Updated 120 ROLL FILM STATEMENT Posted On 14th March 2022 To News
In March 2020 we issued a statement in relation to instances of spots / mottle affecting a small percentage of 120 roll film negatives.
The quality of our products and the satisfaction of our customers is paramount and something the ILFORD name has been built on for over 140 years. Our R&D team were tasked with resolving this issue and so we would like to update you as to what they have been up to.
With your help we have been able to more accurately track and identify instances of spots / mottle on our 120 films. Your feedback (via www.ilfordphoto.com/product-feedback) has, and continues to be, a great help in enabling us to build a better understanding of the issue and, more importantly, has allowed us to put in place a range of corrective actions over the last two years.
Many of these actions focus on the handling of our 120 films as the problem often arose or was exacerbated by heat, humidity and film age. These have included additional production environment controls in manufacturing and advisories for our global distribution network for shipping and storage. We have also implemented a number of important changes to make the films more robust as well as refinements to our wrapper production coating and substrates.
All of these incremental changes were successfully phased into our operations with each requiring a period of in-depth testing.
We are pleased to say that as a result we have continued to see significant improvements in the stability of our 120 films in our extreme testing conditions and no detrimental impact on their performance or characteristics. We therefore expect the number of instances of spots/mottle to further reduce as the films continue to work their way through our worldwide supply chain.
It is worth noting that with all films, but in particular roll films, issues may occur due to extremes of humidity, heat and age. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to share the best ways to care for your films:
All of our films, regardless of format, should be stored below 20 oC / 68 oF as shown on the bottom of each box. It is important to avoid extreme high temperatures, humidity, or fluctuating temperatures.
All films have an expiry date which is printed on the bottom of each box at the time of manufacture. We recommend processing before that date and as soon as possible after shooting. Shooting expired or 2nd hand film always carries a much greater degree of risk.
Finally, we want to reiterate our gratitude for your ongoing support and patience, and continued trust in ILFORD products as we have worked through this issue. In particular, we would like to offer our sincere thanks to anyone who has contacted us using our feedback form - please continue to do so as this enables us to replace any impacted films.
Why have you waited until now to update us?
Each incremental change we make requires a series of extensive tests which attempt to recreate or replicate the issue. As the problem is rare and not specific to a film or batch, real world testing is not feasible. As such, each change undergoes multiple accelerated aging tests as well as exposure to extreme heat / humidity to try and ‘force’ the issue to appear as well as tests to ensure that the product and its characteristics are not impacted. Each test take time to prepare, conduct and analyse.
We started our investigation shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began here in the UK. At which point we had no idea the impact it would have on all of our lives or how we work. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, this has had a knock-on effect on our progress due to additional safety measures and working practices on site to protect our staff.
Does this affect all your films?
This issue is only relevant to 120 roll film and does not impact any of our 135 (35mm) or sheet film products.
The issue of spots / mottle on 120 film negatives is still rare and has primarily, but not exclusively, been seen in our slower speed films such as PAN F and FP4. The degree of the issue varies significantly and is also not linked to specific batches of film.
Again, while not exclusively, it also more prevalent in films close to or past their expiry date. We have also seen more cases in hotter / humid climates than colder ones.
Can I return my unused films?
We will continue to replace any films confirmed as impacted by this issue. Please continue to report these via our feedback form: www.ilfordphoto.com/product-feedback
Unfortunately, we cannot take unused films back once they have left our factory as we have no control over how they have been stored or treated subsequently.
Is the problem fixed?
Mottle on film, while very rare, can happen due to factors such as heat, humidity and age. Therefore there is a risk it could present itself in expired or poorly stored film, regardless of manufacturer.
The last 24 months has seen a higher than usual level of complaints which is far from acceptable to us and you, our customers.
We believe the combination of the changes we have been making over this period will counteract this and greatly reduce instances of mottle, particularly with proper care and storage of the film.
That said our feedback form will remain open and our investigation will continue as we constantly look for ways to improve all aspects of how we make our products. It is worth noting that any future changes we make to how products are manufactured would again be incrementally introduced and would have no impact on the way you use them or their performance.
Why are we seeing this issue now and not in previous years?
We have been producing 120 films for many years and are one of only a few manufacturers around the world that retain the capability to do so on a large-scale volume. 120 film is traditionally a more temperamental product to manufacture than its 35mm equivalent. Fundamentally it lacks the protection offered by the cassettes. And, unlike 35mm film it needs a paper backing which can ‘transact’ with the film if not properly cared for.
With that in mind we do not believe there is a specific event or change that has caused these occurrences of mottle. Instead, several factors could have contributed to this, both during the manufacture process but also where and how film is bought, sold, stored, and used.