White Specs / Spots: Help required
Old 04-06-2014   #1
Photon42
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Question White Specs / Spots: Help required

Folks

I'm doing BW development for quite a while now. No matter what I seem to do, from time to time, I get these annoying white spots, and it really drives me crazy now. I figure it is something "chemical" ...







Film is either Fuji ACROS or Neopan 400, always XTOL 1+1. XTOL is properly stored in dark bottles in the refrigerator.

I use filtered water for everything, use fresh fixer every time, use a Hypo clear, water the film according to the Ilford method (inversions 10x,20x,40x,80x), use a final bath in distilled water plus Ilfotol. Film is hang dry in a small bathroom with shower ran a couple of minutes in advance.

I'm running out of ideas. Sometimes they show up, sometimes they don't.

Any help appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 04-10-2014   #2
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No one who can at least tell me what the white spots most likely are?
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Old 04-10-2014   #3
anjoca76
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Water spots would be my best guess. Try Photoflo. I also hold one end of the strip of negatives and shake as much surface moisture as I can.

Are you getting the same spots on every frame?
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Old 04-10-2014   #4
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Neither water spots nor drying stains.

Those are the infamous "white spots" of the ACROS and Neopan (the ACROS is way more concerned) due to some incompatibility between those films and some classic powder developers (D76, Xtol).

Those films must be developed with some liquid modern developers (Fuji Superprodol or T-Max Dev). Or in Rodinal (for the ACROS).

The reason for these "white spots" to appear is not known but they do show up, sure ! Especially on ACROS.
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Old 04-10-2014   #5
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I learned something. Good to know!
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Old 04-10-2014   #6
notraces
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It's hard to tell what I'm seeing here. Is it a small cropped area? Anyway to show the while frame?

There's no need to use fresh fixer every time.

No need to store XTOL in the fridge - as long as you use it up in 90-160 days and store it in a reasonably cool place.

My guess is these are water marks.

I use Edwals's LFN - just a single drop - in 300-500ml of distilled water for final rinse. I rarely have water marks.

Now - this could also be dust - if you're hanging negs in the shower, inevitably the frames closest to the shower floor will get some dust - unless your room is really clean.

If you provide more context, I might be able to help.
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Old 04-10-2014   #7
notraces
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I've never seen those spots with either acros or any other Neopan - I use XTOL and D76.
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Old 04-10-2014   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notraces View Post
It's hard to tell what I'm seeing here. Is it a small cropped area ?
Of course it is, no need to ask - look at the grain size.

I have experienced the "ACROS white spots" like crazy myself on some ACROS rolls (properly) developed in D76 1+1.

I then managed to get rid of the problem by using D76 1+3 and pre-washing the film (which is theorically totally useless).

Then the problem occured again so I stopped using ACROS.

Google will bring some old photo forums threads to you if you type "acros white spots".
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Old 05-03-2014   #9
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Back from holiday now - will try my exposed ACROS films in DDX. Let you know the outcome.

Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 05-06-2014   #10
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Those are nothing - these are white spots!

I recently started processing some TMAX (in TMAX developer) after a 20 year hiatus, formerly I worked in commercial labs, and never had issue with spots like I seem to now. One factor is certainly that scanners, especially when unable to do infrared cleaning with bw films, show every dust speck - but there must be something more.

I am beginning to suspect that my idea to do a final rinse in water from my charcoal filtered tap may be the culprit - I need to test, but think it may be leaving particulate in the water. I use photflo and dry them in a dust-free area - I would expect a speck here or there - but these ar like snow - and they are dried on the emulsion. They will likely respond to a re-wash - need to test that filter idea and used some distilled water rinse aid.

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Old 05-06-2014   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmc850 View Post
Those are nothing - these are white spots!

I recently started processing some TMAX (in TMAX developer) after a 20 year hiatus, formerly I worked in commercial labs, and never had issue with spots like I seem to now. One factor is certainly that scanners, especially when unable to do infrared cleaning with bw films, show every dust speck - but there must be something more.

I am beginning to suspect that my idea to do a final rinse in water from my charcoal filtered tap may be the culprit - I need to test, but think it may be leaving particulate in the water. I use photflo and dry them in a dust-free area - I would expect a speck here or there - but these ar like snow - and they are dried on the emulsion. They will likely respond to a re-wash - need to test that filter idea and used some distilled water rinse aid.

