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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 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.


November, 2022 - Twitter, RIP (Again)

     I have seen discussion on Twitter lately that due to the anti-American Trump supporter Elon Musk purchasing Twitter many of the film photography community are leaving. I suppose it isn't surprising, but I don't think it is entirely the result of the Musk takeover.  The Musk nonsense just seems to be the straw that has broken the camel's back.

     It seems that few have noticed how many of the most interesting film photographs have been gone from Twitter for months. There are still a few that are stubborn enough to hang on, and who occasionally post images, but the folks who could be counted on for 2 or 3 truly high quality images per week are gone.

     When I first joined Twitter, Emulsive was the leader of the film photography community, and there were a few photographers in my area that were part of the community, so we would meet from time to time. At this point, Emulsive is reposting old content from his web site (This is still an incredible repository of information, by the way). The original Rocky Mountain Film Photographers group is gone, there are only two of us of the original group that still stay in contact.

     Who knows what might come next. It is obvious that photographers haven't migrated to Flikr, and that Flikr is doing nothing to encourage folks to move over. There must be other platforms, and at some point folks will pick their platform, but unfortunately, it will not be a unanimous migration, and the #BelieveinFilm community will be less because of the losses.

     Personally, if there were a platform that was able to host the film photography community as it was in the early days on Twitter, and there were a leader like Emulsive was back then, I would change platforms within the hour. 


August 2022 - Dan Cheser Photograph

     In July, I took a motorcycle ride with my friend, Shawn, from Pittsburgh.  We met at the Spotted Horse Bar, in Spotted Horse Wyoming. I arrived before Shawn, and I had a couple of beers while I was waiting. At some point, an old cowboy came in and digging deep in his pockets pulled out all of the money he had. Handing it all to the bartender, he said "Give me $5 worth of Black Velvet." 

     I saw an opportunity and told the bartender "If this gentleman allows me to take his picture, I will buy his drink."  The Ol' Cowboy said I could take his photo, but I couldn't buy his drink because he didn't have enough money to buy me a drink in return. Eventually I convinced him I didn't want him to buy me a beer, I just wanted to take his picture. 

     By then, Shawn had arrived and helped me keep the other folks in the bar distracted while I made a couple of dozen photos of the cowboy. It was one of the most enjoyable portrait session I have ever been a part of.  You can see the photo here.  Dan Cheser Photo.


June 2022 - Ilford Measles follow up.

     After my last testing (read the test results here) of Ilford 120 film for measles, I ordered a couple hundred dollars worth of Pan F+, FP4+, and HP5+.  I wish I hadn't.  The second roll of Pan F+ I used had splotches in the sky area.  The first roll of HP5+ had splotches.   The film was fresh and purchased from Freestyle Photo.


14 March 2022 - Ilford Issues a Statement

     Ilford has issued a statement on the ongoing Ilford Measles issue that has been effecting the Ilford 120 size films.  The statement can be found here:   Updated 120 ROLL FILM STATEMENT - Ilford Photo %

      I assume from the tone of the statement that the problem has been resolved to their satisfaction. I recently heard of two new instances of photographers having issues with Ilford film, and the film was in date. I am not sure if the problem has been solved or not. I am not using Ilford at this time, so I have no first hand knowledge if it is truly resolved.

      I have been very surprised how Ilford chose to handle this situation. I have used Ilford products for many years, and I had always found the company to be one of the better companies in the photographic realm. This situation was probably compounded by the Covid 19 pandemic, and I think everyone can understand how difficult that made things for all companies.  To me, the lack of information from Ilford was frustrating, and when Ilford replaced the film, which they did quickly and without reservation, the replacement film was faulty. I think the company should have been better than that.

     Many photographers are of the opinion that as film photographers we need to do anything we can to keep film manufacturers in business. To a certain extent, I agree. But when it comes to not being able to trust the material I am using to create photographs, I think having no film is better than having untrustworthy film.

     I have been a fan of Pan F+ for a very long time, and I miss it dearly. I have become a fan of FP4+ more recently, it was a tremendous film. I carried nothing but HP5+ 4x5 for many years when I hiked the canyons photographing the ancient structures, it was the only true 400 speed film available. 

