Film Grain

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by thisismyname09, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    Currently I use kodak tri-x film, but i tend to get alot of obnoxious grain (at least on 35mm). Is there anything I can do to reduce it and/or what film tends to have the least visible grain? Preferably something available on both 35mm and 120/220.
     
  2. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

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    Well, TriX is not a fine grain film, that's a fact. That's one variable. The other variable is the developer you use. You didn't tell us something about it. While the the film itself is the major factor, developer and dilution also affects the grain you'll get. One more thing that can affect the size of grain is the temperature of the final wash and differences between the temperature of the various chemicals you use. You'd better keep differences at a minimum. If your process is "correct", then using something like Tmax or Delta is the way to go.

    So, tell us a bit more about your process...
     
  3. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    I use D-76 developer, diluted 1:1::developer:water. I make sure the water temperature is constantly at 75 degrees(F), although my developer and fixer are probably at room temperature, which would be ~5 degrees less.
     
  4. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

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    In that case, you're a grainophobe sir :tongue:
    70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit shouldn't matter much. If that's obnoxious, then try modern emulsions, or slower films.
     
  5. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    There are a number of so called "fine grain" developers available. Every one that I know of is, in a sense, a "cheat". The grain is characteristic of the FILM - it can be made to appear less well defined by blurring the grain edges ... at the inevitable expense of acutance (read: sharpness). Personally, I'd rather have a sharp, well defined, CLEAN grain.

    Demonizing grain was a pleasant recreational pastime for the manufacturers of miracle developers in the past ... these were supposed to decrease - eliminate grain altogether, while increasing film speeds to astronomical numbers. Generally, they WORKED - but at the expense of tonal scale, definition and overall appearance. SEVERE expense.

    If you do not like D-76 try something else. T-Max has been suggested - I personally do not favor T-Max (seems "harsh" to me) but many LOVE it; there is a wi=de selection available (I left the Freudian slip).
    I would suggest, though, that you do not concentrate on any one characterstic - such as grain - it is FAR better to evaluate the results by overall appearance.
     
  6. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Use a slower film, a t-grain emulsion (Ilford's Delta or Kodak's T-Max) , a fine grain film dev., an undiluted film dev., (D-76, 1+0 will give finer grain than 1+1, or move to a larger format.
     
  7. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear thisismyname09,

    Try Xtol undiluted. You should see notably smoother images.

    Neal Wydra
     
  8. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    The development times are usually given for 20*C (68*F), did you reduce the time slightly to compensate for the higher temperature? Also, what ISO did you rate the film at?
     
  9. Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson Member

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    First thing to do is move to 400Tmax (aka TMY-2). Then move from D76 to XTOL. Undiluted will give you smaller grain. As you dilute it more you'll get increased sharpness in exchange for more graininess. But these differences are fairly small. These two changes will give you a big change in graininess IMHO.

    Next thing to do is hone your exposure and processing. If graininess is your thing, you want to make sure you have negatives that are just barely dense enough to print well, and no more. Graininess is directly related to density, so less density means less graininess. This kind of honing of exposure and processing is covered well in the dozens (hundreds?) of books on the Zone System and its variants.

    If these changes aren't enough for you, you'll have to give up some film speed. Your next best bet is 100Tmax.

    If that's not enough for you, you'll have to move up in format. Moving to 5x4 is a huge change, but you'll never have to deal with graininess again. A 10x enlargement is 50x40 inches after all, and prints I've made that size from 5x4 are nearly grainless. From Tri-X no less.
     
  10. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    09,
    With all MQ developers like D76, "grain" is a function of the amount of development, all other things being equal (which, of course, they never are). That being said, you might consider underdeveloping slightly. In addition, the old lab rats would always add a little bit of used developer to the fresh soup "to soften up the grain." If you use a replenisher with your D76, the "grain" will become less apparent as colloidal silver in the used developer coats the image.
    A friend who was an army photographer said that it was drummed into them to keep all film wet times to a minimum for the best "grain." And, as others have said, keep your temps close and constant, as well.
     
  11. dfoo

    dfoo Member

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    With good exposure and XTOL 1+1 (or undiluted) I find Tri-X to be pretty grain-free on an 8x10 printed from a condenser enlarger.
     
  12. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    If you don't mind trying a different film/developer combination, you could try Fuji Acros 100 and Super-Prodol, or TMAX 100 and TMAX developer. Both of those combinations have given me silky-smooth photos in the past.
     
  13. waileong

    waileong Member

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    3X has lovely grain. One should learn to appreciate it. But notwithstanding that, correct exposure is also a very important factor in minimising grain.
     
  14. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Shoot Adox CMS 20. No grain.
     
  15. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    What he said.

    Steve
     
  16. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    What he said, too.

    Steve
     
  17. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Complaining about Trix being grainy seems kind of like complaining about Harley-Davidsons being loud.
     
  18. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    ***************
    :D
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Tri-X should not have what most people would call "obnoxious grain" unless it has been poorly exposed and/or beaten up during processing (or blown up a lot, obviously). Overexposure is the number one culprit in making a horribly grainy image in my experience. In fact, when I want to increase the appearance of grain, overexposing is the first and most important step. Another thing that causes a lot of grain to show up is when you "print up" an underexposed negative by reducing density on the print and adding contrast. Number three culprit: processing. Overdevelopment, too much agitation, agitation that is too harsh, etc. Number four: pictures that are not really sharp to begin with. This gives you nothing *but* grain to focus on. The worst *accidental* grain I have ever seen is from extremely overexposed, low contrast, out of focus negatives that never should have been printed in the first place being not only printed, but done so much too large.

    When you print your contact sheets so that the sprocket holes are just barely visible using a number 2 filter (or a grade two paper), what do your pix look like? Light, good, or dark? Contrasty, good, or flat?

    By what factor are you enlarging your 1x1.5 inch negs?

    Changing film/developer is not anywhere near the first thing that comes to mind as a suggestion. You may like another film better, but developers will matter very little, and you should be able to get Tri-X to look perfectly fine with what you are using. Also, by doing this, you will learn better quality exposure and development that you can use to get great results with any film.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2009
  20. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    I don't think its my developing thats the problem. I'm anal about keeping the water the right temperature and agitating an exact number of times for exact amounts of times. I do have a tendancy to use high contrast when I print onto paper, though.

    Regardless, I think i'm going to try some new film, just out of curiousity. All I've ever used was Tri-X.
     
  21. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    Fuji Presto (Neopan 400) is pretty smooth, especially in Super-Prodol.

    There are no bad B&W films out there, so have fun trying them all :smile:
     
  22. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    I was thinking of trying some of the medium/slow speed ilford films, like fp4+ or hp5+
     
  23. drazak

    drazak Member

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    I hope you meant panf+ and not hp5+, as hp5+ will have the same grain as tx.

    Ben
     
  24. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The finest grain film film availible both in 135 and 120 is Rollei ATP.