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SpencerB 17th May 2020 12:38 PM

Blurry images after C-41 process
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Hello all. I have finished my first two C-41 processed films. Both done on the same camera (Canon AE-1 with automatic switched on) and the first roll on mediocre weather was satisfactory, whereas the second roll, some were ok, yet on a sunny day the results very over-exposed and details were exceptionally blurred and washed out. One was correct exposure and lovely but still had the odd blurry effect. I have also noticed that infinity doesn't seem 100% sharp too. So my question is this: is it the Canon or the process?

Regarding the Canon, I have shot with black and white film and have had mixed results, nothing that I recognise as being so bad. I have noticed the camera does have a light leak.

All C-41 used distilled water. I preheated the chemicals in my bathtub to 39-41 degrees, used developer for 3 mins and 15 seconds and I made sure the tank was in the bath to keep temperature. Agitation was with the stick rather than inversions for first minute, then 10 seconds on the minutes after. I then made sure to pour back into the bottle 10 seconds prior to my timer going off and rinsed in warm water twice (maybe I went wrong here? I saw purple fluid coming out). Following this, the blix for 4 mins, same agitation method, and of course a 3 min rinse followed by 1 min in stabaliser which was at room temperature. Photos attached

skellum 17th May 2020 01:13 PM

Hi Spencer.
You may have a couple of things to think about.
Are these scans from the negatives, or scans of prints? It would help us to know, because If they are scans of prints it would mean there are questions about how they were printed.

Start with the camera, and please forgive me if you know all this.
On automatic the AE1 uses shutter priority. You set the shutter speed and the camera picks the matching aperture. You want to be sure the camera is actually delivering the speed you want, but also that you are setting an appropriate shutter speed.
With the camera back open, lens wide open (f1.8 probably), point it at the brightest part of the sky and fire the shutter at all the speeds. You should see a real difference in the speed of the shutter as you work from 1 second down to 1/1000.
Once you're sure the speeds are correct, have a think about what speeds you're using. 'Sunny 16' means that with 100 speed film correct exposure is about 1/125 at f16 in full sunlight. With 400 speed film it's 1/500 at 16.
That means you can overexpose by using too slow a speed in full sun- the lens runs out of apertures small enough.
However, colour negative film mostly likes generous exposure, so I'm surprised you had trouble with the film shot in bright conditions.

If you look at the last image, that looks like camera shake. If you use too slow a speed it can be hard to hold the camera still enough.
As a rough guide, use a speed which matches the focal length-
50mm lens at 1/60
28mm lens at 1/30
135 lens at 1/125 and so on.
Yes, if you practice you'll get better at it.

To begin unravelling you problems:
Do you have a second camera (or a meter) whose exposure reading you can compare the Canon too? If not, one test would be to shoot a short 24 exp roll of slide film, in good lighting conditions, and have it lab processed. Use a variety of shutter speeds, with at least a couple of frames on a tripod or solid base.
Colour slide film is demanding of correct exposure. You will see immediately if there is an issue with the Canon's exposure accuracy.
Having a couple of shots on a tripod also rules out a lens defect and hints that any fuzziness is 'operator error' rather than a fault.

I don't process colour, but perhaps someone will be along soon to advise on your processing technique.
Good luck

ps- On the Canon you'll need the lens on its smallest aperture setting to let the auto-exposure work. There might even be a lock so you can keep it in place.

alexmuir 17th May 2020 01:34 PM

The first thing I noticed is that Edinburgh appears to have moved to the Peak District!
I think 1 and 2 look ok. 3 looks as if itís showing uneven development, and may also be over exposed. 4 looks like something possibly got in front of the lens. The last one looks like a large aperture was used, and focused on the building. The resulting shallow depth of field has caused the foreground to be blurred.
As Colin has said, however, it helps to know if these are scans of negatives, or prints. I agree entirely that some shots taken in controlled circumstances will get you to a solution much sooner. Recording the exposure and focus settings (what you focused on) will also help.

