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Black spots on Pan F 120 - cause?

  1. Last week I processed a roll of Pan F 120 which is pretty much unusable due to being covered in small black spots. Below is a detail of a neg scan of one frame - there are hundreds of these dots, more in the denser areas. The pattern seen here is present in every frame of the roll.


    The film is in-date - it was bought earlier this year from B&H and expiry is Jan 2013. It was exposed in a Zero Image pinhole camera. Processed in Adonal 1:50 (Rodinal) followed by an acid stop and Kodak Fix then Hypo Clear. I suspect the problem is a combination of the film, Adonal and acid stop. Some searching suggests that Pan F is a somewhat fragile film. Funnily enough I hadn't used acid stop for years - always used water until recently on a whim I decided to use acid stop. I have read that the Rodinal solution is very alkaline and the sudden change to acid can shock some films. Would that cause black spots, which must be some sort of silver clumping? What the hell are these black spots anyway?
    I still have a couple of rolls of the Pan F left and will test with Adonal and water stop. For now I've switched to Tmax 100 for the pinhole; not keen on fragile films. Below is the full frame positive where the black spots show as white flecks.

  2. I don't believe the spots are the fault of the film. I suspect your water source first, or undissolved chemicals. The spots appear to be tiny flakes of some sort too often found in unfiltered water.I don't think the acid stop bath caused the problem, but there is no need to use it except to stop development more quickly. I have used plain water stop bath for years with no problems.
    You might try using distilled water for your final rinse.
  3. There is added density in areas near dense areas. I would suspect developer and agitation. A very active developer and too little agitation may be the cause. In some developers the by product of development produces more active development. The developer completely developed the highlights, and the by product migrated to develop other less exposed areas.

    So what developer and how did you agitate?
  4. I got a bunch of tiny black specks on a roll of 35mm Pan-F. I had mixed the developer with our well water. I read somewhere on another thread that a small amount of dissolved Iron salts in the water can cause this with certain developers and films.

    I mixed another batch of developer with distilled water and there were no more black specks. The negs looked fine. Sometime later I tried filtering our well water with a water filtration pitcher, and that worked also.
  5. Correct - there are more spots in the dense areas and less in the thin areas, however they are all over the film.
    It was processed from a very new bottle of Adox Adonal (same as Agfa Rodinal) 1:50 using tap water. I process using this tap water several times a week & have never had any marks or defects. I agitated a Paterson tank gently for the first 30 seconds and then for 10 seconds each minute. My first time with Pan F and Rodinal so I followed the Massive dev chart time which suggested 11 minutes. I think I did 9 or 10 mins as they had been quite long pinhole exposures for reciprocity so thought a slight pull was prudent. Exposure & development look fine - I was happy until I noticed the spots.
    In the same week I did some rolls of Tri-X in the Adonal & acid stop with no defects or anything unusual. I've processed 4x5 and 8x10 HP5 using Xtol and the same tap water with no marks.
  6. I was going to say that the image looked of pinhole flare. The slow speed of Pan-F produced the highlight flare. Nothing wrong just part of pinhole photography.
  7. All the frames on this roll have the black spots, even ones that weren't aiming into the light. Also, I have since switched to Tmax 100 in the pinhole with no quality problems.
  8. Not to be the voice of reason here...

    I think the shot looks beautiful with the spots.
  9. Well, first off, the image is not unusable, learn how to spot.

    Second, dark spots are usually not the film's fault. Pinholes could be, but dark spots are usually development issues.

    Third, use distilled water for all development. You'll be surprised at the difference in clarity in your negatives.

    tim in san jose
  10. I use well water too and never had this issue once. But all wells are not created equal, so I guess it could be. I have no other theory on the matter, just wanted to add my 2 cents incase you mixed new developer with distilled water and it didn't work. I use distilled water for a final rinse to reduce marks after drying, but not for the chemicals. It couldn't hurt though.
  11. Are you joking? Do you realise there are about 300 of these white flecks just on this one frame?

    I already wrote that I regularly use tap water with no problems. This is obviously a film/dev/stop issue.
  12. Don't know if this is relevant to your problem ..
    I used to have 'black' (whites on neg - opposite to yours) spots on prints when I used tap water and Rodinal combination. Not always but quite often to be a PITA.
    When I used the same tap water for other developers like D76 or XTol no spots whatsoever.
    So, maybe there is something about Rodinal and 'impure' water.
    Since then I use demineralised water to mix and dilute all my developers .. problem dissapeared.
  13. Mid last week i reported this to Ilford Harman via their "contact us" page. Hope they get back to me - I offered to send them a scan or a clip from the film. My assumption is that if they physically inspect it they can give an explanation.
  14. I can swear to this. Neither the old well water nor the newer municipal water supply are adequate for developer for me. Grocery distilled water fixed a lot.