     I will not be using Ilford film, at least not for a while. There seem to be many photographers willing to take the risks, but I am not one of them.  



14 February 2022 - Twitter Amendment

     I have decided to try once more to improve Twitter. Many people I have followed for the past few years have left, and I decided I would try one more time to find a way to filter my timeline to show photographs rather than disinformation and politics. I built a list I call Top Notch Photographers, and have added people to the list that are sharing their photography.  Feel free to follow the list if you would like.  



14 October 2021 - Twitter Rules of Engagement

     The changes in the Twitter community has forced me to change the way I interact. As with all social media, the platform is a wide open free for all that has absolutely no requirement for Twitter to police itself. I have friends on Twitter that I want to continue to interact with, and I want to use to Twitter to share photos and information. In order to do this, I have made guidelines for myself, because some of the other users on the platform have no boundaries or common sense.

     I think it is important to outline these rules so that those I interact with on the platform understand my point of view, and can choose to not follow (or unfollow, or block) as they see fit . I don't want to completely shut out my friends on Twitter, but I will not be part of the community if it is not fun, healthy, and informational for me.

     1. As I have always done, I am happy to share my thoughts about your photos. I will not do this if you do not ask. I am happy to do this as a DM if you are more comfortable. I am also happy to leave feedback on every photo you post, or just one that you are wondering about.  Remember, my thoughts are only my opinion, and sometimes critique can create a lot of discussion about your image, and some of it can be painful. I will always be as positive as possible, and without fail, I will be honest.

     2. If you follow me, I will look at your bio and your feed and decided if I want to follow you. For me a follow is not automatic reason for me to follow you. If you are primarily a street photographer, I am not likely to follow you - that type of photography is not interesting to me. If your posts are mostly of your cat, I probably won't follow you. If you post mostly open heart surgery photos, I probably won't follow you. I don't want to fill my timeline with stuff I don't enjoy seeing. If I do follow you, and I find you are not posting what I want to see, read or discuss, I will unfollow. Please do not take it personally. I mean no disrespect, our tweeter relationship is just not right.  Really - it is me, not you.

     3. If your retweet more than twice the number of images than you post of your own work, I will unfollow you.  I understand retweeting others work - I do it myself - but I want to see original, interesting work. I want to follow people who like to create, who like to learn, and who like to share.

     4. I am a film photographer, and I want to discuss film photography. I don't care about the digital discussion. That doesn't mean I don't approve of digital photographs.  I like some images and don't like some images. That is not dependent on digital vs film.  The photo stands on it's own merits. If you want to discuss the data behind the digital image, I am not interested. There seem to be plenty of people who want to discuss that, and I hope you enjoy your time with them.

    5. I am a darkroom technician. I like darkroom work. If you want to discuss printers and scanners I am out. If you want to convince me to print digitally, I will unfollow you. If you are disrespectful about my preference I will block and report you.  If you want to talk darkroom, I will be glad to continue the discussion for months if you like.

     6. Metering, exposure and the Zone System are not dead. When you try to argue otherwise, you show me how little you know about the process and about the importance of properly exposed negatives.  I will not argue about this. I will work with anyone who wants to learn my way of working to make correct exposures.

     7. I have spent nearly 50 years trying to make the highest quality black and white photographs that I possibly can make.  Less than 10% of my work is color, and most of that is large format Ektar film. That is the photography path I chose, and that I will continue to follow. I have much yet to learn, and many more images to create. Do not assume you can tell me what I should have done in a particular situation. Unless you were there, you don't know. If you want to know about a particular image, I will tell you, just ask.

     8. I like to share information. Anything you want to know about how I made a photograph, please ask. Exposure, development, printing, matting, framing, unsharp masking, flashing, pencil dodging, orange masking, intensification, toning. Every sneaky trick I have learned. I will share everything - right up to the point you want to argue about what I do - you will be unfollowed. If you don't want to use the tricks, that is fine with me. I wish you well. 

