Ansco Super Hypan (Compania Imago)

There’s not much out there about this film, just a few images on Flickr and some random posts and remembrances on various message boards. Oh, and some expired/sold auctions and sales of old advertisements for it: General Aniline and Film (GAF) used an Irving Penn photo in an add for it back in 1961…

According to Compania Imago, the batch they rolled expired in 1964, and they recommend an EI of 100-200 for it. Depending on who you ask, and depending on storage conditions, film loses sensitivity at around 1 stop per decade, and the various message boards above indicate that Ansco/GAF Super Hypan was rated at “the old 320, which I think corresponds to 400” and about which I have absolutely no idea, and if you just guesstimate, rate the Super Hypan at 400 and lop off .66 stops/decade, then you can get to something like ISO 100-200, though the lone recipe pulled from flickr suggested 50.


I exposed it at 125, and developed using my times for FP4+ and D76 1+1 with 1 minute added just for grins, and because I saw some indication that maybe the film should be developed as if it was still a 400 speed film… But I did something wrong: the negatives came out very dense, with virtually no bright white highlights and totally crushed blacks. 

Admittedly, I’m a total novice when it comes to Black & White developing. I’m fairly solid with C-41, but it’s a straightforward thing: one time, one temperature for all films.* But B&W is a completely different animal: multiple developers, multiple dilutions, multiple agitation techniques, multiple times. Even with one developer (D76, in my case), there are multiple potential dilutions, though people generally recommend to dilute no more that 1+1. But within the D76 stock and 1+1 umbrellas,  each film and each ISO has its own recommended time—even two ISO 400 films from the same manufacturer (HP5+ and Kentmere 400) have different recommended times. As everything has come out fine enough so far, I haven’t kept many notes: shame on me, I guess.

So when this roll of ancient Ansco came out very dense, I was at a loss to figure out where I went wrong, until I found this post at The Online Darkroom: the negatives from this roll look much like the example of Overexposed, Normally Developed. The overall density is too high, the shadows are nearly black, the highlights are very dense, and the overall contrast is very low.

So 125 is no good and/or 13 minutes in D76 1+1 at ~68℉ is too long. I have another roll left to shoot, so maybe I’ll try it at 200 and soup it for 12 minutes… or maybe I’ll shoot it at 50 and soup it for 5.5 or 6 minutes…

When I get ready to shoot it, I guess I’ll decide… 24 or so frames left of it to shoot.

On to this roll.

The lid on this Compania Imago canister was a bit loose, and I think some very tiny stray bits of light got in when I loaded or unloaded it, or my seal replacement wasn’t as successful as I hoped, or there was some damage to the film at some point. Most all of the pictures have some little lines in them, mostly in the same two spots in the picture area. Additionally, I think some mold got to the film as there are dots that look sorta like sensor dust, if sensor dust was random.

This one has most all of the characteristic issues…

I’m not entirely positive what the reflected sprocket hole marks are from, probably an agitation issue. The dark spots are mold I think. And the two pairs of lines just inside the top of the frame are something related to the film, I think, though the one on the right is in the same spot on pretty much every frame.

The Compania Imago has some strange handwritten markings on it, something like ‘163031’ written on the base side. I have no idea what that’s about.

Along with testing the Ansco, I thought I’d give the 28-105 D a go on the FE… A walk around zoom with 1:2 macro? Yes, please.

I’d largely shelved the 28-105 after the problems I had with it during its tenure as the main focus element in the Scan-O-Matic mk iv, and after the strange results I got with it on digital. I decided that the front element was out of kilter, but I guess whatever issues it had are intermittent or solved themselves. The lens didn’t give me any problems, but the exposure/developing made it hard.

Well, that, and shooting black & white requires a completely different mindset than color…

I’ve lately tried to implement some of the composition techniques I admire in various color photographers: Harry Gruyaert, Huger Foote, and the like. But color techniques don’t really work in black & white.

For example, I had high hopes for this one…

Maybe the shot with the roll of HD 400 that I shot in the LC-A at the same time—but haven’t developed yet—got it better. Allahu Alim.

My attempt at shooting out the office window went a bit better than normal, but only a bit.

But at times where I was just thinking about general composition, light/dark, highlight/shadow, I got slightly better results. Interestingly, it looks like my favorites mostly came in portrait orientation… Apologies for that.

Sure, they’re overly contrasty, especially the one of the rose leaves, but they work.

This one really works for me, even with the grit. It’s almost like something out of a newspaper.

Almost. And that grain and contrast would probably work a bit better if employed in some brand of street art.

But I still like it.

And this last one just works for me.

I could probably crop a bit off the bottom, but there’s plenty going on in there that I like. Maybe some of the techniques I’m trying to work in on the color side work for black & white too…

And just in case, here’s a crop of the scan that shows some of the spots. They’re in the film, not on the film, and they don’t go through the film. It’s like they’re in between the emulsion layer and the base layer.

They’re not very clear there, but if you have any ideas, please to let me know!

I’ll reserve judgement on the Ansco Super Hypan until I shoot and process another roll. God willing, I can get the exposure and development correct next time.

*I haven’t published it yet, but I did a 1 stop pull of some C41, and it came out fine enough, with a slight loss of contrast in the reds, but otherwise no ill effects. Look forward to that, and maybe I’ll come back and link to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *