T-Max 400 and D76 huge grain problem

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by nick_west|3, Apr 25, 2015.

  1. Hi Guys,

    Please go easy on me as this is the first time I have developed my own film since high school.
    I shot a roll of T-Max 400 135 and also a roll of T-Max 400 120. I processed both, a day apart, in D76 (mixed from powder) and then
    scanned using my Epson V550 at 2400dpi.

    The 120 looks great, sharp, good contrast and fine grain.
    The 135 has HUGE grain, to the point where I can't even tell where focus is in the frame.

    The only difference between processing the two is that the D76 was 1:0 for the 120 and 1:1 for the 135.
    I understand that 1:0 produces finer grain but is it really that different? This seems a little extreme.. Or does it sound like I've messed up

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Huge grain from TMAX 400 (probably the finest grained ISO 400 b/w film except for C41 types) could likely be over development, over exposure, or both. Post a scan if possible. If you hold up a strip of negatives and they look very dark that would support the over development and/or over exposure. Also, if there was an extreme difference in temperature between the developer, rinse, and fixer the film may have suffered reticulation.
  3. Hi Mike,
    Thank you for your response. Here's one of the scans as requested, and also a 100% crop for you. I also took a quick shot of the strip that they came from.
    Image 1
    100% Crop of Image 1
    Negative Strip
    Dev and Fix were approx. 20 Degrees C.
    I did however rinse in cold tap water for 10 minutes.
  4. Doesn't look like reticulation. Not a lot of shadow detail in scan. Might actually be underexposed or underdeveloped which can also increase grain. What time did you use?
  5. If I remember correctly it was around 11 mins Mike.
    I pulled the time from the here
    Does that look like unusually large grain size to you for this film/dev combo?
  6. Looks more like auto adjust tried to correct an underexposed or developed negative. That looks more like digital noise than grain. But hard to tell over the internet.
  7. Hi Larry,
    I had everything disabled in the Epson scan software (ICE, Grain Reduction etc. all off!)
    I did have unsharp mask set to low but I manually adjusted the levels before hitting scan. This is the file as you see it there is what was produced.
  8. Something just does not seem right.
  9. The 120 scans look great, and they were shot on a toy camera!
  10. A lot of us here at Photo.net use the Massive Development Chart as a starting point. http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php?Film=Tri-X+400&Developer=D-76&mdc=Search&TempUnits=F
    Copy and paste this url and it will take you to the TMY 400 page for D-76. Remember, recommended times are just a starting point. You should run some tests of your own to find the developing time that best fits.
  11. Thanks Mike
    I think that URL goes to Tri-X but I switched it to TMAX and it's looking like 400-800 ISO @ 1:1 is around 10.5 mins. I'm sure I was at 11 mins, could half a minute really have caused this?
  12. Nick, your photo of the negative strip shows it to be "400 TX", which is Tri-X, not Tmax. Even so, that doesn't look like grain from the film or from normal processing.
  13. So it's actually Tri-X. Even Tri-X shouldn't be that grainy. I would work on fine tuning the developing time.
  14. Look at the negatives with a good loupe, or use your 50mm lens backwards if you don't have a loupe. Do the negatives look like the scan? If not, you may be a victim of "grain aliasing".
    If it is grain aliasing, you may need to use the Epson at 4800dpi on the 35mm film, and then down-resolution in software if you don't want to use that much disk space.
    Basic idea is that you want your scanner's sensor resolution to be HIGHER than the resolution of the lens between it and the film, such that the lens serves as an optical low-pass filter.
    Another possibility, if the negatives are as grainy as the scans, but the scans are soft, is that you may have a focus problem with the position of the 35mm film holder for your Epson scanner. They do not have autofocus. You have to set the film holder at the height above the glass that is in focus. This is a trial-and-error process.
    Do look at discussions about film scanning with Epson scanners on the Digital Darkroom forum here...
  15. I do apologise. I purchased a roll of T-MAX today and I've obviously had that stuck in my head. You were right the first
    time Mike, sorry!

