View Full Version : ERA 100, field test

05-08-2010, 02:26 PM
I got some ERA 100 4X5 film, bought through Ebay, and put a few sheets through my usual test procedure. I use the front of my garage which is white and open one of the doors to give me deep shadows. I shoot at mid day on a “Key” day (bright sun, no clouds, as bright as I will ever get In Iowa). The metering (Pentax Digital Spotmeter) was:

VIII (16.)-Brightest white on front of garage door.
VII (15.)-Cement in sun
VI (14.)-High values on wood fence in sun
V (13.)-Black trash can in sun
IV (12.)-Medium blue garage in shade
III (11)-Inside garage in sun
II (10.)- Inside garage in shade

Nice 7 stop range with detail in all of the areas.

Development was in HC-110(b), 1 minute pre soak, 10:00 minutes, continuous agitation in a roller drum, fixed tin T-4 for 4 minutes. I estimated the development according to the Iford times for HP4 as recommended by the manufacturer.

I think the exposure times are pretty close but I need to retest for development times. I am going to guess they will need to be 20-30 % lower than I initially anticipated, I appears the film is at or above it’s 100 asa rating which is a bit of a surprise.

Here is a scan of the 3 second exposure, auto adjust off.
Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/3_zone__placementr_7376.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/3_zone__placementr_7376.jpg)

05-08-2010, 02:27 PM
This time I guessed the proper exposure to be 7 seconds for the 100 asa film, 1 stop less than my Tmax 400 at asa 200.

I made a 3, 7 13 and 29 second exposure (N-1, N, N+1 and N+2). I ended up with an N, N+1, N+2, and N+3 judging by the scans (Epson 4990) made with auto adjust off.

The 3 second exposure is nearly identical with auto exposure on or off which is how I judge my negatives for this process. Here is a composite of the 4 negatives with out auto adjust. Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/329_small_compr_454.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/329_small_compr_454.jpg)

05-08-2010, 02:28 PM
Here is a composite of the 4 negatives with auto adjust on.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/329_small_comp_auto_adjustr_685.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/329_small_comp_auto_adjustr_685.jpg)

05-08-2010, 02:30 PM
Here is a composite of the shadow area.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/329_shadow_c_3224.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/329_shadow_c_3224.jpg)

05-08-2010, 02:31 PM
This is an adjusted file from the 3 second exposure, scanned with auto exposure on. The shadow area was lassoed and the file inverted so the shadows received no adjustment, just the rest of the image. I adjusted levels (Input levels 0/.72/255) in the mid range to bring the low values down a bit.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/3_auto_adjustm1r_4680.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/3_auto_adjustm1r_4680.jpg)

05-08-2010, 02:32 PM
This is an adjusted file from the 29 second exposure, scanned with auto exposure on. The shadow area was lassoed and the file inverted so the shadows received no adjustment, just the rest of the image. I adjusted levels (Input levels 27/.60/255) in the low range and mid range to bring the low values down a bit. I tried to “match” the 3 second exposure for values.

Tends to get grainier with over exposure which is not unexpected. Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/29_auto_adjustmr_7886.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/29_auto_adjustmr_7886.jpg)

05-08-2010, 02:32 PM
This is a crop from the 3 second negative scanned at 800 resolution with no auto adjustment. The final output was 100 resolution saved at medium. This is representative of the grain from a negative that is a bit over developed but pretty close on initial exposure. Not bad and I think adjusting the exposure and processing will result in a bit finer grain.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/3lmgrain_cropr_2031.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/3lmgrain_cropr_2031.jpg)

05-08-2010, 02:33 PM
Conclusions? Well, the first 6 negatives have a stripe across them which can be seen in the first photo with the Zone placements. It is about ¼ of the way down and is visible on the negative before processing. I pulled the last sheet out of the box and looked at it and the stripe is not visible so maybe it’s just a few sheet of this box. I’ll test with a few more sheets so it’s not big deal unless it shows up in the other boxes I got. For now I can clone out but if quality control is poor the film savings in price will not offset the extra work.
Not a deal breaker yet.

It does have a bit of a curl (see photo) which should not pose a problem. The surfaces seem pretty hard and I have not shuffled the negatives around enough to see any tell tale scratches.

It has a good range of tones and doesn’t block up as bad in the highlights with overexposure as I expected it would. Shadow area should be easy to hold while getting the Zone VIII whites that I like. I’ll have to see how it does in an underexposure situation to make a final call on it’s full potential. Not that I make a lot of under exposures or anything…..

At $75.00 including shipping for 125 sheets it seems like a good deal, barring anymore defects and I printed an 8X10 of the 3 second negative that looks pretty good, considering I am not done with the development tests.

