Basics of developing B+W film?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Dr Croubie, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    Hi all, I'm sure that this has probably been asked before, but I can't find the 'specific' answers that i need in old threads, so I'm making a new one.

    Firstly, about me. Back in High School, we had a few photography lessons as part of Tech classes, but the teacher only took our rolls, developed them for us, gave us the negatives, and we put them into the enlarger and printed our own paper in the baths and all (only ever B+W). So i've never processed my own film into negatives before, although I do understand the basics of the process.

    Flash forward 15 years (wow, has it really been that long?), and I'm getting back into film (not that i ever really left, but my first 'slr' was a 'dslr', now i've got 3*6x6, 1*645, 3x135 cameras and still only one dslr). I'm really liking taking B+W film and i've shot a few dozen rolls over the past year already, anything from KB25 in 135 to Delta P3200 @iso4000 in 120. (I also shoot c41/e6 and process in one or the other depending on how I'm feeling, but I doubt i'll ever process them myself).
    Also, I should mention that I scan everything on my Epson v750, and will print on my soon-to-arrive Epson R3000. As much as i'd like to do the full enlarger-darkroom setup, I don't have the space and probably never will.

    So far I've only ever taken films to my local lab, the last one within 900km that will do B+W (afaik). They also do C41 and E6, and I'm very happy with their service in general. However, lately I've been getting back a few duds.
    Firstly, a roll of ATP (or was it APX) 32, shot at 25, it looked like it was pushed to 400 or something, a true 'black and white' film, there was no grey left whatsoever. OK, i'm sure that may have been a dud film or a noob mistake, and I'm not saying I'm won't do the same one day.

    And Efke they seem to have a real problem with, especially the line that i've read everywhere on the net "be careful with the wet negatives". The first roll of KB100 135 turned out fine. The second when I got it back, he said "i think it's disintegrating because it's too old, the non-emulsion side just peels off" (never mind that it was brand new). I thought at the time, maybe it was because I took them straight Freezer-Camera, and it had stuck together in the canister and ripped while winding. Either way, needless to say, it's useless. The last two rolls I gave him were 120 KB25, and this time he came back with the correct answer, "it sticks to everything when it's wet, like the rollers of the machine". I haven't scanned it yet but at least it doesn't look as bad as the last time. But if they're only going to machine process, I'm always going to have the same problem.

    And lastly, I'm not getting enough shadow detail, and this is true of almost every film, i'm not sure yet whether to blame my scanner (or at least the driver, i'm running it via the epkowa driver in GIMP under Linux, I'll try with my Win7 laptop one day). Basically, no matter how I scan, the botton 50% black (at least, what I think should be the bottom 50%), is compressed into the bottom 10%. 90% of what I get on screen is what I think should be highlights. So I'd like to experiment with different developers, processing times, agitation routines, etc, to try to overcome this. (I always have to adjust the tone-curves in GIMP to boost the shadows and re-contrast the bottom 5%, but sometimes it's just too black at the bottom to be useful, even if I overexpose in-camera by 1/3-2/3 of a stop, any more and I'm clipping highlights)

    So, what do i need? I'll only ever be doing this in 'full light', so I need 'closed-equipment' as it were.

    I know I need a tank that can take 135 and 120 reels (as much as I'd like to shoot 4x5 or 8x10, if I ever do it'll only be Velvia). How does this one look? (just the first one I noticed at B+H, no preference really).
    I'm presuming some sort of changing bag obviously, suggestions welcome (I've re-rolled films before, anything that involves taking a cartridge apart has ben done under my very thick black quilt (doona/duvee for all you foreigners), at night with lights off and curtains shut).

    After processing and fixing and washing, I'm thinking I'll just hang them off the shower-rail to dry, anyone want to tell me this is not a good idea?

    And developer, this is mostly where I need the suggestions. Films to be used at home are definitely going to be Efke KB25 and KB100, in 135 and 120. Other films can vary, I tend to buy one-off rolls on ebay sometimes (which I try not to do these days, I try get at least 10 at a time so I can figure out their 'style'). I've got a 100' reel of Rollei Retro 100 to cut into canisters one day (once I finish that roll of Provia 400 that expired last century).
    In the freezer are various rolls of FP4 125, HP5 400, Acros 100, Delta P3200, Shanghai GP100, Tmax100 and 400, APX25 and ATP32 (or is it ATP25 and APX32?).
    I used to get BW400CN pushed to 800 because I heard somewhere it was better, but I just got my first roll of TMax 400 pushed and i reckon it was better (maybe because I used an orange filter for once, or my FL55/1.2 just works better with film).
    I also love Delta Pro 50 and 100 (but I have no problems with the way the lab does these, they always look amazing, if Efke's being discontinued then it's going to be Delta Pro 50 for me from now on).

