Persistent smudges - Konica Hexar
Since late August, my Konica Hexar AF has been acting quite oddly. I don't think this is an issue specific to this camera model, though and I will run through all that I know and post examples. In a nutshell, when specific parts of a frame are uniform in tone (in this case, always deep blue skies, no other uniform shades), smudge marks occur. They are not different every time, same spot, same shape, same everything.
My initial thought was - uneven development. I had this issue with my own B&W processing in the spring, but these negatives were lab-processed by a good lab. Still, errors can occur, right? Only it was occurring over larger time ranges and from multiple labs (C-41 goes to one lab, B&W to another, although they're part of the same company). I'd never had such issues in the past, so I was a bit baffled.
I went on to think that it may be the scanner. If a negative isn't straight as a board, sometimes I've noticed blemishes that could be mistaken for uneven development can pop up. But most of the negatives where these smudge marks were occurring weren't curly. So I decided to closely inspect the negatives by hand and of course, I saw the smudges very clearly in the same spots as I see them as a positive when scanned. So that rules out the scanner.
I also noticed that this was a camera-specific issue. Recent negatives in both 35mm and 120 from other cameras developed in the same batches as these Hexar negs seem fine. So I guess that rules out the lab, too.
Now? I'm at a loss. I've tried researching this issue but perhaps I'm not searching using the correct terms because nothing has shown up thus far that is like my smudging issue. Surely something like this has happened before.
Some other things that I don't think triggered this issue, but you guys might find useful regardless:
- In mid-August, my Hexar had the persistent sticky shutter button issue. It went back months, but after dealing with a repair shop who couldn't figure out the problem (even though I printed that step-by-step in the link to show them), I just did it myself. My initial findings from mid-August showed no issues with these smudge marks I'm now getting.
- In late-August, I went on a trip and didn't bother getting my film hand inspected at the airport either way. Based on my experiences in the past, I knew nothing noticeable would likely show up as the highest ISO I used was 400. Also, negatives from other cameras went through the airport x-ray machines and their negatives are still fine. Not to mention, these marks have shown up on negatives I got processed at my destination.
Does anyone have any ideas about this? It seems as though every other, more obvious source of this problem cancels itself out, leaving something wrong with the camera. Surely this isn't something that is Hexar-specific, has anyone before had issues like this with their cameras? I have no idea what in/on the camera would be causing this, but perhaps someone more knowledgeable does. Any guesses?
I'm going to take a wild guess to get the ball rolling. Maybe there are dust particles "in" or "on" the lens elements (front & back) that are producing a "shadow" (unfocused image) during exposure. Have you examined the inside of the lens using a loupe while the shutter is open?
Internal dust or marks on the front element don't usually show on negatives.
Are there smudges or anything on the rear group?
Heavily sedated for your protection.
Thanks to you both. I'm not entirely sure what specific part of the lens I should be looking for, but I did some preliminary inspections (what 'elements' are you referring to?). I checked the glass from the front and the rear (with the film door opened) and the most I saw was some random specks of dust. I cleaned the lens of that to see if anything clearly stuck. Not really. I also inspected the aperture blades from the front (can't really from the back) and aside from the usual scratch marks from them scraping each other over time, there was nothing out of the ordinary on them. I might be inspecting the wrong parts of the lens, though.
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I am referring to inspecting the glass of the lens, front, back and internally with a magnifying glass. But, even dust within the lens might not be so obvious at first. A test that you might try sometime . . . for each frame exposed, make a duplicate exposure on the next frame with the camera inverted (upside down). If in the first frame the smudges end up in the sky as usual, and in the subsequent frame (inverted frame) they end up elsewhere; ie; 180 degrees out, then my guess is still that it's something on the glass of the lens internally or externally. I think you have already proven this by your example above, the exposure that was made in portrait (vertical). Notice how the "C" shaped smudge moved when the camera was rotated. It moved with regards to the real horizon, but stayed in the same place with regard to the camera's frame.
Last edited by DannL.; 11-25-2013 at 11:27 PM. Click to view previous post history.
What sort of scanner are you using? If it is one of those that uses a CMOS sensor (so essentially a digital camera) it could be dust on the scanner sensor. My first thought was that they look like dust bunnies on a digital picture. Clean the scanner.
That's just weird. But I think Peltigera might have a handle on it. To see, check the negs with a 5X loupe, a 50mm lens from a SLR makes a good 5X loupe if you don't have one handy. Look for any sign on the negs of the smudges. If there is nothing on the negs then the problem is somewhere else in the image chain.
Yeah, I didn't see anything as I was inspecting, but I've been using a cheap plastic magnifying glass as I don't have anything better at the moment. But Pen S' 50mm lens idea might work, so I'll try that and I may find something.
Originally Posted by DannL.
I think if I did your idea of having the camera inverted, the same spots likely wouldn't occur in the sky as it would now be in the lower half of the frame. If there is something with sufficient tonal range (which is nearly anything that isn't a single, deep shade like a blue sky), the top half will show no evidence. To better give you guys an idea of what I'm talking about, take this image for example. I didn't digitally remove anything other than the usual dust marks and shows no evidence of the smudges because it appears to be blocked by the different shades. Here's another one, which actually has somewhat even-toned skies and again no smudges because the sky is too bright (I'm assuming). Back to the camera inversion technique, I may end up finding completely different smudge marks if the sky was somehow at the "bottom" of a frame because that is usually covered up by something else. But that just goes to show that regardless of positioning, the smudges will occur on the same parts of the negative.
Epson V600. I know the marks your talking about and have had them on scans in the past (particularly curly 120 negs) and I originally thought it may be the scanner but nope, they do show up on the negatives unfortunately.
Originally Posted by Peltigera
Thanks, I'd been using the only magnifying glass I had, a cheap plastic thing but the 50mm lens idea is a good one as I haven't got anything better. Any particular way to handle it?
Originally Posted by pen s
Oh and as for the negs,
It is definitely on the negatives.
So I decided to closely inspect the negatives by hand and of course, I saw the smudges very clearly in the same spots as I see them as a positive when scanned. So that rules out the scanner.
Shooting slide film is the most direct way of eliminating any non-camera based problem. If it's on the transparency, the problem is with the camera. As the Hexar has no sensor, it must be a lens problem. Projecting a negative will provide the same diagnosis. The marks don't look lens based to me, they seem too isolated, but it's not impossible.