How is HC-110 in terms of acutance? (FP4+ film)

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by jose_angel, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Hi all, I`m currently using FP4+ (100ISO), developed in D76 1+3 (all formats from 35mm to 4x5").
    Well, I`d like to get a bit more acutance. My images are so detailed, I like them but still a *bit* flat to my taste, I`d like to have a bit more "sharpie" look (edge contrast).
    (BTW, I switched to D76 1+3 from the more expensive and difficult to find Perceptol (also 1+3), after checking that the look they provide were quite close).
    In the past, I used to use Rodinal (1+100) with APX400, and the look was so sharp, with a very high and pleasing acutance, but with a very noticeable grain. Right now, And now I prefer to stay with FP4+.
    So I`m tempted to come back to Rodinal again, maybe with FP4+ the grain will be nicer, and will achieve the acutance&reasonable fine grain I`m looking for.
    >>The thing is that I have several unopened bottles of HC-110: Does HC-110 provide a higher acutance than D76 1+3? And compared to Rodinal? What do you think?
    (My excuses to the moderators, I initially placed my post in the wrong forum).
  2. My 35mm and 120 Tri-X negatives in HC-110 look exactly like my Tri-X negs in ID-11 or D-76 1+1 dilution.
    I've never noticed any acutance effect with more dilute HC-110. But it's sharp enough to suit my preferences. Particularly when scanning - I'd rather avoid excessively contrasty or grainy negs for scanning. It just makes for ugly grain aliasing. I try to confine that technique to negs I plan to enlarge conventionally in the darkroom.
    After scanning less contrasty/grainy negatives, it's easy to use contrast masking settings in unsharp masking to get the desired separation. Or the clarity (Adobe software) or clarify tool (Paint Shop Pro), which basically simplifies the contrast masking process.
  3. What Lex said. HC-110 is still a solvent developer like D-76. Not a lot of difference there. Best of the solvent developers is probably XTOL 1:3. If that doesn't do it for you (and it probably won't), you're off to the acutance developers.
    After than, you might want to use a film that's both sharper and finer grained, like Tmax, Acros, or Delta.
  4. Jose,

    There will be a noticeable difference in grain between APX 400 and FP4+. If you like the look of Rodinal with APX 400,
    but not the grain, Rodinal and FP4+ might be a good combination for you.

    True acutance developers are very simple, typically single-agent formulas, used in dilute solutions with a strong alkali and
    no restrainer. This class of developer is a good fit for modern fine grained films, and extremely economical. The trouble is
    that few of these developers were formulated for modern films, and most are far too active, producing excessive grain.

