It means that you choose a scene and let the in camera meter (set it on auto) determine exposure. Shoot one frame with the ISO setting at 200, and the next frames at 400, 800 and 1600 (1600 is an option) each. Take notes of what you shot at what speeds -- just in case you shoot multiple shots with the same iso or you forget what order you did things.
I would do this 3 times for a total of 12 frames (or 9 frames if you decide not to shoot at 1600). I would choose broad daylight where there is the greatest difference between highlight and shadow (this way you get an idea of how well it manages the two in one scene); an overcast day where everything including shadows are pretty evenly illuminated (this way you see how it renders things in what should be the meat of the film's rendering ability); and finally I would shoot someone who is evenly lit (this way you can see how it renders flesh -- which might give you an idea of how well or accurately it records colour).
When you are finished, advance the film 2 frames. You can simply put the lens cap on, set the camera to manual and trip the shutter and advance the film twice.
You will then develop the film normally.
There is no setting on development machines for 1600. There are settings for adding or subtracting development times. Adding time is called *pushing* subtracting time is called *pulling*. You generally add development time or push when you have shot film at a speed that is in excess of the film's actual speed e.g. shooting iso 100 speed film at 200 might require extra development time as the film will not have received enough exposure or shooting iso 100 speed film at 50 might require less development time or be pulled as the film received too much exposure.
Generally speaking all colour film responds best when developed normally. When pushed it can become very contrasty or the shadows have no information and the highlights become to dense to pass light. When pulled, films can be overly saturated (although high speed kodak films don't always go this way), the subject looses contrast and highlights can get muddy. In pull processing more than push processing colours can go off as the film's colour layers will get uneven development. Pull processing can also increase the appearance of grain and this is especially true for high speed films.
At this point you have no idea what the speed of the film is because film losses speed over time and very fast film tends to build a latent image all by itself over time -- the film exposes itself from ambient radiation and heat over time. What this means is that the film may have become slower, it may be foggy and have lost latitude (it loses the ability to capture a wider spectrum). To get a good image you may find you need to give it extra exposure and shoot scenes that are less contrasty or avoid scenes that require colour accuracy. Or, if you are like me, you may want to shoot to the films weakness as this may create a more interesting picture.
The loss of film speed over time is why I stated in my earlier comment that shooting at 1600 is an option. It is very likely that the film will not record a good image at 1600 unless it is within a year or two of being fresh and has been well stored.
But you do not know what its weaknesses are or what speed the film likes to be shot at yet.
Go to a pro lab, not Walmart, with the camera and ask them to do a clip test on the exposed portion of the film and ask them to save what is in the canister with a bit of a leader. Tell them what you did and that you want to have the exposed strip developed normally. Alternately, you can clip the film yourself, but you will need a light tight area or a film changing bag and a canister to put the film. The lab will probably be better suited to do this than you.
Ask the lab to do a contact sheet of the clip test. Machine prints will not help you as the machine will try to compensate for the film's failings and it is the failings that you want to see. Ask the lab to tell you which exposures were best. It will be at this point, with the physical evidence of the contact sheet and the advice of the lab that you will know what speed to rate the film for normal development.
I'm sorry if this was too pedantic, but I don't know how much you already know and I wanted to make sure I was clear. As others read this they will add what I have missed, but what I have described is a very basic and standard way of testing film with your camera of choice -- if you switch cameras you may find that the results of the test will nolonger apply.
Last edited by jd callow; 01-13-2010 at 09:24 AM. Click to view previous post history.