Q.

In reviewing some 10-year-old movie film, I note that much of it is covered with some sort of crystal. On the screen it looks like snow flakes. Strangely, only portions of a 400-foot reel have this condition. What is causing this and is there a remedy?

A.

You're lucky the film didn't come apart in the projector. What you're seeing is probably fungus or mold. It can eat into the film, destroy the emulsion and even weaken the backing.

Buy some Kodak Movie Film Cleaner and a package of soft, lintless wipers at your camera store.

Load your projector directly from feed reel to take-up reel. Don't thread the film through the drive mechanism. Run the film from reel to reel holding it between the cleaner-soaked wiper.

Q.

As you know, the prints vs. slides debate rages in many families as it does in mine. I like to shoot print film but my wife loves slides.

Is there any standard 35mm film which enables both prints and slides to be produced from the same roll? Further, I would like to have it processed locally at a reasonable rate.

I have tried some of the two-way film and processing but with limited success.

A.

The battle continues between the proponents and opponents of the two-way film. I also find my success with this film limited.

I personally prefer to shoot print film. There are specific cases, particularly for publication, when only transparencies will do, so I'll then shoot slides.

You should be aware, however, that splendid slides can be made from color negatives. And, as I'm sure you know, prints from slides are very successful.

The problem is that prints from slides and slides from negatives are somewhat expensive.

The silver lining here is that the cost will make you pick your pictures carefully when you order.

Q.

Would you please define "push" and "pull" processing and offer some practical advice on when a photographer should shoot a roll of film with push or pull processing in mind. What are the advantages and risks, and do the risks vary with different types of film?

A.

Pushing film means developing it longer than the correct time in order to achieve a greater film speed. Example: You are shooting with ISO 100 film and your meter tells you that your exposure should be 1/60th at f2.8. If you decide that's too slow, and need to go to 1/125th or even 1/250th, you are setting up some push processing. In many cases, you can develop your film longer and get very printable negatives.

Pulling means that you don't develop your film as long as you should.

Example: If you suddenly discovered that you are overexposing (using too low an ISO or too slow an exposure), the film can be developed for a shorter period of time and, in most cases, saved.

There's almost never an advantage to either. Correct is best and need not be put aside now that there are so many film speeds available.

Q.

I am constantly confused about where to take film for quality processing. Kodak seems to do fairly consistently good work but charges extra for 4x6 prints. I sure would like to find an excellent lab that is not real expensive.

When we come back from vacation I usually have seven to 20 rolls to process and this gets expensive.

A.

The dream of all photographers: an excellent lab that is not real expensive. Let's all continue the search.

In the meantime, you should realize that there are lots of excellent labs out there that charge reasonable rates. Most of the time I feel strongly enough about my pictures to be willing to pay a reasonable price for processing.

In testing cameras and film I have found that processing prices and skill levels vary considerably. Generally, you find yourself paying a little more for quality workmanship and experience.

Most important, you have to like the people you deal with. They must handle things to your complete satisfaction. They should be willing to remake prints if necessary and help you get the most for your money.

One other thing: some places will give you a bulk discount. If you take in seven to 20 rolls, be sure that you negotiate for a lower cost.

Some weeks ago, when shipping a small package, I bought a roll of plastic sheeting with those little plastic bubbles. I wrap my camera body and lenses in this material and they don't bounce around in my bag. The roll cost $3 and should last a long time.

Carl Kramer deals with questions of general interest but cannot respond individually. Address him c/o Weekend, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington DC 20071.