B&W Film Processing And Vintage Lenses

This blog is about B&W film processing and vintage lenses. I will mostly post about film photography of which I am still heavily involved. I do only black and white film. All my color is digital. I process film 3 to 5 times a week. Sometimes it is 35mm. Sometimes 120 and sometimes 4 x 5. Everything posted in this blog is my opinion after almost 50 years as a professional photographer. I have used many camera systems over those years. Some have given much better results than others. I am sure that some of your opinions will differ from mine.

# 1
Purpose of this blog
By John Kasinger

I will mostly post about film photography of which I am still heavily involved. I do only black and white film. All my color is digital. I process film 3 to 5 times a week. Sometimes it is 35mm. Sometimes 120 and sometimes 4 x 5.

Everything posted in this blog is my opinion after almost 50 years as a professional photographer. I have used many camera systems over those years. Some have given much better results than others. I am sure that some of your opinions will differ from mine.

I do a lot of experimenting with film and developer combinations of which there will be many postings.

I love Contax, Minolta, Hasselblad, Linhof and Canon digital. My favorite roll film developer is Acufine diluted 1:1 and used as a “one shot” developer. My favorite 4 x 5 film developer is Rodinal diluted 1:100 and used as a “one shot”. These are some of my favorites but I am constantly challenging them. You will see these challenges in the blog entries to come

#2
Film Or Digital?
by John Kasinger

Everyone wants a simple answer to that complex question. The reason there is no simple answer is that we need both.

In 1952 I got my first makeshift darkroom. I was nine years old. Film was king and I was hooked forever. I had discovered magic.I have been a professional photographer since 1967. Photography has been about all I have ever done in my adult life. Film photography is still magic to me. For me digital photography is more real and less magic. Sometimes we need magic and sometimes we need real.

Today in the world of professional photography digital is unchallenged. Professional photography is mostly all about reality. I also do fine art black and white photography and for that I do film. Film is for the soul. It has a more fanciful look. It is still magic.

I have one foot in the digital world and one foot in the film world. Some times it is difficult to walk with my feet separated like that but I hobble along and so can you.

John Kasinger with friends in the Jr. High darkroom.

#3
Minolta Manual Focus Lenses

by John Kasinger

Minolta manual focus lenses are in my experience superior to either Nikon or Canon. Now that’s a bold statement but let me explain. I went off to photography school at Brooks Institute of Photography in 1969. There was nothing but film photography. Nikon and Canon were king. We were told to bring either a Nikon or Canon for our 35mm camera. Nothing else was accepted not even Leica.

From that requirement most of us thought Nikon and Canon were unquestionably the best. I believed that for 49 years. Then I tried Minolta. I was astounded. I had used many Canon and Nikon systems over the years and was shocked to find that lowly Minolta was smoother, sharper and even less expensive. I knew from experience that Contax lenses were superior to Canon and Nikon but they are expensive and even hard to find on the used market. Minolta manual focus lenses are plentiful and very affordable. I am only speaking of their top of the line ROKKOR series lenses. Minolta’s weakness was in the camera bodies. They weren’t as durable as Nikon or Canon. Minolta’s SRT 101 and 102 are fairly bullet proof and have mirror lockup.

My photography either film or digital is almost always from a tripod with the camera mirror up to reduce vibration and improve sharpness. I use Minolta SRT 102 bodies. They have mirror lockup and split image focusing. The SRT 101 bodies are great but there is no split image focusing. There are gazillions of these two camera bodies on the used market and they are cheap enough to be disposable. If one breaks just

throw it away and buy another for under $50. It’s cheaper and faster than having them repaired.

If you want to experience 35mm film photography when film was king give Minolta SRT 101 or 102 with a ROKKOR lens a try. Be careful the legendary silky smooth focusing is addictive.

The Home Roll Film Darkroom ( any home can have a darkroom )

#4
By John Kasinger

Equipment assembled in a box

All film processing is done in normal room light. Only film loading is done in the dark. Posting # 6 will deal with film loading.

Any home can have a darkroom. There I’ve said it. I’ve used this one for several years. What I’m going to describe in this post is a basic but very workable darkroom capable of producing superlative negatives.

You must outfit yourself with a modicum of equipment. Below you will find a list complete with where to get the items. Used is quite acceptable. ebay has much used darkroom equipment mostly for pennies on the dollar. After you use it once it will be used anyway.
The next post is for a 4 x 5 darkroom.

