Help with Ilford Delta 3200

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Kugerfang, Oct 24, 2011.

  1. Kugerfang

    Kugerfang Member

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    Well, my digital (is that word even allowed here?) SLR just died and my Minolta SRT-101's aperture coupling ring thingy stopped working properly soon after that. Talk about unlucky. All I have left is a Canon EOS 500 (without the D). I need to shoot a pretty dim event so I ordered some Ilford Delta 3200. This is my first time shooting black and white so forgive me if I sound like such a newbie. Here are my questions:

    1. I read that Ilford 3200 is actually ISO 1000. Should I set my camera to ISO 1000 and develop the film as ISO 3200 or should I set my camera to ISO 3200 and develop it as ISO 3200?
    2. I like grain, but I hate heavy grain. I know that 3200 is very grainy, but what steps can I take to minimize it?
    3. Can I just leave my camera in its normal evaluative (matrix) metering mode or do I need to do some weird stuff to get proper exposures?
     
  2. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Ilford Delta 3200 is grainy. But the grain is beautiful. It's pointless to try to stop the grain from appearing. Film speed is gained at the expense of fine grain. That equation never goes away. You can use a fine grain developer, but frankly it looks better if you don't in my opinion. I routinely make 16x20" prints from 35mm Delta 3200 developed in Rodinal, a developer that most people avoid if they want fine grain. To my eyes, those prints look great, and I don't feel that the grain gets in the way. For portraits it may be a bit harsh in the grain department, but you take what you can get.

    It is also a low contrast film. At an exposure index of EI 1,000 you'll have a nice grayscale with lots of shadow detail. This is the reason it pushes so well to EI 1,600, 3,200, even 6,400 without suffering in the shadow detail department terribly.
    Without doing much testing, the best results will be had if you shoot it at 1,600 and develop it in Ilfotec DD-X according to Ilford's instructions as if the film was shot at EI 3,200. It sounds weird, but it usually works very well.

    YOu can also experiment with push processing something like TMax 400 to, say EI 1,600. It works very well and will give you finer grain than Delta 3200, but probably a little bit less shadow detail at that EI.

    My advice is to shoot a test roll before you photograph the event, so you can have an idea of what it looks like, and also to know if you need to make any adjustments.

    - Thomas
     
  3. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    DDX is a good choice so I second what Thomas has said. It will give you the best speed of any standard fine grain developer. I also agree that trying to fight a film's inherent grain characteristics with special purpose developers is usually a bad idea and will result in overall poorer image characteristics. Fast films are the best examples. Trying to get "fine grain" from Delta 3200 will result in a speed loss and mushy, though still prominent, grain.
     
  4. Kugerfang

    Kugerfang Member

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    Thanks for all the advice! There's just one problem though: I don't have any equipment to develop the film. Seriously. I wanted to start BW dev for the longest time but I put it off since I was using my DSLR and Photoshop (are those forbidden words here?) to make B&W images. Now that I'm months away from a new DSLR, I have to set up a darkroom. Also, forget about developers like Ilfotec since they don't exist here in the Philippines. I've only seen Rodinal so that'll have to do. I also have no film scanner.
     
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Yep
     
  6. Selidor

    Selidor Member

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    There are a number of options/methods available depending on the "look" of the photo you want, and the best thing is to just experiment with different films and developers...or the second best thing is to search flickr for examples other people have shot :smile:

    Personally I'd much rather shoot pushed TMAX 400 or HP5+ at 1600 than Delta 3200 at 1600, but I like contrasty images with little shadow detail :smile:

    Also because no one has mentioned your metering query, ill take a stab at it. Basically, use common sense. If only a small part of the image is filled with light, it might fool the matrix model so spot metering would be more appropriate. If the lighting is more or less even across the whole frame, matrix is ok.

    Or at least thats how I understand it, please correct me if im spouting nonsense! Does your camera even have spot metering? It also depends how good the matrix metering is to begin with really. I never saw reason to take my old EOS-1n off matrix, partly due to trust, partly due to laziness :D
     
  7. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    What I do is rate it at 1600, then develop for times for 3200 in repelenished XTOL. I am a person who is very careful about grain, and I like the results of what I get. Check hidalgo or aperture, rodinal (or parodinal) is not the only developer you can find there.
     
