Overexposed negatives?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by h.v., Jan 29, 2013.

  1. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    I tried posting this on my Hexar thread, but no response. I'm really not sure where to put this as I don't know the root cause. 35mm, B&W film, and Exposure all seem like applicable forums.

    Anyways, some of you may know about my recent purchase of a Konica Hexar (AF model). One thing I've noticed is that the scans from negatives often appear quite flat and bright. I know from testing with my Nikon's (and Yashica to a lesser degree) over the past 18 months that my scanner sometimes just scan things a bit flat. So I do minor levels adjustments to match prints, contacts, or indexes from the lab.

    But with the Hexar, it seems more exaggerated and more often. I don't have access to optical printing, so I can't really test that way currently. I've tried ensuring that each time the Hex is set to -0.3 exposure. I'm used to doing a bit of underexposure on my SLRs, anyway. The strange thing is that I don't have this issue with colour, only B&W (including C-41 Ilford XP2).

    Now, yesterday, I began processing my own B&W film. I did two rolls of HP5 in DD-X. One from the Nikon F90, one from the Konica Hexar. The F90 ones are generally fine in scans, a few aren't, but I'm used to that from before and know it's just the scanner. With the Hexar roll, however, almost every photo is overexposed and flat. Granted, it was a sunny winter day, lots of white snow and ice. But wouldn't that trick the camera into underexposure (higher shutter speed, thinking the scene is brighter than it is)?

    Now I'm at a loss as to whether or not it's the scanner, the camera, or my processing. Is there any way to make it sharper and more contrasty with DD-X? Should I set the camera to -0.7 or -1.0 or more instead?

    Feel free to move this to another forum if it turns out this subforum doesn't really work.
     
  2. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I would suggest you should send a roll of something and send off to a lab, does not need to be a lab you can walk into, just any decent mail order lab. That will tell you if you can take well exposed photos with the Hexar AF.

    Some people say that a good scan *is* quite flat, too contrasty and you can lose the highlights or the shadows, flat scans means you likely have kept both. I would drop one of your flat scans into a paint program. I'll assume you use Windows, so get something like Paint.NET and adjust the "curves", drag the bottom of the diagonal line down, and the top of the diagonal line up to make a wave, this *should* make a contrast rendition similar to what we expect from film.

    Flat scans may well mean you're doing it right!
     
  3. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    You are right in your thinking about how the meter would be affected.

    It is a distinct possibility, given your description, that the problem you have is not a scanner, developer, or film issue, but actually "flare". The lenses on your cameras may actually be the difference.

    The optics on your Hexar may simply be affected by or imparting more stray rays of light that eventually get to the film than the Nikon lens.

    The fix may be as simple as using a lens hood or your hand to protect the front element on your Hexar from seeing stray light. Worth a try
     
  4. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Member

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    I would think it's more likely that a histogram of your scene has a long 'tail' of bright shades. This would fool your scanner software into making a very dull, flat rendition in order to capture the whole range of tonal values. It would be simply remedied by adjusting the curve in PS or Aperture or whatever you use for post-processing.

    The only satisfactory way to evaluate a negative is with a 5x to 10x hand-lens. If there is detail in both shadow and highlight areas, you have no worries. If it's there it can be printed, and usually scanned. Conversely, just because it isn't there in the scan or print, doesn't mean it isn't there in the negative.
     
  5. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Hello...thanks for the responses.

    I should've been more clear, but I have had some rolls of B&W processed by a lab. The flatness is there, but less so in comparison to my home processed rolls. But seeing as I only just got the Hexar and have only dropped off 2 traditional B&W rolls (1 HP5, 1 Tri-X) and 1 of them isn't back yet (part of the reason I want to do this myself, takes too long for the lab to send to Winnipeg affiliate), it could've just been the scene or the weather.

    The Konica Hexar automatically comes with a pull out hood for it's 35mm f2 lens. I did a test inside a restaurant, towards the sun rays and through the viewfinder it was extremely hazy. But on my processed roll, it came out fine, no haze. I've had issues with that with the Nikons because only 1 of my lenses has a hood, and it is a crop lens suited to APS-C DSLRs, so I don't really use it. So I can't see it being lens flare and haze from the Hex.

    I think Jonathan's idea of the scanner being fooled. Full disclosure - it was mostly of photos at an ice sculpture festival. I didn't take many photos of the sculptures, but of the people (street photography), and invariably lots of snow and ice would get in peripherals and backgrounds. But this occurred in photos on a main commercial street - no ice sculptures to be found and far less snow around.

    Because I'm a complete newbie to B&W processing, I've been scouring the net for some tips. I like contrasty B&W. I find it works so much better than the digital equivalent which will have little detail and overblown highlights. Contrasty HP5, Tri-X, or FP4 is far more graceful. On RFF there's a thread about this, and the consensus seems to be to try underexposing (maybe by -1, instead of my usual -0.3) and overdeveloping. Do you think that might help?

    I'll also try inspecting the negatives up close.

    P.S. Would it help to see some photos?
     
