Comprehensive Study of Current C-41, B&W, E-6, & RA-4 Products

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by FilmIs4Ever, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    I am interested in putting together a scientific study of all current film products, and perhaps some Agfa, Efke, Konica, and other defunct companies' products that are still available.

    I intend to test and determine films' actual ISO values, underexposure latitudes, overexposure latitudes, and behaviors pushed and pulled several stops. I also wish to test these films in portrait and fine-art applications as well as the usual boring chart tests. In other words, I wish to extensively test films in real-world situations as well as in laboratory conditions that no one but scientists used anyway.

    Now I am presented with five problems in conducting this test for B&W: finding ALL B&W film products currently available, determining which developers out of the enormous multitude available to use, determining which methods of processing to use, figuring out which film format(s?) to use for my testing, and figuring out if anyone is interested in purchasing the results, as I am sure this project will cost a great deal of time and money which I can hopefully recoup.

    There's Ilford, Kodak, Fuji, (Agfa), (Efke), Ferrania & (Konica) (only color?), Foma, (Bergger), (Forte), Adox, and Rollei/Maco. I've heard Orwo might still make film and a few others. Did I miss anything?

    Where do I start with developers? Obviously D-76 is a must, as is HC-110, as well as Rodinal, but which others? PMK? I like Perfection Super Speed, although it isn't available commercially anymore. Are there any other commonly-used developers? I am pretty much all HC-110 and D-76 myself, so forgive my ignorance.

    I do all spiral-reel processing at the moment, metal if anyone's interested, but as there are variations in processing technique, I am thinking of going to something more standard, and as I have a high-speed B&W film processor now, I was thinking of using that for more consistant results. It isn't that my technique is bad, I am pretty much an adherent to the Ansel Adams technique, but I want to try to eliminate any variables. Does anyone who develops black and white with different processing techniques feel that there is a need to test results with each method in my study?

    Finally, I have found that the 120 format seems to be the most economical for testing. Would using a specific camera (Mamiya RB) and a specific F/stop throughout each segment of testing mar results for other formats and F/stops, or is it possible to draw results from one format and extrapolate relationships with others?

    The amount of work for this product will be immense, and the material will be pretty expensive, but I feel the results are worth having in B&W (pun intended). Does anyone feel they'd be interested in this data if I charged money for it? I wouldn't charge $100, but maybe something reasonable, like $35 for a comprehensive study.

    I'm just curious if anyone is interested. Charts and 1.6:1 & 1000:1 resolution graphs are fine for scientists, but I am a visual person, and as such would like to SHOW sided-by-side comparisons.

    Thanks for your replies!
     
  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Sounds to me like an interesting concept. In the end I'd probably pay to see the results ($35, not $100), but would be more interested in the results if the study was done by an acknowledged scientific lab using proven standardized methods. Perhaps I'm being a bit rigid in my interpretation of your characterization of the effort as a "scientific study" rather than a "comprehensive study" (you use both terms).

    I always like the notion of real-world examples in addition to lab study... in fact, I prefer the real-world side-by-side comparisons, even given the probability of differences that might negate a comparative study if scrutinized against pure scientific control... maybe you ought to think about a less rigourous methodology to make the study more achievable.

    Have you thought of seeking corporate sponsorship to offset costs... you're right about the maginitude or effort and cost associated with your idea.
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Karl;

    You might include image stabilty in your list.

    I hope you realize that this is a big job. I have done just what you describe and have the results in a box here. It is a rather large box of film strips and slides. Unfortunately it is years out of date, but it is far more complex than you think.

    I have done a recent test with Portra film and have shown the scans here on APUG and on Photo Net.

    PE
     
  4. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    There are soooo many variables. I have an interest in this sort of thing and have been doing it with my favorite materials my whole career and I still feel like I am not sure what is going on except in some very controlled situations like studio portraits or a couple of permanent testing set ups.