    So yes, this was definitely Tri-X 400. And according to the massive dev chart it should have been 11:27 dev time, so I was
    only 27 secs out.

    I have another roll of Tri-X to process but now I'm a little hesitant to do so. Do you guys think this problem was caused at
    the dev stage or could it be a software issue?
  16. Normally exposed Tri-X should receive about 9-10 minutes developing in D-76/ID-11 at 1+1 dilution at 70F. Most recommended times are too long for scanning - longer development only serves to exaggerate grain and contrast, both of which conspire to make scanning more difficult. Longer times should be reserved for optical enlargers using diffused light sources (which includes most so-called "condenser" heads, which also use diffused opal bulbs or opal sheet diffusers).
    I would also suspect some problems with the scan. Even at 11-12 minutes in D-76 1+1, Tri-X shouldn't look like that. Try scanning again with almost everything disabled: no unsharp masking, no noise reduction, no dust reduction, etc. If the auto exposure default looks weird, try manually adjusting the histogram (post-preview, pre-scan) to avoid clipping.
    And double and triple check your exposures. It's hard to judge from the camera phone snap of the negative, but that frame looks extremely contrasty, like it was underexposed and overdeveloped. Check your metering for accuracy and technique - be sure the meter isn't being fooled by strong backlight, light entering the eyepiece, etc.
    I recently scanned some of my earliest 35mm Tri-X negatives, from around 1969-70 when I was 12-13. My technique back then wasn't particularly good, but the negatives appeared normally exposed and developed, and the scans with an older Epson 3170 Photo were remarkably good. But I had to disable noise reduction, dust reduction and used only very low unsharp masking to get natural looking results without excessive grain aliasing artifacts. And I occasionally had to manually adjust curves or the histogram points to get optimal results - auto exposure sometimes was badly fooled.
  17. Thank you for all the responses since my last post, I have read them carefully.
    I have just tried another scan of the same frame, both at 2400 and 4800 dpi as suggested, with absolutely all corrections disabled. No improvement unfortunately.
    Based on this, and the fact that my 120 seems to scan fine, would you guys agree the problem must lie within the processing?
    I have uploaded some additional images of this frame for you if that helps, and also a 120 scan for reference:
    Full Resolution JPEG
    Negative in Epson carrier
    Negative through a loupe (apologies for the poor image, however the centre of this frame is how it actually looks to my eye in reality)
    100% Crop from a Holga 120 scan (same scanner/settings, same chemical process although 1:0 rather than 1:1)
  18. Hi,

    Based on the photo of your negative strip I believe that your Tri-X is simply underexposed at least 2 f-stops. It`s extremyly difficult to scan even some details from that kind of negatives unless you are working with high end scanners such as Imagon or drum scanners.


    Esa Kivivuori ARPS
  19. "A lot of us here at Photo.net use the Massive Development Chart as a starting point"

    Lots of people use that chart and I'm sure it's fine. But in my experience the developing times recommended by Kodak are just fine and are pretty much guaranteed to give good results. I've been developing film for 40 years and rarely done anything other than what Kodak said and have rarely had a problem. I don't think following the Kodak times is your problem.

