Mistakes in developing color negative photo materials

This is a summary (so far!) of my experience and mistakes in developing old color negative films like ORWO NC-19, NC-21, Svema, Kodak 5247, Fuji Eterna 500T, AGFA, etc. I do not have enough experience with C-41 films, so the below problems may have slightly different causes then these here. Most of the negatives below have been developed in ORWO C-5168 or its Russian cousin process CND.

In analyzing my mistakes I have used several instruction manuals for color negatives development.

Let’s have a look at my misfortunes.

1. Very dark negative image

a.) developer fresh and/or too hot
b.) color development too long

This is basically a push processing.

Note: If the space between frames is normal — film is overexposed

2. Very light negative image

a.) developer too old or exhausted
b.) developer too cold
c.) development time too short

Here I have pull-processed.

Note: If the space between frames is normal — film is underexposed

3. White circles or stripes

a.) air bubbles in the development tank
b.) uneven flow of fresh developer to the emulsion as a result of lack of agitation

4. Colorful fog on the whole film, usually in warm colors

a.) very warm and fresh developer
b.) light leakage during development

5. Separation of the yellow emulsion layer

a.) very warm chemicals
b.) water too “soft” or lack of film base stabilizing bath with magnesium sulfate

6. Reticulation

a.) baths with big difference in temperatures or pH

reticulated image


7. Uneven color spots

a.) contamination of the baths due to short and insufficient wash between them

8. Purple fog

a.) insufficient wash between developer and bleach

9. Grainy image

a.) developer too fresh
b.) developer too warm
c.) film dried up too fast

10. Image has red tones (in the positive image)

a.) daylight photo material shot on tungsten light

11. Image has blue tones (in the positive image)

a.) tungsten balanced photo material shot on day light

12. Negative has a “milky” look

a.) fixing is too short
b.) fixing bath too exhausted or too cold

13. One or two color only image

a.) film shot through high density color filter

yellow filter too dense

too dense yellow filter

14. Spots of fungus

a.) film kept in high humidity

15. Film curly and twisted

a.) film dried up too long
b.) film kept in hot and dry air

16. Film sticky

a.) film kept in high humidity

17. Emulsion has cracks/reticulation

a.) developer too warm
b.) big difference in temperatures of the baths
c.) film washed in too cold water
d.) drying-up in high temperature air
e.) emulsion frozen with high humidity
f.) developer with too high alkali
g.) fixing too acid

18. Emulsion has “marble” look

a.) no agitation during the development bath

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