Excessively grainy prints

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Idonex, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Idonex

    Idonex Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    Location:
    East London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi,

    I've just got my darkroom set up (Meopta Axomat 5 35MM enlarger with a Nikkor EL 50mm f/2.8 lens - using f/8 for printing) and i've been doing some test prints over the past month or so. I'm mostly happy with them so far, but they do seem to be excessivley grainy for the film type used (i've so far developed prints from 100 TMAX and Neopan 400). I wouldn't expect to see so much grain on a print from a well exposed daylight shot on TMAX 100 or Neopan 400 for that matter, but even at 7x5 i can see grain quite prominantly, mainly on soft areas like skin and skies.

    Now i have nothing against grain, but it does seem a bit excessive for the films used. It's quite visible at 7x5 even on the TMAX 100 shots.

    I'm printing on Kentmere VC Select and developing in Ilford Multigrade for 1:15

    What affects grain in prints? The paper, the chemical temperature, the lens aperture etc? My cellar is very cold, although i keep an eye on the dev temperature whilst i'm printing.

    Or is it more likely i messed up developing the negatives? They look fine, seem to have nice density and decent exposure (they were taken using a Nikon F80). I can see the grain 'pop' up when i focus on the enlarger and look through my focus finder. They were all developed at 20 degrees in HC-110 (B) using Kodak's agitation scheme.

    Thanks
     
  2. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,539
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It is not the printing process. You won't see the paper grain. If the prints look grainy it is the negative.

    Hard to say if the grain in the negatives is "normal" without seeing the prints. But TMax 100 is virtually the finest grained film out there and should not give grainy prints at that magnification. Neopan 400 is significantly grainier than TMax 100, but a 5x7 enlargement should still be relatively fine grained. That being said, everyone has a different subjective definition of "grainy". Grain will always be most visible in featureless areas of relatively uniform density (cloudless skies etc) because there is no image detail to obscure it. HC-110 would not be the problem.

    If small prints appear that grainy (again, hard to tell what that means without seeing), particularly with TMax 100, the only explanation I can think of, besides reticulation (which is pretty hard to pull off these days), is severe overdevelopment of the negatives. Gross overexposure in the camera would also contribute. Are the negatives particularly dense?

    To rule out reticulation entirely, can you confirm when you developed the negatives the stop bath, fixer and wash water were all reasonably close to 20 degrees?
     
  3. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

    Messages:
    825
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Location:
    County Durha
    Shooter:
    35mm
    If the film was over developed or over exposed or a combination of both that will give a massive grain increase.
     
  4. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,711
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    If you state your film developer/concentration and time/temperature we may be able to help.
     
  5. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Are you making full frame prints or are you cropping to enlarge a small area of the negative? Even a large format negative can look grainy if you "zoom in" enough.

    Yes, you will see grain suddenly "pop up" when you look through the focusing magnifier. That's what's supposed to happen. It tells you that you have the image in focus. However, the final print shouldn't show too much grain unless you look closely.

    Also, don't forget, you can see grain in many prints, even well done prints, if you analyze from a close distance. Normal viewing distance for an average size print is usually considered to be approximately arm's length or more.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2013
  6. Idonex

    Idonex Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    Location:
    East London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    After checking my negative notes for the prints i just did they were done at:

    TMAX 100 in Ilfosol 3 for 5:30 (Inverting the tank four times during the first 10 seconds, then 4 inversions during the first 10 seconds of each subsequent minute)
    Neopan 400 in HC-110 (B) for 5:00 (Agitating 5 seconds every 30 seconds)

    I measured the temperature to 20 degrees for everything but the final wash. Does the final wash temperature matter?

    The negatives themselves look fine exposure wise, the meter on the F80 is pretty good. The prints are not being cropped, i'm printing so the whole negative shows on the print.

    Thanks
     
  7. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,252
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have been TRYING to create HUGE grain.... I wish I had your secret.

    Here's something to think about. What you are seeing as grain on paper isn't really grain. Grains are black spots on negative. So on paper, they appear white. If you are seeing BLACK spots on paper, that is a space between grains on negative.

    As such, light and white area on print, thus dark and dense area on film, tends to exhibit more of this kind of thing. Layers of grain stacked up on film emulsions letting very little light through in fewer spots. So these area are less dense (on paper) and appear more grainy.

