I loaded up the first roll of Kentmere ASA100 yesterday, did various tests, looking at what the camera’s meter told me, what the Sekonic L718 light meter told me, what the D300s told me, and then plugging those settings into the N90s to see how they all turned out and how all their settings matched up (I also shot some side by side with the D300s to compare). I did some tests with the RF-602 triggers too and the SB-900s to see how fast I could get it to sync. I blasted through the 36 exposures fairly quickly, not really shooting anything specific, just trying to get some well exposed images, and comparing one meter to another.
This morning I developed that film!
So, what did I learn from this first roll?
- For a start, I’d forgotten how solid the N90s feels and sounds when you hit that shutter. It’s a clunk that just isn’t there with the DSLRs (probably due to the extra noise from the motordrive progressing the film), and it just fills you with positivity and happy feelings.
- I definitely need more practise loading rolls of film onto the spools inside the changing bag. It probably took me about 6 or 7 goes to get it all on without screwing it up. Other than that, it was a simple process. Cracking open the cannister, removing the film, cutting off the leader, cutting the end of the film off the cannister’s spool, getting it on the spindle with the other spool and putting the developing tank all back together was pretty much a doddle.
- I learned that I need to buy new containers for measuring liquid. Putting 37.5ml of Ilfostop into a bottle with a 1cc syringe isn’t all that fun.
- I discovered how quickly time flies when you’re agitating (inverting) the developing tank, and how slow it goes when you’re watching the clock waiting for the next time you’re supposed to do it (and again how quickly it goes when you get distracted from watching the clock).
- I definitely need more than one jug to pour liquids into when they’re ready to come out of the tank. 30-60 second intervals between agitations is barely enough time to pour it back in the bottle and rinse out the jug.
- I need to be more prepared. I completely forgot clips to hang the roll, so had a mad dash looking for something that would work while it was rinsing. I also had no idea where I was going to be storing these negatives (yup, I forgot to buy protective sleeves).
- I really have to get a wetting agent, despite several local photographers telling me “nah, our water here’s fine”. You may be able to notice in the image at the top of this article that there are one or two water spots. They appear on pretty much every frame (but, hey I knew I’d screw up a roll or six which is why I bought the cheap stuff). It was suggested to me today that raising the temperature of the rinsing water should help to resolve this without a wetting agent.
- My scanner is just awful for working with negatives (again, see the image at the top), but then it was never designed for this purpose. It captures almost zero shadow deal, instead just fading it off to black. This means when I invert the negative on the computer, white gets blown out about 3 stops higher than it should. It also has terrible banding.
- The Nikon N90s manual lies. It claims a 1/250th of a second max sync speed, however, I couldn’t get beyond 1/200 without seeing black bars across the bottom.
- I also learned, later in the day, that banging the developing tank against the bathroom sink at 7am to loosen air bubbles while my wife is trying to sleep probably wasn’t the best move I made today.
I’ve already been out and bought new measuring jugs today (although they still don’t allow measurements quite as small as I need – will continue to hunt!), bought some more suitable bulldog clips (I did manage to find something I could use this morning, but now I have proper clips), and I have now been out and bought some slide sleeves and a ring binder in which to put them (I bought both 35mm as well as 120 in preparation for shooting some MF).
The wetting agent will have to be ordered online. I went into our two local photography shops, and neither had any available (both normally carry it, but both were sold out). One was expecting some next week, but they typically say that whenever I ask for something they don’t have.
As far as the scanner, I should be picking up an Epson Perfection V700 this week, so I’ll be able to scan them all in properly. Mine is just absolutely useless.
So that’s it for now. I’m quite pleased with how the negatives look against a backlight, lots of shadow & highlight detail, not so much with the scans, but that should be resolved soon and then hopefully I can show you what they’re supposed to look like. I’m off to do some scouting and location lighting tests with a friend tomorrow for a shoot next week, so will be taking a couple of rolls of the Kentmere 100 with me.
Will keep y’all posted!
PS. Just for my own reference here….
- Camera : Nikon N90s
- Lens : Nikon 50mm f/1.8D
- Film : Kentmere ASA100
- Developer : Ilfosol 3 / 1:9 / 5 Mins, agitate 4 times at the beginning of every minute (24°C)
- Stop : Ilfostop / 1:19 / 30 Sec, agitate the whole time
- Fixer : Ilford Rapid Fixer / 1:4 / 5 Mins, agitate 4 times every 30 seconds
And I’ll pop up a link to some of the images once I can get them scanned in properly.