Debating switching to FP4+

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Darkroom317, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

    Messages:
    616
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Rogers, AR
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I currently use Fomapan 100. I switched from Plus-X when it was discontinued. Right before I switched I starting using using the zone system and cutting the speed of Plus-X in half. I wish I had know all of this at the beginning of the 100 rolls I used.

    I am starting to dislike Fomapan because of a few QC problems as well as its tonality. The negatives are very contrasty and it seems like Fomapan is very prone to blocking up. I used a couple of rolls of Plus-X at a location where I used Fomapan. I like the Plus-X better.

    The last time I used FP4+ was a few years ago. At the time I just used an incident meter and didn't develop my film. I knew nothing of how great a spot meter is.

    I have heard that FP4+ is similar to Plus-X. How close is it? Rodinal is my standard developer. How well does it work? Is it worth the extra $2 per roll.

    Should I even bother switching film or could this all be just a problem with technique?

    I expose Fomapan 100 at EI 50 and place my shadows on Zone IV. I tend to use N development.
     
  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,620
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I have never used Fomapan 100, but use FP4+ all the time and think it's a very good film.
     
  3. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,161
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    Fort Wayne,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Maybe you're overexposing the Foma film? I've shot a lot of it lately, in 120 size, and had no blocked highlights. I've developed it in D-76 1+1 and in PMK. In PMK I have to shoot it at EI-40, but the contrast is normal.

    I actually recently did a comparison of Fomapan 100 and FP4, both developed in PMK. The tonality was similar. The FP4 had slightly more highlight contrast. To me, FP4 had three advantages over Fomapan 100. First, it is faster. EI-80 in PMK, so its a stop faster. Second, it does not curl up like Fomapan. I have had a couple of frames with pinholes in the emulsion with Foma, and never with Ilford.

    Foma has the advantage of cost.

    Ilford FP4 works well in Rodinal, but I think the highlights are harsher in Rodinal than in PMK with FP4.

    [​IMG]
    FP4 in Rodinal 1+50


    [​IMG]
    FP4 in Rodinal 1+50


    [​IMG]
    FP4 in PMK


    [​IMG]
    FP4 in PMK


    [​IMG]
    Fomapan 100 in PMK
     
  4. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

    Messages:
    1,607
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ...maybe I *should* ponder switching to PMK.
     
  5. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

    Messages:
    616
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Rogers, AR
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I figured both are good.

    Right now I am just going off scans for web purposes. Photoshop is not the easiest tool when trying to get what I am want. The dodging in burning tool has problems. But that is for another forum. My experience in the darkroom has been better with my Fomapan negatives. That will be the true test. As far as I can tell all I have figured out is that Plus-X scans better than Fomapan.
     
  6. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

    Messages:
    1,607
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Don't go by what scans tell you: it's all about how something prints, however it gets printed.
     
  7. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,161
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    Fort Wayne,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I've been working with it a lot over the last year or so. I love it. Even with Tmax 100, Tmax 400, and Fuji Acros, it is a gorgeous developer (its often claimed that PMK is not good for modern t-grain type films, but I like it for them as well as older films like FP4 and Tri-X).
     
  8. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,161
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    Fort Wayne,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The dodge/burn tools in Photoshop are horrid. Here's a tutorial I wrote on how to get darkroom-quality dodge/burn results in Photoshop. If you're mostly printing in the darkroom, and Fomapan is working well for darkroom printing, I would not change just because another films scans better.
     
  9. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,239
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well FP4 is a really beautiful IMO film and I've had no quality problems.

    I shoot FP4 at box and incident meter and it is truly rare for me to be disappointed.

    A couple thoughts though before you switch.

    First. Just because Plus X works well at 1/2 box speed with a spot meter for you, doesn't mean every other film will too.

    Second. EI 50 and placing shadows at Zone IV is like shooting at EI 25, so 1/4 of box rating, not 1/2. That means you are adding two stops of extra exposure which could easily explain your blocked up highlights in many scenes.

    Third. Most films do a truly fine job but that doesn't mean you'll get along with every film. Kinda like dating, you gotta figure it out for yourself.
     
  10. LJH

    LJH Member

    Messages:
    706
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2008
    Location:
    Australia
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    It makes me scratch my head about what the fuss is all about when you write about it being $2 a roll more expensive.

    If you're shooting 35mm, that's about 6 cents a frame more expensive for a 36 frame roll.

    If you're shooting 6x6, it's about 17 cents a shot.

    Surely, your time and the effort/cost to get to the shot are worth this slight increase for better quality?

    Try shooting sheet film where it can be a difference of dollars per shot!!
     