    A lot of this is normal but it's hard to say without seeing what you are talking about.
     
  8. 250swb

    250swb Member

    Messages:
    396
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2012
    Location:
    Peak Distric
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Are you sure it is grain you are seeing and not recticulation?

    Steve
     
  9. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,202
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Yes the final wash temp might well matter if it is a lot different from the dev/stop/fix temps. If you are developing to the Kodak times and it certainly looks as if you are using Kodak agitation and the negs look right exposure-wise then that only seems to leave 2 options:

    1 The wash temp is the problem. It is a lot different from the other temps
    2. Your definition of grain in a print is a lot different from other users and/or you have an ability to see grain which most of us do not have.

    Option 2 would seem unlikely but cannot be entirely ruled out.However I'd check your wash temp and next time ensure that all temps are within about 1C of each other. The film should withstand a greater range but if this tight range does not solve the issue then you can at least rule out reticulation but I'd have no idea where you would then look for the solution.


    pentaxuser
     
  10. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,539
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Reticulation seems highly unlikely, particularly in the case of TMax. Huge temperature swings would be required, and even then.
     
  11. Idonex

    Idonex Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    Location:
    East London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi,

    Here's an example of Neopan 400. I'm not sure if anything can even be told from a scan, but this is a 100% crop from a 1200 DPI scan. Good light, this was actually with my Spotmatic F and a Takumar 50mm i think.

    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8092/8417335777_97b74a5de1_o.jpg

    Not sure about reticulation to be honest. At the most the difference would be from 20 to about 10 degrees. But this shot was developed in the summer so the water straight from my tap wouldn't have been that cold.

    Maybe i'm just not used to what i'm seeing! These are my first own prints. I certainly don't mind the grain too much, just want to make sure i'm not doing anything wrong!

    Thanks
     
  12. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,202
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Seems that between the OP's statements on what he did and our statements on the film characteristics and I agree that with both Ilford and Kodak films we have very tough emulsions, we have ruled out most of the likely causes.

    Uncertainty is a nasty companion but only the OP can remove him by developing the same film again whilst ensuring that the whole process from loading the film to processing it, is done as if it were a scientifically rigorous experiment on which his PhD depended.

    pentaxuser
     
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,202
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    OK Unless the little girl is a massive crop from the neg i.e. a tiny portion of the neg and enlarged massively and assuming that this scan is exactly as the print appears then something is clearly wrong. This is not normal grain by any definition.

    pentaxuser
     
  14. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,539
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Looks like a massive crop to me.

    It could be nothing is wrong and OP just isn't used to grain. Having said that, a 5x7 enlargement from a relatively normally exposed and developed 35mm TMax 100 negative should be extremely fine grained. Developed in Ilfosol 3, the negative would be grainier than if it were done in XTOL or D-76, but it should still be very fine grained.

    Neopan 400 is not exactly a fine grained film so the prints would be very obviously grainier than prints from TMax 100, but still pretty fine grained at this enlargement size.

    High contrast printing will also emphasize the grain in the negative.
     
  15. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,202
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    We really need to see a scan of the prints in question that match in the OP's judgement of the actual print that made him draw the conclusion that the print was grainy. I am not clear why he chose to use a Neopan 400 scan when presumably he could have used a scan from his own print.

    pentaxuser
     
  16. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,252
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I wonder what OP meant by 100% crop of 1200 dpi scan.... 100% crop? Does the image look awfully low in contrast to anyone? Also incredibly unsharp?
     
  17. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

    Messages:
    729
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2009
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Are your negatives "flat" and do you filter under the enlarger to increase the contrast on paper? I noticed thet filtering to get higher contrast (grade 3-4) increases the grain visibility even with moderate speed film to the point it is somewhat intrusive on textureless areas.
     
  18. henry finley

    henry finley Member

    Messages:
    302
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Location:
    Marshville N
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    All this talk about grain. I never understood it. In 1971 at the age of 15 I discovered Microdol !:3. End of grain. Tri-X looked almost like Panatomic. Well, almost.
     
  19. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

    Messages:
    694
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How much of the original area of your negative is the crop you're posting? Is the girl's face just one tiny bit of the entire shot? If so, no wonder it's grainy! If you make a print of the entire negative, you really shouldn't be seeing any grain in the print unless you're peeping it with a magnifying glass.