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Zone System Question.

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I will be using both 2 1/4 and 4x5 films. Using a Sekonic L-508 for my scene

reading. Any1 has good recipe w/ any Dev vs Film combo? I don't have a

densitometer, so i'll not be able to do my own reciepe :(... I'll be using a

unicolor processing drum on a beseler motor base for the 4x5 and a standard 4

reals (35mm) stainless tank for the 2 1/4 films, processing 2 of them at a time.




Marc-Andre Dumas (M.A.D.)

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I am using EFKE ASA 100 4 x 5 film from JandCPhoto and the developer is a brown stain developer W2D2+ from formualaryphoto.com.


The developer exhausts on the highlights but continues to develop the shadows. I have used this on all my photography. Go to this website and go to Main St Station - frohnec is my name.



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If a scene with nine zones of contrast range prints properly on your desired paper grade (presumably number 2), you have the correct exposure and development. (Negative density range about 1.65.) A densitometer can get you there faster, that's all. Ansel didn't have one when he started.


Of course, if you're scanning the negative, you probably want less density range on the negative, to avoid Dmax problems with the scanner. Maybe a density range more like 1.2 to 1.4?


The whole point of Zone system is calibrating EVERYTHING. Your meter, your lens, your shutter, your thermometer, your water, your developer, your film, your paper. Absolute measurements of each aren't needed, it is just a matter of getting the right results.


What is important is that after doing the calibration, everything you use in the process is repeatable. For instance, if your thermometer reads three degrees low, that it ALWAYS reads three degrees low.

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John Schriver's half right, but he's VERY right on that half :-)


The other half is learning to see tones and describe them as zones, knowing what to do with John's science side of things to get what you want.


Previsualization is half of Zone System.

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To me, the Zone system is a straight mechanical process. If the spotmeter shows the highlights are going to fall on zone 10, I use N-1 development to bring them down to zone 9. If the spotmeter shows the highlights are going to fall on zone 8, I use N+1 development to bring them up to zone 9.
James G. Dainis
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