How does Kodak make film? Smarter Every Day!


Ever wonder how film is actually manufactured? It’s no secret that analog photography is getting more and more popular, so we can’t help but ask: what does this all mean for the film supply? Fortunately, Smarter Every Day has given us an inside look at the Kodak plant in Rochester, New York, where we can see firsthand the inner workings of their film production!

We truly enjoyed every single bit of it, and we hope you do too! (A bit of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vibes).




We have been following Smarter Every Day for a long time, and if you are a geek like us, we are sure you will love it as well. This Youtube channel showcases the science and technology behind everyday things. In this series, they give us a thorough look at the various stages of film production from the initial raw materials to the finished product–, the emulsion-coating process, quality control, and packaging.



Given how nerdy we are about this content, you can only imagine how ecstatic we were when their notification for the Kodak factory tour popped up on our devices! Perhaps this post is more appealing to engineers that love film photography or photographers that love engineering. In any case, let’s begin!










Coming soon!





Understanding the complexities of film manufacturing helps us appreciate the art and science behind every roll of film, and see how precious it is to be able to shoot film!

The fact that film photography is still being made today is a testament to the dedication and passion of those who work in the industry. And it’s why, as photographers, we like to cherish every shot we take on film, knowing that it’s the result of a process that is both complex and beautiful. Every roll counts!



We hope this blog post strikes your curiosity and inspires you to understand more about the medium we dedicated ourselves to.

If you want to learn more, be sure to check out Smarter Every Day‘s YouTube channel. Whether you’re a film photography enthusiast or just curious about how it’s made, these videos are a must-see!




Destin actually started this series featuring the work of a lab visiting our friends at Indie Film Lab! We work a little different, but it’s a great way to learn more about film!




Everything you need to know about ECN-2 film


As 35mm color film became scarcer than toilet paper during the pandemic days, we have seen an increasing amount of eager film photographers looking at different options to keep shooting color on 35mm and not die trying. This eventually shifted the focus to “the other” type of film made by Kodak. The color film for motion pictures and cinema: Kodak ECN-2 film.

Don’t get us wrong, ECN-2 spooled film from the 400ft 35mm cans has been around forever, but it has always been somewhat homemade, poorly labeled, or coming from dubious sources.

For the first time in recent years, we have at our disposal a reliable supply of 35mm ECN-2 film cased and packaged correctly, with all guarantees that you are shooting fresh, properly spooled film thanks to SILBERSALZ35!

There are many myths and theories behind it, and with this article, we will try to tell you everything we know about ECN-2 film when it comes to film photography so you are well aware of what to do next time you are shopping for some fresh film before your next trip!




ECN simply stands for Eastman Color Negative. It was a processing system that evolved into ECN-2 when research enabled faster and more environmentally friendly development processes (and thus faster photo lab turnaround time!). As a result, ECN-2 became the industry standard for all current motion picture color negative development till today.



The first myth we would like to debunk here is the chemistry used: “Isn’t ECN-2 just C41 chemistry but with a pre-wash?” You’ve probably heard this one if you’ve been shooting film long enough.

From the chemical point of view, the answer is clear: No.

But… We understand that from a practical standpoint, it can feel that way for many photographers because if you process ECN-2 film through C41 chemistry, you will obtain a usable negative (removing the rem-jet of course). In any case, it is not the same chemistry and does not perform the same on the emulsion.

Long story short, ECN-2 is the developing process aimed at solving many of the constraints of cinema and motion pictures. It shares many things with films we use for still photography, but it has characteristics that enable film to be shot at 24 frames per second (fps) and processed at the order of meters per minute (aka effing fast).

Also, due to the speed of the process, ECN-2 specifies a developing temperature of 41ºC instead of the standard 38º C41, which speeds up the developing process.

With that in mind, let’s begin!




If you’ve heard about ECN-2, you’ve heard about the ‘rem-jet’. That black layer of carbon is behind the base of the film. This layer is every photo lab nightmare since it has to be removed manually unless you have a football-field-sized machine to process motion picture film.

When it comes to the name, funnily enough, they did not want to waste much time in naming back in the day; the word “rem-jet” comes from “remove by water jet”. As simple as that.

And, as much as we hate it, we have to admit the rem-jet has some good reasons to exist. 🙂


Left: ECN-2 film with rem-jet. Right: C41 film.


Scratches, Static and Halos


Think about it for a while; when shooting cinema, the film moves at 24 fps (frames per second) around 45 cm/second, which is fast.

When moving quickly through the recording cinema cameras, many elements cause friction, which can build up static electricity that can be released from the metal into the emulsion. 

Even if it sounds incredible, when electricity is released into the film, it draws the shape of thunder into the frame, which would eventually be seen on the screen every ‘x’ amount of frames. Also, from all that movement and friction, scratch marks might appear, and the ‘rem-jet’ protects the base layer against it being scratched.


This is a test done in a research lab since we couldn’t find an example of a lighting electrostatic shape in a real film.


Last but not least, the dark layer prevents the light from refracting and bouncing against the base layer and, in high contrast situations, produces a very characteristic “halo” effect on the highlights, which has become quite iconic from Cinestill film.


Photo by Jan Scholz on CineStill 800T




Perhaps the most significant trait that we see in ECN-2 that is no longer available on C41 films is the fact that we can find Tungsten Balanced films (3200K) in ECN-2 which will allow you to shoot under artificial light and the ISO marked on the film and get a neutral white balance without major yellow color casts.

The reason for this comes from cinema, of course. This is incredibly convenient for motion pictures when they have to light scenes at night or indoors with a ton of artificial lights; they need the color balance to be right without sacrificing exposure time.

Back in the day, we made an article explaining how Cinestill 800T (which comes from Kodak Vision3 500T) reacts to artificial light, and the results were astounding.

Shooting a tungsten light-balanced film in daylight has the opposite effect; everything shifts to a “bluish color” (unless you compensate with filters, and so on).


Daylight 5500K ECN-2 films:



Tungsten 3200K ECN-2 films:



*If you are ever in doubt, just remember the ‘D’ stands for Daylight and’ T’ for Tungsten.



Keep in mind ECN-2 film is not meant to be stored for a long time. As we published in a previous article, not all films are created equal, as some might believe. Especially professional films (like Kodak Portra 400 or Fuji 400H) are designed to be shot quickly after they leave the factory. Therefore they do not have as much shelf life as consumer films (like Kodak Gold 200 or Fuji Superia 400). This is especially significant in the case of motion picture films.

According to the emulsions’ official datasheet:


Storage: Store unexposed film at 13°C (55°F) or lower. For storage of unexposed film longer than 6 months, store at –18°C (0°F). Process film promptly.”


This means that film must be refrigerated at all times, and if storing it for more than 6 months, it needs to be kept at freezing conditions since day 1 to be in optimal conditions for shooting.

Cinematographers are well aware of this; photographers, unfortunately, not so much… And this leads to some independent sellers re-spooling and selling film coming from unknown places or conditions, and it translates, of course, into poor results when developing and scanning.

It’s a pity that developing ECN-2 is incredibly tedious, and if all the work is done for a poorly stored emulsion, it will lead to poor outcomes, which is often a massive disappointment for everyone.



So, what to do? Well, as you may have heard, a brand new ECN-2 packed option in the market has been introduced by SILBERSALZ35. Fresh ECN-2 film, spooled and packed correctly and with all the guarantees.

SILBERSALZ35 packed all 4 variables that there out there today: two Daylight films (50D & 250D) and two Tungsten films (200T & 500T). In addition, they use brand new, unadulterated Kodak VISION3 film stocks, which are manufactured in metal cartridges (including DX codes!) and are compatible with every 35mm camera on the market. And we are one of the few flagship stores where you can get them today!

FUN FACT: If you buy a can of 400ft of 35mm film from Kodak, you will see it does not have an expiration date because it’s meant to be shot as soon as possible!




As we mentioned earlier, ECN-2 is not intended to have a long shelf life, so expiration plays a massive role in the outcome that you can have from it.

If you’ve ever sent expired film to the lab, you will know that we always recommend overexposing a bit; as a rule of thumb, we like to say: for every 3 years of expiration, add +1 stop of exposure, and you should be good to go.

Of course, there is a limit. Emulsions lose their sensitivity and at some point, it will be tough to get something out of it. For ECN-2, it flies the same way (even shorter!) plus an added complexity; our “beloved” rem-jet layer is also affected by the age of the film, becoming harder and harder to remove with every year passed.

As a result, many cine labs do not process expired ECN-2 films because they risk the quality of their chemistry.

Expired rem-jet can be so bad sometimes that after our first rem-jet removal bath, the black layer remains intact, and the person developing needs to fight against it rubbing to take it off. If you ever wonder what a film lab developer nightmare looks like… expired-as-hell ECN-2 is the closest we’ve known.

That’s why we strongly recommend you think twice about where the ECN-2 film you are shooting is coming from because it will play a massive role in how your images will eventually look like!





Believe it or not, we occasionally get to leave the lab, enjoy the sunshine, and put some film to the test. This time we wanted to test the SILBERSALZ35 250D intensively, and we’re excited to share our initial thoughts on these new film options!

The reason why we picked the 250D is that it is perhaps the emulsion we are less familiar with these days.

We are pretty familiar with the look of the 500T and 50D thanks to Cinestill Film, and we believe the Daylight option on the 200 ISO range can be very versatile too. 🙂

With all that said, here we go!




First, we must know what cinema film emulsions are designed for. VISION3 films are processed in ECN-2 chemistry to have the highest possible exposure latitude. Over 16 stops of dynamic range on paper (sorry we couldn’t fact-check ourselves), allowing them to capture detail both in highlights & shadows even in the most extreme lighting contrast conditions.



The first thing that drew our attention was the flatness of the images in the scanner. This is because cinema film differs significantly from photography film, which commonly aims to have a vibrant look right from the emulsion to produce beautiful prints without too much grading.


Original photo

Color-graded photo


All cinema movies need to be color graded. Color grading is the process of creating the final color of a film after it has been shot, cut, and edited. This is why cinema film is created.

If you think about it, the scenes in a movie constantly change, including light conditions, scenarios, actors, setups, etc. It would be impossible for a film to perform exceptionally well in all of them nor for a scanner operator to adjust the color of every scene while scanning. Furthermore taking into count that a lot of the footage never makes the final cut. Therefore, the natural thing to do is to create a film that can capture as much information in every single light situation so we can eventually bring it to the color we desire.

This flat image needs to be adjusted in order to achieve the desired look that the DP (Director of Photography) and the Director conceive for the film.

Original photo

Color-graded photo


Here are a few more before-and-after examples of our own “color grading” of the scans to match the look of this specific client.







The 250D is their faster daylight-balanced film. With a high dynamic range, we believe this one is their jack-of-all-trades option. We tested it in a variety of lighting conditions, and it looked pretty solid in all of them.

In this case, we dare to recommend that for still pictures, you also overexpose by +1 stop to get the most out of it.

Cinematographers were traditionally limited to their camera shutter speed which is usually fixed at 1/48th of a second due to the 180º shutter and the 24fps. If all these things sound like jibberish to you, we strongly recommend you to google it; it’s pretty fun to learn about it!



We noticed an accurate reproduction of true colors when shooting the 250D in daylight. Although we shot during the golden hour –how could we not?– the final product isn’t as warm as what you could achieve with other films such as Kodak Portra 400. This daylight-balanced film reminds us of CineStill in terms of a more neutral and even colder outcome, with shadows still naturally tending to a magenta tone.


250D color-graded

250D color-graded


Portrait-wise, this film is far from dethroning the king. However, it does the trick with a pleasing, natural-looking outcome.


250D color-graded


It also worked surprisingly well indoors, delivering some contrasted and crisp images! We find the grain to be fairly good, though it does not stand out as the finest.

