Overexposure, light leak and others: first roll problems

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by rodrigosoares, Apr 7, 2020.

  1. Hi guys,

    Im new in photography in general and decided to start taking some photos finally. To do so, i bought a Canon A1 w fd 50mm 1.8 l, aparently working well. So there I went, full of energy and joy, take my first pictures with that beauty.
    I developed my first film and searched for the results last week.
    I would like you to help me with someissues that are worrying me, if possible:

    - The main problem, the constant black stripes or lines in all the photos: mechanical problem, or what? If it is mechanical, as I think, what would it be?

    - Very white/overexposed photos: so, basically, ALL the photos went overexposed. Strange, because i took All of them in 1/60-1/500 shutter speed and 5.6-9fstop. Some of them fully automated too. Light leak, light measure problem, user error, what could it be?

    - Very shaky photos at night: what is the explanation? I was in a super fixed position. I used low speed 1/10, 1/1 and max aperture.

    The photos are below:

    Black stripes problem + overexposure problem:


    Thank you for your great help now and for your patience!





  2. Dark and light bands are often caused by uneven movement of the shutter curtains, but as the A1 has a horizontal shutter, they would appear as vertical bands here. But it may be worth a careful check for damage, pinholes or contamination to the curtains with the back open as it's operated.

    Actually the negatives themselves don't look heavily over or under exposed - how did you convert them to digital? Also I don't see any evidence of light leaks in the pictures.

    I know nothing about developing colour films. Perhaps others will come in and comment about possible issues with development.

    It's not surprising that the low light pictures came out blurry. Hand holding at 1/10 second is not easy even if you have braced yourself somehow. Also maximum aperture gives very shallow depth of field, and it would be easy to miss focus in poor light.

    By the way don't let this put you off film photography, there's a steep learning curve and plenty of possible pitfalls in the way.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
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  3. Good start to film photography. The soft images could be because the camera lens needs cleaning. The black bands could be a scanning problem, the scanner may also need cleaning inside, the mirror and lens. The exposure appears reasonable. The developing also looks reasonable

    Was it expired film ? There's a slight magenta cast in each image. A little post processing can do wonders, as with this shot ... magenta cast removed

    brige buildings.jpg
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  4. Hi, thanks for the reply. So, if its a scanning problem they shouldn't have appeared in the negatives, right? because they do appear there... And no, they're 09/2020 films. The lens were in fact a little hazed and i've cleaned them a few days ago. I've shooted a new roll but can't develop it right now due to the Covid-19 situation. So, im waiting to develop -- in a different place -- the new roll and see if its a dev/scan problem, so i can dischart this and go find others explanations. My worry is that its a mechanical issue.
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  5. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    I can see the bands on the negative - 1/3rd up from the bottom and 1/3rd down from the top which naturally show that way on the prints. It certainly isn't a scanner issue. The bands are light colored so it is not a light leak issue. The only thing I can think of is too harsh agitation of the developer.
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  6. I took a couple of shots of the curtain and the lens opened at -20 shutter speed. it seems in fact that theres a little fungus but no holes or something that could cause light leak.



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  7. The shutter looks fine. I suspect this is a processing problem but I can't speak with enough authority.
  8. Going a little off the main topic but: seeing it now with flash (oh god what have I done) its visible that's kinda dirty at some points. But one thing triggers me in particular: the viewfinder has little fungus in it. Is there a way to clean it on the inside? i've searched on web but there's no video or article explaining how to open it for cleaning porpuses.
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  9. It's possible to remove the A1 focusing screen for cleaning, if that's where the dirt is, as here:

    It may also be possible to clean fungus if present on the bottom surface of the prism. Going beyond that to clean other parts of the prism would entail major dismantling.
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  10. This video shows how to remove the top cover if you needed to do that
    Link ....
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  11. Thanks guys. I've seen those videos but i guess the problem is in the internal glass so i'd have to open it up, which its not the case right now.
    Back to the main problem, i'd like to read more opinions! Thanks!
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  12. Whoever developed the film made a rotten job of it. Those streaks are clearly from the processing. And why have you put your thumb and finger on the film to show it to us?
    Then why are you handicapping yourself by starting to learn with film?
    Do let this put you off film. At least until you've learned the basics, like not trying to hand-hold at 1/10th of a second or longer.

