Stains on negative. Lab error?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by Fiodor, Jun 12, 2016.

  1. Hi...
    I developed a 35mm film in a lab and the negative is all stained with little spots (which appear white on positive).
    The film is a boxed Kodak.
    I show you an image.
    The stains are on the negative, the problem has nothing to do with the scanning.
    It seems like a process mistake, bad washing or something. I know almost nothing about film developing. I always develop in labs and this is the first time something like this happened. Well, in fact, the second one. In the first one, a B&W film in another lab, there was an evident intrusion of light during developing, and also the film was stained with little spots of the same kind.
    Do you know what the mistake was, technically?
    Is it a mistake that an experienced lab could make easily? Or is it about complete negligence?
  2. Just an improper washing. White spots on negs means a deposit of some kind. Wash your film. It should come off.
  3. Dirt in the solutions. The lab owes you a roll of film and a refund. You need to go somewhere else for processing if deliver such bad work.
  4. Poorly handled and/or washed. That's more schmutz than I'd get on film hanging it to dry in my basement, FWIW.
    While small local labs may still be convenient in some places (large cities), they may not be running the amount of film necessary to keep their processes clean and calibrated. They also might not have truly dedicated people doing it. These days, it's probably worth it to find a good professional lab and use them, even if it means mailing them the film.
  5. You can't just re-wash color film in water, you have to run in through the stabilizing bath as a last step or the color will go bad. Find a good lab, have them wash and stabilize this film, and then give them your new work.
    But first go give hell to the lab who did this to you. They should not be making this sort of mess, and management needs to know.
  6. I would say it is a lab issue and probably from underused machinery. Problem is with mini labs is that they MUST keep ruining every day and a lot of smaller labs do not get enough throughput to keep there machines running at optimum.
    There is also some scanner artifact in the images that I can see but not very much.
    John Shriver is very correct is saying that you can not wash the film in water. This could have happened at any stage of the processing so chances are it is permanent anyway.
    Make sure the lab knows about this and get a refund and find some place else to do your developing.
    I had this problem years ago with a local lab and that's was when I decided it was better to develop my own C-41 films, it is in fact very easy to do.
  7. Peter, John, Bethe, thank you very much.
    So… is this issue reversible? If the film is washed and stabilized properly, can I get the same result as if it was processed fine from the beginning? Is it all about clean it a bit or I am risking loss of quality, even in the best hands? I ask this because, of course, I would like the negative to be clean (I could make copies directly from it, I can scan it whenever I want without retouching it every time, etc). But if I´m risking loss of quality or something… (there are a couple of images that I like very much)
    Also, if I go to the lab and ask for a roll and a refund, they could offer me that, instead of that, they could wash the film themselves, and I want to be prepared to know what to do in that situation. Probably John is right (thanks for the suggestion) and I should try to look for another lab to do that job.
    This lab is considered a “pro” one, and I processed there some rolls with good results. But probably they are not at their best moment, for whatever reason. Or just an employee’s bad day, who knows.
  8. Mark, thank you for your response. So, in your opinion, it is impossible to know exactly what happened, but probably it is permanent.
    I´m glad that you can develop your rolls. One day, I should learn to develop film, B&W and color, that would be great.
  9. I remembered this thread because I need to scan some images of this negative.

    The manager told me back then that it wasn’t the lab’s fault, and that he believed the plush of the film cassette, where the film pass through at the end, had “glue” on it. This not only sounds strange, but if it was glue, wouldn’t it have some kind of relief? Also, the light wouldn’t expose the spaces with the supposed glue, but this is not apparently the case.

    It seems like some kind of “dirt” from the roller transport mechanism, without affecting the process itself. So probably it is about the washing step, as mentioned before, or some chemistry which stuck to the film at the end of the process. I attach a photograph of the neg to show how it looks.


    The stains are around the holes and also there are some vertical irregular stripes at some intervals, but this “dirt” is spread everywhere (the white spots we see in the scanned image) .

    So now I tried to clean it with water. Submerging it in water is not enough, it doesn’t do anything. But if I rub the film with my fingers, with certain pressure, the dirt goes away. But to clean the film completely, if that is possible, I would have to rub the film firmly through all the extension of the film. So let me ask:

    How could I do this task without damaging or crumpling the film? With the fingers is not easy.

    If I use alcohol or some other product, will the “dirt” go away more easily?

  10. Short of a full re-wash, I'd be inclined to try PEC or Kodak Film Cleaner on a PEC pad.
  11. You can't wash away 'holes' in the image.

    This doesn't look like opaque dirt or chemical contamination, which would show up as black or dark spots. What's shown above is contamination that's prevented the developer from reaching the emulsion. As such it's pretty irreparable.

    I tend to agree that the most likely cause is the sticky-tape used to fix the end of the film to the spool. It usually only affects the very end of the film, and is a very good reason to stop at frame 36 and not try to squeeze an extra frame or two out of the roll.

    However, the adhesive tape isn't going to cause white spots all over positive scans or prints from the film. That's a different fault entirely.

    What are we looking at anyway? Is the film back or front illuminated?
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018
  12. Do you mean these?

    Photographic Solutions PEC-12 Photographic Emulsion PECBTL B&H

    Photographic Solutions PEC-PAD Photo Wipes PAD100 B&H Photo

    Mm… I don’t know if I could get those products in my city. I’ll see. Thanks for the recommendation, I didn't know them.

    On what surface would you put the negative to clean it? I mean, to avoid scratching the film, if you rub it with some pressure. Or would you hold the film in the air and rub it with two pads at the same time, on both sides?
  13. Thanks for the comment.

    They are not holes. It is something stuck to the surface of the film, on the emulsion side. The stains are opaque, I mean, not transparent.

    Why do you say they would show up as dark spots? It is the same than a hair, which is opaque, and appears white in the scanned image, doesn’t it?

    I cleaned just one image, not completely, because I was afraid and I was trying. But after cleaning, I scanned it again and the image was behind the spots which disappeared. So, for the moment, I tend to think that the “dirt” is only superficial and it didn’t affect the exposure nor the processing. To verify this, I would have to clean an image utterly, if that is possible.
  14. "Why do you say they would show up as dark spots?"

    - Because from the pictures you've posted the marks are either white or transparent and it's not clear which, depending whether the negatives have been taken in backlighting or front-lit.

    So the contamination is a white deposit on the film?

    If it is the remains of adhesive tape, then you'll need an organic solvent. I'd recommend white spirit applied with a lens tissue. With the film rested on a sheet of polythene. Try a small unimportant area first.
  15. @rodeo_joe|1

    Yeah, the deposit is not white, but it is lighter than the film. Depending on how the light impacts the film, you see it more or less light. But it is definitely a deposit on the film, not transparent holes.

    I’m sorry for taking so long.

    But in your previous post you said you thought it wasn’t the sticky-tape... And I agree with that. The film is all stained with this substance, which doesn’t look like any adhesive material.

    Anyway, do you think that white spirit would do the same job as PEC-12, whatever this deposit is? I can’t get PEC-12 in my city, unless I buy it online, what would cost a lot, if they even send it. What I can buy here is a local film cleaner.

    Okay, the film rested on a sheet of polythene, that is a good one.


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