but you're right -- intricacies of inversion, a minute here or there, etc., aren't enough to satisfy me that that's what caused my problem.

    The film is evenly developed along the short edge, and I've used 300ml before to develop a single roll. I measured carefully and used distilled water for everything. I run a clean darkroom, and I'm systematic to a fault. As far as latent image retention, the last frames shot are some of the worst, but they were shot indoors with flash. I shot the film between March 30 and July 2. Some of the frames from June are the ones that look the best. The film was purchased in April 2012 and freezer kept while stored. Expiration was sometime in 2015.

    And, again, the exposed film leader developed to jet black. So I'm really wondering about the camera.

    As luck would have it, I'm half way through another roll in that camera. I might just quickly shoot the rest of it and clip test the last half.

    Thanks everyone. I appreciate the efforts to help me get to the bottom of this. Itching to get home now so I can start scanning.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2013
  25. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Surely if it is developed correctly, the edge markings should be a good black?
     
  26. mnemosyne

    mnemosyne Subscriber

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    Unfortunately no, as in the case of Pan F, the edge markings are always faint (I assume because of the relative weakness in latent image retention discussed here). The existence of a dark black leader should at least rule out any gross developer failure.