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  1. #1

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    Black Specs on Prints

    I have been dealing with finding good, reliable processing for a long time. I have yet to try home developing for a number of reasons (time, exposure to chemicals, and printing issues, among others). For the last year or so, I have had good success with a certain pro lab, but recently noticed a black spec on two prints. I know the spec was not anywhere in the frame when I took the shots. The spec is in a different location in each of the shots, and I believe that one appears in frame 8 and the other in frame 11. I called the lab, and was told that a black spec would not be something that resulted from processing (either developing or printing). The person indicated that it was likely a spec or piece of dust on my lens.

    I do not buy this explanation, and I cite two reasons for this. First, I have been shooting for years, and I keep my equipment very clean. On almost all occasions, I even blow off the lens (with a Giottos Rocket Blaster) before shooting. Second, a spec would have to be farily large to show up on a negative or print. If internal dust will not cause a problem (again, unless it is significant), then how could a tiny spec--especially on the front surface of the front element--cause a problem? The farther it is from the film, the less chance of a problem arising.

    This is the only thing that tempts me toward the dark side, d******. I am tired of having the best shot on the roll occasionally show up with a spec that I know was not there when I released the shutter.

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Specs on a lens won't show on a print, they are talking rubbish. Sounds like you need to change labs.

    Ian

  3. #3
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    Dust during printing will appear white on the print; dust on the lens will appear black.
    It could also be slight "scum" which you can feel on the print's surface although when I worked in a lab, this was a very rare occurrence.

    D***** is even worse for dust! As an assistant, I kept the lenses scrupulously clean, but dust would always find its way onto the sensor; after every shoot the camera would be sent for cleaning.

    Inspect your negatives - if you can see white on them in the same position as the print, it's dust at the time of exposure.

  4. #4
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozphoto View Post

    Inspect your negatives - if you can see white on them in the same position as the print, it's dust at the time of exposure.
    We don't know what type of film, but even dust or white calcium bits would print lighter not darker with a negative.

    Ian

  5. #5

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    The lab’s explanation for the black spec is ridiculous.

    Here’s why. Consider a tiny point A of the subject. Light reflects in infinitely many directions from A to EVERY point of the front surface of the lens. Light rays from each of these points are refracted by the lens assembly and directed to the single point B on the film that corresponds to A.

    A spot on the lens will block only a tiny percentage of all the rays that form the image of A at B. The loss of a few rays won’t make any meaningful difference in the image on film.

  6. #6
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    With older deeply scratched lenses people used to fill the scratch with black paint - that didn't show

    Ian

  7. #7

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    These responses are excellent--thank you. They indicate essentially what I had suspected.

    Ian C: your analysis in regard to light and how it reflects is exactly what I have understood.

    Ian Grant: with regard to your comment on scratches, I reply: exactly!

    I verified the frame sequence, and the specs appear on frames 2 and 9 (not 8 and 11). Also, I had shot frame 9 a day after frame 2 (I checked my notes). Further, the film used was Ilford Delta 400. The camera is an Olympus OM2n. The lens for frame 2 was a 50/1.8, and the lens for frame 9 was the 100/2.8.
    Last edited by FilmOnly; 07-23-2010 at 10:54 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #8
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FilmOnly View Post

    Ian Grant: with regard to your comment on scratches, I reply: exactly!

    I verified the frame sequence, and the specs appear on frames 2 and 9 (not 8 and 11). Also, I had shot frame 9 a day after frame 2 (I checked my notes). Further, the film used was Ilford Delta 400. The camera is an Olympus OM2n. The lens for frame 2 was a 50/1.8, and the lens for frame 9 was the 100/2.8.

    That confirms it's the lab, there's a similar post maybe yesterday or the day before with dirty B&W negatives. The issue is usually the training and quality of the staff, and how well they treat and maintain equipment..

    Doesn't Adorama or one of the other large companies now offer an Ilford service ?

    We saw the quality of Ilford's own mail order B&W processing on a factory tour and it's outstanding and the work is checked for quality, and reprinted if necessary.

    Find another lab, post a thread ask who's best in your part of the US.

    Ian

  9. #9

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    I am considering switching to (yet) another lab. I may open a separate thread for this, but, since this started here, can anyone suggest a lab? Since I already use mail order, location is not all that significant--as long as it is within the continental US.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by FilmOnly View Post
    I am considering switching to (yet) another lab. I may open a separate thread for this, but, since this started here, can anyone suggest a lab? Since I already use mail order, location is not all that significant--as long as it is within the continental US.
    Well, one of the sponsors on APUG does high quality black and white film processing, and the cost appears quite reasonable.

    http://www.coxblackandwhitelab.com/pyro.htm

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