Sunday, November 22, 2009

Adjacency effects in B&W film development

There are many types of density anomalies that can be recorded in the silver photographic image, flare and other optical chain faults, as well as turbidity within the photographic emulsion during exposure. This article concerns itself with a group of anomalies that occur during processing, these are commonly referred to as adjacency effects.

The image above is a small section of a lens test chart, when photographed on B&W film the transition from black to white can be represented by a square wave form thus:

Obviously the representation above is what would be recorded by the film in ideal circumstances, in reality the action of the developer causes a peak (A) and a trough (B)

These density anomalies happen during development, at the border of a high/low density areas where the exposed part of the film diffuses bromide (which is a byproduct of development) into the lower density region causing a trough to form (B) as the bromide has a retarding action.
The developer is exhausted in the area of greater exposure causing developer to leech from the lower density area to the higher one, this causes a peak to form (A)
The enhancement of density at the edge of the dense area is known as the border effect the depression at the bottom is called the fringe effect.
Together they form edge effects seen in prints that are known as Mackie lines.

The figure above shows that the increase in density becomes greater as the lines on the chart decrease in size, this is known as the Eberhard effect.
Strangely this effect slows at around 0.1mm and then from that point decreases.
As the lines decrease further the area between them is retarded with respect to the rest of the image and this produces a lower density that is known as the Kostinsky effect.
Studies have concluded that adjacency effects occur with all developer types and that in practice there is little difference between them.
It should be noted that agitation (or rather a lack of or reduced agitation) can make a difference. It has been reported by some users of Rodinal that using the developer at high dilutions combined with minimal agitation can result in increased edge effects.
These are probably produced by macro bromide effects as bromide is the main cause of developer retardation and a byproduct of the development process.

© Photo Utopia 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rolleiflex 3,5F

Last year I bought a Rolleiflex T and re-acquainted myself with using a TLR and although not the perfect camera (what is)? it is one that works well for me with my style, I like square images and find composing in that format helps me to find a focal point.
The first TLR I used was a 3.5F with a Schneider Xenotar lens, which at the was the company 'training' camera, most of the photographers used Hasselblads because of the inter-changeable backs and lenses, the TLRs were considered 'learner' cameras.
So here am I twenty plus years later finally investing in what most see as one of the classic TLRs.
Xentotar vs Planar
The Rollei TLR during its long history was supplied with either Schneider or Zeiss lenses, depending what or whose web pages you read both a claimed to be superior, I have owned a F2,8 Planar a Tessar and two Xenotar models and can comfortably say at around F11 it will be hard to tell any of them apart. Conventional wisdom has it the Xenotar is sharper in the centre while the Planar is slightly better at the edges at wider apertures.
All I can say is that all the lenses used on the Rollei are excellent, quite capable of producing stunning results.

Operation and comparison with my Rolleiflex T
The fist thing I noticed was the F is heavier than the T, and feels slightly more substantial and robust; not a great deal more but no doubt the internals gears etc are also more robust, talking with service technicians confirms this.
The thing I like least about the T is the way the shutter speeds changes, the mechanical linkage has a less 'direct' feel, sometimes I even feel a slight slippage when changing apertures/speeds.
In contrast the rotating wheel used on the F feels very positive and accurate.
This camera has a built in Selenium light meter, it still works and as such is a welcome addition but I wouldn't like to trust its accuracy for really critical work.

One of the disadvantages compared to the T (and Rolleicord) is that the F has a 'bay II' bayonet fit, this means that accessories like lens hoods and my favourite close-up lenses the Rolleinars are all much rarer and expensive.
During the first few rolls I also found another feature that I like. If you push the F&H logo on the hood then look through the eyepiece on the back of the hood you get a focus magnifier, you cant see the whole field of view and its inverted (upside down), but the focus is more accurate using this method.
Here below are a couple of shots from the Rollei on the new Ektar 100 film not for any other reason than I like the colours...

