What is Push + Pull Processing?

Confused about Push/Pull Processing?

You’re not alone! This topic is the source of much confusion. Don’t worry, we’re breaking down everything you need to know to make the right decision when it comes to processing your film.

First off, pushing and pulling only happens at time of processing—so you only have one shot to get it right. Pushing and pulling does not happen in-camera.

Pushing film means keeping film in the developer for a (relatively) extended period of time (which compensates for underexposure). Pulling film means removing film from the developer earlier than normal (which compensates for overexposure). So, pushed film stays in the developing bath longer, while pulled film is taken out early.

Do you (ever) need to pull film?

Due to film’s inherent wide exposure latitude, it is very rare you will ever need to pull process your film. If you find yourself in a pickle where your film is +3 or more stops overexposed, please give us a call at (503) 588-3686.

When do you need to push film?

Push Processing compensates for underexposure. Let’s say you only have ISO 400 film but are losing light quickly—you can rate the entire roll as though it were ISO 800 and then have it pushed +1 stop in processing.

How will push processing affect your image?

Push processing will increase contrast, saturation and grain structure.

Is pushing film a good way to achieve contrast?

No. While pushing film does lead to more contrast, this is not the best way to achieve contrast.

A better strategy is to simply add contrast in post. If you push your film and dislike how much contrast it brings, there is no real way to "dial it back" in editing—your images are pretty much stuck at that contrast level.

Sending in rolls that need to be pushed or pulled?

Be sure to clearly label the rolls in need of a push or pull and by how many stops—mark it on the roll and on your order form.

*Pro tip: A rubber band wrapped around a roll is a great way to let us know it needs a push or pull!

Here’s how push + pull processing affects different film stocks:

Fujifilm PRO400H

Processed Normal

Fuji400H processed normal

Pushed +1 Stop

Fuji400H pushed +1 stop

Pushed +2 Stops

Fuji400H pushed +2 stops

Pushed +3 Stops

Fuji400H pushed +3 stops

Kodak Portra400

Processed Normal

Portra400 processed normal

Pushed +1 Stop

Portra400 pushed +1 stop

Kodak Portra800

Processed Normal

Portra800 processed normal

Pushed +1 Stop

Portra800 pushed +1 stop

Have questions about pushing or pulling film?

Please give us a call, we’d love to help: 503-588-3686.