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06-15-2019, 12:41 AM   #1
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Film contrast problem

This was taken with IlfordXP2 Black & White C41 film. Half were unusable due to extreme contrast in the dark areas. A real disappointment, and I wonder if the shop that processed it had issues in processing. This was one of the usable ones AFTER lightening the shadows. I might add that I used a light meter here, yet with another film it was sunny 16 all the way without a single bad exposure. Helpful comments?


06-15-2019, 11:13 AM   #2
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More questions than answers at this point:

High contrast like your example could be a result (or combination of):
a) developer temperature (too high), developer dilution (over replenished=too strong), or developer time (too long)
b) scanning profiles (software)
c) scanning image rendering (software)

What EI (ISO) did you shoot at (if it wasn't the 400 default)?
Did the lab develop and scan the print for you? If so, did they give you a jpeg or TIFF file? Can you post this same image before you edited it?
If the lab did not scan these for you, what scanner or scanning technique did you use and what software? What were those settings?

As you probably know, XP2+ which is really a monochromatic chromogenic emulsion is a lower contrast neg compared to most if not all B&W films.
If you can post the negative of your OP image which includes the sprocket holes and edge numbering, with little to no editing of it, that can help me to see if the
lab was all or part of the problem.
Also if you can post the jpeg or TIFF the lab supplied, or your scan before you changed any levels, curves, shadows/highlights, etc, that would also be helpful.
06-15-2019, 09:03 PM   #3
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I did ask the shop that developed the film, and scanned it onto CD if he thought the development might be off. He said it was his normal operation and suggested the film could have suffered heat or radiation in transport (before he sold it to me).
I used ASA 400 as a reference setting He scanned JPEG for me and below is the original, along with another unaltered example. When I look at the negatives they show greater variation in exposure than I have ever had before (sorry, but scanning the negatives is not something I can easily do right now.
[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]
06-16-2019, 01:15 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by arnold Quote
IHe suggested the film could have suffered heat or radiation in transport (before he sold it to me).
I used ASA 400 as a reference setting He scanned JPEG for me and below is the original, along with another unaltered example.
Definitely NOT heat or radiation. If the lab said that, they're either ignorant (not good) or they're covering their tracks (not good).

Film that is heat damaged would, if anything, have lower contrast. Radiation in transport (aka X-ray damage) would only affect parts of the image, almost like a light leak.

Ilford XP2 Super has a huge exposure latitude and dynamic range, so even if your light meter was off, 400 ISO is the default recommendation.

My best guess based on what you've shared is that it's a combination of causes.
a) Over development of the film
and
b) Scanning profile is set for too high contrast.

Are there alternative labs that can develop your film and scan it? If you have access to photo editing software, ask the lab if they can scan it to TIFF or DNG and not jpeg.

06-16-2019, 04:27 AM   #5
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Can you post a photo of the negs (you can use a smartphone screen as a makeshift light table)?
06-16-2019, 05:07 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by nickthetasmaniac Quote
Can you post a photo of the negs (you can use a smartphone screen as a makeshift light table)?
Thanks for your input. I think you are right with your diagnosis. This shop which is a professional photographic shop, and concentrates on weddings and prints, is careless. A proper B&W film they previously developed was full of dust and hairs showing on the negs. He is convenient and friendly, but I need to look for someone else if I can.

The negatives look a little better than the scans Nick, so I may try scanning them tomorrow with my K5 or flat-bed scanner. However about 6 look beyond saving regardless as the dark areas just were not developed properly. When I do, I will post a link here. I am disappointed because I wanted to show what this brilliant solid Yashica 35 with its Yashinon lens was fully capable of.
06-16-2019, 08:38 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by arnold Quote
This was taken with IlfordXP2 Black & White C41 film. Half were unusable due to extreme contrast in the dark areas. A real disappointment, and I wonder if the shop that processed it had issues in processing. This was one of the usable ones AFTER lightening the shadows. I might add that I used a light meter here, yet with another film it was sunny 16 all the way without a single bad exposure. Helpful comments?
Your images look far more grainy than XP2 should. In particular, note the grain in the shadows in the first image. I suspect that the film may have been processed in black and white chemicals rather than C-41.

Last edited by John Poirier; 06-16-2019 at 11:52 PM. Reason: spelling
06-16-2019, 09:33 AM   #8
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The scenes are rather contrasty. As such, you should probably do some bracketing when shooting. An old adage is expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights. You have no control over the developing, since C41 is a continuous process. The buildings and sky are overwhelming your camera's meter.

Your camera's meter is calibrated to 18% gray (a bit of a misnomer, actually closer to 14%), and that calibration ignores high contrast and attempts to average the scene. In this instance the shadow details are badly underexposed.


If you were shooting TMAX, or other pure B&W films, you could adjust your development times to accommodate the contrast (under-/over-exposure). You can still correct the exposure in your digital editing software. However, if you "blew" the shadows, and lost detail, you're unlikely to be able to get to an acceptable image.

06-16-2019, 11:49 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
Your images look far more grainy that XP2 should. In particular, note the grain in the shadows in the first image. I suspect that the film may have been processed in black and white chemicals rather than C-41.
Excellent point and certainly could have been the cause. Most labs only run C-41, so I would be surprised if they developed in B&W chems, but John's theory is a plausible.
06-16-2019, 06:11 PM   #10
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I tried scanning a few frames myself, but can make no worthwhile improvement. Apart from a few acceptable shots, the roll is a write off.
06-16-2019, 06:12 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
Your images look far more grainy that XP2 should. In particular, note the grain in the shadows in the first image. I suspect that the film may have been processed in black and white chemicals rather than C-41.
I was thinking the same thing... my local labs runs c41 in-house and sends out the traditional B&W. It wouldnít take too much to send off a roll of XP-2... and then if it got developed like HP-5 or something, thatís not all that hard to imagine...

-Eric
06-17-2019, 10:30 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
Your images look far more grainy than XP2 should. In particular, note the grain in the shadows in the first image. I suspect that the film may have been processed in black and white chemicals rather than C-41.
XP2 should not show grain, if you donít scan the bar code, and donít read the c41, you will get grain! You can rate XP2 at 50-800 and still get good negs in C41!
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