View Full Version : Where did I go wrong? (cloudy negatives)

05-01-2011, 5:28pm
Apologies for the length of this post, but I want to give a good sense of the variables.

Last night I decided to have a crack at developing film for the first time. Courtesy of youtube and an infosheet that came with the film I decided I had a reasonable idea how to do it and I set to work.

The film was some expired (by approx 4 months) B&W Rollei Retro400 film that I bought from Michael's in Melbourne and which came with a small bottle of developer (RHS Film Developer).

I exposed the shots on an old Voightlander Vitomatic, which worked beautifully for the couple of rolls of colour shots I put through it and had developed.

So, firstly I prewashed the film for 30 seconds in water, agitating every 3 seconds.

Then I developed the film in the developer (1 part dev to 7 parts water at 20o) for 13 minutes, agitating each 30 seconds.

After this I used RCS Citrin Stop Bath (diluted at 1:19) for 1 minute - I agitated this once.

Now the fixer is where I suspect I made the mistake. The recommended product was ROLLEI R3 HIIGH ENERGY FIX, however Michaels only had RXN Fixing Bath Neutral - I queried this with the sales guy as this product appears to be made for making prints, not developing negatives and is pH neutral - the sales guy assured me you can use it for either.

I diluted the fixer at 1:4 and used it on the film for 3 minutes, agitating every 30 seconds.

After this I washed the film in water for a total of 15 minutes.

When I removed the film, most of the frames looked OK, though some had milky blotches on them - as the film dried however more of these cloudy blotches appeared and spread, and now, of the 2 films I developed there are maybe only a dozen useable frames - What did I do wrong? Was it the fixer? Was it the expired film?

Any help would be appreciated and as I said earlier, I used a couple of youtube tutorials and the (very comprehensive) info that I got with the film pack - if anyone knows of a good tutorial I should check out that'd be good too.

The pics below are of the problem I am encountering - I don't want to develop the other 3 rolls I have until I know why I am getting the problem so I can fix it.

Thanks again

David Woods
05-01-2011, 6:30pm
Did you have the film on the spool correctly, I feel if it was the fixer the whole film would of been affected, did you have enough to cover the spool?

A link for Rollei development times


05-01-2011, 8:35pm
Thanks David, I think I had the film on the spool properly as it all fed on OK - having said that it was dark when I put it on there - as I mentioned above too, there was *some* of the cloudiness and blotches when I first removed the film from the spool, but after the film dried these were far worse and affected more frames - Thanks for the link too!!

05-01-2011, 9:32pm
David brings up a good point. Another thing that comes to mind is that the negs may not have been washed effectively. 3 minute fix seems a little low, I always go for 5 minuts....each film is different and i'm not familiar with retro 400. it is no problem to rewash the neg. respool, drop into the tank (patterson?), the fill with water. let it sit for 5 mintues, then vigorously agitate 5 or 6 times. empty, refill and let sit for 5 minutes, then agitate vigorously for ten or so times. empty, refill, sit for 5 minutes, then agitate 20 times. then wash, maybe using Ilfotol or similar, which is a wetting agent and should help dry the negs with no streaks. If the problem is what David suggested, then put the film in the bin and start again. metal reels are great, but tricky at first. it is safer to learn with patterson reels. when you take the film from the canister, trim the leader, but also trim a little 45° bevel off the either side at the end of the film. this helps with feeding.

06-01-2011, 7:27am
Hi Tom, thanks for your advice. I am using a Patterson reel - I'll try what you have suggested and rewash the negs - it does sound like a similar process to the one I used for washing, but it's worth a shot! Can I confirm with someone that the same Fixer can be used for both film and prints?

David Woods
06-01-2011, 8:02am

On the Rollei site it says for Fiber paper, but it does not say it cannot be used for film, I personally use Tetenal superfix, I fix for 2 minutes and never had an issue, but as I said earlier it looks as if the film wasn't loaded properly was there enough developer to cover the spool, when you did the agitation did you turn it completley upside down, also did you use a washing agent or just water, also I always use a wetting agent like Kodak photoflo, it stops water marks being let on the film.


06-01-2011, 7:45pm
Hi David - pretty sure there was plenty of developer - probably more than enough - I'll be more careful loading the next roll of film - with the agitation I turned it upside down each time - all trial and error I guess - I didn't use a washing agent, so i better get hold of some :-) Thanks

11-01-2011, 11:53pm
Haven't developed for a while but i will be getting back to it soon.

Anyway, I'm just trying to nut out a few possibilities..

The markings appear on the top edge of the film on the perforations. If the film had contacted, then it is most likely form bending in the centre of the film and not on the edges. Unless this happened in a small segment rather than the whole film, in which case it may be the film coming loose from the spool. The whole film was affected?
Inadequate cover of the film in developing or fixing or washing would be possible but a large area of the negative is affected... thats a lot of missing solution.

A check in my old Ilford 'Manual of Photography' from the 1950's and 60's says... Inadequate fixation shows brownish appearance of the back of the negative. This may also refer to older fixers and film as a milky appearance is also a lack of fixer.
Also "Large spot of lighter density with greater density at edges ... Drying mark

I can't see an exact image of what you have in the manual at the moment But I must say it looks like a solution coverage problem... probably fixer or wash.

Was there enough cover at all stages? How did you dry the film?

Wish I could be of more help

12-01-2011, 9:03am
I have to agree with robz, the appearance of the film suggests to me that it has not been properly covered by the solution in the tank. I think I have seen such a result many years ago so its hard to remember, but I think that at the time I though that the cause was that the film was not properly threaded into the spool so that the film was touching and the solutions did not pass between the two layers properly. I cannot remember if I put it down to inadequate development or inadequate fixation, but either way it was not getting properly immersed.

12-01-2011, 7:34pm
I've had a look through my notes on b&w processing errors, and it would seem it could be underdevelopment or underfixing. did you trying the refixing idea? let us know if it worked out. :)

(blotchy opaque areas mean the film was touching itself - oo, er - but I don't think that's the case? you'd know if it loaded smoothly or not.)

12-01-2011, 10:56pm
G'day philmud

This brings back memories from long ago ... it happend to me from time to time
I would put a 99% bet onto "some of the film has come out of its tracks in the reel and touched the emulsion of the adjacent track - thus preventing either/both full development or complete fixing of those portions of the emulsion

It seems to happen when the leading edge of the film - during threading it into the spirals - jammed on a microscopic nick in the plastic groove, causing a small portion of the remaining film to 'bubble' out of its groove and touch part of the film on the adjacent spiral

In years gone past, I had several spirals that I could no longer load 36s onto - so after buying more spirals, marked the old ones for 20s & 24s

If you re-fix the film with appropriate washing, you may minimise the darkening to some degree - but the damage is done
As Tom says above, cut a different lead-in angle onto the leading edge of the film when loading [maybe also heat the spirals with a hair dryer to ensure 100% dryness]

Hope this helps
Regards, Phil J

13-01-2011, 8:57am
The edge markings would indicate that the film was develped correctly. I would suggest (a) insufficient fixer in the tank (b) too short a time for the fix (c) incorrect strength for the fixer.

Try a short length of unexposed film in frech fixer.