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pridbor

My very First Photos with a M7

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It took me almost 6 weeks before I finally got my first M7 film developed, moved from Switzerland back to the US, and had it done by a Lab in California.

 

I'm quite frankly disappointed, seems excessively grainy, and have no clue what I did wrong.  I used a 35mm Summicron, and an Ilford HP5 Plus 400 ISO Film. I also had the ISO wheel on dx (automatic detection?)

 

It is my very first experience with a M Camera, I have owned R3 and now R4 since 1976; My recent, 4 months, experience with my R4 and B&W went quite well I think.

 

So I'm looking for help, I really need it, it seems like; I would have expected at least a few of the 36 Photos to have been really sharp and to my liking :-(

 

 

 

 

Thanks in advance

 

Preben

 

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HP5 is a fairly old technology film, it is grainier than some newer films, plus, the way it is processed can also increase grain, I have two labs in my area, one always produces granier images than the other.

 

Having said that, I don't believe your photographs are excessively grainy, I love the way they look.

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There are a lot of variables that can effect sharpness.

 

Is the focus correct? When was it checked? How and by who?

What was the shutter speed? Too slow and nothing will be sharp.

How was it scanned? What scanner? At the lab or by yourself? Can you resolve the grain (if you can't easily see the grain then you won't see sharpness)

How was it developed? If the grain is too big it could rob you of sharpness. Also there is no sharpness without contrast.

 

What I would do if I really wanted to check it out is get a slow sharp film (like 50 ISO or so), set up on a tripod, focus on a resolution target with a angled ruler, focus, and snap. Change the aperture and click. Continue at different distances until the roll is done. Develop it in a fine grain developer and scan it at above 3600dpi with a scanner capable of resolving greater than that. You should see a plane of sharpness, hopefully where you focussed.

 

I usually use Fomapan 400 (not the sharpest film) and nothing is really sharp. But when I use a slow film (RPX25 was the last sharp film I used) ouch! Sharp as sharp can be, even with 50 year old lenses.

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Mikembg thanks for your comments, I do believe that you are too kind :-)

 

Here is another Photo I maybe should have attached in the first post, but I'm not quite familiar with this Forum layout yet, so there wasn't room.

 

Do you folks know if the M's ISO wheel is prone to not detect the proper ISO setting, such that I should manually set it to the right value?

 

The film was one my Uncle brought me, and it was the only available in the store next to his home.

 

I have a couple of Ilford XP2 Super 400, and Fuji Neopan Acros 100 (couldn't get the 400 at our US suppliers, and haven't had the time to look into the UK suppliers yet) in my refrigerator. What do you gents think of those? 

 

 

 

Thanks for any input educating me

 

Preben

 

Edited by pridbor

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Personally, I love the grain. If you are not happy though you could try ordering different film online, through bhphotovideo.com or adorama.com. Then I would suggest either trying a different lab or process the film yourself at home.

 

If you want some finer grain films try Ilford Delta 100 or Kodak TMax, I like both films, although use the Delta more often as it is easier to load onto processing reels.

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I have a couple of Ilford XP2 Super 400, and Fuji Neopan Acros 100 (couldn't get the 400 at our US suppliers, and haven't had the time to look into the UK suppliers yet) in my refrigerator. What do you gents think of those? 

 

Fuji ACROS 100 is a very fine grain film with also very high latitude. The only minor downside is that it is very prone to curling, more an issue if you do your own processing. 

 

XP2 is a chromogenic film, so it is developed using the C-41 colour process, the end result is a black and white image made of dyes rather than silver halide crystals. It can be used at multiple ISO's on the same roll, very handy. And it is fine grained. I process my own C-41, so this is sometimes a handy option, though I tend to stick with my absolute favourite, Kodak Tri-X 400, for black and white.

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Thanks to you all !!! I will try some different types of film just to see what results I get. After all I have only shot 1 film so far. The Camera is a new, was my uncle's until a month ago. I seriously doubt it has had more than 5 rolls of film through it!!! so I don't know if that answers the focusing topic etc same goes for most of the lenses, old but like new!

 

I did try to shoot the Photos with infinity so as not to get caught up in bad focusing by me. Hope that would be a reasonable approach?

 

And BTW I do plan to develop the B&W myself, and will likely ask dumb questions later on that subject. I did this as a young man with good results, but I take it that new and better products have cropped up since some almost 60 years ago

 

At that time color was introduced, this was back in Denmark, and it was very difficult, not to mention expensive too, so I never got into it. Let's see how things progress and I may ask you 105012 how to do the C41 process myself too, never been afraid to do something new

 

You have given me something to think about as I asked for, thanks again!!!

 

Preben

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I think I would blame the lab. Do you see the same grain on the negatives?

Some labs have forgotten how to develop and scan B&W film so could well be that they tried to develop the HP5 as if it was a C41 film!

 

Or scanning with some IR dust detection on can give similar results. On old school B&W film dust recovery should be turned off.

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I would agree.

