ORWO A03

I happened to come across a bag of ORWO A03 developer for black and white films. Since I have a load of Orwo films I am currently doing experiments on and trying out, it felt like I should try to do a Orwo + Orwo combo of film and dev.

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Information about this developer is hard to come by, with very little facts. But here is what I have gathered from various internet sources.

A03 is a phenidone hydroquinone developer designed for tank development. 

A03 was designed as a gamma constant developer, which means all films had the same development time. 

It used to also be available as Calbe A03 and Argenti A03, after Orwo "closed down".

It seems that Orwo A03 is the equivalent of Agfa Refinal. (The history of Orwo and Agfa is complicated and suitable for another blogpost). People say that overall, A03/Refinal is similar to Ilford Microphen, which is however a developer I am yet to try out.

From an official Agfa document I found, this can be read about Agfa Refinal:

"Allround very high yield balancing developer in powder form which, as drum, small tank or tray developer and – with proper replenishment – as deep tank developer, will ensure a consistently high speed yield and uniform gradation over particularly long periods. Refinal produces fine grain and sharp contours.

Yield

With replenished processes – approx. 14 ml replenisher per 135-36 film: 71 films 135-36 with 1 litre replenisher. Yield without replenishment: • 10 – 12 films 135-36 or rollfilms 120 per litre • 50 – 60 sheet films 9 × 12 cm per litre (= 0.5 – 0.65 m²) Replenishment: see page 11.

Life

The developer can be kept dry in the original pack at room temperature for at least two years. Unused fresh solution will keep in brimful tightly capped bottles for about six months. Used developer should be stored separately from fresh. The life of used developer is reduced to about three months. The life of replenished developer in tanks with floating lids is at least twelve months."

http://mauglee.kitox.com/files/agfa_bw_film_chemicals_en.pdf

The safety data sheet for Agfa Refinal show it to be a borate buffered P.Q. (phenidone and hydroquinone) fine-grain developer, which matches pretty well with what I have found about Orwo A03.

The Agfa Rezepte book I have does not contain any information about Refinal and there are no recipes that use Phenidone at all. All the recipies seem to use Metol, or as they call it Agfa Orwo Metatyl. This book is from 1960. Information I found online points at Phenidone recipies from Agfa/Orwo showing up between 1960-1964.

Here are some sample pics. 135 is NP22 and 120 is NP20. Both developed for 8 minutes in 20c. I developed three rolls of the 500ml batch I mixed up before discarding it.

And here is a 100% crop from one of the 35mm images. Shot with a Lomo LC-A so I recommend looking at the grain more than judging image sharpness of this picture.

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ORWO NP22 in HC110 dil. E

Here are some shots from a roll of 35mm ORWO NP22, expired in -91. Shot it at ISO32, down from original ISO125. Developed in HC110 dil. E (1+47) for 12min at 20c.

This roll has been well preserved, it wouldn't have needed this much overexposure. Almost no fogging, no weirdness. A little grainy for such a slow film but, otherwise just fine.

Don't have that much else to say about this right now, here are some sample shots.

Vision 2 500T Experiments

I got a couple of bulk rolls of 500T a while back, and I just mixed up a fresh batch of C41 so it's time for some color negative work again. Unfortunately the first two rolls got underexposed/underdeveloped so it was a bad combination that lead to almost non existent negatives. The second time around I pushed the developed with an extra minute and got better results, but it seems that shooting this at ISO400 is just not enough due to its age. This stuff was produced in 2006 so it's expired over 10 years ago now. Notice I said Vision 2 and not 3..

Will next try to pinpoint a good ISO instead of just taking this stuff with me to travels and then coming home with empty rolls, so frustrating..

I also got a remjet removal (ECN-2 prebath from Nik & Trick Photo Services over in UK), and combined that with my washing soda treatment. I think I have nailed down now the remjet removal part of the process. Just some specks left on the edges of the frames but nothing like before where there was a lot of smudge all over the place.

Here are some sample shots: 

 

I'll let you know these experiments progress. As always, drop a comment if you want to know more about anything.

