Non-Linear Quality Comparison of Format Choices

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by craigclu, May 31, 2008.

  1. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    Too much time on my hands and a twisted ankle have me idled and pondering....

    Last week, I did some friends a favor and took some shots at a party for their two sons who just graduated from college. My plan was to just do some 35mm color snapshots to record the event. After burning one roll, I decided to switch to black & white and put in some TMY-2. I just don't seem to ever shoot 35mm black & white in recent years (preferring medium format). Recent successful results with this new emulsion in 645 and 67 duty had me curious to see the 35mm results. I've only been playing with this film in Xtol 1:1 so I stuck with that and used the times that I had settled upon in MF. I printed a batch of 8X10s and was very pleased with the results. I had intended to just do some 5X7s but the initial test print looked so good that I went with the bigger prints for them.

    What surprised me were the nice tonal gradations, especially across the skin tones. Detail also surprised me as eyelashes, etc were distinct and "popped" in a way that looked more like medium format.

    I shoot from 35mm through 4X5 and have decent gear that represents each format honestly. My darkroom equipment is an accumulation of good pieces and upgrades over time. I only mention this to show my perspective and feel that general quality issues at any format should be relatively neutral for me. Seeing how well the 35mm did, reminded me that pure film size at moderate enlargement factors do not follow formats in a linear fashion regarding the overall quality of the results. It seems that optical issues (easier design/corrections in smaller formats), film flatness control, equipment physical control (smaller = easier) and modern emulsions conspire to give the smaller formats relative advantage compared to a direct relationship of film area, etc.

    My own attitude is to use the format that best serves the duty. I love printing well produced LF and MF negatives and the relative ease of achieving the smooth tonal transitions the negatives provide (my go-to combo has been HP5+ in PyroCat). After this recent little sequence of events, perhaps I'll be quicker to rely upon 35mm when I'm assured that print sizes won't likely be large (beyond 8X10).
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Basically why I like 645 so much. It's not huge in terms of equipment size. It produces a good sized negative.
     
  3. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    I think there's a confounding factor in your comparison, Craig. That 400-2TMY in XTOL is awfully good!
     
  4. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    That's the signature of XTOL: it enhances the midtones. It works for Tri-X, and probably other films as well.