    But what was your temperature? Based on the Kodak chart, for 11 minutes you would have been at 65 degrees. You almost have to put icecubes in the developer to get it that cold. You mix D-76 at 125 degrees and should let it sit a day to cool off. At that point it should be room temperature -- I typically develop at either 72 or 75.
  20. What Craig said about letting the fresh mixed D 76 set for twenty four hours. Not only does the temperature
    stabilize but also the chemicals get completely dissolved. The scene looks backlit with the sky behind the subject.
    I would try metering off my hand while facing the camera location then reduce the EV by 1 stop. Or use an
    incident light meter aimed from the subject location towards the light source. Here is a source
    http://www.sekonic.com/classroom/meteringtechniques/benefitsofincident.aspx that explains this further.
  21. The D76 had been mixed and sat for over 24 hours. It was clear as crystal.
    I used my cameras meter (which I believe is centre weighted) from the shadows and also checked the reading against my 'light meter' app (not perfect I know but at least it gave me the same reading as my camera). Thanks for the URL Randy, I'll check that out.
    I shot the roll at box speed (400), would it be worth setting my ASA to 200 and processing for 400, especially in challenging conditions like this?
    Craig - 65 degrees here (UK) is pretty much room temperature.
    Also, side question, the next roll of Tri-X 400 I've shot at 800. Shouldn't I increase my dev time for this? Kodak seem to suggest the time covers 400-800.. I don't quite understand how it could be the same!?
    Thanks again for all the responses!
  22. "Also, side question, the next roll of Tri-X 400 I've shot at 800. Shouldn't I increase my dev time for this? Kodak seem to suggest the time covers 400-800"

    If you shoot at 800 you have to "push" the film by developing for extra time. Haven't done this in ages so you need to check the time for a one-stop push either with Kodak or the "massive" chart. You cannot simply develop for the normal time or the film will be underexposed by one stop.

    I would not recommend shooting at 800 and push processing until you've eliminated your problems with getting good results at the normal speed of 400.

    As for 200, no need to do that routinely if you are metering and exposing properly. Negative film does have more latitude for overexposure than underexposure, so if in doubt open up a stop when shooting. But if you are metering properly and set your meter at 200 but develop normally for 400, everything will be overexposed by one stop for no particular reason.

    For the sake of figuring out what's going on, I would go shoot a "normal" roll of film. Go out in bright, midday sun with the sun over your shoulder and shining fully on your subject. Maybe include something more or less average reflectance like green grass. Shoot at f/16 and 1/500 (the sunny f/16 formula for bright daylight). Also bracket a stop or two up and down. Develop normally for 400. Examine your negatives -- not a scan -- very closely to see what you've got. Unless something is very, very wrong, you should be pretty much guaranteed to have good negatives.
  23. Thanks Craig,
    I did exactly that today and took notes for each frame. Now I'm just double checking my chemistry before I give it another go.
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong with any of the following:

    - 135 Tri-X 400
    - D76 @ 1:0 - 20 Deg C for 6.45 minutes
    - Kodak Indicator Stop Bath (I mixed 16ml with 984ml water) for 1 minute
    - Kodak T-Max Fixer @ 1:4 - 20 Deg C for 5 minutes
    - Cold Water Wash for 10 minutes
    - Photo-Flo for 1 minute
  24. Sounds right, although the wash water should be
    room temperature, not "cold".

    Also, Google the Ilford method for in-tank
    washing. Saves water and time.