Silberra Pan200 in HC110 dil. B

Just a short blog post this time about the Silberra films. Tried the Pan200 I had underwhelming results with last time again, but now with Hc110 and a real SLR instead of the Lomo LC-A.

I couldn't find any development times for HC110 so based on the other times I did a guesstimate at 8min (20c) and I would say that was a pretty good guess.

Here are some example pics:

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I'd say it develops just fine in HC110, no big difference compared to D76. There is some grain, but it's not bad. Scans easily, all in all pretty good but no real difference compared to PAN160.

Silberra Pan100/50 first impressions

Alright, here is part two of the Silberra film reviews.

First up, there was much less info about developing these films than the previous pair. Their web page has some for PAN100, so I went with same time and soup for both rolls. Namely D76 1+1 in 22c for 12 minutes.. For some reason, they recommend 2 degrees warmer development than on previous films. I do not know why. I agitate a little bit less than other people because I get bored and start doing other stuff, but I poured out exactly at 12:00 sharp. I do not use a stop bath.

I would say the rolls came out over developed, possibly over exposed too (maybe due to the extended IR sensitivity and rolls were shot in very sunny Lissabon?). I am not an expert dialing down this kind of stuff, I usually go by other peoples findings, but I think for the next two rolls I will cut development with at least a minute, or go with 20c as I usually do.

As with previous films, they don't curl, film base is transparent, they dry quickly. No issues there. I get 37 pictures per roll, there are no film markings.

First up, Pan 100, and some example pictures. 

As you can see, shadow detail is descent considering the contrasty sunlight. Highlights are a bit blocked, and all the walls look almost completely white. This might be due to the IR-sensitivity. I did not shoot anything with any filters. Looking at film speed, ISO100 looks about right or possibly even a bit low. 125 might be better, or I need to pull the development a bit.

Here is a 100% crop. As you can see, there is barely any visible grain here.

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Pan50

A bit overdeveloped this one too, highlights are blocking up, shadow detail is pretty good. Most of this roll was shot in blazing sun, very contrasty and difficult lighting. I have to say, it holds up well. It is also very sharp, there is no grain. Reminds me of the now famous Agfa APX25 (not surprising this is basically an Agfa surveillance film). Skin tones are a bit on the light side (also not surprising considering extended IR-range) but I think it looks nice. I really like the portrait here below.

And another 100% crop. As you can see, detail is incredible and grain is non existent. I am very impressed.

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Closing thoughts. I have now tried one roll each of the four different types of Silberra film I got hold. I still have one of each left, so I will return with the third and last part of this review series when I have shot them too. All in all, couldn't be happier of the results. I just hope Silberra don't increase the price up to JCH Street pan levels, because if they do, I fail to see the point of this film. Street pan is a cool film, but it's just too darn expensive for me to justify the cost. It's not better than HP5, but it is more expensive. Here on the other hand, we have something that is on par with FP4/Pan F, with a different tonal range, and lower price. I could definitely see myself buying another pack of Silberra films, just for this reason.

Alright, let me know your thoughts on this, and if you want me to expand on anything further.

Silberra Pan 160/200 first impressions

A while back a friend (thanks Nikolay!) from St Petersburg came to Finland so I went down to visit him, along him he had a small bag of Silberra films that at the time were not possible to buy anywhere else than in person in St Petersburg.

During winter it's really dark up here, so it took a while for me to shoot a couple of rolls, but today I developed and scanned the first two rolls. A Pan160 and a Pan200.

First off.

Pan160

Developed in D76 1+1, at 20C, for 19 minutes. Shot with a Pentax Spotmatic, mix of Pentax glass, a Helios 44-2 and an Industar 50-2.

Here are some example pictures from the lovely towns of Luleå and Oulu:

And here is a 100% crop: 

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Pan200

Developed in D76 1+1, at 20C, for 16 minutes. Shot with a Lomo LC-A.

Here are some example pictures:

Here is a 100% crop:

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Summary

Agfa traffic surveillance film, fine grain, hard contrast, goes up to the IR range, doesn't curl, clear film base.. is this.. is this JCH Streetpan for a fraction of the cost? I see some striking similarities, except at a lower film speed.