    I use filtered municipal water for the rest of the process.

    Still, my circumstamce may have nothing to do with the OP's problem.
  15. @Michael W, The photo chemistry is designed with distilled water in mind - any other water is hit or miss.
    Buy Yourself a distiller ~ $200, pour some water or filter some water and fill it up with it, wait for the distiller to complete, then check the thick gunk on the bottom of the distiller - this is the mineral, micro-bacteria etc. etc. content that gets into the emulsion when You process it without using distilled water.
  16. Sounds like contamination in the water.

    Are the spots raised off the surface of the film or entirely within the emulsion?
  17. Rubbish. Film and chemistry are designed to be used with tap water.
    I stated clearly at the start of the thread that I process multiple rolls per week using this water and have never had a problem.
  18. Modern chems are designed to be used with any water. I have a whole house filter on my system, and have never had problems with deposits on my film or paper. As insurance, add a faucet filter to your system or buy a filtering pitcher to clean your water prior to use. At different times of the year water companies flush their lines of sediment, occasionally some can get through to homes.
  19. Looks to me like it's within the emulsion. As far as I can tell they are tiny little clumps of metallic silver.
  20. The main reason is to protect the fixer from alkaline developers. If the developer is not alkaline, then there is less reason, though a sharper end to development may make for more consistent results.
  21. Ok, I looked at a few of these on line.

    What I have been considering prior to this is an RO unit.

    I'm going to start a new thread asking for comments on the difference.
  22. I guess it is determined upon how important the photo is. Would I do it? If the subject was important, yep. One of the things taught at NESOP was recovery from issues.

    Anything can happen in chemistry. I don't happen to believe your hypothesis is correct. Water is more like it.

    Have a great life.

    tim in san jose(who has no spotting issues because he uses distilled water, always)
  23. Anyone wants to call Adox or Agfa and suggest them to produce Rodinal with tap water - why waste money for distilling water? :D
  24. Do the spots appear on the leader and tail?

    Or only within the image frame?
  25. Good questions.

    Sensor needs cleaning? :whistling:
  26. Only in the image. Unexposed areas are clear.
  27. Had a PM from someone who knows what they are talking about who agrees it is nothing to do with the water. Suggests the Rodinal (Adonal) is to blame.
  28. Your camera chamber is contaminated with clouds of developer dust? Hmm.

    ... OR ... Check very carefully any areas of the film outside of the images that are a little gray or a lot gray but not black. For example if the leader black shades to gray over the space of a few millimeters, check there very carefully to see if there are spots. And check any pressure streaks or crimp fog or light fog and check at the edges of the numbers and edge markings.

    If the dots are not in any unexposed areas, then it is very localized over development of silver.

    Are there clouds of developer dust in the darkroom air? Unlikely.

    Check the developer to see if it is perfectly clear or if there is sediment that gets stirred up or specks that are suspended almost colloidally. Also, check the developer after it is fully diluted, too.
  29. This is typical in Pinhole photography

    My first post, way back at the start should have been
    "This look like light scatter in Pinhole photography, was this a pinhole?"

    I thought it, and should have added it to my questions of processing. When I was doing a lot of pinhole I saw them all the time. Even in when not pointed at a strong light source.

    One thing maybe to prove this to you is that you can find the same pattern on different frames. Now one roll may not be enough to see, But on the hundreds of pinhole frames I have done I could see similar patters of black spots.
  30. If you suspect the Rodinal, mix 100ml at 1+25 with your tap water, then strain through a coffee filter and check it for sediment. If you have to, you can let it dry and scan the filter to check it.
  31. Ok, then the observation is that random spots in the image appear to have experienced hyperdevelopment of a currently unexplained origin.

    Places with little or no latent image have little effect, while areas with significant exposure exhibit significant effect.

    Or, as you originally said, it is proportional to density.

  32. Yes, that's correct.
    I think my suggestion of stop bath being a possible cause was a red herring. I only mentioned it because I never use acid stop and only decided to on a whim so when I saw the spots I thought it might be a factor.
    It's something about the developer. It was a newly opened bottle of Adox Adonal from the batch that landed in Sydney a couple of weeks ago. Diluted 1:50, normal inversion agitation in a Paterson tank. The PM I received said that Rodinal type developers are known to do this.
  33. How might this occur?

    Finely suspended dust particles inside the camera imaged by the infinite depth of field of the pinhole and reflecting light, like dust in beams of sunlight?

    Less than perfectly smooth edges of the pinhole?

