Help me to learn Pan F+ and Perceptol.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by smithy17, May 12, 2010.

  1. smithy17

    smithy17 Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Location:
    England
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hi folks,

    I am a relative newbie to photography B/W darkroom use. I have a Durst M670 and I use a Mamiya RB67 with 65mm and 127mm lenses and some filters.
    I would like to learn how to get quality, repeatable results with Pan F Plus and dilute Perceptol. I have bought 20 rolls of 120 film and 5 boxes of Perceptol along with stop, fix and wetting agent.
    I also have Multigrade paper and developer.
    Any users of this film and developer?
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,093
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In you're other post I mentioned Bill Spears, PM him as it's his regular combination.

    Ian
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,441
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Throw out the Perceptol and use Pyrocat-HD, or D-76 1+1. Loverly schtuff.
     
  4. Kevin Kehler

    Kevin Kehler Member

    Messages:
    605
    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Location:
    Regina Canad
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I use this combination on a regular basis, it is very nice since the negatives are grain free and very good tones. For my set up*, I expose the film at 42 ISO, dilute the Perceptol 1:1 with water, develop at the recommended time listed on the box with an extra energetic agitation for the first and the last minute of developing. As well, I often shoot it at 25 ISO and develop it in undiluted Perceptol at recommended box times. These are some of the more beautiful negatives I have but you need a situation that has a lot of tones in it, as the contrast can be quite harsh (to my eyes) whereas the 42 ISO has a nicer contrast and good tones, just not the same depth as the 25 ISO negatives.

    * For my set up and with my testing of rolls. There is no magic bullet as water hardness differs by area, agitation methods are unique and themometers differ minutely.
     
  5. DCV

    DCV Member

    Messages:
    9
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Location:
    Amherst, Mas
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    You've done something incredibly dangerous. You've asked a bunch of photographers for an opinion. One thousand photogs....one thousand opinions. Use the manufacturer's instructions as a starting point and then do things to your own taste. That will make it one thousand and one. :wink:
     
  6. smithy17

    smithy17 Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Location:
    England
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
  7. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,230
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The die is cast as you say so follow the recommendations on the Ilford site( if anything it's better than digital truth because its Ilford film and developer) or do as Ian grant recommended and PM Bill Spears. There's nothing like corresponding with a regualr user of a film dev combo to get insights that the Ilford site cannot provide.

    Best of luck

    pentaxuser
     
  8. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,045
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Haven't shot scads of this combination, but: 1+2 for 13.5 minutes, 20c. 4 inversions first 30s, then two every 30s. This will get you very close very fast.
     
  9. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,045
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Sorry, ISO 32. Actually, this is listed as such on the MDC .
     
  10. smithy17

    smithy17 Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Location:
    England
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    That is the 2nd suggestion to contact Bill Spears. I now hope that he actually responds to this discussion.
     
  11. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would not have selected Perceptol as my developer of choice for this film, but no matter. I'm sure good things can be done with it. Please do go to the Ilford site and follow their recommendations for development. Their recommendations are very good and quite comprehensive for this film. I usually develop PanF+ in D-76 diluted 1+3 according to Ilford's recommendation and the negatives are beautiful. PanF+ tends to want to build a lot of contrast, and is especially prone to blown highlights if you're not careful. The highly dilute D-76 (same exact thing as ID-11) takes care of that problem nicely.

    If you decide to use Perceptol full strength, realize that it can cost you about a stop of film speed because the of the developer's high solvent action. I'd recommend rating the film at EI 25 rather than box speed to preserve good shadow detail. At 1+3 the developer ceases to be a fine gain developer, which you don't really need for PanF+ anyway, and should do a fine job of keeping the highlights in check.

    Ignore the Massive Development Chart. It is often good, but it is also often quite unreliable. Use it only as a last resort if you cannot find better information from the manufacturer. Here's the fact sheet for PanF+: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/download.asp?n=478&f=2006216115811391.pdf .
     
  12. smithy17

    smithy17 Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Location:
    England
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I saved the Ilford technical information download which is easier to read than what is inside the box. Thanks to everyone.
     
  13. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

    Messages:
    2,935
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    Misissauaga
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To get an appreciation of how to make a film and developer combination your own, look up the late Barry Thorton's site. He has veryygood understandable articles about personal film speed and personal film development testing regimes that yield good results without all sorts of extra fluff.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. aste

    aste Member

    Messages:
    62
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Eastern Sier
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    If you're like me, no matter what anyone recommends, you're going to have to do your own tests to see what gives the results YOU want.

    None of the recommendations on PanF+ suited me and I was ready to give up on the film, but I had already bought a whole lot of it (I decline to answer why). Anyway, I didn't want to just get rid of the film, so I started experimenting with it and, wha'da'ya know, I found a combination that makes it useful to me. In fact, I'm getting some really nice negatives now.

    Anyway, good luck.
     