    Another requirement on the developer is that it should be long lasting. I tend to work in spurts, shoot a few rolls at once and then nothing for a while. If it's a liquid, it has to last maybe 2 years at room temperature or come in smaller bottles (I've read about decanting into smaller bottles once opened, I'm fine with doing that). Powder is very much appreciated, as long as an open-bag of powder also lasts. Powder would also be good for shipping, keep the weight down and less restrictions.

    So, anything that particularly springs to mind?

    Fixer I'll also need, anything in particular good or bad? (as long as it's fixed properly before I take it out of the dark-tank, it'll be drying in the light).

    Also, where I live has fairly hard tap water, but i'm also going to plumb-in the rain water tank in a few months (I can get it manually from the tank for now). Or should i just be using distilled all the way?

    Anyway, so that's my very longwinded way of asking for help, any suggestions much appreciated.
     
  2. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Hi Dr. Croubie, what I strongly suggest is to first read some basic how-to stuff from Ilford and Kodak. I posted a thread (see link below) with links to some really good information everyone should probably start with. It is a good idea to get some straight talk from Ilford and Kodak first before asking for opinions - because you will get a lot of responses here with everyone's personal preferences and it can get overwhelming, especially for a beginner who might not be able to separate good information from bad information. Some good basics will help keep things simple and help you get good results.

    Michael

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum216/114562-ilford-kodak-resources.html
     
  3. wiedzmin

    wiedzmin Subscriber

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    Regarding tank I suggest this one if you do not have experience. Reels are easier to load in my opinion and it is quicker to put the lid on.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ESA321_Universal_Plastic_Developing_Tank.html

    Water - do yourself a favour and use distilled to mix chemicals and for the final wash with wetting agent like http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/16726-REG/Edwal_EDLFN3_4_LFN_Wetting_Agent_for.html.

    Drying - shower is ok but run hot water for a few minutes before (it will help with dust in the air) and keep window and door closed.
     
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  4. mr rusty

    mr rusty Member

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    My advice based on my experience.

    Buy ilford film. Use Ilfords chems. Follow their worksheets/factsheets to the letter. Works perfectly.

    Bit like following a Delia Smith recipe - you know it's going to work.

    Then go and try other things using Ilford experience as a benchmark.
     
  5. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Read the howto in my FAQ; link in my signature. There's also a video posted by the MOD54 guy.

    If you're not getting enough shadow detail then you need more exposure. Some developers (eg XTOL) give a bit more shadow detail, others (Rodinal) tend to give less.

    If you want a lasts-forever developer, Rodinal and HC-110 are the best options and both will last a decade or more as concentrate even after opening. Both tend to give poorer film-speed and sharp grain so they work best on slow and/or very fine films. D76 or Xtol will last maybe a year once mixed up, or forever in their sealed sachets.

    Get a rapid (ammonium thiosulfate) fixer. Brand is irrelevant; the best option is the one in your local store that you don't have to pay freight on.
     
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  6. micwag2

    micwag2 Member

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    I just started doing my own B&W developing. While it by no means makes me an expert, I would like to suggest that you pick a film and use their chemicals to start. Get familiar with it then experiment with mixing and matching til you find developer, stop bath and fixers you find work best for you. I started with Kodak Tri-X and D-76 with the associated chemicals. Then just do it!
     
  7. dorff

    dorff Member

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    Welcome to film development! It is easy and straightforward, unless you don't want it to be.