    The first would lead to varying patterns, the second (if operative) would lead to identical patterns from picture to picture (when conditions bring it out). Your post was ambiguous. Are you saying the patterns of dots are in the same position from picture to picture (when conditions are right to create them)?
  34. no
    Yes and nothing can be perfectly smooth. When I make pinhole with the dimple and sand method these patterns are easily seen. With my Zero Image it is less evident, but can still be seen.
    yes, flares around highlights will produce similar patterns. I think this is called diffraction.
    Yes similarities in these patterns can be seen. Not necessarily the exact dot pattern, dot for dot in the same place. Sometime a ray of dots that varies in density, or a cloud of dots taking on the same shape.

    Sorry that I cannot explain better, this is only from observation, no scientific rigor on my part.
  35. Dear Michael W,

    Firstly, I do not know if anyone from HARMAN has come back to you yet, regardless its not a problem, I will sort it.

    I have checked if we have any QC's pending, we have none on any film at present. I have seen 'black spot' before and it can have various causes, never say never but I can virtually guarantee its not the film, but we need it back at the factory to make absolutely sure, and check it under the electron microscope to explain what actually caused it, and what it is.

    As to PAN F+ being 'fragile'..... I do not know where that came from, PAN F+ is not fragile, I do know all the manufacturing parameters regarding the physical structure and performance of our films and PAN F+ is as robust as all our other emulsions.

    So please pm me with your details : And send the exposed film to us in the UK marked for my attention and I will ensure tech service look at it for you, and of course give you an explanation

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN tcehnology Limited :
  36. Hi Simon, good to hear from you. I will PM to organise sending the film.
  37. Thanks trexx for the clarifications and the greater detail of your experience. I find it very interesting the myriad ways that inaminate objects have of perversely injecting anomalies into our best efforts!

    Based on trexx's posts and Simon's post, I would say that the pinhole issue is the leading suspect currently.
  38. Ok, then there is a mechanism which can produce localized excessive exposure when using a pinhole? And rather than over development this may be a case of exposure anomolies?

    Assuming this is in keeping with Simon's finding, can anyone explain the phenomena in a way that we can exploit it or avoid it?
  39. Your black spots might be related to “pepper fogging”. This is reportedly more often seen in the development of lith films and in lith printing, aerographic films, but might also be seen in regular films as well. I also found a reference to it happening with the now obsolete Kodak HIE film, but I suppose it could happen with any film under the right circumstances.

    It’s related to the process, not the film. The developer might be a suspect.

  40. Look at the bottom of your fix bottle. Silver precipitates out from used fix starting in a day or so. They appear mostly as flakes , not round spots although some are round. They stick to the next film like glue, more to the denser area, but can be abraded off carefully if film is still wet. Once dry , forget it.

    I have never found a home filtering procedure to remove the silver perfectly. Bounty brand towels quartered in a funnel will filter off the bigger pieces. MUST be Bounty, nothing else.

    I never reuse fix on important film and I do filter and use it up on test prints.

    Get a glass bottle and clean it out and use it for fix.
  41. I've shot multiple rolls of B&W and colour in this pinhole camera and have never seen those spots before. I have also re-shot in the same environment where I had this problem and the spots are not present on that roll. I'd say it's a developer problem.
    I am familiar with solar flare in pinhole photography when shooting into the light. It looks a bit like lens flare but that's not what is happening on the roll of film in question.
  42. Well, please follow up and let us know the resolution of this mystery when you get it. You got my curiosity going.
  43. film problem

    NOT development.

    We see this very problem with PAN-f regularly and have brought it to ILFORDS attention on several occasions, to '0' reply. This problem can occur with all the ILFORD films but is most seen in the PAN-f. Because dr5 is enhancing 4~5x the negative counterpart, issues such as this are seen more clearly, but can be seen very well in film that is severely damaged, neg or dr5.

    What we have determined is, that this is a storage or moisture issue. It mostly happens with the 120 film and we think the spots are paper related. Spotting can happen with 35 as well but they look different. If an un-sealed roll is put back into a cold-store, shot, fresh or old-film, the moisture will cause this spotting. PAN-f is the most susceptible to the problem. In most cases when a client of ours has this problem, this scenario occurred. This is what happened to your PAN-f.

    We have been willing to give ILFORD our feedback over the years, good, bad and constructive, but they do not give dr5 the time of day.

    regards - dr5
  44. Dear Dr5,

    Firstly, I apologise if you have not been contacted, I have always read your posts and can clearly understand that you are very knowledgeable and very passionate about monochrome, so we share that outlook, I can assure you the next time I am in the USA I will visit with you.