This one is against the light
Summing up I find the F an excellent camera, not as a cheap way to get into MF photography, for that I'd recommend a Rollei T or even a Rolleicord/Yashica/Autocord.
What it will bring you is a camera that in my opinion is one of the classic designs of all time, if you forced me to pick one camera to use for the rest of my life it would be this one.
© Photo Utopia 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kodak Ektar 100 in 120

It is now over a year since Kodak announced the 35mm version of this film, after which many photographers asked for it in 120 size. After a few months Kodak obliged releasing a 120 version. I have a review of the 35mm emulsion here Ektar 100 35mm
So why review the medium format size?
My feeling after over 6 months of use (about 10 rolls) that the two are slightly different in character, I'm sure that its not just the format or the cameras, I actually think they behave in a different way.
First of all some tests that as normal centre around a Kodak No13 colour chart taken in a shaded area, first taking a 1 per cent spot meter reading from a grey card then taking -2 N and +2 exposures
The -2 has a slight lack of shadow detail, but just as with the 35mm shows an acceptable result, slightly more grain and lower contrast with a slight colour cast .
he normal was the easiest to scan and wet print, good colour and contrast greys remained neutral
The +2 has better shadow detail, but seems to have a blue/magenta cast which although can be filtered was in my opinion not as neutral as the normal neg
In bright sunlight colours are saturated,but detailed, slightly more conventional than the 35mm Ektar emulsion but in the same ballpark.
This shot and the following shot were made in quite dull conditions and for me this is where the results are different from the small format version. I would have thought that colours would remain fairly saturated, but in fact what I got from the two rolls shot on this day would be similar to what I would expect from Kodak Portra 160. I know what you're thinking that in some way they are under-exposed or possibly processing may have been different.
Seeing these results raised doubt in my mind about firstly my Minota spotmeter which checked out fine and then with the processing. In later trials though I tested the film in both cloudy and full sun and can confirm that the 120 film has slightly more muted colour when the weather is dull. I can say that I haven't come to this conclusion lightly and have actually re-written and put back this review until I felt that I had repeated consistent results from different cameras, processors and conditions.

This shot was taken in shadow and was to see how the film rendered skin tones, overall Ektar impresses me how it boosts reds and blues and yet gives quite natural believable skin tones, it does this with both versions of the film in a similar manner, I'd imagine it would be a great choice for fashion photography.
Something I've noticed though is a slight tendency for cooler colours in the shadow regions, this in my opinion is more so with the 120.

My overall conclusions are that this version of Ektar is similar yet not exactly the same as the 35mm version. So if you need a very fine grained film with good (yet not over the top) saturation especially in the red and blue parts of the spectrum this film is well worth a try.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

1930's Zeiss Ikon Exposure table

I found this old 1930's Zeiss exposure table in my loft recently, it has little value apart from photographic history, having bought an Ikonta of similar vintage recently its nice to have some period documents.

One thing I did note of interest is the DIN, Scheiner and H&D film speed values and their equivalents which may be of use to someone trying to work out speeds of 1930's films.

Above is the 'how to use' instructions and a reminder of some accessories available for your Zeiss camera.
If you'd like to see the text more clearly just left click the images to open at 100 per cent view, the text should be easily viewable.
© Photo Utopia 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

Silver and filamentary growth

The above is picture of a developed silver crystal that during reduction has transformed into a filamentary mass. This is quite common with most modern developers and film types, and is especially true of fine grain developers of the MQ and PQ type.
What I'm often asked is what causes the filamentary growth? why don't the grains always keep their original post exposure shape?
I'll try to explain.
When a silver halide grain is exposed to light electrons move within the crystal with extreme rapidity. Some of these electrons are 'trapped' in lower energy areas of the crystal such as defects or impurities, the trapped electron makes a still more efficient trap for other electrons and so on.
In this state the silver is said to be a 'latent image' and needs a developer to magnify it.
During development the charge that has been concentrated at the traps is highly negative and especially so at the tips which attract positive ions from the solution.
A needle like protuberance is formed which rapidly turns into a filament, such filaments have a large surface for their volume giving plenty of opportunity for developer ions to be adsorbed along its sides forming a flat ribbon like structure.
This results in a very strong negative charge at the tip of the filament which attracts silver ions, which when they come in contact with the tip are neutralised to give metallic silver and therefore even more rapid filamentary growth.

