Recommendation needed - 'best' B&W roll film/developer combo :-)

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by fatso, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. fatso

    fatso Member

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    I realize this is a very subjective question but I haven't shot film in several years and hope someone can bring me up to speed on modern day emulsions and developers :smile:

    I shoot medium format rollfilm mostly with a SWC, and looking back at some of my old negatives (Ilford Delta 100/D76) they seem a bit grainy...

    I'm looking for a low speed / high resolution / fine grained film with rich tonality that I can drum scan to make 40" x 40" carbon pigment prints. Does anyone have a magic combination they are willing to share ?

    I've attached a sample of my work to give an idea of what I do.

    PLACE JC.jpg

    Paul
     
  2. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Any black & white film will have higher resolution, finer grain and richer tonality with Kodak XTOL replenished. I have used XTOL replenished for years for the fine grain and smoother tonality range. http://www.kodak.com/global/en/prof...wFilmProcessing/selecting.jhtml?pq-path=14053, http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/products/chemistry/bwFilmProcessing/xtol.jhtml, http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/databanks/filmDatabankChemicals.jhtml and http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/products/chemistry/filmBWmain.jhtml

    The following are films available in 120 rolls. Kodak has discontinued Plus X and Panatomic X leaving TMax 100 which does not have the traditional grain. Ilford makes FP4+, ISO 125, and Pan X, ISO 50 are traditional grained films. Ilford's Delta 100 is a non-traditional fine grain film.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2012
  3. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    Prepare to get 1000 different opinions.

    Tri-X & Rodinal.
    Definitely won't give you the worlds finest grain, but will be something like the world's sharpest negatives :wink:
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    And once you have committed to a film and developer, people will come out of the woodwork to tell you that you made a mistake.
     
  5. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    It's not going to get much finer grained than TMAX 100/Delta 100 in Xtol. That's your best bet. To be honest, Delta 100/D-76 isn't too far behind. I'd stick with it... Great work by the way!!
     
  6. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Tmax is probably the most available and finest grain film. With Tmax 100, you can get a nearly grainless image. I processed it with D76 and XTOL and didn't see much difference in results.

    I don't know how long ago your neg was made but if it was a long time ago, it is quite possible the formulation may have changed. You might want to try a new roll and if you still feel a need to change. With Tri-X, a roll from 30 years ago look nothing like one from today.
     
  7. kevs

    kevs Member

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    How long is a piece of string? I like Ilford FP4+ in Ilford ID-11 1:3. ID-11 is a good, all-round developer, my results are plenty sharp and detailed with unobtrusive grain. Mind you, I don't make 40" prints. Ilford Perceptol is supposed to give fine grain at the expense of film speed, though i can't quantify that. PAN F+ is a fine grain 50 ISO/ASA emulsion; I should think Pan F+ in Perceptol would give a very fine grain result, but I've never tried it. YMMV, of course.

    BTW, I see no grain in your example image, but then it's not a 40" print.

    Cheers,
    kevs
     
  8. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Hi fatso:

    If you want finer grain than Delta 100 and want to maintain a long tonal scale you really have only two options - Fuji Acros and TMax 100, either one developed in XTOL (various dilutions). TMax 100 is slightly finer grained than Fuji Acros (they are both exceedingly fine grained), and has similar tonality to Delta 100 but with a slightly more gradual shoulder. Acros will look similar in the low and mid tones but has very high highlight contrast. I'm not saying that's good or bad, just a characteristic to be aware of. Personally I'd suggest TMax 100.

    By the way are you from Montreal?

    Michael
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    There is no best.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    my favorite developer thus far is
    caffenol c, eyeball measured
    and then you spike it with about 10-15cc of
    ansco 130. stand develop your film in it, any film
    for about 25-30 mins and it turns out good ...
     
  11. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I can't imagine finer medium format combination than a tabular grain 100 speed film.

    We haven't been offered a tabular grain 50 speed or 25 speed film so I don't know how you can do much better.

    I'd experiment at least a bit with same film but 4x5 or 8x10 see if that is more satisfying.

    Otherwise take some of the fine suggestions here.

    Your example shows adequate shadow detail without evidence that you rated the film at half speed. But I want to point out that for the finest results, I believe you need to absolutely give the minimum exposure that provides shadow detail (instead of the safer "half box speed" technique that guarantees results but with potential for overexposure... which would mean more grain).
     
  12. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    +1
     
  13. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Pan F+ and Ilfsol 3

    I know I talk about Ilfsol 3 a lot but its my go to developer, it's much newer and specifically designed by ilford for low speed fine grain films and I think it's often overlooked because the Ilfsol S wasn't as good? But that's why they made Ilfsol 3.

    But I also hear a lot of people say tmax100 in tmax developer, which also makes sense.

