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Of Colored Filters and T-Max 100

As some of you may know, we’re going on vacation to Iceland coming up here soon. As part of my (over) preparation, I decided to upgrade and add to my filter collection. As an aside I’ve made quite a few accessories for the trip, some of which I have already teased which includes some circular and rectangular filter cases which I’m rather fond of.

Anyways! Among the filters I decided to pick up were Hoya X0 (light green) and X1 (green) filters. I’ve never used green filters but it seemed like something worth trying going to a country with lots of green things. My main black and white film will be T-Max 100 so I decided to use one of my recently expired rolls of TMX in 120. This also let me test a new film back for my Hasselblad while doing so. The test was simply taking photos of my color chart on our outdoor seat during the mid afternoon on a cloudy day. I metered on the middle grey patch of the color chart which matched the incident reading as well. Here are the results:

Here’s a flatbed scan of the PrintFile sleeves of the film I shot. So it’s not the sharpest but the goal here was to just compare the color swatches to my X-Rite Color Chart. The exposures go left to right and down and are as follows:

  • 1: No filter
  • 2: Hoya K2 Yellow
  • 3: Tiffen Yel 15 (more of an orange)
  • 4: Tiffen Red 25
  • 5: Hoya X0 (light green)
  • 6: Hoya X1 (green)
  • 7: K2 without any exposure compensation (so same shutter speed as shot 1)
  • 8: G0 without any exposure compensation (so same shutter speed as shot 1)
  • 9: Pretty sure I messed up my aperture setting on this one
  • 10: X0 with +2 exposure, though also messed up my aperture
  • 11: X1 with +3 exposure
  • 12: X0 with +2 exposure

I developed this roll in Zone Imaging’s 510-Pyro (which by the way we do carry on the store!) at 1:100 for 12:30 with 404ml working solution in my DIY rotary. I don’t think that plays a huge role here but 510 is likely the developer I will be using to develop most of my black and white films from the trip.

As an aside, Mrs. BitByBit Photo gives me a hard time to this day about how much that color chart cost for what amounts to color dyes on plastic. But nonetheless, it gives a good sampling of lots of colors I might see in the field. I’ll admit though a color chart won’t necessarily tell the whole story. Either way, here is what it actually looks like (taken from my phone):

So far my initial conclusions are that the X0 and X1 seem fairly similar to the yellow filters though are less steep on the light blue shades. I expected a bit bigger of a difference, and that may be the case with other films perhaps. I was surprised to see how much of a difference there was with the K2 filter. I often see TMX mentioned as having a “built-in yellow filter” and while I actually also tend to agree, it’s probably very mild or at least shows that the K2 still has a noticeable effect compared to no filter. This was actually the main reason I decided to do this test and I’m glad I did as that was somewhat unexpected.

From an exposure compensation perspective, I think the exposure compensation provided by Hoya and Tiffen is pretty spot on. Noting I used whole stops here and rounded to the nearest slower shutter speed for values in the middle. I do think the Red filter could use a bit more exposure based on the above though. Not by much, but by a little. I used my (recently CLA’d) Hasselblad with 80mm lens for these tests so there could also be some mechanical tolerances going on here, though that’s what I would experience in the field anyway and not something I wanted to worry about here.

I had already planned to bring all these filters and if I have a chance where I feel like I can burn some film on a particular scene, I might re-run these tests out in the field with a real subject just to see what comes of it. All told, part of the reason I got the K2 and X0 filters was for being able to double as protection filters, noting the unpredictable weather (including rain and wind) that I may experience while up there.

So there you go! Not particularly scientific but I learned something there and perhaps you did too!

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Resin Rectangular Filter Box

Another random case for our upcoming trip to Iceland! This is a 6 slot graduated neutral density filter case. The cloth pockets I have for these work “fine” but I actually don’t like something rubbing against the image area of the filter. If there’s dust on the cloth, it’ll just spend time sparing the dust bits around possibly scratching the fragile resin filter.

So instead, this only grips the filters on the sides in the same spot as the actual holder used by the camera. Since that’s outside the image area I don’t have to really worry about it nearly so much. The rigid plastic also helps provide some protection from some other random stuff in my pack.

This is not the final design but it’s not too far off. I think I want top to slide over the bottom a bit like the Omega gel filter storage box I made a while back. That will look nicer and also have a place for the top to stop to avoid pushing against the filters.

The final version will also be printed in an opaque plastic to protect the filters from light fade. The box will spend most of it’s time in my 4×5 backpack but even so. I had been thinking about upgrading one of the filters (the 2 or 3-stop) to glass as well but we’ll see.

Dunno if I’ll make this an official product or not but if folks are interested in something like this, certainly let me know!

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Of Eclipses and Webservers

Some of you probably noticed our website was down for the last few days right on through the eclipse! We’d like to call it a side effect of the eclipse but now it was mostly my fault.