    I would not be interested in buying your results. However I would be interested in a project involving several photographers sort of taking on assignments of a particular film and developer and use it in different ways and make prints and then post the results and describe their results in unavoidable subjective language. Then keeping all the results together on line and continually adding to it. Perhaps a list of film developer combos could be created and people could choose which they like and work it out on their own.

    Then there is the variable of printing paper and developer to add in the mix.

    My problem with researching the conversations that have already gone on in APUG regarding film developer combos is that the type of descriptions used are usually emotional and personal and of no use. Then there is very little clearly demonstrative imagery posted for consideration. And there needs to be some type of monitor calibration to agree on. I know my monitor is contrastier and darker than a lot of others.

    Dennis
     
  5. ignatiu5

    ignatiu5 Subscriber

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    In no way am I trying to dissuade you from this endeavour, but I might suggest that your proposal is less a comprehensive one and more a comprehensive one for you. By that I mean that in any experiment that attempts to come to definitive answers, there are always bottlenecks and your plan has several n=1 factors that limit its usefulness to others. It’s your water diluting chemicals that you mixed up processing film through your machine that was shot with your lighting. That’s four n=1s alone, and while those are unavoidable, those parameters tell me nothing about how film X is going to react in my water (or Jim’s or Jane’s) with my processing method.

    Perhaps even more important, the characteristics of light passing through Mamiya 67 glass are not the same as it passing through Leica glass, or Pentax or Canon or Nikon glass. Or at least so we are led to believe by both the manufacturers and the impassioned reverence of the converted. How many times have you heard “I like (dislike) this lens because it’s contrasty/soft/crisp/got great (lousy) bokeh”? If, as you suggest, you shoot your tests through one lens at one aperture, what have you got?

    What you plan to do might be useful to some, but it’s not comprehensive, except for you. If I really wanted to know if I like the latitude of X developed in Y 1:4 and printed on Z VC fibre, I’d probably be better off spending $35 on some film, chemistry, and paper and putting it though my cameras, metering it my way, and printing through my enlarger, with all of my flaws.

    That said, I hope you do it, mostly because it seem like you’re excited by the project, and there’s no substitute for genuine passion.

    Ignatiu5
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Ignatius;

    There are differences related to glass and camera, but these proposed tests can show relative differences between films, papers and developers. Relative difference is all that can be gained as a meaningful measure that can be shared in a test such as described in the OP. This is NOT a test of any specific camera or lens, and as such can be totally reliable.

    PE
     
  7. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    I remember seeing a website a long time ago with info like that. It shows many color and B&W films' exposure lattitudes, sharpness and grain behavior. Anyone remember seeing that or have a link since I don't remember the website address.
     
  8. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Now that you mention it, I recall something similar. The one I'm thinking of was tests done by a Russian photography magazine, IIRC. That might give enough of a clue to do a Web search or to jog somebody else's memory. Unfortunately, I don't recall the URL.
     
  9. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    I saw this study too. This "professional study" didn't even get the film-speeds right (there's no ISO 650). A lot of people called it into question (including me), it didn't have push or pull process characteristics, and it was by no means comprehensive. There were plenty of films not on the list.

    Guys, if you are all going to be this negative and not contribute any useful information whatsoever, just criticism, I'll take the fucking thread down and go elsewhere
     
  10. RobC

    RobC Member

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    How long do you think it will take you to do this study and when do you expect the finshed article to be ready?
     
  11. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Why bother with stuff that's already out of production? That's just a waste of time and resources. It won't be long before any remaining stocks are either outdated or just plain used up. Any data gathered for these materials isn't going to find much of a market.
     
  12. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    Hey, why don't you read my whole post. I think all of two people who have replied here actually read my post.

    Thanks.

    Rob, I'm probably not going to start on this until late spring. I'm doing preliminarily research right now. I'm apparantly not going to get any help from this forum, just griping, bitching, and moaning. Thanks for one of two positive responses.
     
  13. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Your quote: "...and other defunct companies' products that are still available." I'm questioning why you would bother doing this with materials no longer in production? Otherwise, it's a good idea. Personally, I wouldn't be a customer but I'm sure there's a market for the data.
     
