The Problem of Scala.

I wanted to hate these files–I really did.

(…At least be underwhelmed by them, if possible).

Truth be told, they are a massive pain.

For starters, you really can’t push Scala–It is ISO 160, and that’s the way it is.

I suppose once could tweak the first development time, but given the cost, effort, and risk involved, I’m not sure I would want to–So ISO 160 is what it shall be.

Second, Scala is rare and expensive, and the chemicals hard to come by.  You can develop it in regular B&W chemistry (doing with it whatever you wish, I suppose…) but then it is just “regular ‘ole black-and-white film” and you lose the benefits of the additional silver density.

Third, development is a massive pain-in-the-rear.

The chemicals have to be mixed up immediately beforehand (five different compounds…) and do not keep.  One Foma R100 kit will do EIGHT rolls.  Period.  (And don’t even think about trying to do more than one roll at once).  Furthermore, development has to be done at precisely 20 degrees centigrade, and the times themselves are just. painful.

All told, the whole process takes upwards of 45 minutes, including washes.  Halfway through, you actually have to take the roll out, re-expose it to light in a predefined way, place it back in the tank, and continue the process.  Water spots are a big issue (it must have something to do with the way the film dries…) so extra care must be taken.  Finally, the chemicals have to be massively diluted for safe disposal.

Fourth; scanning is a big pain.  Don’t bother with a Pakon or a Noritsu–most don’t have a “B&W Transparency” option, and it is often difficult to deactivate the intrinsic digital ICE function which usually comes along with slide film scanning.  It is manual all the way here, and one should be prepared to fiddle with exposure, and multiple passes.

Finally, the main problem with Scala…

…is that afterwards, you are probably not going to want to shoot anything else.

Suddenly…there is just Agfa Scala, and pretty much every other B&W film.

So with one roll down, one eaten by the dog (please don’t ask) and six to go; Suddenly every 50-cent press of the shutter becomes something to think that much more about.

So it’s simple really:

Don’t shoot it.


(Or if you do, at least know that you really don’t have to do that much with it in post…)

4 thoughts on “The Problem of Scala.

  1. Karim D. Ghantous (@kdghantous) says:

    Some very nice shots here. That first shot of Baby J with her helmet – oh boy!

    I do wish that b&w transparency film was easier. But I guess you can do interpositives instead. Maybe give that a try sometime? Slightly tricky but probably much less so than these photochemical acrobatics.

    • mewanchuk says:

      Thanks Karim…though I do feel I need to correct you somewhat:

      These shots are ALL. AWESOME.


      (kidding, kidding…)

      I’ve not heard of this “interpositives” thing…I’ll have to look into it.


      EDIT: It sounds like a logistical nightmare. I’M OUT!!!!!

  2. Felix says:

    Joy comes with a price, as they say. But the pictures are all great, so the hassle seems to be worth it. Thank you for these nice images! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.