A cloudy view of the eclipse
A cloudy view of the eclipse which, sadly, was the best direct view we had.

In any case, we’re working on making that better! I had a long explanation but figured most of our customers probably don’t care to read about how we run or websites – folks just want them to be up! My personal philosophy is most things on the Internet can go down every now and again and that should be fine. That includes our websites. But “every now and again” should be minutes maybe even hours but certainly not days! My apologies! We’ll do our best to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

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Introducing Circular Filter Cases!

Folks that have been keeping an eye on our socials may have noticed I’ve been working on screw together filter cases as a means to have a simple and lightweight rigid option for both storing and traveling with filters. Though I still plan to have more sizes and colors, I decided to release the product out for the sizes and materials I currently have available.

Currently available for 55 and 67mm filters which can accommodate 3 or 4 filters. I’ve tested these personally with Hoya and Tiffen filters. Most should work but some there are some brands which may be thicker. If in doubt just reach out to us!

I’ve got more designs coming, including hopefully a Reveni light meter holder for Hasselblads, large format lens caps, lens cases, more carriers, lots of things! But I’ve been wanted to design these cases for a while, in part because I need them when I’m traveling for my own needs, and thought it’d be good to share these out.

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DSLR Scanning Table Updates

Our scanning tables are getting another update!

Thanks to our new Prusa XL, I can now print multi-material. This means I can make the bottom anti-slip gaskets without having to use the stick on laser cut cork. It not only seems to work better but looks much better and lets me make some further adjustments to the geometry. Some folks that have open scanning table orders will be getting to new version and I’ll be updating all our listings on our direct store as well as eBay and Etsy this week to reflect the change. Price will remain the same.

Happy Scanning!

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Finally, Your Request Heard – 35mm Full-Rebate Scanning Table

It took longer than it should have, but I finally listened to your pleas and have made a 35mm Full-Rebate (Full-Frame) Scanning Table! Available now right here on our direct store with eBay and Etsy to follow shortly. It is also available with the Raleno Scanning Table system by request and will be a normal offering at some point soon.

Honestly this wasn’t all that hard of a change to make. I had to move some of the hidden magnets around…and that was honestly about it apart from the gate sizing which I was able to take from my darkroom carrier designs. I’ve been wary of releasing a full-rebate option just for fear of film flatness. Since I don’t (yet!) have an ANR glass solution, the film flatness is impacted though it the same trade-off as in my darkroom carriers and I have found it is generally pretty minor. The flare is still certainly a factor but again like the darkroom carriers, if using good coated glass, it’s also pretty minor.

So I finally relented and am making this available! Some 120 sizes may follow for the 6×7, 6×12, and Raleno scanning tables as I am able. If folks have an interest in a 120 option, feel free to reach out!

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8×10 Drying Rack Is Finally Available!

As long last I am finally confident enough in my 8×10 drying rack design to offer it up as a product!

It is a beta product for now just because I have only been able to test a few 8×10 films, though I suspect many will work. Any standard base film cut to proper dimensions should work (though if folks find otherwise do let me know). Thin base films (like those from Astrum/Svema) will not work at present as the base is too think to support itself.

Otherwise it works similarly to the 5×7 drying rack, just bigger. This includes hold downs. These are optional but recommended as they help keep the film straight and well separated from each other.

Currently only available in the 2 sheet variant, though I do plan on having perhaps up to 6 sheet options available.

If you have any questions about the drying rack, or really anything else, feel free to use our contact us form and reach out! Otherwise if you’d like to grab up an 8×10 rack they are available now!

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Another Update to the 8×10 Drying Rack

This might be the one, though I think I said that last time… I’ve been wanting to work on this for a while but between travel, getting orders out the door, and the incredible heat here, I haven’t been shooting much 8×10 and that’s put this a bit on the back burner. The last prototype worked well, but I did feel the sheets were just slightly too close together and, much like my 5×7 drying rack, would benefit from the optional hold-downs. The new design implements both of these changes. This would be a 2-sheet version and while I likely will offer a 2-sheet version, is mostly for economy while I’m prototyping designs. I expect to have at least a 4-sheet (and probably a 6-sheet) as a final product option. I’m hoping to test this soonish and finally have this as an official product not too long after!

