The uneven strange pattern that plagues my T-MAX 400 films (120 medium format film), do not appear with the Ilford XP2 400 film - despite I had it for quite some times. The background is totally even, and no strange pattern is to be seen.


The Phenomena

But the newer Kodak T-MAX 400 films which I froze, with an end date of 2019... are now also showing various signs of back paper issues, which means the emulsion is showing weird behavior with a diffuse, granular ugly pattern in the shadows, as well the numbering signs and "Kodak" in the negatives.

Since this issue did not appear in the Ilford XP2 400 films - it means it is not the cameras fault (Mamiya 6 MF). Now that is solved at least.


An ongoing issue since 2015...

Earlier it wondered if there is a super tiny light leak somewhere affecting the film somehow. But it isn't. It is really the KODAK FILM ITSELF - using bad (cheap ?) production material via Kodak Alaris. They probably bought a cheaper ink printed on paper for their films, from some chinese company. Well, and that does not work well. In forums I know that there have been lots and lots of problems with that infamous backing paper in 120-films.


Of course I get tired.

You know they once replaced all my 125 rolls of film which had an end date of 2017, with new film with end date of 2019. The latter I froze in the freezer, to make sure there are not "room temperature" issues, just in case.

Well guess what. Ain't helping. It's fucked anyway. It simply does not like the ink on the backing paper pressed against the emulsion, doing some thermal-chemical change to the emulsion. But it is everywhere, like small blurry black spots. It looks horribly uneven, like a film you kept in room temperature for 20 years or so.

Totally useless for serious photography.

So, it is sad story, because ultimately i spent 2000 € on film, which ultimately doesn't do what it is supposed to do. And the exchange didn't make it any better, because that film too shows, it does not tolerate age at all - due to the funky paper material Kodak Alaris is using on it's mediumformat films.

Fuck. Really !


Could it be a chemical that affects the emulsion ?

Possible, but unlikely - because I use Kodak Photo-Flo and don't overdo it in any way (1:500 to 1:1000). I use D76 1:1 as my developer. Earlier I used Kodak XTol 1+1 - no difference.


Here you see an example

of the pattern that damaged the emulsion in shadows. The worst thing is, it even affects the highlight, too ! And that is really odd. Notice that when in the shadows; it makes darker spots, but in the highlights, it makes brighter spots. the opposite of what you would expect...

Definitely not what a film should look like


35mm Kodak films are not affected !

The 35mm Kodak T-MAX 400 is not affected by it, and performs excellent). It is just the mediumformat (120) film that are affected. But gosh, so many years... I mean originally I bought the films in 2015, and got them replaced in 2016/17 with those that expire 2019 - and they all are just just fucked up material.

No, freezing film does not affect film. On the contrary, that is how you can keep films many years longer. The only thing that happens after 10 years is that the ISO is halved (less sensitive). An originally ISO 400 becomes a ISO 200. After 20 years, you have to expose at least according ISO 100. Black & White loose 1 stop every 10 years.


Switching after 7 years

In the future I will use Ilford films for medium format, instead. (Albeit in the mean time I still have I don't know... 75 rolls of film both the 2015 damaged one, as well the newer but also damaged 2019 films) *sigh* Some films show worse (on the verge of horrible damages) while other only slightly. The above portrait of Sal, does show the "Kodak" sight to the right, and a diffuse granular (larger) pattern, which is not the pattern of the silver grains, but the pattern of the backs paper itself being diffuse granular.

All very sad.

I am ultra tried of the endless problems I have encountered with Black & White Kodak films since 2015. After almost 7 years, I think that is a good reason to switch and do some experience with Ilford films again.

What I do ?  I continue to make images. It's not letting me stop - but as a customer I doubt I'll be buying T-MAX films in 120 medium format in the future. It just isn't worth it, after 7 years of damaged goods. If that is how they sell stuff, then be it - but personally, I don't think it's a good concept.


The Global Decline of Quality in products

I do however suspect that we are going to see the serious decline of many products we were used to be good, but will show degradation - as the world economical spirit, always favors money over quality when things get really, really tight. And now we have come so far, that it has gone very tight - and you can't cover up the quality issues anymore. This is the result of seeking to gain major money, by making China to stand for all production of various parts in a product (or even the whole product). Afterwards we see how parts of a good product fail, because by saving money - we the components fail.

We got what we deserved, in a twisted way - because in a way we all encouraged it - with a global mindset to make more profits and more profits, to a degree that the whole infrastructure is now based on that China makes most products and components...

It was never in favor for the customer, the real people. It was the last thing companies ever truly cared about. And for us, it means, we start to become aware (?) that it was mostly just an illusion that customers are important. It is of course not all black or white, I may add. To some degree companies do "care" about their reputation. But they are hardly honest about issues. Usually they use "damage control", which is not based on truth, transparency and honesty.

Those words who are officially held in such high esteem, yes exactly those values are being built on. Strange is our world. So strange, in so many ways. Often there seem to be the rule of "upside down" values; you pretend one thing. Reality is different thing.

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