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  1. #1

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    BW reversal options

    Hi guys, I'm scanning a lot of my old stuff, and am just coming to realize how awesome Scala was in 35mm format. I'm currently using Rollei ATP 1.1 and have heard "a little" about Fomapan R100. In short, is there any 35mm (or MF...I plan on getting either a Rollei or another Pentax 6x7 most likely) BW reversal film available that can be home processed? I've never tried this before, obviously, usually just use regular negatives.

    I'd love to be able to get slides (with full tones) out of ATP 1.1. Slides in general just seem to scan way better on my Minolta. But I'm still learning how to use it lol.

    Do I have any options?

    Thanks

    Shawn

  2. #2

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    You can pretty much use any black and white film you like and reversal process it yourself. You'll have to mix up the bleach and clearing bath from scratch, but the powders are cheap and fairly safe if you use the right precautions. The potassium permanganate is a little dangerous, but as long as you wear gloves and a dust mask when mixing, you'll be fine as long as you dont do something silly like mistake it for grape kool-aid . Also use rubber gloves while developing (I've heard about the methol in Dektol causing problems with some peoples' skin. That should be enough incintive to use gloves, but the bleach and clear bath could cause problems, too. IDK how dangerous they are in liquid form, but it's best to be safe).

    I've been reversal processing FP4+ for a little less than a year. Here's my process and chemicals

    Developer: Dektol 1:2 (paper strength)

    Stop Bath: Arista branded stop bath at normal working strength

    Bleach Bath:
    (Step 1) Mix 4 grams of potassium permanganate with 1 liter of water.
    (Step 2) Mix 54.5 grams of sodium metabisulfate with 1 liter of water.
    (Step 3) Mix these two liquids 1:1 to the required amount (you dont need to use the whole liter of each. They can be stored for a while)


    Clearing Bath: Mix 30 grams of sodium metabisulfite with 1 liter of water.

    Fixer: any fixer you like, preferably a hardening fixer because the bleach and clearing bath soften the piss out of the emulsion



    Process (at 68F or 20C):

    1) Prewash in distilled water. I prewash for 2 min.

    2) Develop in paper strength Dektol (1 part Dektol: 2 parts water) for 12 minuted with constant gentle agitation. Dont pour the developer in the sink or waste bucket. Keep it because you'll use it again.

    3) Stop Bath for 30 seconds with constant agitation

    4) Bleach for 5 minutes. This takes out the image that has just been developed but leaves the undeveloped silver.

    5) Clearing Bath for 3 minutes. The bleach leaves a brownish yellowish stain. The clearing bath takes that out.

    6) Wash with distilled water. I believe Ilford suggests three changes of water, but I do one. I agitate for 1 minute then dump the water.

    7) Take the film out of the tank. You can keep it on the reel if you like. Hold the reel about a foot away from a 75 or 100 watt light bulb (the light bulb should be uncovered by a shade) so the light can shine through it. Hold that side about a foot away for about 2 or 3 minutes, rotating it so shadows dont cause any problems. After 2-3 minutes, flip the reel over and hold the opposite side to the light for 2-3 minutes, rotating it slowly so any shadows dont cause any problems.

    This step exposes the unexposed and undevelop silver left in the film. Dont worry about overexposing the film at this step. Underexposure is far more likely.

    8) Develop the film in the Dektol you saved from the first developer stage for 3 to 4 minutes constant agitation. This step is done to completion so time isnt super critical

    9) Stop bath for 30 seconds with constant agitation

    10) Wash with distilled water for about a minute then dump

    11) Fix with your favorite fixer. A Hardening fixer is useful since the emulsion is weakened by the bleaching process. You can literally peel the emulsion off if you're not careful (Trust me ). If you're careful, you'll have no problems, though

    12) Wash using the Ilford method and dry in a dust-free environment

    13) Mount, project, and enjoy

    I dont pour the chemicals down the drain. I collect them in 5 gallon buckets and take them to the hazardous material dropoff site we have in Decatur every month. they dont ask too many questions about what I'm using the chemicals for. They just want to know what I'm bringing. I make a list of the ingredients in every chemical and hand it to whoever's doing the collecting. I dont know if they require a list or not here. They might throw it away without looking at or they might file it away. I dont care after they take the chemicals from me
    "I have captured the light and arrested its flight! The sun itself shall draw my pictures!"

    -Louis Daguerre, 1839-

  3. #3

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    Wow, thanks so much, very informative

    >>13) Mount, project, and enjoy

    I'm completely new at this (reversal processing), I don't plan on projecting, but scanning for print output. My experience with slides (minimal - some Velvia, Astia, Provia and that awesome and awesomely fragile stuff from Polaroid, the blue instant process at home stuff...neat stuff...and some Scala of course) has recently led me to see that they are quite often less grainy, have a better tonality, etc. than many of my negatives. Not always, but enough for me to want to try ATP 1.1 (which is a lot like TechPan) as a positive because of it's grain-free (sic) nature.

    Do you think it's worth the effort/learning curve here? Or is this normally only done for projecting?

    Shawn

  4. #4
    holmburgers's Avatar
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    There's a good reason why reversal processing produces less grain. I'll do my best to explain it...