I will cover loading film and processing procedures in just a post or two but you must collect these items first.

• Developer (B&H or Freestyle) Lets start with Rodinal a long time favorite of mine. It has been around for decades and is a great developer. If I had only one developer for everything this would be Rodinal.

• Rapid fix (B&H or Freestyle) Just enough to make a quart will do to start.

• wetting agent—Edwal LFN (B&H)

• Tank (ebay, B&H or Freestyle) used on ebay is quite acceptable. Must be 16 ounce capacity. This will hold two 35mm reels or one 120 reel. I like the stainless steel ones with black plastic lids.

• Reels (B&H or Freestyle) Must be new to start. I recommend stainless steel as they are easier to keep clean. Be very careful with the reels. If you drop one on the floor just throw it away. It will have imperceptible bent damage that will make it difficult to load forever.

• Thermometer (B&H or Freestyle) New. Get a good darkroom thermometer. Do not use a household thermometer. Accuracy will be CRITICAL through the whole process.

• film clips (B&H or Freestyle) At least 4.

• place to hang wet film. You will need wire or string hung horizontally in a dust free area to hang the wet film. Clothes closets work well.

• timer. Gralab is the best and they are very reasonable used on ebay. Get one like the one shown in post # 1. It will last a lifetime and is very accurate. Of course you may use the one on your cell phone, it’s just not as handy to start and stop.

• beakers 1000ml, 500ml, 10ml (B&H or Freestyle) Get new

• envelopes for the negatives (B&H, Freestyle or Adorama)

#5
The home 4 x 5 darkroom

By John Kasinger

Please read post #4 first.

Equipment assembled in a box

The home 4 x 5 darkroom is very similar to the roll film darkroom. There are just a few changes. The developing tank and reels are different and you will need a Uniroller rotary base.
• Uniroller model 352 rotary base. (ebay) These are no longer made. There are always some to be found on ebay. Get as good a one as you can. It will last for many years. Originally they were made to roll one direction for a few seconds and then reverse and then reverse again. Some have been modified to roll only one way continuously. Both are fine. I have had both over the years and either way ends up with the same result. They are small and relatively inexpensive.

• Tank. (Freestyle or used on ebay) I have 2 tanks and they seem to be the same but the numbers on them are different. One is JOBO Multitank 5 2551. The other is 2553. I see no difference in them.

• Reels (Freestyle or used on ebay) JOBO 2509 or 2509N. 2509N is the newer one. 2509N has some black “paddles”. Most people don’t use the paddles. I don’t use the paddles.

# 6
Loading film
By John Kasinger

ALL FILM IS ALWAYS LOADED IN THE DARK

You need a very dark place to load film. If in doubt go into the dark place and sit for 8 minutes. If after 8 minutes it is still dark then you are OK. All film is always loaded in the dark. Then it can be processed in the ”darkroom” with normal room light.

Some people wait till dark then load it in as dark a place as they can find. Clothes closets can work well. You can load the film in the dark at night and process it the next day at any time.

Another alternative is a “changing bag”. This way you can load the film on the kitchen table any time of day or night with the lights on or off. It is like a portable darkroom. Badger Graphics or used on ebay are 2 good sources. They come in several styles.

No matter which style the process is much the same. You unzip the thing and but your roll film or holders in the bag along with the appropriate tank and reels. Then you put your arms through the elastic sleeve openings. Next you ready the tank and reels. Load the film onto the reels and put them into the tank. Put the lid on the tank and you are done. Take your arms out an unzip the bag. It can all be done in normal room light.

Personally I like the darkened closet with a chair and very small table.

Next posting will be about loading roll film onto reels and the one after that will be about loading 4 x 5 film onto reels.

changing bag

another style of changing bag

# 7
Loading 35mm Film ( using the 16oz. stainless tank )
By John Kasinger

1. As mentioned before all film is always loaded in the dark. I like using the 16oz. stainless tank pictured above with stainless reels. A good source is Freestyle. This way you can process 1 or 2 rolls at the same time. If you are doing just 1 roll it must be put in the tank first so as to be on the bottom. Always put the second reel in on top of the loaded reel for consistent agitation.

