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  1. #1
    pierods's Avatar
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    beginner question: is my lab screwing up?

    Hi,

    I am strongly suspicious that my lab is putting all the different films I am giving them in the same vat and using an "average" development time (or some other screwup).

    Two examples:

    - 5 rolls of delta 3200:

    4 rolls developed correctly (I think...). 5th roll, very strong contrast, "ILFORD" printing on edge is very "black", has soft, smudged lines.

    - 3 rolls, 1 panf, 1 fp4, 1 delta 100:

    fp4 looks gorgeous, ILFORD edge printing is super sharp, has "normal" black color.

    PANF has much contrast, high definition but zero middle tones, pictures look "burnt" in highlights.

    delta 100, looks good but lacks "shine" and middle tones.

    On both panf and delta 100, ILFORD edge printing very clear, straight lines but very faded.

    What gives?

    I don't know film or he's tossing everything in the same vat?

  2. #2
    Stephen Frizza's Avatar
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    why not speak to the lab and ask them what developer they use, what their method for developing your film is, discuss the problem with the result you are getting and see if you can work out with them whats going on. if they don't explain and don't help you get to where you want to go in your work then try another lab and see what results...

  3. #3
    pierods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Frizza View Post
    why not speak to the lab and ask them what developer they use, what their method for developing your film is, discuss the problem with the result you are getting and see if you can work out with them whats going on. if they don't explain and don't help you get to where you want to go in your work then try another lab and see what results...
    Well, I would do it, but I don't know film AT ALL. So whatever he tells me, I have to believe.

    Problem is I would like to have a "reference" roll for every film, so when I start developing myself, I can compare to the reference.

    I am very close to start developing myself, and at euro 13 /development, the process you describe can get expensive fast.

    Do you guys recognize the symptoms of ill-developed film?

  4. #4

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    13 euros a roll? Holy buckets. You'd save a fortune buying a small tank, a hewes reel and some chemistry. Its really not tough to do good b/w development (I mean, if I can, ANYONE can) and you get the control. You dont need a ton of gear (everything I use fits in a shoebox except the chem concentrate bottles) and if you use stainless reels (as opposed to plastic) you can find old Kindermann film dryer's cheap, too.

    Seriously -- find a nice tolerant film to start with (tri-x is my favorite) and some used gear and have at. You'll find a system that works for you and you'll get results you're much happier with while saving yourself from the poor farm.

  5. #5
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    The price is high and the symptoms are those of all film going through one process without regard to film type. Most low end labs do it that way anyhow. We never segregated film when I worked for a photofinsiher as a teen. All went at one time in one tank.

    PE

  6. #6

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    the cost of equipment to do your own processing is so low and its so easy to do that I would suggest you convert to doing it yourself straight away. You will save yourself a lot of money in the process and get high quality negs(after a little practice).

    Kit you need:

    film changing bag.
    can opener or film tab retreival device.
    developing tank. (Paterson or jobo 1520 are good( two reels for both are advisable)
    Thermometer (range 15C to 50C or above)
    3 600ml plastic bottles with screw on tops (to hold mixed chemistry) Jobo make these I think.
    50ml graduate
    100ml graduate
    300ml graduate
    2 litre measuring jug (also used for mixing stock solutions)
    a stirring rod
    1 or more 1 litre expanding bottles (for storing stock developer).
    film clips (for hanging film to dry (bulldog clips work OK))
    paper negative sleeves
    A kitchen washing up bowl to use as water reservoir at correct temperature.
    Developer
    Stop bath
    Fixer
    photoflow (aids even drying of film(not absolutely necessary))

    That lot should easily be under 200 Euros at the most if bought new.

  7. #7

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    forgot, some very sharp scissors to cut film off roll.

  8. #8
    Stephen Frizza's Avatar
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    I'de be highly surprised if a pro lab is developing black and white film all at the one time. if this is happening OH MY GOD!!!

  9. #9
    pierods's Avatar
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    thanks to everybody for the advice.

  10. #10
    Jersey Vic's Avatar
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    I am sure a fairly reputable lab in NYC was putting all of my various films through the same chemistry and process and overdeveloping most to boot. I learned this after developing my own film and by following the directions precisely. I got much better results.
    You will do a better, more conscientous and thoughtful job than a commercial lab.
    Holga: if it was any more analog, you'd need a chisel.

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