Alternatives for FP4+ and Zone System

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by fred, Nov 5, 2004.

  1. fred

    fred Member

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    Hello,

    I was thinking about FP4+ (120) for stepping in the Zone System.
    But unfortunually, the film is in back-order for more then 7 weeks.

    Which combo film-developer is a good alternative for mastering the Zone System?

    Many thanks
    Fred
     
  2. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    APX 100 or Tri-X both developed in HC110 dil B (North American dilutions). You will get as many combinations as there are members on this board. All are probably valid and workable. Just pick something and get shooting. That's the best way to learn.
     
  3. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    If you can't use FP4+ and DD-X, you might as well sell your cameras. :wink:

    Just kidding, of course. Some folks feel traditional (non t-grain) emulsions lend themselves better to contrast manipulation through development. But, I would agree - pick a film, any film (that suits your general needs), and get out there and start shooting.

    Developer? Same thing. I'd suggest avoiding the temptation of obsessing over "the best" developer. Instead, pick one that is conveniently available to you and that has the general properties you're looking for. That might be Rodinal, HC-110 (or Ilfotec HC), a Paterson developer, or left-over coffee. Eventually, you'll want to play around with different developers, but starting with a conveniently-available general-purpose developer means you'll be more likely to get started.
     
  4. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    I 've found with Fp4 and delta 100 (Mostly delta 100) XTOL works great. The best range of values. My development is about 10% shy of chemical fogging my ASA is 100 to 125 which slightly under exposes the film. This combination seems to give me the most latitude for increasing contrast or decreasing contrast in the darkroom. These films in my experiance however are not tolerant to pushing or pulling however so for those situations you will need to discover a different film/chemestry combination.
    Samy's camera in L.A. has been able to get 8x10 FP4 to me with in 3 wks so you might try them. I know they don't carry Delta 100 any larger than 120 any more. For that you might try Calumet who the last time I was there had it in stock (8x10).
     
  5. djklmnop

    djklmnop Member

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    Any film / developer combination will work. The Zone System is designed to maximize usable density for any given printing paper. The more difficult question is, whatever combination you go with, will you be doing the proper density testing (densitometer)? The Zone System with any film / developer combination is useless unless you plan on calibrating it.

    Andy
     
  6. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Useless? Not to be argumentative, but isn't that a little extreme? I would agree that a densitometer is needed for precision (sensitometry is the path to enlightenment, and all that) - as it's really handy to know what "N" is.

    But, I think other methods can come close, and can make a loose application of Zone System principals useful. Getting consistently "good" prints at grade 2 or 2.5 might be one method, for example. Or, using the densitometer mode of the RHdesigns ZoneMaster II enlarging meter might suffice for some.

    Maybe it depends on how precise one wants to be. Then again, how does one achieve precision with a system built on integers expressed as Roman numerals? :wink:
     
  7. sanking

    sanking Member

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    The first and most important characteristic of a film that works well with the zone system is the potential for expansion and contraction development. Ilford FP4+ is certainly an excellent film for that purpose. Other 100 ISO films, available in sheet film, that are as good or better than FP4+ are, Efke PL 100, Tmax-100, and Delta 100. Tmax-400 is also great for zonal expansion and contraction.

    Don't assume, however, that you must have a film with excellent potential for N+ and N- for all of your work . In fact, films that have a lot of development latitude (= opposite of N+ and N- potential) are great for certain kinds of work because they if you expose them correctly in the right kind of light it is virtually impossible to under- or over-develop them. One film of this type that comes to mind is BPF 200/JandC 200.

    Sandy
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2004
  8. fred

    fred Member

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    Thank for all replies.
    Forgive me to formulate my question "not precise enough".
    I will do the test for roll (120) film making use of different backs in the future. I will use a densitometer.

    And the choice of the film will also depending of its availibility in the (near) future. Unfortuanally, I don't have a crystalline ball/globe. :smile:

    So what about T-max 100 (in ID-11 or X-tol)?
    Across 100 (in ID-11 or X-tol)?
    Tri-x 320 (in HC110)?

    So, what is easier to manage: a classical grain- or T-grain film (longer times)?

    Sandy:
    Do I understand that a film with great latitude as 400TX doesn't suit for Zone System?
    Or at least that one doesn't 'win' enough?

    Many thanks.
    fred
     
  9. sanking

    sanking Member

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    TRI-X is somewhat intermediary between films like FP4+ that have great N+ and N- potential and those like BPF 200 that have very limited potential for expansion and contraction. But it definitely can be used for N+ and N- work, even though it is perhaps not the best choice.

    Another characteristic of TRI-X is the non-linear nature of its curve. If you look at a family of TRI-X curves you will see that it has a very long toe and a rather upward flaring shoulder. By contrast the curves of films like FP4+, Efke PL 100, Tmax-100, Delta 100, and Tmax-400 are quite straight, with relatively short toes and very little shouldering.

    Sandy
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2004
  10. djklmnop

    djklmnop Member

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    I think my statement might've came through too strict :smile:. What I am trying to tell the original poster is, you can pretty much do the Zone System with any Film / Developer combination. What is more important is that things are properly calibrated. I think most new Zoners assume that the Zone System is only confined to a specific film / developer combination. What they need to understand is that the Zone System is a system that will allow you to calibrate any combination you may desire to use. Matching grade 2 paper in negative form at film base exposure :D

    Andy
     
  11. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    No problem, Andy. And, I didn't mean to sound as if I was getting on your case. I certainly agree with the need for calibration by some means. I simply wanted to point out that aspects of the Zone System come in different "strengths" - something that can benefit those who may be satisfied by something less than "industrial strength". :smile:
     
  12. chrisg

    chrisg Member

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    I started off using FP4 but transitioned over to HP5 after about a year. It Zones very nicely and I like the additional speed. (I do 2x enlargements of 4x5 negs and no noticable difference in grain on my prints.) Of course, my HP5 suggestion does you no good if its on back-order too, but if its available its worth a shot.

    Developer: I now use DD-X, but D-76 is good with FP4 and HP5. I used it mostly 1+3 with FP4 (N = 12 minutes for MGIV w/#2.5 filter) and 1+2 with HP5 (N = 11 minutes ?).

    Chris
     
  13. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Chris - I like DD-X, too, both for its properties and its convenience as a liquid concentrate. I'm curious about the dillutions and times that work for you, however, as the dillutions are "hotter" and the times longer than those often recommended as a starting point. Any thoughts about what in your environment or workflow that relate to this?