Washi-S Development Trials
Having a need for a 35mm film suitable for testing several quite old cameras, I though I would try Washi-S. It is a specialist emulsion, fine grained, sharp and fairly slow, intended for recording optical sound-tracks for the cinema. It's a 50 ISO film, a bit like the old Kodak Tech Pan but more tractable, supposedly, and it is Pan/Ortho (limited red sensitivity). For cameras of this age - around the 1940s and earlier - the speed should be compatible and the high contrast could compensate for a rather low-contrast lens. That's the idea, anyway. I got mine from Analogue Wonderland.
Reading up on it, everyone agrees that for pictorial purposes the contrast needs to be tamed, and of course there are many opinions on the best way to develop it. There is wide (but not universal) support for Stand Development, using a whole range of possible developers, each with its own enthusiastic supporters and detractors. In the hope that these are perfectionists, I did trials with what I had to hand!
Method – dilute developer, vigorous agitation at the start, then none. Tanks sat in a bowl of water at 20°C to hold temperature and discourage convection. For the trial I exposed three short lengths of the film in a Nikon FE2 with its 55 micro lens, so the sharpness and the exposure should be assured. Scanned with Vue-Scan, multi-exposure on, 3200dpi.
Subject – the S side of the house in full December sun. Contrasty conditions.
Developers - Rodinal 1:100, PC-TEA 1:80, Ilfotec HC 1:100 (1+3 then 1+24). 45 min.
Rodinal – no image, just some faint brownish fog at the hyper-exposed film end.
PC-TEA – Best result; a contrasty neg, bright and sharp. See my August 2018 blog for more on PC-TEA.
Ilfotec HC – nearly as good as PC-TEA but more contrast, and significant burnout in highlights.
Conclusion: PC-TEA is the most promising, but has too much contrast. Overdeveloped.
Developer - PC-TEA again, but 1:100 this time and less than half the time.
Subject – various test cards, interior shots. Also two exteriors, in dull even misty conditions, far lower in contrast that the previous sunny ones.
Developer – PC-TEA 1:100, 20min stand development at 20°C.
Scanning as before, though the multi-exposure made no difference this time. The positive scans of the test cards show that the darkest 4 blacks out of 19 are the same black, so not perfect for shadow detail, the other patches are well distinguished. No grain, generally smooth tones without development artefacts, though a few small roundish fuzzy areas of lighter tone (in the positive). The scans mostly need a modest amount of lightening in post, but otherwise look good.
The result of Trial 2 is good enough to try on a real old camera (the Nikon FE2 doesn't count as one of the old ones, I used that for its reliable shutter and metering, and good lens.) I have been restoring a 1928 QRS Kamra, reported here amongst my other restoration projects, and used this method for the final tests.
House on a misty December day.
More on Developing Washi-S
I have recently had good success, better than the previous methods described, using the POTA formula originally devised for processing Kodak Technical Pan. POTA is very simple, but doesn't keep, it should be used immediately after it is put together. However it is very simple to make:
The formula is 30 g/l Sodium sulphite (anh.), 1.5 g/l phenidone. The phenidone is not keen to dissolve in water, so I make a separate solution in Industrial Methylated Spirit (= Industrial Denatured Alcohol). It might also work in other lower alcohols such as methanol or isopropanol, perhaps also in ordinary domestic methylated spirit, though that tends to have significant water contamination,. I haven't tried any of those myself.
So I make a solution of phenidone in the alcohol, 15 g/l. it dissolves easily and keeps at least for weeks in a dark glass bottle. My procedure for 1 film in a tank requiring 330ml of developer is:
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