250D color-graded

250D color-graded




The look and flexibility of the ECN-2 are what we like best about them. If there is one thing that stands out for us, it is its versatility, which allows you to take great photos in both bright sunlight and low light. Under most lighting conditions, we see consistent color, and it’s interesting to see the neural outcomes, which give us a wide range of options for editing the photos if needed! Also, these rolls should be more affordable than traditional emulsions 🙂

And most importantly, this means more film options on the market!



*All images above are color graded


Keep in mind that these rolls are designed to be processed in with original ECN-2 chemistry only. It can be hard to find someone who can do it, but you guessed it! You can develop with us for the same price as BW and E-6; check all our developing options and happy shooting!

Head of the lab since 2013 and currently managing the team, developing new projects and trying to bound the international film photography community. These are only my personal thoughts, you may or may not find them relevant, I believe there is nothing healthier than a good debate 🙂

– Albert Roig, Manager at the Lab

XXL and XXXL format comparison

XXXL is here!

XXL and XXXL format comparison

Photo by Aida Chambó


We know that as film shooters you have several possibilities when it comes to getting your images scanned, and we’ve certainly come a long way from our M-size comfort zone.

Whenever we have the chance to upgrade your options, we try to figure out how we can deliver our best. So, for a few months now, we’ve been discussing the possibility of taking the XXL format to the next step. And we finally have something to show you!



As photographers, we understand the importance of looking for even the tiniest detail, and since we rarely carry a magnifying glass with us, this higher resolution is ideal for seeing finer textures, definition, and grain structure. So, basically, it needs to be a perfect shot, or else you will see all the flaws. No pressure.

Jokes aside, the XXXL scan expands the variety of possibilities. It also allows you to print it larger if you want to in the future. At the lab, we did our testing and in all seriousness, we just printed a whopping 110 x 170 cm print from the image you see below. And it looks amazing.

We know that nothing beats drum scanning, but more often than not it’s complex to perform, expensive and slow. Not available to everyone whenever a big size is needed. That’s where we believe the XXXL comes to fill the gap!


This service will only be available for individual frames, since it’s very time-consuming and requires way more time to prepare than a regular scan.

We hope this will give you a bit of an insight into what other resolutions look like. Bigger resolutions are necessary and perfect when it comes to printing BIG, but remember, in photography, bigger is not always better. For us, as a lab, it’s important to be able to show you the amazing capabilities that film has (for when they are necessary).

Never forget, M file scans will share the same color palette as XXXL scans and the most important thing is to have fun when shooting film. Happy shooting and let us do the magic behind the scenes!



We are so impressed with the capabilities of this new XXXL resolution that we don’t want to do any convincing, but rather encourage you to download the original file and judge by yourself 😉



This is undoubtedly one of the most important news for film photography for as long as we can remember. Bringing back to life such a popular film in the 120 formats is truly a game-changer for everyone. For the ones looking to get into 120 and not die trying, and for the professionals who need a budget option for shooting personal work or traveling on a budget.

We were privileged to test a couple of rolls before the official launch in order to provide feedback as a lab in terms of color rendition, development, and scanning. We are thrilled to be able to share it with you finally, so here it goes: our review of the new Kodak Gold 120! The good, the bad, and the ugly.





As a lab, we can also give you feedback on how the negative feels and compares between other stocks, we think it’s also worth mentioning. When you hold the negative already developed, if you are used to handling negatives, you will undoubtedly feel it is thinner and more solid than other emulsions. From what we could understand, this is a new way to manufacture the film base so it can be manufactured a bit faster and speed up production.

Don’t worry if it feels “flimsy” at first; it’s solid, and the color of the emulsion is as good as the one with the older, thicker base layer 😉


Color-wise, this film delivers what you expect from our beloved Kodak Gold in 35mm with a big PLUS, the 120 format “plus”.




We are talking about Gold, and you should expect gold indeed! The color palette will always lean a bit towards the warm tones when it comes to the overall feeling of the image. But also, if you are a bit more nitpicky, you will see that it also leans toward the magenta side of the spectrum when we talk about warmth (remember warm does not only mean yellow, it can also go magenta or green).

That being said, this was not surprising at all, even more, because we overexposed it a bit and the Portra family films always lean a bit towards the magenta side when overexposing a little bit more than you should 😉



The grain is almost nonexistent (for real!), only in heavily underexposed shots you can notice it a bit, but if you expose it within the normal range, we doubt you will be ever bothered by it.

When zooming in, you’ll see it. So, of course, it’s there, but we find it’s adding texture rather than distracting your attention or making the image look “dirty”. We were truly surprised by it, and we believe the engineers at Kodak did a superb job with it.


Underexposed frame under artificial light

100% crop from a M scan (2400 x 2400 px)



After some testing, there is indeed a quality difference in the depth of color that Kodak Gold 200 120 has when we compare it side by side with the Kodak Portra 400 (the king the hill at the moment). Still, it is not something that everyone will notice and certainly not something required for every paid shoot.

Definitely, this film will be the go-to stock for everyone starting with 120 film. Still, we believe plenty of professional photographers will be squeezing its capabilities once it’s released and creating stunning images with it even though it’s not as flexible as our beloved Portra.



For this, we were able to shoot one of our test rolls with @paeulini! We tested the film under overcast conditions in Switzerland to see how it would respond, and the results were very interesting.

The Gold 120 has a much better ability to blend different skin tones in the same frame if we compare it to the 35mm, where everything looks flatter. What it’s true is that, again, it leans towards a gold-ish/amber tonality in the skin tone, even with an overcast light situation where the light temperature is usually colder. Is that good or bad? Well, it’s up to you to decide!

We are eager to see how our friends at the Carmencita Drop Points in Dubai and Japan shoot it with all kinds of different skin tones 🙂


Kodak Gold 120 200 Test Paeulini



Oh boy, we wish we could have an answer to it! But unfortunately, at the time of writing this, we don’t know what the final price will be yet, but more affordable than Portra.

If we assume there will be a similar price relationship, as we see in 35mm, between Gold 200 and Portra 400 (~60%); at the time of writing this, the Kodak Gold 200 120 prices should be around ~6,90€ (plus tax), which is fantastic news for all the film community in our humble opinion. Fingers crossed!




The Kodak Gold 200 in medium format is filling a gap that has been open for years, a non professional color option for everyone that wants to shot 120 film and is on a budget. We’ve always said in our workshops, if you are thinking about shooting film and you are already happy with your results with a DSLR, go to medium format to really experience the magic of it. Now, more than ever!

This is a film that stands on it’s reputation and will make many smile, both professionals and amateurs. Color-wise it has some limitations obviously and if you are shooting under very demanding light situations, Portra will still be king; but for the rest, we Gold 200 will deliver you great results and we are sure it will bring back medium format cameras in popularity (and helping our pockets too!)


NOTES: All shots were taken with a Hasselblad 503cx, exposed between ISO 125~200 in natural light and golden hour.



Frontier vs Noritsu: Round 2 (5 years later)

One of the most commonly asked questions we get at our lab is: what is the difference between the Noritsu scanner and the Frontier scanner? Which one is better? Which one is right for me?

In order to properly answer this often asked question, we thought we would dedicate a blog post to it. Because as you’ll discover, the two scanners are not entirely the same and offer slightly different and subtle benefits; consequently the end results will vary. This is important to understand because the scanner you select for your film scans will depend on the end result you are looking to achieve.

Here at Carmencita Film Lab, we use both the Noritsu HS-1800 scanner and the Fuji Frontier SP3000 scanner to digitize your film work. Both of these scanners can achieve amazing results, but the decision as to which one to use on your film scans will largely depend on your personal preference.

If you are just starting out and aren’t sure of which scanner to choose, just let us know and we can help you decide! Or if choosing a scanner seems overwhelming, just let us know and we will use our experience to decide for you.


Fuji Frontier SP3000

  • Overall cooler tones with cyan and blue shadows
  • Black point is very rich (there tends to be a bluer black in the black shadow areas)
  • Skin tones are more golden
  • Colors are more vivid, punchy, or saturated
  • Black and white film scans can lose shadow detail
  • The grain is always smooth and clean due it’s grain suppression algorithm

Noritsu HS-1800

  • Higher resolution than the Frontier available
  • Overall color is warmer tones yet more flat
  • Black point is more muted and can deviate to greenish on underexposed images
  • Skin tones are more peach or pink toned
  • Colors are softer and lighter
  • Black and white film scans are more neutral and flexible
  • The grain is sharper and more noticeable on higher ISO emulsions


To illustrate some of the differences between the two scanners, we have some side-by-side comparison shots.

All the images we kindly provided by Jan Scholz (Micmojo) shot during a trip to the Canary Islands. If don’t know his portrait work, we highly recommend taking a deep dive into his online portfolio!


Comparisons are awful, we all know it (and that’s why we love them), so take this with a grain of salt and do not overthink it, because at the end film is to be enjoyed out in the field and not burning your eyelashes behind a screen.

If you go back and forth between the images you will see how the color spectrum changes dramatically.


On one hand, the Frontier is always more colorful, with a feeling of “clarity”, colored shadows and local contrast that makes the image stand out, the colors dance and your eyes spark. It’s a Hollywood blockbuster with Dolby surround.

On the other hand, we think about the Noritsu as that independent french movie from the late 60’s, with long silences and subtle changes in long uncut shots. It shows you a less processed version of the emulsion, a more flat and raw; less eye-candy image. You might not be convinced at first but it wants you to dive a bit deeper into it and let it sit for a while. Tonal transitions are everywhere and the colors are blended together creating a consistent image that your eye wants to explore.


It would be terrible, unfair, completely biased and probably politically incorrect to frame or reduce the complexity of each scanner to one word but well, we will do it.


Frontier will make your life happier


Nortisu will make your life more interesting


That’s it, we said it, you can now cancel us, retweet about it and have the CEO’s of both companies call us to court


Of course what we just said is an absolutely bold and simple definition for both, it’s never black or white (unless you are shooting Kodak Technical Pan 25), there are are way to make the Frontier look soft and the Noritsu go punchy and vivid, but in general it’s not the way these scanners have been designed.

We did a first article a few years back of New Scan Option with the Noritsu HS-1800 comparing the 2 scanners but with no extensive knowledge about the Nortisu, we thought the Noritsu had to look like the Frontier and we worked towards that direction, but that’s like pretending your cat to behave like your dog. That’s why, after 5 years of experience with it we decided it was time to make a new update, explaining the complexity and possibilities of both scanners 🙂


Deciding on which scanner is best for your film scans is entirely up to you. If you are uncertain of which scanner you prefer, we encourage you to have a roll scanned on both the Frontier and the Noritsu to see which result suits your preference best.



Shooting color negative?

The Frontier scanner tends to be more frequently used for wedding and portrait work. The Frontier produces the types of colors and tones that most people who shoot color film are looking for. The overall tone tends to be more neutral, but the colors are punchy and vibrant. Frontier-scanned images tend to look like colorful dreams and consequently, images from the Frontier tend to be described as “ethereal and dreamy” for this very reason. The contrast is also rich, deep, vibrant, and even energetic. Blacks have a living inky quality to them that can’t be described as “just black”; the blacks are more than just blacks.

The overall image output from the Frontier is a characteristic color palette that you would expect from Fuji: clean, bold, bright, with sparkling colors.

The tones from the Noritsu scanner tend to be less “clean” in that they can have a tint towards the magenta or greens. Furthermore, the Noritsu tends to turn down the volume on the colors a bit more than the Frontier. Colors from the Noritsu can be softer and more muted than the Frontier.


Shooting black and white?

At Carmencita, all our black and white scans are run through the Noritsu scanner. The Noritsu allows us to get a more neutral image tonality to begin with. In difficult scenes where the details in the shadows need to be lifted or contrast overall to be reduced, we find that the Noritsu produces much nicer results. The Noritsu also offers much more control for shadows, highlights, auto contrast, and sharpening. The Frontier scanner was really designed to scan color negative, not black and white film or slide film due to its natural contrast curves. If your lab does scan black and white film on a Frontier, watch out for those deep shadows; you might be able to spot detail on the negative that is not present on the scan!



