Advice: BW film/dev combo in the 100 & 400 range?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by idan_gazit, Sep 4, 2001.

  1. Hey there!

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    I'd like your recommendations on a B&W film / dev combo (non C-41) both in the 100 and 400 speed category. Please be specific --

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    1. Film / Speed / What you rate it at
    2. Developer / Temp / Time / Agitation

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    All in all I'm looking for the best you've seen - latitude, sharpness, and lack of grain are the targets here.

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    So far I've heared good things about TMX and TMY in rodinal, which is the developer I already use.

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    Thanks in Advance!
    Idan
     
  2. It all depends what you are looking for. There are no "general"
    solutions to your problems: If you are looking for very fine grain,
    than a tabular grain film is o.k, but these films were fine tuned for
    this and have pretty mediocre acutance and tonal scale. If you are
    looking for tonality and good acutance than go for a more traditional
    silver rich emulsion. Also some modern emulsions are more balanced in
    general quality, such as AGFA APX. Unfortunately there is absolutely
    no way to combine both. I -- for my work -- think tonality and
    acutance is more important than grain and therefore use emulsions that
    give me a good combination of characteristics, with excellent
    tonatlity as main point: Fomapan T200 and Efke 50. The best way for
    you to find your film - developer is to experiment. It is the specific
    "look" of a combination you like that counts. Othe people may have
    rather different preferces and it is hardly possible to discuss what
    is better and worse in term of the rather subjective "look".
     
  3. Since sharpness is usually achieved at the expense of additional
    apparent grain, it would help to have more information about your
    camera (film size) and degree of enlargement required, to balance an
    acceptable tradeoff. "Please be specific -- ".
     
  4. Idan, the emulsion/developer combination is only half the equasion,
    the other half is the paper/paper developer combination. At this
    point, you're basically asking us to give you opinions about buying a
    nice car - 100 people will give you 100 different answers based on
    their own personal preferences.

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    Ultimately the only way you are going to find YOUR personal favorite
    is by methodically trying emulsion/developer combinations then
    paper/dev combinations. I started with 400 ASA emulsions (in 120/220)
    and found I liked both HP5+ and TX in PMK. Then I went through the
    paper/dev combination with both and narrowed my choices to a cold
    toned fiber paper - Forte Polycontrast V, a neutral tone fiber paper -
    Bergger, and a warm toned fiber paper - Agfa MC111. I tried these 3
    papers in several developers: Photograper's Formulary 130 and BW65,
    and Sprint. For my industrial landscapes (rail, heavy industry, etc)
    I use TX in PMK (and rarely Rodinal) and print on the Forte
    Polycontrast V - just a real nice rendition. For portraits, I use
    HP5+ in PMK and print on the Agfa MC111 in the PF130 (nice creamy
    warm tone rendition). So I have several tools at my disposal.

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    As for personal exposure index, there are several places you can get
    the information on how to do this. Barry Thornton's website has a
    nice description that you might look at. My personal EI's for TX is
    200-250 and HP5+ 250-320 both in PMK. I haven't done a careful
    analysis of any other films yet so I generally swag it 1/3 to 2/3
    stop over exposure for PMK. My next choice of film will be Ilford's
    PanF in PMK. I developed a roll this summer at the beach and the
    tonal range was just marvelous. So I will probably choose the PanF
    for my low speed emulsion and then use either the TX or HP5+ as my
    fast emulsions with perhaps a little effort to try the Ilford 3200
    film as a high end alternative.

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    Not sure if that helps you narrow your choice. I found that the
    testing was a real joy but I still have a long ways to go before I
    feel I've mastered a particular film/dev/paper/dev combo. If no one
    has mentioned this yet, Ansel Adams book, "The Negative" is a classic
    text to help you understand this process.

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    John
     
  5. If you can use 120 size, check out Verichrome Pan.
     
  6. Charlie, Idan asked that you include the following information. Many
    of us would at least like to know which developer you use.

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    1. Film / Speed / What you rate it at 2. Developer / Temp / Time /
    Agitation
     
  7. Wow! Overwhelmed by the response.

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    Well, as for my setup: I'm shooting 35mm exclusively (unless I
    suddenly inherit a medium-format camera from somewhere),
    and my main target is scanning, since I don't really have
    anywhere to print (no darkroom or enlarger). I had access to a
    very very nice konica film scanner and a flextight at work (no
    more :<( ). My experience was that even with slower films like
    TMX and FP4 (that's the 125, correct?) I'd still have visible grain
    showing in the scan, very apparent. Grr!

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    So, my target is scanning and not any form of paper - I guess you
    could say I'm looking for film/dev combos that "scan well". I figure
    that anything I shoot is going to need all sorts of fixing with
    photoshop since I won't have the ability or the money to pay
    some B&W lab for test prints and then have them dodge/burn to
    my specifications. I do have an epson photo printer and will
    probably purchase a good film scanner soon if I don't get access
    to one somewhere.

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    Does this info help anything? Honestly, guys and gals, 100
    different answers is fine! I'm just an amateur and I am looking for
    experienced opinion. Whatever you've experienced to be a good
    combination will go into my cookbook instead of me wasting $'s I
    don't have and chemically destroying films I like the pictures on
    in the process.

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    Thanks again....

