Acros vs Tmax100 vs FP4+ for a Southwestern US trip and film management.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by haziz, Feb 25, 2006.

  1. haziz

    haziz Subscriber

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    I am planning a trip to Northern Arizona and Southern Utah in May, places to visit are the Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, and Monument Valley. This is my first visit to all locations. I would have loved to cram in more but time is constrained, there is more to see on future trips.

    I shoot mainly 4x5 and 5x7 (leaning toward 5x7 more recently), less frequently 4x10 and 8x10. I will likely take my Canham 5x7/4x5. I will also likely have my Mamiya 7 and (dont tell anyone :wink: ) my Canon 20D as backup and for quickie shots. I will do some color (mainly 120/220 but will also have Velvia/Velvia 100/possibly Astia quickloads), but the bulk of my shooting will be in B&W.

    My usual film is FP4+ which I usually develop in Sprint developer though I have recently been also using Xtol 1:1. I still prefer the Sprint slightly (less contrasty and easier to print, I may need to finetune my Xtol times further). Since I won't have access to a darkroom I may lean more towards 4x5 likely in Quickloads/Readyloads, though I will probably have around 10 5x7 Holders and a changing tent just in case. I may even carry some regular 4x5 holders.

    So which do people recommend. Acros or Tmax 100? I have used both in the past and still do when convenience trumps cost. I have not formed a definite opinion regarding preference, though I have had slightly better luck following the Sexton method/dilutions with Tmax 100 In Tmax RS. I have also used Xtol 1:1 also for Tmax 100 using Kodak's published times. I develop Acros shot at EI 64-80 in Xtol 1:1 and in Rodinal 1:50. Today I tested Acros coming up with a film speed of EI 80 in Rodinal 1:50 in a Combi tank for 9 1/2 min with 20 sec initial agitation followed by one inversion every 30 sec. I have also shot a film speed test for Acros in Xtol but have yet to develop the film. I hate the infamous Acros "hole" but do love it's reciprocity characteristics. To complicate things further I have acquired a Jobo recently but have yet to set it up. Hopefully it would be set up by the time I make the trip.

    I know, I should simplify my life and photography but I invariably break down and have both fun and infinite frustration with the technicalities. I also invariably try to take too much gear on a photo trip.

    Thanks.

    Sincerely,

    Hany.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2006
  2. garysamson

    garysamson Subscriber

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    I would suggest that you stay with FP4+ in all formats and process the negatives using Pyrocat HD. Since you have a Jobo I can provide you with some processing time suggestions once I know what kind of prints you want to make.
    Gary
     
  3. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    What the infamous Acros hole?

    Pentaxuser
     
  4. haziz

    haziz Subscriber

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    The sheets literally have a hole in the corner that as best as anyone can figure out Fuji thinks people will use to hang the sheets to dry. This is guesswork but whatever the rationale behind it, it actually is in the image area. I may have leaned towards the Acros except for the impression that it is in fact slightly slower than Tmax 100. This is however compensated for by the films incredible reciprocity charcateristics. I don't think the Grand Canyon will move during any of my photos. I was actually surprised by the film speed test of Acros in Rodinal 1:50 yielding an EI of 80 today.

    Sincerely,

    Hany.
     
  5. mark

    mark Member

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    The canyon won't move but the trees most likely will. Early May is pretty windy around here, with it dying down some at the end of may. Though this is a really dry and strange year, who knows what will be happening.

    Make sure you pack your yellow/green filter and orange filter.

    Drop me a line when you plan to be at Canyon De Chelly.
     
  6. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

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    Hany, The first thing I noticed is that you are taking a huge amount of gear and film formats. Sometimes having too much gear can really get in the way. Plus you have to leave all that gear in the car when you go to eat and take it all in and out of the motel with you. I would not take 4x5 AND 5x7 film. They are close enough to be interchangeable. As you will have to reload in changing bags, and therefore be increasing the liklihood of dust in the holders, and also for the reduction of overall weight and gear, I would recommend the 4x5 readyloads.