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alexmuir 17th May 2020 01:47 PM

There are a couple of other details which may help others answer your questions.
What lens/lenses were used?
Which film/films are we looking at?
Was the film past the expiry date?
As far as problems wit infinity focus are concerned, there can be a variety of causes. Damage to the lens, or lens mount on the camera are things to check. Iím not sure if the focusing screen on this camera is interchangeable, but if so, is it properly seated?
I once discovered that the eyepiece of a camera which couldnít be focused had an accessory correction lens attached by a previous owner. This wasnít immediately obvious, but it was easily fixed.

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skellum 17th May 2020 02:26 PM

Hi Alex-
Once again, a new user with a problem which in Ye Olden Days would have been sorted down the camera club. Someone to talk Spencer through the camera controls and check it was working OK, then a couple of old duffers (one smoking a pipe) would cast their beady eyes over his prints and give a diagnosis.
Hopefully Spencer will be back with more information soon.

SpencerB 17th May 2020 03:41 PM

Thanks for the quick replies! To answer some of the questions, these are scans directly from negatives. I am very new to scanning so these are as default from the scanner, no editing.

Regarding the lenses and exposures I used Fujicolor C200 (which I believe expired last year but has been in the freezer) with a canon FD 50mm for the majority of the photos, with perhaps an exception for the last where I may have used a Canon FD 135mm. I think the item that may have gotten in the way as pointed out was actually the lens hood which is pretty deep, so I will probably have to change that. Most photos were shot at either 500 or 1000. Maybe I went wrong here? although I haven't really had a problem before on B/W.

Just had a quick comparison with the light meter on both the canon and my Nikon FM2, both meters show consistent results.

Alex you are correct and now I feel silly. I'm not used to my scanner and I keep forgetting to change the prefix from "Peak District".. haha Trust me to offend a Scott as soon as I join! I think your diagnosis on the last photo may be accurate, I sometimes do play with a wide aperture as I sometimes enjoy the effect. Although not at all sharp, I think its a happy little accident.

I hope the information helps!

alexmuir 17th May 2020 04:47 PM

Hi Spencer. I just recognised the first location as Parliament Square, and then thought it must have a double elsewhere. Iíve never achieved good results with colour negative films, but I think home processing is the way to go. I tend to work with aperture priority if using a tripod, and shutter priority for handheld shots to avoid camera shake. Lens hoods can get in the way, so make sure that you use one matched to the focal length of lens. Iíve ruined whole films by using one the lens can see. They are important, however, unless the lens glass is very deeply recessed.

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Mike O'Pray 17th May 2020 06:48 PM


Originally Posted by alexmuir (Post 133434)
The first thing I noticed is that Edinburgh appears to have moved to the Peak District!

Good, I might be able to get to the odd Hearts game now :D

On a more serious note some prints look fine in terms of exposure, colour etc but certainly most see fuzzy. Whatever the cause of that is it is not the process and others have given advice that I cannot really add to.

Certainly worth persevering. Sometimes. although seldom if ever on this forum, I feel that the person has real problems that may be impossible to solve via a forum but not here

I am sure that the discovery of the cause or causes is close


Terry S 18th May 2020 12:14 PM

Can I just say that I really like the softness of the last picture? :)

Having lived in Edinburgh for a few years, I too noticed the naming mistake as well and also thought initially that there was somewhere else that looked similar. LOL.

Terry S

Bob 19th May 2020 01:46 AM

The next time you are out either try a tripod if you have one, or brace the camera against a handy wall or tree etc - that should rule out camera shake. Set a small aperture and focus on the horizon and take your shot - that will rule out camera shake and test your infinity focus and the small aperture ensures as much as possible should be in focus (we will not faff about with hyperfocal distances at this point!).

Do the same again but this time use a large aperture and focus on something a few metres way to check your close-focus accuracy.

Take a few like that when the opportunity presents itself so you have some controlled exposures you can compare. Make a note of which shots they are 'cos by the time you get them developed, you will have forgotten :))

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