     9. Through the years I have used a lot of different equipment, and I have my favorites. I am happy to tell you what I like or don't like. I don't want you to tell my why I am wrong.  I own the finest cameras available, in my opinion. I hope you own the cameras you feel are the best. My brand is not better than your brand. My brand is better for me. If you want information about my equipment, I am happy to share my opinion, if you remember my opinion is worth exactly what you pay for it.

     10. If you are a bully to me or to any one in the community, I will do my best to make sure you are reported and forced off of the platform. Anything I can think of to do to make your experience miserable, I will do. You are not needed nor wanted. I do not tolerate disrespect. I can be an ass. Try to bully me or the community and you will see that side of me. This may be my most important rule of engagement.

     11. I try to preface what I say with an appropriate qualifier; such as "For me, the Bomm V810 is the best camera in the world."  I know I do not know everything, and I know that what works for me may completely wrong for you. The developer I like may be exactly opposite of what you like.  I share what I like in case you see something in my images that strikes a chord with you and you want to incorporate into your work.  That is how I learned much of what I use now.  If you try to tell me or anyone in the community how to create photos or prints, in a manner that comes across as your way is the only way, you will be walking a razor's edge with me. There are very few absolutes in photography -fixer always follows developer - f/8 is always twice as much exposure as f/11, all the rest is personal preference. If you want to be the community know it all, I will unfollow quickly and block you as well. 


     I know these are a lot of rules, but without guidelines my only option is to leave permanently. My intention was to step back for 6 months, and I didn't last quite that long. I will try these rules for a few months and see if it changes my experience. If it doesn't help, I know I at least tried. 


5 May 2021 - Twitter Film Photo Community, May it RIP

     The past few years, there has been a strong group on Twitter, mostly inspired, encouraged, and nudged by @Emulsive, but also including many dedicated and talented photographers.  This group was geared toward film photographers and was a vast wealth of information. 


     @Emulsive created a fantastic web site and worked hard to provide interviews, darkroom information, film information, articles about film cameras, compilations of photo labs worldwide, and lots of other terrific information.

     Most of the photographers involved in the community were happy to share what ever information they could with others in the community.  The community was all inclusive - from long time, well-seasoned photographers, to Newbies looking for information and help buying their first film camera. 

     There were many images shared and epic "Parties" where the participants created images during a defined time period with a defined film stock and shared the best of the results.  There were truly awesome images created during these parties and many friendships formed. 

    Unfortunately, as with most great things, as the community evolved, it lost some of the closeness and the charm.  @Emulsive became less and less involved, and without the strong leadership, the community began to drift apart.  There were several folks who wanted to step in @Emulsive's place, mostly intending to monetize the social media exposure, and the community drifted more towards digital photography, or toward a hybrid of film and digital work flow.  This led to alienation of the all film (analog) photographers, and many of them stopped posting, and stopped participating.  This was a terrific loss for the community.

     After a period of time, @Emulsive rejoined, in a limited basis, mostly posting a series called "5 Frames" that samples of photographer's work.   For the most part, the mini portfolios were groups of images that often were not well seen, nor well executed.  It was no where near the quality that we were used to from @Emulsive, and it soon became clear he had farmed this work out to someone else. 

     I was disappointed to see the community decline, but still tried to participate, especially when a member would ask for help.  One of the pillars of the community was sharing our experiences, especially to help newer photographers avoid the mistakes that the long term members had already made.  Continued participation meant having to endure ignorant and ill-informed  information being spouted by digital (or hybrid work flow) photographers that did not understand film processes, or how photo sensitometery works.  At first I tried to have discussions with these folks, but it soon came clear that they did not care about facts, and that anyone who used film in a camera was too out of touch to be on social media.

     For me, the final straw came in a DM discussion about my photographs of the Anasazi Ruins and rock art.  The discussion was with a mostly digital photographer (although that part is not relevant to the beginning of the discussion). The photographer wanted me to tell them how to get to the ruins, or even better to give them the GPS locations.   I tried to explain that I do not share the locations of the ruin sites, because I felt part of the experience of photographing the ruins was hunting and finding them. 

     This led the photographer to accuse me of being a hypocrite because I pretend to want to help other photographers but then lie about my processes and about locations.  This person also said I didn't actually make silver analog prints but actually manipulate my images in Photoshop then lie to the world about my work.  I did my best to hold my temper, and I explained that I don't use Photoshop, and that the images I posted were usually (not always) scans of prints that I made in my darkroom.