    Let us know how the next roll turns out.
  25. 40+ years using D-76 confirmed,for me, that , given our local water supply (note the caveats), it works up to full strength about a week after mixing. Used, just after mixing- weak as (insert name of your least-liked brew here..)
    Use distilled water to mix your stock,and wait a week anyway.
    And the "cold water wash" is a worry -washing is as essential to the process as any other step. All the film makers advise using wash temps similar to process. Ilford wash method makes this clear?
  26. I agree with Esa & others, the negative looks underdeveloped: the "KODAK 400TX" label should be as black as the sky
  27. Hi Didier,
    I thought the general consensus was that it was overdeveloped..
    Did you mean underexposed?
  28. Nick,
    It is interesting that people have offered up as explanations for your grain problem underexposure, overexposure, underdevelopment, and overdevelopment. You may need to tweak your speed rating and processing in the future, but in reality it's hard to offer sound advice on this after seeing a photo of a negative and a bad scan. The best diagnosis for the "grain" is probably what Larry, John, and Lex have said - it appears to be a scanning issue, and not actually film grain. Before you think about changes in exposure and processing, work on getting a good scan.
  29. I wouldn't rely on the appearance of film edge markings as an indicator of appropriate development. Edge markings vary quite a bit between manufacturers, and even between types of film and lots of the same film.
    I'm wondering whether the odd pure white/black specks might be caused by some mineral content in the water. You might try some inexpensive bottled water to see if it makes any difference. Doesn't need to be distilled water, although I used it when the well water in my former rural home was stirred up by fracking. Too much lime scale and other sediment in the tap water, so much it clogged up our water filters. Switching to distilled water seemed to cut down on the random black/white specks that weren't normal film grain.
  30. "Did you mean underexposed?" no, underdeveloped according to the markings. Lex, for me there is a good correlation between markings appearance and correct development (at least for TMY, my defaut film), how do you explain the contrast between the light grey of the letters and the sky?
  31. Mark: I'm not sure what else I can try in terms of scanning, the entire roll scans this way, I've tried with every 'feature' of the Epson software enabled and disabled, auto exposure and manual levels adjustments.. they all turn out the same. Plus my 120 scans are absolutely fine. I guess the real test will be to see how the next roll turns out.
    Lex: You may be on to something here, our water is incredibly hard, however my D76 powder was originally mixed with purified water. I have just processed a second roll, I did the final photo-flo bath in purified water this time so I'll see if that has made any difference.
    Didier: 'Esa' actually said underexposed and everyone else said overdeveloped. But now you have stated underdeveloped.. that is why I asked.
  32. Hi Guys,
    So I (very carefully) processed a new roll of Tri-X 400.
    I've just made some scans and unfortunately it appears my results are the same.
    I have uploaded a high-res jpeg for you here (2400dpi).
    As you can see the problem is the same, if not worse. This was taken in bright mid-day sun and I metered from the shadows.
    My exact process was as follows:
    D76 mixed from powder with 50°C purified water. Sat for 24 hours.
    Kodak D76 - 1:0 - 20°C - 6:45 minutes
    Kodak Indicator Stop Bath - 1:64 (purified water) - 1:00 minute
    Kodak T-Max Fixer - 1:4 (purified water) - 20°C - 5:00 minutes
    Final tap water wash - 20°C - 11:00 minutes
    Kodak Photo-Flo - a couple of drops + purified water - 1:00 minute

    This was processed in a Paterson Super System 4 Tank, I closely monitored the temp and had exactly 300ml of each liquid (excluding the tap water which was constantly running).
    I also searched for the quality of our tap water and here is the result.
    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
    Thanks again.
  33. I'll attach a sample of normally exposed and developed Tri-X (from around 1970) recently scanned with an Epson 3170, the ancestor to the more recent V-models. If I'm recalling correctly I had unsharp masking set as low as possible, and disabled dust and grain reduction since those tend to produce weird clumping artifacts.
    This sample is mostly useful for estimating how scanned Tri-X typically should look via a decent flatbed scanner. There's a range of dark, light and midtones to demonstrate the appearance of grain in each. Normally in a print on silver gelatin paper via an optical enlarger grain would barely be visible in shadows and darker tones, and most visible in midtones. Scanning tends to show grain equally throughout all tones.
  34. Nick, what about your lenses (which ones?..
  35. Thanks Lex, that's exactly what I was expecting to see from my first scan.

