Films and the developers they like

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by fhovie, Sep 20, 2003.

  1. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    Life is not always as simple as - "I like TRI-X." It is "I like TRI-X in PMK for 4x5 Format. - In 120 or 35mm, I do not like TRI-X in PMK." So here is what my choice films like - ..... You know you should talk to your films on a regular basis to get to know what they like.

    4x5 Tri-x - PMK - asa200 Sharpness and nice looking grain - good range - very tolerant to large contrast spans. A preferance

    4x5 FP4 - PMK - ASA80 Sharpness and smoother richer tones - very large enlargements and good contrast span

    120 or 35mm TRI-X Microdol X (100g Sod Sulfite, 5g Metol, 30g Salt, 1L water) ASA200 Very sharp - nice looking grain structure - very fine grain. Also good in split D23 with more sharpness and more grain. Not good in PMK or DiXactol unless the print size is 11 x 14 or less. D-76 is good with less sharpness than the rest.

    120 or 35mm HP5 at 1600asa in D76 N+2 contrast, comparatively smooth grain structure and very enlargable. The only film I like to push and enlarge much. Not as sharp as TRI X but the smudgy looking grain will give a smooth appearance when enlarged.

    120 FP4 DiXactol at asa80 - Smooth tonality, very sharp grain - very tolerant of highlight separation - very good to 11x14 and sometimes more. A preferance

    FP4 or HP5 35mm at advertised film speed - Split D23 - good trade of sharpness and grain - very forgiving - good enlargability

    This is what I have come up with so far as favorites. FWIW
    -Frank
     
  2. Lex Jenkins

    Lex Jenkins Member

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    Ah, one of my favorite topics because it's like exchanging recipes for chicken enchiladas!

    All my work is in 35mm and 120 so the "recipes" apply to either...

    Tri-X at EI 1200-1250 in Diafine has quickly become one of my favorites for candid, casual photography. With an SLR having a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000 or 1/4000 this combo is even useful for reasonably selective DOF in bright daylight. Unique tonal qualities unlike anything else.

    Also, Tri-X at various EIs in many other soups: HC-110 or ID-11/D-76 below the nominal speed for fine grain and excellent tonality; Rodinal at or slightly above 400 for a classic grainy look; Rodinal at around EI 100 for nighttime photography and stand processing in very dilute developer.

    FP4+ at EI 250 in Diafine for nighttime photography when I want finer grain than Tri-X is capable of.

    FP4+ at EI 64 in ID-11, 1:1. Fine grain, good apparent sharpness, lovely tonality. Excellent for portraiture, landscapes, fine art work of all kinds.

    TMY at EI 1000-1600 in straight Microphen for available dark handheld photography, especially live theatre. Finer grain and more normal contrast characteristics than Tri-X in Diafine.

    Delta 3200 at EI 1600 in Diafine. Lovely tonality. Better shadow detail than TMY or Tri-X at this speed. Chunky grain limits enlargements to around 8x10, tho'. I get finer grain from TMY in Microphen at this speed.

    APX 100 at or near the nominal speed in Ilfosol-S. Beautiful tonality and apparent sharpness. The mid to upper tones can do wonderful things with certain textures like bones, tree bark, etc. This is one I'd choose for portraiture.

    TMX at or near its nominal speed in ID-11, 1:1 for architecture. Because this subject matter has definite lines I'm not concerned with the alleged lack of apparent sharpness (it's actually a very high resolution film but somewhat lacking in acutance in some developers including ID-11). But because my architectural photography often includes large expanses of sky I want grainless sky. This combo delivers that. However due to the rather odd tonal qualities I wouldn't choose this film for portraiture.

    And a "new favorite," Efke R100 in Tetenal Neofin Blau. Lovely film, very much like APX 100 in tonality. I'll probably try it in other developers and reserve the Neofin for TMX or Pan F+ to evaluate the effect of an acutance developer on those films.
     
  3. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    Diafine sounds like good stuff- it seems a lot like split D23 with something in it to bump up the film speed - I wonder what is in it???
     
  4. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    Diafine: phenidone/hidroquinone/sulfite/metabissulfite in bath A; sodium metaborate (Kodalk) or borax (not sure which one)/sulfite in bath B.

    My film/dev combos (only 35mm):

    - 125 PX in a Xtol like dev 1+2 for normal work - fine grain, sharp, good tone, higlight control. I really liked this combo.
    - 400TX in Diafine like dev for available darkness. Same reasons Lex stated above.

    Have used HC-110 in many ways and FX-37 with PX. The above is better.
    Did not like TMX.

    Jorge O
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    TX, TXP, and TXT in PMK up to 4x5" for enlargement, in ABC larger than 4x5" for contact printing, covers most of my B&W these days. When I want more speed, I use Acufine.

    I like Delta 400 in Perceptol, but don't use it much, because it doesn't come in sheet sizes. Also not bad in D-76 for more speed.

    TMX in D-76 (1+1), when I want more of the T-Max look or really fine grain.
     
  6. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    35mm TriX in Fotospeed FD30 1 to 9 for 6 mins at 20c gives me crisp sharp grain and, a big bonus for me, a relatively short development time.

