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Background:
I am developing some old film, exposed sometime in 2008-2011 that was somehow overlooked. It would have been in date at the time it was exposed, so it's old but not ancient. Storage conditions not ideal.

Some rolls I know the contents and would really like to see. My test roll was unmarked so I can't cry too much, not knowing what I've lost. I expect to get OK negatives though some (maybe severe) degradation is inevitable.

The film is ADOX CHS Art 25 (probably the same as old EFKE 25) and the manufacturer suggests using a hardening fixer, though optional.

Problem:
The test roll was developed in a diafine substitute made by Belini and fixed with Adofix (non hardening), all at 20 C in my normal process. After washing and unrolling to dry, only six/seven frames showed at the end of the roll. the entire middle of the roll was blank from frame 1 - frame 29, without even the CHS 25 mark on the film edge. The lead-in that was exposed to light was black, like normal. The 1st of the 7 visible frames appears to have part of the image missing in a wave shape and is very thin on that side. The other frames are a bit thin but there is an image that could be used.

Questions:
How can I tell where the wash off has occurred? I have ordered Adox hardener EMH-1 which can be used pre-development or in the stop. What are the potential problems of using it before development? (does it reduce reaction rate?). OR Am I barking up the wrong tree -- is the problem due to poor storage or attack by bio or chemical agents and therefore it's pot luck what I end up with?

Please rule out camera malfunction as the evidence does not point to this being the case and the camera was always a reliable workhorse, the only problem being the light seals failing at some point.

Thanks

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If the emulsion were to “wash off”, you would see definite changes to the thickness and likely the termination line would show some folding of the emulsion. Because the leader is black meaning it developed properly along with several other frames, most likely, the damage is do to improper loading of the film on the reel.

Additionally, the edge printing is placed on the film using light. In other words, this printing is exposed film that develops up just like a camera exposed image. Examine the film in detail using a magnifier. Examine the film by transmitted light (looking through the film) and by reflected light. You do this by holding the near a lamp and twist the film, looking at its surface. If the emulsion has been stripped off, you will see differences in the coating thickness seen by reflected light from its surface.

A hardener works on the gelatin that is the binder for the light sensitive goodies (salts of silver). A hardener changes the infusion rate (time it takes for the developer which is mainly water to percolate into the emulsion structure. Thus, a hardener will retard the developing action. This is critical if the developing time is short, just a few minutes. If the developing time is over 5 minutes, likely you will see no applicable effect from using a hardener. Generally, a hardener is used when films are not pre-hardened and in hot weather processing. Likely not applicable in this case.

I would develop another test roll. This time double check reel loading. I won’t hurt to make a test roll using fresh film. Reel loading can be daunting.

P.S. Your film from 2008 is not that old, it should be OK!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thankyou for your considered and informative answer. I don't think loading was the problem (though I know why you suggested that - it seems logical) and following your suggestions, I'm now even less sure what has happened here. I tried another film of the same batch (in a different developer - that's another story), used the hardener in the stop and ended up with decent negatives. Thankyou for your encouragement! I'm now happy to develop the more interesting films. I'll put this failure down to a fluke though I will add a couple of photos of the affected negatives later. \$\endgroup\$
    – JoeK
    Dec 10, 2021 at 10:58

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