Film testing methods

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Jimi, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. Jimi

    Jimi Member

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    Hello,

    Finally I managed to buy a slight bigger bag of film. Films are rebranded FP4+ and HP5+. Now I thought doing some testing with these films before starting shooting them, but I'm lacking methods of doing it.

    I have searched and found few very good sounding tests. But for my disappointment they have always required densitometer, which I don't have. I don't even know if I want to get so deep in this testing thing.

    So now I'm looking for simple way to adjust my EI and dev.time to suit my styles. Anyone there with ideas or weblinks?

    BTW, I'm shooting 120 6x4,5
     
  2. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    Hi Jimi,
    I found the directions here to be really clear and useful. Zone 2 Tone I'm not a pro or anything, but a while back I was having a lot of trouble getting Rodinal and D-100 to work properly. Les Meehan's article saved me a lot of time and heartache and helped me to get my EI and dev times sorted.
    You don't need a densitometer to do the tests either.

    Hope this helps (it really helped me!)

    Kent
     
  3. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I use a method that was taught to me by my NCOIC while I was in the Air Force. You start with a Kodak Projection Print Scale, it is a basic 10 step wedge, normally you use it find the printing times for any given negative. But if you use a clear negative in the enlarger, and start a test print by placing the scale over paper cut to size stopping your lens down to F8 or 11 then make a test starting with 4 seconds and increasing each test by 2 seconds until you have a test print with 10 distinct shades of gray zones 1 to 9. Some folks use step wedges or strips with up to 48 values, but I find a 10 step wedge works ok. I use either normal paper, for me grade 3, or VC paper with a filter for grade 3, some would use grade 2. Once you know what your printing time you can test your film.

    I shoot outdoors, I want to create a test that has zone 2 to zone 9 values, meaning shadows to hightlight. For the past few years I have my wife stand our patio wearing a black sweater with some texture, standing on a white rug with some texture, our potted plants cast a shadow, the white wall also has some texture. I aslo have myu wife hold a gray card. As exposure sets the shadow I run my first roll though the EI 25 to 800. I use an average meter and a normal lens. I develop this roll at the recommended time. Then I print a contact sheet using the F stop and time determined by my test print. What I am looking for is shadow details, zone 2. When I find the contact negative with zone 2 I print that negative and it should at the same F stop and time. If the enlargment still has good shadow details I look at the highlights. If the highlight are too gray the devleoment times need to be increased, blocked development needs to be shortened. Sometimes the rated EI and standard development times work and you are done. But if the development times need to adjusted I shoot a roll with each frame my found EI. I cut that roll into 3 or 4 sections, if the highlights were gray I develop each section increasing development times by 10% until I get the highlights I want, if blocked I decrease development times by 10% until I get what I want.

    This is usually a weekend long project. But once you nail your EI and development time you should be able to shoot, develop and print and get good working prints. If you change anything, paper, paper developer, film, film developer tempature, agitation you need to start all over.

    I have been looking for a replacement for 120 Plus X and I am to point where I will be testing several films with several developers over the next couple of weeks. At this point I may give in and get a used densitometer, it is much quicker and more percise.
     
  4. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    Hello Jemi,

    Les McLeans book "Creative Black & White Photography" has a very good section on just that. Also, Adams' "The Negative" has a section. You may also find find detail discriptions thru Google searching.
     
  5. bobbysandstrom

    bobbysandstrom Member

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    Hi:

    Save yourself a lot of grief and NAIL your system by calling Fred Newman at the View Camera Store 480-767-7105. I just got off the phone with him that's why the number was handy. Ask him about doing the tests with the BTZS. It's simple, he'll do all of the work for you, and, you'll have your system down like you've been shooting the film for 20 years! I can't hype it enough. It's definitely worth anyone's time to check this out.

    best
    bob
     
  6. MSchuler

    MSchuler Subscriber

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    In The Ansel Adams Guide : Basic Techniques of Photography - Book Two, a technique is described where one makes a print using a blank negative (film base + fog), makes identical prints using negatives exposed for zones I through VIII, and then compare the exposure times to calculate relative density. They claim that it is a very accurate method. It also seems pretty quick, consisting of developing one test strip per negative and then comparing the tones produced. And it could be even shorter if you just use it to get Zone I and Zone VIII densities.

    I've started using this process but haven't finished, as it appears from my first run that one of my Mamiya TLR shutter speeds is off. My zone I through VI measurements seemed about right, but VII and VIII were way too dense.