    35mm Delta 3200 rated from 1000 ISO to 25000 ISO in Rodinal 1 to 25 from 9mins to 15 mins produces lots of sharp grain that I love but the downer is long development times when rated at 25000 ISO.

    120 and 4 x 5 FP4 in ID11 9 mins 1 to 1 for my fine grain work.
     
  7. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    Here are my choices from the past and present:
    35mm and 120 Tri X in Microdol X
    35mm and 120 Plus X in Microdol X
    Large format TMax 100 in D76 1:1
     
  8. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I haven't done too much comparing since returning to the darkroom recently (Takes a real commitment of time and materials to effectively test film/developer combos) so I'm using my old, established favorite of Tri-X in FG-7 diluted 1:15 in a 9% sodium sulfite solution. I've always been very happy with this combo.

    Recently, I've been experimenting with Efke 50 and 100 in D-76 and although I haven't fully nailed down a solid speed/dev. time, I'm really impressed so far. It reminds me of, many years ago, discovering Seagull paper after using the Kodak papers of the time.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    tri x - tmax 100+400

    processed in ansco 130 1:4-5ish ( depending on age of developer) about 6-7 mins ( DBI so i don't really know for sure)

    i used to love xtol because it refused to block highlights, but the "olde 130" gives me the long scale, contrast, sharpness &c and refuses to block my highlights too -

    - can't argue with that :smile:
     
  10. MikeK

    MikeK Member

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    I have only used Ansco 130 as a print developer. Gave very nice results, have never thought to use it as a film developer though.

    Mike
     
  11. Lex Jenkins

    Lex Jenkins Member

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    Decades ago there were "universal" developers in PQ and MQ formulations for both paper and film development. I suspect that only photojournalists used these developers extensively. By the 1960s-'70s it seems most developers had become more specialized.

    I recently developed some Tri-X in Ilford Universal paper developer. Worked just fine, looked like Tri-X in Rodinal despite the entirely different formulations.
     
  12. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Tri-x 320 in sheet film sizes and 220 with Pyrocat HD 2:2:100 on Bergger VCCB.

    Tri-x or Delta 400 for 35mm in D76 1:1 (100 speed films like plus-x, Acros and Delta 100 are all too slow for me to consistantly hand hold with moving subjects.)

    Delta 3200, especially in medium format, rated at 800 and developed for 8.5 min at 68 in straight XTOL.
     
  13. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Xtol 1+1 almost across the board. Sometimes Rodinol... but Xtol has a lot of range. I tend to under-agitate Xtol 1+1 in the last two minutes or so, in the hope of accentuating the compensating-developer effects.
     
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  15. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    My tests with Xtol like dev have been at 1+2, agitation every 2 min and some 20% longer dev time.

    The photos I've uploaded today were 125PX dev as above.

    Jorge O
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i first found out about "130" when i was broke and living in a studio/loft and didnt' have money to buy more developer ..
    there had been a can of "gaf universal" on the drafty window sill ( baking in 100º+ summers an dfreeing in -10º winters) probably since probably the 1970s ..
    i threw caution to the wind and mixed the whole can up to make something like 5 gallons ...
    it was a hot summer, and i shot maybe 30 -40 rolls of film, and 100-200 sheets of 4x5 film. i didn't know then what i know now about how long the developer stays good as "stock" so i processed and printed like mad to make sure the stuff didn't go bad on me.

    it wasn't until a few years later that i was talking to jc welch at equinox photographic and he told me that the formulary sold the same stuff as their paper developer.

    haven't really used anything else since :smile:

    mike - if you like what it does for paper, you'll really like what it does on film :smile:

    -john
     
  17. MikeK

    MikeK Member

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    My favorite film developer combinations are:

    FP4 Sheet & 120 Roll PMK Pyro
    Tmax-100 (Readyloads) D-23 diluted 1:1
    Tri-X 120 Roll D76H diluted 1:1

    I might give 130 a try for film but do not have any glycin left, so will have to wait until I order some.

    - Mike
     
  18. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    I've been a bit of a butterfly in the past, having used pretty much every film and developer on the market at one time or another. Now, however, I've decided to get tough.So……

    VP/PMK- The finest combo for MF around, IMHO. V fine grain for a 50 yr. old film and tonality that was good enough to eat -the kind you just don't see with modern films. Fantastic for portraits (did some great wedding shots on it). Pity VP is now no more, but such is life (better get some more APX 100 in 5x4 while I still can).

    Forte 200/PMK- Great combo for LF. Tonality that's smoother than a cashmere codpiece as Stephen Fry would say and great price too-just over £35 for 25 8x10s.

    APX 400/PMK- The old AP400 was the very first film I tried with Pyro-I was instantly hooked. Becoming my mainstay for 6x6, especially for portraits.

    Delta 3200/Rayco UFG- Lovely rich negs with good shadow detail and prints to match. FX10-see the Darkroom/Film Developing Cookbook is a very similar formula. Lengthy dev time (16-18 mins 24c at 3200) but as a Guinness ad put it, good things come to those who wait. Love it for portraits.

