Fine grain developers

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by abeku, Jun 4, 2005.

  1. abeku

    abeku Subscriber

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    Hi,

    Perceptol is hard to find these days on the shelves. Adox and Moersch are coming up with equivalent developers but I'm still considering to try out some other developers. I've been attached to Perceptol since the first time I developed Pan F in it, fine grain, pleasant tonal range, and the 1+3 dilution made it economical.
    However, I would appreciate your advice on the other devopers out there:
    What fine grain developers would you recommend and why?

    regards,
    abeku
     
  2. Dr.Kollig

    Dr.Kollig Member

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    Apart from these high sulfite developers like perceptol,microdol-X etc. another choice are the Phenylendiamine based fine grain developers, the most common know here in Europe is Calbe A 49. Works very nice with films like Forte 400 (the old type which was bloody grainy, have not tested the new one), gives full speed. Can be used as stock or one-shot diluted 1:1 or 1:2, I used 1:2 30 mins on Tmax 3200 (inside techno club). I have no experience with it on slow films, as I rarely use something below 100 ASA and Efke 25 gets exposed at 100 and developed in speed-increasing developers.

    Kind regards,

    Wolfram
     
  3. Fotohuis

    Fotohuis Member

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    Specially looking at fine grain:

    HRX-2 (SPUR)
    CG-512 (or the equivalent Rollei low speed)

    With both developers you will loose a least the E.I. of one f-stop.

    On the other hand the impression of the sharpness is less with these kind of developers but more sharp than with the Perceptol. A lot of things depends also on the subject.

    Best regards,

    Robert
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    D-23 is a metol-sulfite developer much like Perceptol that is very easy to mix yourself. You can find the formula here, among other places--

    http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Developers/Formulas/formulas.html

    If you mix your own, you can make any quantity you want so that you always have fresh solution, you can tweak the formula for your own film and preferences, and you won't be as dependent on the whims of the manufacturers. D-23 is also popular for divided development, if you wanted to try that.
     
  5. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    you all prob think I am boring, but if you try Pan-F in Paterson Aculux 2 you wont find the grain. I cant with Delta 100 either. Great tonality, super fine grain, cheap as chips and ready made in a bottle. Very economical at £6.99 for 1litre to be diluted 1+9 or 1+14.

    Tom
     
  6. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    The major contributor to grain is the film itself. With Tri-X or HP5 fine grain developers will make a difference. With a film like Pan F+ you are unlikely to see much grain with reasonable development in most developers.. For a fine grained film I much prefer a developer like Pyrocat HD which will emphasise sharpnes rather than a high sulfite developer which will soften them detail acutance.. Once you buy the ingredients from a firm such as Techcheminc you will have enough developer for a long time and this is the most flexible and trouble free developer I have found in over years of photographic pursuits. Pyrocat HD is just wonderful.
     
  7. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    The problem is that most "fine grain" developers (like d-23) make the edges of the grain soft and eroded and the image will not appear as sharp as it could. This is OK for 35mm some format films but it is counterproductive for MF and larger formats. XTOL is a Vitamin C based developer and will give more accutance with fine grain. It will still not be as sharp as a good pyro developer. PMK seemed to me like the sharpest with the largest grain and Pyrocat was a good tweener. Good sharpness and small grain - masked with stain. A good choice.
     
  8. richard littlewood

    richard littlewood Member

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    You could try good old D-76 or ID-11 diluted 1+3. Can't go too wrong there, good sharpness, fine grain, easy to get etc, etc.
     
  9. KenR

    KenR Member

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    I thought that Rodinol was the answer for fine grain films like Pan-F as it is quite sharp but increases the grain. With Tri-X and HP5 the grain can be objectionable, but with a film like Pan-F that shouldn't be a problem.
     
  10. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    If you have been getting the results you like with Perceptol, then Microdol-X could be a good choice for you. It looks to be the Kodak equivalent to Perceptol if you use recommended usage directions and development times as a guide; just as D-76 is a virtual clone for ID-11. At 1+3 dilution for Microdol, and quite possibly with Perceptol as well, you are pretty much losing the fine grain effect and trading it for full emulsion speed and more acutance. Since Pan-F+ is already extremely fine grained, I doubt that you really need to use a fine grain developer anyway. As for myself, I have paired this film with D-76 1+1, XTOL 1+3, and even Rodinal 1+50 (for 120 roll film) and have had good results with all of them. The best of the bunch for me has been with dilute XTOL. Under the best of circumstances PanF+ has a very steep contrast curve and the dilute XTOL can help tame that a bit.
     