Shooting slide?

We will recommend Noritsu, every time. The Frontier can be capable of achieving acceptable results with slide film, but it takes significantly more work to get there and the scene must be well lit and well exposed, to begin with. The light sources between the Frontier and the Noritsu are different in intensity, however, the Noritsu manages to produce more accurate end results, more efficiently and quickly. Also, with the Noritsu, you will be able to appreciate the differences in the fine grain of slide film that would be lost with the grain reduction algorithms of the Frontier.


Printing large?

Overall, Noritsu scans will always produce better large prints than the Frontier. Here, size does matter, and the ability for the Noritsu to output 5000 by 7500 pixels for a 6×9 medium format image makes the difference.

That being said, don’t be disheartened by the resolution differences between these two scanners. Resolution, while important, is not everything, and there are many elements that contribute to whether or not your image will look good printed. We suggest reaching out to us if you need some large printing done. We are happy to help in this area! For most sizes below 50cm wide on the short edge, both scanners perform equally well. But when you want to go bigger, even though the current scaling algorithms from Photoshop do an amazing job, extra, extra-large size scanning in TIFF is something you might want to consider. 😉




With slight differences, both the Noritsu HS-1800 and the Fuji Frontier SP3000 produce great images. However, the view on which one is the best is up to you! Each scanner offers subtle and different interpretations of your film. Remember, there is no “real look of the film”; each image is produced through interpretations and only you can decide which suits your style and photography techniques best.

You may even find that you might need to switch it up and use different scanners for different subject matters or photography techniques! Either way the best way to find out which scanner is right for you is to try them both or contact us here at the lab to get some help on which scanner is right for you.


Have a question about scanners? Drop us a line at! Even if we haven’t developed or scanned your roll in our lab, we’ll help you out and answer your question.

We are here to help 🙂



NERDY BONUS: The Frontier incorporated a technology on its last model (SP-3000) called HyperTone. This was a game-changer since it introduced heavy software tone-mapping technology that enabled it to expand its dynamic range and make it virtually impossible to burn highlights. That technology sounds familiar? Well, it was the technology that enabled HDR in the late 2000’s and (yes, your iPhone uses the same technology too!). This as always has its ups and downs, but you can see that the Frontier typically “paints” the image much more than the Noritsu does.

The Noritsu can enable some tone-mapping on the luminosity channel to save some hard contrast situations but is not as heavy as in the Frontier. That is the main key difference for us that creates lovers and haters of the scanner at par. Pay attention to both images and go back and forth, you will start to see the rabbit in the hat 😉


You might also enjoy:

Technical Side by Side Scanner Comparison

Frontier vs Noritsu Original post (2016)


Wordsmith for Carmencita and coffee connoisseur.
I like experimenting with film, reading about film, learning about film, talking about film, and writing about film.
My idea of fun is spending an afternoon making double exposures. I believe in kindness; throw that stuff around like confetti.

Michelle Mock, Photographer and Copywriter


Everything You Need to Know About Refrigerating and Freezing Film

Since the recent news of the discontinuation of some films beloved by our clients (we’re looking at you Fuji400H), we’ve been getting more questions about storing your film in the fridge or storing film freezer. Should I put my film in the fridge? Can I freeze my film? How long will my film last in the fridge? Are just some of the questions we received in the last weeks, so we thought we would dedicate a post to sharing everything you’ll need to know about refrigerating and freezing your film. Let’s get started!


We recommend striving to shoot fresh film when and where you can. By “fresh film,” we mean film that has been recently acquired and has not expired. The reason is that fresh film is at its peak for capturing and delivering the truest colour and the best possible results. Kodak Alaris Product Manager Tim Ryugo did a fascinating post about it recently:



When you’re not able to shoot fresh film, some things should be done to retain a film’s potential so that you’re not sacrificing too much quality, and that is to properly store your film in cold storage. Unprocessed film is a perishable product that can be damaged by high temperature and high humidity (but that being said, we recommend you check out our Understanding Film Flaws post to see how even damaged film can still make its own magic).


Consequently, putting your film into cold storage will increase the lifespan of your film and provide you with the best possible results, even if your rolls are a few years old.

*It may be worth noting: Color films are more seriously affected than black-and-white films because adverse conditions usually affect the emulsion layers to various degrees. So when your box of colour film arrives from Carmencita Film Lab, put it into cold storage if not using it immediately.




If you plan on using your film in less than 6 months, you should put your film in the fridge, right next to your milk and leftover gazpacho. In general, manufacturers recommend storing your emulsion at 8°C /46°F or lower.


The lower temperature will slow down film degradation, and the dry atmosphere in the fridge will protect film from humidity. That being said, refrigeration will not be able to reduce the effect of gamma radiation. Naturally occurring gamma radiation will increase the minimum density and can also increase the grain. Consequently, the higher the speed of your film that you have stored in your fridge, the more it will be affected than any lower speed films you have stashed.
















How long does film last in the fridge? Well, as we said, the cold will slow down film’s natural degradation. If we take 20ºC as the standard temperature and we store it around 5 ~ 8ºC / 40 ~ 46ºF, we are basically stretching the film’s expiration date by almost x2 times.

As a rule of thumb, if the film you just purchased expires 2 years from now,  if you put it in the fridge, it will maintain its fresh condition for at least 5 years.

That being said, films (exposed or unexposed) that have been properly refrigerated will retain the speed and contrast of the exposure conditions, but the overall minimum density and grain will continue to increase as time passes due to the natural ageing process.

* If you have a box in your fridge that you can dedicate to your film storage, the better!




If you plan on not using those films for the next 6 months, we recommend putting your film in a tightly sealed container or a ziplock bag and then putting it in the freezer (-18°C / 0°F or lower). The tightly sealed container should protect your film if you lose power and things turn into a lake in your freezer.

Putting your film in the freezer puts your film into a sort of hibernation. You can keep your film in the freezer for as long as you need; we’ve known clients who have left theirs in the freezer for 15 years, and it’s still good to use!




For both instances of cold storage for your film, you want to avoid humidity. Humidity will speed up film degradation; it’s basically film’s kryptonite. It can create dark spots on your 120 film, make your 35mm stick together in the canister, and make your film look expired even if it was fresh.

To protect against humidity, we recommend including a silica gel desiccant bag into the film storage container that will go in the freezer. We also recommend that you store your film unopened and in its original canister or its plastic wrap.




At some point, you will probably want to bring your precious rolls back to life, right? When taking your film out of the refrigerator, we recommend allowing it around 2 hours or more to adjust to room temperature before shooting it.


When taking your film out of the freezer, we are going to need to proceed with a little more caution:

  • Ideally: Take your film out of the freezer and let it sit in your fridge for the next 24 hours. That will guarantee the slowest and safest defreeze. After 24 hours in the fridge, take it out of the fridge and leave it out to adjust to room temperature for a couple of hours, and then you are good to go!
  • Less ideally: If you kind of need your film ASAP, we recommend taking it out about 6 hours or more to adjust to room temperature. This will defrost your film quickly, but the process will not be as gentle for the emulsion. Keep in mind: never heat your film to unfreeze it faster; your film is a marvellous piece of technology, not a bunch of frozen vegetables 😛


In both instances, we recommend that you leave your film in its canister until it has had the chance to adjust to room temperature. Doing so will prevent it from ending up covered in condensation. You can confirm your film is at room temperature by taking the film out of its canister and confirming that it’s not cold to the touch.






Lastly, we recommend shooting the whole roll, exposing it correctly as this fantastic post explains to you How Exposure Affects Film, and sending it off to your favourite lab, for example, Carmencita Film Lab, for development as soon as you can.


Left a film roll or a loaded camera in your car on a hot summer day? Chances are you will have some baked film after that. There are countless situations like this where life and accidents happen. But don’t let that stop you from shooting or developing those film rolls.


Essentially: don’t keep film in your camera for longer than necessary; your film will go bad if not developed. Leaving partially exposed film in your camera for a few weeks or months until the next time you shoot leaves room for your film to degrade due to atmospheric changes. Not only that, you’ll have to wait longer to see your results! And who has time for that? 😉

Have a question about cold storing your film? Drop us a line at! Even if we haven’t developed or scanned your roll in our lab, we’ll help you out and answer your question.

We are here to help 🙂



Wordsmith for Carmencita and coffee connoisseur.
I like experimenting with film, reading about film, learning about film, talking about film, and writing about film.
My idea of fun is spending an afternoon making double exposures.

I believe in kindness; throw that stuff around like confetti.

Michelle Mock, Photographer and Copywriter

An Orthochromatic Autumn

Still frame from the movie “The Lighthouse” by Robert Eggers

This was the date: 24.10.19. Ilford teased the net with the announcement of a brand new film that was about to be released, and “oh boy”, there was excitement to be had. If there is something the film photography industry is known for it is definitely the lack of good news.

We’ve seen a bit more of activity from Fujifilm this year, perhaps answering to the Kodak’s last year’s moves, although Ilford hasn’t been on the front page for a while, so it was easy for everyone to have high expectations.

Thursday arrived and so did the announcement: (drum roll…) Ortho Plus 80 was born! Hurray!! Hurray, Hurray?

(music stops, confetti is dead on the floor and film photographers are looking at each other like… is this it? are you sure?)

Yes, that’s it. Sorry folks.

Many don’t understand, many just gave up on expectations and many will probably give it a try. From my end, I will give it a try but, to be honest, this is something our “many” don’t really feel like even using. In the years I been head of the lab, I feel that the future of film photography runs in a very different direction (spoiler alert: young people).

With all due respect to the many professionals that worked behind Ilford Ortho Plus 80, this is not something that I feel is making film photography move much further from where it was yesterday, and that’s a real pity.

Okay, our expectations might have been too high, perhaps a 1600 ISO with an improved grain control on 35mm? A faster C41 based B&W film? XP3? Of course I’m no even mentioning color film, that’s like asking a pony for christmas (spoiler alert 2: color film is such an incredibly difficult thing to manufacture, not even talking about the R&D, it is very unlikely that anyone can go into that venture other than Kodak, Fujifilm or Elon Musk). We believed Ilford could perhaps turn water into wine, but I’m afraid we ended up with bitter kas.

*These are the only official sample images we have so far from Ortho Pan 80 in 120 film, shot by Matt Parry

A bit of perspective

I have to admit, often we get drown in our own bathtubs. We believe the whole world is made of those like us or near us, but more often than not it is otherwise. It is clear that film photography is living the second youth (and it will probably stay forever young) by making its cut into many people’s lifes again, specially in those who are not even professional photographers.

At the moment I’m writing this, Kodak is running short of stock because both an unexpected high demand plus a very conservative production set to sell out (remember chapter 11?). Also, they’ve reported hollywood is producing more and more films in actual film and this creates a shortedge in raw materials that affects everyone.

While, at the same time, we see many professional film photographers shifting into digital or a hybrid workflow, it’s not hard to deduce that what we actually see as a lab might be only the tip of the film iceberg of the XXIst century. I think it is important to take that into account if you are reading this.

So, what is an orthochromatic film?

Long story short, orthochromatic films are those not sensitive to light beyond the yellow specturm (basically oranges and reds, aka skin tones).


This is nothing new, in fact is something pretty old. There is one reason why 99% of B&W films are Panchromatic nowadays and it’s because they are simply better at rendering the world the way we see it. Back in the day there was a huge leap forward in film technology and companies made sure you were well aware of it. Think about all the P’s and Pan’s you see around: Fomapan, FP4, XP2, HP5, Pan F 50, Ilfopan, Tri-X Pan, 125PX, Technical Pan, etc… this is something that of course lost its commercial value when all films became panchromatic and that’s why Delta films or TMax or TriX don’t even care to mention it anymore, panchromatic quickly became the new black for black & white photography.