    As to 'black spot' I am sure you can imagine I was concerned at your assumptions. This morning I have spoken to our QC department and obtained the worldwide statistics relating to PAN F + ( 35mm and 120 )

    We have received :

    2011 Year to date 1 Complaint
    2010 1 Complaint
    2009 4 Complaints
    2008 2 Complaints

    So in the last 3 years and 8 months of sales worldwide you can see that we have had 8 complaints :

    Of those 8 complaints 5 Were Justified
    1 Cause not certain
    2 Not justified

    I cannot therefore, respectfully agree that PAN F + has a problem. As to this customers issue he is returning a sample to us and once it is examined under the electron microscope by our QC team we will give him ( as we give all our customers ) an official reply.

    'Black Spot' as I am sure you realise is a problem sometimes seen in 'home processing' due to suspended particulates in the developer, either from the mixing water or from undissolved or 'foreign' particulates in the actual raw chemicals, it tends to be much more common when powder developers are used.

    Finally, your assumption that it could be caused by moisture actually on the film or on the backing strip I cannot really comment on other than :

    1) Film that is cool strored or frozen must be protected from moisture.

    2) Once film is exposed it should be processed quickly and not put back into cold store ( unless in exceptional circumstances and again protected from moisture ).

    3) If moisture was introduced to a film ( or via the backing paper onto 120 film ) I would not expect to see 'black spot' or pinpricks I would expect to see a fairly 'random' mottle effect after development that I cannot see would would induce multiple pinpricks in the emulsion.

    Kind Regards

    Simon ILFORD photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
  45. I'm clipping a frame and posting to Simon at Ilford tomorrow. In regards to moisture, cold storage etc, the details with this film are that I bought it from B&H and it hasn't been in the fridge before or after exposure. It was exposed in a wooden pinhole camera over about 5 days and some of those days had extremely heavy rain in Sydney. The camera never got wet but the humidity would have been pretty high. I processed the film within a day or so of finishing the roll. Didn't notice the spots for a couple of days and by then the backing paper had gone in the rubbish so I had no chance to inspect that. I appreciate Simon's assistance with this and will wait to hear something in due course.

    We are not here to bash ILFORD. ..just in reply to a problem that has never been addressed, be it condition or the film it self.

    We process much of this film, in dr5 and in it's native neg form. The ILFORD films perform best in dr5 in my opinion, but that's just me. Likely many of our clients would agree.

    The below links were memorable. a very high-end client with many rolls of PAN-f, ALL ruined because of this spotting. Along with his rolls were several other-clients rolls of PAN-f with no spotting. This condition was new to us at the time [years ago], and we pulled our hair out trying to figure out if it was the process causing it, or the film. ILFORD was of no help simply because they do not acknowledge dr5 as viable. We assumed they just blamed the processing. In the end, our client saw that it was the film and stopped using the film-type, especially when he-himself could not get a reply from ILFORD.

    When we fired up our neg-line, this condition was also there from time to time.

    If ILFORD helps you with this problem I would be interested in seeing what they have to say. In 10+ years they have not addressed this issue for us, and we are a lab that processes 1000s of rolls of ILFORD films a year. HP5 actually is our highest volume film. [note - the link-files are big. #2 shows the spots]


    best regards - dr5
  47. So, after 5 pages and 6 months, was the case resolved?
  48. It took awhile; I sent the film to Ilford & eventually they sent it back to me and said they couldn't explain the spots. They also sent some fresh rolls of Pan F 120 and I've exposed and processed a few in Rodinal with no problems. This is 2014 expiry. Recently I processed one of the older 2013 rolls in Xtol and had the same spots. I have one sealed roll from this batch and I'm planning to post that to Ilford. i wonder if I'm the only one who's had this problem?
  49. Have you tried exposing a roll in a regular camera to see if the spots are still there? Or develope a roll in other developer to see if the spots are still there? Just curious. I have 200 ft of bulk 35mm that I have to use and am interested in the outcome.
  50. Thanks, Michael!
    Recently I've found Pan F 120 with exp Jan, 2013, I forgot had it in my fridge, so remembered this thread and decided to check in before I develop the film.
    I was thinking about Rodinal but I might settle to Tetenal Neofin Blue or Ultrafine.

    btw: mine is 64CPY7X01/02/JAN 2013, so if it turns out we are having from the same batch, I can send an unopened one to Ilford to compare

    Thanks again,
  51. HEY....here's what I was looking for a year ago--I determined it was the film too--although when I brought out this problem to another photo online community, my results were poo poo'ed and the popular opinion was that I was to blame for the spot problem. Nice to see that other people have the exact same problem and have made the exact same determinations--it's the film.