    I have put together an Excel spreadsheet that calculates densities based on this approach, using enlarger f/stops and exposure durations and charting the results against an "ideal" curve. It appears to work pretty so far - with the data set from the book and for my partial test. If you want to try it out, I'm happy to forward the file.

     
  7. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    If you dont want to do too much testing and want accurate results I would recommend you take advanatge of the film testing service at the view camera store web site. The expose the film and send it to you, you develop according to your favorite temperature and methods and you send the film strips back to them. They plug the values in the plotter and send you back curves and recommended times for exposure and development. It cant get any easier than this.

    Good luck.
     
  8. MSchuler

    MSchuler Subscriber

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    Jorge,

    This sounds easy if you know your ideal developing times, but if you're using a new film or developer, wouldn't it take a number of tests to calculate your EI and N-1/N/N+1 times? And this assumes that your meter and shutter speeds are calibrated to match theirs. It might be handy, though, to see if your density calculations are matching theirs - do the return the negative to you?


     
  9. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Their testing method is based on the BTZS, so you dont need to know ideal times. WHat they do is identically expose 5 strips or sheets of film and send them to you. You then develop at 4, 5:30, 8, 11 and 16 minutes and you send the developed strips back to them, you tell what kind of paper you plan on using and they will send you back developing times and EI for n+2, n+1, n, n-1, n-2

    Depending on your paper your n+ times might not reach quite n+2.

    Of course, your meter might give you different EI than theirs, but it would only be a matter of making a slight adjustment. As to the lenses, well theoretically you should make a test for each lens if you plan to follow ZS or similar methods. I dont know anybody that does this, we all trust that our lenses fall within certain degree of error we can adjust when printing.

    If you are planning to stick with one developer and film, IMO this is the best option for those who do not want to do or invest on the testing.
     
  10. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    I'll have to agree with BOBBYSANDSTROM-- the BTZS system made the most improvement on my work.
     
  11. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I used a method from this Web page (part 2 is on another page) to calibrate Fomapan 400 to Gainer's PC-Glycol developer. I'm not an expert on this topic, so I can't claim with authority that this method is really the ideal way to do the job, but it seemed helpful to me. The drawback is you're likely to need to shoot at least two 36-exposure rolls of film for each film/developer combination, and futz around in the darkroom making test prints from them, as well.
     
  12. Pastiche

    Pastiche Member

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    OK.....
    Im going to throw my 2cents in here just to hear - a) Im crazy, or b) Im a genious, and c) Crazy genious with a few flaws in the system {and hope you explain those to me so I can learn sumthin}

    I set up a regular piece of paper on a wall, evenly illuminated by two lights @ approx. 45deg to the surface (I set up each light individually, using incidental metering to get some even f/# combo -usu. f/5.6 @ 1/2 sec)

    When both lights are on, the exposure, incident metered, is idealy f/8, 1/2 sec @ factory ISO.

    I then switch to a 1deg spot meter.

    What's on the paper - regular inkjet print on regular paper, a target containing a WIDE range of tones... I found this weird graph on the internet that shows the relative strengths of field forces in gray scale... nevermind that... basicaly you want something that has at least ten steps ranging from dead black, to paper base white, and steps in between... (when I get home Ill try to upload my target image to this thread)

    The target is basicaly a print out of a step wedge, the more steps, the better, I believe the tar

    I then read off the target with the 1deg spot meter the proper exposure for the lowest value, middle value, and highest value. Now I have the zone V exposure info for all the values on the page in front of the camera.

    I set up the cam perpendicular to the plane of the paper, and take a shot at 3EV below the zone V reading for the darkest band, then one shot at the zone V reading for the middle band, and one shot 3EV over the reading for the pure paper base white band...

    Waltz over to the dark room, and process to what I consider "normal" for the dev/film combo. If I have no Idea what that should be, I just start with six minutes, and keep going up till I like the results on the negs. In the ideal dev. time, I should not loose the darkest band at the low end of the scale for my first shot, have a full spread for the second, and not loose the lstep between the lightest two bands at the high end for the third shot...

    Repeat above ad nauseum.

    Those negs which appear to have a distinct band for each of the bands on the target get taken into the dark room and printed, or taken to the scanner, and measured with the flatbed's "densitometer" . .. there, Im looking to be able to measure a diff. between all the bands... as well as register base + fog... and the .15 step up to zone I.

    One of the nice things about shooting the equivalent of a step wedge onto film is that I KNOW what the exposure steps are between my bands... so if I start to loose bands on either the high end of the tones or low end of the tones, I know Im either pushing or pulling the film (and approx how much in EV) . . . for it's given ISO. When I have all the bands, I consider that I've reached "normal" development.

