June 26, 2005

Curious, George: Any Monkeys still use a darkroom? I am thinking of an experiment with the Advanced Photography System (APS) format.

If you process and print your own film, I was wondering if you could help me out. I have a bunch of processed rolls of APS film. However, I am lving on an island this summer, with no lab that can handle the format. I do have access to a darkroom. Does anyone have any experience trying to make prints from APS negatives, using traditional darkroom methods? If not, could anyone see any other issue than me destroying the cartridge, and not being able to drop off that roll of film again for printing?

  • My darkroom experience is limited to large-format/black & white. Can't help you there, but it sounds like it probably should work. Would internet/mail-order services be an option? Snapfish, Photoworks (nee Seattle Filmworks?), and Shutterfly were the rage a few years ago.
  • No personal experience, but it looks like you don't have to destroy the cartridge. Assuming this is color film, is this also a color darkroom that you have access to? Looks like it would be possible, but back when I did it, color printing was NOT a piece of cake (like B&W). Do you have experience printing color in other formats?
  • I thought that APS was just a way of shooting different sized negatives and aspect ratios on the same roll of film. In other words you could shoot a wide "panoramic" format shot along with "normal" 35mm negative shots. Seems like it was just a last, dying gasp of Kodak to market still cameras. As far as printing them in a darkroom, I'm pretty sure that you'd just find the proper negative carrier to place the negative in and the proper enlarger lens. The lens will need to be long enough to alow you to print the widest part of your negative. So, if you shot extra wide and the negative is as wide as a 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 negative (think Hassablad sized film), you could use a negative carrier from 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 and use an 80mm enlarger lens, if they are about the size of a 35mm negative, you could use a 35mm negative carrier and a 50mm enlarger lens. Do the same thing if the negative is the size of 110 camera.
  • I hope that made sense.
  • No, squidranch. That's what APS was sold as, so it is what it is from the consumer's perspective. What it really was was new system by Kodak that would require photofinishers to have to buy a whole new set of technology for processing. (Kodak has been down that lucrative road before). Here's a pretty good look at what APS really was.
  • Wish I could help you out, Fiona's Apple. I have an APS camera, too, and getting the film developed correctly is a pain in the booty. So... my sympathies.
  • So, for the panoramas the camera would somehow "squeeze" it to fit the frame? Cool idea in theorie, but a motherfucker if you want to do it yourself. Appologies for my post above.
  • There are three (main) types of film processing, traditional silver-halide black and white (negative), C-41 (color negative), and E6 (color slide) types of processing. APS film, as far as I know, is always C-41. You cannot process C-41 (color process) film in most darkrooms. When I hear darkroom I think black and white silver halide films. As far as I know none of these traditional B&W films are sold for APS so your camera might be incompatible with the darkoom. What kind of dark room do you have access to? APS is a really terrible format (soo small). If you're already willing to spend a bunch of money on film (and APS film is $$) I'd recommend either sinking some of that money into an old SLR or all of it into a digital (if you want something small and compact). I'd recommend getting a vintage SLR and learning how to use it. Maybe a canon AE-1 or a Pentax Super-program with a 50mm f2 lens or something. A flash too if you want it. You can get good kits cheaply on ebay. It'll take a few hours to figure it out but after that you'll take much better pictures. As far as film goes, I'd shoot a bunch of Ilford XP2 (C-41 black and white), and send it off to mpix.com to process and scan. For something like $8 I believe. Printing is fun, but it takes ages to process and print your own film. And the paper is hardly cheap either.
  • CellarFloor, I had to reread the original post also, but Fiona's Apple was asking about making PRINTS from already developed film. (The processed negatives are rewound back into the cartridge with APS). So I would imagine that he/she wants reprints or enlargements. Color prints are possible, but not with just any darkroom or enlarger. Haven't heard back what SORT of darkroom they have access to.
  • Save yourself the agony, and buy a digital camera...
  • Save yourself the agony, and buy a digital camera... Did you even read FA's original post?
  • So here are my thoughts... I just need to make some B+W prints from some old APS cartridges that have already been procssed. I am not buying a camera, I already have more than my photography could ever justify. I just need to make some prints. I have experience in a B+W darkroom, as well as making B+W prints from color negatives. I just was wondering if there was something inherently wrong with ripping the film out of there, but from mecurious's post I don't seem to have to even destroy the cartdridge. I am not expecting Ansel Adams prints here...just something for a friend...a little trial and error experiment in the darkroom. I was wondering if anyone else had tried it. I have a litle Elph Junior. I paid $5.00 for it at a garage sale, and even though the APS format isn't that great, it is thinner than half a pack of cigarettes, incredibly light, and has a sharp f/2.8 lens. What I never liked about it was that I couldn't process and print the film myself, like I do with my other 35 mm. Now I'll find out what I can do.
  • The different aspect ratios in APS are just created by cropping. Every exposure is full frame 16.7mm x 30.2mm (9x16 ratio), and for "panoramic" it's just cropped in the printing step, throwing out the top and bottom of the image, to a 1x3 ratio. For "classic" the sides are cut off to get 4x3. The aspect ratio selected at the time of picture taking is recorded magnetically on the film for the automatic processors to decode.
  • What zsazsa said. On the APS roll, the camera exposes a series of little squares beneath the image to tell the photoprocessor what size to print that frame at. The frames themselves are all exposed at a uniform 4x7 aspect ratio. I imagine it's entirely possible to print APS negatives (in B&W of course) in a normal darkroom. If you can hack up an appropriate-sized negative carrier it should work (although you might not be able to enlarge as much due to the reduced negative size). Also, you can't cut APS, so you'd have to find a way to manage the whole roll. Removing the negatives from the cartridge is pretty simple, but requires a couple of little widgets. One is a plastic rod that has two ends -- one opens the film gate (using the hole next to the gate), the other spools out the film (using the hole in the center). This part can probably be done using a screwdriver in a fix. Detaching the negative from the cartridge is a bit tricker. There's another plastic widget that you insert alongside the film, push in, and pull out. You can simply yank the film out if you don't have this, but you may end up damaging the cartridge or the tail end of the film. In this case, you'd have to get a replacement cartridge or re-form the tail end (your local photo lab would have the little piece of equipment needed to do the latter). Re-attaching the film to the inside of the cartridge is a pain in the ass without special equipment, though (and is sometimes a pain even _with_ said equipment!).
  • I understand that Kodak no longer makes B&W paper, but Panalure paper was great for making B&W prints from color negatives. You'll normally get a low contrast looking print, thanks to the orange mask of most color films (have never seen an APS negative, so not sure about that) but Panalure compensates for that. As far as the negative carrier is concerned, I'd just use some masking tape and index cards to mask down a 35mm carrier for the smaller APS negative size.