35mm Zone System: Is it possible?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by peter_korzaan, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. Ive been reading up lately on the Zone lately:
    The new Zone System Manual (White-Zakia-Lorenz), Zone Vl Workshop (Fred Picker) & Beyond the Zone System (Phil Davis)
    All three have doing your own developing as a major part of this art. In fact as I understand it, Ansel Adams actually spent more time in the darkroom than out in the field taking the shots. (Time not counted on getting to the location of the shot)
    Having just gotten into B&W and at this time I do not have the inclination to set up a dark room, for the same reason I do not like spending much time in the digital darkroom. The last book I mentioned Beyond the Zone System, seems to take this need for control to the nth degree, Yikes, one needs to be more concerned with grafts, curves and such rather than the composition. I'm trying to simplify, to slow down and compose. Trying to learn how to 'see'. Yet, understanding the basics has helped me in choosing my exposure, not only for B&W but for color negative and slide also, and believe it has made me a better photographer.
    Yet it seems, by the explanation and use of examples in these books, that knowing and using the correct paper, timing of development ect, can bring a shot that would just be OK developed by a ProLab, into something much more, when given this attention.
    But the questions remain...
    Can you really do the Zone system, be successful with it using roll 35mm film, rather than individual shots from a larger format camera?
    Either way of shooting, roll film or large format, can you really do the zone system, using a Pro photo lab, rather then doing your own development?
    And if it can be done, using a pro lab, how do you do it? How do you set it up, what instructions do you give?
    Thanks for your input.
  2. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    With individual sheet film, each film can be given N+1, N-1, etc, development as needed. With 35mm film, the entire roll must be given N+1, N-1, etc. development. That would work if the entire roll were composed of contrasty shots (zones 1 - 10) that needed N-1 development. At any rate, to get N+1 development you would tell the lab to push develop the film one stop. To get N-1 development you would tell the lab to pull the film development one stop.
  3. I've heard of two ways to do it. They're both pains, and I've only met someone who did the first. First, you just designate different rolls N+1, N, etc, and just rewind, and wind rolls, only (probably) taking one shot at a time on a roll before switching it out. The other idea I've heard brought up is to get a bunch of cheap cameras, like Rebels, or N55s and just designate each camera a different zone.
  4. Possible -yes. Needed - hardly!
    Worth to remember the ZS was designed to deal with exposure latitudes and other limiting quolities of photomaterials as of 20's - 30's. Todays TMAX and modern printing will do most of a work without ZS. In 35mm dep. amyway.
  5. Use a different camera body for each zone.. that's wild.
    Which brings up a question that I have never understood. The modern developing today, takes a 'read' of the different exposurers on the roll and then adjusts its developing time? Is this why your saying that it should all be shot at the same zone light level. If so, is this true for slide and color print also?
  6. I'm not a doctrinaire zonie, but I sometimes carry two medium format backs and assign them for different development, depending on what I'm shooting. (Other times I just have XP2 in one, and FP4+ in the other.)
    Alternatively, in one of Adams's books, he outlines a compromise for photographers working with a single camera or a single film back. He suggests giving generous exposure, developing at N-1, and then controlling the contrast at the printing stage.
  7. Use a different camera body for each zone.. that's wild.​
    No, that's not what it means. You can use one camera body for all the zones. If you meter a subject and want to put it in zone IV instead of zone V, then you underexpose that frame by one stop. If you meter snow and want to put it in zone VII instead of zone V, then you overexpose that frame by two stops. Using the Zone System the way Fred Picker explains it, you choose one zone's placement in a given exposure, and all other zones fall where they may in that exposure.
    On the other hand, if you use the zone system accorting to Carson Graves' "The Zone System for 35mm Photographers," then you can compress or expand the zone range in a given exposure. Say you overexpose the snow scene above by two stops. You can also control a different zone in that exposure, making it more or less exposed depending on whether you develop it for N-1, N-2, N+1, or N+2.
    Let's say there is a zone V object in the frame. There is also a zone VI object nearby (caucasian skin, let's say). Let's suppose you want the zone V object to print as a zone IV while retaining the zone VI of the skin. Then you adjust development (of the whole roll) by either N-1 or N+1 (I don't have the book in front of me, so I can't say for certain which way to go. Perhaps someone else who is more familiar can give you the correct answer.
  8. SCL


