How resistant is modern film to condensation?
I've managed to avoid condensation forming on my camera in the past, but after returning from a shoot early this morning, I took my Hasselblad out of my bag (after about an hour) and the prism viewfinder was soaked. When I removed the film back, water had also formed in the seams between the back and body. The darkslide and rest of the back, including the inside, was fine though and the film seemed ok, if a little cold - fridge temperature I'd say.
I would assume the film wouldn't get as cold as the outer metal of the camera? I'm prepared for the worst, but having no experience of condensation ruining exposed film, I'd like to know how severely it can affect modern emulsion. Example images would be ideal.
I have a number of film cans, both 35mm and 120 that I place exposed film in immediately after all exposures have been taken. This really helps with any condensation problem. This won't won't help with film still in the camera however. I am assuming you were first outside and it was very cold and then the camera was brought into a warm room. Do you have a room which is warmer than outside but colder than the rest of the house. A unheated porch, mudroom or garage? This would allow the camera to warm up more gradually in stages.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
For my 35mm and winter/cold shooting, I bring a gallon size Ziploc bag with me. Before going into the house, I put it in the bag and expel as much air as possible before sealing. Then, when it's at room temp it can be opened. In the bag it is exposed to very little outside air/moisture.
I've never worried about it, never really even thought about condensation inside the camera taking it between temperatures, and never seen a problem from it. I think the answer for that concern is "it's resistant enough."
Well this is the result of the negatives after getting them back from the lab.
What puzzles me about this is that the last frame (top right) which had not been wound after exposure, is fine, yet frame 11 is extinct, ceases to be. Then frames 8 and 7 are good, but 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2 are gone? Where is the logic? The last frame was exposed to air when the condensation formed so it's completely baffled me that it's not faded.
If anyone has any science that can explain this, please reply.
I'm not sure that it has any consequence, but the film is Portra 400 rated at 800.
Last edited by batwister; 09-07-2011 at 10:36 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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I'm not sure that condensation could cause blank images like that. I develop colour at home and start the whole thing off with a 5 minute pre-soak so i don't see how a moist film could do that to your images.
Is there a reason you were under exposing? Did you push it or just develop at box speed? Could they just be really under exposed?
The film was sent off to my lab (Peak Imaging, Sheffield, UK) for development as usual. I made a note that the film was rated at 800, as I did with a previous roll from the same batch of Portra, which came back fine.
I've ruled out any mechanical failure through testing at all shutter speeds and apertures today. All of these images were made at f/22 (as always) at shutter speeds ranging from a few seconds to half a second.
I was underexposing for more shadow density, as I find the new Portra to have, dare I say, too much dynamic range.
I shot a roll of Velvia 50 in the same location at the same time of day at the same temperature, the previous day. Again at f22, with ranging shutter speeds. This roll was sent off together with the Portra and came back fine.
I would have the camera checked overall by a competent Hasselblad technician. That looks like either the shutter is not staying open long enough or the body baffles are not staying open all the time. If you can coordinate which length exposures were with the blanks or partial blanks, that could suggest the light baffles inside the body are not staying open because the control mechanism has failed. I had this happen to me with a Hassy 500C I once owned. One way to test this is to mount the camera on a tripod and dry-fire it with the back off at various shutter speeds. If I recall correctly, at speeds below 1 second, the baffles may not be getting out of the way because the regulator is bad, and so they are blocking part or all of your exposure. This would make sense under these circumstances that your Velvia (a much slower film, pretty much guaranteeing all exposures were longer than 1 second) was fine, but the sub 1-second shots were only partially exposed. Another thing to check is the aperture mechanism on your lens - make sure it is opening and closing properly when you trip the shutter. Point the lens at a bright light source and open and close the aperture - make sure it is changing with each stop. Lastly, make sure you are metering correctly. If you're already pushing Portra (I'm assuming Portra 400) one stop, if you goof your metering, being off a stop will put you on the cusp of your exposure latitude, and then add in reciprocity failure and voila - blank or nearly-blank frames.
I've been checking all the shutter speeds and apertures for the last half an hour (might need to service it now anyway!) and everything is fine and synchronized.
The thing about the Hasselblad is, when the shutter curtains close, you can certainly hear them and I listen out for them.
This being only the second time I've pushed film, I'm willing to accept my metering was off, but it seems odd that I'd mess up 8 out of 12 exposures - finicky as I am!
Several of the lost exposures were made at 1 second and longer, as I remember the second frame down on the third row from left was 1 second and I worked
in this same shaded woodland area for a few shots. I also made an exposure of that 1 second scene with a different composition earlier on in the roll, which is lost.
Unless there is something very sporadic happening with the leaf shutter (even though three rolls of this Portra 400 have come out fine, at faster shutter speeds)
I can only narrow it down to metering I guess.
This looks to me to be an issue with your camera.
You started this thread with a description of circumstances which lead me to believe that the camera was quite cold when you used it.
The operation of the leaf shutter and other mechanisms in the camera may have been affected by the cold - especially if it has been a long time since the camera was CLA'd.
I know you said that you had used the camera successfully in similar conditions the day before, but it may be that there was enough difference between the days to matter. And of course if the problem was contributed to by the cold, any checks you are performing in warmer conditions may not reveal the problem.
I would suggest that the camera be checked by a technician.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2