Curved streaks on film - cannot determine cause.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kenneth_swoyer, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. Hello Forum Members!
    I've been reading this forum for years but this is my first post. I tried to see if this question had come up but cannot find anything - if I'm using the wrong search terms, my apology.
    I've been shooting on a used Nikon FM2n for about two years. On every roll I've taken in for processing it has been returned with curved streaks on a few of the photos. Not many, but 2-3 and it's bumming me out. Here is an example (see the darker lines to the right of the taller tower):
    At first I thought maybe it was a lens issue. But I'm using three different lenses and see no regular patterns. Then I thought it was poor processing. I've taken film to three different places and it has happened with each one of them. Then I thought it might be a camera issue but I'm not quite sure how this could be caused by rubbing or something like that.
    Anyway, has anyone encountered anything like this? Am I just having bad processing luck? Maybe a leak in an iris (again this has happened with multiple lenses)?
    Thank you in advance!
  2. If it is negative film then this is presumably a light leak in the camera - light seals defective perhaps.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Looks like chemical residue (or just water) during film development. Can you rinse the negative, let it try, and see whether the streaks go away?
  4. Also check out the inside of the camera back to see if there is anything there. It should be clean. One time I had some small hair-thin part of a grass or leaf stuck in there and every image came up with it.
    If this is not it, a camera repair shop may give you some idea. Good luck!
  5. pge


    Are the streaks both on the negative and the print?
    If the streaks are on the negative, do they appear as part of the photo or can you see that the film has been streaked? I`m not sure I asked this very well.
  6. Do those marks correspond with the location of the arms that operate the vertical shutter?
  7. Thank you for all the quick replies! Definitely some good ideas to explore, I'll have to check out the camera and negative after I get home from work and report back!
  8. Same question also posted in the film and processing forum:
  9. I have some observations, then some questions.
    Kenneth has eliminated lenses, film, and film processors as an issue. The common denominator here is the camera.
    Do the marks appear towards the beginning of the roll? The end? Randomly?
    Do they appear when the lens is supported by the hand vs unsupported?
    Do the streaks appear when Kenneth has a tighter grip on the camera?
    Are the marks consistently in the exact same location?
    It seems like a light leak would induce light streaks vs dark. If something (shutter, film carrier) is swiping across the film surface could that scrape off any coating on the film causing dark streaks?
    My first guess is something is scraping the film. The streaks appear darker at the top of the frame and lighter towards the bottom.
    Good luck!
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    A light leak should further expose the film such that the area affected will appear to be lighter than the surrounding areas. This example does not at all look like a light leak to me.
  11. could this be Newton rings from scanning?
  12. Question : Are u using a (polarizer) filter on your lenses for the pictures that do show the pattern ?
    Often filters consist of 2 layes of glass with in between a gel or plastic foil, when those glass layers start to separate affter years of usage, oftne a pattern like on your sample picture shows up.
    Can you share some more samples so that we can see if there are ( consistent) similarities .... ( like blue sky sun out of the picture, Polarizer used (maybe on wide angle lens) etc. ) ?
  13. A light leak would result in lighter streaks, not darker, and I would expect processing faults to be parallel with or across the length of the film, or random blotches.
    This looks like shutter trail to me. Since it appears to follow the path the metal shutter blades take. But to make such a pattern there'd have to be a considerable amount of crud stuck to the edge of one of the blades. Maybe bits of black foam light seal that's crumbled away?
    How much did the camera cost Kenneth? With film and processing being quite expensive these days you only need to lose a small fraction of your frames to make it more economical to simply replace the camera. That's what I'd do. But just to make sure, send a film to a different processing house. If it comes back with the exact same pattern of streaks, then you'll know the culprit is the camera.
    If these trails only appear on pictures taken at high shutter speeds, say <1/500th s, then that would clinch it as being crud on the shutter for me.
    "could this be Newton rings from scanning?"​
    No. Newton's rings don't exhibit that shape and would show a rainbow of colours. They almost always form complete circles or ovoids.
