So here are my latest results experimenting with CineStill film in Caffenol (instant coffee)… I am very happy with this combination! I have found the usable EI for this film-developer combination to range from 100-3200, all with one processing time, but the very best is around EI 640. This test image was made with my 1956 Leica M3 with a 1960 Leica 135mm Leitz Wetzlar Elmar at F5.6.
I’ve been continuously tweaking my Caffenol developer and developing technique over the past few years… I find it to be a very solid go-to developer for virtually any black and white film.
Running a test with my new ORTHOTOPOSCOPE SS camera (6×12) and a non optimized pinhole of around F70 (optimized is around F130 for the 25mm focal length). I am looking at the following films with EI from approx 100-1600 all in developers I have found that works best for maximum compensation and best overall tonality with each specific film. Reciprocity corrections were kept to just a gerous doubling to time— with this type of camera and work I like to keep it simple if possible. Exposures ranged from 1 second to 30 seconds all handheld as that is my standard way of shooting with a pinhole system.
400TX • Diafine
400Tmax • 510 Pyro
Delta 3200 • 510 Pyro
Fuji 400CN • C41
Portra 400 • C41
CineStill 800T • C41
All test results will be converted to B&W as that is my current need with these materials.
UPDATE: So I’ve looked at the film and I am very drawn to the Porta 400 and VERY drawn to the Cinestill 800T when both are converted to B&W. The regular B&W film was amazing but due to the pinhole capture I had a lot more range of possibilities in the conversion process that really helped to bring out crazy tonal separation in the two color negative materials.
From Far Away
Solo Exhibition Vermont Governors Gallery
I am very excited to announce that I have been selected by the Vermont Governors Gallery for a solo exhibition at the State Capitol form January 4 – March 31st, 2017.
The show title is “From Far Away” and represents selected works from 2004 till present. There will be an opening reception on January 12th from 4-7PM, (please note a photo ID is required to enter the gallery.) Click on the link below to read the full press release!
By now we have all heard that Fuji is discontinuing this amazing film, FP-100C- right?
Shit! Shit! Shit!
If you’re like me, and a fan of this material, right now you’re asking, what am I going to do? Well, you could just buy a lot of this film and stick in the refrigerator unopened and get a solid 8-10 years… But here’s a question: can you freeze it?
In fact, contrary to popular belief you can freeze Fuji FP-100C. But how can this be, you ask, without the PODS bursting? Yes, Polaroid PODS burst when frozen, BUT Fuji PODS are constructed of a different material and as such they don’t suffer the same horrible fate.
Here is the test I ran trying it out. I call it The Han Solo Test:
On January 13, 2016 I froze two boxes of FP-100C…
First I let both boxes get cold in my refrigerator for 48 hours to stabilize and in a vertical orientation so the box is upright… this is very important due to the location of the POD.
Then I placed both boxes in my freezer, still in a vertical orientation.
On February 27th I took a box down from the freezer and placed it back in my refrigerator again (Yes! Still in a vertical orientation...) and there it rested until this morning March 1st. I allowed it to warm to room temperature for 2 hours prior to running a series of tests shots to test color, exposure and, well, to be perfectly honest to see if it still worked at all! And guess what… all 10 shots were perfect! Not a single issue with burst PODS or uneven development or chemical separation… all perfect!
See all the test images below for proof… please note these were just quick iPhone snaps of the pics as they dried on my dining room table.
Now, can I guarantee this process will work 100%? Nope… but it did work for me. AND I have another box in the freezer that I will leave for 1 year as a long-term storage test, so look out for that follow up article in January 2017!
In conclusion my thoughts are…. buy a lot of this material and put in your refrigerator using a vertical orientation. Shoot as you normally do- it’s great film and I, for one, am going to enjoy shooting it. Once a box of film gets several years past its expiration date, (and if they have been stored in a vertical orientation in the refrigerator during this time) move them to the freezer using the steps I outlined above. This should give you even more leeway on the life of this film.
Did I mention the vertical orientation? Just checking.
I also plan on running the same test with the same freeze-to-warm process outlined above with some Fuji Instax Wide material this month, so stay tuned…
Viva la Revolution- Steve
UPDATE: please take note that I am not telling you to freeze this film now as there is no reason to do so as the current stock is quite fresh and will live for many years in a refrigerator. I will do an update in one year so we can have more information on long term storage.
Yep, it’s that time of year when shooting instant films poses an extra challenge– how to keep the film warm for processing! Over the years I’ve invented different heater boxes to keep materials warm with varying degrees of success. However this year I’ve decided to run a quick test to see just how adaptable these materials are at lower temperatures.