So, is orthpanchromatic film more sensitive to blue light? Big fat NOPE. Basically ortho films are less (or not at all) sensitive to red light, still wondering why they all have such low ISO values? Well there you have it, they need much more light to render anything because they ignore a big part of the light spectrum. On the graph above it’s clearly seen, note that “Silver Halide Emulsion” would reprersent the Wet Plate Collodion spectrum.

Digging a bit online you can find many interesting old school examples too.

So wait, is Ilford releasing a “handicaped emuslion” then? (I don’t think we even need the drum roll this time)

Ilford, I love you, but… Yes, it is.

And please don’t get me wrong, I am NOT suggesting that the world does not need another orthochromatic film. The more films the better, that is off the table.

However… is another orthochromatic film what film photography needs in 2019?
Not really sure about that.

Why orthochromatic then?

I’m not gonna make it extra long and click-bait-ish-y.

Why? Acros 100. Straight up.
It is no coincidence neither the year nor the season of the announcement matches the soon to be re-released Acros date.

This spring Fuji came around summoning Acros 100 from the dead after rising 30% of the pricing on all their film line up in February; a slap and a cuddle in a very short period of time.

Perhaps we could start by asking ourselves, why Acros 100 and not Neopan? In my opinion because it was the only orthopanchromatic available in the late years and it was the last film Fujifilm discontinued, two major advantages in my opinion that make it paved the ground for Acros to come back to life.

And now, Ilford comes into play with an true orthochromatic emulsion in a very like “who’s your dady” to B&W film shooters and we are all wtf. Let me clarify that when I mean “we all” I mean people I know and photographers that usually use film labs, which are often not hardcore B&W photographers by the way, I feel that is an important detail too.

Personally, this leads me to the question of how big the film photography market really is? Because I’m completely unaware of the demand for this kind of films and leads me to thinking that this is basically a move to stand up against Fujifilm.

I really really really would love to think there is an incredible amount of demand for ortho film and that’s why it’s being released, because the film photography world is already small enough to be kicking each other in the shinbone under the table.


“The Lighthouse” Still Frame



When doing some research about Orthochromatic film I found this interview in Kodak’s main website where the DP of the movie “The Lighthouse” talks about how they wanted this orthochromatic look from the very first days of film but since it’s not made anymore, the closest thing was Double-X with a Cyan filter on it.

This is a movie that is about to be released this October too and it might all be a beautiful coincidence. I think having a look at it you can also get an idea of what Ortho film will probably look like when it gets into our hands. I strongly recommend you to check the trailer:

What’s next?

What’s next, I believe, is that everyone who stocks Ilford films at their shops will order Ortho Plus 80 and see how it’s being sold, I honestly hope it does but my hand is not going into the fire for it.

What I wish happens next, for the sake of film photography, is that Fujifilm puts some skin on the table, and if there is beef, let’s have it. I hope Fujifilm brings back Neopan 1600 or something in the 400-800 ISO range and is able to get photographers excited again to bring film into new places. What a spring that would be…

Dreaming is still cheap. High speed C41 based B&W film?

NOTE: Let’s be honest, new color negative films are nowhere near to be born. 4 out of 5 films that have been newly relesed in the latest years have been black & white (and the 1 left is E6), so by now let’s focus our daydreaming into B&W emulsions. PMax3200 in 120?

I strongly believe film photography, specially color film photography, is something that we often take for granted, and honestly, we shouldn’t. Specially nowadays when it feels that any graduated student with a laptop and some code can create anything we want, for free and with an app. Being aware of the arduous complexity that takes place for color film to exist it is something necessary I believe. At least if you love film photography enough to be reading this.

It’s a Wrap

Am I excited about Ilford news? Yes.
Was this something I was expecting as someone who sees thousands of rolls being processed every month? I am afraid not.

Again, I really really hope that I will be eating my own words for supper soon, but right now I feel I should put them out there hoping that someone will care enough to read this and proof me wrong when this, strange and unexpected, orthochromatic autumn has passed.

Head of the lab since 2013 and currently managing the team, developing new projects and trying to bound the international film photography community. These are only my personal thoughts, you may or may not find them relevant, I believe there is nothing healthier than a good debate 🙂

– Albert Roig, Manager at the Lab

Kodak 400TX vs 400 T-Max

Our aim of being helpful and bring film photography education to everyone is deeply engraved in our DNA, we want to answer the question that we have heard countless times especially at the shop. “Which are the main differences between Kodak 400TX and Kodak 400T-Max?” Same 400 ISO sensitivity, almost identical packaging and similar name… And this is only on the external aspect that they are similar. This two film stocks has been produced with different purposes, in different periods and were designed around significantly different technologies.



Kodak 400TX


Kodak 400TX or Tri-X is without a doubt the most emblematic B&W film that Kodak has and we can say with some certainty, that is the most popular black and white film currently available. The fact that Kodak 400TX was brought back from the dead (we believe in the very same fashion used with Jon Snow) also helped to increase its fame. They were actually photographers that claimed its come back!



Leica M6 + Kodak 400TX by Georges Camprubi


Tri-X was released in 35mm and 120 formats in 1954 and became one of the most popular films used by photojournalists and amateurs. One of the main reason is simply, because how extremely versatile it is, being able to be used in a multitude of light situations. It’s a medium-contrast film, meaning that under soft light it will give you a bit extra punch and under a high contrast situation you will be able to rescue some detail from both highlights and shadows. That being said, if overexposed it’s gonna start getting more contrasty!


Contax 645 + Kodak 400TX by Christoph Zoubek


The TX is not “outstandingly” sharp, but neither it needs to be. Actually too much sharpness nowadays is associated with digital photography and we found that’s often a draw back on newer/sharper films like T-Max, basically it looks “too perfect”.


Now we are talking about its grain. Oh what a grain! Its cubic grain structure make it to most photographers the apple of their eyes. The feel of Kodak 400TX film grain could never be reproduced by any digital media. In 35mm format, its grain is very present, but also very pleasant. In 120 roll medium format, it’s significantly reduced but still keeping a unique flavour.




To summarize, 400TX is mean to cherish the analog character, that nostalgia that comes every time we see images from the golden years of Magnum photographers. The grain will feel very natural to your eye, it won’t be perfect, some blacks might be a bit too strong sometimes but who needs detail everywhere? Go out, make mistakes, shoot first and think afterwards, use your intuition and don’t ask too much questions, that’s for us what this film embodies : )



Contax 645 + Kodak 400TX by Harald Claessen


Kodak T-Max 400


Kodak T-Max 400 was originally launched in 1987 and was reformulated in 2007 to deliver even finer grain and higher sharpness. This film was created with the T-Grain emulsion technology that is based on the maximum use of the emulsion in the distribution of silver in the film in Tabular form. As we explained on the HP5 vs Delta 400 article, film stock that uses this technology (such as Delta, Acros, T-Max) have flat crystals instead of traditional films (like HP5, Tri-X, Rollei RPX) which emulsion is composed by round crystals. The flatness of the crystals and so on their better distribution permits more light absorption per quantity of silver within the emulsion. So the greater T-grain surface provides films that render sharper images and finer grain when compared to a conventional-grain film of the same sensitivity. And it’s because of that Kodak T-Max 400 is proclaimed as the sharpest and finest-grained 400 speed black and white film, offering photographers a level of clarity normally available from less speed film stocks. That’s the main reason for using this film by photographers that love this sharpy and clean look instead of the “grainy” classic look form 400TX or HP5+.


FujiGA645Zi + Kodak 400T-Max by Christian Strahl


Another point to stand out is it’s that, also because the T-Grain technology, T-Max  retains more details at the shadows and the highlights instead of 400TX that tends to get more from the midtones. That characteristic profers T-Max a great response when pushed during the development process so that the contrast will be manageable in high contrast situations and it will retain more information from the shadows. If you aren’t familiarized about the term push you can read about this process here.

Well, here is where newer technology come right in, we see that T-Max handles suprisingly well the overexposure, even at +4 stops! Not that is anything you will want to be doing BUT it tells you how much highlight detail it can retain. The underexposure it’s no miracle but actually Kodak advise the same developing time both 400ISO and 800ISO developing (which would be pushing +1 stop).



The transitions are usually much softer both due the grain and the dynamic range and when it comes to the latest, it clearly outstands it’s older brother TX. So in here, we can clearly understand why Kodak wanted to get rid of it, because on paper, TX is (don’t kill us) an “inferior” emulsion.


NikonF5 + Kodak 400T-Max by Carlos Blanchard


As we mentioned earlier, there is really no battle here, even Kodak advertises for it. “Sharpest film at 400 ISO”. Back in the day, sharpness was a big deal, specially for 35mm film and T-Max was the answer to a demand. If you think how film sales were counted by millions, if you could have a superior product that your rival on the shelves that could easily make a difference. So yes, T-Max outstands TX without a doubt.


From our perspective T-Max is for those who really aim at creating high quality pictures, for those who do not fancy grain too much and for those who are all about the smooth grey transitions. Or in the other hand for those who want/like/need fast speed B&W film and still want to use Kodak.


Hasselblad 503cw + Kodak 400T-Max by Jari Salo


In many ways T-Max is “better” (we feel we’re overusing “quotes” in this article) than the good old TX but with the rise of digital, for many, T-Max is too perfect and that’s not the reason why they shoot film. But also, funny enough, some use the lack of grain in T-Max to push it on 35mm up to 1600 as a default, thanks to greater grain control and shadow detail you will get a contrasty mood with this “soft” film if you crunch it’s ISO. We are still not sure if it’s meant for it but it’s not random that PMax3200 has the same name (except for the P, which many say stands for “Push”). Could we be talking that PMax3200 is the same film as 400 T-Max but with a different development time? Is this real life? We’re not putting our hand on the fire with it, but for sure they share much of the same technology.


Pentax A3 + Kodak 400 T-Max by Ana Lui


We brought all our knowledge to this table and now it’s your time to decide what do you do with it! (Please don’t unfollow us) At the end, as always, the choice is yours. We can’t stress this enough, even you see images online, read blogs or articles the best is to try for yourself, even develop by yourself! If you haven’t tried this two black and white films we mentioned here we deeply encourage you to do so and you will see which one suits better your style.


Still having questions about Kodak 400TX or Kodak 400T-Max or another black and white film? Do you completely disagree what we just said? Please let us know!


Drop us a line at and will gladly answer!

The Difference Between Rating and Metering

We originally started this blog to be helpful (and also to show off the incredible works of some of our clients and friends) and today, in this post, we’re hoping to clear up the difference between two very important words in the film world: metering and rating. We’ve heard and read about the confusion between these two words and considering that they’re essential to understanding and using film well, we felt it was our duty to make clear what the difference was between these two concepts that are often misused.


Each film is given an ISO which stands for ‘International Organization for Standardization.’ The ISO indicates the speed rating on a film (for example, for Fuji 400H the ISO/film speed rating is 400). This rating on the film is used to indicate the relative amount of light necessary to give a proper exposure to that given film. Now there are films available that range in speeds from ISO 25 to ISO 3200. But what is the difference between all these available ISOs on films, you ask?


Some film stock with different ISO.


We’ll happily tell you 🙂 A typical normal film (let’s say Ektar) will be rated at ISO 100, this ISO 100 rating indicates that it needs A LOT of light. So shoot that sucker in the brightest environment you can. Now a film that is rated at ISO 200 (like Kodak Gold) will give a proper exposure with only half the amount of light as compared with the ISO 100 film, like Ektar.

Shooting Kodak Gold with an ISO of 200, instead of Ektar with an ISO of 100, will enable you to shoot in lower light or with a smaller aperture or faster shutter speed. The same goes for Fuji 400H or Portra 400, you can shoot those ISO 400 speed films in even lower light.

Most ISO 400 films (and films with higher ISOs) are referred to as ‘fast’ films because they require less light to produce an image. So basically, the higher the ISO number the darker the environment it can be shot in.



