Confused about what went wrong

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by woolly|1, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. I recently got a roll of film back from a local shop where they ended up hand developing because their machine was broken. I would have popped it in the tank myself at home except I wanted the film scanned.
    Anyhow, the film came back completely clear (slightly purple to be honest) except for the leader which was totally black as expected. The strange thing is that the film, an Ilford Pan F, didn't even have any frame numbers along the edge which I understood were pre-exposed at the factory.
    The roll was loaded into a Leica M4 and I checked that the rewind knob was rotating with the winder, the roll stopped at 39 frames and I rewound in the shop and felt the usual sudden release as the leader came off the tulip.
    To summarize ... the leader was totally black, no exposures and no frame numbers on the film which was slightly purple. So what went wrong?
  2. No frame numbers mean that the film was not developed, only fixed. Maybe the lab got the steps reversed.
  3. Thanks for replying Mike.
    I thought that too but the black leader is what is confusing me. Unless Pan F doesn't actually have frame numbers .... !
    M4 might have had the shutter stick - but not 39 times. And the wind-on wouldn't have been possible if the shutter didn't complete the first time, surely? I KNOW the rewind knob was rotating during wind-on, and the the film suddenly releasing after a dozen or so turns confirms the film was wound on.
  4. It's got me confused too. My initial thoughts are probably the same as yours: the dark leader "proves" that development occurred, yet the lack of frame numbers seems to prove that it did not.
    So you have to consider the possibility that no edge printing was done at the factory, and simultaneously you failed to make any exposures. If you have any more of that film (same batch), it might be worth processing a few inches to see if frame numbers exist on it. The only other apparent thing is that somehow their hand-processing only developed the first few inches. None of these seems very likely.
    Perhaps a longer shot is this: obviously your Pan F is a conventional B&W film. What if they had hand-processed as color? An ideal bleach/fix would completey remove the developed silver. Perhaps your images and the edge print were removed, yet the very heavy exposure on the leader was too much for the bleach. The tip-off to this should be that the leader is not as dense as you would expect, and much less so on the edges where the bleach would have been most fresh.
    If it were me, I'd inspect the film closely for any signs of image detail throughout the roll, just to see if there were any further clues. Then do a test development to see if similar film has edge-printing. Somewhere in this process I'd stop by the shop to see if they have any ideas. If it was a problem from their end, there's a good chance someone there has an idea what it might be.
    Good luck. It's a bad position to be in, because you can't fully trust your system until something can be nailed down.
  5. Lens cap? (We've all done it.) Wouldn't explain the frame numbers, though.
  6. Defo not the cap as I remember dropping it several times (dry hands) and thinking I was going to damage an expensive cap if I don't watch out.
    Below is a snap of the two films developed. The upper strip is Ilford HP5 and the lower Pan F, you can see the leader and a slightly dark portion over the next 65mm then nothing. The shop says they put them both in the same liquid one after the other ....... which makes me wonder if the fixer from the HP5 was left in the tank for the next roll?????
  7. Filmstrips (unimpressive developing btw)
  8. Hmmm...the bottom sample seems to show signs of development; it looks like slight fogging with an "edge" towards the right-hand side. It seems like edge-printing would have showed up if there were any.
    My best guess, at this point, is the seemingly unlikely case of the film having no edge print AND no images exposed onto it. If it were me, I'd develop a few inches of film from the same batch to confirm that it has edge printing.
    Something else comes to mind - what about the possibility that this is NOT your film? You say that you rewound the camera "in the shop," so you know you delivered the right roll, but is it possible they mixed it up? Possibly they use some special unmarked film in the shop for some reason, and either developed or gave you the wrong roll back.
  9. "Unless Pan F doesn't actually have frame numbers"​
    Over the years I've read several reports from folks that Pan F occasionally has barely legible frame numbers. About 10 years ago I received a bulk roll of unlabeled film that was supposed to be Pan F. The film speed and overall "look" did indeed appear to be like Pan F, but there were no legible rebate markings at all.
    But I've had other standard factory labeled rolls of Ilford Pan F Plus with clear rebate markings, so who knows?
  10. I've seen somewhere (maybe on the APUG group) that the latent image stability on Pan F is not as good as some other films, and that reasonably prompt processing is recommended.
    Could it be that latent image of the pre-exposed frame numbering has faded for this reason? But that doesn't explain where your exposures have gone....puzzling, that must be a separate issue. As had been suggested, was your film somehow swapped for an unexposed film.....
  11. "I've seen somewhere (maybe on the APUG group) that the latent image stability on Pan F is not as good as some other films..."​
    I've heard that rumor as well. I'm doubtful. I suspect it has more to do with underexposing Pan F than with the inherent latent image stability of the emulsion. Any film is less stable when underexposed, which is why "pushed" film needs to be processed promptly.
    At the rated ISO 50, in my experience, Pan F+ is at least a full stop underexposed. Combine that with careless metering and it's easy to underexpose any film an additional full stop.
    An easy test would be to bracket Pan F+ on carefully metered test targets. Develop one test strip immediately. Wait a month to develop another. Wait six months to develop a third. Compare results. I'm betting the latent image stability will be fine at closer to EI 25.
  12. @Lex Jenkins - that suggestion re. Pan F's effective speed is interesting. I haven't used it for many years, but don't recall a problem....though this was when I was first interested in photography and I may have been using very basic bottled developer (probably "universal" print-and-film developer, IIRC.). I purchased some current Pan F recently, so will be interested to test it.
  13. I believe the frame numbers are fairly light. If you underexposed the film, and underdeveloped it, you might get no pictures and no numbers.
  14. I would agree wifh Glen except for the presence of the leader which is neither under-exposed nor under-developed.
  15. Well, the leader would be exposed a LOT more than the frame numbers. So it could well be a combination of serious under-development along with a failure to to expose the film.

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