dr5 Labs
Renewing The Black And White Lease Page 2

HIE (Kodak High-Speed Infrared): "Same effect as the negative version with more tonal range and sharpness, a beautiful black and white infrared image in a chrome. When using the 25-R filter on the lens, set your ISO to 800, ISO 400 for a dreamier look, and ISO 100 for increased dynamic range. For the 29-R filter do not put your camera on auto. Use a handheld meter without the filter (factor) and shoot at ISO 200. Widely bracket."

Efke 50: "Exceptional image quality! An old-fashioned Adox-looking film quality. Shoot Efke 50 at ISO 50.

Note: the 120 film fogs easily; protect this film from direct light."

Delta 400 at EI 200: This shot was made on a very flat, overcast day, but the resulting transparency yielded an image quality that would match how I'd print it with great tonal values and acceptable, but not too-flat contrast.

With all this backup and having seen some amazing samples of his processing work we decided to give it a test. We rounded up some sample films, including Ilford Delta 400 and Kodak T-Max 400, and exposed them under various lighting conditions and sent them off. Our best expectations were met. The films arrived back clean and scratch-free, all well mounted. We tried out dr5's Developer 1 (neutral) and Developer 2 (sepia) as well as shot films at various speeds. Grain structure seemed improved from negative film results, and the results scanned beautifully.

Why would you want black and white chromes of shot film? First off, it's a nice, secure feeling to have a film record. And being a silver record, assuming proper storage, the images will last many, many years. Second, having a film scanner allows you to get larger image files from scans than from most affordable digital cameras, which when combined with the grain structure and tonality of the slides can yield excellent large-size ink jet prints. Third, and as important as anything, it's fun to work with new films (which this process in essence delivers) to change the way you might look at subjects and scenes.

Any caveats? Well, you must treat these reversal-processed black and white films somewhat like slide film, which means you don't expose them the way you do negative film. Overexposure in a slide film is bad news, so bias exposure for the highlights. If you're used to changing contrast through development think differently; here, you change contrast through ISO settings. Fogging can be an issue, especially with older film or, with some films and cameras, the result of the IR sensor in the camera. In general, you might be able to cut through that fog when doing projection printing by judicious use of potassium ferricyanide on the print, or even (pretty scary) on the film itself, but here the fog becomes inherent to the film record. And, finally, not every film will yield the type of results you expect, or hope for. That means you might have to abandon a favorite and rely on Wood's recommendation. It is very, very important that you read his tout sheets and follow his EI and ISO settings carefully.

What about costs? The rates are more than for E-6 for sure, but equivalent to what you'd pay for a develop/contact sheet order at a pro lab today.

In all, my experience with dr5 was very positive (sorry for the pun) and it has, to some extent, rekindled my work with black and white film. Does this mean that I'll never develop black and white negatives again, or shoot for negative processing? No, but dr5 does pose a very interesting alternative and is one that all lovers of black and white should explore. I highly recommend a visit to the dr5 website and to give a roll of film a try.

For more information, visit www.dr5.com.


ACalopez23's picture

i always admire anything that is colored black and white, it gives me this eerie feeling but it also makes me want to come back to those black and white days. - Scott Safadi