film recommendations for fx-39

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by kaiyen, Aug 9, 2005.

  1. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Hi all,
    So I've been playing with some fx-39 I got on sale at the local shop. Tried it with Delta 100 first, since it's supposedly designed for the tmax and delta lines. Sharpness is marginally better than with Rodinal, but grain is a lot more intense. Speed is very nice (I can get at least 125 if not 160 out of D100 - still testing). This is mostly in 35mm.

    I'm not sure I like the grain, so this combination might not play out for me in the end. Therefore, I'm looking for recommendations on what other films to try. I only have this one bottle, and I don't want to order another one just for more testing. The films I currently have are:

    35mm:
    pan f
    efke 25 & 50
    delta 100
    fp4 (though not much left)
    hp5 (barely any left)
    tri-x
    delta 3200

    120:
    efke 25, 50, & 100
    fp4
    tri-x
    fortepan 400
    konica ir 750

    I realize that I have a lot of traditional emulsions, and that fx-39 isn't designed for them. However, I have seen several recommendations to try it with traditional films, because there can be some really pleasant results. So...if you have a particular recommendation, let me know.

    thanks
    allan
     
  2. pauldc

    pauldc Member

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    Alan,
    all the Paterson developers are pretty good (i've used fx-39, aculux and acutol but settled on aculux for tonality) but one thing i find is that the times Paterson gives are much too long (and I even use a diffusion type enlarger which needs a bit more contrast) and as a consequence produces lots more grain than I like. Having played around with a few films I have found my personal development times that are giving really good results. So one thought is to try the delta 100 again with a shorter time. Also, my experience with Paterson is that the supposed increase in film speed and hence shadow detail does not emerge and I still rate my films at a lower EI. For example, I rate FP4+ at EI64 for aculux. The only real problem with FX-39 is, as you say, it has a short shelf life once open. Aculux I find can last up to 3 months.
    good luck
    Paul
     
  3. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    strange how people have such differing results. I saw a review which stated that the tester got the equal finest grain from FX-39 with Delta100, as fine as ID11, but with far better sharpness. I am amazed that grain is more than Rodinal. That seems odd. I am currently using it (early days) with 10x8 negs so grain does not come into it. Gives great speed and I am happy with that.

    Have you done a few rolls or just one? If just one, might be worth running another thru.

    FX-39 is good for the fine grained films, esp modern ones. Acros is reportedly good in it, as is Pan-F, which you have.

    I am going to try TriX in it for good acutance, crisp grain with full speed (hopefully) for street stuff......when I get round to it.
     
  4. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Ilford Delta 100 and Paterson FX-39 is a very good combination and you shouln`t be getting the excessive grain that you desribe. It could be that you are developing the films longer than necessary. Try this link:
    http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.html
    then click on the Revised Paterson Chart link.
    Bear in mind that Michael Scarpitti uses a condenser enlarger and prints onto Ilford Gallerie grade 3 rather than the more usual grade 2 papers.
    It is certainly worth a try.
     
  5. John Cook

    John Cook Member

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    I would suggest three things:

    First, if you are using the 1:9 dilution, try it at 1:14 and increase the time.

    See the instructions:

    http://www.patersonphotographic.com/chemistry/developers.html#one

    Weakening the dilution of developers like Rodinal and FX-39 tends to make the grain smaller but no less distinctive.

    Second, this is almost a special-effects developer in its sharpness. To maximize the effect, a normal-grain emulsion would react with more drama than Delta which has so little silver in its thin emulsion.

    Finally, if you dislike grain stay away from high acutance developers and the 35mm format. Both tend to maximize it.
     
  6. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Thanks for the tips. I have tried this with 3 rolls of 35mm and 1 roll of 120. The grain in the 120 is fine, it's the 35mm that's too much. I did use the digitaltruth times but I will consult the information on the revised chart and on the 1+14 dilution.

    I don't dislike grain, but my results so far are excessive (even taking into account the usual grain increase from my methods - I don't wet print, so I have to *blank* the film).

    I'll give your suggestions a try. I got enough Delta 100, anyway, and I'd prefer to stick to the one film for the rest of this bottle, anyway.

    allan
     
  7. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    I use it for Delta 3200 regularly, and have used it once or twice with Pan F. I agree with the others about the lack of grain, especially with the Pan F. I started using FX 39 when a review in Practical Photography rated it as the best fine grain developer.
     