I gotta say the Pan160 looks pretty good for cityscapes, especially since I like a certain grimey look. I pull midtones way down, and I hate it when I get a mushy look when I want it to be generally dark/moody (Delta3200 worst offender). I'm not sure I would like this for portraits and such. Can't be sure, since I haven't tried, but solely based on the tonal range/feel. Film speed seems to be actually 160, none of that weird Rollei shit where film speed is two stops lower of advertised.

Pan200 looks equally fine, however, we are talking about a 0.33EV difference. A third of a stop. B/W film has so good latitude that if you expose two shots a third of a stop away from each other, there is no visible difference. So what is the point of this film? Honestly I can't say. It looks like the grain is a bit larger/visible compared to Pan200. I think you could might as well just push the Pan160 half a stop to 250 if you needed a tiny bit more speed. Maybe they just wanted to release a couple of different emulsions for the same range to then gauge what the public opinion is, and focus the efforts on either 160 or 200 depending on what people prefer?

Little difficult to judge the qualities of Pan200 this time since I shot with the Lomo LC-A.. Exposure is a little bit hit and miss, focus is off on a lot of shots, etc. Maybe Pan200 has qualities I am missing due to this. Luckily I have another roll of each left.

Just the fact that Silberra films have come out makes me happy. We got JCH Street pan, the re-release of Tmax3200, Ilford going still going strong. The chinese are back in the game with Lucky SHD100 and Shanghai GP3. I am not worried that I won't be able to get hold of the film i need for my own stuff in the long term. Black and white film seems to be going strong right now, and the worst dip is behind us. Both Pan160 and Pan200 I could definitely see myself using, especially at the price point I got these for..

Anyhow, let me know if you have any questions or if you would to read more about a certain subject I touched on in this post! Until next time.

[Edit:]

Silberra confirms my suspicion about Pan160/200: "PAN160 is alternative for PAN200, the latter shall be referred as Limited Edition at the moment. We'll decide later which one shall survive."

Book review: Lomo life

Found this book for cheap (around €10) at the photo museum in Stockholm this weekend. Was so cheap so I thought why not.

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I skimmed through it now and realize why it was so cheap, it is more like hundreds of pages of ads for lomography, the company. There is so much repetition in the text, and marketing speak about how fantastic lomography is.

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The pictures are often small, and the text is in the focus here. I can't say any of the information in the book was new to me, nor did I feel it was very interesting.

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So bottom line, I give it a 3 out of 10. The book is high quality, it looks nice with its dust jacket, the price was reasonable. But it was not inspirational.

Superia Venus 800

Got my first roll of Venus 800 back from the lab. First impressions - I like it. The grain is.. obviously there, it's a pretty grainy film. But it is not that "in your face", it's kinda subdued, soft somehow.

The color palette really suits a cityscape, especially if you don't want to have bright colors. It's kinda brown in colors. Neutral, almost a bit unsaturated.

These shots are from my trip to Budapest this new years. I wish I had another roll or two, since Fuji will probably discontinue this film stock soon. Let's hope there's some left in Tokyo next time I'm there.

 

Budapest - Oriental Seagull 400 in D76 1+1

Bought a roll of Oriental Seagull when I was in Japan last year. It is a very cheap BW product that, from what I have been able to research about it, is a Harman (Ilford) made product that is exclusive for the Japanese market, and it is NOT a rebranded Kentmere 400.

(Edit: It seems it is just rebranded Kentmere in the end, and they were just telling marketing lies.)

Film edges are marged with OR NSG 400. Film doesn't curl much at all, kinda like latest generation Ilford products.

Every film that is not a rebranded Kentmere or Fomapan interests me of course, so gotta try it. Shot this roll with the Lomo LC-A while spending New years in Budapest. So here are some street photos.

General feelings are that this is a quite grainy, old style emulsion. Latitude seems fine, film speed is not exaggerated, it is probably very close to actual 400. One roll is not enough for a proper review but, so far, I like it. I'll pick up some more rolls next time I'm in Tokyo.

Orwo NP27 in D76 1+1

Another old film from the other side of the iron curtain. The famous Orwo films are not that unknown, they are not bad films either.