2. You must get the film out of the cassette. An old fashioned bottle cap remover works well. Open the end that is the flattest and pull out the film spindle and all. Remove the spindle from the end of the roll of film.

3. The reels are loaded starting from the center and winding the film onto the reel. Start by sacrificing a roll of film for practice. Keep this practice roll for future needs. PRACTICE THIS IN FULL ROOM LIGHT UNTIL YOU GET THE FEEL OF IT. You must secure the end of the roll of film to the clip in the center of the reel then wind slowly outward till all the film is rolled onto the reel.

4. Put the loaded roll into the tank. Put the next reel in on top of the first. Put the lid on securely and you are ready to turn on the lights.

All this sounds horribly complicated but with practice it becomes very routine and takes but a few minutes.

# 8
Loading 120 Film (using the 16oz. stainless tank )

By John Kasinger

As mentioned before all film is always loaded in the dark. use the 16oz. stainless tank pictured above with a stainless reel. A good source is Freestyle. This way you can process 1 roll at a time.

IN THE DARK you must get the film separated from the paper backing. Start by breaking the paper seal. Then unroll the whole thing. You will find that the film is taped to the paper backing on one end. Tear the film off the paper and discard the paper.

The reels are loaded starting from the center and winding the film onto the reel in an outward manor. Start by sacrificing a roll of film for practice. Keep this practice roll for future needs. PRACTICE THIS IN FULL ROOM LIGHT UNTIL YOU GET THE FEEL OF IT. You must secure the end of the roll of film to the clip in the center of the reel then wind slowly outward till all the film is rolled onto the reel.

Put the loaded roll into the tank. Put the lid on securely and you are ready to turn on the lights.

All this sounds horribly complicated but with practice it becomes very routine and takes but a few minutes.

# 9
Loading 4×5 film
(using Uniroller model 352 rotary base )
By John Kasinger

Use the tank and reels listed below :

• Uniroller model 352 rotary base. (ebay) These are no longer made. There are always some to be found on ebay. Get as good a one as you can. It will last for many years. Originally they were made to roll one direction for a few seconds and then reverse and then reverse again. Some have been modified to roll only one way continuously. Both are fine. I have had both over the years and either way ends up with the same result. They are small and relatively inexpensive.

• Tank. (Freestyle or used on ebay) I have 2 tanks and they seem to be the same but the numbers on them are different. One is JOBO Multitank 5 2551. The other is 2553. I see no difference in them.

• Reels (Freestyle or used on ebay) JOBO 2509 or 2509N. 2509N is the newer one. 2509N has some black “paddles”. Most people don’t use the paddles. I don’t use the paddles.

You will need to have a few ( at least 4 ) sheets of film to practice loading. I load the reels from the inside out. Let me explain. Each reel holds a maximum of 6 sheets of film. I always load only 4 for better chemical agitation. As you look at the reel slide the first sheet into the inner most channel then the next sheet into the outer channel. PRACTICE THIS IN FULL ROOM LIGHT UNTIL YOU GET THE FEEL OF IT. Save the practice sheets for future needs.

Put the loaded roll into the tank. Put the lid on securely and you are ready to turn on the lights.

All this sounds horribly complicated but with practice it becomes very routine and takes but a few minutes.

# 10
Time, Temperature and Agitation
( three factors that determine the quality of film development )
By John Kasinger

Time temperature and agitation are the three factors that determine the quality of film development. Oh sure, there are more like water quality and the like but they are the big three and they are all interwoven. This is for the developer.

Time: To a large degree this determines the contrast and density of the negative. Too much time and the image is too contrasty and dense. Too little time and the image is flat and lacks density.

Temperature: 68 F (20 C ) is the normal temperature for most darkroom work and is what I use all of the time. This also affects contrast and density but in a different and unpleasant way. Too hot, too contrasty. Too cold and the results are flat and thin. Thin in the film world means not much image.

The big thing about temperature is keeping it accurate and consistent through the whole developing process. A very good darkroom thermometer is a must. The chemicals and water should not vary more than 1 degree. The biggest single factor of beautiful, smooth and tight grain is temperature control.

Agitation: The roll film tanks that I show here require hand agitation. Good agitation gives even development with no blotchiness. I use 3 inversions when the developer is all in the tank and 2 per minute for the remaining time.

Proper exposure is required for a great negative.

