Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Dust-spotting pain

I mentioned yesterday how I’d spent ages dust-spotting some Fomapan 100 negatives. A number of people replied to the post, so I thought I’d give a bit of a follow-up today.

I’ve now completed the chore. Well, on the photos I intend to upload, at least. It was an absolute pain in the backside. It would seem that I’d clear all the spots, only to then notice just as many secondary spots, and each image took a good half-an-hour at least of clicking away to remove them – and even then I’m sure there are many that I’ve missed. But I think I’d gone past caring by that point!

As I’ve not had the same problems with dust spots on any other rolls recently (I always dust the work area carefully before scanning and, while some dust always sneaks in, I rarely get lots of it), I began to wonder if it was something to do with the either the film specifically, or perhaps my development. All my home developed films have been processed in Ilfotec DD-X, then Ilford stop-bath and rapid fixer. The developer is always freshly prepped for a one-shot use and, while the stop-bath and fixer get re-used, they should both be fine for a little while yet (they’ve had around 10 rolls through them). A roll of HP5+ that was developed after the roll of Fomapan shows no signs of the same problem.

fomapan 100 problem
An example of the issue. This is an enlargement of one of the frames that shows clearly the speckling of white spots.

So I decided to look at the last roll of Fomapan 100 I shot – this was a couple of months back – and found that it too had the same issue with dust. I decided to search online for “white spots on Fomapan 100” and it led me to a few places where people would report similar problems – sometimes going so far as to describe it as a “Milky Way” effect. I’m not sure I would go that far, but I got the gist. One post had some example pictures whic matchen mine very closely in terms of the spotting problem. It seems to be an intermittent issue.

I’ve now come to the opinion that I might have a bad batch of Fomapan 100, which is a bit of a pain as I bought ten rolls of it! I guess I’ll have to try another roll and see what it gets me. While the film is still useable, the post-processing required to get rid of the spots is not something to be relished.

Oh well, there are worse things happening in the world, so I’m sure I can live with this minor inconvenience.

Here’s one of the shots from the roll that has had a lengthy clean-up applied.

Down through the field to the railway line

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 6 June 2020

9 thoughts on “Dust-spotting pain

  1. Now that you mention other people reporting the same problem, I remember reading about this a long time ago on various forums when I first starting shooting Fomapan films and was researching film/developer combos. The conclusion many people came to was that this was not caused by faulty manufacturing, but by using an acid stop bath. Fomapan emulsions are so delicate the acid stop was causing emulsion damage and leading to tons of permanent spots. If I recall, many people stopped using an acid stop with their rolls of Fomapan and the problem went away. I’ve had minor specks and the occasional roll with a few pinholes (missing emulsion — definitely a manufacturing defect), but I’ve never had the level of spotting you’re experiencing. Maybe that’s because I’ve never used a stop both l bath, instead always just doing a water rinse before fixing? On your next roll, I would try using a plain water stop instead of an acid stop and seeing if that solves the problem. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At the end of my previous comment that should read “stop bath”, not “stop both l bath,” like it does. Oh, the joys of trying to “type” on a cell phone touch screen…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I would second the comment above. I had terrible trouble with Fomapan films covered in spots. I thought it must be something to do with the film as I sometimes developed them in the same tank as other films with the same dev time, and they were spot free. I also stopped using stop bath, and, hey presto, no more spots. Worrying that the emulsion can’t cope with a standard developing procedure, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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