I'm starting shooting film and develop it at home. For my first roll of film i've used Fujifilm Acros 100 on a Olympus OM-1n with F.zuiko 50mm 1.8.

Please see the attached image (straight from the scanner (V800), i've just cleaned some dust), i've developed the roll with kodak HC-110 dilution B from massive dev chart.

Do you think that the photo looks good? Not on the composition side, but the aspect regarding to grain, tonal range, sharpness, etc.

I think i've shoot this at f4, focusing on the trees zone. When i look this photo i think that something is wrong.


cycling by the river

  • 3
    Why do you think there is something wrong?
    – OnBreak.
    Apr 9, 2019 at 23:16
  • @all Sorry for the delay, diferent time zone i guess. Thanks for the comments, i think i was thinking to much on a digital way, ie, film has a diferent look and a whole diferent process, i like it but i need to "tune" my taste. That's why i decided to ask the opinion of other people on the field.
    – nioxys
    Apr 10, 2019 at 9:05
  • 2
    Commenters: rather than make brief comment-answers and short-circuit the Stack Exchange answer system, Please put your answers in the answers section, even if they're short
    – scottbb
    Apr 10, 2019 at 15:28
  • 1
    Thanks @scottbb; I'm still new to this. :) Have now made my comment into an answer.
    – Kahovius
    Apr 10, 2019 at 19:11

5 Answers 5


When I look this photo I think that something is wrong.

It looks a little flat. That's what you want in a negative (or raw digital file) because it can contain the most amount of information all the way from dark to light.

But in most cases, you want to add a little contrast when you print it or otherwise prepare it for viewing. In the film age this was done by selecting what paper to print on (high or low contrast?), how long to expose the paper, how long to develop the paper, whether to dodge or burn certain areas while exposing the paper, etc. In the digital age, we do this with with raw processing/conversion for raw digital files, with altering the settings on the scanner we use to scan the negative, and with post-processing applications.

  • Hello, thank you for your comment. i don't have a darkrom, i will do a post processing on the image for digital printing. When i scan the image i do not applied any setting to preserve the maximum of information. I use the epson scanner and silverfast. Do you scan your negatives? What's your workflow?
    – nioxys
    Apr 10, 2019 at 9:17
  • I haven't shot a roll of film since around 2005. I do not miss the smell of the darkroom at all. I do still occasionally scan old negatives. You really have to develop a scanning workflow based upon the hardware/software you are using. They can vary greatly. But reading up on darkroom techniques will give you an idea of the flexibility of working with good negatives and what can be coaxed out of them. You then need to learn to apply that knowledge and translate it to your scanning/processing environment. (Which is probably another specific question here.)
    – Michael C
    Apr 10, 2019 at 17:52
  • I have read several things about the dark room in the past days/weeks but this is an enterialy new world for me. And like many others I want, even if unconsciously, quick results even knowing that this is practically impossible. I've scanned my negatives sveral times in the past days, to test the "best" settings etc. I will keep testing and most important i will keep shooting. Thanks a lot for your time and help.
    – nioxys
    Apr 10, 2019 at 21:12

You need to remember that film is a step in the process - it's not the end. Whether you are printing in a darkroom or scanning and editing, you'll be making adjustments to the image and then printing or finalizing for on-screen viewing.

When creating the negative, your goal is to compress as much tonal range into it as possible so that your highlights are not blown out (blocked is the common term) and you still have shadow detail. Hence the adage, expose for the shadows develop for the highlights - said another way: expose so that you capture shadow detail, develop to not block up your highlights.

So, in looking at your image, it appears to have both highlight detail (clouds in the upper right are on the edge of being blown - but I think this could be your scan) and you have shadow detail (texture on the trees, for example).

From a tonal point of view, this is a good negative.

Now you can edit. Burn and dodge, increase or decrease contrast in various areas. Turn the image into art.

  • 1
    For film, the adage was generally, "Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights." This works because film has such a smooth shoulder as exposure approaches full saturation. With digital, the adage got turned on its head as "Expose for the highlights, develop for the shadows" because the linear response of digital imaging sensors stays linear all the way up to full saturation.
    – Michael C
    Apr 10, 2019 at 3:54
  • @MichaelC yep. Dyslexia’d it.
    – OnBreak.
    Apr 10, 2019 at 7:24
  • Hello, thank you for your comment. When you said "Expose for the shadows , develop for the highlights", how do i develop for the highlights? I need to increase or decrease the developement time? How i calculate this encrease or decrease of time? Do you scann your negatives? What is your workflow, do you apply any adjustments on the scanner process?
    – nioxys
    Apr 10, 2019 at 9:24
  • @nioxys read up on the Zone system (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_System#Development) This is a great tool when working one sheet of film at a time but things get more complex with rolls of film containing multiple frames. In order to apply the same logic to roll film, it is good to try to shoot the entire roll within the same scene - so that you're dealing with similar contrast ranges along the entire roll. If this isn't possible, then your development cannot be tweaked for a particular scene without imperfect development for other frames.
    – OnBreak.
    Apr 10, 2019 at 16:07
  • @Hueco, thanks a lot for the tip on the zone system, i already save some articles about this subject. Thanks for your time and for your help.
    – nioxys
    Apr 10, 2019 at 21:08

It does not entirely do justice to the film, nor reveal potential problems with your developing routine, to judge from the output of a flatbed scanner such as the V800. For a more reliable assessment of negative quality, you should examine the negatives directly. Use a light table and a loupe with ~10x magnification to view the negatives. It takes some time to learn to read negatives – density is where you don't expect it, and vice versa – but you will be able to assess the tonal range, sharpness and grain size this way much more reliably than by estimating the output from a scanner.