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Initial Infrared Tests With Astrum/Svema FN64

As I’ve been slowly getting into 8×10 large format photography, I’ve been wanting an 8×10 infrared film stock since I really enjoy taking IR photos using Rollei IR 400 in 4×5 (even with some of the annoying caveats). Until recently, I didn’t think there was an available solution (apart from super expired and expensive film), and while there’s varying opinions about whether FN64 is still being manufactured, it is available “new” from Astrum (a Ukranian based photographic company, of note). I managed to get my hands on some to test by way of a group buy and thought I would provide my initial findings:

Svema FN64
Rollei IR
Rollei IR 400

These were taken minutes apart using an R72 filter and metered the same way. I bracketed 5 and 6 stops so for FN64, I rated it at an effective ISO of 1 and 2; and for Rollei IR 6 and 12. Oddly the Rollei came out a but underexposed and I also under-developed it slightly. That may explain why it seems to have a more dramatic appearance. Both were developed in Adox XT-3 (Replenished) in my DIY rotary. I picked the 1 ISO shot for FN64 and the ISO 6 for Rollei IR (more on that in a bit).

These images have been “dodged and burned” in Lightroom but with similar treatments to both. I wanted to compare results of how I would make an actual darkroom print rather than just a raw scan, although the raw scans aren’t too far off – I just accentuated the darkened sky a bit more and burned in the water some.

These were both shot in 4×5 – I only have 25 sheets of FN64 in 8×10 and didn’t want to break those out until I have a good working process in 4×5. FN64, like Rollei IR, is on a thin base. This is true for 35mm as well and, though I haven’t opened the 8×10 package yet, I expect it to be on a similarly thin base. That makes for a potentially challenging situation but one I hope I can work with. Being able to make contact prints for an 8×10 IR negative would be quite something!

The results are pretty close I would say. Of course, FN64 has lower grain and, being a much slower shutter speed (I believe 2 seconds), has more movement in the tree leaves though I quite like that. Unfortunately both sheets have some annoying blemishes. The FN64 has what looks like streaks running left to right which can be seen in the sky. I’m not sure if they would print through in the darkroom but they are definitely there in the scan. The Rollei IR has lots of pinholes (also in the sky). Oddly more than I usually get. Similarly, the other sheets from both films had one half of the image slightly darker divided right along the middle. I think this may be an issue in the camera (my Chamonix bellows aren’t fully IR safe and perhaps that’s enough to cause an issue, or there’s an issue with my holders – though I used two different brands for these tests).

I used a pre-wet for both films which I commonly do when using XT-3 in replenishment. For Rollei IR I tend to prefer 510-Pyro and expect that will be a good match for FN64. I started with XT-3 since it’s more economical to do film tests with. That and my last bottle of 510-Pyro seems to have crystalized in a weird way and opted not to risk it for these tests. My plan is to use the DeFehr semi-stand agitation method for both (probably in my SP-8×10 tank) and compare those results. The minimal agitation, I hope, will help avoid the pinholes for Rollei IR (it has helped in the past) and might perhaps avoid those developing streaks.

Thing about IR is there’s more of a guessing game going on since you can’t directly meter for the IR anyway which makes semi-stand development a reasonable trade-off I think. I don’t expect perfectly printable negatives necessarily. In the past using 510-Pyro with Rollei IR has made for some fairly easy to print negatives though and I hope FN64 will prove to be the same. If so, it might just be the solution I’ve been looking for in 8×10!

That is until Ilford finally decides to offer SFX 200 in sheets…. (that’ll be the day!)

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Our Modest Print Farm

Occasionally I’ve had customers ask what my 3D printing setup looks like. Until recently it was not something that was worthy of a photo, looking very much like a business that really hit its stride in 2020 😛 As we’ve grown, I recently had some extra funds and time to improve it to something that, while still modest, is something I don’t feel so embarrassed to share.

This is where most of the print magic happens! Just off the frame is a Corsi-Rosenthal box (a fancy way of saying a box fan with filters) to help pull out particulates. Out of frame on the left there is an AirGradient with a VOC sensor to detect presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This is mostly for when printing ABS, which the printer on the bottom corner, a Voron V0.1, mostly does (it’s what prints the smaller tin-type stands, the lens hoods, and the 120 film canisters, spare printer parts).

The big honking printer left-center is my Voron 2.4. It’s for 8×10 Simpleasels and my Eurorack stuff (that’s over at Next to it are my 3 beloved Prusa MK3 workhorses. The first two print most things. The last one mostly does my PETG prints (drying racks, lens discs, filter trays, blank Eurorack panels).

Most of the time I have anywhere between 3-5 printers running. I’m getting to the point where I could use a 6th. The next printer I plan to add is a Prusa XL so I have 2 printers that can make big things. After that, I might be pushing against power limits but there is some space in the other corner out of frame for another printer (perhaps an MK4, or a 300 Trident) as well as another small one on that desk with the V0 (perhaps another V0 or T0). I can also likely cram more MKs sized printers in once I get the dry boxes up on a shelf or hutch, depending on how much space the XL may end up taking.

Modest by full time print shop standards but for folks that were curious where their products are made, it’s in this room. Unless I’m laser cutting something. That’s in the garage and a story for another day…