     The conversation quickly degenerated from there.  The digital knucklehead told me they had a right to know where I made the photograph, if it was even my photo.  They also told me it was hard to know if it was mine, because all of my photos look like copies of real photographers work.

      I stopped replying and waited an hour.  During that time, there was a dozen or so additional messages from the entitled "photographer", and I did not reply to any of them.  I then unfollowed and blocked the "Photographer" and stopped reading or posting on Twitter.

     I am sorry to see the community be diminished this way,  and I miss my Twitter photography friends.  Like it goes in the movies,  we had some great times and we learned a lot,  but  at some point, it becomes pointless to keep trying to beat the dead horse back to life.  Even before I left, there were a lot of really good film photographers who had left Twitter, and I hope that one day I cross paths with them again.  Or that I find them on a different social media.  After all, it is 2021, and no one meets anyone in person these days............


20 April, 2021 - Ilford Measles Again

     Someone on Twitter complained about the ongoing spot and splotches problem with Ilford 120 size roll film.  At least Ilford took a moment to reply, which is more than they have been doing for a while now.

"That's really sad to hear Dave. We are still working on this issue as our main priority and have made several incremental improvements over the last 2 years."

     I am sure that knowing Ilford is sad that Dave can not trust their product makes Dave, and the rest of the film photography community feel a lot better. 

     It is unfathomable to me that Ilford has not resolved this problem.  For more than 3 years, there has been complaints - followed by excuses, and then blaming the user for the issues.   It has been two years since Ilford Technical Group has replied to my email.  I put a great deal of time and effort into trying to help Ilford, but to no avail.

     At this point I have stopped buying all Ilford products.  They make terrific chemistry, photo paper, and film, but if they do not have the quality control systems in place to address an issue like this, none of their products can be trusted. It is truly heartbreaking to see a long term supplier drop the ball this way.    


15 March, 2021 - It's been a year. A hell of a year.

     I flew home from Indianapolis Indiana on 14 March, 2020, as the pandemic started in the USA. I had just finished my second week of work for 2020, and was ready to ramp up for a busy summer and fall.  Then it all ended.

     I have not worked for a year. I hate feeling unproductive, and I enjoy my consulting work.  I have tried to keep in contact with my clients, and especially with the people I work with at each of the plants.  At first it was a bit difficult because no one was at work.  After a few months, they slowly returned to work (those that kept their jobs) and I was able to catch up with them.  After a few more months, they stopped returning calls and texts.

     The new normal for my consulting appears to be extinction, or something close to it. Companies are changing the way they do business, which includes fewer employees and not hiring outside consultants. A couple of the plants I worked with have asked for web based training, and for short term remote assistance in the event of a crisis.  At this point those requests have not led to paying work, and are not likely to.

     It would be easy to be angry about a career ending this way, but there is no benefit in that. It is what it is, and my wife and I are both healthy, have both been vaccinated and are ready to move on with life.

     I have used my free time to organize my 45 years worth of negatives, transparencies, and photographic prints. My darkroom is really clean and ready for action.  I have not made many photographs during the past year, but with things opening up I expect to make more this year. The reduced income means there will be fewer 8x10 photos and more smaller (less expensive) format images. It also means there will be fewer photo expeditions.  Travel is expensive, so I will find ways to economize and work on creating images closer to home.





 13 May, 2020 - Not much work available for a blind photographer - or welder?

     Many years ago I was diagnosed with cataracts. I knew something was going wrong with my vision, at the time I was a welder on a maintenance crew at a chemical plant. I had mention the issue to my eye optometrist during my annual check up, and he told me that my problems were all easily fixed with a minor surgery, but until the problems were much worse, the surgery really wouldn't make a big difference.  His advice was to wait.

     I eventually retired from welding, took a job that had me traveling the majority of the time, and transitioned to a role that had me working on a computer more than I could have ever imagined.  I learned to work around the cataract problems, always thinking that I would eventually find time to have the surgery done. 