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  15. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    First, if your comment about responses being "negative" and "criticism" is intended to refer to the sub-thread to which you're replying, then IMHO you're way off base. I took film_guy's post as a pointer that was intended to be helpful. Certainly my own earlier reply was intended in that spirit. I'm a bit taken aback by your harsh response.

    More broadly, I don't perceive any of the posts in this thread as being negative to your basic concept. Some posts have pointed out problems you'll face and limitations of your study, but that's not being negative or critical, except in the sense of "constructive criticism." Your proposed project is huge, with lots of variables, most of which you can't control. Being aware of these issues, and choosing how to deal with them, is important from the outset. If you consider hearing about them up-front rather than after you've wasted scads of time "negative," then, to quote Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, "you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
     
  16. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    I'm sorry if you thought I was criticizing your thread. I wasn't being negative about your idea, but was trying to help give or get others to contribute some information which you may be able to start off or use for your research.

    And please, there's absolutely no need to curse or swear. We get enough of that kind of language and attitude from TV and movies, and I for one don't really want to have to read it on a photography forum.
     
  17. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    I'm sorry if I came off as too strong as well. (I do not apologize for my profanity however). However, if you read my original thread, I was asking for advice from this forum as to what developers to use, and as to what companies besides the Ubiquitous Ilford, Kodak, and Fuji really made film. It's difficult to wade through all of the noise.

    I am going to use the most versatile system for this job, which made the Mamiya RB with interchangeable film backs a logical choice. I will have to use 35mm for certain films that aren't offered in MF, but the bulk of the test is to be on 120 for reasons of cost. This test's costs will probably spiral to over $2500 now that I've seen how expensive some of the registration charts are.

    There have been no recommendations made as to the developers I should use, processing technique preference, film manufacturers other tahn the "big three", or any positive, helpful, insightful posts made to this thread, so I might as well take it down.

    BTW< yes, I am going to do it in a scientific matter, that is indisputable in its validity. I thought that photographers would appreciate photographs other than MTF charts though> I guess I was wrong in trying to present information that is more pallettable to non-science-savy photographers.
     
  18. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    phhhhhhhht.
     
  19. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    Excuse me Brian, your post was not negative, nor was Photo Engineer's.


    Now, can anyone post some helpful information? There seems to be three different versions of Efke films, which are now ADOX. There seem to be two different versions of Bergger films.

    I am really having difficulty finding consensus on who makes what. I don't want to have to needlessly buy film that is merely repackaged.

    Then there are three different versions of D-76. . .

    I think we can all settle on D-76/ID-11 as a good developer, but what others?
     
  20. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I will be willing to help Karl. I know that his intentions are good. His language is not. :D

    PE
     
  21. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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  22. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    I think we have all done this to a limited extent to see what films / developers we like for certain subjects. I applaud your effort, but I do realize myself, that it is a rather unending project...I have spent a couple hundred $ on this kind of stuff, and really am not much better off scientifically - but I have an idea of what kind of "look" a certain film is going to give me - and that is probably worth it in the end.
    Here's some "thots" to start with. Don't bother with outdated films, at least not at first, unless you want one for a benchmark - say Kodak Tech Pan. Also, one suggestion is to keep it to the big names at first, and get your testing parameters down. The bigger companies just have better QC than the small ones - it's the nature of the beast. This will help initially. Then as you find a "niche" film, such as Efke 25 that might "do something for you", add it to your data at that point.
    My info is all from a 35mm standpoint. If you're doing larger negs, then somethings may not apply. Obviously, use the exact same camera and lens / lenses to perform all tests. Shoot on a tripod with mirror lockup if you can, and cable or remote/timed release. Are you going to scan or print the results? Traditional B&W negs don't always scan that well...much better to evaluate by optical prints. For RA-4 color printing, Kodak films tend to look better on Kodak Paper - Fuji's look alright on either (I think Kodak's is more forgiving this way, and Fuji certainly could care less if Kodak's films don't look good on CA paper!). E-6 transperencies...well, either evaluate these on light table with a 10x or 8x loupe, or a very good scanner.

