Rollei Film Issues

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by willscarlett, Jun 20, 2020.

  1. I'm having issues with select Rollei films, mainly their Retro 80S, RPX 25, and ATP DC, all in 120mm. What's going on is the well-known issue of water and minerals within the water reacting with the film and causing those awful black dots. I ran into this once many years ago with a roll of ATP DC and was told to use demineralized water to solve the issue.

    That was probably 10 years ago, and since then, I've developed countless rolls of film without an issue, including rolls of RPX 25. I also shot more ATP DC, but switched to developing it with tap water and Rodinal and had no issues. However, I recently developed several rolls of Retro 80S, just using tap water (we have a water softener installed), but when I scanned them, they all had the black dots, which are most noticeable in the sky. What is also interesting is that the marks get worse if I use darker filtration. For example, if I use no filter, the marks aren't awful and you probably wouldn't even notice them if I didn't point them out. But if I switch to a yellow, orange, red, or infrared filter, the marks become much worse and much more noticeable. The darker the filter gets, the worse the black dots become.

    So, I had this issue with Retro 80S and then had some ATP DC to develop. I didn't want a repeat of the Retro 80S, so I went to the grocery and bought distilled water. I know it's not the same as demineralized water or deionized water, but suffice to say that the result was the same with the black dots.

    Regarding the RPX 25, I've never had an issue with that film before, but now it is also giving me the black dots. What's also interesting is that - with all of these films - the issue seems to persist regardless of the developer. I was doing a bit of a film test, so I developed the rolls in Rodinal, HC110, Rollei RLC, Rollei RLS, Rollei ATP DC, 510-Pyro, Ilford DDX, etc.

    Another point of contention with some of these Rollei films - definitely Retro 80S and ATP DC, but not sure offhand about RPX 25 - is that parts of the backing paper, whether the frame numbers or the circles, are burning through and becoming imprinted on the film itself, and is visible in the scans.

    It is worth mentioning that I have not had any of these issues with Rollei IR400.

    So, I'm trying to determine if I should get some true demineralized water and give that a shot, or just abandon these films altogether. Let me also give some more info about my developing process to see if there's anything I could be doing better.

    First, on the rolls where I used distilled water, I only used that for the development stage. I went back to tap water for the stop, fixer, hypoclear, etc, because otherwise I'd just be burning through these jugs of water. Another possible issue is that some of this film was shot during the fall of 2018 and developed this past winter. I stored the film properly, but not sure if sitting around played a part. Some of the film was also shot during fall 2019 and developed over the winter.

    I'd share some samples, but I'm not at home so, so I'll add those in later. I shot some Superpan 200 last weekend, but haven't developed that yet, so I can't say if those rolls will also be affected.
  2. If you are seeing black spots in a print, that is from a film defect allowing light to pass thru the negative. Off and on I use the Retro 80s in both my 35 or 120 cameras. This small stash of film is keep frozen, allowed a 24hr defrost time before insertion into the camera. Never seen the "black dots" in this emulsion yet, but do see the dots occasionally in other emulsions. A bit of detective work shows me that keeping the film at "room" temps here in Hawaii for any length of time will produce the "dots" from my scans. Stored in the fridge, the film seems safe. I am also adverse to purchasing a certain line of emulsions due to the high percentage of this emulsion defect in the manufactured film
    I do have the reverse problem at times. White dots when sizable enlargements are made. This I have traced back to my Cathecol based developers (Hypercat, Pyrocat(s) and Obsidian Aqua). These are all DIY here, so I limit each batch to 100ml and as soon as these "soda dots" start to appear, I trash the current mix. Usually I am 70-80 ml into a mix.
    As to the type of water, distilled water is best if the bottle list "Steam Distilled". Properly de-ionized (reverse osmosis) has produced repeated, acceptable results for me. A recent case of "feather" drying marks on both type emulsions has been traced back to the use of DI water purchased in #1 bottles vrs the "normal" #2 plastic container I have purchased for years. Several inputs of fellow Pneters mentioned a possible mold release agent used in manufacturing the PET, #1, bottles. No problem since only buying the #2 Plastic bottles. #1 PET is the clear material, #2 is the frosted, milk bottle material.
    Contrary to many inputs here, I would not think of holding any exposed film longer than 1 week, under any conditions, until it is developed. Perhaps Hawaii's tropical climate is too blame, but that is my routine, it works for me.
    Aloha, Bill
  3. During a May 17, 2016 posting, John Sexton alerted a large number of Pnet'rs to the paper backing bled problems with Kodak Tmax films. An entire series of emulsions were affected and the problems were resolved thru Kodak Customer Service. Below is my film (120 Tmax 400) noted at that time. Over the last decade Kodak has outsourced many components of the film section, so it would not surprise me that the backing paper for many other 120 emulsions, other than Kodak, were


    purchased from the source. 2018 is not far away from products manufactured in 2016, so perhaps your 80s was affected by this bled. My picture was with 02-2017 film. Aloha, Bill
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2020
  4. Hey Bill, and thanks for your response. I still use your Rodinal recipe to develop the 80S (1:150, semi-stand for 45 minutes). It's a shame that the film is presenting so many issues, since the grain, tonality, and sharpness in Rodinal are truly outstanding. There are a lot of posts in Flickr and other photo sites about these same issues, and the inconsistent quality of Rollei films in general. I shot another roll of 80S last month and I'll use distilled water to see if it makes a difference. I'll do the same with the Superpan 200 and see if it helps. If not, it may be time to excise these films from my lineup.

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