I have shot film before, never black and white though. I also haven't ever developed a film before, neither did I this time.

I used Ilford Delta 400 and I shot it at rated ISO (at least I think I did). I just got the pictures back from the shop and they all look like this:

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Now I'm wondering, what went wrong? Was my exposure that off for every picture (for example I forgot what the film ISO was), there's something wrong with my camera (I've shot with it before, It's an old unmaintained fed-2, I know there are some leaks, but haven't had nothing like this before) or is there something wrong with the way the film was developed? I can probably blame my camera for these light and dark bands, but I've never gotten this much noise even with really bad under or over exposure.

If it's the development issue, then I'd know what to specify the next time I have an black and white film to develop. If it something I did wrong, I'd like to know.

  • Did you take this to a shop that knows that it was black and white and can process black and white? D-76 and C-41 are different processes.
    – SailorCire
    Apr 28, 2015 at 17:40
  • Yeah, I usually use another shop, but they do only C-41. So I had to find a new one who would do b&w. They asked asked me beforhand if it's black and white or color.
    – Hendrik
    Apr 28, 2015 at 17:52
  • I've used HP5 and not Delta; however, something seems very wrong with those pictures. The last time I saw grain like that was on expired film and then I adjusted ISO by a stop to correct that. Any chance it was expired?
    – SailorCire
    Apr 28, 2015 at 17:55
  • @SailorCire Using the C-41 process will leave you with an empty film, as the bleach-fix step in this process will remove all the silver, so the film was not processed using C-41. What exactly is wrong though, I don't know. Apr 28, 2015 at 17:55
  • @godfatherofpolka I was very curious of what a cross-process with non-C-41 B&W and E-6 or C-41 would look like. That answers my question. Thanks!
    – SailorCire
    Apr 28, 2015 at 17:57

3 Answers 3


Looking at http://www.firstcall-photographic.co.uk/userfiles/file/faultsonblackandwhitenegatives.pdf and http://www.olympusmicro.com/primer/photomicrography/bwprocessingerrors.html it could be one of the following things (or even combinations thereof):

  • Underexposure
  • Underdevelopment
  • Inadequate fixing
  • Variations in processing temperature (reticulation)

If I remember right, Delta 400 should not be quite that grainy, so if you are sure about having exposed correctly, reticulation might be a candidate, as this one increases grain size. These, however, are just some wild guesses. It's probably best to have a close look at the actual negatives and compare them with the list of faults as provided above.

Update: The above only addresses the low contrast/grainy look of the pictures. I somehow managed to completely miss the vertical marks... At first, I thought of streaks due to overagitation during processing, but they seem too regular. One cause of them might be a sticky shutter. So, there might be a problem with the camera, which might also be causing other exposure problems. Check if the vertical marks extend beyond the actual picture into the part where the sprocket holes are. If not, then it's most likely a shutter problem. If yes, it's not a shutter problem and it might be a processing problem (even though, as mentioned, it looks to regular to be streaks from an agitation problem...)

  • I'l try to have a closer look at the negatives. Even though I dodn't really have equipment for that. I'll give it a shot, by watching it through my lens, against the light source..
    – Hendrik
    Apr 28, 2015 at 18:21
  • 1
    @HendrikLuup You don't need any specialised equipment (hint: you can use a smartphone or computer screen set to blank white as the light source), but it helps looking at the actual negative to exclude any effects introduced by scanning (in particular, if the scan was done by the photoshop, which might have introduced other problems). In particular it's also important to look at the sprocket holes part of the negatives. I have looked at the images again and now updated my answer as I completely missed the vertical marks the first time. Apr 28, 2015 at 18:51
  • I'll mark it as an answer. I examined the negatives a bit. The marks do not appear around the sprocket holes, only on frames themselves. So there's probably leaking light somewhere around the shutter, and that caused the exposure issues. And these exposure issues might easily be the reason why everything is so grainy on scans. What exactly is wrong with my shutter and how to fix it is out of the scope of this question. Maybe I'll come back to it.
    – Hendrik
    Apr 29, 2015 at 20:10
  • 1
    @Hendrik Based on your examination I would guess that the shutter curtains move irregularly, i.e., leading to different exposures across the frame, and maybe underexposure overall. If you haven't used the camera in a while, you might be lucky and can get things working again by just using it for a bit (this might loosen up the sticky shutter). If not, it will need some repair, but, as you say, that's another question. Apr 29, 2015 at 21:41
  • I'm not sure why I didn't follow up on this ages ago. Any ways, the issue was simple after examining the camera while the back was open. It was a sticky shutter. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't and get stuck in open or semi open position or just stops for a moment in a spot and then moves on. Not something you can expect proper exposure. :D
    – Hendrik
    Jun 22, 2018 at 7:40

Looks like it went through an xray machine at an airport


I can't load the photo, but the statement 'vertical' marks has me thinking you might be seeing 'surge holes'.

They occur and line up with sprockets, and occur during over-agitation in development. Typically film is lightly rotated to ensure fresh chemistry is constantly in contact with the surface of the film. The film itself will deplete the chemicals doing the development at a rate proportional to the exposed grains, so agitation is necessary to bring in new chemistry. (As an aside, see 'water bath' for controlling higher dynamic range exposures as an advanced technique).

With that said, if the person developing the film really rocked the film hard, or/and used an over-concentrated developer solution (a 'hot' solution), or even processed at elevated temperature, those surge holes would be much much worse and much more noticeable.

I'll have to look at the sample photo when I get out of work.

Personally, I wouldn't take the film back until you talk with the tech that developed the film.

edit: Reticulation is incredibly uncommon on any emulsion after 1970. I did have film that was that old and it was fun to introduce, but it would be extremely hard to do it with modern films. I wouldn't worry about it so long as you're not going between nearly boiling and nearly freezing solutions.

Edit 2: I just saw the vertical marks. Those aren't surge holes. Those look to be bad exposure, almost as if your shutter was sticking, but I've never seen anything that would look like that. If I had to guess I'd say you underexposed the film significantly and then somehow prints got fogged, but that's just a weird combo.

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