    P.S. Shame about the streaks, that shot would have been a keeper otherwise. You might still rescue it with some careful work in an image editor. It's mainly plain blue sky that needs retouching. + correcting the rather muddy colour.
  14. Do the streaks extend from one frame to the next? Are the streaks only on the active part of the frame or on the border area as well?
  15. Hello Again,
    Thank you for all the great responses. I brought the camera to work with me so I can take a look at some of suggestions (just don't tell my boss).
    I still need to look closely at the negative - I did once before and it was on the negative however I did not try to rinse or clean it off. I'll also try to determine if they're scratches or in the actual exposure. I'm fairly sure they're in the exposure.
    Mary Doo - I have looked at the camera back, it appears very clean, the shutter looks to be in good shape. The camera was purchased from KEH a year or two ago so it has (theoretically) been inspected and cleaned fairly recently. I did notice on the first roller there's some kind of residue towards the lower end of the roller. I'm wondering if maybe the affected pictures are landing on that residue for an extended period of time. Anyway, I'll clean that up and see if it helps.
    Matthew Currie - The shutter seems to open vertically and the arms are off to the side and not near the affected area.
    Mark L Cooper - The marks happen randomly throughout a roll. Usually on only 2-4 photos. Some rolls not at all. And some photos are worse than others (I've posted a few more at the bottom of this post). I haven't paid much attention to if I was supporting the lens by hand or not but I'm almost certain I was not. The 24mm and 50mm are very light and I usually don't support the 85mm when I'm pressing the shutter release. I thought about the tighter grip idea but this camera is pretty solid, one of the reasons I love it - anyway, I'm not ruling that out. The marks are consistently in the exact same location even with the same line spacing.
    CPM van het Kaar - No filters are being used.
    One thing your questions have made me realize is that all of these photos were taken outside so the higher shutter speed idea is a possibility. I just can't see anything that would be hitting the film! I've also noticed they seem to be more pronounced on recent rolls than when I first noticed.
    Rodeo Joe - The camera was about $250 from KEH. Which, when considering processing fees, I'd happily buy a new one since I already have the lenses. Maybe that's the best way to go if we can't sort it out. Thanks for the compliments on the photo - Cuba is so beautiful it's almost cheating.
    E.J. - The streaks do not extend from one frame to the next.
    Thank you all for the continuing help!
  16. One more thing!
    I just cocked the shutter half way and I noticed a residue of on the shutter. If the shutter does indeed open in a curved motion this could potentially be scratching the film. I've posted a photo of the shutter residue and the roller residue, both of which I intend to clean. I'm kind of scared about cleaning the shutter...
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Pay attention to Kenneth's image of the shutter above. The mechanism that moves the shutter is on the lower right side. Keep in mind that the image projected onto the film/sensor is upside down, right side left. If that mechanism is rubbing onto the film, the scratch should appear on the upper left corner of the final print, certainly on the left side instead of right side.
    And yes, the shutter is very delicate to put it mildly. If you clean it yourself, you can potentially damage it easily.
  18. Shun - Do you think it could be the residue that's more in the middle of the shutter? It kind of looks bumpy and darker in the above photo. It looks like if it were going to scratch the film it would line up with the affected area. I'm just not sure how on earth that would be touching the film, it seems like there's a fair degree of clearance!
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Yes, there is some thickness of the metal plate that forms the 36x24mm opening to expose the film. The shutter sits on one side of that and the film sits on the other side. If the shutter mechanism or some junk on the shutter is rubbing against the film, it has to be thicker than that plate. It is possible but kind of unlikely.
    Again, the streaks look like chemical residues or just water marks to me. However, if that happens on frame after frame in the same location, that is puzzling. Water marks should occur randomly.
    Kenneth, we haven't heard from you whether there are marks in the areas between frames. (The between-frame areas should be clear for negative film or dark for slide.)