    Films:
    B&W Neg:
    Kodak: T-Max 100, 400 (probably wait and get the new stuff), and of course, Tri-X. Maybe Plus-X 125 as well, (I use it, but not sure how many do anymore?).
    FUJI: Acros Neopan 100 and Neopan 400. (If you want the best out of Acros 100, then you need to develop in Perceptol or Fuji's own developer - but D76 will work fine for starters).
    Ilford: I don't use a lot of Ilford, and others will give more recommendations. But please at least include Pan F Plus (iso 50) and Delta 100 at a minimum.
    B&W Developers: Mix all with filtered or distilled water, be EXACT in your mixing (at least use a quality graduated cylinder - we'll forgive you if you don't titrate!) and let the developer sit a designated amount of time after mixing, before first use. Develop ALL films with SAME amount of agitation in tank. Also, realize this is the part that will be the BIGGEST downfall of the entire test to most people - B&W developers. There are literally hundreds of combos you could use. Do NOT try to master them all. Instead, if you're looking for a report you can use or sell, stick with the big ones, then add niche developers as the fancy strikes you later. You can always expand the data as time/money allows. Kodak D76 is a must. You might consider doing all your tests at the 1:1 dilution...it seems to be perferred by a lot of people, and is what I use myself. If you use the original Kodak D76, then you can save a lot of time and money by leaving out many other developers that give really similar results. Some will bemoan that, but it is the honest truth. Might pick a couple others such as XTOL or Perceptol, which will give you somewhat finer grain on modern (T-grain) films, and possibly add a Pyro or staining developer. If you want to do a limited study later on pushing films - you might add a compensating / specialized pushing developer at that time. Lastly, if acutence or large grain is what you're after (and I don't think it is with 35mm film - but if it is...) then try some films in Rodinal. Quite grainy in my opinion, but for some people, it's the cat's meow. That is nowhere exhaustive on that subject, but others will add developers to try...I'm telling you, this part of the test is nearly endless.

    Color Neg: -- Develop ALL at the SAME C-41 lab, with same machine (preferably a Refrema dip & dunk or similar type) with a good track-record on their chemistry.
    Kodak: Portra 160, Portra 400 (800 if you wish) - NC and VC are a bit different, so I'd include both. 100UC and 400UC seem to be fairly popular still, and good old Kodak Gold 100 is neat to use as a benchmark - it's a better film (sharp w/ good color) than many people give it credit for.
    FUJI: Pro160S & Pro160C, Pro 400H, and Fuji Reala (iso 100). From a few posts on Photo.net I've seen that Kodak's latest 800 portra tends to be finer grained than Fuji's 800, so I personally wouldn't bother with fuji's, but include if you wish...

    Color slide - Develop ALL at SAME E-6 lab, dip & dunk preferred, with GOOD track record on their chemistry!
    Kodak: E100G (or GX - it's warmer, I like it better), E100VS (Velvia competitor), E200 (I'd push it 1 stop and compare to Fuji's new Provia 400X for kicks). I'd include a roll of Kodachrome K64 just for a fun benchmark/comparison. A lot of people would probably enjoy that.
    FUJI Chromes: Velvia 100 (not 100F), Velvia 50 (new version - it's back), Provia 100F, Provia 400X (expensive but amazing for iso 400) and Astia 100F.

    Hope that helps get you started in the right direction. If you really were to complete such a task in a scientific manner, I'd pony up $35 for you just because of the effort and expense you went through - it could actually be quite an asset to the community if you did it right. And if you use the same camera/prime lens combo for all of the tests, (I know you'd pick a sharp one), then it's a relative comparison, and it doesn't matter that it would look "different" with different glass - because it would be an entire lateral shift of all the data. Don't let the naysayers on that aspect get you down.
    So...good luck your way. You'll need it. :smile:
    Jed
     
  23. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    It would be my conclusion as well as yours I think that as things stand there doesn't seem to be a great deal of support, certainly not of a financial nature that I think will be essential. You could be 100s of $ out of pocket on materials alone and 1000s taking into account your time.