I hope that this explanation helps those who have asked how these filaments are formed.
© Photo Utopia 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Zeiss Ikonta 520/2

The Zeiss Ikonta was designed by Dr August Nagel shortly after which he left Zeiss to form his own company Nagel Werke who eventually became part of Kodak and made great cameras such as the Retina.
The camera above is a 1932 model with 105 mm F4,5 Tessar lens which because of the age is uncoated, despite this it is a well renowned optic and during the time of manufacture one of the best lenses available.
The shutter is a Compur 'leaf shutter' type with speeds 1/250 down to 1 second plus B & T, in which the T setting is used by hitting the release once to open and again to close and is useful in dark conditions when on a tri-pod, probably would make a nice astro photo 'star trails' setting for several hour long exposures.
The apertures run from F4,5 to F32 and are changed using a lever under the lens.
On the back you can see two red windows, the left is for advancing the film 6x9 (8 exposures) the right is used in conjunction with an insert (nearly always lost) to give '645' (16 exposures)
Also in the picture you can see the Albada view finder which is used for framing only, the focus point being guessed- you needed a Super Ikonta model for rangefinder focus.
Inside the back is an advert for Zeiss 'Pernox' film
When you consider how old this camera is (it was produced in the year Hitler came to power) it works very well, all speeds seem to work, the bellows is without holes and the Tessar is free of scratches.
The uncoated Tessar is pretty sharp, probably short of Rolleiflex or Hasselblad Zeiss lenses by a margin but impressive considering the age and very useable in but the most demanding conditions.
The camera is quite a challenge compared to modern SLRs as pretty much everything is guessed, the focus distance, the exposure, the shutter is manually cocked before exposure the wind-on has no lock making double exposure a danger should you forget to advance (also nice for some effects). The alabada finder although yellow with age is reasonably accurate for infinity work closer work is more problematic.
The lens has a minimum focus of 5 feet which makes it none to useful for head and shoulder type portraits full length being the best you can hope for:
The above is a shot on closest focus at around F8, note the chopped of feet due to parallax error.
This image was a real test, loaded with ISO 100 film guessed exposure of 1/25 at F4,5 at roughly 25ft distance- actually turned out surprisingly well.
You can clearly see the wires (see enlarged section top right) in this shot of the Jewelers shop proving the old Tessar is quite up to the task for most infinity type work. I'd not be quite so happy to shoot portraits because of the 5ft minimum focus. Finally just a colour shot, Fuji 400H 1/250 at F11

In all I really liked the Ikonta, will probably look for a later Super Ikonta with a coated Tessar ultimately.
I now have quite a collection of folding cameras, and really like the big negative small package they are great cameras available in some cases for very little money (I paid £18 for this one) and despite their very manual operation they can be fun.
© Photo Utopia 2009

Friday, August 07, 2009

Ensign Selfix 16/20

Ensign was the trademark of the British company Houghton-Butcher Ltd a company with a long history of camera and plate making. In the early part of the 20th century they were the largest British camera maker, and at its height in the 30's the Wathamstow works employed over a thousand people. After the war they found themselves with bombed out factories and in a poor financial state so joined forces with Ross the lens manufacturer and the camera factory was moved to the Ross Clapham Common works. The Selfix 1620 pictured here is a mark II model from around 1950 with a Ross Xpres F3,5 lens and has a negative size of 6x4.5. Model I cameras had an Ensar lens later ones had a built in finder rather than the alabada one the top model sported a Rosstar lens.

The camera is of excellent build quality, quite comparable to either Voigtländer or Zeiss, and has an interesting and quirky design.

First off is the shutter release which is on the left side, which in itself isn't too bad except on the right (where you'd expect the shutter release to be) is the lens board door.
Furthermore if you look at the image above of the shutter button you'll notice a central pin. The pin is designed to depress with the shutter button unless you forget to cock the shutter!- let me explain.
If you wind on the camera and forget to cock the shutter which is a lever near the aperture when you depress the button the pin pricks your finger to remind you 'please don't do that' One can only wonder in this litigious day and age how this feature could be even considered or what sort of designer would create such a feature? was he forced to sit on a spike as a child and just getting his own back?