    Get a digital camera that allows full manual control, and once you've understood and mastered the basics of exposure control, then throw in the many more variables that film introduces. Otherwise you'll just waste time and money trying to learn by using the worst medium possible.

    Do you want to make pictures, or be a camera mechanic?
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
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  13. Can’t agree with Joe and his disdain for film, it’s a lot of fun. Personally I think you should buy a second film body compatible with what you have, another A-1 or an AE-1. I do agree though that this a developing problem and not a camera issue. Shoot another roll as a test and take it elsewhere for processing. Have fun!!

    Rick H.
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  14. OK, let's spell out s l o w l y why it's a bad idea to try and learn the basics of photography with film.

    Just a quick analogy first: Would any sensible person try to learn to swim by jumping off a boat in the middle of the Atlantic?
    Why? Because too much can go badly wrong.

    Let's take a simple photographic example. A basic 'first steps' lesson to find out the effect of varying the shutter speed.

    Two beginners take their cameras and set them on 'S' mode (or 'T' mode if they have a perverse Canon that can't follow the 'PASM' convention). One sensible learner has a reliable digital camera, and the other has an unknown film camera that they can't guarantee works properly.

    Our two learners get a friend to do star jumps or some other simple and repeatable fast action in front of the cameras. The two learners go through the shutter speed range to see the effect. Except.... our film learner has to take tedious notes of frame number and shutter speed, and later match them up with the prints they - eventually - get back from the processor. Always assuming the processor hasn't screwed up the prints for our hapless film user, and that the unknown old film camera's shutter works properly.

    Meanwhile, our digital learner has seen their results days ago, and is on to lesson 3 or 4 by now, and with an extra $10 in their pocket that they haven't had to spend on film and processing.

    NOW do you begin to get it? Why learning with film is a very bad idea?
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2020
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  15. Looking at the negatives they look underexposed rather than overexposed. The density is weak in the important area (face and body). I am not sure where the streaks come from but there is no evident of any light leak at the film edge.
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  16. I like film and like to shoot film but I must agree with Joe that learning with film is a bad idea. While the Canon A-1 and the 50mm f/1.8 lens can be had for cheap (I paid $17 for mine) but the film and processing is expensive and film does hinder the learning process.
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  17. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    I do understand (I think) where Joe is coming from, but for many of us, film was all that was available (not counting glass plates) when we started, and using it nowadays has a certain nostalgic appeal. If someone wishes to start with earlier technology, that is up to them, surely ? After all, when you've learned to ride a safety bicycle, it can be great fun learning to ride an Ordinary (penny-farthing, in other words). Isn't it more important to master one's technology of choice, rather than to have less than supportive comments regarding one's choice ? The pace of modern life is so frantic now that adopting a more measured approach to any task could prove beneficial in the long run.

    Just my half-groat's worth.
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  18. Roger G

    Roger G Roger G

    I started in the 1960s as an impoverished student. Everything seemed very expensive. Including film and processing. Exposing a roll of Kodachrome 64, and finding out ten days later when I got it back from the processing lab, that I had completely messed up something or other, certainly taught me a lot - but at a price, financially as well as in frustration.

    I'm in the "get a digital camera and play around until you understand it, then experiment with film" camp for sure.
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  19. Of course it's entirely up to them Tony.

    And my comments were entirely supportive of someone that obviously has no grasp of the purpose or effect of shutter-speed choice. They need to learn that as a priority, and the best and easiest way to learn any exposure control is to use a digital camera that has a manual mode.

    Surely that's a very simple concept to understand?

    Then, having got a handle on how exposure works, then they can start thinking about using film, and dealing with crappy processing, off-colour, lack of ISO speed flexibility, etc., etc. From a position of having some knowledge, skill and experience.

    Would you advise a novice-driver to start learning in a hand-cranked jalopy that needed to be double-declutched, have the timing manually advanced and the fuel-air mixture manually adjusted as they went along? Because I wouldn't.
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  20. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Sorry, not being a motorist, I'm afraid your final paragraph conveys no meaning to me.

    I was not intending to disparage your suggestions for learning photography, merely attempting to put an alternative point of view.

    My final word on the matter.
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