BUT, if you’ve been shooting film for a sufficient amount of time, you may have heard or read some sneaky individuals who take Fuji 400 film and instead of shooting it at the box speed, or at the ISO, which would be 400; you’ve seen them shoot it at ISO 200. GASP! What are they doing you may ask?! Well these individuals are “rating” the speed of film at a different number other than the ISO on the box or on the film canister. And guess what? You can totally do that! Some films perform even better when you rate it differently than what is prescribed or recommended by the manufacturer. So when you take a 400 ISO film (like Fuji 400 or Portra 400) and “rate” or tell your camera you’re shooting 200 ISO film, you’re telling that film to slow exposure down and overexpose the film in your camera. And vice versa, if you’re shooting a film with a 400 ISO, but rating it at 800, you’re essentially telling your camera to go expose faster and underexpose the film. Rating simply means you are telling your camera (or your handheld light meter) what ISO you want your film shot at, whether it be the box speed or another ISO other than what the manufacturer recommends. This is one of the (many!) great things about film: film is very flexible in what you can do with it and how you can experiment with it. You can get many surprising results by simply experimenting and having fun with it!


“We can indicate in the camera that we have a different ISO than the one on the film to change the way we expose”



So now that you understand rating a film and how you can change the rating of a film’s ISO, let’s talk about metering. Metering is super helpful when you want to exercise more control with your film. There are two ways to meter: in your camera or with a handheld light meter. When you meter in camera you set the aperture, the shutter speed, and the ISO you want for the film you’re shooting. Then you look inside your camera, at the scene you are about to shoot, and see what your internal meter says. Sometimes the dial or the internal display in the viewfinder will tell you that you’re going to really overexpose or really underexpose your film and you can adjust your settings accordingly to correct that. It depends on the camera that you’re using, but most cameras, especially with older models, are a little more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants in that they’re just a suggestion or they give you more of a ballpark idea as to what you can do to correct any mistakes before you take your shot.


“On the left, when facing the camera and bulb out we are not overexposing at all. On the right we are metering for the light that comes bouncing from the floor which will enable us to have well exposed shadows”


With a handheld light meter you have the most absolute control you can over the results you can get with your film. The downside being that on top of carrying around a camera you also have to carry around a handheld light meter. However, with a handheld light meter you can input your settings and see what exactly you need to shoot your film at to get the results you want. What you are able to do varies from light meter to light meter, and some have more bells and whistles on them than others, but most will allow you to set a particular variable (whether it be the ISO, or the aperture, or the exposure setting) and tell you what you need to tweak to shoot with the result you want. So for instance, let’s say we want to shoot Fuji 400, but we want to rate it at 200, and we want our aperture to be set at 2.0 (because we also love that dreamy bokeh). So we can input those two settings on our handheld light meter (the desired ISO and the desired aperture) and then test the light to see what our exposure setting should be. If it’s in a very bright setting your exposure setting may be 500, or if it’s in an area with a little less light it might be 60. Alternatively, if we want to shoot the scene with a particular exposure setting we can set the variables (that being the desired exposure) and test the light to see what aperture and ISO we should shoot under the lighting conditions we are in. This is essentially metering: you are testing the light with the settings you have inputted into your camera or handheld light meter to see what are the best settings for the lighting conditions you are in.

Super simple right?! You can even change up what light you test for. As an example, if you are facing a scene you want to photograph, you can measure the light in the shadows of that scene or in the highlights of that scene. Measuring the different kinds of light in one scene will give you different results for the settings on your meter (whether it be in camera or on your handheld light meter). There are some photographers who shoot to expose for the shadows in their images, so they typically meter for the shadows. And on the flip side there are also some photographers who shoot to expose for the highlights in their images, so they meter for the brightest parts in the scenes they are about to photograph. And then there are some photographers who meter for the light somewhere in the middle to achieve a more balanced image. If you’re not sure what light you want to meter for, all you have to do is experiment! You’ll see what style suits you best and what reflects your vision best by metering the light in various ways.


“On the left we are metering at box speed of the film (EV 0), on the right we are overexposing about +1,5 stops (or EV 1,5). We take in count that we set up the meter at the same ISO that the film has.”


If it wasn’t clear before, film is flexible and loves to be rated in different ways and loves to be played with in different kinds of light. You can do so many things with film, all you have to do is shoot it, have fun with it, and see what results you love best!  

Have a question about rating or metering? Or maybe you just want to tell us how much you love us? Drop us a line at! We are here to help 🙂

The Science of Double Exposures (And How to Make Them!)

Things we love here at our lab: cameras, films, and surprises.
Surprises for us come in all shapes and forms; sometimes we get candy inside the boxes delivered to our lab and sometimes we get to feast our eyes on the best double exposures of all time. It’s really a toss up for us which one we like better, but double exposures pretty much win first place. That’s why we have decided to dedicate a post on the science of double exposures and (bonus!) how to make them. Maybe, if you haven’t tried to create your own double exposure, you’ll be inspired to try it yourself so that you (and all of us, here at the lab) can enjoy that magical moment of being surprised with what you create.

Double exposures (and multiple exposures for that matter) is essentially capturing two or more images on one single frame. What you are essentially doing is “layering” one image onto another by not allowing your camera to advance the film to the next frame. By taking a picture without advancing to the next frame, you’re essentially exposing the same frame more than once. If you have ever severely over (and we mean over) exposed your film then you know that you will blow out the highlights of your film because of the oversaturation of light onto the film. This can happen when you double expose your film but with a little planning and strategy you can create some mind blowing magic.




1.) You can shoot an entire roll as normal (one shot for each frame), and after the roll has been shot and wound up, you can then use a film leader retriever tool to pull the film out again, and reshoot that same film, known as double exposing it. This method is useful if you just want to experiment and see what you can create with very little planning and if you love being surprised. This method may be a little more fun for an unstructured personal event in which you don’t have any deliverables (i.e. a day at the beach with your friends, at the circus with your family, etc.)

2.) Or you can double expose one frame at a time (for example, put one roll in your camera, take two images; and then advance to the next frame, take another two images; advance to the next frame, maybe just take one image on this frame; and so forth). This second method is useful if you don’t want to have a whole roll of double exposures but want to plan and take just a few shots when the inspiration hits you. This is probably the best method to use if you’re being contracted by a client or company, as you can be a little more thoughtful and planned should the inspiration strike you.

If you’re going to attempt the last method of making a double exposure and exposing one frame at a time, there are two essential components for doing so: you will need to know how to stop your camera from advancing the film, and you’ll need to plan on what images you’ll capture and layer onto one another. These two things are necessary because if your camera doesn’t have the capability to stop advancing to the next frame, you won’t be able to do or create double exposures (you can google the make and model of your camera to find the manual online to see if it’s possible for you to create a double exposure). And if you don’t have an idea or a goal in mind as to what you’d like to capture you may be disappointed with the result (or very very pleasantly surprised!)



1.) Because you are exposing your film twice (or more times) you want to underexpose your shots. Earlier we mentioned that overexposing your film can lead to a loss of detail, so it would be best for you to underexpose by 1 or 2 stops for each shot that you take on the same frame. Having a light meter on hand to ensure you are underexposing by 1 or 2 stops will decrease your margin of error.

2.) When you take your first image, any highlighted parts (the white or light parts) from the first image will not capture or show anything after you take the second image. Your second image will only expose and be shown in the dark areas from your first image. For instance, if in your first shot, you take a picture of a black dot on a white page, the white has been completely exposed for on your film (it’s essentially been blown out). So when you take the second image, your second image will be seen only inside the circle of that black dot because the dark parts have not been overexposed like brightest parts of your first image have.



So once you’ve figured out how your camera makes double exposures it’s time to start creating them! There are a bunch of ways to plan, layer, and create double exposures. You can search the hashtag #filmdoubleexposure or #doubleexposurefilm on Instagram or check out Marcause’s project DUO:BSL which showcases some incredible double exposures for some insane ideas and inspiration! We’ll also give you two classic ways to make double exposures. Please keep in mind though, these are not hard fast or set-in-stone rules, use these only as a guide. When it comes to film, rules were made to be broken, so be inspired and break them!




This one is a classic and can be made edgy or romantic.

For the first image take a profile or straight on shot of your subject against a white or light wall, or back lit, making sure to underexpose your shot. Then think about what you would like to fill in your subject with when you take your second image. Maybe you could take a picture of flowers (those are easy to find on a wedding day), or a concrete structure, or a stack of guitars, or maybe even another shot of the person themself. Then take your second image, making sure again to underexpose your shot. The outline double exposure is great for adding depth.




This one can really set a scene and to us it always feels like it would make a good cover album photo. For the first image take a picture of your subject, could be a dog, or an object, or a human, or a couple of humans, anything, against a light background. Make sure to underexpose, ideally for this shot, by 2 stops. Then take a shot of the landscape, ideally your landscape would be a bit overcast to keep some detail in the sky, again we would recommend underexposing by 2 stops. This shot is a classic and always looks great.



1.) When photographing humans, the darker the clothing they wear the better.

2.) Always keep in mind your first shot when composing and taking the second shot (especially remember if you took it horizontally or vertically!)

3.) You can always use things in your environment or nearby patterns as the filler for your second image.

4.) Underexpose more in bright situations or environments.

5.) Experiment, embrace mistakes, and most of all have fun!


Got a question about double exposures on your film? Drop us a line at! We’re always happy to help!


Ilford HP5 vs. Ilford Delta 400

Since Carmencita’s birth in 2012 we have carefully handled, developed, and scanned many types of black and white films. We have learned the unique qualities that each type of black and white film possesses and how they can impact the emotion in a photograph. Black and white films can evoke the feeling of the scene, whether it be joy or sadness, the serenity or the drama, a happy timeless memory, or an evocative powerful moment. Whether it’s a portrait, a wedding, a landscape, sports, or a shot captured during your travels, black and white films capture the essence and emotion of the moment. As the legendary Canadian photojournalist, Ted Grant once said: “When you photograph people in color you photograph their clothes. When you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.” We feel that black and white photography gets to the heart of a scene and captures the emotion in it.

For this reason, we acknowledge the soft spot we have for Ilford. Founded in 1879, Ilford became a staple to the world of black and white films as we know it. It has a faithful following (of which we are apart of!) and has set a high standard for the film industry. Most people are aware of Delta 3200, but in this post we want to draw a little bit more attention towards Ilford’s other two offspring: Delta 400 and HP5. Delta 400 and HP5 are two films with the same ISO sensitivity but with vast differences between them. What precisely are those differences? We’re glad you ask 🙂



HP5 +


HP5 is a film with a great history behind it. It was born originally being called just HP but has evolved into what we know today as HP5. With a little more than 70 years of existence under its belt, HP5 has become the most shot black and white film in Europe and is one we see frequently in our lab! The full name of HP5 is Hypersensitive Panchromatic and its latest version was launched in 1989. Unique with its cubic grain and its wide latitude of exposure, it quickly became a favorite to those who were lovers of classical photography and its look.


Contax645 IlfordHP5 CarmencitaFilmLab TheresaPewal

Contax 645 +  Ilford HP5 by Theresa Pewal

Typical 400 ISO black and white films are pleasantly surprising due to their exposure of latitude and their ability to retain the information in the highlights and with HP5 that is no exception. We bracketed HP5, changing only the exposure settings, and we were delighted at how well HP5 plays! It retained the information and detail in the highlights, even at 4 stops overexposure! We found that it shines best, in regards to dynamic range, when it is overexposed by one stop. This 1 stop overexposure is the perfect mixture; there is a perfect balance between shadows and highlights. We did note that we still got acceptable results when exposed between -2 stops and +3 stops, thus, by our standards, we would consider this a very versatile film in various changing environments.*

*If you enjoy sitting in the control seat when it comes to the outcome of your images, HP5 might be your film. It’s an ideal film when it comes to choosing the level of contrast when self-developing and ideal when it comes to scanning. The power is really in your hands when it comes to shooting HP5; even more so because you’re already shooting analog 🙂


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Rolleiflex Automat RF111A + Ilford HP5 +3 stops by Oliver Sigloch


This is one of our favorite films when it comes to rating it at 800, 1600, and even 3200 ISO. When you rate like such, the images render with a bit more intense blacks and whites and with a good deal more grain. These results can really make the image pop! And while yes, this look does bring forth more grain, and a more cubic sort of grain at that (see image), and a loss of sharpness, we feel that this highlights the artistic taste of the image with the powerful tones of black and white.