The lens is a Ross Xpres F3,5 which I've been told is comparable to a Tessar both in design and quality. he Epsilon shutter seems to have a similar range to a Prontor. The Selfix doesn't have a rangefinder so is as manual as you can get but after a while guessing both distance and exposure aren't as problematic as it would seem.

Here is a 100 per cent view of the centre:

Certainly not bad, quite up to the standard of Zeiss or Voigtländer

The image below shows the inside, special things to note are the key ways for the roll which meant that the camera can use 120 or 620 type films the bottom of the holder is sprung and when pushed down makes a plunger release from the button making for easy loading.

The following picture is just to show the size relative to my Leica, its not trying to suggest a preference for either. But it does show the relative advantage of a folding camera– medium format film in a small package, coupled with a good lens makes a very decent picture maker.

The Ensign Selfix is a great little camera if you stumble across one in a junk shop or car boot, it has its quirks (the finger pricking pin) and its main disadvantage is lack of rangefinder meaning you have to guess distance.
Also on a personal note it is the first British camera I've owned, and I remember my grandfather telling me about his Ensign 'bellows' camera.

Found Film: ILFORD Selochrome

This roll was given to me by a local camera shop who hoped that I could get some images from the 40 year old film.
The film as you can see was loose wound and placed in a Kodak Verichrome pan box, then put in a draw and forgotten about by the owner who decided to process it this week!

Having never used Selochrome before and not being able to find much info on the internet regarding developer times I decided to give the film a time of 20 min at 1:50 dilution, 20°c in Agfa Rodinal which I feel is a good low fog developer.
The lady who the film belongs too seemed to think it came from a simple box 'Brownie' camera and from what she tells me about the two girls (her daughters) these images were taken around 1967 judging by their ages.

Although edge fogged due to loose winding and the backing paper has reacted slightly with the film in some way (probably moisture) the images are pretty clear and overall base fog is low enough for either conventional printing or scanning.
Another nice surprise 'Rip Van Winkle' film.

© Photo Utopia 2009

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Voigtländer Bessa 1 Folding Camera

The Bessa I wasn't the first Voigtlander to have that name there was an older pre-war Bessa too which I have an article on here: Link
This particular Bessa was manufactured between the late 1940's up until the late 1950's and is a well made camera that uses 120 film and can give either 6x4.5(with insert) or 6x9 size negatives.
The Model I has a simple finder that lacks a built-in rangefinder, the camera I purchased has a small finder that mounts in the shoe on the top which in practice is pretty easy to use- you just transfer the distance to the lens.

The Lens is a Vaskar F4,5 which is a triplet design, some cameras came with the Skopar F3,5 which is a Tessar type which probably gives better performance optically.
To open the camera just press the button near the wind knob (pictured below) and pull the drawbridge until the mechanism clicks.

Loading the film is pretty easy just place it in the cradle and pull the backing paper to the spool on the left, turn the wind knob and close the back.
The back has two windows, the right hand being the 6x9 and left one for 6x4.5. A centre knurled disc operates a guard which should be closed to stop stray light and has an 'x' to show it is closed it should be kept closed unless you are advancing the film.
The Bessa appears to have a neat anti double exposure device which makes it impossible to fire the shutter without winding. After winding the shutter needs to be manually cocked with a lever before you can take a picture.
So how does the camera fare in a real shooting situation? Although much slower in operation than the Bessa II (coupled RF version) or indeed most SLR cameras it can be used quite quickly set to either the hyperfocal distance or even infinity and stopped down to F11 in practice its just wind and cock shutter then shoot.
The following is a shot just set at infinity 1/250 at F11

Vaskar lens at F11 Fuji Neopan 400 in Rodinal 1:100

A 100% crop of the frame showing the impressive sharpness of the 3 element Vaskar