    As for the Mamiya 7, if you plan long hikes the Mamiya is advantageous. Also if you want to do "quickie" shots the mamiya and 120 film can work for you there as well. Unless you usually shoot with the dslr and produce the work you care about with it, I'd consider leaving it at home. If you want a camera for recording locations or snap shots a pocket sized digital point and shoot can save you the size and weight.

    As for films, that is an extremely subjective matter. For the stuff you shoot with the Mamiya I would go for the finst grain film assuming you will print to 16x20 or larger. For the 4x5, well readyloads limit you there to Tmax100 as well, although I think Acros is available in quick loads.



     
  7. haziz

    haziz Subscriber

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    I am the first to admit that I always carry too much gear. I have the ability to enlarge 5x7 and will soon have the ability to enlarge 8x10. I however, rarely enlarge beyond 11x14 so the extra resolution of 5x7 is rarely needed. However 5x7 offers the added benefit of contact prints. 4x5 contacts are just too small.

    To the previous poster: I do realize that trees move and that is in the back of my mind and is one reason why I still hesitate between the Tmax and Acros. Acros when I first tested it gave me a true speed of 50 in Ilfotec DDX 1:9 but my dev time may have been too short. Dev time should however be theoretically be more critical with highlights than shadows. I actually stopped using it briefly because I felt it was too slow. My preconception of the trip involves geologic formations, Anasazi ruins and cliffs however this is my first trip to these locations.

    Sincerely,

    Hany.
     
  8. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I'd stick with the FP4+ and developer with which you are fimiliar. Trying new film on a trip is usually a good path to disappointment.
     
  9. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I agree. FP4+ is good stuff and I prefer it to Acros and Tmax. Shooting only one film means fewer variables. Use what you know.

    Tom
     
  10. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I'll second that. Good advice ....
     
  11. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    Although I prefer Acros, if you are already familiar with FP4+ and you like it better, why switch?
     
  12. haziz

    haziz Subscriber

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    1. I would rather spend my nights sleeping than changing film in a changing bag. I will try to shoot very early in the morning. There is a lot to be said for not having to worry about changing film.

    2. While I have used hundreds of sheets of the FP4+, I am not unfamiliar with both Acros and Tmax 100 and am probably approaching 100 sheets of the Acros, and probably 60-80 of the Tmax. I have also used them both fairly extensively in 120 film size. My problem to some extent is that while I am fairly settled on a routine with FP4+ (even there I am still experimenting) I have not settled on a real routine specially with Acros. I have had fairly good results with Tmax 100 in Tmax RS diluted 1:9. For some reason however I have felt the need to try Xtol 1:1 with all 3 films.

    3. A concern regarding dust and holders in the Southwest.

    4. I was envisaging using Quickloads and Readyloads for the bulk of the pictures with some shots interspersed in 5x7 if I wish to do contact prints. I do tend to shoot a lot of film and will easily do 20-40 sheets a day in New England (I do two copies of each shot). Depending on the logistics there and the traveling distances between locations I may end up shooting more or less film there, probably more. If I am doing all of my photography in FP4+ I would have to take most of my holders (40 or so 4x5 and 20 5x7). To ease my travel plans I intend to carry my camera as carry on and have 2 boxes of Quickloads (and the Quickload and Readload holders) and some 120/220 film just in case my mailed film and holders get lost. I will likely mail or UPS the bulk of my film and the actual holders ahead of time to the motel and then mail them back. I would also mail the E6 stuff directly from Arizona to be processed.

    5. The major downside to the above plan is cost. If I figure 40 sheets a day of Quickloads, this will add up significantly specially on a 9 day trip. I may initally buy one box of quickloads a day and then order more from Freestyle overnighted to the motel once I have a better impression of my needs, but then Freesytle is not the cheapest specially with Acros and shipping costs will be significant.