    I think the simple answer is that understanding the principles of the Zone system can help you in compensating your exposures on films which you send to somebody else for processing. It is sort of a bastardization of the system, but if you have your films developed (only - not printed) by a service, and they have a constant process for the type of film you use, you can sort of "calibrate the system" by using a test roll on which you do a series of bracketing shots against a standard target. I did this years ago on a particular color print film and used the results to determine an ongoing ASA to use on a particular camera of mine as a standard when using this film. The negatives were scanned by me at a constant onto my PC system, and I also had them printed for future reference. Others may find a variety of different uses for the Zone system. Of course it is a much more useful system if you control each facet of the process from light measurement to final print.
  9. I have dealt with a couple of prolabs over the years and both had standard development times for the developer they used. They both offered non-standard development of rolls (for a little bit extra). Both lab owners spoke "zone system." I would take in my roll film (10 shots per roll, 6x7 format, 120 rolls) each labeled with N, n- or n+. They would adjust development of the rolls based on my marking. If you are dealing with a true "Pro" lab, they should be able to increase or decrease development to suit your needs.
    As for shooting roll film (or 35mm) and applying the zone system, it is much easier to do if you use short rolls of film--12 or 24 exposures instead of 36 per roll. As long as you shoot the entire roll in the same general lighting, all shots on the roll should be okay with the same development. I shoot 6x7 or 6x9, which gives 8 or 10 exposures per roll. If I am shooting outside and plan on going into a museum or cathedral, I will just time my shooting to finish the outdoor roll and then change film when going inside. The roll shot outside gets one development, the roll inside gets a different one. It doesn't always work out, but if I have to burn a few shots at the end of a roll, that's okay. (Also, I will generally be switching to a higher speed film inside.)
    The difference in development may not be overtly noticeable if you are getting machine prints from the lab. The machine will scan each negative and adjust contrast of the print. But, the difference will show up later if you get a fine print made from one of your negatives, or you eventually start printing your own negatives.
    I think Stephen Lewis is spot on above. Understanding the Zone System can help you in compensating your exposures on films which you send to somebody else for processing.
  10. another measure of testing the success would be to use slide film. there are no variables in the development process, it would either work or it won't and you get how you metered.
  11. Starvy:
    another measure of testing the success would be to use slide film​
    In ...'testing the success' what specifically are you relating to?
    The lab, the zone system ..??
  12. In 35mm one can just have several bodies; of for under; one for normal; one for over development.
    In the hey day of the Exakta slr system; folks would use partial rolls of 35mm; some model shave a built in film knife. One did takeup into another 35mm cassete. This was used in copy work; one developed differently depending on the original.
  13. Hmmm.. Ah the light is coming on. I'm starting to understand a little better what is being said in the books, and why there is so much stress on the developing.
    See if I have this right.
    When you shoot, you look at your composition, select perhaps how dark or light you want a selected area to be, and then change that metered reading, the number of stops necessary to make it that 'zone' in exposing the film. Keeping in mind the rest of the composition lights and dark's.
    Then in developing.. you change the developing time, push or pull, to get more detail out of the negative outside of the 'zone' selected. For as I have read, film developing is more forgiving in underexposing or overexposing highlights and darken areas. In using rolled film, you can do this in the several methods related in this thread. In larger format, you keep track of the # on the film holder, and make a note of the developing wanted for it.
    Then there is the third step, selection of type and contrast of the print paper and perhaps dogging playing with that exposure in the dark room.
    WoW.. Am I correct in my assessment?
  14. Some 35mm cameras allow for multiple film backs, but it's hardly practical (Zeiss Contarex and Contaflex). But if you can't quite follow the zone system exactly, what you CAN do is what people are suggesting above -- plan where each item in the frame will go in the zones. And one interesting variation on the zone system is to take multiple frames at different exposures and use HDR techniques to achieve the exposure range you're looking for. I don't know that anyone has worked HDR into the zone system yet, but if not, you can be the first.
  15. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator


    Read this page to get a better understanding:

  16. Peter;

    The shape of the film or plates response varies with development. ie the curve of density on the negative to exposure; ie the transfer function Hurter, Ferdinand & Driffield published a paper on this in 1890; ie 120 years ago.

    More development tban normal gives more contrast; but now one has a lessor range in fstops.

