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Thread: Problem Solving Advice Needed: Black spots on Efke film

  1. #1

    Problem Solving Advice Needed: Black spots on Efke film

    Help! I have a weird issue with black spots showing up on my Efke negatives and could use your advice.

    About two months ago I started a thread about black spots on Efke 25ORT. At the time, I thought it had something to do with an emulsion flaw, and moved on. This month I have had the same issue with Efke PL100, and am convinced that I am doing something wrong, but can't figure out what. Other films I have used recently (FP4+, Delta, Lucky 100) have not shown this pattern. I could use some advice problem solving.

    The effect (see images below) is thousands of tiny black spots on the film. Usually these spots tend to show up medium to light grey areas, such as skin. I have noticed that black backgrounds do seem to produce spots. Also, not all the negatives I develop show these flaws, maybe half of them do.

    I have used multiple developers (Xtol, D76, Pyrocat), and have seen the same effect with all, so it is clearly not in my developer. Perhaps my tap water?

    Could this have something to do with my developing tank? I am using a Nikor 4x5 tank. The tank is, as best I can tell, clean, and I carefully wash and dry it between use. Maybe agitation? Again, not all of the negatives show these marks, but roughly half of the images per batch do.

    Advice is appreciated!

  2. #2

    Re: Problem Solving Advice Needed: Black spots on Efke film

    Quick rundown of my technique:

    1L solution in Nikor 4x5 tank

    1. Pre-rinse, 1 minute tap water at 21C
    2. Developer (Xtol 1:1 for 14 minutes, Xtol Straight for 9 minutes, Pyrocat 2:2:100 for 15 minutes), agitation for first 30 seconds, and then every 2 minutes, per Nikor instructions.
    3. Water stop for 1 minute, tap water at 21C
    4. Fix for five minutes (alkaline fixer, TF-2) in tray
    5. Wash for 20 minutes in tray
    6. Photoflo and Dry

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Aug 2000

    Re: Problem Solving Advice Needed: Black spots on Efke film

    They look like dust spots, or possibly undissolved chemical deposits.
    You might try a final rinse in distilled water, and switch to LFN instead of Photo-Flo.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2006
    grand rapids

    Re: Problem Solving Advice Needed: Black spots on Efke film

    Efke isn't known for the quality control kodak and ilford have. Lots of folks have had issues with efke films including myself. Things like no notch codes and scratches.

  5. #5
    Luc Benac lbenac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Burnaby BC Canada

    Re: Problem Solving Advice Needed: Black spots on Efke film

    I take the liberty to piggy back on this very timely thread as I have the same issue if somewhat to less extend.
    I use exactly the same process except that I use TF5, LFN and I have mostly seen this with 120 Acros 100 and either Metol developer like Perceptol, Pyrocat HD or recently 510-Pyro. Likewise the spots are generally located in the highlights (sky, snow...) and are not necessarily on every roll. I just developed a perfect roll of Acros 100 but had the previous roll with the problem showing its ugly head.
    Starting to read about this, there was a post suggesting that minerals deposit in the tap water or water tubing could be the culprit and that last wash with distilled water might be a solution. I just ordered an inexpensive faucet water filter to test but in the meantime will try that suggestion.


    Field # ShenHao XPO45 - Monorail # Sinar P, F2
    6x6 # Minolta 1965 Autocord, 6x9 # Kodak 1946 Medalist II

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2010
    BANNED in the USA!

    Re: Problem Solving Advice Needed: Black spots on Efke film

    probably a quality issue--I've had similar problems with ilford...but, in all farness, it was outdated ilford (outdated by 3 months).....never a problem with kodak.

    so--stock up on kodak or brush up on your spotting techniques.

  7. #7
    William Whitaker's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    North Carolina, for now...

    Re: Problem Solving Advice Needed: Black spots on Efke film


    I'd try to eliminate as many variables as possible. Use distilled water for all processes and see if the problem continues. If it does, then you can most likely remove your tap water from the list of suspects. If it cures the problem, then start re-introducing tap water to each processing stage, one at a time. See if that pins it down.

    You might also consider making two exposures of the same scene, one on Efke and one on a "reliable" film. Develop them together in the same tank under identical conditions. Then compare to see if the problem affects both or just the Efke.
    Last edited by William Whitaker; 26-Dec-2011 at 11:36.

  8. #8
    Film and Darkroom User
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Middle England

    Re: Problem Solving Advice Needed: Black spots on Efke film

    Will’s suggestion seems very sensible to me and it’s the course of action I would follow. One change at a time is the way to go.
    The PPC

  9. #9
    photobymike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Tampa Florida

    Re: Problem Solving Advice Needed: Black spots on Efke film

    No No i have seen this before.... photoflo on the reel and in tank. Never ever use photoflo in your tank or reel ... you cant wash it off. The developer is foaming from residual photoflo... then i would use acid stop bath.... try rinsinsing tank and reel with acid stop... higher concentrate ... i used pool acid on my Jobo tanks .. it stoped the foaming right away..... also acid stop gets the film ready for the acid in the fixer. i use an non acid fixer with Efke with separate hardener. Also I have found Efke film does not like acid .... I never use tap water where i am at .. to much chlorine in it....

    try it ... i am digging thru my old negs to find some examples of the same problem

  10. #10

    Re: Problem Solving Advice Needed: Black spots on Efke film

    Thank you for your advice. I will try again using only distilled water and possibly LFN instead of photoflo, if I can find it locally. I have never used a wash agent in my tanks, so don't think that is the cause. But will wash the tank with acid just in case. The Nikor instructions recommended nitric acid to clean the tank, so I will try that.

    I am using a 3x4 Graflex so unfortunately I am stuck with Efke, since there are no alternatives in that size, at least until the Ilford order.

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