All three cameras: SX-70 with 600 Color Impossible Film, Polaroid 110B with Fuji FP100C and the Fuji 500AF with Instax Wide were left outside in 32F for 45 minutes. Then I shot one image with each camera and left the film to process outside again in 32F for an hour. Then I brought the images inside and made a note of its development stage and then allowed it to continue to process at 70F for an additional hour- I did not peel the 100C film apart till the end of the testing time. The results are pretty interesting….
Let’s go through them one by one:
Impossible Color 600 (newest version, left square image)
Not much happening here… these films as I have mentioned before are VERY sensitive to temperature changes and working in the cold with this particular material requires a plan for keeping not only the camera warm when loaded but also the film for the full development time which is around 35-45 minutes. Add to that the requirement to shield the image from light till development is finished and it is a tricky juggling act.
Fuji Instax Wide (top right)
Fuji Instax Wide is quite the durable material. This film also continued to process during the warm phase of the testing- not a lot but the black did add additional density and the colors became more saturated. While the color and contrast are off they are not off much and it would be very easy to correct for the cold effects in Photoshop.
Fuji FP 100C (lower right)
Fuji FP 100C really did a great job with regards to contrast and tonal range BUT the color shift is quite obvious— Green! Of course a lot of that shift is from an extended period of development which tends to shift green anyways regardless of the temperature. I almost always leave my FP-100C to self terminate in development (5-10 minutes is normal for me) as I don’t really want to have to stop shooting and watch the peel time depending on temperature. Overall this would be a very easy color correction to do in Photoshop and again the tonality and contrast are the best of the group.
Sample images from above with quick photoshop color correction.
If you are going to shoot in cold weather try to keep your loaded camera warm at all times and keep the developing film warm as well for best quality. The Fuji Instax wide and the FP100C were the most robust in the cold, I suspect if I had pulled the film apart earlier the test the color would be closer. I also found in the color corrected images above that the FP-100C was much closer to the color and tone of the actual scene whereas the Instax Wide gained a fair amount of contrast and was harder to keep the saturation and contrast balanced. Impossible Color 600 would not be a recommendation unless you have, as I have stated above, some degree of controlling the development temperature, clearly essential for this material.
So I am heading back to Paris tomorrow provided I can make it to Boston to get my flight!
On my last trip to Paris 5 weeks ago I shot with the Leica Monochrome exclusively…. on this trip it will be my Leica M4 film cameras exclusively! Hint… my next big article here on FR.
I have also been testing a lot of film and developer combinations the last 5 weeks… a lot! I really like the Bergger BRF 400+ in Caffenol CL and Caffenol CH with EI in CL out to 3200+. Rodinal provides a very crisp negative and Xtol is another good choice at 1:1. Another film I have been testing a lot is Delta 3200 processed in PMK double strength… nice range of tones and usable out to 6400 and perhaps 12,800 with proper shadow metering. Today I am running a test looking at the Delta 3200 in PMK with 1.5 strength as at double the highlights get a bit hot at lower EI’s… I want it all- 400-6400!!!!!! Stay tuned!
Oh and the Bergger BRF400+ in PMK is around 200-400 with a beautiful tonal quality. I have heard many people compare the Bergger to Tri-X… Yes, but only if you are talking Tri-X from the 1970’s and even then it is more like XX than TX. It is very low contrast film which is a good thing for scanning and has a softer rendering then most modern films… perfect for a classic look. In Diafine it is nice but the grain needs a bit of a kick in PS with some structure and a “S” curve to add depth- in Diafine a usable EI of 1600 is not a problem.
I shoot both with the Leica Monochrome and my Leica MP. I find that for lens work the Monochrome is pretty hard to beat especially if you understand the proper Monochrome workflow: most work I see online made with the Monochrome is not done to maximize what the camera is capable of doing. I will post a more in-depth review on the MM in a couple of weeks. Right now, however, my testing is looking at the MM compared to my MP using three different films (Bergger BRF400+, Ilford Delta 3200 and Kodak BW400CN) and my pinhole systems and long exposures at high-speed EI. I have been testing a variety of different developers from Rodinal to Xtol and of course Caffenol. There is just something I like about the Caffenol negatives.
I’ll be posting an in-depth article in a couple of days looking at these films and developers all for the purposes of high-speed use and scanning. Of course this info will be valuable to any low light shooter as well….stay tuned!
Viva la Revolution- Stephen
PS- I did test in Diafine BUT as I am looking for speeds of a solid 1600+ it was not a good choice….
Lately I am seeing far too many images praised, not for their quality, but simply because they are film based. Much as I love film, that pisses me off. I want to see great work get attention- film or digital- whatever!
Favoring film-based images simply because they’re from film strikes me as similar to the mistake that some shooters make when they assume a certain camera brand (did someone say Leica?) magically makes their images superior. Bottom Line… use the tools that help you make your work. Process is important but it’s not all-important especially to a collector or client… in the end people buy what they like.