It means that you choose a scene and let the in camera meter (set it on auto) determine exposure. Shoot one frame with the ISO setting at 200, and the next frames at 400, 800 and 1600 (1600 is an option) each. Take notes of what you shot at what speeds -- just in case you shoot multiple shots with the same iso or you forget what order you did things.
I would do this 3 times for a total of 12 frames (or 9 frames if you decide not to shoot at 1600). I would choose broad daylight where there is the greatest difference between highlight and shadow (this way you get an idea of how well it manages the two in one scene); an overcast day where everything including shadows are pretty evenly illuminated (this way you see how it renders things in what should be the meat of the film's rendering ability); and finally I would shoot someone who is evenly lit (this way you can see how it renders flesh -- which might give you an idea of how well or accurately it records colour).
When you are finished, advance the film 2 frames. You can simply put the lens cap on, set the camera to manual and trip the shutter and advance the film twice.
You will then develop the film normally.
There is no setting on development machines for 1600. There are settings for adding or subtracting development times. Adding time is called *pushing* subtracting time is called *pulling*. You generally add development time or push when you have shot film at a speed that is in excess of the film's actual speed e.g. shooting iso 100 speed film at 200 might require extra development time as the film will not have received enough exposure or shooting iso 100 speed film at 50 might require less development time or be pulled as the film received too much exposure.
Generally speaking all colour film responds best when developed normally. When pushed it can become very contrasty or the shadows have no information and the highlights become to dense to pass light. When pulled, films can be overly saturated (although high speed kodak films don't always go this way), the subject looses contrast and highlights can get muddy. In pull processing more than push processing colours can go off as the film's colour layers will get uneven development. Pull processing can also increase the appearance of grain and this is especially true for high speed films.
At this point you have no idea what the speed of the film is because film losses speed over time and very fast film tends to build a latent image all by itself over time -- the film exposes itself from ambient radiation and heat over time. What this means is that the film may have become slower, it may be foggy and have lost latitude (it loses the ability to capture a wider spectrum). To get a good image you may find you need to give it extra exposure and shoot scenes that are less contrasty or avoid scenes that require colour accuracy. Or, if you are like me, you may want to shoot to the films weakness as this may create a more interesting picture.
The loss of film speed over time is why I stated in my earlier comment that shooting at 1600 is an option. It is very likely that the film will not record a good image at 1600 unless it is within a year or two of being fresh and has been well stored.
But you do not know what its weaknesses are or what speed the film likes to be shot at yet.
Go to a pro lab, not Walmart, with the camera and ask them to do a clip test on the exposed portion of the film and ask them to save what is in the canister with a bit of a leader. Tell them what you did and that you want to have the exposed strip developed normally. Alternately, you can clip the film yourself, but you will need a light tight area or a film changing bag and a canister to put the film. The lab will probably be better suited to do this than you.
Ask the lab to do a contact sheet of the clip test. Machine prints will not help you as the machine will try to compensate for the film's failings and it is the failings that you want to see. Ask the lab to tell you which exposures were best. It will be at this point, with the physical evidence of the contact sheet and the advice of the lab that you will know what speed to rate the film for normal development.
I'm sorry if this was too pedantic, but I don't know how much you already know and I wanted to make sure I was clear. As others read this they will add what I have missed, but what I have described is a very basic and standard way of testing film with your camera of choice -- if you switch cameras you may find that the results of the test will nolonger apply.
THis is one of Mattk's shots using the film. If you were a subscriber you could see more of Matt's work...
Thanks for posting that JD I wasn't sure how to (did you just insert an html link). I cannot say how much I agree with JD Clallow on the joining of APUG at the subscriber level. I don't even want to put a $ amount on what I have saved in paper, chems, and equipment due to the advice of kind contributors on the forums/galleries of APUG. Worth every penny--not to mention the enjoyment of having a world of enthusiasts at my keyboard. Sign up and never look back! Good luck with the tests--after you get a subscriber account you can post your results!
Before you do anything tell us what camera you will be using. Some cameras will automatically unwind all of the film and respool the film as you shoot it. This kind of camera will not work fro clip tests. Some cameras will read the canister and not allow you to overide the iso setting. These cameras will not work for film speed testing.
Matt using Firefox I found one of your images, right clicked on the image and chose "View Image." This displayed the image all by its self in the browser window. I copied the url for the image and then pasted the url in the dialog box that poped up when I chose the picture icon in the 'Post Reply' page.
Does this make sense?
BY the way if anyone has any of this film they'd like to get rid of or sell please contact me.
Thanks for the replies to my question. JD you've explained testing the film very well. I have a Canon EOS Rebel XS that can rewind the film before all of the film has been exposed and I can change the ISO of the camera while there is film inside of it. I will gladly pay the 1yr student subscription fee. I really got into film photography after taking a black and white photography class. While it's a community college, they have an extensive photography program with a darkroom, processing rooms, studios, and stuff to mount the pictures. But whats important is that they have very professional people who love photography teach the classes.
Good for you RGS and thanx.
You don't want the film rewound as you'll need to clip off the exposed bit to get processed and if it is wound back into the canister there is no way to determine where the exposed bit ends and the unexposed bit begins.
The idea of testing the film this way is to save as much as possible for 'real shooting' and with this film it is important because the film is great stuff and it is nolonger made.
A couple more things use a tripod when testing, don't change the zoom on any given scene. You'll want each picture to be identical to the last with the only difference being the film's rating. When shooting skin make sure that the model's skin occupies about 70% of the frame or something in a little excess of Matt's example. Finally if the lab can do projection contacts those might work better for 135 as the frames are small. Projection contacts are where they put all the film in an enlarger and project them onto the paper. It still allows you to compare each frame put the frame size will be larger and therefore easier to inspect. The cost should be around 5.00 for processing and 10-15 for the contact.
How would I then clip off the exposed shots? Will I have to do that in a darkroom with no safe-light? Unfortunately there is no lab in my area that can probably do that, I would have to ship out the film for that. All of the "pro labs" in my area are using dlabs from either Agfa or Kodak. Also I'm going off topic but the last place that did E6, stopped doing processing for E6 right after the first of the year. The irony is that I was probably the only one getting it done there :( I now have to ship it out to get it done, it's too complicated for me to process it myself.
I have an auto-load/rewind P&S that I needed to pull the film from before shooting the whole roll. It was a bit complicated but it worked.
First I shot one last throwaway shot and took out the battery.
Then went into a pitch black room with the camera, an old opened canister and reel and a piece of masking tape (oh, and a scissors). In there, I opened the camera, pulled a little bit more film and cut the film about 3/8" from its canister.
I then taped the tail of the exposed film to the old reel, put that in the old canister and squeezed the cap on as best I could. I put that canister back in the slot and closed the camera.
After all that I put the battery back in the camera and let it rewind the film. I took out the film and squeezed the caps on a little tighter with a pliers.
I pulled a bit of film from the original roll, cut the tail to look like a new one and put the rest back in the camera.
In the end I had only lost about one picture from the first set.
All this is easier to do than explain.
I don't have a point and shoot though, so do I just test with the whole roll?