So every now and again I’ll purchase a new camera and inside there is a roll of film – sometimes with just a few frames shot, sometimes almost finished and I’ll always finish off the roll and attempt to develop them.
Last year (2017) two such examples were an original Diana and some ‘faux’ TLR whose name I have forgotten…
The roll that was in the Diana was a roll of Boots branded black and white film that even had a few frames left. I didn’t even know that Boots ever made roll film and my attempts to contact them about it failed.
So anyway, this is supposed to be a three minute tip – sorry I forgot. The best way I have found to cope with these old films, or unknown films, is a semi stand development process. With regular black and white development your film is submerged in a solution of developer for between 5 and 10 minutes on average, and you agitate it in the solution once a minute or so. This all varies between films and developers. Usually you’ll mix up your developer to a ratio of something like 1:25 (developer:water) but with a semi stand I tend to do 1:100. This creates a much weaker solution so therefore the film needs to be in it longer – about 90 minutes I have personally found best so far. The film out of the Diana, at the time of me processing it, I had absolutely no idea how old it was. The Diana was brought to market in the 1960, so the film couldn’t have been shot before that (although technically it could have already been an old film before it was put in the camera…), and much internet research could not get me any information whatsoever about Boots ever selling their own branded 120 roll film – so it couldn’t be very recent either.
With early old film – this one could in theory have been 50 odd years old – I really worry that too much agitation is going to cause parts of, or all of the emulsion to lift away from the base of the film. I believe that stand developing with minimal agitation will minimise this risk.
The other issue aside from the age was that being able to find any info on the film also meant that I had no developing times for it. Again, stand developing seems to circumnavigate this issue, as I have developed several different emulsions in the same mixture and technique with success. I use Rodinal R09 at a ratio of 1:100 and leave it for 90 minutes. Every half an hour I will give a small agitation with the spinner on the top of the tank. I don’t do a full inversion – I don’t want all that liquid sloshing around in the tank and running the risk of possibly lifting the old emulsion.
Below are a couple of examples from the Boots roll –
…and thats it. To conclude – weak developer, longer time, unknown film, old film. Again I hope this post has been of use to somebody.
Just to add, below passage taken from Wikipedia, so you can choose whether or not you think its true –
“It (stand developing) has a compensating effect whereby the developer exhausts itself in areas which require greater development whilst remaining active in less-exposed areas, which has the effect of boosting shadow detail whilst preserving bright highlights.”
…and by the way, looking at the clothes 1960s…?