High contrast film developer

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by tatanka_jotanka, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. tatanka_jotanka

    tatanka_jotanka Member

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    Hi, apugers !

    I've been developing b/w film for about one year, but I have never been satisfied with my film contrast. I've been using Ilford LC 29 and Kodak D-76 and I haven't seen a big difference between them. I know that there are many factors (agitating, developer temperature, exposure, developing time and etc.) that can make a contrast in bw film, but I am asking your opinion about the highest contrast developer for b/w film despite those factors.
    Also I'd like to know about fixed-contrast (fixed-grade) b/w photographic paper. Which one do you like the most ? I am using many Ilford multi-grades, but I am to lazy to work with contrast filters to get the result I want. I don't need a very precision result so I want to buy some fixed-grade paper, but I don't know anything about them...

    Thanks for the answers and good luck !
     
  2. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    As far as film contrast is concerned, most mainstream developers will produce enough contrast. In fact, it's rather easy to accidentally get too much contrast. Why do you want more contrast? Is it that you like a very contrasty print? Or do your prints look too flat? Do your negatives look normal?

    Or maybe there's something incompatible with your printing process (paper, dev, filter?). Can you give us some more information about what you do and what your results look like? That will make it easier to offer suggestions.
     
  3. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Careful, "High Contrast" developers are usually intended for use in graphic and lithography type applications, the idea being to get black and white - and not much in between! A high contrast developer may not be what you require... As John s says, any normal developer intended for pictorial use should be able to give you more than enough contrast, even the so called 'soft gradation' ones. Just increase the development time and the contrast should increase.
     
  4. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear tatanka_jotanka,

    Trust me, you cannot be as lazy as I am. Obtain some contrast filters and give them a try. If you need a more or less contrast just pop in a different filter.

    If your prints are consistently too flat without filtration, you should probably add 5% to 10% to your normal developing time. No special developers are needed.

    This is a nice site to show how to assess your negatives: http://www.ephotozine.com/article/Assessing-negatives-4682

    Neal Wydra
     
  5. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I am not a slave to the zone system, but it does have relevance in how we treat 120 and 35mm film. If you are shooting a whole roll under one type of light condition, then great, treat the whole roll to suit when you develop it. For example: Was the lighting low in contrast? Then develop that roll a bit longer to build a bit more contrast in that rolls negatives.

    The other thing to consider is when you are shooting, and where. Mid day and black and white outdoors is not always the best combination; look to sunrise and sunsets to build scenes lit with more contrasty lighting (at least when clouds are not present).

    If you are shooting a roll under a variety of lighting conditions, then you develop per the manufacturers, or your established standard time. Then you will have some scenes less developped than ideally you would likel them to be, and some a bit over developed, and some perhaps just right. I would encourage you to establish via testing your personal effective film speed with your equipment and the optimal development time with your agitaion habit and your thermometer. Google Barry Thornton Unzone System. - the archive of which is still online - see personal film speed and personal development time.

    Then either you get out the contrast control filters and multigrapde paper, and start printing, or you stick with a fixed grade paper that you think will work best, and start dodging and burning to try to get a usable result out of most negatives.

    There is nothing wrong with dodging and burning with MG paper, but it is done much more frequntley by me with fixed grade works.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2009
  6. tatanka_jotanka

    tatanka_jotanka Member

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    John,

    Yes I like a very contrasty prints... I would say that my negatives look normal, indeed, but as we know the contarst amount in the negatives depends on the lightning conditions ... so some of my negatives are contrasty enough, and some of them are contrastless. I would like to have a good contrast in all of my negatives, despite the conditions of lightning. Offcourse I know that it can't be exactly the same in the different light, but I'd like to control it. Only the multi-grade paper and the filters help me to do it. My prints are ok, but I want to have a high quality scans of my negatives, that's why I want to controll the contrast very well. Offcourse I could stand as it is now and just make some photoshop tricks, but I hate photoshoping and I want scan the film as it is.
    I have just read all the replies to this my thread and that Neal's link helped me a lot. I will try some exposure and developing tricks to see which one method is the most suitable for me.