    Thanks.

    Sincerely,

    Hany.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 26, 2006
  13. haziz

    haziz Subscriber

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    One other advantage of quickloads and readyloads is the ability to write directly on the sheet/envelope. This significantly eases the ability to do N, N+1 and N-1 development. With FP4+ I have done only N development since I have been very reluctant to come up with a system for keeping track of individual sheets, though I realize that many do just that and transfer them at night to separate boxes. I still need to come up with my own N-1 and N+1 times though I have experimented with times published online and can also attempt to extrapolate from my N times.

    Thanks.

    Sincerely,

    Hany.
     
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  15. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Hany, have to agree with a few of the above posts. It sounds as if you may be putting the cart before the horse. Take one format (4x5) for LF and a second for quick shots. Use the FP4 and work out your numbers before you leave, there's plenty of time left. There is noting to doing n- and n+ with FP4, it has a nice range of values it can see. I don't see how you can take 40 shots a day and not know what the numbers are for plus and minus development. One reason we use sheet film is its ability to deal with contrast in differing scenes. Get out there and shoot in flat light and find a good number to expand development. Then, find some harsh contrast and do the same. You will find that light in the southwest is even but there is more contrast than you normally deal with in the east.

    I would think that to simplify would be your best bet here. The southwest is a wonderful area to shoot in, but light on a sunny day is pretty stable (the time of year you are traveling in won't have too many clouds, if any at all). Figure an sbr of 9 2/3 and you will have most shooting situations resolved. The words about a yellow and green filter are good ones. Perhaps a polarizer and 81b for color would be best as light here can be on the cool side due to blue skies.

    Simplify things to one film and one developer. Learn what FP4 can do, it has wonderful properties. Don't be a slave to your equipment on vacation, have fun! tim
     
  16. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

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    Hany do you have enough available time to drive to the southwest instead of flying? Is this a photo expedition or a vacation? I say this because at this point in my life I rarely ever fly to shoot in North America but have found it preferable to drive. Driving enables me to use my own vehicle, bring as much film and gear, (as well as food, because food on long road trips can be unhealthy), and clothing geared to whatever weather I may come across and just about anything else I may need.

    It could take 3-4 days each way to drive from New England to the South west, but then again you may also come across interesting places to shoot along the way especially if you plan to drive through areas that have potential. Flying is still going to kill a day on each end, and you may still have a long drive from the airport to where you want to shoot so you may kill 2 days on each end. Also bags may get lost, deliveries get lost or arrive late, it's just safer in some ways to carry it all with you. What I do, and this is more risky in the summer due to all the vacationers, is I don't even book accommodations, unless it's to a very popular spot. I am free to spend as many or as few days as I want in any place and I am free to move to any place I choose. If the weather turns out to be undesireable, I may drive 500 miles to some other location where the weather and possibilities are better. I find this a very productive way to work.
     
  17. mark

    mark Member

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    You obviously do not mind carrying the equipment so I say go for it. I have not used acros but have used T-Max in the locations you are planning. You are going to need expansion capabilities and T-Max does that well.

    Just a warning though. The parking areas at Canyon De Chelly are notorious for break ins. Keep the cameras in the trunk. Just covering them in the backseat is an invitation. Carry a cooler for your extra film and keep all regular film holders in big zip locks.
     
  18. haziz

    haziz Subscriber

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    I am leaning towards sticking with 4x5 and skipping 5x7 on this trip. Will likely stick to Quickloads/Readyloads. I still want to take my Canham camera (4x5/5x7 Woodfield) and now have to figure out a bag that qualifies as carry-on and that is oriented towards LF. I have a Lowepro backpack that will do the trick but it weighs a ton. My Fine Art Photo Supply 5x7 bag probably defies any airline's idea of carry-on luggage and the Canham won't fit a traditional 4x5 bag such as the Zone VI 4x5 bag.