  11. abeku

    abeku Subscriber

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    Thank you all for the great replies. As I hoped, you are pointing out different options and each and everyone is worth to consider. I am not so familiar with the pyro developers (just read an article in Black & White Photography, that's all) so I definately need to take a closer look at them, seems to be very interesting developers.
    It was some time ago I used PanF, these days APX100, Delta 100, HP5, Delta 3200 and FPAN 100/400 are in my camera bag. For the T-grain films I use TMAX-dev and for the HP5, the D-76. For the APX100, I find Rodinal in a 1+50 dilution to be an excellent combination. When I tried Rodinal and FPAN films, I wasn't too happy with the grain (when using condensor light) even in the 120-format, so that's why I changed to Perceptol and ended up with beautiful negatives.
     
  12. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    OP: Grain is NOTyour enemy. Some subjects actually gain accutance (the illusion of sharpness) through grain. If you find grain objectionable there are only three paths: mushy, low-accutance images using developers that make the grain so, or move to a larger format using unappologetic, grain-faithfull forumulas. The third is pure tragedy: join the futile path of the cultists who use gigabitfilm and then struggle with the impossibilities of making full-tonal images to exploit 400lpmm film potential of which there are no lens/enlarger combinations on earth to bring it to the print - and no scanners, either. Gigabit makes no sense except to lens manufacturers seeking lp/mm metric proof of what their lenses can do, while none of "the rest of us" can accomodate the compromises that make it work because it limits our subject opportunities. You won't find many military resolution charts on gallery walls.

    Grain is your friend.
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Spelling aside, that's my solution.
     
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  15. abeku

    abeku Subscriber

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    Spot on! Certain images requires half format (18x24) and Rodinal, others a classic combo like HP5/D-76 or Delta/TMAXdev. It's also the matter to have a certain reportoire you feel comfortable with and know how to handle in order to be able to visualise your idea.
     
  16. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    An article in Photo Techniques by Otis Sprow backs that up.
    He tested six films in eight developers and found that "With low
    speed films, developer choice seems to make very little
    difference."

    I've been using FX-1 for Pan F; an easy homebrew. R. Suzuki
    has varied the sulfite in that for, at least in his mind, an
    improvement in gradation. The OP would also have a
    good print developer of the Ansco 120 type were
    he to brew FX-1.

    Or vice versa. Ansco 120 for prints and film. Dan
     
  17. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Two things...Perceptol at 1+3 doesn't soften grain like Perceptol does straight. Barry Thornton recommendeds Perceptol 1+3 very highly in "Edge of Darkness" for the sharpness of the negatives it produces.

    Second, Perceptol should be available again from Ilford in the not-too-distant future. It's one of the powdered chemicals that they dropped during their restructuring but that they're bringing back over the next few months. So, if you like Perceptol, it'll be back soon. (Assuming, of course, that Ilford's sticking around this time.)
     
  18. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I recently did a roll of PanF in Rodinal 1:50. I can't see the grain on 8x10 from a 35mm neg printed on a condenser. As usual for Rodinal, the sharpness was exceptional. Maybe my eyes need checking, but they seem to see other stuff, like bills, etc. just fine...:smile:

    I wasn't too happy with other aspects of the final product, but I think the issue was the photographer (me!) and not the developer. I find PanF is soemthing of an enigma to me... I have to shoot many more rolls to see if I even like in the first place.

    And please remember, Rodinal - I use it on cuts, mosquito bites, to prevent colds and add some to the oil in my cars - I get better fuel mileage. Apparently, members of warring factions in the Middle East were accidently dipped in Rodinal and proceeded to start a hippie commune together preaching peace and love for your neighbour. Cheers :wink:
     
  19. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Pan F and rodinal at 1-100 has always been a greeat combination for me. Excellent sharpness in prints up to 11x14. Depending on the subject it can get a bit contrasty, but that is one of the reasons I like that combination. Someone else mentioned XTOL. I concur that it will give very sharp negs and help control the highlights at a 1-2 or 1-3 dillution.