    So, in an emulsion, regardless of speed, there is some variety in the sensitivity of grains; some are bigger and more sensitive, others are smaller and less sensitive.

    In the initial exposure, the picture taking, these larger & faster grains are affected first and become developable to a larger degree than the smaller less sensitive ones. BUT, since in the reversal process you are bleaching away the negative silver image, you are removing these larger grains. You then fog and expose the remaining silver halides, which by default have to be the slower, finer grains. 2nd developer and voila you are left with a positive image composed of the emulsion's finest grains.

    So yes, it's worth it, unless you want to make darkroom prints someday down the road.

  5. #5
    michaelbsc's Avatar
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    First @ExistingLight, thanks a million for a clear step by step.

    Quote Originally Posted by dafy View Post
    ... My experience with slides (minimal - some Velvia, Astia, Provia and that awesome and awesomely fragile stuff from Polaroid, the blue instant process at home stuff...neat stuff...and some Scala of course) has recently led me to see that they are quite often less grainy, have a better tonality, etc. than many of my negatives.
    You need to be careful in generalizing about E6 slides to B&W reversal processed slides. In E6 all of the silver is removed and the image is formed from the remaining dye clouds. In reversal processed B&W the unexposed silver from the original negative is used to form the positive image. So there will be sliver grain in the positives. As holmburgers points out, the remaining positive image is formed mostly from the smaller crystals. But they aren't grainless.

    I don't know how the Scala reversal process worked, so I can't say about that.

    Regardless, this is yet another tool to put in your toolbag. You can give it a whirl, I surely will, and if it works then you've got a keeper. If it turns out that it's not what you expected, then you've still learned a new skill that will be handy one day.
    Michael Batchelor
    Industrial Informatics, Inc.
    www.industrialinformatics.com

    The camera catches light. The photographer catches life.

  6. #6
    holmburgers's Avatar
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    Oh, one should certainly mention dr5 if you're not aware. They process all types of b&w film in reversal and do a fantastic job at a reasonable price. Turnaround is another thing; but you can't rush a good thing, eh?

    www.dr5chrome.com
    If you are the big tree, we are the small axe

  7. #7

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    Thanks guys, I'll definitely try it. My only concern, hopefully understandable, is the idea of using Dektol with Rollei ATP. I'd end up with a pure black and white image if I did that with Tech Pan lol (indeed I used Dektol to get golf-ball sized grain on occasion with 'regular' emulsions). Would Dektol be a good starting point for this film...which is not especially pictorial under most circumstances? Maybe start using the process above but replace Dektol with the Recommended developer, SPUR?

    Or am I missing something? I've still got to read these responses a lot to realize what is happening chemically...

    edit: thanks for the link, may come in handy. But I really like to try and do things myself, so I'll give it a whirl

    edit 2: what about my old favourite, PMK Pyro, any thoughts on that for this process?

  8. #8

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    I've never scanned any of my slides yet, so I dont know how well they scan. Have you ever scanned black and white negs? If you get good results with negs, I see no reason you couldnt scan black and white slides equally well. I'm just assuming, though. Dont take my word for gospel

    I've found reversal processed FP4 to be very fine grained. I get withing a few feet of the screen to see the grain (BTW, I used a screen in my photography classrooms, so maybe 50 inches on the long side. One thing to keep in mind is the slower films are a bit more contrasty than slower films, im my experience (and stated by ilford in their reversal processing pdf). If ATP is a very slow film, you might find the contrast unuseable. also, sooting it might be a problem too if you have to overexpose two stops over box speed like I have to do with fp4.

    I'll say my process isnt hard to learn, nor is it the only way to reversal process black and white negs. If you want to try something from a kit first, freestyle sells kits which I think are for reversal processing Foma or Rollei black and white film. You might could try that and then move up to buying raw chems. If I had to do it all over again, I might go that route instead of finding a number of articles and making one single process out of the proccesses I've found.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do
    "I have captured the light and arrested its flight! The sun itself shall draw my pictures!"

    -Louis Daguerre, 1839-

  9. #9

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    Thanks Existing Light. ATP is EI 25 with SPUR (for *me* so far, only shot a couple of rolls), but they say 32 I believe. I used to shoot Tech Pan at EI 6 and the stain from PMK was awesome.

    I have been scanning a lot lately, but am still learning. Scanning my BW negs yields good results, but being 35mm the only film I like so far is my old Tech Pan stuff. Scala, the few rolls I shot, are scanning beautifully. Even that old PolaChrome stuff scans nice, and the PolaBlue (or whatever it was called) scans nice but the grain is huge. I think my issue is grain more than anything, which I don't like usually, though of course some images look great that I shot with TMY and Delta 3200.

    I might as well try the Freestyle kit the first time around, and go from there. I've no aversion to mixing chems but simplicity might do me well in the first attempts.

    Thanks so kindly for helping me to move forward with this

    Shawn

  10. #10

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    I like the simplicity of this process. Where did you learn of it? Also, would you post a picture please?
    Last edited by squinonescolon; 01-11-2011 at 11:20 AM. Click to view previous post history.

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