    Trust me Didier, it's not a lens issue.
  36. Here's one of Tri-X from the mid-1980s, probably developed in HC-110. This roll had some water damage because the camera went swimming in the Guadalupe River later. But this frame is okay. I see some clumping artifacts in the darker midtones, so I may have inadvertently had dust and/or grain reduction enabled. But overall the grain and other characteristics look about right for this film in this scanner.
  37. Thanks Lex, well.. I wish they did look like those.
    I also tried scanning the same negatives with Silverfast just to rule out the issue being with the Epson software, same result.
    Correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't the area outside of the frame be pretty much black? Wouldnt this indicate a processing issue? (example here)
  38. This is probably the ugliest scan I have. Ilford HP3, around 1970, probably developed in D-76 at the local Y's darkroom. The film claimed a box speed of ASA 400 but was barely a true 200 film, so this appears underexposed and overdeveloped. The grain is clumpy and gritty, closer to your scans. HP5+ is much better than those earlier Ilford films, although it's best at around 200 when souped in ID-11/D-76.
  39. Regarding the appearance of the rebates/unexposed margins, yeah, those should be close to black. I'll attach a scan of a complete strip of negatives from that Ilford HP3 roll. During scanning I adjusted the histogram black point using the margins.
  40. Ok, here's another update.
    I remembered I had some lab processed HP5+ negs and I have just given one of those frames a quick scan. It's absolutely perfect, so we can now completely rule out the scanning issue.
    I'm not sure if this is just the difference in film but I notice a huge contrast between the frames and blank outer areas of the HP5+ compared to my Tri-X, where it all kind of looks one tone. I've shown them side by side here: Lab developed HP5+ vs Idiot developed Tri-X
  41. Yeah, even your 'ugly' scan looks good to me Lex, even at that size my shadow areas are just huge white noise monsters.
  42. Nick, your processing looks really close to the mark. I may have missed this in the thread, but did you use a hog power loupe to look at the grain?
  43. Hi Randy,
    Check page 2, and also what do you make of my last post on page 4?
  44. I'm wondering if your Tri-X was fogged somehow. Any chance it's expired, or exposed to fairly high heat for awhile? For example, several years ago I found a bulk roll of unexpired Tri-X left in the hatchback of my daughter's car. Presumably it was left over from her high school yearbook program a year earlier. But that was long enough in Texas heat to fog the entire roll. I could get tolerable results if I used HC-110 and clarifying filter tricks after scanning to boost contrast and minimize fog. But the grain still didn't have that peculiar look in your examples.
    Dunno, not sure what else to suggest other than trying another batch of Tri-X from a different lot number. It's usually a really good film and doesn't scan too badly, although it's better suited to optical enlargements. T-Max scans better.
  45. Hi Lex,
    Certainly not while I've had it, it was only purchased recently and the highest temperatures will have only been those involved in the processing.
    However.. now you've said that, I've just realised that both of these films may have accidentally been in my checked luggage when I recently travelled to the US and back.
    Now I feel stupid.
  46. X-rays from checked baggage will produce very distinctive artifacts resembling sine waves. However other lower power X-rays may produce generalized fogging.
    Here's a Kodak article on the effect of X-rays on film, and other possible causes for fogging and degradation.
  47. Thanks Lex,
    So if this was in my checked luggage, as I'm leaning towards thinking it was, both rolls were unexposed in both directions. I flew UK - ATL - BNA and a couple of weeks later BNA - ATL - UK
    So I can only presume it was exposed to heavy X-rays at least twice. Should this look more like as you described if that was the case?
  48. Kodak seem to suggest that heavy grain and complete fogging could be visible from multiple x-ray scans. I guess this explains it.
    I'll buy a new roll of Tri-X tomorrow and repeat my process and report back.
    I am incredibly sorry if it does turn out to be the cause of the baggage scans I have wasted anyones time in trying to solve an impossible problem.
  49. Nick, I had thoughts like Lex (overheated film) but you have been so careful I ruled it out. The page 5 scan
    darker areas have small lighter spots and there are white small dots all over. Were the film fogged by x ray
    wouldn't there be broader areas of gray or white irregularities? If you can see the same light spots on the
    negative with high magnification (latest roll) then it is a developer/film problem. If the negative looks like Lex's
    then it is a scanning problem. I am guessing bad film since the 120 was OK.