    Thanks.

    Sincerely,

    Hany.
     
  19. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Use the film with which you are familiar and comfortable. The only advantage T-Max has is that it is less sensitive to blue therefore rendering better skies without a filter. I like Acros, as well as FP4+, but if I were not homed in tightly on exposure and development I would not carry it on a trip.
    As for dust, I spend a lot of time in DV and the Anza Borrego desert. My holders are always in zip lock bags except when in the camera or being loaded or unloaded. I have rarely hada problem with dust. Be sure to vacuum insode your bellows prior to leaving home,this is the most common source of dust problems.
     
  20. haziz

    haziz Subscriber

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    Leaning towards Fuji Acros

    I am leaning towards 4x5 quickloads using Acros, sticking to 4x5 only with just the Mamiya 7 as backup. I may even just take a Toyo AII instead of the Canham since it is slightly smoother and marginally more compact though by doing that I sacrifice the use of the Fujinon 450 mm lens due to lack of bellows draw and more fussy use of a wide-angle such as the 75 mm Grandagon (need to drop the bed). The Toyo would also force me to carry a Linhof to Toyo adapter board (I had shifted recently to Technica boards) or to remounting my lenses back on Toyo boards which are somewhat bulkier; not an issue with the lenses per-se but definitely occupying bigger slots/compartments in the camera bag. I am actively shooting the Acros now so that I have even more exposure to it before the trip. I am getting good results with it rated at 80-100 EI and developed in Rodinal 1:50.

    Sincerely

    Hany.
     
  21. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    Acros and rodinal are a great looking combo.
    enjoy your trip!
     
  22. haziz

    haziz Subscriber

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    Looks like it's going to be Acros in Quickloads, with some Velvia 50 in Quickloads. Will likely use Rodinal, though as a safety margin may keep the second shot of each image as a safety measure and dev either again in Rodinal or possibly Xtol 1:1. I may in fact have to carry a Canon 35 mm film camera in addtion for my Velvia metering since I have had better luck with that in the past vs using the Pentax digital spot meter which works great for me for B&W.

    BTW I ususally do two shots of every scene for insurance but this seems almost wasteful with the quickloads though since the trip is not very conveniently repeatable will likely still do it this way.

    Thanks.

    Sincerely,

    Hany.
     
  23. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Just makre sure you shoot a handful of Acros test exposures to develop before you do the real negs!
     
  24. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Haziz,

    I don't think you have enough equipment. Carry on? You must be a great packer.
     
  25. haziz

    haziz Subscriber

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    Yes I am taking way too much equipment. However I should be able to take a 4x5 and 6x7 setup using only one backpack.

    The F64 "8x10" backpack accomodates a 4x5 (Canham or Toyo AII) with 5, possibly 6 smallish lenses (75, 90, 135, 200, 300, possibly 450), plus a Mamiya 7II with 2 possibly 3 lenses, spot-meter, loupe and quickload holder and maybe 1 packet of quickloads. I have packed it this weekend just to make sure. I will ship the film to my motel ahead of time. Tripod and darkcloth goes into my checked luggage. I can't see how I would be able to squeeze in a 35 mm camera though I would have prefered to take one for metering Velvia but not the B&W.

    I do shoot the Acros fairly regularly though FP4+ is my usual fim. I did shoot a further 20 sheets of the Acros last weekend. I developed about half of them and the film looks good in Rodinal 1:50. I have done densitometer testing for film speed (EI 80) but have yet to do a formal Zone VIII test for final development time.

    Sorry for all my posts, however I did want some feedback as a reality check since I had a nagging sensation my original plans were too extravagant.

    Sincerely,

    Hany.
     
  26. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Hany, with the Velvia try this with the spot meter. Decide which is the brightest area in which you want to hold texture. Meter this spot. Add 1.5 stops of exposure and shoot. Again, a polarizer and 81a or 81b filter would be a good choice. tim