  8. VaryaV

    VaryaV Member

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    D3200 is an absolutely beautiful film. I rate it at 1,000 and dev. for 6400 in DDX. The results are breathtaking.
     
  9. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    That's an interesting combo. Can you say what developing for 6400 does that the usual practice of developing at the next speed up, say 2000 or even 3200 does not?

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  10. VaryaV

    VaryaV Member

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    Hiya pentaxuser...

    I can only speak in visual terms but I get the most luscious blacks and contrast from that combo. There is some difference in the mid-range tones from souping box speed, seemingly more grays visible... but the project I was working on was a film noir narrative. :D

    Click on my apug portfolio and take a peek. The first 3 pages were done with that combo.
     
  11. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Member

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    While some folks here seem to like the grain of Delta 3200, I have run into situations where this grain is very detrimental to the point where it effectively kills the shot, especially with small format film. This is especially the case if many small faces are in the picture, a situation which you may run into if you shoot events. You can overcome this by tight framing, don't put too much detail in the shot.
     
  12. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    I like it shot @3200 developed @6400 in Microphen stock, DD-X 1+4 or HC-110 1+15 or @1600 developed @3200 in the same.

    In MF the grain is less apparent but it is beautiful when used right in 35mm.

    Metering is really low light can be tricky, especially in artificial light when lights are in the scene. The meter can read much higher than it really is.
     
  13. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    I shoot it at 3200 and develop per the recommendations for 6400 in T-Max developer. Love the results in 120. It's good enough to make me want to get a medium format camera with a faster lens, like a Mamiya 645 with the 80/1.9. Love my Yashicamat 124 but at f/3.5 it isn't a low light machine.
     
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  15. Kugerfang

    Kugerfang Member

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    Thanks for all the wonderful advice! Looking at my pictures of the same event last year, I got 1/10 at f3.5 and ISO 800. I was just a casual snapshooter back then so all I had was a crappy Samsung VLUU ST1000 point-and-shoot. I'll be shooting my film at ISO 3200 so I can get a nice hand-holdable speed of 1/80 with my aperture set at 2.8 using the Canon 50mm f1.8 II. I'll also be sure to look around for developers other than Rodinal. Any recommendations?
     
  16. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    In order of preference for developers I use Microphen, Ilfotec DD-X or HC-110 for Delta 3200.
     
  17. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    1. Rate it at EI 1000 if you want to expose it "correctly," or "normally." This being said, it handles underexposure well, because it is a flat film. When you underexpose it, it will not drop shadow detail and texture as readily as most other films. It can easily handle being shot at 2000 and 4000, and at 8000 or higher for subjects in which shadow detail is not important.

    2. It is a grainy film. If you can get away with ISO 1000, I would use T-Max 400 instead, since you don't like grain. If you have to rate it higher than 1000 to get the exposure you need, you'll have to compromise. Either use the T-Max and get less grain, but very poor exposure, or use the Delta and get an extra stop of exposure, but much more grain. I'd try both and see what you like best.

    3. An incident meter is ideal, if light levels are high enough to get a reading. But if you use your in-camera meter, you just have to make sure you set the EI to the number that will give you hand holdable shutter speeds, instead of letting the camera read the DX code on the cassette. Be careful of backlighting and/or other contrasty compositions when using an in-camera meter. They can lead to terrible underexposure.
     
  18. Kugerfang

    Kugerfang Member

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    I'm confused. What should I do to get an optimal exposure?

    1. Set the camera to ISO 1000 and develop it as a ISO 3200 film.
    2. Set the camera to ISO 3200 and develop it as a ISO 3200 film.
     
  19. Dave Martiny

    Dave Martiny Member

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    I'm going to go against the grain here (ouch!) and recommend a very common developer that hasn't been mentioned: D-76. Rate the film at 1200-1600 and use it full strength, fresh, unreplenished, one shot, discard after use. Develop for the times Ilford gives for the film rated at 3200. Being a solvent developer, grain is held to a minimum. I've used this for years and consistently get excellent results. I might be wrong, but I would guess that in general it would be more commonly available world wide than almost any other developer.
     
  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    You should do whatever gives you the best results.

