Porta 400 Problems

(Note: first wold, leisure-related kvetching ahead—you have been warned.)

I have no idea what went wrong with this roll of Porta 400, but here’s a short list of the issues I encountered:

  • it jammed in the camera and ripped through a frame
  • it coiled up along its length and width immediately upon removal from the canister and if I recall it took me more than an hour to get it onto the reel for developing
  • after developing it straightened out a bit (lengthwise), but remained twisted along its width, which made it very difficult to scan

I’m not sure what it is about the famous, mass-produced, pro-level films, but I think I encountered something similar with another rather expensive film stock.

This roll of Porta 400 was by far the worst I’ve ever experienced, and the remnants of our protracted battle are evident in many/most of the frames.

The problems manifested themselves in a variety of ways.

There are scratches of various widths and severities:

There are strange markings, rub marks, and lines of unknown origin:

There are wild color shifts and blooms that I suspect were caused by the sweat that started dripping from my hands about 45 minutes into the wrestling match that went on between the Porta 400 and me inside the nylon dark bag, and that I might like to try and harness somehow:

There are creases:

There are tears from where the film jammed in the camera and had to be forced to the next frame:

And there are holes of unknown origin:

I seriously have absolutely no idea where those holes came from. It looks like something caustic ate through the film, but it also looks like something sharp and pointed poked its way through. There was nothing like that in the dark bag with the film and my hands, though, and there was nothing like that in the developing tank either.

Allahu Alim.

And some pictures have a little bit of everything, from stress marks on the edge of the film where it kept getting jammed in the camera, to scratches from the dark bag fight, to strange holes and creases too:

I’ve fought with film before, and I’ve sweated on film before, and I’ve cursed at film before. I’ve even bitten film before to try to convince it to lay flat for the scanning…

But I’ve never had as much trouble with a single roll of film as I had with this roll of Kodak Porta 400. Even after 6 months, I still hesitate to even load a camera with a roll of it, and when I do, I might just pay the $15 or so to send it off to darkroom.com or someone just to avoid the hassle.

That said, it is a nice enough film, with pleasant grain structure, decent latitude, and good color, and maybe it was just something with this one roll, maybe.

If you have any ideas of what went wrong or how I can avoid these issues with the next roll, please pass them on. And if you shoot a roll and develop it yourself, I hope it gives you less trouble than it gave me!

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