  16. hoffy

    hoffy Member

    Messages:
    2,334
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2009
    Location:
    Adelaide, Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Very interesting to know. From my past experience, I was getting very thin negatives with PanF, when shooting at box speed and developing in ID11 1:1 at the suggested time (which indicates the exact opposite to what you have experienced). I have some on order, so I might have have to experiment (& make sure I make good notes of what I have done)
     
  17. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,260
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2002
    Location:
    British Colu
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Aste, while I agree with doing your own tests, it's nice to have some reference points. So what particular combination suited you? I've just started using Pan F and so far tried ID-11 1+1 with ok results.

    As per Frank's suggestion I should also try ID-11 1+3 which I would like to compare with the Perceptol 1+3.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2010
  18. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Could be that your thermometer reads high, or could be that your agitation isn't as often or as vigorous as the way I do it. I know, I'm not in the "gentle agitation" camp. Five seconds of fairly vigorous agitation each thirty seconds does it for me. My thermometer is calibrated against a known good standard, and I take extra pains to maintain a constant temperature for the entire development cycle.
     
  19. aste

    aste Member

    Messages:
    62
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Eastern Sier
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You're right. You will never know if you don't try them. :smile:

    Anyway, I'm still experimenting, but the best results I've gotten from PanF+, so far, is with it shot at EI-12 and developed in D-76 @ 1:3, for the time Ilford recommends for PanF+ shot at EI-50.
     
  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,239
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The best way to become proficient is to just use it. Over and over again.

    You will want to go out on a normal contrast day where the light is full and not too contrasty, and expose a roll of film by bracketing.
    Make your 'normal' exposure at box speed (50 for Pan-F+), and then shoot another at 25, a third at 100, and then find another scene and go again and again until you finish the roll.
    Process the roll at the manufacturer's established time. When the roll is dry you are well served to make a contact sheet of your film, and evaluate the frames and figure out where you think you have 'enough' shadow detail. (Keep in mind that nobody else can tell you what 'enough' shadow detail is, only you can tell yourself how much you like).
    This is how you figure out what film speed you shoot the frames at, and from that decide what your 'normal' film speed should be. It could be that you think you have too much at 25 and a hair too little at 50, so that you end up shooting at 40 or 32.
    During this process you want to completely disregard the highlights and mid-tones.

    Next step is to take another roll, shoot the same type of scenes at your chosen film speed, in the same type of lighting contrast. When you're done you develop one third of the film at a time. One at -30% of the recommended time, one exactly at the recommended time, and finally one at +30% of the recommended time. From these negatives you judge the highlights.

    After both those steps you will know at what film speed to shoot your film and for how long to develop it to get the results you want in normal contrast.

    And, now you will have tasted how you control your results and how exposure (for the most part) controls your shadow detail while developing (for the most part) determines your mid-tones and highlights.

    There is more to it than this, and you can take it further with some critical thinking, but this is a great way to get in the sweet spot of the film, and now you can continue tweaking for high contrast light and low contrast light. Adjust how you expose and develop your film based on what the lighting conditions are. Make contact prints at the same enlarger height, aperture, time, etc every time, and they will tell you if you need more or less exposure and/or more or less development time.
    Eventually you'll get it right every time, and then you can carry that experience on to testing other films if you desire.

    But there's no reason to change films or developer until you know this particular combination intimately.

    A hundred rolls into it you will have awesome knowledge of this film and developer combination, and you will be able to achieve almost any results with it as long as you keep an open mind and work hard at it. Take notes. Lots of notes. Document everything.

    And yes, contacting Bill Spears is a good thing. He is a really good photographer that knows what he's doing.

    - Thomas
     
  21. smithy17

    smithy17 Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Location:
    England
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I have sent Mr. Spears a private message as suggested. For some reason, it is not showing in the 'sent folder'. Has this function been disabled?
     
  22. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

    Messages:
    809
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I beg to differ. That would be one thousand photographers and two thousand opinions.
     
  23. smithy17

    smithy17 Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Location:
    England
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I received a private message today, so obviously not. Not from Mr. Spears though.
     
  24. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi. Welcome to the REAL fun with photography. :D

    IMO, step one is to get a good hand held light meter. After a light-tight box with film (or WHATEVER media that respond to light) in it, it is the most important piece of photographic equipment you can have. Unfortunately, it seems that very few people actually purchase them early on and learn them well, favoring lenses and accessories, and a million cameras. It makes no sense, if you are actually after ideal results! A good light meter will last you your whole life (if you take care of it), and will do more than any other piece of equipment to allow you to idealize, perfect, and predict your results.

    I am partial to the Sekonic incident light meter models, the Sekonic L-398A Studio Deluxe III, and the Sekonic L-208 Twinmaster.

    The former is a light meter that is time proven, the first ones having been introduced over half a century ago, with very few (i.e. no, in all practicality) changes having been made since. The one I use was made in the mid '50s, and is at most only 1/6 stop off from a brand new one, and the light meter guy in Hollywood sez this is only because the dome has yellowed a bit (an easy and cheap fix, but why bother if results are good, he sez). I got three of the meters for about $20 off of E-Bay. One to use, two with very darkly yellowed domes to use for parts (cases, high slides, etc.).