    I also suspected that it's a result of storage conditions/refrigeration, but I have nowhere near enough information on how my film was stored before I got it, so this is, at best, speculation.

    HOWEVER--maybe it's something else--I got black spots on REVERSAL processed film. So if the spots are black in the negative AND black in the positive, then maybe it's something else.

    I've also thought it maybe some gelatain globules with dark dye in them are seeping out or breaking free from the edges/corners of the film and going into the processing solution and thence adhering to the film surface--or something that causes teeny black particles to form in the processing (or be liberated) which adhere to the film and stick when drying.
  52. The first time I had the problem was in Rodinal & more recently it happened with Xtol, so there's two devs.
    Both rolls were from a Zero Image pinhole camera, but there's nothing about pinhole that's going to make black spots appear across all frames. I've done multiple of rolls of Tmax 100, Tri-X and Portra 160 in the same camera with not even one spot. This was always 120 of course, I haven't heard about this happening on 35mm.
  53. Black Spots on Pan F negatives

    I just processed several rolls of 120 Pan F film that I had shot but did not process for about 5 years. They were kept in their boxes in my basement office, but not refrigerated.
    The image quality was severely degraded and covered with black spots. I then tried processing rolls of Tri-X that were shot at the same time and kept under the same conditions.
    The Tri-X didn't show any degradation of the image or have any black spots. Both processed in DD-X. Apparently Pan F does not hold up under long term storage.
  54. I processed 10 rolls of Pan F+ 120 in Adox Adonal 1+50 at home and all the rolls having same spot, sample attached.

    IMG_1654.jpg IMG_1653.jpg
  55. Very sexy lady, nice exposure too.

  56. Excuse me, that would be Freezedededid.
  57. ..forget those 'poo-poo' replies! This condition is most definitely the film. ILFORD has never addressed this issue. We dont know what actually causes it, but suspect this happen to long cold stored film. Something in the paper is causing a reaction in the emulsion.

    dw /dr5.com

  58. I think Dr.5 is onto something - storage conditions.

    It would be simple to see by taking some rolls of Pan-F+ in 35mm and 120, some protected from moisture, and others not, stick them in a freezer for a couple of years, and then test them.

    As a general rule I do not freeze or cold store my film. I just keep it in the basement, protected from moisture, and I usually don't have more than 50 rolls of either 120 or 35mm at any given time, so that I rotate my inventory often. I haven't shot a lot of Ilford film in my life, it's been mostly Kodak, but the films that I have had problems with were those that had been frozen for a long time (by others). Some of it was Pan-F+, some of it was Agfa APX 25, and some Efke 100.

    Good luck to you all in solving this. I recommend Ilford uses Simon Galley to collect samples from those that are having problems, maybe even exchange a few rolls of long time frozen film for fresh film - and run some tests... A logistical challenge and nightmare, but the remedy could be as simple as having defined recommendations of how to store the film.
  59. I think I found the problem: the protective paper has been changed it is more granular and when making long time exposure the paper refers to the light and brand the film here is a picture of the difference between the two papers[​IMG]
  60. Thank you for updating this thread. However the effect of the backing paper over time or poor storage will not show the spots complained of here. That effect looks like this on HP5+ 120, which you will note matches the "pattern" on the paper you show:

  61. I had one case of Pan F Spots -- it was dated 1978 and been in fridge for years -- I think it could be the backing paper reacting -- I used MK35 Formula ( a 'Single-Solution Beutler ) formula I made up myself. Camera was a 2002 Hasselblad 501CM + 80mm f2.8 CFE Planar.
    [​IMG]Modern London by Peter Elgar, on Flickr
  62. Are you suggesting that the grain patter on the right is due to the backing paper? I would beg to differ. That grain structure is characteristic of the emulsion (regardless of format). I've gotten similar results on Pan F in Diafine, 35mm.
  63. It is a comparison between protection papers. that's the only difference I found between films that I used before and those that pose a problem today.
  64. Really
  65. I have seen spotting with old or improperly stored roll film although most samples have larger spots. It seems to be associated with the film backing paper.
  66. For the first time in +30 years of darkroom, I experienced lots of black spots on films, whatever the film make or format, on roll films and sheet films. Obviously all those negatives were absolutely useless and ruined, with no clear explanation as I had not changed my process.

    After checking all the obvious and more dubious sources of contamination throughout the process, the very last on my list was the wetting agent, normally a reliable old friend....
    The bottle was a few years old and proved to be the culprit, films dried w/out the help of the wetting agent being absolutely clean, except for a few expected drying marks. Swapping for a brand new wetting agent solved completely and immediately my problem.

    Hope this helps