    One thing to remeber about grain in an image is you need to evaluate the print from a reasonable viewing distance for the size of the print. Only other photographers get their nose 6 inches from a 11x14 print to look at the grain. What is to much grain for a photographer is what gives an image sharpness and snap at normal viewing distances.
     
  20. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    What kind of paper surface? Was the negative properly focused and the lens a good one at optimum aperture?
     
  21. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    Pan F+ is amazing i Rodinal. Not much grain, but pure sharpness and tonality.
     
  22. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    Try the following for very fine grain and very high sharpness and long tonal scale:

    1 liter water
    1/2 teaspoon Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C powder or crystals)
    1 teaspoon Sodium Metaborate (Kodalk Balanced Alkali)
    4ml 1% Phenidone stock (diluted in 90% isopropyl alcohol)

    Delta 400--6 minutes at 70 degrees
    Delta 100--9 minutes at 70
    FP4+--8 minutes at 70
    ACROS--9 minutes at 70.

    Sodium carbonate can be substituted for the metaborate with barely noticeable increase in grain, but with considerably shortened development times due to higher alkalinity.

    I mix it fresh each time and use it as a one-shot. The simplicity of three ingredients makes the mixing time hardly any longer than keeping an already mixed stock and diluting it.

    Larry
     
  23. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    i have also heard that those who have used FX-39 from paterson with Pan-F have had great results as it is designed for T grain films aimed to tame hot highlights and increase acutance, both of which are issues with Pan-F. A lot of people are suggesting home brews, but I wwould reccommend off the shelf stuff while you familiarise yourself with the 'looks' and then make your own equivalents/similars when and if you feel it makes sense.

    For acutance try-Rodinal, Acutol, FX-39 (still quite fine grain)
    Fine grain - Perceptol, Microdol X, Xtol, ID11, d76,Aculux 2.

    FWIW altho as many have said 'grain is not your enemy', erm, somethimes IT IS. I love grain sometimes, but it is not always appropriate. For example....

    You are shooting trees in fog with the sun glowing through on 35mm and want to produce large prints for the wall....

    You are unlikely to benefit from acutance devs much as the emphasis is on smooth tonality, smooth enveloping tones and low contrast is likely to mean any attempt at boosting perceived sharpness (acutance) is pointless. The LAST thing I would want would be clearly visible grain. Even with Pan F, you will get grain if your set up is properly aligned and you enlarge a 35 neg dev'd in rodinal to 20" or so !!!!

    All I am saying is horses for courses and fine grain does have a place, but for me, th.t is less often than acutance. You asked about fine grain and most have spent more time telling you that actually you dont want fine grain. Maybe you do...
     
  24. abeku

    abeku Subscriber

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    This dilution effect is interesting, I've noticed this sharpness effect especially in the dark areas of a print. The reason you loose the soft grain because of a dilution, is it because the sulfite get's too diluted to work? Or do you see this with other non-sulphite developers as well?
    As a follow up question to severe dilution of an developer, what makes it to become compensatory when diluted? What are the chemical characteristics of such an developer?
    I learn a lot from this thread...
     
  25. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    You're spot-on with why Perceptol becomes a much sharper developer with dilution: If the sulfite level gets too low then it won't dissolve the edges of the silver grains so you get a sharper grain rather than a mushy grain. (You usually lose some film speed as well, but I find that a small price to pay for the sharpness of Perceptol at 1+3.)

    The compensation is due to the fact that the developer will quickly wear out in the highlight areas (where it's developing a lot of silver) but will keep working in the shadows (where there's less action, so the developer doesn't exhaust as quickly). The extreme example of this is stand development; with a very dilute solution of the correct developer (I've used Rodinal at 1:300 and Pyrocat-HD at 1:1:500) you agitate for a minute or two and then just let the tank stand for a very long time (I usually go for 60-90 minutes). The developer will wear out in the highlights but keep developing the shadows, and since you're not agitating during the development you're not moving fresh developer around to start up development in the highlights again.

    There are a number of threads on APUG about stand development, but be aware that it's not a "silver bullet". Drag marks and fog are real possibilities...if you want to try it I strongly suggest that you start out with Rodinal as it seems to be a very safe developer for stand development.
     
  26. Incroyable

    Incroyable Member

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    I have had fine results with the Neofin Blue which is based on the original Beutler.