The Soviet-era Mikrat 300 form 1974 isn’t the oldest film I’ve ever shot (by far), but it’s one of my favorites. I got a 300′ roll of it for hand-rolling and it’s quite a bit different than the Mikrat I’ve shot before.
In the past, the Mikrat I’ve shot was from 1983 and 1985. This stuff is a decade older and it’s really showing its age. I don’t have buyer’s remorse, but I need to retool how I shoot it.
Mikrat has latitude in some conditions, but in others each stop seems to drastically effect it. I recently tested a roll to sort it all out, but I don’t think I’ve arrived at any answers. Let’s take a look.
Note: All photos were taken with a Ricoh KR-10, and developed in Rodinal 1+100 stand for 1 hour with very minimal agitation.
Starting with 100iso
Both shots, as you can see, are far too dark. At 100iso, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve shot Mikrat at 6 to 25iso in the past. But it’s fun to see what you can do with it, even at 100iso. You’ll also notice how damaged and old the film is.
Let’s dip down to 50iso
The top photo shows more shadow details than the 100iso shot, but is still far too dark.
The bottom shot, however, looks pretty good. You lack a bit of shadow detail, but not nearly as much as the top photo. I’d almost be ready to say that this film can handle 50iso without any problem at all. Indoors that seems to be the case. But just wait.
And now 25iso!
Much better! You can fully see that there are bricks on the left and the sidewalk has a bit of texture. Still, 25iso is a bit dark.
Okay, I realize this is a horrible test shot. It tells you nothing except that 25iso works. Sorry about that.
Now we have a lot more shadow detail, but we’re sacrificing the lighter details, nearly blowing out the right-middle of the shot.
Back inside, my Tolkien collection is a bit too light. Nothing is blown out, but the darks aren’t dark enough. Still, it’s very usable.
Okay, so a bit of explanation is needed. Though this looks less blown out than the 12iso shot, there’s a weird haze to it. This is because it’s old film. Looking at other shots (not posted), it seems to have been slightly exposed to light. This is impossible(ish), as I was the first one to open the can. While there’s always a possibility that I accidentally exposed it to a tiny bit of light (perhaps through the bulkloader), I don’t think so. I tested some direct from the can, and there’s still a bit of edge exposure. It could be something from the factory – I’ve seen it before with Svema film.
Back inside, we have a really good looking photo with quite a bit of detail and no blow outs.
Way too much light. It’s just ugly.
But inside, it seems to be okay. Maybe a tiny bit of blow out in the mirror (which was showing the door to the outside), but no huge deal.
Super awesome conclusion
So what does all this tell me? Well, the outside shots were taken on a really sunny day. This means a lot of contrast, which doesn’t translate super well on this film, especially with stand development. That latitude was super tight – 12 to 25iso (just two stops) being ideal.
But inside, where there’s much less contrast, the latitude was amazing. From 3 to 50iso (that’s seven freakin’ stops), I got very usable photos.
So I think I should shoot this at 25iso, keeping the drastic differences in latitude in mind, as well as the age of the film.
While stand development is incredibly handy, it’s not ideal. You usually get your best shots from a proper development time (usually, usually). My next job is to figure this out, hopefully for HC-110, as it’s a great developer for old films. I have no idea where to begin, but now that I’ve got my preferred iso, I can at least try something. Maybe start with 10 minutes and see how it looks. But that’ll come someday. I’d also like to try this using HC-110 at a stand developer. I’ve done it in the past, just not with this batch of old Mikrat 300.
Thanks for following along! Any thoughts?