  6. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I'm 95% sure it's your scanning workflow.

    We can't answer your question without seeing the negs though, so put a few of them on a bright surface (e.g. LCD monitor showing white) and take a digital snapshot of them, e.g. with your phone or something.
     
  7. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Yeah I'm starting to think that too. I will do that tonight or tomorrow (Jan 30th) and post the results.
     
  8. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    The problem with scanning negatives is whether a problem is with the negative or the scanner. You reeally can't tell. Have some prints made by a reputable lab.
     
  9. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Member

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    Even if you like contrasty B&W, I would not advise you to pursue it at the expense of either shadow or highlight detail. You can always boost contrast later in printing or digital post-processing, but empty shadows and highlights just look hideous. 'Under-expose and over-develop' is a recipe for contrasty negatives that sacrifice shadow detail and have dense highlights that are beastly to print or scan. Then again, very thin negs are difficult too. If you will accept advice from an oldie who clearly remembers his early struggles back with improvised facilities in the 1960s, I recommend you concentrate on getting 'normal' negatives consistently before you reject normal in favour of a different look!
     
  10. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Gerald, B&W 4x6 set from lab is $22. Did that once, no thank you.

    Jonathan, yeah, perhaps. I am trying a roll at -1 instead of -0.3, as I think that is closer to what I usually did with my Nikons (usually a bar or two or three over the middle of the meter). But these photos are abnormally flat, I'm a newbie at this, so I'm not sure where to go.

    Anyways per request, here is a couple photos of my negatives against a white screen on the computer. So weird using the SD card again to transfer the photos from my D90. It's been a while :wink:.

    neg1.jpg neg2.jpg neg3.jpg
     
  11. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Some of your frames are very overexposed (roll 3 frames 9 and 24) but most of them are pretty well exposed. They do look overdeveloped though (the rolls are in general very dense), which would explain some flatness in the highlights if you were doing traditional printing. Images shot in flat light (roll 3 frame 13) should print very nicely but those shot in harsher light (roll 3 frame 2) are going to be more difficult.

    If you're scanning and getting flat results from these, the problem is entirely in your scanning workflow. They have bags of contrast and I certainly wouldn't recommend you develop any longer than you are.

    They're certainly within the bounds of reasonableness for negatives and should print passably well, depending on what you're expecting from your images.

    Since you have a D90, do some testing with that. Set it to the same ISO as your film, expose a shot (M mode and carefully dial the exposure in with a couple iterations) so that it looks exactly right on the DSLR and then transfer the exposure settings (shutter and aperture) to your film and reshoot. You should be able to achieve basically the same tonal range off the film as you do with the camera.
     
  12. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Ok, just so I'm clear. When you're talking about "roll 3", you mean the third image, I titled "neg3"? Just want to be sure. I know it's a dumb question.

    Frame 24 probably looks overexposed because it is a very abstract image. That one actually scanned fine. I did do a minor levels adjustment, though. It is basically of a snow staircase up to a snow slide and partials of people waiting in line as they edge nearer to the start of the line. When I remove the dust from the scan, I can post it if you'd like.

    Frame 9 did come out very flat I remember (I adjusted it though). But so did many of the others you're claiming should be fine. I guess, sometimes it is the camera, but usually it's the scanner. But in case I do wet printing in the future, the ones by fault of the camera should be able to be fixed, just like I do on the computer, no?

    That's ironic that you say they have lots of contrast, because they don't look like that scanned. I'm surprised they look overdeveloped though. All I did was follow Ilford's PDF on developing your first black and white film. Based on the chart, I needed 9 minutes with DD-X + HP5, so that's what I did. I have found many of the shots have a coarser grain than I'm used to (isn't DD-X supposed to be fine grained?) but from what I've read, I can try doing less agitation to fix that (I was doing 4x every minute as per the PDF).

    I might try that with the D90. I was going to use my Yashica A or F90 because I don't seem to have the same issues with them, but I might just opt for the D90 instead.

    Thanks for the help!
     
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  13. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Member

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    In terms of capturing shadow and highlight detail, those negs mostly look fine. But they are on the dense (over-developed) side, as polyglot has said, and the coarse grain you mention is probably a result of that over-development. Despite this, I had no trouble making a passable image using a simple editing package from your flatbed scan (attached). So I do think your problem mostly lies in scanning and post-processing.

    example.jpg
     
  14. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Yes on roll 3.

    The overdevelopment could be down to over agitation or an inaccurate thermometer, etc. Or maybe you take 30s between end of nominal time and getting the stop in there? Easy to do and it's why people recommend you calibrate your development to your own processes.

    The overdevelopment isn't severe or problematic though, they should print OK (if contrasty) on grade 1 or 2 especially if you use a diffusion (not condenser) enlarger. I wouldn't worry overly about your chemical process yet, it's close enough to be getting decent results. Postprocessing (OT for APUG) definitely seems to be the shortfall so have a read of the scan howto in my FAQ; ignore the colour but note the black point and "brightness" parts carefully.