  20. You can see from the way the blades pivot that they do indeed move in an arc and not straight up and down. The pivot-rivets look normal to me and not likely to scrape the film. Beside which the streaks don't look sharply-defined enough to be surface scratches. So my suspicion would fall on the blob of "gunge" on the edge of that shutter blade. There's possibly a worse blob or blobs in the same position on other blades, that you can't see because they're parked below the frame edge.
    All of your example subjects are quite bright. This reinforces the theory that the streaks only appear at high shutter speeds when the travelling slit is very narrow.
    I hate to say "I told you so", but........
    Taking the camera to a repair shop would probably cost more than it's worth. However, what have you got to lose by attempting a DIY clean?
    My advice would be to set the shutter on B with a fresh battery in the camera. Open and lock the shutter using a cable-release and examine the top and bottom edges of the blinds as far as possible. The edges might be slightly recessed inside the frame surround. If there's some muck visible on their edges, gently clean it away with a cotton bud (Q-tip) lightly damped with methylated spirit or lighter fuel. Both of those solvents will quickly evaporate before they can creep into the mechanism and damage it.
    Good luck!
  21. Here's an illustration of what I think is happening. If there's some residue on both the leading and trailing blind edges in corresponding positions, then the slit width will be effectively narrowed where those protrusions are. With the result that parts of the frame following the path of the shutter blinds will be less exposed - hence those dark trails.
    See illustration below. The right of the image is where the slit is shortly after it starts its travel, and on the left is the slit toward the end of the shutter travel.
    There's one hole in my theory, and that's why don't the trails go all the way across the frame? That could only occur if the shutter wasn't properly adjusted and the slit narrowed as the shutter moved towards the bottom-left of the frame (top-right of the image). But then gunk on the shutter blades might well cause unbalanced travel.
    Edit: I realise I've got the direction of arc wrong after posting, but I'm sure you get the idea.
  22. You can easily tell if the film is scratched by looking at the surface of the film carefully. The film should not really be close enough to the shutter to get scratched, and it does not look like the crud you see on your shutter does not extend out far enough, unless you have very flexible film that bows in: never heard of that.Try exposing the film at the flash sync speed or slower, I think the lines may disappear then if it is Rodeo's explanation as there will then be no film slit to travel across the gate.
  23. Shun wrote:
    Can you rinse the negative, let it try, and see whether the streaks go away?​
    I have not processed color film, but it is my understanding that if you wash a color film you must stabilize it again.
    Will anyone who has processed color film, please comment.
  24. The "blob of whatever" does appear to be in exactly the right location. So if it isn't a scuff, then it is likely the shadowing as described above by Rodeo.
    See illustration below.
  25. And yes, the shutter is very delicate to put it mildly. If you clean it yourself, you can potentially damage it easily.​
    Looks like the curtain can be the culprit. How about slightly brushing the area with a soft brush, then gently blow with something such as a bike tire pump? Just don't touch it with anything solid.
  26. The muck on the shutter looks as if it might be deteriorated light-trap foam. If so it's one of the stickiest substances known to man - a slight exaggeration, but it is very tacky and difficult to shift. I don't think a soft dry brushing will touch it.
    The edge of the shutter should be fairly robust to downward pressure, because the metal is effectively as thick as the width of the blade. It might be a case of kill or cure, with nothing short of a strong solvent and gentle friction able to remove the contamination. Although it wouldn't hurt to try a dry brushing first.
    Another point is that if the light-trap foam has crumbled to such an extent that it's got into the shutter, then the whole camera will probably need re-foaming. So my opinion is that the camera might be hardly worth taking too much care over. If it can't be "repaired" by DIY methods, then its next stop is likely to be the scrapheap.
  27. Hello Again!
    It seems like we've made a breakthrough thanks to you all. I very delicately cleaned the gunk/foam/whatever off the shutter which seems to work just fine after the cleaning. I'm going to shoot a roll outside this weekend to see if the problem has gone away. Thank you for all the input and stay tuned!

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