    Less development than normal gives a lower contast and a greater range in fstops of the scene recorded.

    Photographers have varied development to match the scene to the plate since the beginning; it was common in the civil war era with plates.

    It is in photo books of the 1890's. It is in the Kodak photo books when Ansel was learning to walk and talk. The zone system of Ansel gave folks zones to think about; instead of higher math ie Denisty; Exposure in candle seconds; H&D curves; DlogE curves.

    For me as an engineer; I prefer the DlogE curves and thinking about the range in stops;and the Densitys as actual numbers; since I have used DlogE curves for along time and have hundreds of Kodak books.
    For shooting glassware in LF worlk; and old favorite was Super-XX; it had a long highlight region; sort of like a microphone that would not clip.

    What you want to record has a range in fstops. Normal development may or may not record this range. Varying the development allows one to map the scene to the plate or film. The zone system just allows some folks an easier way to understand it; and to control it.

    For me I perfer knowing that New Orleans is on the 2 yard line and has 2 yards to score; rather than New Orleans is in zone 1 :)

    Other folks LOVE the zone system; even if we really do the same thing; ie map the scene to the plate or film.
    Ansel did not discover this mapping; it was well understood 2 generations before. He DID make a system that many folks like and its simple ways educated many to learn this ancient mapping technique.
  17. With 35mm one rarely shoot single shots. With a bulk loader an old way is just to spool off some short rolls; shoot some images and them develop each roll differently. That is EXACTLY what I do when I use my old bullk roll of 35mm Kodalith; to shoot some microfilm shots of books It is also the way some folks like me used for moon shots; using the old Kodak Microfile film.
  18. Absolutely, I do it all the time. To do it, however, you need to carry 2 or three cameras with you. I carry three F2's all loaded with bulk loaded T-Max 100, usually 12 exposures each. I designate one N-1, another N and the third N+1. When the roll is finished, I simply process it given tweaked times outlined in the outstanding book "The Practical Zone System"
  19. This is fabulous..
    I've ordered "The Practical Zone System" by Chris Johnson from the library to take a look at it and see how I like it.
    I'm really getting into this. Just a newbie back into film, starting my third year, I had no idea the depth of B&W..or film in general.
    Does this same system of developing, push and pull work as well with color negative film and Slide film?
  20. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    For me I prefer knowing that New Orleans is on the 2 yard line and has 2 yards to score; rather than New Orleans is at two lengths of a pendulum beating at the rate of one second in the Tower of London. :)

    Each zone is one f/stop but for me it is easier to explain things using zones. "Caucasian skin falls on zone 6" is easier than "Caucasian skin is one stop more than a gray card reading". Not too much difference there but if I had to tell someone how to photograph a man and they wanted to express a lot of character in his face then I would say

    Expose the face for zone 5 and then give N+2 development. You need that to push the Zone 5 flesh tones to Zone 6. The zone 1 and zone 2 shadows in wrinkles and pores will stay where they are and zone 6 highlights around wrinkles and pores will be pushed to zone 8. You have a good contrasty portrait.

    If you wanted to reduce character in an elderly woman's face then

    Expose the face for zone 8 and then give N-2 development. That will pull the flesh tones down close to zone 6 and the zone 3 and 4 shadows in wrinkles will stay where they are, being less pronounced. If you had exposed the skin for zone 6 then the shadows in wrinkles would have fallen on zones 1 and 2, being more pronounced.

