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Craig Pindell

Random Thoughts


       I think that maybe I think too much.  When I am on airplanes.  When I am sitting near a ruin waiting for the light to change.  When I am on a long drive. When I am on the motorcycle making an Iron Butt ride. Lots of time to think, and much of that time is thinking about photography.

      One of these thoughts was that I ought to find a way to share these thoughts.  I am hoping that doing so might help, might inspire, or at least encourage others interested in photography.

      Sometimes these thoughts may not be completely thought through, or maybe they will be a hard and fast rule- but only for myself. Or they may just be rants blowing off steam.  All should be taken with a grain of salt. I don't believe myself to be an authority on photography.  I know what works for me, and what doesn't.  I am willing to share all I know about photography, but I don't expect anyone to blindly accept what I say.

      There have been many times that I have learned a lot from folks who disagreed with me, or who saw that my methods were not as refined as they could be.  I am always happy to learn,  or at the very least, try something different. 

      This page is not a forum, there is not a comment section.  If you disagree, or if you want to discuss further, please email me at the address on the contact page.  It has been my experience that without an audience, keyboard commandos do not find any reward in discussion.  I am hoping that is the case here.

      I am not sure how often I will post here,  and I am not setting a schedule for myself. I hope it will be at least a couple of times per month, but there may be times when it much more, or much less. I will post on here in reverse chronological order - the most recent post will be first, and it is my intention to leave all the post's on here, even after I have been proven wrong, with a post that updates incorrect posts.


 8 February 2020 - Ilford Pan F+

      I am a long time fan of Ilford Pan F+ film.  The fine grain, excellent sharpness and long tonal scale are all the characteristics I look for in a film. I really wish it was available in sheets. Since it is not, I like shooting it in panorama, especially 6x17 format using 120 film.  I feel so strongly about it, that when Bomm Cameras ( www.bommcameras.com ) built my 8x10 camera, I had them build me a 5x7 back with Graflock that allowed me to use a DaYi 617 back on the camera.  For me, the extra expense was well worth it to be able to make use of Pan F+.

      Then disaster strikes, Pan F+ became unreliable.   My first problem showed up during the first trip out with the Bomm and the Panorama back.

      There were lines in the sky.  At first glance I thought the back must be faulty, but I had also exposed FP4+ and Ektar on this day, and there were no issues with the other film.

      I decided to test the film using a grey mat board, and the lines were in the film.  I contacted Ilford, and they sent replacement film (which tested fine) and on 26 September, 2018, they emailed this explanation:

 I'm really sorry to see the problems you've encountered on one of your
Pan F Plus roll films. The repeating lines are unfortunately an issue
that I recognize - they are linked to the film and an interaction defect
arising from the film wrapper (backing paper).

We do now acknowledge that wrapper interaction was an issue with a very
small number of film generated within some specific manufacturing time
periods (i.e. your 41D batch which was finished in May 2016, was one of
the batches affected).
It linked with a time period when some wrappers did not have quite
enough lacquer applied. But, we also know that for the lines to show on
actual films, in addition to the wrapper being a factor - it also mostly
needed some external factors to be present, to trigger it. (i.e. non
manufacturing triggers).
For eg, with the few prior complaint incidents we've known it arise on,
the triggers appear to have been if film was old, if film was stored in
adverse temperatures (hot/high RH), if there was a really long delay
between exposure and processing, if very long exposures were used, and
when certain types of developers are used - like pyro devs.

Since appreciating that lacquer levels applied to wrappers is so
critical - the tolerances permissible for lacquer levels applied to our
wrappers has been suitably altered, and since that time point - we have
not received any other incidents as complaints. We are also monitoring
wrappers alot more extensively, and carrying out alot more QC tests.

So although I can appreciate it will have been extremely distressing for
you to lose your images, hopefully the above can still help you to
regain your confidence that this is an issue that ought not to ever
arise again. (You might also be able to link one of the above triggers -
as something that was applicable to your film).

I would advise that it would be best to not risk using any other films
you have off this exact same batch - and I definitely will ensure you
receive replacement films to more than cover your ruined processed film,
as well as any unexposed films you have. (Again - I appreciate this
doesn't rescue your ruined film or take away that disappointment of
losing the images).

      I really appreciated the information from Ilford, but It did not match up to my personal experience, so I decided to keep testing.  The film they sent me was fine, the next group I ordered from Freestyle had issues again.  The batch number was different from the batch number of the previous film I had problems with.   Then the next batch I ordered was fine.  I assumed all was good, bought more Pan F, and stopped testing.

      Not long after, I saw a few exchanges on Twitter that folks were seeing a new problem with Pan F+ - white spots in light tones, such as sky areas.  I did a quick test and was having the same issue.  This was the last straw for me.  I don't feel I can go to the work it takes to create images with the Bomm, and the expense to go to some of the distant locations I travel to, without having the confidence that my chosen film will be free from defects.

      It is heartbreaking, but until I restore my confidence in Pan F+, I will find something different (obviously lesser) to shoot.


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