To illustrate the difference, here's a 100% crop from the centre of a negative (roughly 1/8 of the negative area) scanned with the Epson V370 at 2400x2400dpi (what I gather to be its native resolution, i.e. no interpolation):

enter image description here

Here's the same thing, using a digital camera (Fuji X-E1 with Minolta MD W.Rokkor 28mm f/2.8 and 14mm extension tube, shot at f/8 unless I misremember):

enter image description here

All I've done in both cases is the crop: there's no sharpening, no playing with the curves, and no inversion. (Film was Fomapan 400 rated at EI400, developed in Ilfotec DD-X.)

If you don't have access to a proper light table, you can try shining some light onto a diffusing surface (a somewhat opaque screen of some kind) and place the negatives against this surface. If you have a tablet computer, you could even try and make it display a blank white screen and view your negatives against that. A more professional apparatus is desirable, but these tricks go a long way.

Finally, the quality of a negative is not entirely an objective matter. What is the intended use of the negatives? Will you make silver prints from them? (If so, will you be using a condenser or a diffuser enlarger?) Will you scan them for display on the web? (If so, is it important to have a high-resolution version available?) Will you scan them to make ink prints? Or something else entirely? Slightly different qualities in the negative may be desirable under different circumstances. Some people also prefer more contrasty negatives than others, and this is an aesthetic preference more than anything else. I, for instance, like the photo you posted very much and don't mind the loss of shadow detail in the tree trunks, but others would object. (Though I suspect that the scanner may be responsible for at least some of that loss of dynamic range – take a direct look at the negatives and you may be surprised!)

  • That's a big difference, scanner vs digital camera. I don't have a light table but I already thought about buying one. At this point my goal is to try to take good pictures, scan them to make prints with inkjet printer or display them on the web. Maybe later i will try the dark room print. But for now i think i need to calm down, i want fast results but this is almost impossible. :) I need to try until i'm satisfied with the results i guess, and learning in the way. Thanks a lot for the examples you have posted here. And thanks for your time and help.
    – nioxys
    Apr 10, 2019 at 21:27
  • "All I've done in both cases is the crop: there's no sharpening, no playing with the curves..." Well, maybe not by you directly, but whatever wrote the default raw to jpeg routines for your camera or raw conversion application certainly applied them to the results from the camera. Likewise, scanners have default settings which may or may not be user alterable, that process the raw output from the scanner's hardware.
    – Michael C
    Apr 10, 2019 at 21:54

The photo looks okayish. There is little detail in the lows (tree trunks) but that is to be expected given the overall contrast of the scene. With basic Lightroom techniques / Variable Contrast printing & some dodging and burning (depending on the kind of workflow you prefer) you should get very solid results.

As you seem to be taking your process seriously I would recommend a different film make. As you are probably aware the Fuji Acros 100 is officially RIP.

It takes time and effort to really master the development process, and it is not reasonable to expect to "nail" it on your first try. As this means a considerable investment of time and other resources it might be a good idea to consider other, more viable brands, such as Kodak or Ilford.

  • I bougth 3 rolls of Acros from Japan because i always have Fujifilm digital cameras and even though i shoot raw i always like the Acros mode on the fuji cameras, so wen i decided to try film my first instinct was to buy Fuji Acros. :) But now i need to choose another brand and type of film. Like i've said on other comment I want, even if unconsciously, quick results even knowing that this is practically impossible.I need calm down and shoot and give some time to test and learn. Thanks for your time and help.
    – nioxys
    Apr 10, 2019 at 21:33

I would say that using a scan from any scanner to evaluate a negative is disingenuous and not the proper way to make a true assessment. A digital copy of an analog does not represent the true analog.

Use a loupe, your eyes, knowledge gained from study and experience on proper density and from printing from lots and lots of negatives.

One of the most satisfying things about shooting and developing film is when you take that roll of film out of the wash and hold it up to the light to take a look and you see a negative ( maybe only one of the 36 ) with excellent density and dynamic range because you exposed it well and you developed it well. ( of coarse you will use a loupe when it dries for a closer look to confirm your initial first look )

You will hardly be able to wait until you get it in a negative holder and make a print.

When you do make a print and it needs very little, if any, contrast adjustments and dodging or burning, your initial assessment will be confirmed. You will be satisfied and very HAPPY.

Your mission should you choose to accept, is TO SEEK THE HOLY GRAIL.

  • You're right, the moment i've taken that roll of film out of the tank and saw for the first time ever my own negatives it was beautiful, I still smile when I think about it. :) Thanks for your time and help.
    – nioxys
    Apr 10, 2019 at 21:39

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