    I would have a hard time explaining that in f/stops. Even if people don't use it, photographers should be familiar with the zone system values. That makes things a lot easier when explaining exposure and related subjects.
  21. When I feel I have a (series of) photos in the camera worth dedicated development, and I don't expect to shoot more under similar conditions on the same roll, I:
    - advance one extra frame;
    - open the camera in the darkroom;
    - cut the film, release the exposed film, and directly insert it in the development reel; then I can give it what I feel is the appropriate development.
    - still need to cut out an acceptable leader shape.
    There is a loss associated with the extra leader and initial frames, but takes that don't end up on paper are also a "loss". Of course, this is hardly applicable when traveling.
  22. It is my understanding of the Zone System that the reason it is used is to create a negative that is more compatible with the latitude of photo paper. Film has much greater exposure latitude than does the paper, which is one huge reason why photographers using traditional darkrooms will burn, dodge, use contrast filters, and paper flashing techniques. They need to cram onto the paper all of that latitude captured on the film. So the Zone System was developed to reduce the need for those techniques, and for many photographic scenes eliminate them as a means of matching the tonal scale of the film to that of the paper, and relegated them to being a means of being more creative with your printing instead of being more of a necessity.
    So now we come to this: are you going to have images from your Zone System exposed/processed film printed in a traditional darkroom? Or will you be scanning the film? If you are planning on scanning it, then I believe learning good exposure techniques would be the extent to which you would need to go with shooting film. Scanning film in order to obtain the full latitude (dynamic range) captured on the film has a number of solutions such as multiple passes with different settings and then blending in Photoshop for example. So I don't really know what the Zone System has to offer you if this is going to be your means of output.
    If you are going to print these the traditional way then I have some thoughts there but it's late and I need to go to bed. I'll come back and see how you answer this question and if need be I'll post my other thoughts concerning this matter.
  23. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Any film can have blocked highlights. Make a photo of Aunt Mary outdoors and there may be a white patch on her print dress where a spot of sunlight filtered through the trees onto the dress. Examine the negative and you can see the dress pattern in that patch of black on the negative. Try to spot burn it in and you will get the patterns showing but there is now an ugly gray patch on the dress that looks bad. Contraction or less than normal development would have brought that zone 10 area down to zone 9 or 8 where the pattern would show with normal enlarger exposure.

    Film can capture up to zones 12 (blocked highlights) or more but it is easier to use development to bring the zones into the zones 1 - 9 of the paper latitude. I will leave it to others to define whether a scanner can capture zones 1-12 and then if those zones can be printed, since that is not my thing.
  24. You guys have taken all the reading, I've done and made it more understandable. What a forum!
    It seems one can get married with any of the three steps of the Zone system and have a very fulfilling experience. But to really do it, to really understand it, it appears one has to do all three, (shoot-develop-print) then decide how much one wants to continue with it, and at what depth.
    I've checked, and the community college nearby, has a B&W film class available which starts up in a few days. I'll call the instructor on Monday, and get his drift on 'zone' and if he teaches it. ;-)
    Well.. I don't know where I'm at with all this, as we will need to digest, but I'm out to the shed again to see what darkroom stuff lies in a wait. I remember some stuff out dar. ;-)
    Jeff- I scan 35mm, but I begining to see that B&W, especially the Zone system, needs to be learned full stepped. I've only shot a couple of training rolls of c-41 B&W and had them scaned to CD at Walgreen's. But I can tell, and that's the reason for this post, that for B&W that's not the way to go.
    So if ya got time.. I love for you to share with us your .. 'other thoughts concerning this matter."
  25. Jeff;

    Re "It is my understanding of the Zone System that the reason it is used is to create a negative that is more compatible with the latitude of photo paper. Film has much greater exposure latitude than does the paper, which is one huge reason why photographers using traditional darkrooms will burn, dodge, use contrast filters, and paper flashing techniques. They need to cram onto the paper all of that latitude captured on the film. So the Zone System was developed to reduce the need for those techniques, and for many photographic scenes eliminate them as a means of matching the tonal scale of the film to that of the paper, and relegated them to being a means of being more creative with your printing instead of being more of a necessity."

    All of this is trrue; but better photographers could read; and thus used Kodak books to learn matching plates/ films to a papers response. It is in photo books before Ansel was born.

    All photo books in the Indiana city library I learned from over 50 years ago went into matching the plates/films scene to the contact paper; or enlarging it is was a more modern one. These were ancient books; most pre WW2. The oldest were from the 1890's and many in the 1920's.

    Newcomers to photography somehow equate old Ansel to "discovering" this matching; which comes across totally absurd if one has been around along time. Its like Al Gore invented the internet or the BBS; or a modem. It was common knownledge to strive to match the plates recorded scene to match the target print paper for along time. It is in Kodak books when Ansel was born; thus he had a good reference to learn and create his zone system from; ie two past generations of photographers.

    Here I actually have a box to read densities on negatives in specific spots. It was built back when I was doing astro work in the 1970's. This was for experiment's with pushing films; doing preflashing (preexposure of a frame to be right or below base fog); doing Dlog E curves; trying different developer types.
    Thus for me as an engineer too I think more in Densities I can measure versus the exposure of the parts of scene. Its basically the same matching as was done in 1890; or by the zone system but I use actual numbers instead of zoney talk. For others talking zone is their bag. I have friends who talk zone but could not figure the log 10 of 10; or read as DlogE curve. If I said the shadow is placed with a denisty of 0.5 ; they have no clue what zone it is.

