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Film off to the lab. What’s wrong with this picture?

Off to the lab - 24 rolls

I just sent this…(what is the collective noun for rolls of film?  A pile? A stash? A fridge load? A Winogrand? A Garry!)…Garry of film off to Peak Processing.  Look no further if you’re after a top-quality postal lab in the UK.  Their film processing prices are pretty reasonable, and their quality, consistency and speed are exceptional.  I only wish they offered a cheaper rough scan or proof sheet option.

What’s wrong with this picture?  Well, try tallying up the different film types.  12 Ektar C41 colour 120, four C41 B&W 120, six C41 B&W 35mm, one C41 colour (two-thirds of which is a mystery – it was in a Minilux I bought from eBay), and one E6 35mm.  So that’s 14 colour films and 10 B&W films…from a so-called black and white photographer?

There are three points to make on this.

Firstly, consider what’s not in the picture.  I’m trying to get back into developing my traditional B&W films at home.  I’m trying to shoot exclusively (not working well so far) with TMax 400 in my MP, and have five rolls to process from the same period these films relate to.

Secondly, consider frame count, not roll count.  Including the TMax above, the tally is approx. 185 colour frames, 444 black and white frames.

Lastly, consider my workflow.  I scan, and print digitally.  Those Ektar negs convert rather nicely to black and white.  If there was an ISO 100 C41 B&W film, I’d probably use that instead, but there isn’t.  If I’m using medium format, I’m usually doing so to eek out qualities 35mm cannot produce. So I want a slow film, and I want to use optimum apertures.  400 speed XP2/BW400/400CN would be a compromise.  And why not use a 100 speed traditional black and white film (my favourite of which is Fujifilm Acros, incidentally)?  I may move down that route, but at present my processing equipment and workflow would allow me to process 12 exposures of 6×6 at one time, compared with 72 frames of 35mm for roughly the same amount of time and chemicals.  Do the proverbial.

The sight of these films, and the knowledge of the size of my existing ‘to scan’ pile is going to make me shoot mainly digital for a couple of weeks at least, I reckon.


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