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DIY Film Developing
I read in the February, 2011, issue that Mr. Jack McClellan was having a problem with film developing. He does not specify if it is print or slide film, but if he does his own he can buy both RA-4 print chemicals and E-6 slide chemicals from Freestyle in California. These chemicals are made by Unicolor of Dexter, Michigan. In my book they are the best. I can develop any color slide or print film in my darkroom using regular film tanks. I have been developing my own slide films since the 1970s, even doing the old E-3/E-4 Ektachrome films that had to be flashed after the first developer. This past year I have developed 55 slide films, all E-6, made by Fuji, Agfa, and Kodak, all from
Roger L. Bacon
Thanks for writing to assist our reader who was worried about the availability of film products in the future. As you indicate, it can be done at home and you don’t even need a darkroom as you can use a changing bag, or improvise by turning a closet or bathroom into a darkroom during nighttime hours. Basically, all you need are the following items: a film tank, the proper chemicals, a thermometer (temperature control is very critical), and a timer. I, too, have personally processed most every type of color slide and negative film.
Digital & Polarizers
Q. I’ve been in photography for over 50 years using film cameras, particularly Minoltas, and decided to switch to digital. Since I had an array of Minolta lenses, I bought the Sony A100 when it came out so I wouldn’t need new lenses. I have always enjoyed scenics and would use a circular polarizer to darken the skies. With my film camera, skies would come out dark blue, sometimes as dark as navy blue. Using the same lenses and CPL on my digital camera, it hardly darkens anything unless I underexpose to -3 and even then it’s nowhere near what it did with film. Is there some setting I’m missing? I spoke to Sony and they can’t explain why I’m having a problem.
A. I posed your problem to my contacts at several lens, filter, and camera makers. One believes your problem is due to the fact a digital sensor does not “see” the image as film does, thus the end result might not be as saturated as you were used to getting on film. He says most digital cameras have a menu setting (for adjusting to a film-like sensitivity such as Kodachrome, Fuji Velvia, etc.) which will let you set the camera to record more saturated images similar to what you were getting on color slide films. He suggested checking your Sony D-SLR to determine if this option is available. Another filter marketer said they have had no user complaints or problems with their circular polarizing filters on digital cameras. Yet another filter maker said they have had no users of their polarizers contacting them about such problems. So I am puzzled. Have other readers had similar problems? Let us know.
(I also asked my colleague Jack Neubart about your question and he, too, could not understand why you were not getting the desired results. You might want to read his illustrated article about circular polarizing filters that ran
in Shutterbug a few years ago. Here’s the link to his article: www.shutterbug.net/equipmentreviews/accessories/0109hoya/index.html.)
Stored Film Life
Q. I recently found some film stored in a lab in an incubator at roughly 54˚F. Among the films I found
were Tri-X, Ektachrome, Kodachrome 25, and Polaroid
black-and-white Land film, mostly from the late 1980s
and early 1990s, though the Polaroid is early 1970s. What do you think: usable or museum pieces? Also, does Dwayne’s in Kansas still process Kodachrome?
J. R. Lang
A. Nobody processes Kodachrome film anymore—anywhere, since about early 2011. If you check Dwayne’s website,
www.dwaynesphoto.com, you will find they processed the last roll of Kodachrome on December 30, 2010. I guess the few dozen rolls of 35mm and 120 Kodachrome in my freezer can be removed to make space for food items. Most of the film you found would be questionable as to quality when used today, since they are dated in the 1980s and 1990s and were not even refrigerated. The Tri-X probably would be OK as it generally ages well, but the Ektachrome color just would not be worth the processing expense. All roll and sheet film (except any type of Polaroid pack film) can be successfully frozen for years and remains inert until thawed out (do that several days before use). Unfortunately, your film was not frozen. The Polaroid Land film might be worth a try. Since it is self-developing, it would not cost you anything. Sorry I cannot offer more optimistic suggestions for your recent film discovery.