Ansco Super Hypan, redux

A couple of years back, Compania Imago made some 3d printed film canisters, and I ordered up 10 rolls, partly to support them, but mostly to get some reloadable film canisters.* I shot through most all of that film within 6 or 8 months, but I saved one roll of 1964 expired Ansco Super Hypan. I had mixed results with the first roll and was a bit gun shy, and it was so old, I thought maybe I’d save it for expired film day or something.

Well, something came…

I wrote a good bit about the history of Ansco Super Hypan in my first post on it, so I won’t go into much detail, except to say that I know a little bit more now, and so some of my conclusions/guesses from that first post were incomplete, if not wholly incorrect.

So. Ansco Super Hypan was, in contemporary terms, an ISO 400 film. At 5+ decades expired, it should, theoretically, be shot at EI 12.5 or so, but I never really did the maths. I shot the first roll at 125, and this second at 50, and, really, both came out fine.

Sure, the first roll had some spots in it, but Capture One Pro 11 is really good at spot removal, and I’ve learned quite a bit about processing negatives in the intervening years, so I was fairly pleased with the film this time, and except for the 3-4 stops of general base fog I noticed thanks to a winding error on the Agfa Optima Sensor, its general lack of availability, and my interest in supporting 21st Century manufacturers, I’d probably shoot it again.

In revisiting the shots from 2016, I vastly prefer the more unified subject (the flower beds at the front of my house) to the random whatever in the second roll, and I also prefer the EI and developer combination I employed back in 2016.

If you forgot (or didn’t look) and care, the first roll was shot at 125 and developed in D76 (1:1 for 13 minutes), and the second was exposed at EI 50 and developed in Ilfotec HC (1:31 for 7 minutes).

On the left, a reprocessed version of a picture from 2016 (EI 125 in D76); on the right is a recent one. The grain is much more pronounced and distracting at EI 50 in Ilfotec HC than it was at 125 in D76, and the contrast just isn’t there. Now, I don’t know enough about developers to make any claims, and it could be that 2 years in the refrigerator had some influence on the film, but have a look…

In addition, and I’ve mentioned this before, my skills and aesthetic have changed, and Capture One is better than ever, so the images that I appreciated the last time look different now. For one, I process all black & white film in B/W mode; and for another, I like to open up the image more now, lighten the shadows up a bit, without losing black. Sometimes, this works; sometimes it doesn’t…

On the left, the shot as processed in 2016; on the right, the reprocessed version from January 2018.

I loaded my last roll of Super Hypan into the Agfa Optima Sensor on a Monday, shot a tiny bit during the week, and mostly finished it up Saturday morning. I started the morning in my usual spot, albeit in a different chair, with a different light source. (We recently moved furniture around in the front room.)

I was waiting patiently for a meeting at the masjid. I was elected to the Shura (Adivisory) Body in October of 2016, and I sit on the Governance Committee. We had a meeting with the Board and the Endowment committee about future expansion plans. Alhamdulillah, it was a productive meeting, though I missed focus badly on the group shot, and afterwords I shot some kids playing basketball in the gym/multipurpose hall and the guys changing old fluorescent lights to fancy LED panels.

I don’t know how I missed focus so badly on that group shot. If I recall, I set focus at the 3 blokes setting, and I guess the Optima Sensor picked a wide aperture that left most of the group out of focus… Agh. Oh well.

On the way out, I grabbed a quick shot of a couple of brothers chatting by the exit. I like how strange they look, spooky and ghoulish, almost, though I assure you, they’re both wonderful gentlemen.

And I stepped outside to wind on, and found that the winder locked up halfway, after only 18 frames or so. I grumbled a bit: this was supposed to be a 24 exposure roll, and I guessed that maybe it was a short roll. That happens some times, after all. But then I developed it, and found about 18″ of blank film at the end.

I say blank, but it wasn’t really blank. It looks fogged to me, but as I’ve gone through my archives these past few weeks, and looked back at things I’ve written about films in the past, I realize that I often have no idea what I’m talking about, so maybe you know better…

Here’s a shot of last frame and the next couple inches of film.  Does it look fogged to you?

I fixed it for 8 minutes in fresh fixer, so I don’t believe it’s under-fixed, and I developed it in the same tank with a roll of Adox Silvermax, which came out fine. So, age-related fog, maybe? X-Ray fog from multiple trips back and forth across the Atlantic (from GAF in the US, through whatever storage conditions between ~1960 and whenever it went to the Compania Imago people in Italy, and back to me in TX in 2016)? Something else?

It doesn’t matter much either way. I made it through 2 rolls of an ancient film, with some pretty-enough pictures to show for it. The grain is pleasant, and there’s a nice feel to the film, really. It has a good range of greys, holds highlights and shadows well, and isn’t overly contrasty in D76 or HC, but it did curl up like a doodle bug and was a pain in the butt to scan.


Overall, I’d give it a middling 3.4 stars. 

So if you see any Ansco Super Hypan out in the wild, don’t hesitate to pick it up. It’s decent enough film and if properly stored will likely give you much better pictures than I got out of it. It’s a shame that GAF stopped making film all those decades ago. Both of the stocks I’ve shot have been really quite nice.

*I’ve been through 100′ of Konica Pro 160, and didn’t use a single Compania Imago canister… Due to the design, I think they would be better re-rolled in a dark bag, and I couldn’t figure out how to load them with the film with my AP Bobbinquick loaders. Maybe next time.

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