 

Developing your own film is actually pretty easy and you end up with much better and more consistent results.

 

The 'soup' that some commercial labs use is an unknown quantity and they use and re-use developer and fixer far more than you would do yourself in order to minimise costs and maximise profitability.

 

I suspect there is nothing wrong with your camera. The film, and then the chemicals that film was subsequently developed in, will be the cause of your disappointment, not your camera.

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The commercial printer might be using rapid print paper to save time. It is not premium stuff. The printer is probably using automated exposure and chooses to print higher contrast that you might like.

 

Kodak did a huge analysis of customers' preferred B&W image quality and amazingly the custom preference was for higher contrast. (And shortly thereafter, Kodak introduced the disc film format. Quite a controversy!)

 

And Bill's statement regarding replenished developer is important. Even if you give the negative to a quality custom printer it might not be salvageable.

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As noted above, grain is a property of the film, in combination with the development.

 

The images, at least as represented in the forum, don't appear overly grainy to me, but the Acros 100 will be substantially less grainy than the HP5.

 

As also noted above, to have control, develop for yourself. It is easy, and relatively cheap, and takes a large piece of randomness out of your results whilst you narrow down to the image properties that are important to you.

 

One further word of caution - The proliferation of digital images may affect how we see film images. It may be worth taking a look back at some of your old R3 / R4 images to see if they appear as you remembered them.

 

Last point - Enjoy your M7, and don't worry too much about perfection.

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You say you used to own an R3? I have an R3 which produces lovely clean looking negs - happy to do a swap for your M7.

 

I still do, but it does have a few irks, which I just recently found out. I also have an R4 which seems to be "in perfect condition", hope I did just jinxed it, but thanks for the offer :-)

 

Preben

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I would agree.

 

Developing your own film is actually pretty easy and you end up with much better and more consistent results.

 

I'm currently looking for a checklist to figure out what to buy to develop B&W myself (first :-)  my own X-Mas present to myself.

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I'm currently looking for a checklist to figure out what to buy to develop B&W myself (first :-)  my own X-Mas present to myself.

 

 

Great idea.  Developing film doesn't have to be difficult, particularly if you reduce the variables; that's my approach anyway.  If I use the same film, same developer, follow the instructions strictly, then I get to the variables that I am most interested in - how good is the picture I took.  Photography for me is about the image, not getting the developing wrong ... and I do get the developing wrong more often than I would like.

 

I have a stack of film ready to be developed, and I intend to sit down remind myself of what I need to do and get everything right!

Edited by IkarusJohn

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I'm currently looking for a checklist to figure out what to buy to develop B&W myself (first :-)  my own X-Mas present to myself.

 

The basics to get you going with black and white processing.

 

Changing bag - not necessary if you have a light tight room or are willing to crawl under a pile of blankets.

Tank and reels - I use Patterson, other people prefer metal reels.

One thermometer accurate at around 20C, a food thermometer is fine for B&W.

Four measuring jugs from the Dollar Store.

One set of measuring spoons from the Dollar Store.

One wire clothes hanger for hanging the film to dry.

Two clothes pins per film, one to hold it on the hanger, the other to put on the bottom to hold it straight.

 

That is the basic minimum you need for black and white film using liquid concentrate chemicals. If you use powder you would need to modify the measuring devices, also, the correct graduated flasks for chemicals are nice to have, but if you're not sure you will continue with your home processing you don't have to buy them immediately.

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I'm curious as to how you get the film into the reel. Mostly how you get the film out of the cassette, do. you pull it out of the cassette as when you load the camera, or do you open the cassette? I have a cassette I tried to open and failed, I.e. I squished the can completely, I seem to recall that it was easier to open!!?

 

Thanks for all the info!!!! I long to develop again!!! No room for a darkroom so no printmaking though :-(

 

Preben

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Many years ago I used to use a bottle opener for opening the cartridges. Then, there's the film extractor tool, which appears to work better for some brands than others. I believe it is sold by Ilford.

 

Ask your dealer for some rolls of expired film of the same brand with which you then can practice.

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There is no need to open the cassette at all.

 

When you rewind the film, hold the camera close to your ear and when you hear/feel the film leader disengage from the take up spool, stop winding, remove the film and cut the leader off with some scissors. I then cut 3-5mm off the two corners at 45 degrees to make it easier to load the film on the spiral.

 

By doing it this way, there is no chance of damaging your film, which is easy to do if you are trying to open a metal cassette in the dark with a can opener!

 

The best part is you can start loading the film onto the spiral in the light... push the trimmed end into the spiral, twist the spiral once or twice to make sure the film is loading properly and then put the whole thing in the changing bag and complete loading the spiral. No chance of accidents whilst loading, no need to remove the film from the cassette other than directly onto the spiral and it's faster and easier.

 

After the film is fully loaded onto the spiral, you cut the film off at the cassette opening, put it in the tank, close the lid and remove everything from your changing bag and you are done.

Edited by Bill Livingston

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