    If you are new to film, then you should not use technical pan type films such as ATP until you have mastered the basic skill set first. These are ultra-high contrast films that need very special development to produce a full tonal scale. I have a lot more experience, relatively speaking of course, and I still avoid those films. To be brutally honest, I haven't identified a need to use such slow films yet, as the grain on Acros is so small that I do not notice it on a 12"x16" print from a 35 mm negative. If a film is difficult to handle, such as KB25, well just avoid it. Why torture yourself? It may be possible to cause less softening with low pH developers - the more alkaline a developer, the more the gelatine softens. My overall advice based on what you give above is to vastly reduce the variety of materials that you work with. If I were you, I'd pick Acros or FP4+, maybe one slow film (PanF+) and maybe a fast film that can be pushed in a pinch, say HP5+. Then use one developer and work through the variety of usage conditions and processing methods until you understand those two or three films well enough. For a developer, start with something like D76(=ID11) or Xtol, and stick with it. Rodinal, HC-110, TMax developer, Ilford DD-X and Perceptol etc are all good developers, and used correctly will produce great negatives, but you cannot learn and use them all at once, as you will be forever experimenting and your results will be up and down, not to speak of the clutter in your chemicals cupboard. The films suggested here are tolerant of all commonly available developers. I am not aware of bad film-developer matches in the Ilford line-up, and Acros is beautiful in any developer. The European films (Adox, Efke, Rollei, Foma) require much more circumspection, and some film-developer combinations are really to be avoided. If I need to start looking for special developers because my films don't like Rodinal or D76, well then it just becomes a schlep that kills the joy of photography.

    Keep it simple.

    Keep it simple.

    Keep it simple. Did I mention that before? :wink:
     
  8. Arctic amateur

    Arctic amateur Member

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    It might not be a good idea to to mix a part of a powdered chemical. Powders can separate in the bag according to size, weight, shape, surface friction, surface charge, and whatnot, so you have no guarantee that the half you pour into your mixing bottle has the same concentrations of stuff as the part you leave in the powder bag. It's usually advised on this forum to mix all of the powder at once.
     
  9. wilfbiffherb

    wilfbiffherb Member

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  10. Noble

    Noble Member

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    Dr Croubie,

    As others have stated you need to simplify. I would stay away from the Advanced Technical Pan stuff for right now. Delta 100, Acros 100, and Tmax 100 are all great films. Pick one as you medium speed film and stick to it. All of those films can be developed in Rodinal. Rodinal keeps forever even when opened. It is a liquid concentrate that you dilute in water when you need it. You can use a simple kitchen measuring cup to measure out the water and use a medicine dropper or syringe to add a few milliliters of Rodinal (Adox Adonal). Rodinal is not a fine grain developer. That really isn't a problem with 120 100 ISO film. It makes for sharp negatives. Rodinal grain is a bit aggressive for 400 ISO 35mm film. Frankly I don't even use it for MF 400 ISO film.

    There are recipes for Rodinal and Acros/Tmax 100/Ilford Delta 100 all over the internet. I say pick ONE film and develop multiple rolls. Tweak as you go along.

    Evaluating negatives... You need to make sure you are exposing your negatives correctly. You need to get a good modern hand held light meter like the Sekonic L-308S. It is a good incident meter. I don't think it does spot metering though. Learn how to use the meter. You may want to get some scans from whoever processes your film. Depending on what kind of outfit it is the scans may be anything from terrible to somewhat acceptable. What you want to see is if they get significantly better tonality compared to your scanning efforts. If they do then the problem may lay in your scanning workflow. Also have you calibrated your monitor? A lot of people have big cheap TN panel monitors that are uncalibrated. Get an IPS monitor and calibrate it. If you don't have a good calibrated monitor you won't be able to evaluate anything using it. The other thing is in order to make a definitive statement about a negative you have to print it. I scanned my negatives for a long time and only late in the game started actually making prints in my own dark room. Well the scanner was able to get a decent scan out of a lot of negatives that were low quality. If you tweak your negatives for scanning that doesn't mean they will be ideal for dark room printing. A well exposed easy to print negative will scan just fine. Shoot for a nice darkroom negative and it will be scannable. Scanners allegedly prefer thinner negatives but I shoot for darkroom results and scanning hasn't been a problem. I make my negatives as dense as they need to be for darkroom printing... no more, no less.

    I didn't catch what country you live in. If you are in the US Rodinal (Adox Adonal) can be purchased at Freestyle Photographic in California. I actually recommend starting with some 100 ISO film and Rodinal. You need a minimal amount of equipment to mix it up and it lasts forever. Every other developer I've ever used costs more and requires much more equipment to mix up and store. The beauty of Rodinal is you mix up just what you need each time and all you need is a measuring cup and a medicine dropper.