#11
Film Developing

By John Kasinger

Film Developing (the process here is using a developer recipe)
Consistency and note taking are the two biggest keys to quality film processing. The following list is of things that will lead you to film processing success.

The process here is using a developer recipe. Water rinse for 1 minute. Rapid Fixer for 4 minutes. Film Washing and drying.

• Have all the chemicals and water at the same temperature.

• Be consistent. I will be giving you my recipes. I start the timer after all the chemical or water is poured into the processing tank and start pouring the chemical or water out of the tank 15 seconds before the time is up.

• Always have the next step in the process TOTALLY ready. I have all the chemicals and water in their respective beakers before I start the first step. You can use fruit jars or whatever but it is very important to have the next chemical ready to pour in as soon as the last one is out.

• Hang the film to dry in as dust free an area as possible. Once dust is dried into the emulsion it cannot be removed.

Be Consistent

# 12
Film Developing 4 X 5
By John Kasinger

Film Developing 4 x 5 ( list is of things that will lead you to film processing success )
Consistency and note taking are the two biggest keys to quality film processing. The following list is of things that will lead you to film processing success.

The process here is using a developer recipe. Water rinse for 1 minute. Rapid Fixer for 4 minutes. Film Washing and drying.

• Prepare 16oz. for the 4 x 5 tank

• Have all the chemicals and water at the same temperature.

• Be consistent. I will be giving you my recipes. I start the timer after all the chemical or water is poured into the processing tank and start pouring the chemical or water out of the tank 15 seconds before the time is up.

• Always have the next step in the process TOTALLY ready. I have all the chemicals and water in their respective beakers before I start the first step. You can use fruit jars or whatever but it is very important to have the next chemical ready to pour in as soon as the last one is out.

• Hang the film to dry in as dust free an area as possible. Once dust is dried into the emulsion it cannot be removed.

Be Consistent

# 13
Roll Film

Ilford Pan F + In Acufine 1-5 for roll film ( a little unconventional but gives great results )
By John Kasinger

Ilford Pan F + In Acufine 1:5

I always use Acufine as a “one shot” developer. This is a little unconventional but gives great results.
This combination is one of my main go to combinations of all time. It gives maximum acutance with great tonal qualities.

The recipe:

Roll Film

Ilford Pan F + / Acufine / 1:5

• NO PRESOAK

• Developer. Make 16 oz. (500 ml ) by mixing
Acufine stock solution 1:5 with water.

• 20C ( 68 F ).

• 9 minutes.

• Water rinse 1 minute.

• Rapid fixer for 4 minutes.

# 14
Roll Film

Ilford Pan F + In Acufine 1-2
( stronger dilution under harsh lighting conditions such as bright sun )
By John Kasinger

Ilford Pan F + in Acufine 1:2

I use this stronger dilution under harsh lighting conditions such as bright sun. It tames the contrast somewhat.

The recipe:

Roll Film

Ilford Pan F + / Acufine / 1:2

• NO PRESOAK

• Developer. Make 16 oz. (500 ml ) by mixing
Acufine stock solution 1:2 with water.

• 20C ( 68 F ).

• 6 minutes.

• Water rinse 1 minute.

• Rapid fixer for 4 minutes.

# 15
4 X 5

4 X 5 Fomapan 100 In Rodinal 1:100
( my favorite go to combination for 4 X 5 )
By John Kasinger

Fomapan 100 In Rodinal 1:100

This is my favorite go to combination for 4 X 5. It gives great acutance with beautiful tones.

The recipe:

4 X 5 In JOBO

Fomapan 100 / Rodinal / 1:100

• NO PRESOAK

• Developer. Make 16 oz. (500 ml ) by mixing
Rodinal stock solution 1:100 with water.

• 20C ( 68 F ).

• 8 minutes.

• Water rinse 1 minute.

• Rapid fixer for 4 minutes.

• Wash 20 minutes with 4 water changes.

# 16
4 X 5

4 X 5 Rollie Infrared 400 In Rodinal 1:100 ( This combination gives great tonality even in harsh lighting )
By John Kasinger

4 X 5 Rollie Infrared 400 In Rodinal 1:100

Rollie infrared 400 is a very high acutance film especially in 4 X 5. This combination gives great tonality even in harsh lighting.

