Negatives from Hell

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by KrisK_, Sep 12, 2021.

  1. Hi,

    From time to time I get some negatives that are so difficult to handle, they almost make me cry ;-). I am sure many of you experience this occasionally. Examples include cases where it is almost impossible to get really good colors from a negative, scratches, or dust and other residuals turn out to be super difficult to remove. If that happens I may get a negative or two that are basically unusable -- frustrating but no big deal.

    This time, however, I am struggling with a full roll of Ilford PAN F Plus and Microphen. I scan and develop and print at home and I do it a lot, so I am curious if any of you have an idea of what may have gone wrong. The Microphen was freshly mixed and used at 20C for 6min at 1+1. The scanner is a Coolscan 5000.

    Here is an example ( The image(s) are screenshots of the inverted negative (without any edits) at around 25% and the enlargements are between 100-200%. First of all, dust is always a concern. However, usually, I only get minimal dust on my negatives, but this image seems so full of dust, you would have to throw it to the ground while wet to get results as bad, so I have no idea where this came from. Also, and even more concerning, the write dots are certainly not grain, they are something else. You can see them in the sky, the street, and the shadows and they are irregular in pattern.

    My initial assumption was that I may have not mixed parts A and B or Microphen well enough, but when I developed Kodak Vision3 250D from the same day and scene, I got the very same issue (aside from the dust). See here

    Any ideas about what went wrong? Maybe my scanner needs a good cleaning, maybe I mess up something completely else. My only other idea is that the chemistry has been sitting for a while and I may have used the fixers too often and this causes the residuals?

    Thanks for your help,
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
  2. I'm going for "stuff" in the chemistry or unfiltered water. The second one doesn't look like reticulation as I know it, but how's your temperature control. What happens when somebody flushes a toilet? The scanner is easy enough to test- set it up for a medium grey with no neg in place. You might try filtering the chems with a lab or coffee filter, or even a cotton ball in the bottom of a funnel.
  3. Check the fixer. If it has started to "sulfur out", looks a bit cloudy, it could leave millions of particles of colloidal sulfur on your negatives. Sulfur is not water soluble so it doesn't wash off.
  4. Agree with the others. Particulates of some sort in one of the chemicals. It usually comes from being too eager to use a powder developer after making it up. I learned the hard way to let freshly made-up D-76 and the like, stand overnight before using it.

    There's also the possibility that some work on your mains water supply could result in fine particulates being released.

    You can get little cartridge filters that just fit on a tap with a rubber coupler. The brand name 'Micronyl' springs to mind, if they're still in business.
  5. I now have a magnetic stirrer to mix up developers and be sure that they are dissolved.
    It is supposed to have a heater, but that seems to have burned out.

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