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[Kodak Verichrome Pan] How to develop such an old film ?

Pierre-Yves P , Jan 03, 2006; 06:51 a.m.

Hello everybody !

A friend of mine had a very old film (Kodak Verichrome Pan) that was taken by his grandparents (with an old box camera), probably in the late 1960s, that he wanted developped - and he asked me to try it.

This is "risky" in terms of results, and I told him, but he prefers to have this film developed, rather than to have it in his desk. This film is discontinued. Yet Kodak still has the datasheet (look at http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/f7/f7. jhtml), that gives the correct processing time.

e.g. 7 minutes in D76 @ 20�C (68�F) I need help... This film was exposed aroud 30 years ago, and I presume that this factor has a strong impact on development times. The first idea that comes to my mind is that time must have diminished the sensibility - I should therefore increase the processing time.

*Note* I do assume that the film was exposed at its nominal sensibility (125 iso).

Any help / advice will be wellcome :) Please forgive my English, Pierre-Yves


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John Shriver , Jan 03, 2006; 07:18 a.m.

The folks who develop old film on the Classic Cameras forum here have found Kodak's HC-110 to be a good choice of developer. A little better at keeping fog down. However, I've also had fine results with D-76.

Certainly, you could increase the development time a little. But, it will only make the fog worse. Expect a low contrast negative, no matter what you do.

There was no film more designed for keeping properties, both unexposed, and of the latent image, than Verichrome Pan.

John Stockdale , Jan 03, 2006; 08:26 a.m.

Verichrome is only just discontinued. It was selling in some markets only a few years ago. The comment above about fog is very relevant, and the compromise is to find a speed enhancing developer than tends to produce minimal fog. Maybe someone can come up with a suggestion, but the HC-110 sounds like a good bet to me, giving reasonable speed, low fog, and, if Verichrome was anything like Tri-X, a very good combination with this sort of film. My guess is that a fair bit of overdevelopment would be worthwhile, even if the negs are a pain to print.

With such a camera, exposure was very hit and miss. In those days, the processing of film and paper minimised contrast and so exposure errors.

Please let us know how it goes.

Lex Jenkins , Jan 03, 2006; 10:13 a.m.

I would use Microphen because it does not exaggerate fogging. HC-110 would also be a good choice for the same reason. It shouldn't be difficult to find suggested times for these developers and Verichrome Pan. I would use the time indicated for normal exposure and not develop any more than necessary.

Cosmo Genovese , Jan 03, 2006; 11:08 a.m.

For optimum results, find a professional lab that can develop the film by inspection.

Robert Meyer , Jan 03, 2006; 01:06 p.m.

I recently was asked by a friend to develop 5 rolls of old pictures that were taken by his mother, and then put away in a drawer and forgotten. There were 4 rolls of Verichrome (not Verichrome Pan), and 1 roll of un-named "panchromatic film" (the only identifier). The changeover from Verichrome to Verichrome Pan apparently took place in about 1954, so 4 of the film rolls were about 50 years old. The other roll is probably about that old. I tried several different methods with these rolls, and checked the densities on my Kodak Color Densitometer Model 10-k. The results were somewhat unexpected, so I thought I would share them.

I checked development recommendations for Verichrome, and found the prevalent recommendation was 17 minutes in straight D-76. I processed the first Verichrome roll this way. The result was extremely high background, but some picture detail was observable in the freshly-processed film. However, as the film dried (I hung it in my darkroom and left if for a week), it got progressively darker. At this point almost no detail is observable. I measure an optical density (OD) of 1.84-2.05 pretty much everywhere. Comparing this with zone system densities I found on the net, this corresponds to approximately zones XI-XIII, and is approximately the maximum achievable negative density.

The next roll of verichrome I processed in straight D-76, but added on Kodak anti-fog tablet to 1 quart of developer (as prescribed in the directions on the anti-fog bottle). Here I followed the previous procedure. Some detail was initially observable, but the negatives got progressively darker with drying. After 1 week I found OD of 1.95-2.0. Again, approximately zone XIII. The antifog tablet did nothing to reduce fog.