    Dfferrent films have different DlogE curves.

    Thus James comment that

    "Any film can have blocked highlights. Make a photo of Aunt Mary outdoors and there may be a white patch on her print dress where a spot of sunlight filtered through the trees onto the dress"
    is true; but how much the dress is all lost or sort of lost in the highlights (well to over exposed dress) DEPENDS on the films upper DlogE curve.

    All of us know all this.
    The point is say when film was more mainstream ; photographers had a wide choice of films. Thus to shoot glassware with alot of highlights; or to shoot wedding dresses some of us used films such as Kodak Super-XX Pan film #4142 that had an unbelieveablly LONG TONAL RANGE. This was a sheet film in the 4241 stock number; smallest size was 3x4 inches. An older 35mm product as Super-xx that was phased out in the mid 1950's.

    Thus beyond understanding the zone system; studing different types of film is good too. The old sheet film Super-XX had this un believeable long tonal range; thus lost highlights were rarer.

    As far as using the zone system in 35mm; it is possible. It is more common say in Blad MF backs like David Sims mentioned; one has a back that is used for different types of lighting ratios. With my old C3 Mamyia TLR; I have a plate adapter back; but only have 3 holders; thus it is like a gun with 3 bullets. In sheet films using varied development is far more common.

    IF one is using a hybrid film/digital approach; ones SCANNER can also be a bottleneck with recording the negatives response. As a scanner ages; its glass and optics pickup crap; the dynamic range drops.
    If one dabbles in old expired films; the base fog is higher. This drops the legal asa/iso rating; because iso is tied to base fog. Film drops in iso/asa as it ages.

    One has the issues too if one work is printed in a newspaper; magazine, book; web, soap box, beer wrapper, etc. There are limits to the devices/products range in fstops that can be seen in the final product.
    In the 1930's , 1940's, and 1950's Popular Photography articles in my home town library there were alot of how too articles. The magazine was a goldmine back then. When enlargers became more common for amateurs; Kodak added developmente times based on whether one had a diffusion or condensor enlarger. One developed negatives a tad more if one used a diffusion enlarger; since the "transfer function" of a diffusion enlarger is less.

    Here I learned about matching scene via development from the just old Kodak books; and 1930's Pop photo; and Indiana 4H club bookletes printed in the depression era.

    Besides learning matching sceen to the negative via development; study too different film types. Each film has a different DlogE curve; some types are better for specific typs of lighting.

