Finally dialed in a process for cheap x-ray film! First not-terrible negative


TPF Noob!
May 9, 2013
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Iowa City, IA
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Not an exciting image. This is just the first thing I see out my front door. BUT this is shot 4x5 large format, with 1/4 of a piece of Fuji 8x10 half speed blue X-ray medical film, which is 8 cents' worth (normal 4x5 sheet costs between about $0.80 to $1.20 or so).

Process that finally worked here:

1) A safelight is okayyyyish, but it ended up a lot better to cut the film down to size in total darkness. I did this with a guillotine style paper cutter with tiny finishing nails hammered into it at the 5" mark near the top, and the 4" mark near the bottom, then used a piece of well-sanded plywood scrap to hold down the film right near the blade to make a clean, straight cut, 3 sheets at a time. Yields 12 4x5 sheets cut and loaded in about 20 minutes all told.

2) Exposed at 400 ISO, f/16 with a Symmar 150mm lens

3) Developed for 2 EV longer than the amount recommended for my ilford 100 film. This looks like it represents a 4 stop push process overall, but that's not really true. The X-ray film has emulsions on both sides, so it eats up about twice as much developer. This emulsion also seems to eat more in general than the ilford, which would make it come out to more like, roughly, a 2 stop push process overall. No pushing at all kept giving me really poor contrast.

4) While still wet after final washing, I slapped it onto a sheet of glass in the sink, pushed it back and forth a bit to release air bubbles on the back side, until it sticks really solidly. Then wiped off the emulsion on what was originally the back side in the holder with bleach on a sponge. The surface tension of the water stops bleach from reaching the back, no tape needed or anything.

5) Rinse all the bleach away then remove from glass, quickly rinse the other side to make sure no bleach.

6) Dry, sandwich between two also dry sheets of glass suspended on boards above a softbox, and photograph in one or more shots, depending on desired resolution. This was just a single shot, but I have also successfully tested using a 50mm with extension tubes and an upside down tripod and stitching software to get up to 12,000 x 9600 or so pixel images that are as sharp as digital per pixel. Could probably go further than that with really good technique in shooting etc.
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That is the normal price. $32 for 100 sheets of 8x10

In fact, the same company did have a super duper deal for $40 for 100 sheets of returned but unopened 24x30 film!! 3,600 shots total, coming to a price of just barely over a penny per 4x5 sheet.

However, it sounded too difficult to cut in the dark, by a lot. I have ordered a new and hopefully better safelight though, and if it doesn't fog, I may consider that offer.

I've been using ilford DDX and rapid fixer which are fairly expensive, though. For full cheapness, I need to try and switch to diafine or some really cheap powders or something. I am making my own stop bath with grocery store vinegar already which seems to cause absolutely no problems =P
I did that process in college which I can assure you was way before you were born - and so that goes. We'd cut the film, notch the upper right side to mark the emulsion and I think we used Diafine and there is another developer Solarol which is really designed for solarizing paper, but if I remember right, it worked great with this process. The thing we did discover is you can't hurt this much. If I were you, I'd visit all the newer dentists in town and get their chems and film because most have gone digital..
You have my interest, lovely tonal range and keep us abreast of your progress. Might even convince me to try this out whenever I get around to relearning how to develop film myself.
Not too shabbily done!! Eight cents? Wow, X-ray film is that cheap? Or did you get some kind of a super-duper, once-in-a-decade kinda' price on a batch of that film?

X-Ray film is cheep.
8x10 in. Fuji X-Ray Film for $0.00 in Fuji X-Ray Film - X-Ray Film - Analog X-Ray Supplies

Ive been wanting to order some and try it myself.

Another great thing about X-Ray Film is that you can actually use a safe light while developing and develop by sight.

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