Something that bears mentioning is that HP5 is very good if you realize you need to PULL it. If you’re not quite certain what we mean by “pull” you can read more about pulling your film here. If you shoot HP5 intending to shoot it at box speed (which is 400), but you realize you rated it at 100, no sweat. Allow HP5 to do the heavy lifting cause it’s got you covered. It can easily be developed for less time and be “pulled” to appear like it was rated at 400. Breathe. Now doing this will give HP5 a wider range of grays and the highlights will be richer than Bill Gates’ bank account when it comes to detail, so just bear that in mind. And if that bothers you, take a deep breath, cause, again, HP5 can do some more heavy lifting. We can work on the negative in post to adjust the contrast to your liking. This film because of its contrast is ideal for sunny and warm summer days. Take a peek at the bracketed HP5 images we provided; these were taken right off the scanner and you can easily imagine how much more can be tweaked to an image simply by adjusting the curve or adding more contrast in post. Using HP5 is an easy walk in the park (how’s that for a beautiful relationship?)


Leica M6 + Ilford HP5 +2 stops by RichardPreston


It’s worth noting, all HP5 tests were designed for an average 18% gray and developed with our favorite black and white chemicals, Ilford DDX, for a wider image contrast and a finer grain.

Summing up, HP5 gives a gritty, grainy intense atmosphere to your images and the characteristic high contrast and deep shadow rendition can sometime mean that some fine detail can lost in the emulsion.




Delta 400


You must be wondering, after everything we mentioned with HP5, why would we bother convincing you to consider getting involved with another black and white film? While…yes HP5 is the best film in the whole world and it is a relationship we would encourage you to try (if you haven’t already). Delta 400 is also the best film in the whole world and we would also encourage you to try it because…well, you know the saying “different strokes for different folks”? That saying applies here. It all depends on you, the artist. It depends on what film you feel captures your scene best, what you feel highlights the moment intrinsically, and what expresses your style masterfully. In that way each film is the best for each photographer that feels it is most powerful when used in their hands. That’s why, if you haven’t explored the world of black and white films, we encourage you to try the two we mention here in this post, so that you will see which one is the best in the whole world for YOU. Because as you use them, you’ll begin to see that your preference for black and white film is as personal to you as is your favorite cereal brand. And thanks to brands like Ilford and Kodak you can enjoy an extensive range of black and white films (Fujifilm: please feel free to feel excluded).


NikonFA IlfordDelta400 CarmencitaFilmLab VincentDauphin

Nikon FA + Ilford Delta 400 by Vincent Dauphin


Delta 400 was born into existence in 1990 and was reformulated in 1994 to meet the expectations of the most technical photographers who enjoy having the absolute maximum definition in their images. This is predominantly due to its Core-shell™ emulsion technology that is based on the maximum use of the emulsion in the distribution of silver in the film in Tabular form. Not quite sure what we’re talking about? Because a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s probably best for you to check out the Delta 400 images (see image). Delta 400 contains what’s known as T-grain film (Tabular grain), this is slightly modified from a conventional-grain film in the way the film’s silver content is dispersed. T-grain films (such as Delta, Acros, T-Max) have flat crystals whereas conventional-grain films (like HP5, Tri-X, Rollei RPX) have round crystals. The flatness of the crystals permits better light absorption per quantity of silver within the emulsion.

The theory of T-grain film is that it should provide sharper images and finer grain when compared to a conventional-grain film of the same sensitivity. And that is one of the strong arguments for using Delta 400. It is pretty sharp with moderate grain (grain size is at an FP4). Consequently, this would probably be an ideal film for those who love the details in their images.


Pentax67 IlfordDelta400 CarmencitaFilmLab MtejKmet

Pentax 67 + Ilford Delta 400 by Mtej Kmet


Another point to note is that this film is capable of displaying much clearer, crisper tones than that of other films with standard technology. Its sensitivity is more effective and capable of recording maximum information in both the highlights and shadows, provided, of course, that it is properly exposed. Thus if Delta 400 is exposed properly you can get clear images with better contrast.


Mamiya645 IlfordDelta400 CarmencitaFilmLab VeraVolkova

Mamiya 645 + Ilford Delta 400 by Vera Volkova


In our bracketed test shots of Delta 400 (see image) we observed very good results between -1 and +1 of exposure, resulting, in our opinion, a film with a rather low exposure latitude. Consequently, you would have to be more cautious when measuring and reading the light since you can lose detail in shadows and highlights. This means it would be ideal for you to have a light meter handy or very close by to take a careful reading of the light in the scene you want to capture. By taking a proper reading with a light meter you’ll obtain higher quality images because you’ll have a lower margin of error. Yes, that can sometimes be a hassle for those who don’t like to be burdened with a light meter, but everything comes at a price 😉



Ilford has highlighted this film for its ability to be rated between 200 and 3200, however in our opinion, HP5 is much more versatile. With Delta 400 we noted in the tests that more information was lost in the blacks and the highlights. As such we feel it is a film with a lower latitude and with more sensitivity to high contrast. It should be noted though that it does have a great response when pulled during the development process so that the contrast will be manageable in high contrast situations.

If you’re self-developing, we’ll also mention the best kind of developer to use that can process this type of T-grain, that being Ilford DDX. This developer was designed to maintain a good balance of general contrast that is most ideal for scanning and printing.

In short, Delta 400 has remarkable inky tones, great contrast, and maintains a consistent sharpness just so long as it is exposed properly.

Have questions about HP5, Delta 400, or black and white films? Our team will be happy to answer your query! Simply drop us a line at!

Understanding Film Flaws

Since our doors have been open here at Carmencita Film Lab we’ve seen nearly every mishap that can occur with film and the results of those film mishaps. Now sometimes these mishaps are intentional and sometimes they’re not. Either way, today we’re going to tackle some of the most common unlucky (or lucky, depending on if that was your goal) accidents that can occur when handling or shooting film and we’re also going to talk about the things you can do to avoid them.

You may have experienced one (or many) of these accidents and if you haven’t, we hope this post will help you avoid it. We split the issues into two sections based on whether the mishap occurred because of the camera or because of the film’s condition.



A light leak usually appears when the sealing of your camera is not working properly, consequently, traces of light will “sneak” into the film compartment. When your film in your camera is exposed to light that sneaks in, it will usually create fire-like patterns or uneven exposures across the frames. Light leaks can create a variety of different shapes or forms, so if you ever see anything strange on your images it’s very likely to be because of a light leak.

To avoid light leaks, we recommend checking to make sure that the foam that seals the back of your camera is in good shape. Typically, with time and age, the foam from cameras can become hard and deteriorate. If that’s the case, we definitely encourage you to replace it! Additionally, we recommend checking to see that your camera back closes evenly and that the shutter is functioning correctly. If it’s not, we would encourage you to get that fixed. But if that doesn’t solve the mystery of light leaks from appearing on your images, we recommend taking your camera to a camera specialist near you so they can take a quick look at it for you! 😉

*That being said like leaks can be very cool too if intentional! 

One of our favourite Instagram accounts actually features light leaks! You can check them out here:



If you notice that black dots or lines are appearing in your images, more than likely this means that there was or is dust inside your camera. Black dots or lines will appear in images when the camera contains dust or dirt that keeps film from being exposed.

To avoid dust or dirt from properly exposing your film, make sure that the film chamber of your camera is clean and that there aren’t any parts of your camera that are releasing particles inside the interior (old foam sealings, we’re lookin’ at you!)

*Important: If you see white dust on your scans then that’s a different story. White dust on your scans are a result of dust from the developing or scanning process. Basically the dust arrived after the image taking process. If you see this white dust, contact your lab and show them your images and they should be able to fix it.




Most of you are probably aware that the surface of film is sensitive and delicate. When you run the film through your camera you apply tension to it and if the surfaces that touch the film itself are not smooth, more than likely, this will lead to your film becoming scratched. Additionally, even dust, or sand, or any small solid particles that finds their way inside your camera can create a line that’s been scratched into the film which can be rather painful to remove.

When the scratches are perfectly straight, this means that they come from a mechanical movement inside the camera. And even if they look big on the screen or on your image, on the actual film negative itself, they are pretty small.

To avoid scratches on your frames, keep your camera clean and be vigilant to keep out any dust, dirt, sand, etcetera when switching film under dusty conditions or while outdoors. Although scratches can be fixed with today’s Photoshop tools, it’s better to be careful while out on the field 😉




Humidity is one of the biggest enemies of photographic equipment in general, but even more so when it comes to lenses or the film emulsion itself. In warm environments there tends to be a lot more humidity in the air and drastic temperature changes to your equipment can lead to condensation on the surface of your lens. Luckily, this is fairly uncommon, but over the course of time this can lead to the appearance of fungus inside the elements of your lens glass; this is even more likely to occur if they are stored for a long time.

You can detect fungus if you illuminate the lens from the back element and look through it from the top. If you see some organic shaped spots coming from the side of the lens it’s most likely fungus. Also if you see an uniform translucent layer it’s possible that water has condensed due to the humidity. When this happens, images will appear very soft and perhaps a bit blurred especially in backlit situations and in the highlights, where light gets extra diffused inside the affected elements of the lens.

To avoid fungus or humidity in your lens, keep them stored in dry places if you are not planning on using them for a while and watch out when shooting around the coast/lakes/seaside to keep the front of the glass on your lens from becoming foggy. If you see soft images when looking through your viewfinder, it’s best to unmount the lens and give it a quick check.



You might occasionally notice that a specific part of your image is unfocused or blurred. This will be hard to miss because the effect is so unusual and peculiar. This blurred part of your image typically occurs when the film is not laying perfectly flat when you take your photo (this is usually a failure of the pressure plate on the camera or the advancing mechanism is a bit loose). This effect is especially common with the Contax 645.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot that you can do upfront to avoid seeing this blurred effect on your images. On most cameras (that are not the Contax 645) you can check the pressure plate to ensure it’s doing its job; this should be sufficient. However with the Contax 645, you should check to make sure that the inserts are advancing correctly and that they aren’t letting the film go backwards. Because if the advancing wheel is a little loose you’ll eventually encounter this problem.




Most film cameras used today are far from new (#vintage!) and this means that it’s possible that not all of its mechanical parts are in the best shape. Specifically speaking, the shutters on older film cameras may have evidence of stress from usage. If there is a lot of wear and tear on your shutter, you will see evidence of uneven exposure on an image and maybe even parts of it being almost black. This occurs because the shutter is not moving evenly across the frame.

Unfortunately, there is little you can do to avoid this from happening to a camera. You can tell the shutter isn’t advancing properly because you’ll see evidence of black space or uneven exposures on your images when the shutter is working at its maximum speeds (ex. 1/1000th or 1/4000th of a sec.). If you start noticing this issue, take note that it will only get worse, so it’s best to take it to a camera repair shop or to a specialist so that they can replace the springs or the parts of the shutter that aren’t functioning properly.




Much like the wear and tear that can occur on shutters, other mechanical parts in a film camera can bend or crack with time and use. This can lead to irregular advancing on your film which will cause your images to overlap. This usually occurs if the indented wheels are damaged. Beware, there are some film cameras that are made of plastic or were built in the time of the old USSR that don’t have a very good reputation for lasting.