    If one contact prints say LF; the one has more contast too than a projected negative.
    From a *system* standpoint *think* in what the final print is to be; thus each transfer function is understood; ie stuff that may loose the details you want.
  26. Of course you can. You have to follow the guides of the zone system. The one thing you have to have in mind is that you need to use a complete roll for a scene. That means you need to expose the whole film in the same situation so you can develop accordingly. I recommend you bulk loading your own rolls, with maybe 10 exposures each or sth. like that. I have done it for a long time and results are excellent. For example, developing in +4 a low contrast scene can render beatiful results.
  27. My two cents, if you are learning the basics, forget about the zone system for awhile. If you don't have the time for the darkroom work that the zone system requires, then you shouldn't use it. Its predicated on control of your development and printing.
  28. Yes, you can. If, you have more than one body. Have one for normal developement. One for N+1, and one for N-1. Zone system people have been doing that for years.
  29. Peter, my additional thoughts on this is that if you are going to do your own processing then multiple bodies are not necessary. One of my instructors for a photo class I took used, as a template, a piece of string with knots tied in it so he could count out how many frames into the roll he was. This is predicated on taking notes while shooting so you know which scenes require which processing times. You also need to be consistent with your film loading. I imagine multiple tanks would be required as well. Blank frames between scenes is helpful as well; this would give you some room for error as well as making handling the film easier, ie, loading onto a reel.
    I have never done this myself, but my instructor spoke of it as though it were no big deal. I imagine you just need to keep track of what you're doing.
  30. With limitations, 35mm cameras can be used to employ the zone system. The book, The Zone System for 35MM Photographers: A Basic Guide to Exposure Control by Carson Greaves, explains how and with a minimum of graphs. The zone system is technically difficult, so expect to struggle with the concepts. Nonetheless, Greaves book presents concepts of the zone system in manageable terms. This title, I believe, is out of print, but can be found used on Amazon.com. I used this book (1st edition) in my darkroom days and can recommend it. Greaves does a nice job in explaining the most basic concept of the zone system: understanding the scene contrast and employing the development time accordingly. At the end of the book he gives useful tips for 35mm workers and for applying the concepts to color photography. If you decide to go with B+W darkroom work my advise is to buy the best thermometer and reels; stick to one long lived liquid developer (HC-110 or the like); and stick with one 400 speed film. Change films and developer only after you can get consistently good results.
  31. What Adams did with the zone system is relate visualizing the final print to the exposure required on the film; film development, and final printing. This gives a method of translating the film's characteristic curve to the final print. It includes expanding or contracting the tonal range to fit the print material - this is why there is so much testing involved if you want to meticulously follow the zone system.
    You do have to do some testing in the beginning to match the film + developer to the paper you're using, but you don't need to turn it into an end in-and-of itself - it's far more important to take photographs.
    When using the zone system you examine the subject to be photographed and note the darkest area of the image and lightest area. Then you decide the darkest area you want to preserve detail (that will be zone III) and the lightest area with detail (that will be zone VII or VIII depending upon the type of enlarger you're using - condenser or diffusion). You quantify the subject's luminance range - and how it relates to the tonal scale of the paper - before you make the exposure on film and so you know the required film development.
    You then need to identify the key tone in the subject - that will be the tone of the subject that is important to you. In the case of a portrait - that would be the facial skin tone, in a landscape it would be the main subject of the photo. You take a reading of the main subject and relate its reading to the zone III and zone VII or VIII area - that is, you note what happens to the other tones when you "place" the key tone for proper exposure at the zone value you visualize.
    For example, let's say you're taking a portrait outdoors with snow on the ground as part of the scene. You note that when you place the skin tone at the proper exposure (let's use zone VI to VI-1/2 for typical caucasian skin in sunlight) - you'll find that the snow illuminated by sunlight is zone VIII-1/2 - meaning you can't retain detail in the snow in the final print if you expose and develop for a normal (N) exposure + film development (that's why you need some testing to establish N, N+, N-, characteristics for the film + developer).
    Now what you have to understand is that the N, N-, and N+ developments have more affect on highlights than shadows because there's more exposure in the highlights, they develop faster and you can affect them more than shadows. In fact, you can develop film to completion (total development) and you won't get much more density in a zone I than if you did N development - and the added density will be fog and not detail in the film developed to completion.
    But, back to the photograph - at this point, you need to think about how you're going to expose and develop the film to attempt to get the zone VI rendering of the skin and retain detail in the snow. This is where you need a little more understanding of photography. If you use a yellow filter (#8) will retain the skin tone while darkening the snow a bit because the snow is being illuminated by both sun and skylight - the yellow filter will lower the snow value about 1/2 zone by filtering some of the blue light so you're back to zone VIII by using the filter.
    Now if you're using a diffusion enlarger you can probably develop normally (N) and print on grade 1-1/2 paper and you've got your photo. If you're using a condenser enlarger you'd probably want to develop at N- and use a grade 2 paper and dodge the face very slightly to open it back up and get it back to zone VI - but, you will have detail in the shadows and details in the highlights (snow).
    The idea is to relate the subject you're photographing to the final print, before you make the exposure so that you can factor everything into making the negative - filter, exposure, development, and final printing.
    But, remember - even if you don't get the exposure and development perfectly fitted to the paper, there are a lot of other darkroom controls like using a different paper contrast grade, dodging, burning, split grade printing with variable contrast papers, using heated developer on small areas to increase contrast or make them develop faster, etc.
    The key idea is to visualize the final print before you make the film exposure, and then use the technical controls to get the final print.
  32. Yes to visualize the final print, before the exposure, is going to take time in training. Not only the eye, before exposure, but the procedure and steps after exposure. To see how close you came to what you thought you where shooting in the first place. Living in rural Arizona with no Pro Lab around the corner, to do this effectively, and more efficiently, it seems imperative that one must go to the use of a darkroom!
    With this in mind I dug into the shed again and came up with some darkroom equipment for the Speed Graphic, 3x4 large format camera I dug out Christmas. But none of my dad's old 35mm developing tanks and equipment were around.
    So, a new question.
    Since I now have learned that it is possible with roll 35mm film to do the zone system, is it easier, less costly, in 35mm, or learning the zone system instead in single sheeted large format?
    Doing your own developing with either, in the beginning, without a darkroom. Using light tight developing tanks, and a dark bag to get the developing training down. Having it printed at first by a lab, specifying paper ect and then later creating a darkroom. Getting the equipment to learn the last step of the zone system, and print directly with all its creativity.
    Any thoughts on this strategy?
  33. I was "classically trained" in photography having Leslie Stroebel (author of View Camera Technique) as my freshman studio professor at RIT. So, I'm predjudiced a bit...but, that being said - I think it is easier to use sheet film for the zone system as every exposure is handled individually. However, using a camera with an interchangeable back system (Hasselblad, Bronica, etc.) or multiple camera bodies so that you can group exposures by development requirements can be made workable. My problem with that is often you will find that you make one exposure at N+ and the remainder at N or N- and your stuck with waiting until you fill up the roll, or you waste the remainder of the roll in development. Basically, you don't have to adapt to the strategies already put forth to use 35mm in previous posts and can concentrate on making the photographs using sheet film - you're not looking for subjects to fill up a remainder of an N- - or N++ roll.
    You can use the zone system even with color film or digital cameras for quantifying the luminance range and what will happen to the remainder of the image when you place the key tone at certain exposure. This is using the zone system for exposure and predicting the consequence on the final image - but not being able to control the development.
    I would also suggest that if you want to pursue the zone system further that you get a monochromatic viewing filter as this will speed your undertanding of the subject in monochrome. It can also be used to see the effect of filters on the subject if you "flick" the filter in front of the monochromatic filter and note the change to the scene. You really can't hold a filter in front for any length of time as your eye will rapidly adapt to the combination and you'll lose the change that the filter makes.
  34. James Dainas: "Each zone is one f/stop but for me it is easier to explain things using zones. 'Caucasian skin falls on zone 6' is easier than 'Caucasian skin is one stop more than a gray card reading'."