    Here are my habits of film processing:

    Film (35mm): Kodak D-76 @ 20 C. I agitate every 30 seconds (is it ok ?). Stop bath - fresh water. Agitation for about 1 minute. Fixing (many fixers) for about 5 - 10 minutes. Agitation every 30 seconds (is it ok ?)
    For 120 film I do everything the same, but before the developer I wash the film with a 2 - 4 fresh water baths to rinse the dye of the film.

    Thanks !
     
  7. fotch

    fotch Member

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    May I ask what film are you using?
     
  8. tatanka_jotanka

    tatanka_jotanka Member

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    Maaaaany films. Kodak Tmax, Kodak Tri-x, Ilford FP4+, Ilford HP5+, Fomapan and others sometimes.
     
  9. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I too in my early days liked to take the buffet appraoch to film use. Until you have mastered them, stick to one or two. The d-76 developer and processing techniques you outline sound ok. Mixed up D-76 can change its activity over time; I would look into that if you are mixing it by the gallon (3.8L) and then using it up 250mL or 500mL a month.
    Traditional films - Ilfords HP5, FP4, Tri-X and Foma films are traditional - they are not as sensitive to developer varaiation a s the T grain types - tmax, delta and acros.
    I never have found a need to pre soak 120 film.

    If you deliberately want high contrast negatives for a specific project, then home mixing is the best alternatives that I know. I use D-19 when I want technical style images that would half tone easily if they were to be printed in a newspaper etc. For 'process' style contrast, where the trend is closer to lithogriphic film for graphic arts use, I mix d-85. With this you usually bracket your shots, because the back to white cut is so extreme.

    You may want to see what a test roll looks like after developing it in your print developer. That will give contrast(and grain).
     
  10. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    How high of contrast? Just increasing the development time in D-76 will increase the contrast moderately (up to about a paper grade and a half) with most films. Higher contrast can be obtained with a developer like D-19 or a paper developer while still retaining a continuous tone image. Something like D-8 or D-11 will just about wipe out the midtones, and a lith developer like D-9 will give an extreme black and white, but it may not work on all films.
     
  11. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Maximum contrast with traditional films - D-19
     
  12. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    As Nworth said, D-19 is probably your best bet, but beware its a very hot developer with exceptionally short times along the lines of using Acufine to develop slow film.

    I used it to push plus-x to 500 about 6 or 7 months ago, the negatives and a major contrast curve to them, but were certainly printable, and looked good.
     
  13. tatanka_jotanka

    tatanka_jotanka Member

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    Thanks for the answers ! I'll try D-19 ; )
     
  14. wogster

    wogster Member

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    Unless your negatives are really, really flat, then your better off to simply use paper grades to increase contrast. If your negatives are really, really flat, then you may have another issue. For example a camera meter that's reading hot (under exposed), or your processing procedures are not accurate enough, low developer temperature, or a weaker dilution then should be (under developed), can leave one with flat negatives.

    You want negatives to be of medium contrast, because it gives you more flexibility later on, right now you may like high contrast, 30 years from now, you may want to go back and print the same negative super flat, hard to do if the negative itself is super contrasty.

    There are three ways of changing paper contrast.

    If using a multiple grade paper, you can get a set of drawer filters made for changing contrast, these typically run from 00 (very low contrast) to 5 (very high contrast) in 1/2 grade steps, some sets are made for use under the lens, but I do not suggest having anything more then absolutely required between negative and paper. Generally a set of filters made for one manufacturers paper will work equally well with another manufacturers paper. The instructions for the filters will generally tell you the filter factors so that when going from one grade to another you will know how much to change the exposure.

    You can also use a colour head, with multiple grade papers, some colour heads are limited in the amount of filtration they offer so you may lose some grades the ones at the ends of the range are most likely to not be available, so 00 and/or 5....

    Fixed grade papers, are also a possibility, but the range of grades is restricted, most papers only come in grades 1-3 these days, so finding a paper you like in a surface you like in grade 4 or 5 can be extremely difficult.

    The big advantage to multiple grade papers is that you require fewer boxes of paper around, I always seemed to find that when using fixed grade papers, the grade I wanted to use on a particular negative was the one I was out of.
     
  15. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Adjust the sulfite and bromide levels and what's left?
    Dektol, D-72. As is D-19 will make a good but wasteful
    of chemistry print developer. Typical of carbonated
    metol hydroquinone film developers. Dan