First impression, it curls a lot, but not longways as usually, but the short side is U shaped.. makes scanning a bit of a hassle since it's difficult to get it into the neg holder.

I exposed this one at ISO100 even though it's a ISO400 film originally, but this particular roll was 2 decades out of date. One stop per decade really seems to work well. I'd say D76 1+1 works just fine for this film too, the grain is pretty harsh but not in a bad way. There is this grimey look that I usually like. I wouldn't recommend this film for portraits though, at least this old. On the other hand I don't like much grain in my portraits.

I have a couple of rolls left, next time I'll try HC110. Here's some shots!

D76, 1+1, 20c, 12min. normal agitation.

 

Krasnogorsk 3 and small test with Svema Co-32D (Свема ЦО-32д )

So it all started with that I accidentally bidded on a 400ft roll of 16mm film. I thought it was 35mm, and it wasn't so I started looking into what I could do with this roll. I got it at a very good price, but it felt like such a waste to just let it expire even more in the fridge.

Then I came across this russian old 16mm camera people kept talking of as a good cheap beginner 16mm camera, and I read all about it. It felt like a perfect match, I have had a dream of doing some movie stuff too, not just still photography. Maybe this was a good opportunity.

So I found a cheap Krasnogorsk 3, found some cheap expired soviet-era film for it so I didn't have to waste my precious Kodak 500T in case I messed up. I found the parts to modify it to Super 16 (16:9 aspect ratio instead of 4:3), and started opening it up, cleaning all the parts, and modifying it. There was a bunch of problems, lens didn't focus to infinity, the viewfinder was really grimey with some sort of oily substance so everything was just a blur (still is pretty bad though).

Eventually I got things going, took some test shots in my kitchen, developed it in black and white chems (no color image but that doesn't matter) and scanned it frame by frame with my flatbed scanner just to get a feel for how it works, if everything is aligned properly etc.

This is the end result. I have some interesting real projects coming soon, however right now it is pretty much dark 24/7 outside, so it might have to wait until february or thereabouts.

 

Agfa Copex HDP13 in Rodinal

When looking through ebay you often see the Agfa Copex microfilms for sale, dirt cheap. I bought a roll, and didn't realize it was unperforated. Do'h. Oh well, bought 35mm-120 converter from ebay. The thing didn't fit my bulk loading cassettes. Do'h! So I just crammed the thing into my hasselblad back and put some bubble wrap top and bottom and said fuckit.

Shot a couple of quick test rolls yesterday and today. Yesterday I fucked up the metering, the sun had already set and I must've looked wrong at my meter because I was doing about 1-2s exposures at f8, which did feel odd but I didn't think about it. Today I went out daytime and it was 1-2s again, so a little bit better results.

I rate this film at ISO25, but I'd say it's a little bit low. Maybe due to reciprocity failure, since pretty much every shot is 1+ seconds. Maybe due to this roll being old, there is no date markings on it and who knows how it's been stored.

What I can already say about this roll is this, it scratches sooo soo easily. And fingerprints stick to it immediately. DO NOT HANDLE THIS FILM WITHOUT COTTON GLOVES. Seriously. And when loading from the bulk roll into the cassettes, you cannot "tighten it" by just dragging the film in the roll, you will make serious scratches. When wet, you can scratch off the emulsion with your finger, it's really delicate.

The film base is clear PET plastic, so base fog is not an issue. Contrast however is, as I said this is a microfilm, made for taking high contrast pictures off documents. Not for pictorial stuff. So contrast control is the tricky part. I did 1h stand development in rodinal, 1+100, and it turned out pretty alright in my opinion.

Is it worth it shooting this film? For experimental stuff, sure. But due to it being so scratch prone and difficult to handle, it's not worth it as a daily film. If you want that gritty high contrast look with maximum sharpness and resolving power, there is some interesting images that can be had with this film stock.

Here are some examples. Note the weird form factor due to shooting 35mm in the Hasselblad.

