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Developing old film. Can film fog be deminished during film processing?

Alan Aulner , Mar 04, 2007; 09:48 p.m.

I have several hundred sheets of exposed tMax 100 4x5 film that was exposed in the late 90's. I have recently developed some of them (in D76), and of course they came out quite fogged. Is there any process or chemistry that can be used either before developing or after developing that can reduce this?

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Larry Dressler , Mar 04, 2007; 10:21 p.m.

Hc-110 Dilution B is great for foggy film... Did it seem to lose speed? if so just add a little time.

Larry

Michael Axel , Mar 05, 2007; 12:19 a.m.

I might try the following in this order:

FX35 formula, or D76 You could also look into adding bromide to the D76 formula (I think about 1g per litre). D19 if you can tolerate the increased contrast

I would also use a very strong stop bath.

Frank Schifano , Mar 05, 2007; 12:22 a.m.

There isn't anything you can do post processing to help. HC-110 might help as a low fog developer as Larry suggests, but I would not expect miracles. You might see a reduction in the fog level over what you'd get with D-76. The difference might be slight and there is a possibility that you will get somewhat less shadow detail. It is a tradeoff that only you can decide. Another possibility is to add a little bit of benzotriazole to the developer to suppress fog. This practice is sometimes successful with old fogged papers. The stuff is used in very small amounts and it isn't something I'd care to do with an irreplaceable piece of film.

Before you go off and try an unfamiliar developer, I suggest you try printing the negatives you've already developed. Elevated base fog may not be as much of a problem as you imagine. You can just print through it. You might have to work with the negatives a bit to get it right, but often it can be a successful undertaking. I recently went through a few rolls of very old Tri-X (pre 2002) that came through with lots of base fog. The film had lost a bit of speed and I had to bump up the VC filtration by one grade from my normal 2 to 2 1/2 to get a good looking print, but that was the extent of it.

Larry Dressler , Mar 05, 2007; 12:28 a.m.

If you don't believe me about Hc-110 ask Gene... go to found films on Nelson.

HC-110 has a Bromide level that may be the key.. adding it to D-76 is an Idea but at the levels to restrain that fog it will reduce the ASA/ISO of already age reduced film...

Larry

Michael Axel , Mar 05, 2007; 12:44 a.m.

HC-110 is of course a good solution, but it's probably worth testing some developers. Rather than picking one method, if the film has value, and since there are so many sheets of film, it would be worth experimenting with a sheet or two at a time. My thinking was that if D76 with bromide (BZT too, but I don't know where you get it) might give comparable results to HC-110, but with possibly finer grain. I developed some old Tri-x 4x5 about a year ago with XTOL and bromide and it worked pretty well. I would have used D76 but didn't have it available at the time.

Gene E. McCluney , Mar 05, 2007; 03:14 a.m.

I certainly agree with the recommendaton of HC-110 dilution b. I am shooting some 8x10 Plus-X that I purchased in 1980, and I am getting zero background fog.

McCluney Photo

Larry Dressler , Mar 05, 2007; 03:20 a.m.

Gene M

Thanks for the save....

Larry

Robert Meyer , Mar 05, 2007; 08:42 a.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.

Frank Schifano , Mar 05, 2007; 01:18 p.m.

"If you don't believe me about Hc-110 ask Gene... go to found films on Nelson."

I do believe you, and I know that HC-110 is pretty good for this sort of thing. But we have no idea of how "fogged" is fogged for the OP. Maybe it is something he can print through. IF it's really bad, HC-110 is not going to make it perfect. The OP might notice the difference or he might not.

Argh! Damn this blasted internet crap anyway.


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