The recipe:

4 X 5 In JOBO

Rollie 400 IR / Rodinal / 1:100

• NO PRESOAK

• Developer. Make 16 oz. (500 ml ) by mixing
Rodinal stock solution 1:100 with water.

• 20C ( 68 F ).

• 8 minutes.

• Water rinse 1 minute.

• Rapid fixer for 4 minutes.

• Wash 20 minutes with 4 water changes.

# 17
Roll Film

Fugi Acros In Acufine 1:2
( a very fine grained high acutance film )
By John Kasinger

Fugi Acros In Acufine 1:2

Fugi acros is a very fine grained high acutance film. Acufine diluted 1:2 gives great tones.

The Recipe:

Roll Film

Fugi Acros / Acufine / 1:2

• NO PRESOAK

• Developer. Make 16 oz. (500 ml ) by mixing
Acufine stock solution 1:2 with water.

• 20C ( 68 F ).

• 6 minutes.

• Water rinse 1 minute.

• Rapid fixer for 4 minutes.

• Wash 20 minutes with 4 water changes.

# 18
4 X 5

Kodak TMAX 100 In Rodinal 1:100
( great combination for general 4 x 5 photography )

This is another great combination for general 4 x 5 photography. This is one of my favorites but the film is a little expensive. TMAX film has great reciprocity response so it is what to go to for very long exposures.

The recipe:

4 X 5 In JOBO

Kodak TMAX 100 / Rodinal / 1:100

• NO PRESOAK

• Developer. Make 16 oz. (500 ml ) by mixing
Rodinal stock solution 1:100 with water.

• 20C ( 68 F ).

• 9 minutes.

• Water rinse 1 minute.

• Rapid fixer for 4 minutes.

# 19
Roll Film

Ilford HP5 In Rodinal 1:50
( This is a great ISO 400 film )
By John Kasinger

Ilford HP5 In Rodinal 1:50

This is a great combination with great tonality. This is a great ISO 400 film.

The Recipe:

Roll Film

Ilford HP5 / Rodinal / 1:50

• NO PRESOAK

• Developer. Make 16 oz. (500 ml ) by mixing
Rodinal stock solution 1:50 with water.

• 20C ( 68 F ).

• 11 minutes.

• Water rinse 1 minute.

• Rapid fixer for 4 minutes.

• Wash 20 minutes with 4 water changes.

# 20
4 X 5

4 X 5 Arista 100 In Rodinal 1:100
( when you are on a budget with 4 X 5 )
By John Kasinger

Arista 100 In Rodinal 1:100

This is a good combination. I have used this one a lot. It is a great combination when you are on a budget with 4 X 5. Both the developer and film are very economical with very good results.

The recipe:

4 X 5 In JOBO

Arista 100 / Rodinal / 1:100

• NO PRESOAK

• Developer. Make 16 oz. (500 ml ) by mixing
Rodinal stock solution 1:100 with water.

• 20C ( 68 F ).

• 8 minutes.

• Water rinse 1 minute.

• Rapid fixer for 4 minutes.

# 21
Roll Film

Roll Film Fugi acros In Microdol-X 1:3 ( when big enlargements are required )
By John Kasinger

Fugi acros In Microdol-X 1:3

Both Fugi Acros and Kodak Microdol-X produce very fine grain. This is a good combination when big enlargements are required. This makes a negative that is a little flat but scans very well and has good acutance.

The Recipe:

Roll Film

Fugi Acros / Microdol-X / 1:3

• NO PRESOAK

• Developer. Make 16 oz. (500 ml ) by mixing
Microdol-X stock solution 1:3 with water.

• 75F

• 18 minutes.

• Water rinse 1 minute.

• Rapid fixer for 4 minutes.

# 22
4 X 5

4 X 5 Kodak TMAX 400 In Rodinal 1:100 ( film development for night scenes)
By John Kasinger

Kodak TMAX 400 In Rodinal 1:100

This is the best combination I have found for night scenes.
The reciprocity response can’t be beat and the speed and tonality are superb.

The Recipe

4 X 5 In JOBO

Kodak TMAX 400 / Rodinal / 1:100

• NO PRESOAK

• Developer. Make 16 oz. (500 ml ) by mixing
Rodinal stock solution 1:100 with water.

• 20C ( 68 F ).

• 10 minutes.

• Water rinse 1 minute.

• Rapid fixer for 4 minutes.