    Polaroid Type 55- No dilemmas about which developer to use with this film! Another favourite for portraits. Obviously much quicker to process and no more fiddling around reloading darkslides or carrying them around (well not till I get my 8x10 anyway).

    There is no Holy Grail (" no thanks, you see I already 'ave one"...) in films or developers (PMK comes close though) so work on that vision thing and don't get obsessed with chasing the BEST combo. 3 or 4 films and devs should just about cover any situation you might encounter-probably you'll use a couple of these most of the time. That said, a little bit of experimenting goes a long way-that's how I discovered my current faves (hmmm...must try Delta 3200 in 777 some time).
     
  19. Lex Jenkins

    Lex Jenkins Member

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    My problem with favorite combos is that I'm at the point of overload. If I'm tempted to try another I feel the need to clean house by dumping a previous favorite.

    Recently I've been very tempted to try some form of pyro. If I do, which of my current faves will have to go?

    Decisions, decisions.
     
  20. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yeah, I've kind of pared down to shooting mostly Tri-X in all flavors and formats, either PMK or ABC, but I keep the others on file for occasional use.

    I still have 300-odd feet of 35mm Double-X cine stock to go through and just discovered yesterday that it looks much better in Acufine than Dektol (it's kind of old and needs a really active developer).
     
  21. Lex Jenkins

    Lex Jenkins Member

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    If I were shooting 4x5 or larger I could easily feel comfortable using nothing but Tri-X and not feel restricted.

    But shooting mostly 35mm and 120, as well as having a wide range of photographic interests and approaches, I have to keep a suitable variety of films and developers on hand along with techniques for making effective use of them.

    For example, fine art work or landscapes with TMY at EI 1600 in straight Microphen? Heck, no! I wouldn't even bother using this combo in 120. That's strictly one of my two mainstays for handheld available "dark" candid photography in 35mm.

    TMX and ID-11 for fine art work in 35mm? Nah. Seems like a waste of time. That's one of my favorite combos for 120 work.

    OTOH, there are some combos I use comfortably in both formats. APX 100 or FP4+ and whatever developer.
     
  22. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    When I was doing 35mm and MF, I had pretty well standardized on Tri-X TX developing in Xtol with a dash of Rodinal thrown in. When I moved to 4x5, I started a contest between APX 100/Rodinal 1:50 and Tri-X TXT. I was just a little dissapointed in the TXT because it tended to blown out a little in the highlights. Not quite as versatile as the TX stuff. I had just decided to standardize on APX 100 when Agfa decided to pull the plug on its LF production. Now I'm leaning towards J&C 200/ABC pyro. TXT/ABC looks good but even more tendancy to blow out highlights in a high contrast situation.

    Looks like J&C 200 may become the standard. I'm seeing good reports on Sandy King's pyrocat so may have to give it a comparative try.

    Life is much easier when i only have to worry about one film/one developer. All the technical variety that is available is just too much clutter for me.
     
  23. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    TXT/PMK holds highlight detail quite well. I use that combo for 4x5", which I usually enlarge with a cold light head. TXT/ABC I use for negs to be contact printed on Azo, which can accomodate (and needs!) a little more highlight density.
     
  24. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I have a 1-liter PMK kit setting on my shelf, awaiting trial. But David, there's certainly been a lot of controversy about PMK recently in the forums we both follow. That, and lack of time currently, is why I've been holding back from it.

    I thought TXT/ABC was outstanding on low to medium contrast, and that was using the 1:1:1 mixture. But in each case where I had bursts of white, such as clouds or light details amidst gray and black, the highlights have blocked up with loss of detail and texture. But I never had that problem using TX and assorted developers.

    I don't know what the technical difference between TX and TXT is, much less why Big K saw fit to make the difference, but I wish the TX emulsion was available in LF.
     
  25. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    TXT is theoretically the same as TXP, and has a longer toe than TX, so it's a little less forgiving, aside from being rated nominally at 320 instead of 400.

    There is a lot of hype around PMK, and I've been going back and forth on the issue of "background stain" and whether it really has any significant grain masking effect, but the thing it does well is hold highlight detail, and the edge effects are real as well. I think there is some grain masking effect, since it produces smoother looking grain than ABC, but it's not obvious that increasing the background stain with a PMK afterbath does much to improve it, at the expense of raising base fog density.

    Since you have the kit, give it a go. The stock solutions are very long lasting, and it's quite easy to mix up the working solution on the spot whenever you need it.
     
  26. lee

    lee Member

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    I will jump in here and say that I have been using PMK with HP5+ for over 4 years and have just used it on 2 boxes of Classic 200. The negs look great. I am using ei 100. They have more color (green) than the HP5+. I will attempt to print some tomorrow. I don't think I will have any problems in that regard. I would try some of the Pyrocat HD but I still have so much PMK that I would hate to just leave it after it has preformed so well for me in the past. (I am more interested in images than hopping around from one developer to another developer anyway.) I don't have any issues with those that do as it makes my life easier if I can just use the info that they learn and I don't have to do all that work.


    lee\c