      I had started wearing glasses when I was about 7 years old.  I have vivid memories of getting my first pair of glasses and being able to see clearly.  Trees were no longer a blob of green, they had little things called leaves.  Street lights were not blobs of lights, they actually were fixtures attached to poles.  Traffic lights had separate colored lights, they were not just a blob of color that changed magically.  When I described these things to my parents, my Mom cried because she had no idea how blind I was.

      The cataracts had not diminished my vision to the point I was before my first glasses, but I was getting close a few years ago.  I had flown into South Carolina to help a large plant get back online after a hurricane.  Power was out all around the area, and when I landed in Charleston, the airport lights were the only sign of electricity in the area.  I picked up the rental car and headed to the plant.  The combination of the extreme darkness in the area and the rain, multiplied by the issues with cataracts made my drive one of the scariest things I have ever done.  Before I made it to the plant I had resolved to get the surgery as soon as possible.

     I had some apprehension about having the surgery, probably unfounded, but I was thinking worst case scenario.  If something went horribly wrong, and I was blind, my photography would be done. And I obviously wouldn't be consulting much, nor could I even go back to welding.   This biggest loss for me would be the photography, but none of it sounded good.

     When I talked to Doctor Cole who would be doing the surgery, I explained my concerns and explained how important photography was to me.  He suggested that in addition to cataract removal, I also get implants to correct my vision and my astigmatism.  It would be an additional cost for me, because the insurance company did not cover implants. In the end, I felt the additional cost would be worth it to not have to pay for glasses going forward, and since I was 7 years old I wanted to be able to see without glasses.

      There were 2 surgeries, one for each eye, and the surgeries were two weeks apart.  The morning after the first surgery, the repaired eye had 20/10 vision, without glasses.  I was ecstatic.  Then came the worst 2 weeks imaginable.  I tried wearing glasses with the lens removed for my "good" eye.  I tried an eye patch.  Nothing seemed to help.  I had headaches and was generally miserable.  (by the way, I apologize to my wife, again, for my whiny behavior!)  Once the 2 weeks were over and I had the second surgery, I was amazed!  One eye at 20/10, the other eye at 20/15, and combined 20/15.  It was amazing to be able to read street signs at a distance.  And to be able see the leaves again.

      But then the real challenges started.  Trying to sort out reading glasses.  The eye doctor had given me a pair of very inexpensive 2.00 glasses.  They worked ok for reading books,  but were not much help for working on a computer.  They also didn't help for trying to evaluate negatives or slides.  When I was at a John Sexton darkroom workshop, I noticed he used an Optivisor for close work, such as dust spotting, and I decided to try that for the darkroom.  The Optivisor worked well enough, but not for print evaluation, or for focusing at the enlarger. I could see myself having to use 3 or four different magnifying glasses just in the darkroom. 

      Actually using the camera was just as difficult.  Reading glasses were required to read the light meter and to take notes, but didn't work with a loupe on the ground glass.  They also didn't work trying to compose the image on the 4x5 or 8x10.  The waist level finders on Hasselblad and RB67 were impossible, but fortunately they have flip up magnifiers which worked fine, but composition was really challenging.  Surprisingly, 35mm seemed to be the easiest. 

      For a while, I was really second guessing my choice to have the implants. I was frustrated and needed a solution.  I found a pair a "computer" reading glasses by accident at a small drug store.  They are actually "multi-focal length" reading glasses arranged similar to bifocal glasses - stronger magnification on the bottom and a bit less magnification on top.  These glasses changed everything.  I now own 4 pairs of them.  1 pair in the darkroom, 1 pair in the garage, 1 pair at the computer, and 1 pair in the work computer bag.  They are a game changer for me.

      I also found a pair of complete nerd glasses from Clic that split between the lenses and reconnect using a magnet.  They have a loop that goes around the neck, so they stay handy when I am using the view cameras.  I had to promise my wife I would never wear them in public when she was around, but they do the job when I am in the field, and I have not lost them yet.  I chose the style that has small half round lenses at the bottom so that most of the time I look over the lenses, but when I need to read the meter or make notes I look through the bottom portion. 