I see much of these spots also. I recently read that it may be silver deposit from the fixer bottle; mine was in fact old and I will get rid of that one.
The other thing is I will start using destilled water for the last washing. I hope that will help. To get rid of this after scanning in photoshop is awful.
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Old 05-06-2014   #12
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I recently scanned a neg that printed 20 years ago that required no spotting at 11x.

It took 45 min to clean up the spots and it was just a Epson 4780.

I have since learned the dark grey particles on the bottom of the fixer bottle are precipitated silver and it sticks to the next film. All that went away when I went to fresh fix every time. It will not wash off film. I can not find a way to filter it.
If you use a glass bottle you will see it.


Air dust is like hairs or small round dots. Silver is random shape with magnification.

I leave it to you how to solve it.
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Old 05-06-2014   #13
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Scanners definitely make it tough - the dirt seen on my post is very difficult to see with a loupe with the negs on a diffuse-glass light box.

Not sure the fix issue is my issue - I had the spots with fresh fix as well as once used. Will report back when/if solved.
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Old 05-07-2014   #14
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You might want to try filtering each chemical before each use using cofffee filters. I store my chemicals is clear plastic PET bottles and if I hold them up to the light and shake them I see very small amounts of debris, even with chemicals that haven't been used yet. This is especially applicable to reused chemicals as silver is removed by the developer and fixer.

Also, try air drying your tanks and reels after use. Drying them with a towel or cloth could leave a very small amount of lint on them which could get on the film next time. Store them so dust can't get in them. Use a rocket-air blower before use to remove any dust which may have gotten on the air-dried reels and tanks.

Another good practice is not to use chemicals made up from powders for at least 24 hours as all solids may not be dissolved.
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Old 05-07-2014   #15
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I'm using fresh chemicals every time and still seeing these spots from time to time. My next roll with same parameters came out fine. One thing I never really validated is the temperature of the fixer bath. As I usually develop at 24C, I never checked the temperature of the fixer. There could be theoretically a temp difference of 5 deg C or even slightly more. May that be a reason?
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Old 05-08-2014   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photon42 View Post
I'm using fresh chemicals every time and still seeing these spots from time to time. My next roll with same parameters came out fine. One thing I never really validated is the temperature of the fixer bath. As I usually develop at 24C, I never checked the temperature of the fixer. There could be theoretically a temp difference of 5 deg C or even slightly more. May that be a reason?
I don't think that this can be the problem. Temperature differences produce a very specific grain.

"most people find a hair in every soup because they shake their heads over it until one falls in".

This is probably the problem
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Old 05-08-2014   #17
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Do you reuse your fixer? I do. I found I was getting white spots deposited on my film and couldn't figure it out. I finally tried filtering my fixer after usage through a funnel with a coffee filter in it back into its bottle. You will be amazed at what shows up at the bottom of the filter. Now, no more white spots.
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Old 05-08-2014   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbg32 View Post
Do you reuse your fixer? I do. I found I was getting white spots depsoited on my film and couldn't figure it out. I finally tried filtering my fixer after usage through a funnel with a coffee filter in it back into its bottle. You will be amazed at what shows up at the bottom of the filter. Now, no more white spots.
I have 4 films here waiting for the test; I hope You are right.

In another thread here, someone said that filtering does not help and he uses fresh fixer only, but I would be happy to avoid that. If filtering helps, that will be great.

Thanks for the suggestions...........
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Old 05-08-2014   #19
Ronald M
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I have tried every filter you can think of and coffee is the worst. We are looking at super fine stuff.

The best I have found is a coffee filter with a square of first aid roll cotton and a second filter on top. It is still not 100%. Use one time only.

I wash out my glass bottles and have water and air filters. 3 micron and HEPA.

I have concluded some of it is emulsion defects that do not show on optical prints, Leica enlargers and lenses, but scanner finds.
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Old 05-09-2014   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbg32 View Post
Do you reuse your fixer? I do. I found I was getting white spots depsoited on my film and couldn't figure it out. I finally tried filtering my fixer after usage through a funnel with a coffee filter in it back into its bottle. You will be amazed at what shows up at the bottom of the filter. Now, no more white spots.
No, I do not reuse the fixer anymore
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Old 05-09-2014   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald M View Post
I have tried every filter you can think of and coffee is the worst. We are looking at super fine stuff.

The best I have found is a coffee filter with a square of first aid roll cotton and a second filter on top. It is still not 100%. Use one time only.
How is using a coffee filter the "worst"? The filtering worked for me. It is just a suggestion.
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Old 05-09-2014   #22
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My experience is these dots are from Fixer.
Paper Coffee filters placed in an ultra fine stainless steel mesh goes a long ways (double them up if you feel better..... I do that).
Ronald, I'm not sure why you find this to be the worst but would like to hear it.