    Maybe you could start small with a very limited scope, publish your findings on APUG for free or a very small donation and if there was then a demand for your work at least you'd know your market better. Magazines like B&W Photography may also be interested in an article or even help with funding. The new editor has participated here and claims to be interested in our views. Just some thoughts.

    I am unsure about the "conducting a poll" protocol on APUG but you might want to try one to gauge the market place initially. Just a word of warning however. Despite there being 20,000 members here the poll response numbers are usually quite low and of course it goes without saying that human nature being what it is and this is not to impugn my fellow members, no-one ever gets 100% of those responding positively to a poll to "put their money where their mouth is" as the saying goes in the U.K.

    I can only applaud your motivation while being overawed by your task. Then again if everyone was like me, we'd still be lighting our houses by candle!

    Best of luck

    pentaxuser
     
  24. rmartin

    rmartin Member

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    It sounds like an interesting, albeit challenging, project.

    I would add the Ilford liquid developers to your list, Ilfosol and DDX.

    -Rob
     
  25. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Sorry, Karl. I was having a reaction to the overall tone and language.

    Yesterday included a very disappointing interaction on another forum with a chap who didn't know what he was talking about and kept replying with "you don't know what you're talking about" (and other really rude comments) despite the fact that five or six experienced photographers was giving him consistent and correct information.

    In general I'm becoming increasingly disinterested in participating in internet discussions with folks who are rude, profane, bigoted, blasphemous, or just plain ignorant.

    Like PE, I'll continue to support your effort. More thoughts later.
     
  26. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    OK, the easy part: basic products from major film manufacturers

