Poundland processing

by: Robert E Smith
2016-01-13 00:23:23


Poundland processing

Hi all,

I have been experimenting with Agfa Vista 200 colour print film, currently sold in Poundland for, you guessed it, £1 a roll (24 exposures) and being a poor artist (cheapskate) I have been developing the stuff in Rodinal at a variety of concentrations, times and temperatures to see what results I can wring out of the stuff.

I've been playing at this now, on and off, for a few months and have come to the startling conclusion that this film and developer combination offers remarkably consistent results, almost regardless of development technique.

This is by no means an exhaustive test of image quality, 'sharpness' is something of a myth and as far as I am concerned image quality is a very subjective thing - to try to quantify it is a bit pointless. 

My primary goal was to simply see what is possible on the cheap within a few basic parameters

1. The film is shot at box speed (iso 200)

2. It is developed in what is commonly referred to as Rodinal. I use Fomadon R09 which is the same generic recipe.

3. The developed negatives are scanned using a Canoscan 9000f mkII at 4800 dpi with no corrective adjustments to boost contrast, sharpness, grain correction etc etc.

It should be noted that due to the thick, orangey - brown film base, the negatives are probably unsuitable for use in an enlarger, I have not tried to print the images using traditional Darkroom techniques - it may be possible, I don't know, but if anyone has tried, perhaps you could share your experience in the comment section below.

One consistency is a lack of contrast, the negatives appear routinely 'flat' and do need a certain amount of pumping up post process. One should perhaps think of them as a somewhat flat RAW file. But then again, any negative should be considered as an intermediate step in the imaging process as, regardless of technique, the finished image will always require some adjustment to exposure, contrast, spotting etc etc before printing.

For this experiment, I have used four very different 35mm cameras;

Minolta AF-S  'Point and shoot' fixed lens.

Praktica MTL 3 SLR fitted with Pentacon 50mm F1.8
Kiev 4a rangefinder fitted with Jupiter 9M 50mm f2
Canonet Rangefinder - fixed 40mm lens.

The film worked well in all of them and results were consistent to the cameras as one might expect. I have shot many rolls in a wide range of lighting conditions, I have not (as yet) pushed or pulled the film, nor have I tried long exposures or explored reciprocity failure.

Below are some of the results with relevant details, please note that all of the results are straight scans and with the exception of a watermark, there is NO post processing either at the scanning stage or afterwards.

Normally I would export the files into Lightroom for post adjustments, but for the purposes of this article it is fairer to compare the raw files.

Click on the image for a larger view.

Kiev 4a. Very foggy weather

Pre-soak 5mins at 28C

1:50 11 mins @ 28C
Random agitations totalling about a minute.

Kiev 4a 


1:50 - 30 mins semi stand @ 20C
(agitate first min, one agitation halfway, agitate last minute)

Minolta AF-s


1:100 -60 mins @20C 
Stand (agitation first minute)

Minolta AF-s


1:100 - 60mins @ 22C
Stand (agitation first minute)

Praktica MTL3 

Interior - window light (cloudy/bright)

1:50 20 mins @ 20C
Agitate first minute - One agitation every two mins.

Praktica MTL3 - Image by Andrea Smith.

Interior - window light (cloudy/bright)

1:25 - 11 mins @20C
Agitate first minute - One agitation every two mins.

Canonet. Broken cloud, low sun

Pre soak  5mins

1:100 60 mins @ 22C

Canonet. Bright, hazy sunshine

1:50 20mins @19C

Agitate first min, one agitation every five mins

As you can see, the results are pretty consistent regardless of development times, techniques and camera.
I see this as a very good thing, one can be very flexible and still be reasonably assured that results will remain constant and if it's not your idea of fun, it is an Ideal cheap film for testing cameras!

The Grain is consistently very fine -  a very close crop of the arch in the above image shows that it is almost non existent, it reminds me of Fuji Acros and has an almost digital appearance.

My conclusion.

This Poundland film has won a place in my affections, with some post processing it is possible to create some very pleasing images indeed, for the most part it needs a major boost to contrast, I like the tonality, but sharpness (whatever that is) can sometimes require a bit of a boost too, bearing in mind these are only 35mm negs on a flatbed scanner.

There is always a tendency to compare films to other films and Digital, which I feel is a bit like comparing Apples to Oranges, or MP3 files to vinyl - but remember that this stuff is available in the UK at £1 a roll - add some time and a few pence worth of developer and Fixer and, in my opinion at least, it becomes quite an attractive way to shoot film and produce Mono images with an authentic look, a graduated tonality and highlight rendition and rolloff which Digital sensors struggle to capture.

With a little post processing, I can get results which I find very pleasing indeed - or of course, you can process it C41 as nature intended and get some colour images!

This one is a straight scan with just a few minor tweaks in lightroom;

Kiev 4a. 1:50 11mins @28C. 
1 min agitation at start, 1 Min at finish.
Scanned to lightroom, adjustment in curves, dust and fluff removed, minimal vignette.

I hope that you have found this useful, please feel free to ask any questions or leave a comment. While it is copyrighted, you may share this blog if you wish, however please do not alter or use images or words in part or whole without proper acknowledgement

Thank you

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