    I don't actually know if pan F+ is a T grain or traditional? I suspect it's a hybrid?

    I just like slow speed fine grain and its really the only game in town at 50ASA


    ~Stone

    The Noteworthy Ones - Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1 / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  15. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    If you want fine grain you really should try Ilford Perceptol. My favorite developer. Dilute it 1+2 or 1+3 to get more acutance, otherwise you may not achieve the sharpness that you desired. I use it with FP4+ and HP5+, but it will work very well with PanF+ too from what I´ve read. Delta 100 and Perceptol should also be worth a try. The difference in grain may however be very small between diluted Perceptol and ID11 or Xtol, but it should be recognizeable in the large prints you want to make. Perceptol cuts the film speed in half and comes as powder, so it is not as convenient as other developers, but no black magic either.
     
  16. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

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    Dear Stone,

    PAN F + is a 'traditional' film, I have seen references to 'hybrid' films, no such film exists.... T.Max / DELTA Professional etc are CCG controlled crystal growth films.

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology LImited :
     
  17. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    I've had very fine grained results with FP4+ and Perceptol. Also Pan-F in several developers. That said, perhaps my threshold for grain is lower than the OPs, as I find that 125ASA or slower films in 120, developed in most normal 'fine-grained' developers to be acceptable.
     
  18. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    And the answer is... Diafine. Or a similar two-bath developer. I could list the reasons why this is the "magic bullet" but no less an authority than Sandy King has already done so in View Camera magazine, the article which you can find here.

    I used Diafine with TMAX 400, flatbed scans and pigment prints. After being back in the darkroom for over a year, I recently pulled these prints out of the file and realized... gulp... they may be the nicest prints I've ever made.
     
  19. bascom49

    bascom49 Subscriber

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    That is one nice image.
     
  20. faustotesta

    faustotesta Member

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    My wife has the best husband :smile:
     
  21. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Fuji Acros or TMax for ISO 100 would be your best bet for sure.

    They are indeed the "'best" concerning grain and resolution of all the 100 ISO films. :tongue:

    Don't use Rodinal if you want smaller grain is my second tip, my experience with Acros is that it is very low-grain in most normal developers I've tested it in so far (Tmax dev, Tetenal Ultrafin, HC-110).

    If you can get hold of Efke/Adox 25 ISO, it will probably be the cleanest no-grain film possible (except microfilm) but I would think that grain rarely is a problem in 120 with Delta, FP4, Acros and TMax. :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2012
  22. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Acros or Tmax 100 are what I know to be super fine grain. I'd expect delta100 would be in the same league as it's similar technology. You may like pyrocatHD for a developer, as the staining action makes the grain less prominent in some situations. If you are making 40" prints and bothered by the grain, perhaps you should move to 4x5" or bigger film.
     
  23. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Cool thanks! Anything better than Ilfsol 3 that I should be using with my Pan F+?

    Also, has ilford ever thought of creating their own version of Kodak's technical pan? Or buying the patent? The reason I ask is because its touted as the best and most missed B&W film. It's like the Kodachrome of B&W. As I recall it also wasn't fully B&W where in certain developers would also cause some slight blue (and perhaps magenta?) tones where there was heavy concentration of that color. As well as its super fine grain.

    To be completely honest I have a few rolls from eBay, but honestly haven't used them yet, mostly because I want the images to be something worth shooting and developing with the unique color cast it deserves to have for such a good film. It would seem to me that it would be something that would benefit the B&W photographer and would sell well?


    ~Stone

    The Noteworthy Ones - Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1 / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  24. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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  25. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    You are asking for fine grain in a 20X enlargement (I assume from the square format that you are coming from 2-1/4 square negatives). Although such enlargements are usually viewed at a distance that makes the grain of something like Tri-X unnoticeable, your post suggests that such grain is undesirable to you. That leaves only the very fine grain films. Pan-F is probably the most available, and it works well in a variety of developers. Xtol would be the first that comes to mind. There are other very fine grain films available that may deserve attention, such as Adox CMS II, but they may be hard to find. They may also require special developers.

    From your post, I assume you are using ink jet printing (which is a quite different thing than carbon printing). The digital process can do a great deal to hide the graininess in a print, so it might be worthwhile to try a large print with your existing film and see how it looks. The Delta films have quite fine grain if developed properly in the recommended developer.
     
  26. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Sounds like the easiest and most practical thing to do is to pick up Tmax-100, Delta-100, and Pan-F+, process it in XTOL or something and see if one of them meets your needs. Personally, I have not noticed much difference (or if any at all) using different developers for a given film but my experience is small.

    Anything beyond these, you may run into supply problems in short order.

    Otherwise, you may just have to go "bigger".... LF in your future?