 

New scanner and new pics

Got myself a proper scanner now for medium format, an Epson v800. First impressions - image quality has improved a lot now from my old dslr+lightbox method. Silverfast has a pain in the ass licensing system though, I already have a licence for my Plustek scanner, but they are not of the exact same type (one is 8SE one is regular 8) I can't use both scanners with the same installation. Either I keep installing the one I want to use when I change scanners, or I pay €70 for the upgrade of the non-SE version to the SE one. That is just terrible terrible customer service.

Silverfast is a pretty nice piece of software but small things like this make me really dislike the software and them as a company. Why put in all these software locks..

I've been travelling a bit and shot some more rolls. I also did a small photoshoot for a finnish clothes brand called FM/AM, you can probably spot which ones those are. Anywho, here are some random pics that are recent!

 

And one last thing, here is a picture of a master at work.

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Svema 65 expired in -88

Another old russian roll. This one was an even more expired Svema, souped in HC110. It turned out really good actually, some fogging but not that bad. Not too grainy, and whole range of grays. Interesting!

 

Tasma Foto 64 expired in -92

Funny stuff this Tasma. It comes in these tiny packages and the film is wrapped in black paper, but it does not come with a cartridge. You need to have your own to load the film is, since it's literally just a roll of film with around 36 exposures.

Had those since before so not a problem there.

My previous experiments with old expired soviet films were with Rodinal, this time I decided to try out the number one developer for expired films according to internet wisdom, HC110. Dilution B (1+31) at 20C for 7 minutes. I'd say this was a pretty good ballpark development time.

Apparently HC110 contains benzotriazole which is the most used anti-fogging agent, which makes it a good candidate for fogged films. You do loose a little bit of speed however with HC110 but I've already lost several stops worth of speed with these rolls due to age.

I shot the roll at around ISO12, ISO16 would be two stops so 12 is -2.33EV.. and 1992 was 25 years ago so that felt like a reasonable amount. It was barely enough though, and the shots would have benefited from a tad more light. But even at ISO12, shooting handheld starts to become really problematic. Unless you have a bright sunny day, it's basically impossible.

The camera I used was again my trusty Canonet QL19. My Pentax cameras hate this super curly stiff stuff that the soviets produced. The Canonet seems to have a different type of winding mechanism that kind of likes it that the film wants to curl up tightly on the take up spool.

Anyhow, here are some pictures!

 

Travel and street photography in Hong Kong

Hong Kong was probably the best city I've ever been in when it comes to street photography. There was just so much on every street corner. Such contrast between rich and poor. Crazy high rise buildings, but built with bamboo scaffolding, while the working class is burning trash on the streets.

For night time stuff, there is so many neon signs everywhere, people moving around, market streets. I think I need to go back and spend a couple of more nights, this time I was pretty jet lagged and felt rushed in that I really wanted to shot a couple of rolls of stuff at least.

Here are some of the best I've scanned so far!

 

Travel pictures from Tokyo

Here is a random assortment of pictures from Tokyo. I'll post some more in a day or two.

Here are some color shots. The nice looking ones are with the japanese only film stock Superia Premium! I really liked it. Easy to scan, low grain, pastel-like colors in some scenes.

 

Bergger Pancro 400 in Rodinal

Shot my first roll of Berggers new film a while back, and digitized the negs yesterday. Developed in Rodinal 1+50 for 22 minutes at 20C. Whoa, 22 minutes? That was a long ass time. I got bored of agitating after a while and got sloppy towards the end. Probably was one inversion every 2 minutes instead of 30sec or whatever.

First impressions are:

  • It's a bit grainy, isn't it? Sure its ISO400 and I developed in rodinal but.. still.. pretty rough grain?

  • I should've shot it at ISO320, I feel that everything is ever so slightly underexposed

  • Not a huge fan of the skin tones, the two portraits I have

  • It seems to hold up well in the highlights, if you look at the third shot here below, of the entrance to the hospital, in the upper left corner - look at the structure of the brighter part of the building. You can see the different shades, textures. Look at the shadow part straight below, it's all pretty murky

Interesting fact, the building in these shots is an abandoned sanitarium in northern Sweden for TBC patients. It is very very large and has been just sitting in the middle of a small village now for a decade, mostly forgotten.