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    Idan
     
  8. I think films like Kodak TMax 100 & 400, Ilford Delta 100 & 400 and
    Fuji Acros scan better than older style films.You can make great thin
    negatives with full information available to your scanner. The smaller
    grain particles of these films result in less aliasing. "Bullet proof"
    negatives and chunky grain are the bain of scanners. The slower films
    listed will be finer grained and finer detailed. I suggest you pick one
    and concentrate your efforts there before trying a bunch of different
    films. Any of the above will scan well if developed as if they were to
    be used in a condensor enlarger - (develop for lower contrast) Pick the
    one thats easiest to buy where you are located. If you pick one and
    tell about it here I'm sure you will get many good suggestions on how
    to develop that particular film. Then you can test and adjust for your
    needs.
     
  9. Idan, The reason for wanting to know about your camera is that any
    recommendation has to take into account the negative size. Since you
    are working with 35mm, then you definitely want to choose carefully
    to minimize grain and maximize sharpness. I think many people would
    say that TMX and Delta 100 are good choices for your requirements.
    Rodinal does not produce the finest grain possible, but has excellent
    sharpness. To minimize grain with Rodinal, try 1:75 or 1:100
    dilutions. You might also want to try another developer such as XTOL
    1:1 or higher dilution. I personally like FP4+ with Rodinal, but that
    may be too much grain for 35mm.

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    The following web site has various development times:

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    http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Times/times.html
     
  10. On the other hand Rodinal may not be terribly fine grained, although
    grain improves with higher dilutions, but it gives increadible
    tonality and very high information content on a negative that is going
    ot be scanned. I would recommend "classic Rodinal" Calbe R09
    (also sold as Classic F09) which is superior to Agfa Rodinal. The
    correct dilution for 35mm would be 1:100 to 1:200 (roughly equivalent
    to Agfa Rodinal 1:75 to 1:100). It gives finer grain in comparison to
    AGFA Rodinal, higher acutance and an excellent tonal balance.
     
  11. Your second mail got us closer to a possible answer: It may have
    nothing to do with film grain after all. I do quite a bit of neg and
    slide scanning. I noticed the problem you describe too. I first
    thought they were due to film grain but in fact it is "noise" created
    by the scanner. You definitly should check this possibility. It really
    looks like noticable film grain at first, but a lupe will tell you the
    difference. The limiting factor most often is not a medium speed
    film in 35mm, but the scanner, even if the hardware data sounds
    impressive. The good news: Most imaging programs will remove noise
    very effectively. Just find a button labelled "denoise" or something
    similar and see what you get. My Jenscan slide scanner definitly needs
    "denoising" and the results I have seen from other scanners also give
    me the impression that this ought to be a standard in post processing.
    This takes us to another point: Noise was not the main problem I
    encountered with scanned negs. It often is missing acutance, which is
    often amplified by using low acutance films such as TMAX etc. If you
    are going to scan negs you should try to get as much visible acutance
    as possible. For this reason I cannot recommend using super fine grain
    developer formulations, but decend acutance enhancing developers, such
    as R09 (as mentioned above).
     
  12. Michael Feldman asked that I include developer & processing info--

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    I did not do so primarily because I think much of this is moot for
    the following reasons.

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    1. As it turns out, Idan isn't doing anything remotely similar to
    what I do--he's scanning, and I'm printing, and he isn't using MF.

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    2. I don't do much in 120 these days (so I don't have a standard
    process for VP), but in that format Verichrome Pan is my favorite.
    (Why do you think in the days long ago, it was Kodak's standard
    amateur film?--'cause it gives such good images!)

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    3. There is so much variability in processing, equipment, and water
    that you can't just take anyone's formula for success and copy it.

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    Charlie
     
  13. Just curious: Why did you rule out C41's? If you're only going to be
    scanning, the chromogenics rated at about ISO 200-250 work very well,
    some would say better than any traditional b&w films. Many one-hour
    labs will develop them (no prints) for $3-4 per roll, relieving you of
    the least interesting part of darkroom work and freeing you to spend
    your time on printing. Just a thought.

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    ......
     
  14. Well...

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    I tried c-41 process negs and they always seem to come out with an
    annoying "sepia" feel to them. They also fail (perhaps I fail) to
    please me tonally, I never am able to get a good exposure latitude
    from chromogenic films the way I'm able to with "standard" b&w films.
    Yes, they're cheaper -- I agree :) If they acted like regular b&w in
    terms of tonality and latitude I'd be happy to use them.
     
  15. If you are not against C41 process B&W films for some other reason I
    suggest you try them, especially Ilford XP2. It will scan better than
    any conventional 400 speed film. XP2 can capture more scene range than
    any other 35mm film that exists. It is extremely fine "grained". I
    shoot it at 320 for most uses.You can adjust tones in your scanning or
    image editing software. As to the "annoying sepia feel" I don't know
    what that feels (?) like. If you scan in grayscale you won't see any
    colors. Go shoot some XP2 and scan it and work with it. I've shot and
    scanned a bazillion rolls of XP2 and I assure you it is a VERY capable
    film.
     
  16. try

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    http://www.digitaltruth.com
     
  17. Advice : find the right combo and stick with it !


    For 10 years now I use Ilford HP5 film at 400 ISO. I always develop in D-76 13.5 mn at 20?C. It's a standart combo which works really good. I tried many other films and developers during these years, always got back to this one.

    In the low sensibilities I use pan F at 25 ISO.

    In the 100 ISO range, I can't give any advice because I never find a satisfied combo. Anyway, in order to concentrate on creativity and reach very stable results I don't like use more than 1 or 2 combos.
     

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