    Obsidian Aqua was formulated for the best balance of characteristics with modern films, but it is a classic acutance
    developer in every way. You can find more information here:
  5. I had this very same question about 10 years ago and did some comparisons with FP4 and HC-110 and D-76 1:1 and honestly could not see any measurable difference on paper with an 11 x 14" projection on the baseboard.
  6. Thank you very much. Now I know I don`t want HC-110, so I`m not wasting a minute on testing.
    I decided (time ago) to use two separate routes; traditional or digital. I don`t like my own film scans and jet prints, so I only wet-print my films. Commercial ink-jet and laser printing only for my digital shots. Hybrid process are too complex and/or expensive to me, and rarely satisfying to my taste.
    I`m now at my darkroom, ready to print some APX100 shots developed in Rodinal 1+50? (taken ten years ago). I know APX100 is not FP4+, but maybe the closest thing I have found. I want to *define* what I`m looking for.
    I also want to print some FP4+ shots developed in Acutol (from another era, too); I also used to love this look, but maybe a bit harsh when looking for a more "pictorial" effect.
    Jay, thank you for the idea. I`m hesitant to swich... it takes me a lot of time to get used to a film+developer combination. I have read about Catechol time ago; your formula seem quite simple, I only need the Catechol to make my own solution. The "unsurpassed sharpness" thing makes me excited... I`ll ask to my chemical supplier.
    I also use to ask myself about the convenience of using tabular and modern films... I really love the look and control of "old school" emulsions, I like the look of real grain (always if in a "reasonable" size). The few modern films I have used are great, much lower apparent grain, but are too "realistic", maybe. I use to prefer the "manufactured", "traditional", "imperfect" feel that I`m used to... sadly, to swith from one film to another makes me to spend a lot of time and shots...
    Well, I`m swichting off the lights. Time to print... !
  7. Jose, I understand your hesitation. Send me your shipping address and I'll send you a sample of Obsidian Aqua to try. If you have the carbonate, I'll just send the A solution. A little bit of OA goes a long way (1+500 dilution), and it's very cheap. I'l send the dry chemicals pre-measured, so you'll just mix with distilled water to make the A solution. If you're interested, email me your shipping address:
  8. You can try to add Borax (20 Mule Team from the grocery is fine) -- a pinch (or I think I've read, one teaspoon per liter, but research a bit) to inhibit grain while using the Rodinal. I just did it with stand development (60 minutes in rodinal 1:100 with 30 seconds agitation at outset and two easy agitations at the half hour mark, Tri-X at various speeds). the negs look nice to the naked eye but I haven't scanned yet so don't know. It's supposed to help. Sodium sulfite is also recommended. You can get Rodinal accutance with a bit less grain. Or so it's said. Having just tried it and not examined it closely I can also offer hearsay.
  9. Thank you all. Jay, I have sent you an email.
    FWIW, I have been printing some FP4+/Acutol shots to check the level of sharpness I want:
    The sharpness of Acutol is striking. Simply amazing. I love this look. Grain is subtle but sharp on 8x10" prints. I think it provides the level of acutance I`m looking for (at least on 35mm negatives); for some subjetcs it could be a bit excessive, but with a little effort I think I could tame it.
    Sadly, Paterson Acutol is discontinued, and looks like Crawley took his formula to the grave.
    I`ll print again tonight, to check if there is something to do with Rodinal (I have some old APX100 stripes to enlarge).
  10. Jose,
    Actually I think Acutol was Crawley's FX-14 developer. Acutol was the name Paterson gave it for the market. When Paterson regrouped Auctol was gone, but the Spanish company who got the right was suppose to start making it again. I guess that rumor might have been wishful thinking since Acutol is nowhere to be found. I'm just sorry I never got to try it as I think by looking at your shot it's exactly what I'm after. JohnW
  11. Not hard to figure out the missing or lacking stuff from them and this comes from an Acufine guy.
  12. I have been looking for the Acutol formula several times, but looks like only the "true" Acutol (FX-14) isn`t published. There are a source for the Acutol "S", FX-13, FX-15... they are different.
    I have been printing some shots from Rodinal (the film was APX100, I think 1+50), to make a comparison. They have a sharp look, nice acutance, but -far- from Acutol. Grain is more noticeable too. After looking the Acutol prints, nothing look sharp again... all are far behind. With Acutol, middle tones are preserved; it is not that kind of super-sharp ugly "line developer", where all is black or white. Definitely, my most liked developer ever, at least for 35mm (never used it on another format).
    If Rodinal is good, Acutol is two times as good. I wonder why nobody makes this formula. It has a very nice and differentiated look, far from other developers, where differences are small or minimal.
    I think I`ll stay with D76, and give a try to Crawley`s FX-2. The issue is that it is not available around here, so very expensive unless I made my own solutions. Another choice is to use Pyro developers, but prefer to stay away from them for their toxicity.
  13. Those look terrific, Jose.
  14. Looks like this would be ideal developer for some Foma 100 or 200 and my Contaflex Super BC or my Leica's. But I'd really like to see what it would do with my 3.5E Rollei. I too, have tried to find the formula for FX14, ran into a brick wall. I wish I knew at least the basic ingridents and then one might play with the composition and come close anyway. Pat Gainer said his PC-TEA was every bit as good as Acutol and just as sharp. I have never tried PC-TEA, but if he is telling the truth I guess I'm going to have to someday. Do a search " Patrick Gainer and Acutol" or "PC-TEA vs Acutol" and you'll get some interesting reading. JohnW
  15. Thanks Lex and John. I`m googling for "PC-TEA"...
  16. Speaking of Patrick Gainer, check out his tips for using borax to tame grain and fog with Rodinal. I tried it and sure enough it worked very well. I add a pinch of ordinary borax to Rodinal for stand development, usually 1+200 for two hours. There's an article on Ed Buffaloe's Unblinking Eye website.
  17. Lex,
    Sounds like something I'm going to have to try. I remember an article in the old Darkroom Techniques magazine where Gainer added Vit C to Rodinal also. I stand develope with Rodinal 1:100 for one hour, but really have to admit that with the film I'm using fog and grain are no problem. I used to use Rodinal at 1:200 - 1:300 with Kodak Tech Pan and it worked great for that. No darkroom should be without a bottle of Rodinal tucked away somewhere and there's no excuse for not having it since it lasts forever. JohnW
  18. Best results I've ever had with stand developing Tri-X in Rodinal (example here). That pinch of borax trick was just what I needed for long exposure nighttime photos. Before then, with Rodinal at 1+200 or Diafine, there was just enough of a slight haze of base fog to make it tricky to get the snap I wanted without losing subtle midtones. Had to do selective magenta/yellow filtration combined with dodging/burning to get the same results.
  19. Acutance developers tend to destroy the tonality of an image, in my experience. For that reason, I've changed from Rodinal to ID-11 or HC-110. Acutance is also a function of the right combination of real film speed and devlopment time. For instance, your FP-4 might better be exposed at 8o ore even 60 iso and development time would be a function of the highlights in your image. If they are too dull, increase development time; if they are washed out, decrtease development time. The right combo will produce and enhanced acutance.
  20. My go to developers are Microdol X, D76 full strength and Rodinal at 1/25, but I remember some Tri X negs I developed in Acufine that were really, really sharp and almost grainless. That wasn't the look I was after (as Martin mentioned, the tonality was not that hot) and only used it for a few rolls, but it truly gave great sharpness. In fact, I thought it had TOO much acutance. Click on the image and ck out those hooves. This was scanned on an ancient Epson 2450 flatbed.

    ebay 2.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018

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