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Under/Over Development in Film Photography

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It’s something we all accidentally do when we develop our films, or, we do it for a reason. I don’t purposely Over or Under develop my films unless I am pushing or pulling in which case I will allow compensation in camera. I always try to hit the correct development times for my exposures in camera.

I decided to experiment and see what happens for my own eyes if I over developed for 2 minutes and under developed for 2 minutes.

For this I used Silberra 54UN 100 speed film. Which is basically ORWO UN54 100 film! But enough of rebrands. In fact, I love this film and if it wasn’t for me grabbing a roll of Silberra 54UN a few years back I would never have discovered ORWO. So thanks Silberra! Great rebrand and public awareness.

I took a simple scene in my darkroom consisting of a Buddha and a Camera. I has whites, blacks and mids in the scene and I burst it with hard LED light.

I took three photographs using the Olympus OM20 and developed each negative in separate film canisters all at the simultaneously.

I used Ilford ID-11 at 1:1 20°. The rated time for this film at that dilution was 7 minutes. But as I wanted to develop one film over and one under I set my timer for 9 minutes.


After 5 minutes, in complete darkness, I puled canister 1 out and then stop and fixed it. I did the same for canister 2 but at 7 Minutes (correct time) and canister 3 at 9 minutes.

I made a contact print and then made 5×7 enlargements.

For the enlargements I took the correctly developed negative, made a test strip and then made my print, which was 2 seconds under the enlarger. I then took the other two negatives and did exactly the same for the same time. There was no point in making individual test strips for each negative. I needed to see the difference.

Here are the final results taken from a DSLR of the original prints. You can make your own conclusions.

As for the Under and Over negs I could have easily got my tones back with some filters under the enlarger and maybe some dodging and burning. Especially the over developed print. I feel that would have ended up being punchy.

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