  11. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,620
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Something I should have mentioned. I notice that you say Rodinal is your standard developer. Perhaps I should have mentioned that I use FP4+ with D76 at 1:1. The developer film combination is very important and I believe Rodinal is an acutance developer (others will correct me if wrong). Rodinal is also an excellent developer and probably my second choice to D76. However, my own experience with it showed it produced slightly better results with faster film.
     
  12. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,239
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My fave of late is DD-X on all my b&w films, been playing with staining developers too (WD2D+) but it is becoming a real love/hate relationship.
     
  13. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

    Messages:
    1,607
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'll be contact printing 5x7 and you know how many people go on and on about the virtues of using a pyro-based developer for contact printing. :wink:

    For now I'm just going to run through what I have. Next year, when I run out of both film and developer, I'll revisit the idea.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,441
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    However, the scans shown are all of low contrast scenes (overcast days).
     
  16. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,161
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    Fort Wayne,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Right, you have to reduce developing time (N-1 in zone system terms) for high contrast scenes.
     
  17. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,437
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    FP4+ is a wonderful, flexible film with beautiful tonality. It will work extremely well in a wide variety of developers from solvent formulas (D76/ID11, XTOL, DDX, etc) at various dilutions, to acutance formulas. Quality is as good as it gets. It is grainier than fully-tabular equivalents such as Delta 100, but works better in staining Pyro developers such as WD2D+, producing better speed. It also stains well in PMK for those interested in that developer, although it will obviously be grainier in staining developers than in solvent developers (as any film will be).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2012
  18. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    5,929
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    FP4+ is a good film and Ilford's quality control makes it an excellent choice. At first I would suggest using one of the developers that Ilford suggests for this fiilm.
     
  19. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

    Messages:
    616
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Rogers, AR
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Now that I think about I did use ID11 3 years ago, maybe with FP4+. I didn't much care for it. I'm going to give FP4+ another try.
     
  20. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,561
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    +1 for FP4. Great film, period. Pick whatever developer you like. I prefer ID-11 and Rodinal.
     
  21. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,862
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  22. Aron

    Aron Subscriber

    Messages:
    262
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Location:
    Hungary
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I firmly believe the problem you are dealing with is not related to your materials, or not as much as to stop you from getting the results you want. FP4+ is a popular emulsion, for good reason and both ID-11 (D76) and Rodinal has helped quite a few photographers to get great prints, whatever expression they were after.

    I have little experience with scanning, but aiming for a lower contrast negative than is needed for darkroom printing usually takes care of most problems.

    So, here's my recommendation: ditch the spot meter for a while, find the incident meter you used to have and go out on a "normal contrast" day, bracket your exposures from EI 25 to EI 200 on your chosen film, develop it and find the frames that give you enough shadow detail. After that, adjust development time to get the desired highlight detail.

    With Fomapan 100 overdevelopment can happen rather easily.

    You have to decide what is behind your "blocked highlights". Is overdevelopment, a high brightness range or an upswept curve the reason you can't put tone in your highlights easily?

    This is my personal opinion, but I think a scanner/its software does so much work in the background to make the picture look good no matter what, that little can be learned by using it.

    Only after you can repeatedly get good images (desired tonality) using an incident meter and normal development, would I recommend using the spot meter and the zone system.
     
  23. pgomena

    pgomena Member

    Messages:
    1,376
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, Or
    +1 also for FP4+. I use it in 120 roll film and 4x5, 5x7 and whole-plate film sizes and find consistent quality control and I get excellent, consistent results. You might pay more for products from Ilford, Kodak, and Fuji, but cutting corners on cheap film is foolish economy. Film is the least expensive expendable item on any shoot. Why take a risk with a product you yourself said shows quality control issues?

    Peter Gomena
     
  24. Thebes

    Thebes Member

    Messages:
    72
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I like my FP4+ in Pyrocat HD, or PMK if there's snow or ice in the scene, or Rodinal semi stand for near box speed. I tend to rate it 60-80 in Pyrocat, 40-50 in PMK and 100 Rodinal semi-stand for rollfilm. I recently accidentally shot a few sheets of 4x5 at 400-800 handheld (sunny 16 screwup, no time to meter until afterwards) and used Microphen stock-strength developed by inspection, saved much of the shadow detail and got good mid tones and highlights, I'd be comfortable rating it at 240-320 this way if I needed the speed.

    I used to like Plus-x. I like FP4+ better and even though money is very tight for me I would not use Foma etc, its a false economy for my purposes... my film is less than my gas to drive even a few miles.
     
  25. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

    Messages:
    616
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Rogers, AR
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Process was more the issue than the film. I just developed a roll at N-1. I used 6:45 instead of the standard 7:30. The negatives look great. I was using around 9:00 for N+1 which was far too much.
     
  26. wilfbiffherb

    wilfbiffherb Member

    Messages:
    310
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    have you tried non destructive dodging and burning? much simpler, much safer and much easier.