Diafine - what's the catch?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by pschauss, Dec 12, 2004.

  1. pschauss

    pschauss Member

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    Looking at the numbers Diafine looks too good to be true. It gives a speed increase by a factor of two or more for slower films (e.g. FP4+ @ 250, Plus-X @ 400) and you can reuse it almost indefinitely. What do I loose by using Diafine instead of D76, for example, with Plus-X?
     
  2. Justin Low

    Justin Low Member

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    In my experience, the greatest loss is flexibility. You're forced to stock different films for different purposes; as opposed to just one or two films like Tri-X, which you'd use anywhere from EI100 to EI3200 with appropriate developing later.

    Also, some films don't work well in Diafine (in my case, Tmax 400). I find that agitation is also critical. I now leave my film to develop with no agitation, if not the contrast goes way too high.
     
  3. Eric Jones

    Eric Jones Member

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    I have used Diafine almost exclusively with TXP (Tri-X Pro 320 ASA). For shear flexibility on a single roll film as far as exposure goes, it is great. I can get great prints anywhere from 200ASA all the way up to 1600ASA with great snap and no blown highlights. The drawback is they develop to a fixed contrast. There is no flexibility at all in regards to manipulating the contrast for creative effect. I have also ran TMAX 100, FP4+ and FP5+ and was disappointed overall on these three films (just bland flat pics for the most part). The stuff does last forever though. I have developed at least 100 rolls of TXP 220 with 1qt. and it just keeps on going.
     
  4. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    With the dark days of winter upon us, I'm using more and more of this stuff. The catch to Diafine you have no control over development. A given film will develop to a given contrast index and speed and that's all she wrote. My two favorite films with this developer are Tri-X 400 and FP4+. Tri-X gets rated at EI 1250 to 1600 depending on the quality of the light, and FP4+ gets EI 250. Rating Plus-X at EI 400 is optimistic and the results are too contrasty.
     
  5. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    all that has been said so far is true: Diafine will give a film a certain contrast per given E.I.

    But based on my experiences I will add this: When testing a film with diafine, start underxposing to the point where the frames will only print with a grade 4 or so. I accidentally did this and LOVE the results. Not very forgiving, but beautiful. Look at my gallery and website (the sertão 2004 series) for examples with surplus Macophot film.
     
  6. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    When I tried Diafine, I found the EIs to be way overstated, at least for TX. I didn't provide more zone 1 density than other developers. The basis for that EI, and the reason it works for some people, may be that the developer is strongly compensating, so it gives a lot of contrast in the shadows.

    I also had problems with streaking - the recommendation to agitate minimally in bath B does not seem to be right.
     
  7. davekarp

    davekarp Member

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    I agree. Diafine seemed to work best for me agitated 10 sec. per minute in both A and B baths. In 4x5, I find that Diafine gives nice shadow detail (and excellent highlight compensation) with HP5+ rated at 200. What you lose is the ability to increase contrast via development. You can obtain a nice combination of compensation with the equivalent of N+1 development by developing, washing and fixing the film, and following this with a soak in selenium toner diluted 1:1 with water for 5 minutes (process in the selenium per A. Adams recommendations). I have used Diafine for its inherent compensating qualities, not as a speed increasing developer.
     
  8. pschauss

    pschauss Member

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    Thanks for all of the responses. I just tried a short roll of Plus-X 135 exposed at 400. Diafine does seem to increase the contrast on what is already a very contrasty film. The increased contrast worked well on some of the shots but not as well on others. I found that I had to fuss more exposure times and contrast during the printing process than I do when I expose at 125 and develop in D76.

    I have also tried FP4+ in Diafine exposed at 250. The the results were much better than Plus-X, but I suspect that 250 is a bit optimistic for this combination. Next roll I will bracket between 250 and 125.
     
  9. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    here's my suggestion to you:

    "waste" a full roll on exposure testing. Find a good scene, and meter it. Then, shoot at the box e.i., then close the aperture blades half a stop & shoot, repeat until you are some 4 stops faster than the stated e.i.
    Then find another scene and repeat.

    Make a series of well exposed contact sheets, at grades 2 all the way to 5. Then pick the best looking e.i. corresponding paper grade based on how the tonal scale.

    Like I said before, the film I've been shooting looks COMPLETELY different when shot at 100E.I. to be printed with no filters than at 200 E.I. to be printed at about 4.5. Even though both print nicely, the tonal scale is VERY different.

    BTW, try efke films with diafine. The surplus Macophot (efke) film I use is fabulous (but not very indicative of a "normal" efke film, it is surplus after all).
     
  10. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    I second this recommendation. The only developer I've been able to get reasonable results with on the surplus Macophot UP100 film (from J&C last year) is Diafine. In all others I got horrendous speed loss.

    It works well with Efke 25 too. Here is a sample (35mm Efke 25 in an Olympus point-and-shoot):


    [​IMG]
     
  11. pschauss

    pschauss Member

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    Thanks again for all of the advice on Diafine. Last weekend I shot one roll of Tri-X at a basketball game. The only telephoto lens I have for my Minolta 7000i is a 70-210 f4, so I used that, set mostly at 100mm. I set the meter at 1600 and the shutter at 1/125, although the camera's meter thought that the scene needed 1/60 at 4.5.

    I increased the agitation from 5 seconds every minute to 10 seconds every minute.

    I printed a contact sheet which looked good to my standards as well as a 5x7 print of one frame. The 5x7, which I printed at a contrast level of 2, had decent contrast and enough shadow detail for what I was trying to do. The grain was no more than what I expect from Tri-X and considerably better than a previous experiment I did with HP5+ rated at 800 in Diafine.

    I fully expect that some of my shots will be a bit blurred because I shot them at 1/125, but if I get 10 good shots out of 36 I will pleased with the results. I will definitely try this again while I save my money for a faster lens.
     
  12. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    I have been developing my surplus in Homebrew 777 with no speed loss whatsoever. I haven't tried it in Rodinal (I mean why?) bu the 777 brings out full shadow detail and well controlled hightlights at 80 to 100 EI.

    Hadn't thought to do it Diafine. I don't see any reason why not though.

    tim in san jose
     
  13. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    777 eh? Interesting. I think I'll pass, though, it'd mean a special order of glycin and phenylenediamine... I've only got a couple of rolls of that surplus film left here anyway.
     
  14. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    BTW, I have been able to get an I.E. of 80 with D-76 1:1 on the surplus film, but that was back when my fungi-infested TLR still worked, and getting a "right" E.I. with that was sort of hit and miss (the densitometer and the enlarger disagreed on how much base fog/flare the lens produced-- the first said nothing, the second said lots). But that's beside the point, I guess.