      Close up vision life is not as easy as it used to be,  but it is getting better as I find solutions. And as I get used to life without glasses for distance vision, I am feeling more like I made the right choice to have the implants. It is has been a few years since the surgeries, and life is much better.  Last year, I was even able to surf for the first time.  I wouldn't have been able to do that before surgery.  And life without cataracts is well worth the risk.



2 April, 2020 - Continued complaints about Ilford 120 roll film.

I continue to see complaints about the Ilford Roll Film issues, mostly posted on social media. Most recently the complaints included Delta 100 and HP5+ film.  The link on Ilford's web site to file complaints seems to work hit and miss at best.   Just a couple of days ago, Ilford announced that due to the Coronavirus, the factory will be closed until it is safe to reopen.  I asked them what this meant to the investigation of the film issues, but did not receive a reply.




2 March, 2020 - Ilford Seeking more information from photographers  (Update to the ongoing concern!)

     From Ilford: We've noticed an increased number of posts relating to our 120 roll films where spots / mottle have appeared on the negatives. We want to assure you that this issue is being investigated as a matter of priority. For further information please visit: ow.ly/sJUs50yA8fJ





     From Emulsive.org :

ILFORD Photo film quality feedback and replacement program announced





The UK’s ILFORD Photo, manufacturers of black and white films such as HP5 PLUS, FP4 PLUS and Delta Professional released a statement today regarding defects found on certain 120 medium format photographic film products.

From the statement:

Over the last couple of months, we have noticed an increased number of customers posting their concerns on forums and social media channels relating to our 120 roll films in which spots / mottle have appeared on the negatives.

We pride ourselves on our high quality and consistent production and want to assure you that this issue is being fully investigated as a matter of priority. We appreciate this will be of little comfort to those who have experienced the issue and for that we offer our sincerest apologies.

If you are a regular user of social media and interact in any of the film photography communities on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you’ll no doubt have seen examples of these issues – as well as ILFORD’s attempts to encourage customers who encounter these problems to contact their technical team.

I recently spoke to ILFORD who told me:

For us to get a full understanding of the situation we need more information from customers to build an accurate picture. We do request feedback and deal with individual issues to solve problems, and we’ve made this statement to make it clear to the film photography community that we are serious about these issues.

As someone who spends most of their time on social media, I can attest to an increase in the number of complaints/requests for identifying issues with ILFORD film stocks in recent months and ask members of the community who contact me directly to contact ILFORD’s technical team for a resolution.

In terms of units affected, ILFORD is clear:

Over the last 18 months, to the end of February 2020, direct complaints submitted to us relating to spots / mottle account for less than 1.5 complaints for every 10,000 rolls of 120 film we have produced. These have also been seen primarily, but not exclusively, in our slower speed films such as PAN F.

ILFORD’s statement goes on to say that affected film will be replaced and that customers should contact them ASAP with as much detail about the film as possible plus and image of the affected negative showing the 4-digit code found in the edge marking.

Investigations are underway and early findings show that the issue is “significantly influenced by external factors such as humidity, temperature and film age”. To minimize the risk of any issues, ILFORD has the following advice (also found on their product packaging):

Our films should be stored below 20C / 68F as shown on the bottom of each box. It is important to avoid extreme high temperatures, humidity or fluctuating temperatures.

All films have an expiry date which is also printed on the bottom of each box at the time of manufacture. We recommend processing before that date and as soon as possible after shooting.

ILFORD has committed to continuing its investigations and is in the process of reviewing its manufacturing humidity controls and working with supply chain to help mitigate any potential ongoing issues.

IMPORTANT: I should state clearly that the issues described here and in the ILFORD statement are related to 120 film products only. 35mm and sheet film products are now and have been unaffected.

Thanks for reading and please do add your thoughts in the comments below.

~ EM



25 February, 2020 - Ilford film problems (update)

I have been contacted by several other photographers that are having issues with 120 size Ilford films.  This includes Pan F+, FP4+, HP5+, and Delta 100.  I hope we hear from Ilford soon.   Otherwise, my entire Ilford film inventory will be relagated to the Holgas, where imperfect film will have less impact on the final image.  This is all quite concerning and quite sad.


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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