    The paterson system you pointed out is what I use to develop my film. People will get into plastic vs steel reel debates, but you should just use what works for you. When loading 120 film on the plastic reel I suggest starting at the end that has the tape on it. So in the darkbag unroll the roll of film entirely while removing the paper backing and then load it onto the real from the end that has/had the tape on it. Be patient. Loading the reels is the hardest part of developing film. It will take you awhile to get proficient.

    Running around the internet collecting different films and trying them out is fun. Unfortunately as a neophyte you aren't going to be able to learn anything and improve your process if you keep doing that. I like 100 ISO film so I picked ONE kind and shot box after box of it. I tried different developers at different concentrations with varying agitations. But for the most part I kept shooting just one kind of film. You have so many variables it is hard to trouble shoot. You have a light meter, film, developer, scanner, monitor, etc. You need to examine the steps in your workflow and make sure they are all being operated in stringent and consistent manner before evaluating results and making changes. I personally would go out with a good hand held meter, your best camera/lens and take a picture of a scene with the sun directly behind you. I would do it on a sunny day and on an overcast day. I would do something similar with a portrait. A nice head shot so you can evaluate skin tones in bright sunshine and on an overcast day. I would then send the roll to North Coast Photographic Services. Have them develop it and do an enhanced scan of the entire roll. This process is not the cheapest but it is very good. When you get your roll back assuming you used 100 ISO film from Ilford/Kodak/Fuji and correct metering technique you will have a reasonably developed roll and some good scans. You can use them as a baseline to check your scanner, monitor, and home developing efforts. Although like I said home developing efforts should be tweaked for darkroom prints. But at least you will be able to address really gross errors using a scanner.

    On a side note places like Costco do excellent large prints pretty cheaply. The prints need to be large at places like that so they use the Inkjet vs the light jet which often has color casts. You can even get FREE printer profiles for Costco stores across America from Drycreek Photo. It beats buying ink and paper, cleaning, and profiling your own printer. If your activities are sporadic I would recommend this route. At least try it out before committing a bunch of money to a printer. Ink jet printers need to be used regularly or their ink nozzles get clogged up.
     
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  11. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    I think plastic reels might be best for starting out. I have recently decided I like steel reels better, but adjustable plastic reels will let you develop different formats without buying too many extra reels. There is plenty of time to buy extra stuff after you get hooked, and it will happen.

    When I started, plastic reels required less thinking, and I thought they were easier. It didn't help that our instructor didn't tell us how to load a steel reel, so I tried to slide the film in as if it were a plastic reel that did not ratchet. That did not end well.

    After playing with steel reels, I quickly learned they don't require much thinking either. I sacrificed a roll of expired film to practice loading in the light, and after loading about 5 times felt confident to do it for real in a dark bag. Of course, I practiced in the dark bag before using any film I really intended to develop. I don't develop much film, and have used steel and plastic about an equal number of times, but can now load steel faster than plastic.

    Regardless of which reel you use, practice in the light and watch closely to how it works. Learn how to feel in order to tell whether the film is properly started on either reel.
    Mistakes are the best way to learn, but you don't want to ruin film (unless your experimenting on the film). So, when you can load the reel well, purposely load it wrong and also learn how to feel for this. By only touching the sides of the film, you should be able to tell by how the film is moving into the reel and whether it is seated correctly. If you can reliably do it wrong, on purpose, you're more likely to avoid that specific accident, and will know how to recover from it if it does happen.
    Then practice with your eyes closed. Then in the dark or in a dark bag.

    I've some steel 110 reels, though haven't developed 110 yet. They are difficult to get used to, so I just take some expired film and practice while watching TV. I've gotten pretty good at it, and will have no reservations when it's time develop my 110 film.
     
  12. emjo

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  13. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    Wow, thanks for all the replies so far, I wish other forums on the net were as helpful (not naming names).
    Anyway, some very good ideas so far that I'm definitely going to follow. Just to reply to some specific points:

    - My monitor is a Dell U2711 factory-calibrated 27", 2560x1440, almost every review of it says how great it is out of the box, best you can buy if you can't afford an NEC/Eizo. Rest of the PC is set up for ICC-profiled sRGB, including GIMP.
    - I've bought a printer, just waiting for it to ship, Epson R3000.
    - Unfortunately a real Wet Darkroom is out of the question, unless I can convince my mum to let me steal one of her wine cellars (not likely), or find one to borrow in my small country town called Adelaide. But then there's an unfortunate mould problem down there.

