Rollei Digibase CN-200 (4) – Random Thoughts

I’ll just put it right out there: I like the look I get from the Digibase. It’s not all brilliance, but it’s a good film, with good sharpness, contrast, color, and saturation. Plus, the polyester base means I can ‘scan’ it without needing color correction.

It’s a shame that it’s discontinued.

First, let’s get to the problems.

Problem 1: the polyester base is very thin and prone to light leaks. I had some more to say about this earlier, but if you missed it, here’s frame #4 from the roll.

Note the red cast on the left side of the film. That’s what results from loading this in my home office, with the blinds drawn, in the middle of the afternoon.

I’d hate to see what loading it outside in broad daylight would do, and for my next two rolls, I think I’ll take them into a dark closet or the dark bag to load them.

Actually, come to think of it, I think I carried the roll around in my pocket—albeit in one of those black film canisters from black and white for a few days, and maybe even bare in my pocket for a bit after I shot it. But still, it was in the dark for most of its life before going into the camera, and for most of its time between coming out and getting developed too: I stored it in a black canister for a week or so before developing it.

Anyway, assuming you’re happy with losing the first 3-4 frames to light leaks, this isn’t much of a problem. Even with that loss, you can still get 34 or so good frames out of a roll.

So problem 2: the polyester base is very thin and very sticky. It took me about 45 minutes to get it on the reels and I really hate that.

The green whirls in the image up top are the result of twisting the film this way and that in an attempt to get it to stay in the grooves… I thought it was trying to slip out of the reel, but I now think that maybe the reel was a bit wet and the film was sticking to the reel. (I developed that roll of Ilford HP5+ about 3 hours before, and maybe I didn’t get the reel completely dry.)

More testing will be required, Alhamdulillah.

Here’s a shot of the sprockets and all the damage along the edges.

It might have hung up a bit in the camera, but I don’t remember having to force it or anything, not like I sometimes have to do with the LC-A.

But in-camera or during developing, something definitely went awry somewhere.

But if those are the only problems, I think it’s fine.

The Digibase does a good job indoors…

It does a good job outdoors.

The sharpness in daylight is excellent, among the best I’ve seen, since I started paying attention…

Here’s a 100% crop of the above. There’s a bit of grain in the sky, but you can make out the pattern made by the light shining through Fatema’s hijab and reflecting off her forehead even.

And it does a good job in the dark too.

It handles extremes of dark to light very well, and I was able to pull some detail out of the shadows and the highlights with only slight grain issues.

I think I might shoot it a bit slower next time, but I’m really impressed with how well the Digibase performed, and I look forward to shooting some more of it.

If you can find stocks somewhere, pick up a few rolls. You won’t be disappointed. (120 rolls are still available, and the positive film (CR200) is also still around. If I had a medium format camera, or was doing E6 processing, I might give some of those a try.

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