As soon as you notice your images overlapping, you can be certain that it will happen with every roll of film you shoot on that camera thereafter. So you might want to pay a visit to your favourite camera repair maestro and see if it’s worth fixing, cause sometimes the repair might be a bit pricey!

*This can also happen if the sprockets of your 35mm film are damaged, but if that does happen your friendly film lab will see it immediately and let you know.




Pretty much everything is scanned by x-rays prior to getting on a plane, that includes both check-in luggage and any carry-on baggage. Film is sensitive to radiation, however technology has advanced significantly and consequently the way that things are scanned today is not the same way they were scanned 20 years ago. In most European countries the x-rays used for carry-on baggage are much milder and usually safe for anything below 800 ISO film. However, the x-ray scanners used on large luggages are much stronger and much more aggressive. This is why we recommend that you DO NOT put your film (exposed or not) in your check-in luggage when you’re flying. Always keep it in your carry-on baggage!

If your film is exposed to excessive amounts of x-rays, you will notice wave-shaped marks repeatedly along the negative and the images will display a lot of grain, fog, muted colors and a loss in the detail of shadows. To get a bit of an idea of what it looks like check out this (old) Kodak article that illustrates it fairly well.

*If you still want to ensure your film is protected from x-rays you can purchase lead bags for your film, but be aware that you will be hand checked by airport security for sure!




Since film has a yielding surface it must be protected from many elements that could negatively influence the outcome of your images. In this instance, we’re specifically referring to drastic temperature changes that can cause condensation or moisture to occur onto the film surface, or your film coming into contact with any water or liquids. In order to achieve optimal results, film should not be in contact with any liquid or moisture until the moment of developing (unless you’re into experimenting, than go ahead!) The problem with any moisture or liquid that comes into contact with your film is that it will sit on your film for a significant period of time and alter the images. And in regard to 120 film, any moisture or water will damage the film and the backing paper it lays on.

It is generally recommended to keep film refrigerated if you’ll have it around for awhile, but be careful not to put it near the back of the fridge where water tends to condensate! Are you looking to preserve your film for longer than the average storage time? You can freeze it as well! The colder the film is, the less chemical ageing will occur to your film. But keep in mind that if you choose to freeze your film, you’ll need to wait about 1.5 hours after you take it out of the freezer before you can shoot it!


Therefore, we recommend that you:

1.Avoid long term storage at relative humidities of 60% or above. Such high humidities can damage the labels and paper back of 120 (from moisture and mold) and can rust the cans of 35mm. Also keep your film in its original packaging until you are ready to use the film.

2.Keep your film in the fridge. If you’ll use your film film stock within 3 months, temperatures of 13°C or less are appropriate. If your film stock will be kept longer than 3 months, freezing at -18° to -23°C is recommended. After any cold storage, be sure to allow your film to slowly adjust to the ambient temperature in which it will be used.

3.Do not keep film in your camera longer than necessary. Process your film as soon as possible after exposure, that will ensure the best possible quality for your images!




The silver halides that make film light-sensitive are modified by a chemical reaction when exposed to light or other forms of radiation. The sensitivity of the silver emulsion in film can degrade or “rust” over time. When it degrades, it will decrease the regular ISO value that the film would have had, had it not expired. For example, a film that was originally 400ISO but is expired by over 5-6 years, would be around 100-160ISO. On top of that, the decrease of ISO is also coupled with a decrease in contrast and saturation, and introduces possible color shifts and an increase of the grain in your film.

You can compensate for the age of the emulsion by overexposing your film in order to add more light to your images which will also add saturation and contrast. The result won’t ever be as good as if the emulsion didn’t expire but that’s just one of the magical qualities of film : ) Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise, expired film is perfectly usable! In fact, we’ve shot B&W film that expired in 1992 and it worked absolutely perfectly! Color is a bit trickier but the option is still there to experiment!



Hopefully this little guide has helped you understand a little better the flaws and mishaps that can sometimes occur to film. We believe that these intricacies are a part of the film process and can sometimes be harnessed as creative tools to make something really spectacular! But that’s not always the case and when these issues aren’t desired they can be a bit of a pain in the ass.

Got a question about a specific flaw or issue you found on your film? Drop us a line at! Even if we haven’t developed or scanned your roll in our lab, we might be able to help you find out what caused it and how to fix it.

We are here to help 🙂


IMG 8845

Polaroid Revival – The Impossible Project

The Impossible Project

Today, we’re going to talk about something that’s been on our radar for a while now; the Impossible Project! (now rebranded as Polaroid Originals after the merge of both companies) If you’ve not heard of it, the Impossible Project was founded in 2008 with one sole purpose; to keep Polaroid film alive. This came about when, in February 2008, Polaroid announced that it would stop making Polaroid instant film. This announcement would have meant the end of an era and the end for Polaroid instant film, as we know it. It’s been already 10 years now from that date and we are super proud for them, they made impossible very very possible, like buying the original company possible!

Polaroids Hector 6

Polaroids Hector 5



However, like every good story, Polaroid was saved thanks to a hero: Florian Kaps. He pulled together enough resources to buy Polaroid’s equipment and film stock, and because of his efforts Polaroid instant film is still in existence and used by many artists, creatives, and first time users today.


To magnify the importance we place on Polaroids, we actually set aside some time to catch up with THE Dr. Florian Kaps, the mastermind and superhero behind the project and ask him a few questions on the Impossible Project. While we know why we love Polaroid, we wanted to crawl into Florian’s mind and find out why he saved Polaroid and what was his motivation for doing something that seemed, well…rather impossible.


When we asked him about that moment when he decided to save Polaroid he said that “When I heard the announcement it suddenly became crystal clear that I needed to undertake everything to find an alternative and viable future for analog instant photography”. Something we and mainstream artists are grateful that he did.
But with every challenge, there’s always some obstacles, and we asked Florian what those obstacles were when he started the Impossible Project. He said that “One of the three biggest challenges in the project was: one, trying to get Polaroid to talk to me despite being brushed off; two, trying to stop the company from destroying any remaining instant film production machines; and three, sourcing all the investments in order to save and purchase those machines.” That sounds quite a challenge!


Polaroids Hector 3

Carmencita Polaroid 8


While the Impossible Project has successfully kept Polaroid from being eliminated from the analogue industry, we asked where Florian envisioned the project going five years from now. His biggest hope, he said, “Was that Polaroid will continue to spread the magic, unpredictability and uniqueness of analog instant photography in a world that is more and more dominated by masses of digital images.”

When we asked our final question, and that was what was his most valued image that he had taken on a Polaroid was, he said it was a self portrait. It was the first self portrait that he had ever tried to take of himself on a Polaroid camera and while it didn’t go as successfully as he had hoped, he still, to this day, cherishes it. So maybe we can credit Florian with the first Polaroid selfie? 😉


The Impossible Project was one of the biggest adventures Florian had ever embarked on and given another chance, he said he would do it all over again. He’s now currently working on another analogue adventure which you can follow along with him on at


In our experience

Carmencita Polaroid 6

Carmencita Polaroid 5


While we have no association or ties with the Impossible Project, we love, support, and have a (serious) obsession with film, and consequently, we’re a big fan of the project. That’s why we wanted to raise awareness of its existence and share its magic with you.


Many of us at the lab are Impossible film shooters ourselves and not that we love it cause we don’t have to develop it or scan it (which might be true) but because it is a completely different feeling and a ritual to do so. Here are some examples from polaroid we did and we managed to keep.

*One of the big issues with polaroids that nobody talks about, subjects often want to keep them and it’s hard to say no

IMPORTANT TIP: We personally experienced how important is to keep the polaroid away from the sunlight once they have been shoot, at least keep them in the dark for 20-30min after shooting them. Also they do not like cold temperatures, if shoot in cold enviorments put them in your pocket or in your jacket to make sure they develop evenly 🙂

Polaroids Hector 2

Polaroids Hector 4

Carmencita Polaroid 4

Polaroids Hector 1



Funny thing is during the making of this article one of the photographers that work at the lab got approached by Polaroid to do some testing for new emulsions and collections and it’s actually featured on their website, congrats Hector!


Also we feel specialy in love with B&W polaroids, perhaps because it’s a very timeless feeling or just that sometimes we want to disconnect from color. In our experience we find the colors from the 600 series more pleasing than the colors in the SX-70 series, although the camera is much much pleasing to use and a marble of XXth century designed by Eams.


Our Conclusion


Polaroids are a creative, fun, and carefree option for professionals and non-professional photographers alike. They’re ideal for those who are open to spontaneity and don’t mind not having complete control over the resulting outcome of their images. It’s perfect for those who are wanting to capture a memory more than an impeccably controlled image. So if you think of yourself as a photographer who likes consistency in their images or who likes to have complete control over the light, Polaroids might not be the ideal medium in those instances.


But if you’re looking for another medium that will empower you as the photographer and developer, will give you a little more unpredictability, will offer a little bit more excitement, and will give you vibrant results that will be ingrained in your memory forever; Polaroids are where it’s at.


It’s an instant film that gives you so much in so little time. All you have to do is press the shutter, see the burst of flash, hear the trademark Polaroid sound, see the photograph roll out, and watch as your memory develops right before your eyes.


Wanna shoot some Polaroid?

Check our little shop to grab some instant film!
Need a camera? Check out the new Polaroid OneStep-2!


*All images are courtesy of Paula Codoñer, Hector Pozuelo and Albert Roig

Leila Peterson ContaxT3 KodakPortra400

An Introduction to the Portra family

We love a good party and when we found out that the Portra line is about to celebrate its twentieth birthday next year (introduced in 1998!), we thought we would take the time to cover some ground (and after, perhaps raise a glass) when it comes to Kodak’s Portra line. Kodak Portra has put out a variety of film stocks from this line, some of which are discontinued, but three of which are now a staple to film photographers like those of us at Carmencita and yourself. We’re gonna cover some ground on those three that take the cake when it comes to Kodak’s Portra line: Portra 160, Portra 400, and Portra 800 ISO.




As most of you may know, the arch famous Kodak Portra is a family of daylight-balanced professional color negative film aimed to render the best skin tones possible in basically every light situation you can imagine, making them perfect for both portrait and social photography. These films are known to produce natural skin tones, ideal color, finer grain and are available in 35mm, 120 (medium format), and large format sheets. The Portra film lines are known for their their natural warmth (Portra 160 has red and brown undertones while Portra 400 has undertones of orange and yellow). This means that colors will be rendered differently than other films such as the well-known Fuji 400H. You can see the difference most perceptively in the greens. The greens in the Portra lines tend to be warmer, while the greens in Fuji 400H are a bit cooler. This, of course, depends on the light situation but it’s usually the rule of thumb.


Kodak made some noise a few years ago when it introduced a new version of the Portra 400 film which replaced the NC (“natural color”) and VC (“vivid color”) versions in late 2010. The new film incorporated a number of technological advances from the Kodak Vision line of motion pictures films and essentially blended the NC and VC versions together. The results of the new Portra 400 has generated quite a following, though perhaps reluctantly at first. Now it’s praised for its latitude and its Vision-3 technology. One of our favourite examples of the improvements to the Portra line is seen on Jonathan Canlas’ blog in which he shot Portra 400, rated it at 3200, and pushed it 3 stops in the developing. The results are spectacular and we encourage you to check it out so you can see just how flexible this film is in low light situations. The Portra line has not only made some incredible improvements in technology, but additionally the color palette has made this series popular for portraiture and editorial work.


Exposing Portra

Here are a few guidelines we use when shooting these stocks that we think expose (pun intended!) each one in their best light. (Tip: If you need more information on exposing, we highly recommend that you read (and see the results of some testing we’ve done) from a past post we’ve written on how exposure affects film. That post visually demonstrates the latitude of color film and should aid in understanding the important role exposure plays in shooting film.)

