Speckled film - why?

Hi there,
I’m getting these odd speckles on XP2. Good in-date film, processed at local lab. It’s certainly not dust, you can see little speckles in the negative itself. Not getting picked up by infrared dust reduction either.

Any ideas?

The speckles look like leftovers from processing. If the film has not been washed and dried properly, such speckles can remain and should be seen on the film surface. They probably show more easily on the side without emulsion.

I agree with Digitizer – the speckles are likely the result of processing. I’ve seen similar spotting in conventional (non-C41) black and white film that was inadequately fixed. Under normal circumstances (i.e., fresh or mildly used fixer), the fixer will still have a lot of dissolving power such that when you fix the film, the fixer is able to completely dissolve all the unexposed silver halide in the emulsion and carry it away when you dump the fixer. The post-fix water wash then completely removes any remaining fixer from the film. With fixer that’s close to being exhausted, however, it doesn’t have enough solubilizing power left to dissolve the unexposed silver halide and carry it away when you dump the fixer. Hence, when you perform the water wash, you end up with clumps of retained silver halide left behind in the emulsion (which the wash water won’t be able to solve on its own).

The “tell” in your case is that the speckles appear white in the inverted negative, which implies that they’re dark/black/opaque on the film, which is how we’d expect silver halide clumps to appear. One could argue that residue from a wetting agent (Photoflo) might do the same, but in your case the speckles are evenly distributed throughout the entire image, which suggests they’re more intrinsic to the film (i.e., in the emulsion) as opposed to being merely a surface phenomenon . Again, this is consistent with what I’ve seen in the past with regard to inadequately fixed B&W negatives.

You mentioned these were lab-processed negatives, so I’m guessing you probably don’t have any C41 chemicals on-hand. If you do your own black and white film processing at home and have a conventional fixer, you can refix the negatives to see if that solves the problem. Conventional black and white fixer (e.g., Ilford Rapid Fixer, Photographer’s Formulary TF-4 or TF-5, etc.) is nearly identical to C41 fixer and shouldn’t harm your film. To be on the safe side, you might consider refixing just one short strip of film first to see how that goes. Two minutes in the fixer should be adequate, followed by five minutes of running water to wash away the fixer.

How was the film handled before it was processed? I got something like this on a roll of 120 film which had been subjected to exceptionally high humidity, really, dampness, before I developed it
Specifically, after shooting the roll, I had clutched the exposed roll in my hand on a hot day for kind a long time (long story) and then had stored it in a cooler which was fairly damp, for several days before returning to a normal place where I could develop it.
In my case I think moisture condensed on the film emulsion and that screwed it up somehow.