I had two missions – one was to see how my Leica M 28mm ASPH f/2.0 lens looked in black and white film and the second was to see if my out of date black and white film still exposed well. I’ve read in various circles formulas for exposing out of date color film, but most concur that black and white film can be used without much alteration. In this case, the film expired in 2009 and here we are in 2013 – 4 years later.
I stumbled across this old iron farm gate. The rain had been dropping in torrents all day with occasional 5 minute reprieves. This was one moment of reprieve, so I stopped in the driveway, loaded my Leica MP with this 4 year old Ilford FP5, which is ISO 125. I mounted the 28mm, set the aperture to f/2.0, metered with the MP and fired away.
The first thing I’ve noticed about this lens, over my other Leica lenses (2 Summilux, 2 Summicrons and an Elmar) is that Leica vignetting wide open. The 28mm cron has great vignetting for black and white.
I made fresh developer (I use Ilford Ilfotec DD-X, which is great for fine grain and all around great development of Ilford films). I also use the old faithful Kodak stop bath and Ilford Rapid Fix. The GrayLabs timer buzzes as each chemical has served its purpose and I pulled apart the stainless tank to rinse and hang. The answer is above you. With care in development, the Ilford film did well 4 years after it expired. The grain was typical, the contrast looked normal (which for Leica glass is strong). I scan my negatives using a Nikon Super CoolScan 5000 with a batch reel and VueScan software. Saving the scanned files to a DNG, I back them up, throw them in Lightroom and made very little changes to show you what’s here.
As a small aside, I’m anxious to try the new Lightroom 5 healing brushes. For black and white scanned negatives, it is a scratch removal heaven. I can’t tell you how long it takes to put little circle bubbles along a scratch on negatives. Of course, if you shoot film, you already know!