Adjusting recommended film development times if scanning negatives

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by ron_west|1, Sep 7, 2008.

  1. I have occasionally read that recommended film development (Massive Dev Chart) times should be reduced by about
    10% to insure that the negatives are thin enough for scanning on a film scanner (eg. CanoScan FS4000US). Does
    anyone do this and if so, do they reduce times for all film/developer combinations?
    Thanks for any input on this and sorry if this topic has been covered before but can't find it with a search.....Ron
  2. It's a good practice. Slightly "thinner" negatives scan better and are also suitable for condenser head enlargers. They work well enough for dichro heads too, tho' more magenta filtration may be appropriate.

    Reducing development slightly minimizes grain, which scanning tends to exaggerate. Scanners also have trouble with overdeveloped highlights, another good reason to give slightly less development when the primary use of negatives will be scanning.

    Also, if you plan to scan almost exclusively rather than use traditional enlargers, you might get better results using fine grain films and developers. The same tricks used to improve acutance for conventional printing don't work as well for scanning, so avoid developers like Rodinal and Neofin Blue. Kodak T-Max and Ilford Delta 100 and 400 films tend to have finer grain structure and scan well, altho' Tri-X and HP5+ exposed at EI 250-320 and given appropriately less development in ID-11 or D-76 also work well.
  3. Hi Lex,
    Thanks for the speedy reply. I take it that you would recommend the 10% reduction in processing time for pretty much all film/developer combinations?

    When you say "Tri-X and HP5+ exposed at EI 250-320 and given appropriately less development in ID-11 or D-76 also work well", doesn't exposing the ISO 400 film at 250 cause it to be way overexposed and then how would you know how much to reduce development to compensate?
  4. My experience says it depends. I find if I develope tri x and Delta100 to print on #2 paper with a condenser enlarger, then they also scan well. Developed the same way, plus X prints very well and all the highlights block. I use the same test targets to calibrate my times so they are not random subjects that can throw off tests.

    If you are developing to print with a diffusion enlarger on #2 paper, they will not scan well. Reduce 10% and that may not be enough for some films.
  5. Ron, 10% reduction is just a good starting point. You'd need to adjust it to suit a given film, developer and your exposure technique. Also, my scanner is an ancient Minolta, their first model, and more up to date scanners may deal with b&w negatives differently.

    Down-rating a film with commensurately less development won't necessarily lead to exposure problems that would make scanning more difficult. Care is still needed to meter and exposure correctly for a given situation. But the main advantages include better shadow detail and less grain. You'd adjust development to avoid blocked up highlights.

    As Ronald observed, the same technique used to prepare negatives for optimal results with a condenser enlarger tend to work well for scanning. My main enlarger is a dichro head Durst M605 and some of my negatives optimized for that enlarger are a bit difficult to scan well. While I don't have too many problems with blocked highlights it is difficult to get the grainless gradation in large expanses of same or similar toned areas, such as open skies and skin.
  6. G.W.Crawley,Amateur Photographer 13 Jan 2007 notes that inkjet papers tend to produce very intense blacks and suggests compensating development to increase the negative contrast in the shadows.Dilute developers may do this without overdeveloping the highlights.He mentions D76 1+3, Ilford Microphen 1+1 and the more concentrated stock solution developers diluted 50% more than normal eg Ilfosol S 1+14, Kodak T-Max and HC 110 50% more dilute than normal.For homebrew FX-37 1+5 is mentioned.He seems to suggest not so much thin negatives,rather those with expanded shadow detail.
  7. I'm a bit skeptical about claims for compensating development. Other than two-bath types like Diafine and very dilute Rodinal (1:200 or 1:300), I haven't seen much evidence of compensation.

    I'd be reluctant to dilute D76, ID-11, Microphen or similar developers too much. Beyond 1+1 they tend toward acutance, which risks exaggerated grain, not a good thing for scanning. Ilfosol-S is already a speed losing developer and seems to lose even more effective speed in the more dilute solution. And I've used HC-110 at various dilutions and haven't seen any appreciable difference in the end results, at least with Tri-X.

    But it's worth trying those suggested techniques since adapting old technology to new will require personal experimentation.
  8. I realize 10% is a rule of thumb. But one needs to start somewhere.
  9. Sorry, Ronald, I intended that comment for Ron West. And, yes, absolutely, it's a good starting point.
  10. Great thread. I've been considering these issues myself recently. So far for scanning I'm absolutely loving TMY-2, even shot at 400 without lowering development time. For other films I'm definitely going to start reducing development times, I've got some nicely dense Pan F+ negatives but I'm not happy with the scans, for Pan F+ I'm going to reduce by more than 10%, at least with XTOL 1+1.
  11. Hi All,
    I've been scanning b/w negs, color negs, and transparencies since 1991 with no problems assuming that the tonalities were full scale and within normal limits (Gbar .49 to .55) for printing on world standard #2 paper and enlargers that are condenser or condenser emulating. I have used 6 or 7 brands of scanners. One well known brand, a fairly high end unit, always exerggerates b/w grain significantly. My personal favorites for the last 4 or 5 years have been Epsons although we now use 3 brands and with several models in our department.


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