    • Kodak
      • B&W films
        • Plus-X (125PX)
        • Tri-X (400TX)
        • Tri-X Pro (320TXP)
        • T-MAX 100 (TMX)
        • T-MAX 400 (TMY)
        • T-MAX 3200 (TMZ)
      • B&W film developers
        • XTOL
        • D-76 (+replenisher: D-76R)
        • HC-110 (+replenisher)
        • T-MAX (+ replenisher T-MAX RS)
        • D-19
        • Microdol-X
        • DK-50
        • T-MAX 100 direct positive outfit
      • B&W Paper developers
        • Dektol
        • Selectol-Soft
        • PolymaxT (+replenisher Polymax RT)
        • EKTAFLO
      • B&W Paper toners
        • Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner
        • Kodak Brown Toner
        • Kodak Sepia Toner
        • Kodak Sepia II Warm Toner
      • C-41
        • BW400CN (b&w)
        • Portra 160NC
        • Portra 160VC
        • Portra 400NC
        • Portra 400VC
        • Portra 800
        • Gold 100
        • Gold 200
        • Ultra Color 100
        • Ultra Color 400
        • UltraMAX 400
        • UltraMAX 800
        • High Definition 400
        • Advantix 200 (APS)
        • Advantix 400 (APS)
      • C-41 developer
        • C-41B
        • C-41RA
        • C-41SM
      • E-6
        • Ektachrome E100G
        • Ektachrome E100GX
        • Ektachrome E100VS
        • Ektachrome E200
        • Ektachrome EDUPE duplicating film
        • Ektachrome 100 Plus (EPP)
        • Ektachrome 64T (EPY)
        • Elite Chrome 100
        • Elite Chrome Extra Color 100
        • Elite Chrome 200
        • Elite Chrome 400
      • E-6 developer (only one kind)
      • K-14
        • Kodachrome 64 pro (PKR)
        • Kodachrome 64 consumer (KR)
      • RA-4
        • Supra Endura (surfaces F, E, N)
        • Ultra Endura (F, E, N)
        • Endura Metallic (only available in long rolls)
        • Supra Endura VC (a digital paper)
        • Endura transparency material
        • Endura Clear Display material
    • Fuji
      • B&W films
        • Neopan 100 Acros
        • Neopan 400
        • Neopan 1600
        • FP-3000B (instant film)
      • C-41
        • 160S
        • 160C
        • 400H
        • 800Z
        • Superia 100
        • Superia 200
        • Superia X-TRA 400
        • Superia X-TRA 800
        • Superia 1600
        • Superia Reala 100
        • Nexia 200 (APS)
        • Nexia 400 (APS)
        • Nexia 800 (APS)
        • Press 400
        • Press 800
        • Press 1600
        • FP-100B (instant film)
        • FP-100C (instant film)
      • E-6
        • Velvia 50
        • Velvia 100
        • Velvia 100F
        • Astia 100F
        • Provia 100F
        • Provia 400F
        • Provia 400X
        • T64 Tungsten
        • Sensia 100
        • Sensia 200
        • Sensia 400
        • Fujichrome duplicating film CDU Type III
      • RA-4
        • Crystal Archive Professional Paper Super Type PD
        • Crystal Archive Professional Paper Super Type C
        • Fujitrans display material for digital printers
        • Fujiclear Display Material
        • Fujiflex Crystal Archive
      • Reversal papers
        • Fujichrome Super Gloss
        • Fujichrome Type 35
    • Ilford (HARMAN)
      • B&W films
        • Pan F+
        • FP4+
        • HP5+
        • Delta 100
        • Delta 400
        • Delta 3200
        • SFX
      • B&W film developers
        • ID-11
        • Ilfosol S
        • Ilfotec DD
        • Ilfotec DD-X
        • Ilfotec HC
        • Ilfotec LC29
        • Ilfotec RT Rapid
        • Microphen
        • Perceptol
        • Phenisol
      • C-41
        • XP2 super (b&w)
      • B&W papers
        • MGIV RC Deluxe (satin, pearl, glossy)
        • MGIV RC Portfolio (pearl, glossy)
        • MGIV RC Express (pearl, glossy)
        • MGIV RC Warmtone (pearl, glossy)
        • MGIV RC Cooltone (pearl, glossy)
        • Ilfospeed RC Deluxe (graded 0-5; glossy, semi-matt, pearl)
        • MG FB Warmtone (semi-matt, glossy)
        • MG FB (matt, glossy)
        • Galerie (graded 1-4 in glossy; 1-3 in matt)
      • B&W Paper Developers
        • Bromophen
        • Warmtone
        • Cooltone
        • 2150XL
        • Multigrade
        • PQ Universal
        • 200RT
    • ILFORD (color products)
      • Ilfochrome papers
        • Ilfochrome CPS.1K
        • Ilfochrome CLM.1K

    Right, now that I've enhanced slightly your knowledge, as per your request (although this is something you could have easily found yourself, had you spent time reading the manufacturers' website) may I voice an opinion?

    I think you are a dilettante, and that you have neither the stamina, nor even the sense of a realistic horizon in your testing. You will never complete this project, ever, because you will abandon it after a few attempts.

    You did not even bother reading the manufacturers' web sites to find more developers, and you did not even try digging through APUG to find relevant information (you would be surprised how these questions come up regularly), how will you ever spend weeks/months/years/decades of testing without flinching?

    In fact, the whole problem with this approach to testing is that there is very limited value for the average photographer. Manufacturers perform their own painful tests based on ISO standards on top of their own, in order to ensure the quality of their products because millions of consumers depend on them. Photographers test only insofar as mastery of their product is necessary.

    If someone is really interested in knowing the exact toe speed of TMX 100, he or she will embark on the requisite testing not out of scientific curiosity, but because that person already LIKED the product, even when not finely handled. That's a heuristic approach, and it will stay like that for long, for most people. We buy a random film, we say WOW, and then the most dedicated among us decide to refine the WOW into more solid knowledge.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 3, 2007