backing paper numbers show on negatives.

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Mike Lopez

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I just discovered this post after having gotten back my prints today of several rolls 120 Kodak B&W w 2017-era expiry. “Kodak” and numbers everywhere on the negs and prints. Plan to test some other brand rolls to rule out anything else, hope Kodak might be responsive if the issue lays w Kodak… I know it’s expired film but it still shouldn’t ghost through. Never would have believed this could be a result from ‘bad manufacturing.‘ A lot of folk from my trip have been contacting me and expecting me to provide them enlargements from a fairly intimate, historic and singular event I imaged w these rolls. This rates just as badly as the other month when I went overseas on an important diplomatic mission and on the Big Day my film on the critical roll didn’t properly catch/advance on the sprockets… 35, 36, 37, 38, 39… I have a problem. At least the latter was easy to explain, this one is more complicated to the lay person who was amazed at Film (!) and are begging for prints.

Kodak sold some real crap in that timeframe. I bought several 5-packs of TMY in a pinch before a trip to Japan in the spring of 2017. I wanted HP5+, and I took for granted that my local source would have enough on hand two or three days before my trip, but they had run out, so I had to buy the TMY. Multiple rolls had backing paper problems and some had splotches on the film emulsion, making the negatives unusable. Kodak sheepishly sent me one 5-pack for my troubles (no apologies or anything like that), but of course I’d rather have my pictures from the trip that I’ll likely never take again.

I haven’t shot a roll of Kodak film since. I don’t miss it.
 

tomatojoe

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Hi Mike
It wasn't just KODAK but I got some FUJI and it was the same thing way before KODAK film went bad
 

MattKing

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The email to contact at Kodak Alaris was and probably still is profilm@kodakalaris.com.
In recent years, problems with backing paper have beset every manufacturer of 120 film.
In Kodak's case, they manifested themselves mainly by way of wrapper offset - in this case the interaction between the ink on the backing paper and the film emulsion resulting in an increase in sensitivity at the point of contact.
The current Kodak backing paper is almost completely different than backing paper of previous years. If they hadn't been able to work out this recent re-design, I expect we wouldn't have seen any new 120 film from Kodak.
I'm sorry Rrrgcy encountered the same increased problem that others suffered from a few years ago, but would point out that even before the recent problems all films with backing paper have always been more prone to deterioration with age and/or adverse storage conditions.
 

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This was another Chinese 120 film not ShanghaI. I have had bad backing paper with Rollei film, Fomapan, Shanghai. I read about the Kodak batch and threw away a few rolls in my stash. I recall there were problems with a batch of HP5.
 

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pentaxuser

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At this point you should embrace the defect if you still have some stock from the known bad batches… or pass it along to someone who wants it.


There’s no remedy. Things that have been tried like presoaking and developing immediately do not help.

The numbers and “Kodak” will appear.

I have just seen this. Either I have misunderstood what is meant by embrace or this was said in jest surely? I have always understood "embrace" to mean something close to welcome or at least accept or adapt to it

Even Kodak doesn't expect a user to embrace this in that it was prepared to exchange the defective film, wasn't it?

pentaxuser
 

ags2mikon

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I have been going through a freezer full of mainly black and white film I inherited when a friend passed away using it for testing some of my old cameras. Now that I am retired and have more time to use them, I have noticed this backing paper problem too. Most of the film is outdated, some by 25 years. He was pretty good at keeping it in the freezer so I think it was kept very cold in its original packing, but I can’t prove it for obvious reasons. All of the Kodak film with exp dates before 2015 have been fine. Last week I pulled a few rolls of T max 100 with 2001 exp date and used it to test my Bronica ec and it turned out fine no fogging or back printing. The rolls I used from 2017 had back printing. I used a few rolls of Pan F with 2007 exp date and it was fine. All the GP 3 shanghai and some of the Rollei retro 80 s also had back printing issues. Some of the last of the acros 35mm was fogged real bad. My guess is that as manufactures become more environmentally conscious and switch to ink and other chemicals with a lower environmental impact we will be throwing more stuff into the landfill due to premature failures.
 

MattKing

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"Embrace" - as in take it and run with it.
This is the antithesis of a darkroom print. But everything there came from one negative. I call it "No. 9"
No 9-2019-06-13-Brownie_0003-.jpg
 

MattKing

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I have been going through a freezer full of mainly black and white film I inherited when a friend passed away using it for testing some of my old cameras. Now that I am retired and have more time to use them, I have noticed this backing paper problem too. Most of the film is outdated, some by 25 years. He was pretty good at keeping it in the freezer so I think it was kept very cold in its original packing, but I can’t prove it for obvious reasons. All of the Kodak film with exp dates before 2015 have been fine. Last week I pulled a few rolls of T max 100 with 2001 exp date and used it to test my Bronica ec and it turned out fine no fogging or back printing. The rolls I used from 2017 had back printing. I used a few rolls of Pan F with 2007 exp date and it was fine. All the GP 3 shanghai and some of the Rollei retro 80 s also had back printing issues. Some of the last of the acros 35mm was fogged real bad. My guess is that as manufactures become more environmentally conscious and switch to ink and other chemicals with a lower environmental impact we will be throwing more stuff into the landfill due to premature failures.