I’ll update as I go, for now it’s a little iffy on whether we will pursue it as an alternative to the name brands.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/curve_1r_5277.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/curve_1r_5277.jpg)

05-08-2010, 02:46 PM
Wow, Marv, nicely done. I need to come up with a similar shot. You were able to learn a lot with a few sheets of film. My shots with this film came out thin, but I am pretty sure that I did not give enough reciprocity correction. However, I am pleased with the first results.

I think that it is time for me to learn how to do some systematic testing and calibration.

05-09-2010, 06:55 AM
Cor, blimey mate (an old English phrase).
I am really impressed with your thoroughness Marv.
Very interesting comparisons.
I had no idea that taking photographs was so involved. :-/
You seem to be suggesting that knowing the true film speed and using a light meter can be good things.
I must look into this ;)
My picture taking is usually sunny 16 plus one stop (‘cause UK is a bit dull) plus a bit for reciprocity when I think it needs it. I do own a couple of light meters and I even bought a spot meter many years ago but I never got on with it. Maybe I need to write 100 times “must try harder”.
Thanks for the info.
Now, about scanning:
I have an Epson 4990 and I never let it do any image processing because PS can do it better, I always check the histogram to make sure it is capturing the entire detail range (it usually wants to cut a bit off), also I find it is better if the light and dark sliders are pulled to the ends.
I normally scan at 2400 and retain the original size (100%). In PS I normally only adjust levels and curves, very occasionally I may use “highlights & shadows”. Hate filters.
The stuff I post is often given a slight warm tone ‘cause to my eye it looks nicer on the screen.

05-09-2010, 08:07 AM
Dave, with this methodology I can normally nail the "Key Day" (a lot like the sunny 16 exposure only arrived at through testing) exposure with 4 or 8 sheets of film. The processing test takes another 4, I'll post that as soon as we get a sunny day at noon :-/. I do it because over exposed high lights are nearly impossible to tame and this lets me know where my absolute limit is.

Once I determine the exposure/processing times I have a "Key Day" exposure. Mine is a 1/60 @f22 for pinhole which correlates to 3sec @f186 on my 4X5 box camera . That's the fastest exposure I will ever use and I can adjust accordingly for lessening light conditions. Dead meter batteries or meter on the kitchen table aren't a deal breaker out in the field and with the chart taped to the back of the camera I can still produce photos. Also, it helps to know the exposures when your gut tells you one thing and the meter tells you another.

When I scan it's normally at 800 and retain the original size (100%) with the auto adjust off and use basically the same method as you do. There is a lot more control available that way but for these test I use the auto feature to try and keep everything as close together tonally as possible, with as little work as possible.

Bottom line: the proof is in the pudding and both you, Dave, and Earl make some darn nice photos no matter what your methods are. I just like a bit more control and have a bit of fun testing. The testing is maybe 1/2 of 1% of the total time I spend on photography but, for me, it is time well spent and not having to chase your tail on exposure and processing issues that may crop up is a real time saver.

05-09-2010, 10:33 AM
It’s nice and, useful to see comprehensive, testing done on different labels! :)
Aside from the differences in exposure method and developer used, I share similar testing and conclusions on the ERA100 film that I have used for over a year.
I occasionally have seen one or two “stripes”; mine look more like a straight over-exposed line, with equal intensity on both side of it, not visible on the negative with the 8x lupe. I dismiss it as some defect of my aging scanner. Yes, also the increase in grain size is there; I blame that to the vigorous agitation we share with the Unicolor drum. I have enlarged the 4x5 to 11x14 with no visible signs of it.
I find that the curl is not much of a problem with the 4x5, however if anyone is considering the 120 it may be an annoying difficulty in getting the strips to stay put inside the scanning mask. I had the same experience with the 120 - ADOX25

For me the reliable availability to my front door and, the price are the two factors that I value most. I do a quick 3-4 sheets testing of the 5 boxes batch and the results have been relatively constant (not all the same but within expected variances).
However; I do find the testing of a new label tedious, costly and, really at the mercy of my very few local retailers that try to sale me their remaining stock; therefore forcing the complete testing of a brand that I am not familiar with. I am certain that soon I will be using the singular on this.
Thanks Marvin for posting all your work.
PS. The differences in exposure methods are namely that I place the shadows with some visible details in zone III and expose for that. I let the h. lights to be controlled by the compensating developer that I use; either a two bath D23+PMK or a ADOX APH09 1+80 dilution. The scanning and adjustments selections are exactly the same.

Ric J
05-11-2010, 10:34 AM
Way to go Marv, you have written a textbook.