Another thing that I find really helps is mixing in a large bottle.
I mix fixer in a one gallon bottle and normally develop one 120 or 2/135 rolls at a time (600-700mls fluid).

By pouring 600-700ml off of the top of a 1 gallon bottle, much of the particles are left in the bottom and do not go into the filter to begin with.
Silver is heavier than liquid fixer. Some bits may suspend but it won't be much.

I don't get much if any white spots if I don't try and re-use fixer for too many rolls.
Using Fixers as a one shot seems dramatic to me. There are viable work arounds for re-use.

Cheers!
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Old 05-09-2014   #23
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Haven't had the experience like some folks here.

Good water, perhaps.

I re-use my fixer until it won't work in a reasonable (4 min. max) time.

I've made lots of photos with Fuji Acros. Nada!

Did you sneeze? Ha!

Hope you figure it out! It's what makes film fun. It's an adventure!
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Old 05-09-2014   #24
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Any chance you are using a hardening fixer where you add the hardener agent? I had these for a while and stopped using hardening fixer. They went away.
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Old 05-10-2014   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbg32 View Post
How is using a coffee filter the "worst"? The filtering worked for me. It is just a suggestion.
Well, let us estimate the size. My specs are typically some pixels large, and I scan at 3600 dpi. So assume 3.5 px diameter = 1/1000 inch = 25 um.

I read typical coffee filters have pores of ~10 um (1/100 mm). So, they should remove most of the material that can be visible after a scan.

When I read this through, I see different people have different experiences:
1) spect do show up, but not always, so it depends on how clean one works
2) coffee filters can remove them, in cases. Changing fixer often can get the problem solved

Probably, there are different kinds of dust than can produce specs. Whatever one does to get is solved may help me also!

Thanks for all suggestions, and bring out more !!!
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Old 05-10-2014   #26
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Could it be the scanner?

Or do you see these when the film is in the enlarger?

Thought I'd ask.
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Old 05-10-2014   #27
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In my case, they are without a doubt on the film - difficult to see with a loupe on a light table but still evident - scanner adds no dust as the film is suspended without glass etc. A scan with no film in the carrier yields no spots. I do think if printed in a diffusion enlarger they would be masked to some extent. I printed color an d bw for years and never had the dust issues I do in my scanner, so I think anything on the film is just more likely to block the image than it would in an enlarger.

I use non-hardening rapid fix, mixed from powder. I will filter it before my next batch, using fresh stock (it looks crystal clear in the bottle). Odd that any particulate added in fixing would not rinse away during wash. The do look like spots, almost never like fibers or dust.

Here's a full-size really rough example:

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Old 05-30-2014   #28
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I can tell you what was my case, perhaps not a typical one but I use a sweetener in my house as here we have quite a hard water (30-35°French). In my case I had a chemist inspecting the whole chain and he found out some polyphosphates (I think is the right word) around in all solutions (develop, stop and fix) which made precipitates sticking to the film. The polyphosphates were coming from the house system so since then I dilute the chemistry with non-treated water, except of course final wash.
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Old 05-30-2014   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luibargi View Post
I can tell you what was my case, perhaps not a typical one but I use a sweetener in my house as here we have quite a hard water (30-35°French). In my case I had a chemist inspecting the whole chain and he found out some polyphosphates (I think is the right word) around in all solutions (develop, stop and fix) which made precipitates sticking to the film. The polyphosphates were coming from the house system so since then I dilute the chemistry with non-treated water, except of course final wash.
Why not the final wash? I would expect also that might leave spots on the film, or not?
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Old 05-30-2014   #30
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I don't think it is the final wash as I use distilled water and only for washing. I also suspected the Ilfotol after final wash, it was years old so I reduced Ilfotol down to two drops per half a litre. I do not leave the film in it for mrore than 30".
The matter is that since then all black spots (in the negative are black) have disappeared.
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Old 06-04-2014   #31
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The water is an interesting point. I do use filtered water (Brita), but maybe that is not enough. Haven't had time to work on the subject during the last weeks, but now did ACROS in DDX for a change. Specs are still there, but only really on the first two frames. Very interesting.
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Old 06-05-2014   #32
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Water is the culprit in many cases and not because of solids in suspension (so filtering is possibly useless) but for elements in molecular form that interact with chemicals. I heard from my mentor that when he goes teaching in some places he brings 50 lt of his home water with him; it may sound paranoic but his negs are spotless.
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