Portra 160

We’ve found with this stock the preference is split; those who have tried it either passionately love it or passionately hate it. However the general consensus tends to be that this is an excellent film stock for portraits. Skin tones (whether light skinned or dark skinned) are soft and natural looking and the grain of the film is extremely fine. However those of us here at Carmencita have found that the window is narrow on how much you can overexpose or underexpose it. If you expose it too much it lends to look much like Ektar, very bright, punchy, and with not so flattering skin tones. It also requires a well lit scene to shoot in. So if you’ve not tried this film stock and you see some sunny days in your forecast, we recommend picking some up to give it a try!


Theresa Pewal Portra 160

Kodak Portra 160 by Theresa Pewal

Porta 400

Ahhhhhhhh Portra 400. What is there not to love? This film stock is one of the most used and most comprehensive films on the market when it comes to changing light situations. It is shot by nearly everyone from established well-known film photographers to film photographers who are new to the scene. This film stock is a staple to your film stash and frankly, there is not a single thing to not love about this film stock. Portra 400 offers excellent colors; is fast enough for the vast majority of purposes; and is fine grained enough that the speed will rarely betray itself.

On top of all this, it’s fun, it’s easy, and not the least because the latitude for over and underexposure is remarkable. You can do everything with it. Overexposing this film stock by two stops looks amazing (bright and colorful) and under exposing it a stop also looks good (moody and contrasty). Keep in mind, if you expose Portra 400 more than two stops the film may be a little more yellow-ish than usual, so overexpose with care. This film stock also loves to be pushed. In fact, if you have to choose between using Portra 800 and Portra 400 in a setting we recommend using Portra 400, and pushing it if need be. It will just love it and in return we love it for it.


Leila Peterson ContaxT3 KodakPortra400

Kodak Portra 400 by Leila Peterson

Portra 800

If you find yourself in a sunny situation and you have Portra 800 on hand you won’t be disappointed. This film stock is divine if you overexpose it, even by 4 four stops! Out of this world divine, the colors tend to lean a bit towards Ektar (punchy and vibrant) but it is able to maintain incredible skin tones. However, if you underexpose it, it’s not very pretty at all. It quickly goes grainy and renders muddy colors. Even pushing it can’t save it entirely. It is essential to know that Portra 400 is based on Vision 3 technology, however Portra 800 is not, that’s why there are some major differences between how the two films handle underexposure.

Consequently, the  “ISO 800” marking is often misleading; while it certainly does the job at 800, we don’t think it performs best at that speed. In fact, we find that pushing Portra 400 one  stop usually gives more satisfying results than shooting Portra 800 at it’s box speed.


Christophe Boussamba KodakPortra800

Kodak Portra 800 Christophe Boussamba



Understanding when to push film is an incredible tool to have in your bag when you’re in low light situations or when you want a punchier look to your images. In our experience, Kodak’s Portra line handles pushing magnificently when shot in well-lit environments. So we’re going to break down the results of each when they’re pushed by your lab.

(You can read more about pushing film on a past post we’ve written a few years back.)


MaOrtiz Pentax67 KodakPortra400 pushed one

Kodak Portra 400 pushed +1 stop Ma Ortiz

Portra 160 and Portra 400

Both Portra 160 and Portra 400 are very pushable in a well-lit environment. Portra 160 rated at 320 and pushed one stop is pretty incredible. Portra 400 rated at 800 and pushed one stop is also equally great. For both, the results of pushing will increase the contrast on your images, bringing the highlights up and cutting detail on the blacks. It will appear brighter because of the contrast and brighter highlights, so if that’s the look you’re aiming for, perfect! But take into consideration that you won’t be able to go back to a low contrast look once it’s pushed. Also keep in mind there will be side effects of increased grain, color shifts in the shadows, and some general loss of details in the darkest parts of the image. A higher ISO isn’t for free 😉

Pushing can save the day with the caveat that you know what you are doing, however, if you don’t know what you are doing, the results of pushing are going to be less than desirable.  Have any questions or doubts about pushing? Feel free to call us up and ask! We are always willing to help answer your questions and help clear up any doubts!  

(Tip: if you’re in a low light situation and you only have Portra 400, rate it at 800 and ask your lab to push it one stop. While shooting keep in mind where the light is coming from and how your subject is lit, aim for the highlights and midtones and forget about the shadows.)


Garderes and Dohmen Contax645 KodakPortra160pushed1 CarmencitaFilmLab

Portra 160 pushed +1 stop by Garderes and Dohmen

Portra 800

Portra 800 was created for low light situations and it’s pretty handy for that. However it’s the only one of the Portra line that we think is the least pushable due to the technology behind it. As we mentioned earlier, we feel Portra 800 really shines best when it’s overexposed, however it still does the job rated at 1250 and pushed one stop.


Inside Linda 21

Kodak Portra 800 pushed 1stop Gema González

Color Palette


The color palettes for each one of the Portra lines do vary from stock to stock. But overall, the Portra line is known for having a little bit of a yellow-ish highlight with blue-ish shadow color crossover. In comparison to some of the stock from Fuji’s line, the Portra line is known for having better yellows, reds, and purples; whereas Fuji has better blues, oranges, and magentas. But in this section, we’ll easily break down each stock from the Portra line so you can see the difference for yourself.

Portra 160

Portra 160 is described as having a natural color palette with low saturation and low contrast. It has breathtaking color, sharpness, and very fine grain. It seems almost ideal for portraiture as it delivers accurate skin tones and consistent results when exposed correctly, whereas if you shoot with Ektar you may get tomato-like skin tones. Like most films, Portra 160 loves to be overexposed but not too much and if you underexpose it the shadows in this film may have a blue-ish influence.

Examples of Portra 160:



Portra 400

Portra 400 at box speed has a very natural and neutral look, but it can also look warm, bright, and saturated when it’s overexposed. This film also handles skin tones, as well as natural landscapes, beautifully and at a 400 ISO it’s super handy in changing lighting conditions. Portra 400 has a warmer palette, whereas Fuji 400H has a much cooler palette. Portra 400 tends to be more yellow and Fuji 400H leans towards a more green color and turns  its blues more turquoise. Again, there is a lot of urban tales about how each film looks at the end, and the truth is that nowadays if you add retouching to any film stock you can make it look very different than what it naturally does. So, does that mean you’ll never see a warm picture shot on Fuji? Nope, we just mean that the “warmth” might go a bit more towards the magenta tones than the yellow tones.


Examples of Portra 400:


Portra 800

Portra 800 has a higher saturation and it’s slightly grainier than its counterparts, but it kicks butt when it comes to tough lighting conditions and bright colors. The colors in Portra 800 have a wonderful intensity and the blacks are very rich. It is ideal in capturing vivid colors and renders skin tones so creamy that this film stock will just melt like butter on  your screen. Many photographers love this film stock, with its only downside being  the cost of it.

(Something to bear in mind, if you shoot Portra in 35mm there will be an increase in grain and a slight loss in the depth of color, but if you’re shooting medium format that doesn’t really matter.)

Examples of Portra 800:





We know we’ve covered a lot of ground in this post and if you’ve made it this far, high five the closest human near you! Hopefully the information we’ve provided will be useful to you and in case you can’t remember it all, here’s a nice little summary of each stock from Portra’s line:



Portra 160

  • Low saturation
  • Extremely fine grain
  • Medium contrast
  • Ideal for controlled lighting
  • Less flexible on exposure

Portra 400

  • Medium saturation
  • Fine grain
  • Medium contrast
  • Ideal for most lighting conditions
  • Very pushable

Portra 800

  • Higher saturation
  • Fine grain
  • Superb sharpness
  • A lot of room for overexposing
  • Ideal for vivid colors while keeping skin tones in place


As of yet, there isn’t a film we’ve met that we haven’t loved and Portra’s line is no different. Between Portra 160, Portra 400, and Portra 800 you have a variety of options for different looks and lighting conditions. Each film stock from Portra’s line is versatile, unique in its own way, and compliments each other. If you’ve not tried one (or any!) from the Portra line order one immediately and get to snapping and creating great images! You will not be disappointed by the experience and certainly not by the incredible images you create!

As a film photographer, we feel it’s good to know the ins and outs of your craft and the tools and techniques available to you. That being said, don’t get cray-cray, good light is worth it’s weight in gold (or in this case film) and it will render incredibly in almost all film stocks. This doesn’t mean that because you choose one film stock over another all your images will be great. It is highly dependent on the quality of light you have to work with.

That being said, we believe every film stock has its own unique personality and when that goes along with the feeling of your work, it’s becomes a perfect match!


The most important thing, as always is to keep shooting, keep playing, keep pushing the boundaries, and keep exploring! Everything that you know and experience will eventually translate and show itself in your own work and that will only make it more interesting for the ones seeing it = )



Ilford Project Kathleen Frank 12

Ilford XP2 Camera – Single Use B&W Love

Disposable cameras don’t get enough love, so we thought we would take a moment to shine our spotlight on one of our favourite disposable cameras: Ilford’s black and white single use cameras. Ilford currently has two versions of these in either of their C-41 Black & White film; the XP2 Super, or the true Black & White HP5 Plus. Both of which are ISO 400 films. These little guys also feature a built-in flash and can shoot up to 27 exposures. We recently decided to take our own little joyride on the XP2 and here are our thoughts on it!

For starters, we like the way this camera looks! Most single use cameras aren’t quite as snazzy or as retro as this little one, and we dig it! We are also head over heels in love with the weight (or lack thereof) of Ilford’s disposable XP2 camera. Typically when you’re shooting film on a regular film body set up (whether it be 35mm or medium format bodies), more than likely it’s going to have a little heft to it. But with a disposable you are allowed to forget that you’re even carrying a camera on you. It’s a carefree way of capturing beautiful memories in black and white 🙂


by Birgit Hart

The XP2 disposable camera uses a black and white film that can easily be developed using the standard C41 process. All this basically means is: you can have the film developed at any local camera shop or film lab that can develop ordinary color film. Cheaper developing, no dust and high dynamic range!

We tested this little guy in both indoor and outdoor light and what we found was that the XP2 film yields an amazing contrast and has an extremely wide exposure latitude making it suitable for a variety of lighting conditions. Some might say that this camera does better outdoors in bright light but we found that if you use the flash indoors we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how good the results can be indoors too! (pro tip: use the flash no matter what your lighting conditions are! You can’t go wrong using it and it will give your image an extra pop!)


by Joe Newmarch

We also did find that you will get a soft vignette on your film, which means the edges won’t be crisp, but, honestly we don’t think they need to be. This delightful result adds uniqueness and character to the image and coupled with black and white film just makes it timeless!

Our staff has unrestrainedly embraced this fun, portable, plastic wrapped, stuffed with black and white film, piece of joy and we simply can’t get enough of it! It’s a fun and different way to get into black and white photography. It’s also ideal for those who want to get into shooting film but are intimidated by the learning curve, or even for those who have forgotten about how fun film is!


by Kathleen Frank

In our experience, we can say without a doubt this is the perfect gift, both to give and to get. Got a friend going on a long trip and want to give them something meaningful? Throwing someone a birthday party? Got a friend that likes photography but never really takes pictures? Perhaps you want to capture the behind the scenes at your next workshop?

There’s no doubt the Ilford’s single use camera is an ideal way to capture those moments with a timeless black and white flavour.

We were terribly excited when Ilford announced these single use guys back in 2012, and we have to admit, little by little we came to love them. In fact, every time there is a event at the lab we have to bulk order them! Not to sell them, but to use them ourselves 🙂

It’s a nice throwback to the old family days, when single use cameras were queens and you had to wait a good week after coming back home to see any of your holiday memories. But more importantly, it’s our favourite way to carelessly capture the most ordinary memories in our lives, which, more often than not, are the most unique ones.


by Kathleen Frank

*Want more information like the specs of this single use camera like focal length, aperture, and more? Check it out on Ilford’s technical information here.



You can get yours in our little shop too!