  8. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Are you developing the film to scan ? Oh, dear. That changes things a lot.

    Even with a good film scanner ( minolta 5400 / nikon 8000 ) it doesn't really SEE the grain clearly enough to resolve it. Silverfast helps focus much better (and now i guess we should go to the Grey Area room).

    Your developer problems, I believe, are totally different than were you projecting the image onto paper. Abandon acutance developers until you get an enlarger or zillion dollar scanner. :sad:
     
  9. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    I'll keep this very restricted, as I don't want to actually go into Grey Area...area.

    I am quite happy with the results I am getting with acutance developers (note that happiness with my results doesn't depend on output media or methods in this context). So I don't think that using acutance developers is a bad idea, in and of itself. My results with Rodinal with FP4, for instance, look great to me.

    Now, that isn't to say that the combination of delta 100 and fx-39 isn't a good one for my methods. It just might be one of those bad combinations - there are a few of them.

    Regardless, I'll try the following:
    1 - less time with Delta 100
    2 - higher dilution with Delta 100
    3 - with Pan F
    4 - with Delta 3200

    assuming I haev enough developer, of course.

    thanks again. as always, it's worth the experiment.
    allan
     
  10. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Again, this combo is recognised as one of the best by many people (Roger Hicks for one). Why it is not working for you does not sound like a matter of taste as the grain is relatively big and you can see this compared to other films/devs. It does not matter either. If it is not working for you, it is not working......

    Tom
     
  11. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Tom,

    I don't...think I said anything contrary to your point here. I meant that this combination might not be a good one for my methods. I didn't mean to imply that it's bad, period. I apologize for my lack of clarity there.

    allan
     
  12. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Kaiyen,

    No you did not, it was prob me being unclear! I was just saying that it is wierd it is so grainy for you as it is ackowldedged to be a great combo, but if you cannot get it to sing the reason becomes imaterial. If it does not look good to you, it is not good for you. Hopefully you will have better luck with something else. Fingers crossed for Pan F in FX-39, a combo I will try to try out this weekend, weather (Wales...) permitting. The forecast has thunder and lightning- great :smile:

    FWIW, I find it tough to get nice prints to my eye from Ilford MG1V....the most commonly used paper on earth.
     
  13. Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson Subscriber

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    Did you shoot female portraits? I found FX-39 and Rodinal too grainy for that.But for landscapes it gives very sharp results from 35 mm and Leica man Erwin Puts at imx.nl likes it.
    One film considered slightly less grainy than Delta 100 is not on your list,it is T-max 100.
     
  14. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Female portraits in particular? Seems like a weird question to me :smile:. No, these are architectural shots, mostly.

    Gonna go shoot this weekend. Why is it only Wednesday!?

    allan
     
  15. Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson Subscriber

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    If You please,a solvent developer may be used to provide smoother skin tones and FX-39 for other 35mm work.I used a solvent developer for this and FX-39 for everything else 35mm when I used it.
     
  16. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Alan - ah. Now I get it. Good suggestions that I will keep in mind...

    allan
     
  17. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Hi all,

    So, as a followup...I tried FX-39 again this weekend. I tried the following combinations:

    Delta 100 (135) @ 125 FX-39 1+19 7:00
    Delta 100 (120) @ 125 FX-39 1+19 8:00
    Pan F+ (135) @ 50 FX-39 1+19 8:00

    agitation was 30s initial, then 10s each minute. I decreased the times from Mike Scarpitti's recommendations since I scan, which is more condenser-esque than diffision-esque.

    Initial thoughts are that the grain is a lot more controlled. This, in turn, allows the sharpness to really come through. The Pan F results are really quite spectacular.

    Small and therefore only-moderately useful scans are at http://www.pbase.com/romosoho/transit (the first several, of the old trains). The scans are still quite flat for now - having monitor contrast issues at home.

    The one thing I found was that the times were actually too short. Admittedly, this was a low contrast day and I should've bumped up the time a bit, but these were incredibly flat right out of the scanner. So I still have some messing around to do there. I think the times listed above would be pretty close for a normal contrast day.

    Hopefully I'll have enough fx-39 left to do a few more test rolls.

    Thanks for the input.
    allan