    As for my scanning workflow, my general way is this:
    - Scan a preview, set Gamma to max (5, lowest contrast, makes blacks easier to see), White-point to max (darkest), then set black point (usually around '1' which sets it just above 'true black' on the colour curve).
    - Then set Gamma to min (0, max contrast, makes burnt highlights easiest to see), set the White-point to just below White-clipping level.
    - Then set Gamma until it looks good (usually 4-5 on B+W, 1-2 on E6).
    This gives me the widest-range between darkest-lightest, I confirm that by looking at the curve once scanned, if it's not I might tweak and re-scan.
    Anyway, here's a few shots that illustrate my 'lack of shadow detail' problem:

    Scanning screenshot:
    [​IMG]
    You can see how i've set the black and white points, and gamma.

    Curves:
    [​IMG]
    You can see that the black-point was just a little bit above 'true zero', this is about perfect because it gives me room to manoeuvre around the low-end.
    It's this 'kink' at the low end that I find myself perenially having to do, first the boost to get shadow detail, then the low-bit to get some sort of contrast or everything looks like it was taken in fog.

    Finished product:
    [​IMG]
    OK, no artistic merit, just a street snapshot in Melbourne a few weeks ago. But now you can see a lot more detail in the shadows compared to the first shot, especially in the top left by the garage door.

    Thing is, it's not the scanner, it scans Slides and colour Negs perfectly. And some films do it more than others, but on multiple cameras. This particular one was FP4 125 on my Bessa L, which has a kind of centre-weighted strip of metering off the shutter curtains. It's happened with my EOS3 which meters perfectly, as does my Mamiya 645AF (although i'm still getting used to the spot-only meter with non-AF lenses on that).

    Maybe i'm just expecting too much of film? This particular shot was first on the roll, last on the previous roll was on Velvia 50, exact same shot. On the Velvia, i'm well aware that dynamic range is limited to not much, there's no shadow detail at all on the garage door, and the highlights are blow out on the top right. But the Velvia shot just looks good to me, the B+W doesn't work with all the black imho, so i'm trying to get more tone gradation rather than just get a splodge of black.


    Anyway, but that's besides the point, I'm still going to develop my own.

    The suggestion of 'pick one and stick to it' is definitely a good idea, so I've gone through the freezer and found:
    - In 120, 10 rolls of PanF50, expired 2009, 4 rolls of Neopan 400, exp2008, 4 rolls of Efke KB25, 3 new 1 exp2006, 4 rolls of new P3200.
    - In 135, 3 rolls of KB100, 2 of KB25, 4 rolls each of new TMax 400, ATP1.1 iso32 exp2011, APX25 exp no idea, plus an unopened 30m reel of Rollei Retro 100.

    So I'll stick to the PanF50 in 120 and reel-out the Rollei to play with I think. The TMax 400 I also want to play with, my lab pushes it great to 800 so I want to see if I can match that. But I tend to use that on my EOS 3 in dark-venues, wide-open, spot-metered on a spot-lit face, so I might keep letting the Lab do them because whatever I do and he does, together it works (last thing I need is burnt-highlights there, I can live with black shadows).


    Practising in the light is also something I'll do, got heaps of C41 that I paid $1 a roll for that I'll never use. And for some reason a lot of Velvia expired in 1991 that I was going to XP Lomo, I'm sure I can spare one or two.

    I've got lots more readinf to do by the looks, thanks for the chemical suggestions, I'll check out prices/shipping/opinions on the ones mentioned (so far I've only ever heard of Rodinal and Xtol before I started researching, good to know more that I can read up on too)
    Thanks again, and still more suggestions welcome...
     
  14. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Just a heads up - you may find this thread gets "moderated", because discussion about almost all scanning issues is prohibited on APUG.

    That being said, there is a very good chance that the problem is with the scanning, because scanning software adds so many variables to the equation, and because it is extremely difficult to get scanning software to give you a truly "no corrections" file.

    The fact that you are happy with the scans from transparency films just tells you that your scanner and software happen to be well set up for transparency film - not black and white negative film.

    Show us a photo of your negatives, and we will be able to tell you more.
     