    Hope this helps
  50. Nah, don't worry, it's not wasting anyone's time. This may provide useful info for other folks in the future.
    So far I've had only one roll fogged by airline X-rays, apparently a batch of fresh color portrait film intended for Europe but re-imported to the US as gray market. This was right after 9/11/2001, and I'm guessing the combination of paranoia and bad information resulted in generalized fogging of an entire batch of pro color portrait film. Fortunately it affected only one roll from a wedding - the other rolls were fresh US market Kodak Portra.
  51. Randy,
    I have looked through a loupe and the entire film seems to have a fine texture to it which I'm guessing is where there is 'detail' in the blank areas?
    Apologies for the bad image, I have over sharpened it to exaggerate the problem, but you can see the texture here
  52. Nick, like Lex said get fresh roll from a different batch and I think (guess) you will be much happier. The clear area should be much clearer. Compare it to the 120.
  53. Hi,
    You are certainly not wasting people's time asking questions about the film..all these are really interesting problems and the only pity is that you are having to try to deal with it !
    I think this looks similar to some form of reticulation, but I'm only guessing.
    On another post here is an item on stand development, to which after 40 odd years I have become an instant convert and I would be interested to see if a film done like that looks more normal..as with the stand dev there is no agitation, save a couple of turns halfway through the hour; there are also no worries about temperature either and you get fully developed negs which is ideal for a lazy so and so like me.
    I am wondering whether there is too much agitation during the development and this new (very old) method would clear that part of the problem up for certain.
    One other suggestion is to use a completely different film just to see if that's any better, perhaps an ASA 125 film and new developer and fix just to get a completely fresh start...and I will offer a plug for RO9 One Shot at 1:100 for an hour.
    Good deving.
  54. I'm not sure why everyone has ruled reticulation out straight away.
    This: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5261701/B.jpg
    looks exactly like reticulation to me.
    A better scan wouldn't go amiss, but the "lumpy" appearance of the film surface is either reticulation or it's been scanned through an AR glass!
    Edit: In case the OP isn't familiar with reticulation; it's where the gelatine emulsion of the film gets broken up on a micro scale, and has nothing to do with the silver "grains". A bit like creating miniature crazy-paving from smashing concrete slabs. It can be caused by a sudden change in processing bath temperature, or by a gross change in the pH of solutions. Usually it's quite difficult to provoke in modern films, but that's certainly what appears to have happened here.
    I believe that poor (very poor) film storage can also lead to massive grain growth, but I've never seen grain, even from high ISO surveillance film, with the characteristics shown here.
  55. Hi everyone, just a quick update:
    I'm pretty sure the issue was due to the film being X-Rayed. I have just processed a new roll of Tri-X with the exact same chemicals, temperatures and process and my results are much closer to what I originally expected.

    I could even see straight away that the negatives were already dramatically different, as you can see here:
    New roll of Tri-X 400

    I'm sure you'll agree this is a huge improvement from the previous roll: Problem roll of Tri-X 400

    I'll let you know how the scans turn out.
    Thanks again for all your help!
  56. X-rays would have fogged the film rather than increase the grain. It's more likely that the time spent in the cargo hold of a plane subjected the film to a wide range of temperature, possibly enough to damage the emulsion without even wetting it.
  57. Hi Rodeo Joe,
    The film definitely appears fogged as there is very little contrast between the frames and empty areas, but you're right, I didn't even think of that.. maybe this was the results of a combination of X-Rays and extreme temp changes.
  58. Extreme heat alone can cause fog also.
  59. Looks much better, glad it worked out.
  60. Regarding fog and grain, Kodak says there's a connection:
    "...ambient radiation slowly fogs the faster silver halide grains so that the film appears grainier... X-ray equipment causes a fogged and grainy appearance over an entire picture or over the entire roll of film."​
  61. Hi Guys,
    Back again!
    I just processed another roll of Tri-X and found it to be, while not as bad, similar to my first problem roll when scanned.
    Take a look here and see what you guys think, correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't the dead space between frames be completely black and void of any texture?
    This is a straight scan, no sharpening or other adjustments, 100% crop:
  62. That looks like Digital noise/scanning artifacts.
  63. Thanks for the quick response Larry. Any thoughts on how to rectify this?
    The scan was made using Epson software on a V550 with all features disabled (sharpening, digital ice etc.)

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