    The L-208 is a lower-end model, but works great. It doesn't have all the nifty accessories like high slides, lumidisks, etc., but if all you ever want to do is to take a simple ambient incident light reading, it is a great meter. Simple, cheap, small, well built. It also allows reflected readings, if you should want such a thing.

    There are also plenty of other great old, classic, time-tested meters. Gossen Luna Pros, for example. I am most familiar with Sekonics, however, so someone else can give you all the grisly details about these.

    There are also new electronic multi-fuction ones. These are good if you use flash and ambient light. They are a bit more bulky, however (and IMO poorly made and overly complicated to use). They are also a bit pricier, in general, being multi-functional meters.

    Then, you get into actually testing the film to find out how to expose it and develop it to get what you want in your prints.

    There are two points to think about initially, before doing anything: One is that Pan F is a contrasty film, and therefore it does not hold shadow detail well in anything but a relatively low-contrast composition. The other is that Perceptol will only exacerbate this by lowering density across the board, compared to a more "standard" developer like ID-11 or Ilfotec HC.

    So, in practice, Pan F with any developer, but especially with Perceptol, is going to need to be given additional exposure to give you a "normal" amount of exposure in the dark areas, if exposed in a "normal-contrast composition." I am not saying that the film is not ISO 50, because it is. (ISO is ISO is ISO.) I am just saying that it is a contrasty emulsion, so if you expect it to behave like the 100 and 400 films to which you are probably used, it will need some tweaking.

    Next, I would go ahead and make the investment in a photographic test target. It is hard to understand why you would spend so much on a stupid flat object with some colored squares on it, but it should last forever, and it is a tiny investment in the grand scheme of things. It is another one of the most helpful devices out there, and another one that hardly anybody uses, especially when first learning. This doodad combined with a good light meter will tell you so much about any film and developer combination, and will do it quickly and easily. Look for MacBeth Color Checker charts or other similar charts at photo stores. They give you a quick look at exposure, contrast, spectral sensitivity, and development. With color film, they tell you even more.

    I prefer a single exposure of a test chart to all other methods, as it shows you in one simple shot how your film naturally behaves when exposed and developed a certain way. Bracket exposure and development pix of the chart, choose the one that you like best, and you have your exposure compensation (which can be applied via EI changes if you choose) and development just like that. However, without the chart, you can just use your camera controls to expose a neutrally-hued piece of card or paper to different tones of grey, and then print them at a "normal" time to see how they are rendered in prints. It's more complicated and labor intensive to figure everything out, and you don't get to see everything all at once, but it works. (It is how Zone System tests are done, in fact.) This method is quickly and easily explained in Ansel Adams' book, "The Negative", in the Zone System chapter and the technical appendices.

    I personally prefer to always rate a film at box speed, learn how it behaves with different exposure and development (i.e. what kid of contrast it has when treated a certain way), meter for a midtone (incident metering), and manually apply exposure and development alteration in each scenario based on what I want, the lighting and composition, and on my testing of how the film behaves. Others prefer to use a "permanent", across-the-board EI tweak as a way to fit any film into a certain mold based on what they have decided that they generally want shadows and highlights to look like on a print. Either method works fine. You just need to find what works for you, and then be consistent in using this method.

    So, in short, IMHO, get a good light meter, get a good test chart, bracket exposure and development of the pix you shoot of the test chart, print the pix of the test charts, pick the test chart print that you like best, and use the parameters (exposure compensation and development time) you used for that shot in the future. (Take good notes throughout, otherwise you don't know what the heck is what.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2010
  25. aste

    aste Member

    Messages:
    62
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Eastern Sier
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks for the tip on the color chart. :smile:
     
  26. bill spears

    bill spears Member

    Messages:
    565
    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Location:
    Cornwall Eng
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just got the PM - haven't been logging on much here lately.

    I think like the others say..... trial and error is the best way to go. We all have different visions and variations in technique.
    I was led to perceptol after reading Barry Thornton who raved about it with HP5. I was looking for maximum sharpness and fine grain so was curious to see what it was like with Pan F. I must confess though that I'm not big on film testing or zone system practice. I emphasize that this is not because of disregard for it or those photographers that practice it, it's purely down to my own laziness !!

    I also use an RB67 and my usual combination is Pan F @ iso 16-20 and Perceptol 1:2 22 degs for around 11 mins. I stress again though, I've not arrived at these figures from exhaustive testing, It's just what works for me and my particular style.
    Pan F can often be quite a contrasty film, especially in bright light and I've found dilute perceptol tends to tame it somewhat by not letting the highlights block up (so long as development is not too long).
    The low ISO rating is because I like plenty of shadow detail and I always tend to err on the side of overexposure. This can be a problem though with often very slow shutter speeds so you might find this a handicap in certain situations.

    As is often said there are many other 'links in the chain' when pursuing high definition and just because you use Pan F/Perceptol doesn't guarrantee the results you might be after. I have found though that it does give me quality on a par with large format, at least up to an image size of 16x12.

    Let us know your results
    Bill