  15. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    I don't think you are expecting too much from film. It is a very capable medium, but a different animal from digital photography, and different again from scanning and ink-jet printing. This is especially true of consumer-level technology that does the "thinking" for you. It's "thinking" is engineered to a very generic standard that the creators feel will satisfy the most people for the most usual tasks. When I was last using a darkroom I spent a lot of time learning how to get prints that I was satisfied with. I don't have that kind of patience with scanners/printers, and I work in IT. When I scan, I just settle for something that is sufficient to get the point across.

    On a more technical note, (and perhaps forbidden, but I'm just commenting on your post) you may want to calibrate your factory-calibrated monitor. It's a good monitor, but if you are going to scan and print, all devices should be calibrated to the same "standard." Factory-calibrated basically means they chose a standard configuration and made sure all the monitors meet that standard before heading out. It is probably set to look best for movies or games.
    You probably won't require that level of accuracy, but it might be a fun way to kill some time when you are bored, and you could eventually equate the experience to wet-printing when you get there (step wedges, color charts, etc.).

    As far as wet-printing, if you develop some 120 you can try contact printing it. You could do the same with 35mm, but it would be difficult to appreciate images so tiny.
    You would not really need much more in the way of equipment, just a light-tight room, some trays, and a few extra chemicals. Technically, you could use the daylight film tanks to do small paper prints. Getting the exposure right with a bare bulb would be difficult, though, but can be done.
    I think the most important part is learning and having fun.
     
  16. Noble

    Noble Member

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    That's a shame and a bit stifling.


    Good job on the Monitor purchase! That's an excellent model for people who don't want to completely break the bank. Unfortunately whatever calibration they did at the factory is not what we are referring to. You have to get a small hockey puck thing and place it on the monitor maybe every 1 or two months and run some calibration software. You also have to make some decisions about what your calibration targets are going to be. One thing I see often is monitors are shipped with brightness set pretty high. If you tweak your pictures to look good on those settings they will print too dark. It took me awhile to figure out how to bring the brightness down to a reasonable level. Just adjusting brightness didn't do it. I eventually figured out you must drop the values of the R, G, B channels first to a roughly okay range and then go and tweak the brightness. Then go back and tweak the R, G, and B channels for color temperature/balance. Otherwise I was finding I could drop the brightness all the way to zero and still not meet my luminance target of 80 cd/m2-100 cd/m2. Spyder and Xrite both make tools for calibrating monitors.

    Don't leave your enlarger lenses in a humid dark environment. You would be inviting fungus. If you can't do something about the humidity in a cellar or basement then maybe you can get away with removing lenses, negatives, etc from the environment when you aren't working.

    You don't necessarily need a dark room. If you find a pro lab that does good developing and scanning then you can use them as a benchmark. To be honest with you I live in the US and I bought some Ilford film and sent it back to England to get processed by Ilford. If you do that and get developing, scans and even some prints you will have a benchmark to work towards. Developing, scans, and a wet print would be better, but a properly developed roll and some good scans are invaluable as well. You've got to isolate errors in your workflow.

    Dr Croubie, I am assuming your education is in science and perhaps even medicine. If you want to really start analyzing negatives and scans from negatives you need to treat the process like any other scientific experiment. You have your controls and you have your variables. You want as few variables as possible. You also want to eliminate confounders and have overall good study design. If you can eliminate error in metering, developing, scanning, and viewing on a monitor then you can start changing one variable at a time and analyzing results. And obviously if you had to do this experiment for work or a paper to be published you would want to use only one film and developer to make setting up the experiment manageable and easy to analyze.
     
  17. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Dr Croubie,

    You picked a variety of films and a variety of cameras. One way I organize the variety is to build from strengths of each format. When I shoot 35mm I "require" a higher-quality negative, so I tend to shoot "slower" films. [Notable exception - tkamiya encouraged me to experiment with accentuated grain in Tri-X]. Normally I want detail. So I would keep fresh 100 speed film and 400 speed film on hand.

    The corollary, for medium format and up, I take advantage of faster films. I shoot them at lower (EI) Exposure Index. I just keep fresh 400 speed film on hand.

    I develop my film and do tests too (be happy to help you learn the ropes as you get into it), one main lesson I've learned is to give enough exposure for the shadows - keeping in mind the speed that I get in my processing. One shortcut to good shadows is to choose an arbitrary lower EI just because other people find it works for them. For example through tests and feedback I found 400 TMAX works well for me rated at EI 250.

    I don't know any downside to shooting 400 speed film at 250.
     