I must say I was surprised by how good the Bessa is, the three element Vaskar is a good picture taker, and although the camera is slow in operation compared to modern cameras once you get a shooting routine things are relatively straight forward.
All of which is nice but why bother using one in this century? After all bellows cameras belong to the same era as Bakelite radios, Flash Gordon and the Great Depression why should a modern photographer bother?
The best answer I can give is the biggest advantage of folding cameras is that when folded they are relatively small for their negative size and can be stored in coat pockets or shoulder bags or placed in a car glove-box for that 'unmissable' travel shot.
Below is an illustration of the size of the camera when folded in my smallish hand.
So in all I find the Bessa a far more practical camera than say my Fuji 6x7 RF despite its age and if you can find one with bellows that are in a reasonable condition it should give years of service.
One last shot on Fuji 160:

It could be that the folding camera is due for a comeback? In 2008 Voigtländer introduced the Bessa III retro?- you bet, but also a lot more practical that you'd think.
Words and Pictures © Mark Antony Smith

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kodachrome: A celebration of a legend

Kodachrome was born in 1935 the product of two musicians Leopold Godowsky and Leopold Mannes giving the phrase to Kodak employees 'Kodachrome made by God and Man'
Initially for 16mm movies with 35mm Stills following a year later. The film was the first really easy to use (no filters or glass plates) colour film which made it popular with serious amateurs and professionals especially with the then relatively new Leica cameras.
But the main reason for its success was its wonderful colours. Here courtesy of Simon97 are some images made before the second world war at the world fair in 1939:

Most peoples vision of the 1930's is a dull grey these wonderful images show otherwise rich bright colours and tones that would become part of the post war portrayal of the American dream
Kodachrome in the 1930's was expensive; the equivalent of about $50 per roll in todays money which meant that it was used mainly by enthusiasts for important subjects like weddings, travels abroad and family occasions.
Over the next few years the film cemented its position as the number one colour film also being used by National Geographic to bring the colourful Kodachrome world right into the homes of ordinary Americans and people worldwide.
During the 1950's and 60's Kodachrome was at its peak in popularity, used to record many of histories defining moments; The conquering of Everest, Kennedy's assassination (16mm cine film) pictures of stars like Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot- Kodachrome was the colour of the 1950's and 60's.
During the 1960's the speed of the film was increased with the introduction of Kodachrome II the film became much easier to use for the average enthusiast 'snapper' of everyday family life, a Super 8 cine film was introduced at the same time.
By the late 1970's early 1980's people started to move away from slides and slide shows to the easier and faster colour print films for documenting family holidays; 1 hour mini-labs were starting to become common and professionals started using E-6 films like Ektachrome and Fujichrome.
As we moved into the 1990's Kodachrome had fallen out of favour, faster versions like the 200 ASA version and the introduction of 120 roll film versions aimed at professionals couldn't stem the tide and by 1998 Kodak started to close some Kodachrome labs and centralize their operations. Ten years later there was only one lab left to process the film and just a single speed in Kodaks product portfolio KR64.
The ultimate demise of Kodachrome was inevitable and started long ago, as a photographer I can only thank Kodak for keeping it going so long as I've been able to document my own children's early lives with a medium that has a proven longevity. I personally would have liked to see a '75 year birthday' but I expect Kodak are putting all their available efforts into the new modern 2 electron films they have recently introduced.
The end of an era, but I've a feeling that those slides will outlive most people reading this.
Kodachrome: born 1935 -expired 2009 aged 74 after a long and productive life. It leaves a treasure trove of social history and has touched the lives of millions of people worldwide.
All images and text © Mark Antony Smith 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Found Negatives

After some thought I think the above is the correct way round and the image below is reversed, I can't find a city hall in Lancashire that looks like this, possibly it's another municipal building.
During my little jaunts I sometimes come across interesting photographic items. Recently while at a car boot I found some old negatives lying among a pile of old cameras. They were 127 Kodak Verichrome Pan negs

They look to have been taken sometime in the early-mid 1960's and I think they were taken in a northern English city posibly Manchester or Liverpool, I really like the young lady holding her hand over her face-she has a mischievous look about her.
I think the woman on the far left is the relative/girlfriend of the photographer as she shows up in the next frame

Who knows where this frame is, but its certainly not a northern English town.

Lovely shots, when I find photos like this I often wonder what happened to the people