    Generally speaking, however, Ilford's published developing times has given weak contrast, which is why a lot of people recommend to develop the film for one stop more underexposure than what you shot it at. So if you shoot it at 1600, you develop as if it was shot at 3200, etc. That gives more contrast.

    But you may not like that, so this is why most of us will recommend that you do some testing first, to see what gives you the best results. This is very common in film photography. There are lots of variations in things like metering technique, light quality, shutter accuracy, even things like water quality mixed with the chemicals, summarized as 'local variations'. All these things matter and impact your results, which is why testing is required if you want optimal results.

    It's easy to do. Shoot a roll with the camera on a tripod. Meter the light at some location, and burn off a few frames, bracketed at 800, 1000, 1250, 1600, 2000, 2500, and 3200. Develop to the median 1600 time and see how you're doing in the shadow detail department. Now shoot a second roll at that preferred speed, and have 1/3 of the roll developed at a time. If your first roll, where you found your preferred speed for shadow detail, seemed a little weak in contrast at that exposure index, the film should be developed longer. It the highlights were blocked up, it should be developed for less time. Adjust as necessary until you have a good compromise that gives you the results you want and need. There are no free rides here, unfortunately.

    By using other people's recommendations you will get what works for them, and that may not necessarily work for you, because of the above mentioned 'local variations'.

    But to re-emphasize what I said before, to begin, start shooting at 1600 and develop in any developer that Ilford recommends as if it was shot at 3200, and usually that gives you at least a good starting point. I have done this with Kodak Xtol, Kodak HC-110, Ilfotec DD-X, and Agfa Rodinal. All with results that worked well for me.

    Attached picture is 35mm Delta 3200 shot at 1600 and developed in Rodinal 1+25. It is a negative scan so grain is a bit more pronounced than it would be in a print, and not as sharp.

    - Thomas
     

    Attached Files:

  21. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Set the camera to EI 1000 to get an optimal exposure...since it is an ISO 1000-speed film.

    Develop as needed to get optimal contrast. That means in a composition of "normal" brightness range, develop for EI 1000. In a flat scene use times for 2000 or 4000. In a contrasty scene, use times for 500 or 250.

    The ISO film speed is 1000. What you rate it at is called an EI.
     
  22. Kugerfang

    Kugerfang Member

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    I'm all for experimentation but this is one time where I can't experiment. This will be the last time ever that I'll be able to attend that event so there's no room for error. Again, thanks for all the wonderful advice. I'll be looking to minimize the grain so I'll go with Dave's suggestion to use D-76.
     
  23. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    There are much more fine-grained developers than D-76. X-Tol is one that will be commonly available.

    There is not time for testing at the event, but you can certainly test your materials and methods beforehand, which is what I meant.

    If grain is really that much of an issue, I'd forget the Delta 3200 and go with T-Max 400. The Delta will be grainy no matter what.
     
  24. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    There are 2 concepts here to understand.

    1-Development controls the contrast rate, the steepness of the film curve.

    2-Setting the EI (ISO is the film's labratory rating, an EI is what you decide to shoot it at) is simply a exposure placement choice. More exposure, EI 1000, will place subjects higher up the curve, lower exposure, EI 3200, will place the same subjects in the same scene lower on the film curve.

    Even Ilford's directions are simply starting points; like adding seasonings to food, you adjust both of these to suit your own taste.
     
  25. Kugerfang

    Kugerfang Member

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    Just to clear things up: I like grain, as long as it isn't too overly intrusive and distracting. Like I said, I don't have ANY time to experiment because lo and behold, I have no film processing equipment. No tanks, no chemicals, nothing. The only reason I even ordered Delta 3200 is because my DSLR unexpectedly died on me. So, I can't experiment beforehand. I'll go the safe way and not experiment with the rolls once I get the processing equipment since I can't lose the images. Anyway, I can't thank you guys enough for all the advice.
     
  26. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    If you don't have time to experiment before the event, buy more rolls than you need, and shoot an extra roll AFTER the event in similar conditions, at the same exposure index you used at the event. Then cut the roll in thirds and develop one third at a time until you have the best contrast at that speed. This way you can at least find out how you need to develop your important rolls. The only thing you will not be able to control after the fact is exposure. So the advice then becomes to shoot the film at a lower EI, like 1,000, in order to capture as much shadow detail as possible. It will probably be acceptable at 1,600 too.

    Good luck!