  18. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    It might be a bit stifling, but those that are here want to read about analog photography, not digital - digital content is on every other site and forum on the Internet. This is the one oasis without.

    The sister site dpug.org does invite, and indeed encourages, not only full-digital conversation but hybrid workflow discussion too.

    I think one reason this site has been so successful is that those who are interested in film don't need to read about 'what laptop should I buy", "what scanner is best" and "how do I configure VueScan".

    Feel free to discuss the chemical side of your photography here... and discuss the pixel side of your photography there. (I'm on both as well.)
     
  19. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    Well yeah, I didn't want to start a scanner or digital debate, I was more explaining my reasons for wanting to develop my own stuff.
    FWIW I think my scanner and technique is fine, I know my photography could improve (whose couldn't?) but I don't think exposure is too far off, I can 'rescue' some waay over/underexposed shots using the equipment that I have, my problem is more that when everything else is ok I still don't get the shadows and contrast that I want. Again, that can be fixed in GIMP, but i'd prefer to get it right on the negs.
    Also, the scanner is fixed and I can't buy a new one, as is the printer, monitor, and software.
    As i've said, darkroom printing and enlarging is just out of the question, so imho there's no point in seeing if the 'negatives are fine or if it's the scanner' by wet-printing. I need to vary the parts of my workflow that I can, and scanner can't be varied, developing can.
    Taking the scientific viewpoint (btw, I'm an engineer, but a lot of that was science through high school and 1-2 years of uni), the scanner is a fixed input, not a variable, so even if scanning isn't optimal there's nothing I can do to change it so I'll change other things (like developing) to vary the output.

    So back to the chemicals: I know most about xtol and rodinal so i'll start with them. One thing I don't get with Rodinal is that it's a "large grain" developer, so why would I use it on my finest films like KB25 and PanF50? OK, by using it on 400, 800, 3200, the grain is going to be so huge that the image will look too grainy. But the whole point of the slowest films are to have the finest grains for über detail, so why would I put up with stupidly long exposure times and dragging the tripod out all the time, just to ruin that nice fine grain? Maybe I'm missing the point on it (maybe it's just a question for the dedicated rodinal thread), or is it just the convenience of shelf-life and other minor plusses that outweighs the grain? (hey, if I wanted convenience, I've got a 7D for that. I'm going film because it's more fun). And from what I've heard (correct me if i'm wrong), rodinal doesn't do shadows nicely anyway, so i'll probably just forget about it altogether...

    Xtol looks more like something I should be investigating, any others worth at least reading up on? Xtol's already sounding good for the finer grain, shadow details, and having ascorbic acid also fits with the suggestion of kb25 working better with acidic developers. If i'm going to limit myself to PanF50, HP 400, P3200 on 120 and KB25, Tmax100, Tmax400 on 135, should I be investigating Ilford brand chemicals? Which ones would be a good place to start for someone in my position? (I'd love to read up on all of them, but that's something i don't have time for these days).
     
  20. albada

    albada Member

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    A quick note:
    That kink at the left end probably means your shadows are on the film's toe, and thus have less gradation (contrast), and thus need an extra boost. As Bill Burk suggested, shooting at a lower EI will lift the shadows off the toe where they'll get normal gradation. Also, some films have shorter toes than others and are more suitable for shadow-heavy scenes.

    And I recommend XTOL. I've found it to be a terrific developer.

    Mark Overton
     
  21. Noble

    Noble Member

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    No problem. I just wanted to inform you of the utility of actual dark room prints not dump on scans. And I wouldn't take one person's post as representing the consensus opinion on any internet forum. The moderators of this forum scan and post images so obviously they have some interest in scanners as I'm sure most of us do. Multiple digital tools for analyzing negatives are discussed on this forum. Where one member draws the line is up to them. Personally even after I set up a darkroom with two enlargers I still scan all my B&W white negatives. While a darkroom print is the only way you can really tell how a negative is going to print I can tell all kinds of things on a scan. I have diagnosed inadequate agitation. I diagnosed improper agitation. I diagnosed air bells. And of course I can proof images for focus and other things a lot easier on a scan than a contact sheet. If you have a problem with streaks, scratches, uneven development, banding, etc. One of the first things people with ask you to do around here is to post a scan.

    The most expensive digital thing I now use to analyze my negatives is a Zonemaster II. There are plenty of posts about that device on this forum and the guy who manufactures it seems to post here regularly and is welcomed with open arms.