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  1. #1
    sandermarijn's Avatar
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    C41 at home: spots on 35mm negs- Help!

    Hi all,

    I did my first C41 today. With a kit from Rollei (DIGIBASE C-41 Film Kit for 10 to 12 films). This is a four-bath process: developer, bleach, fix, stabilizer.

    The developer goes bad quickly (hours, days). Therefore I saved up 6 films and developed them today, one after the other. 3x 135 (Superia 400, Gold 200, Ektar) and 3x 120 (Reala 2x, Provia cross-processed).

    Problem is that the three 35mm films all show pronounced drying spots of some sort. The 120 films are completely devoid of messy stuff. The spots look like mineral residue, but then I did use demineralised water for the final stabilizer bath. I did not squeegee the films, neither the 120's nor the 135's. The spots are on the shiny, non-emulsion side only.

    All films were dried the same way: hung up in a dust-free closet at room temperature (18 degrees centigrade or so). No squeegee for any. No rinse after the stabilizer bath. Demineralised water used for the stab-bath, tap water for the other baths.

    What's going on? Anybody have a clue? Is this mineral deposit from somewhere? Something from the stabilizer bath perhaps?

    Two things are really weird about this:
    1. I used demi-water for the stab-bath and still get what look like drying marks from minerals,
    2. The 120 films are perfect, and so are the 135 films, but only on the emulsion side- the shiny side is a mess.

    The sample below is from the Superia 400 135-36 film. Note: the round whitish blur on Joe's black belly is sun flare.

    I'm at a loss- any help much appreciated
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails speckled_joe_scan.jpg   speckled_joe.jpg  

  2. #2

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    It looks like the stabilizer does not have a good surfactant. I'm regularly battling similar issues because of hard water, but mine is not as bad as yours. Things to try:

    * add just a bit of fotoflo to the stab.
    * dilute your stabilizer, yours might be a bit too concentrated
    * try different stab/final rinse. Kodak makes a good one
    * distilled water for the final rinse
    * (Don't tell PE about this one) use fotoflo for the final rinse instead of stabilizer. You WILL risk shorter negative lifetime, but they will come out much cleaner for that one print/scan session you are planning to do. Definitely don't do this option if you want archival quality.

    On the bright side, the stuff can be cleaned up with PEC pads and PEC negative cleaner. Be super careful since chances of scratching are very high. But please, don't try to clean the emulsion side - that one is sacred!

  3. #3
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    It looks to me that the stabilizer is faulty. I would complain and ask the manufacturer about these marks.

    Some people have reported problems with Tetenal's C-41 stabilizer, not as bad as this though.

    I would say Kodak's and Fuji's official chemistry is as bullet-proof as it can get, and if they don't get you there then you should review your drying conditions.

  4. #4
    sandermarijn's Avatar
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    Thanks guys (and/or girls), I had of course been googling the issue and heard more people less than happy with their particular stabilizer. I'm not yet sure that I want to continue with colour negs but if i do i will just get one of those Fuji Hunt kits- those are popular and therefore must be good I guess.

    The tip about the fotoflo+water final rinse is also an option, even if it takes two year off PE's life. To PE: I encountered many of your posts about this and other issues. It's great having you around, you really know your stuff.

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    hrst's Avatar
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    If you can get some formalin, you can mix your own "old-style" stabilizer with the photoflo if you want, and it should be good for both dye stability and biological growth issues, just as the real products.

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    sandermarijn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anikin View Post
    * add just a bit of fotoflo to the stab.
    Judging from the bubbles there is a lot of fotoflo in the stab already. Fotoflo is just the same as the wetting agents used for b&w no?

    Quote Originally Posted by anikin View Post
    * dilute your stabilizer, yours might be a bit too concentrated
    I cut it in half already in order to get to 500 ml solution. Maybe even more then?

    Quote Originally Posted by anikin View Post
    * try different stab/final rinse. Kodak makes a good one
    I will change to the Fuji Hunt kit *if* I pursue.

    Quote Originally Posted by anikin View Post
    * distilled water for the final rinse
    Already the case. Well, demineralised water I use, but that should be good enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by anikin View Post
    * (Don't tell PE about this one) use fotoflo for the final rinse instead of stabilizer. You WILL risk shorter negative lifetime, but they will come out much cleaner for that one print/scan session you are planning to do. Definitely don't do this option if you want archival quality.
    Is this 50 vs 20 years? In that case I won't mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by anikin View Post
    On the bright side, the stuff can be cleaned up with PEC pads and PEC negative cleaner. Be super careful since chances of scratching are very high. But please, don't try to clean the emulsion side - that one is sacred!
    [/QUOTE]

    I don't like squeegee, let alone cleaning.

  7. #7
    sandermarijn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hrst View Post
    If you can get some formalin, you can mix your own "old-style" stabilizer with the photoflo if you want, and it should be good for both dye stability and biological growth issues, just as the real products.
    Thanks for the tip hrst, but I don't want naked formalin in my darkroom. I'm a messy guy and might end up poisoning myself, seriously.

  8. #8
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    Yes that's true, formalin is quite dangerous at 37%. That's why I made a diluted solution in a well-ventilated area (actually a fume hood) with proper gloves and proper precautions so it won't kill me even if I messed up badly. Then I can store the diluted bottle at darkroom and use it "normally" (not drink it nor bathe in it). Actually the "3-bath" (really 4-bath) amateur E6 kits like Tetenal have the dilute formalin in the stabilizer even today. It's not a safety hazard at low concentration with normal precaution. The bigger problem might be where to get it.

    But, I'd guess that both Kodak and Fuji products are as good as you can mix by yourself, or better. I use Fuji without problems. I wonder why people are getting problems with other products. It cannot be that hard to make proper formulations.... But well, after seeing Tetenal selling only dead RA-4 blix time after time, I'm not so surprised anymore about these 3rd parties products ;-).

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    >I cut it in half already in order to get to 500 ml solution. Maybe even more then?

    Probably not. I think that would be too much.

    > I will change to the Fuji Hunt kit *if* I pursue.

    You can also just buy a bottle of Fuji or Kodak final rinse, and use that with the remainder of your chemicals.

    > Is this 50 vs 20 years? In that case I won't mind.

    Unfortunately, nobody knows. It really depends on storage. Put it in a damp place and it would be 10 yrs vs 5 days ;-)

    > I don't like squeegee, let alone cleaning.

    I know what you mean. How about re-washing? You could get a good quality final rinse and re-wash the bad negatives. Hopefully it would not be worse than what you have right now.

    Also, you mentioned bubbles. That might be a culprit as well. You definitely don't want to over-agitate the final rinse. I just dunk the negatives in the final rinse, and let them sit there for a recommended time. Maybe just a gentle back-forth movement at the most. Then when the time is to take them out, I top off the container with additional liquid to get rid of any bubbles on the surface and only then pull the film out.

  10. #10
    mts
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    I always use a good washing following the fixer--5 minutes or so in tap water. Then I stabilize by letting the film reel rest in the bath for 2-4 minutes with only gentle agitation every minute. When I hang the film to dry I always squeege gently with photo sponges, the same as I do for B&W processing. Removing most of the excess stabilizer greatly reduces spotting. I have not had any difficulty with scratches but always use a clean and damp sponge pair. If you just hang the film to dry then chances are good that you will have considerable spotting when it dries.

    The final wash can be done in tap water but stabilizer should always be formulated with distilled water.
    By denying the facts, any paradox can be sustained--Galileo

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