    For me its just the opposite - I'd typically think the Caucasian skin is one stop more than a gray card. But I understand the concept and reasons behind the Zone system.

    Jeff Henderson -- I agree with you 100% in your first post and the idea with measuring the number of frames with string is also interesting.

    Sometimes I've used a changing bag to either switch rolls in the middle of the roll or more often cut the roll already exposed (to put in a metal canister) and splice a new leader onto the remainder of the roll such that it will be processed differently.

    Peter Korazan: "If so, is this true for slide and color print also?"
    Yes definitely. This is way I prefer to do my own color processing and mix my own color developers . I have control over time, and developer activity.

    "... I do not have the inclination to set up a dark room, for the same reason I do not like spending much time in the digital darkroom"
    If you don't pay attention to these details - especially for some exposure situations, then you are compromising what your photos are capable of. I understand that it takes time to do away from the field - but think how many fewer shots Ansel Adams would have published if he only published normally exposed and developed shots.

    Now my controversial statement:
    Digital Sensors in digital cameras vary in their usable range, and much like that Super -XX film that was mentioned, sensors are getting to have a comparable or better range such that one shot, stored in RAW, has more than enough range to mimic the n-1, n+1 results. I still shot film - but I'm awaiting better and more affordable sensors.
  35. "... I do not have the inclination to set up a dark room, for the same reason I do not like spending much time in the digital darkroom"
    If you don't pay attention to these details - especially for some exposure situations, then you are compromising what your photos are capable of. I understand that it takes time to do away from the field - but think how many fewer shots Ansel Adams would have published if he only published normally exposed and developed shots."
    Yes very true. This post has made me aware of this. Yet I have never done any development. So, because of what I have learned in this post I have decided to take the plunge and learn how to develop B&W. In the beginning it will be without a darkroom. Using a dark bag and light tight developing tanks that I discovered in the shed that goes with a 3x4 format Speed Graphic. Then will either find a darkroom I can use, or make, convert bathroom, something, into one.
    That's were I'll start, and then hopefully, as I learn more about developing and the zone system, I will move to 35mm format in B&W. In time will see if we get into doing our own color developing.

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