Low light combos?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by gregory_wilson|2, May 29, 2008.

  1. I'm photographing an event coming up, I am told it will be lit very poorly. I don't know what that
    means exactly but the event coordinater said it will be less than desirable conditions. So, he we
    go: I was planning on using Neopan 1600 due to the fact that the grain is a bit less intense than on
    delta 3200 and also the contrast is less. I'm thinking that the event will be single source lighting so
    the shadows and highlights will be drastically different, but I want to bring up the shadows as much
    as I can while keeping the high lights from over exposing. My idea is to rate the film at 800 and
    develop with a PMK developer but pulled one stop. I'm not looking for a contrasty negative, I want
    to get as much tonality as I can, but the neg also has to be printable. Any thought for me? I'd like
    to hear what you think about other developers and films as well if you have had any luck. One
    other idea is Neopan 1600 processed in HC110 Replenisher pushed 2 stops, that I have found
    brings out amazing shadow detail where I thought there would be none, but the highlights started to
    block in, I guess an easy fix would be not pushing the dev so much..

    Anyway, thanks ahead of time for your responses.

  2. I thought, for some reason, that neopan would be available in 120 but its not. I will still
    be shooting with 35mm for the job but will also be using a Hasselblad. I think delta
    3200 is my best bet for that camera. any thoughts?
  3. I take it that you can't use a tripod and have long exposure times? That would be the best way to maintain tonality, obviously. Assuming you can't, then I've used Delta 3200 in 120 size and liked the results, but I know a lot of people don't so if you've never tried shooting it before you might want to shoot a test roll first. You could also push tri-x to 800, which I know a lot of people also like to do. It's surprising that neopan 1600 and kodak tmz are not available on 120 format, I guess they assume anyone shooting MF is using a tripod and doesn't care to push film that hard?

    As for developing, when I have a high contrast situation I like to use semi-stand or stand development with a dilute developer, or use a two-bath developer.

  4. Yeah, no tripod for this shoot. I'm not familiar with semi-stand or stand, you're talking
    about very little agitation, yes? The PMK is a pyro two bath dev. So, the stand dev
    would give lower contrast negs? has anyone used it with delta 3200?
  5. PMK is not a "two-bath" developer in the sense that I meant. With PMK you mix the two solutions together (with water) into one working solution, and then use that working solution on your film. The two-bath developer I was refering to is something like Diafine, where you soak the film in one bath, then transfer it to a second bath to finish the development:


    Semi-stand and stand are minimal agitation techniques. The idea is that with little agitation the developer around the highlights will get exhausted very quickly, and thus the highlights won't block up, but the developer around the shadows will continue working and cause an effective increase in speed. Some people also find that minimal agitation techniques result in higher acutance, but in your situation that would just be a side-effect to what you're really after.

    If you choose to go either the two-bath or the minimal agitation routes, I'd recommend you shoot a test roll first and try out the techniques to make sure you like the results you get.

  6. Thank you, I'm going to try those out. I didn't know about those processes. I'll report
    back after.
  7. I haven't tried Neopan 1600, but I don't have any problems with excessive contrast using Delta 3200. It is grainy, but contrast has never been a problem. If anything, it tends to be a bit flat.

    Tri-X and T-Max 400 pushed to 1200-1600 actually have less grain than Delta 3200 at 1600, tho' with less shadow detail. I prefer the midtones in those films pushed, so photos of people look more natural.

    Delta 3200 at 3200 in Microphen would be an excellent combination. I don't have any scans for this, tho'.

    Here are my most successful combinations for which I have examples available:

    Tri-X and T-Max 400 pushed to 1200-1600 in Microphen. Stock solution is best but 1+1 works well.



    Tri-X at 1200-1600 in Diafine (I don't care for T-Max films in Diafine).



    Delta 3200 at 1600 in Diafine (up to 3200 would work reasonably well).



    And, as a last resort, T-Max 400 at 6400 in Microphen:


    This should be reserved for scanning, which can recover faint shadow detail more easily than conventional printing.
  8. Here is what I like, so far, at least. I assume you are able to use a flash? Try shooting Tri-X 400, with the flash set at maximum (rated at say 100 at f:8), then give it a good pull in the PMK, I would start with 12 minutes and go down accordingly. This should even out the highlights and shadows pretty well. Some flash drop off will still be experienced, but that is to be expected. If you are really feeling adventurous, try reducing the highlights with a good super-proportional reducer, and then using an intensifier on the shadows...I have never done this, but it is worth a try.

    There are some pictures in my portfolio, that are form a "Rock" music show, in a club that the standard exposure for 1600 speed film was 2 seconds at f:4! for those pictures I made the mistake of setting my flash at maximum and pushing the film to 18 minutes (N+0 is 14 min) in PMK, so the highlights are pretty well blocked and the flash drop is pretty bad. The scans were by a friend of mine that took the liberty of upping the contrast; he just could not tell how much contrast the negatives had, by looking at the completely clear shadow areas, and the completely black highlights! Go figure. Also, for those shots the flash guide numbers were 1/400 at f:8 and I shot them at 1/125 at f:8, which should have had a pull, process instead of the push, so you live and you learn. I just could not get by how little light there was, so I chickened out and pushed the film.
  9. You are shooting in a contrasty situation. Pushing will only create more contrast, which is much harder to print than too little contrast. Assuming you can get enough exposure from the shadows to get them onto a zone II (texture without detail), you should probably develop normally or pull.

    But, in my opinion, shadow detail is overrated. Why do you want to see the shadows so much? I don't look at an event photo to see detail in the shadows.

    I don't understand Mark's comments, as you would not need to use a high-speed film if you can use flash. In that case, a medium-speed film would be fine. FP4, Plus-X, etc. Nor would the ambient light level have anything to do with how you develop your film when using flash.

    Delta 3200 is an ISO 1000 film, period, according to the Ilford data sheet for the film. Any higher rating is a "push". It is an extremely LOW contrast film. (I don't know why people always say it is a high-contrast film...probably because they are underexposing and overdeveloping it.) It is therefore the best film for pulling shadow and highlight detail from an extremely contrasty situation. The drawback is grain, although it is a very neat pattern of grain. If you are shooting grip and grins, where people probably won't want to see grainy-ass faces, I would say use flash and FP4 or HP5, halfrate the film, and underdevelop 25%. If no-light action shots, then the Delta 3200.
  10. Neopan 1600 shot at 800/1000 with Microphen is my combo. Will probably switch from Microphen to GSD-10 if Neopan 1600 will not be manufactured.

    Best ultra-fast film on the market. Much cheaper, sharper, and finer grained (pretty much 400 ISO speed grain in Microphen) than Delta 3200 or T-Max, very short development time that coincides with the development time of Neopan 400. What kills Delta is the terrible fog problem, off the shelf. Great 11x14 enlargements from this film.

    I find HC-110 a very crappy developer, especially for pushing. You might like the effect though.... Microphen is a good choice.

    Tri-X seems grainier and uglier at 400 (depending on development).
  11. You think Neopan is less contrasty than Delta 3200? Wow. That is the first time I've heard that.

    I think you have two options. If you are okay with the grain, then it's Delta 3200 or TMZ 3200 - the fastest films out there and I prefer the former - dev'ed in something like Microphen.

    The other option is to use a slower film with tighter grain - I would go with TXT - and stand development. I've gotten comparable results when looking at Delta 3200 in Microphen and TXT in Rodinal 1+100 stand dev'ed (1.5-3 hours) all at 3200. The TXT is more contrasty, no question, but the grain is tighter and the highlights are remarkably controlled. But it is more contrast.

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