    I havent taken the steps all the way thru with the print speed testing. . . i.e. I understand that I should use a step wedge and get my "normal" print times for paper/dev combos, THEN print my "normal" negs to the "normal" time on paper...

    Still, having confidence that Im getting a normal neg encourages me to feel that Im walking into the dark room with what I need to start with for the best possible prints... no use trying to get beautiful tones with a blocked/underexposed neg.
     
  13. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Why not just use a Stouffer step tablet?

    What type of light is your source? If it is tungsten, it will render somewhat different on film then daylight. If your lights are not at 45 degrees to the axis of the lens you have the potential of flare affecting your exposures.

    Ideally you would want to tailor your negative to the paper...the paper contrast within a grade is not amendable to the same extent as the camera negative. Thus many establish the paper characteristics before they work on the negative film speed and development.

    There may be other considerations. These, that I have mentioned, are readily apparent from what you have described.
     
  14. bobbysandstrom

    bobbysandstrom Member

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    No offense guys, but you're complicating things way more than necessary. The most efficient, most effective, most revealing, most informative way of getting your dev/times/dilutions/temps etc... is by using BTZS. It's really very, very, easy! It tells all! There's NO guesswork! When you get in your car in the morning you enter through the driver's door (if you're driving of course). You don't get in the passenger side then climb over the seat into the back, out the back door and then into the driver's side. By that time you've forgotten where you were going. Seriously, make it simple... call Fred at the View Camera Store and get the details. BTZS is the best kept secret in photography. I am not affiliated with any of the above, just a lover of the system. If you want to hurry up and get your testing over with so you can get out and do some shooting... get BTZS. Phil Davis has done all the hard work for you!

    TRY IT! :smile:
     
  15. Pastiche

    Pastiche Member

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    Im assuming Mr. Miller is reffering to me...

    Well... I plan on using a Stoufer step wedge. Just havent bought one yet... :smile:
    But it's the same idea. And yes, the lights are at 45's :smile: . . and.. ..
    I mostly shoot in studio... with daylight balanced bulbs... Im sure it's not the exact same thing...
    I can dig working from the paper backwards...
    I've been dong all the enlarging at the school's lab... and graded paper was not the going thing...
    I'm planning on moving into graded paper after I feel I've gotten a very thorough handle on VC and split filtering (from a color head) . ..
    I definetly concede that the graded paper will give me better tones... overall, but I just dont want to gloss over a standard practice...
    And thanks on the regards about the process... it's always good to have another photog to think with.

    To Sandstorm-
    the thing is, Im still experimenting with new developers... and films... and dont see any end in sight. .
    Plus, taking the work to any third party is like taking the car to the mechanic to get the gas tank topped off... It's just something I'd rather know that I can do routinely, well, and precicely myself...

    Actually, learning to speed rate my film taught me more about exposure control than I ever had a clue existed... not by reading about it in The Negative, but by seeing it in my work first hand.
     
  16. abeku

    abeku Subscriber

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    Hi Jimi,
    I've been using the method described by Chris Johnson. The first 120 roll is used to establish the EI by exposing for the shadows and get details in zone III. Then you need to analyse the results by making prints (on the paper you're going to use in the darkroom). On the final print you analyse how under/overexposed the Zone VIII is and adjust the developing time on the second roll of film you're shooting. I usually cut the 120-film in two pieces, in order to save some money. In the link attached above, there's also a chart for HP5 and FP4 in various developers, in my hands those times are very much the same what I'm using.
    Good luck!
     
  17. bobbysandstrom

    bobbysandstrom Member

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    huber

    you don't have to drop your work off anywhere, you can do it yourself with the plotter software. that's what I do. Although, you do have the option to have Fred do it for you. Today I tested (for Jobo processing) tmax100, 400, txp320, fp4, hp5, and efke 100 developed in clayton f76. I now know in intimate detail everything I need to know to control the density range of these films to fit my favorite paper. All in 5 hours work. That includes film speeds, contrast indexes for n-1 thru n+2. If you are indeed experimenting, this system will save you countless hours. You'll thank Phil Davis once you see it's value.

    best
    Sandstrom
     
  18. Pastiche

    Pastiche Member

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    OK. . now youve got my interest. . .. Ill check it out.. Thanks.
     
  19. bobbysandstrom

    bobbysandstrom Member

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    Great... that's what this place is all about... photographers helping other photographers. Glad I could give back a little as I've received a lot from others here.

    Once you're on to the system, spread the word to others so they can reap the benefits as well. Phil Davis has done a great service for us. Thanks Phil!