The pre-2015 backing paper was manufactured by Kodak using technology, including paper inks, that is no longer found in the paper and printing industries.
As part of its downsizing in and before its bankruptcy, Kodak dismantled its backing paper manufacturing capacity. After doing so, it was left with a relatively huge (several years) of backing paper. In or around the time of the bankruptcy itself, that inventory finally ran out. The available replacements, from the greatly shrunk list of specialist paper manufacturers and printers, turned out to be problematic in ways that were difficult at first to predict, detect and overcome.
Backing paper is surprisingly complex!
 

MattKing

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Now that is real purddy.

Thanks. It is 120 T-Max 400 from the affected batches, re-rolled on to a 620 spool and run through a Kodak Brownie. I did this after I became aware of the problem - in fact from film that had already been replaced by Kodak Alaris (who didn't require that the potentially defective film be returned). In other words, I knew there was a possibility that the numbers and characters would appear, and used the film for a purpose that would not necessarily be harmed by that.
That is far different than Rrrgcy's intentions or needs, and I sympathize with his/her disappointment.
And for clarity, it is a role of the dice. I have used other film from those batches and no problems occurred. That is one of the reasons it was so difficult for Kodak to find a likely solution to the issue.
 

ags2mikon

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So far this has not bit my back side when doing serious photography. All the rolls have been tests and outdated film with low expectations. But I will be using fresh film as I do go out in the near future, if I can find any, and then it would cause bad words to bubble forth.
 

MattKing

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Who has the intellectual property rights to that technology?

The IP rights to the new technology that Kodak and its contracting parties are now employing are most likely owned by Eastman Kodak and those contracting parties. And as I understand it, they consider them to be valuable corporate assets.
And the IP rights to the old technologies are probably in the public domain, but as there doesn't appear to be anyone still around who can use those materials and techniques, that is probably immaterial.
The market for backing paper for photographic film is probably far too tiny to justify the significant amount of capital it would require to bring back the old equipment, material and processes, even if that would be possible.
 

pentaxuser

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"Embrace" - as in take it and run with it.

I suppose it becomes a question of where you chose to run with it. 🙂 I suspect that where I'd take it and run with it might be quite different to where you'd take it and run with it,Matt.

pentaxuser
 

MattKing

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I suppose it becomes a question of where you chose to run with it. 🙂 I suspect that where I'd take it and run with it might be quite different to where you'd take it and run with it,Matt.

pentaxuser

From the same roll:
b-2019-06-13-Brownie_0004-1200.jpg
 

Bill Burk

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I have just seen this. Either I have misunderstood what is meant by embrace or this was said in jest surely? I have always understood "embrace" to mean something close to welcome or at least accept or adapt to it

Even Kodak doesn't expect a user to embrace this in that it was prepared to exchange the defective film, wasn't it?

pentaxuser
The artifacts can be used creatively, like MattKing demonstrated so if someone is into that sort of thing, I could send them a couple rolls.

I’m not into defects. I enjoy some expired slow film but I like my fast film to be fresh and artifact-free.
 

pentaxuser

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Thanks Bill, it just looked as if you were suggesting that if anyone got a film with the defects that were discussed the answer was to make a virtue out of that defect

I can't think of any other consumer good where the advice would be to live a defect or make a virtue of it so neither can I think that way with film that has a defect

Even Kodak or so I understand it, accepted that such films needed replacement and fixing. Maybe I just think differently about such things

pentaxuser
 

ags2mikon

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Sometimes we post in a tongue and cheek fashion and when you are unable to hear tone inflections and or see facial expressions it gets lost. Right Bill? Of course if this is something you do a lot in life then when you see it in print you see the humor and get a good giggle out of it. But I agree that to have your art that you put so much into destroyed because of some snafu it isn't pleasant at all.
 

reddesert

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I have been going through a freezer full of mainly black and white film I inherited when a friend passed away using it for testing some of my old cameras. Now that I am retired and have more time to use them, I have noticed this backing paper problem too. Most of the film is outdated, some by 25 years. He was pretty good at keeping it in the freezer so I think it was kept very cold in its original packing, but I can’t prove it for obvious reasons. All of the Kodak film with exp dates before 2015 have been fine. Last week I pulled a few rolls of T max 100 with 2001 exp date and used it to test my Bronica ec and it turned out fine no fogging or back printing. The rolls I used from 2017 had back printing. I used a few rolls of Pan F with 2007 exp date and it was fine. All the GP 3 shanghai and some of the Rollei retro 80 s also had back printing issues. Some of the last of the acros 35mm was fogged real bad. My guess is that as manufactures become more environmentally conscious and switch to ink and other chemicals with a lower environmental impact we will be throwing more stuff into the landfill due to premature failures.

Somewhere in another thread on backing paper printing / wrapper offset, I mentioned that I have a small stash of 120 HP5+ and FP4+ from about 20-25 years ago when Freestyle sold it as Arista (either Premium or Pro, don't recall). It has been in and sometimes out of the fridge, not freezer. When it was new, it was fine, no back printing. Film exposed and developed a year or so ago, the HP5+ was fine and the FP4+ had noticeable back printing. It's just not entirely predictable (although obviously, "use film before it's 20 years old" is one of the recommendations).
 

ags2mikon

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In my fifty some years of doing photography I have never seen Kodak film do that until recently. I have had it be fogged good enough to be a nd filter but not backing paper offset. Can't say that about Ilford, foma and the others. But to be fair they were all out of date and by a good amount. GP-3 was the exception. I just don't use old film for anything important.
 
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