The next roll I processed in straight D-76, but reduced processing time to 13 minutes. Again, some detail was initially observable, but the negatives got progressively darker with drying. After 1 week I found OD in the base +background (fog) of 1.62. The darkest area has OD=1.90. Here some detail is observable, with a density range in the negative of about 0.3. This is about 1/3 the density range in a "properly exposed and processed" negative, encompasing about 2 zones. A good negative should have about 7 zones.With high contrast paper I may be able to get decent prints.

I processed a 4th roll using the same parameters as in the paragraph directly above. I found OD of base +background =1.44. The maximum density is 1.70. Again, approximately 2 zones range.

The panchromatic roll I couldn't identify, so I followed my usual procedure and processed it in Diafine (which processes all films the same, 3 minutes in each of 2 developer baths). Here I found base +background = 0.67. Maximum OD=1.08. This density range of 0.41 is about 2 1/2 zones, only a slight improvement in tonal range. However, the overall background level is greatly reduced. I believe these negatives will produce acceptable (not great) prints. I'm uncertain whether the film is much newer (I doubt it), or whether the Diafine produces much less background (the view I favor).

I'm uncertain at this point how to recommend processing of old verichrome. I definitely wouldn't use 17 minutes in D-76. I would use either 13 minutes in D-76, or Diafine. I have several rolls of old unexposed Verichrome 122 that I want to try in a Folding Pocket Kodak 3B, and several rolls of expired Verichrome Pan 620 that I want to shoot in my Kodak Medalist. If I resolve the issue I will publish the results here.

Note that I was able to get marginally acceptable prints off all of the rolls of film by using high contrast paper and long exposures (via a point source head).

Rothelle Cooke , Jan 03, 2006; 01:56 p.m.

Hello Pierre, Verichrome Pan is one of my favorite film next to Tri-X. I love to develop this with Microdol-X 1:3. I'm still using this film that I have so much of it packed in the frig;-) Everything still works for my taste. Here is a photo shot over the summer 2005 high noon. Good luck with it. It will work with just about any developer. I've been using it with just about anything I can get my hands on. But I have to favorite in Microdol-X 1:3

John Shriver , Jan 03, 2006; 02:35 p.m.

Robert, thanks very much for your contribution about Verichrome (not Pan). I haven't developed any "found film" Verichrome, but I have developed "found film" Verichrome Pan.

I did try to use one 1948 roll of Verichrome 616. I think I developed in DD-X, I'll have to look. But I got a mostly fogged result, with some image visible. Even worse results on similar vintage Super-XX 828, D-76 to the very long times on it's data sheet, jet black. My conclusion is that unprocessed Verichrome is unstable. Or maybe the older backing papers reacted badly with the film over time?

Of course, there is the option of easy development by inspection for Verichrome, since it's Orthochromatic.

I'd certainly be interested in figuring out if there's any hope of getting positive results from Verichrome, as that would increase my stock of 122 film by a few rolls. At least Verichrome in the 116 and 616 sizes provides very rugged backing paper for loading 70mm Efke R100 into.

don mckeith , Jan 03, 2006; 06:18 p.m.


I shot and developed( by inspection) a couple of rolls of Ansco Plenachrome from '46-- (D-76 straight 12 min.) with pretty good results. I am not experienced at developing by inspection,so I think I might have pulled them a little early. I didn't weigh the K-bromide, as I didn expect to get any images - I'd guesstimate about 4-5 grams in 16 oz. of developer---also I overexposed by quite a bit.I got 6 rolls of this film at the junk store--the owner told me he took them out of a basement in Hartford--they were not refrigerated.Fog was low and so was the contrast, but they printed OK


Rothelle Cooke , Jan 03, 2006; 07:09 p.m.

Here is a photo of some of my old school toys that work;-)

Kodak 620 pocket camera 120 Verichrome Pan and a can of Microdol-X

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