System Testing

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by henk@apug, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. henk@apug

    henk@apug Member

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    Hello,

    I use my old 4x5 camera more and more and I was thinking trying
    to test my system. I have done some reading and I would like to go
    for "the contact sheet test" as described by Barry Thornton or the "second" test described in Way Beyond Monochrome II.

    In short, they both come down to define the "minimum time for maximum black", then see which exposure gives the best
    result to render zone III detail to define EI and then do some development test to define the development time.

    Barry Thornton method uses contact sheets and WBMII uses enlargments to do this.
    Is there an advantage in each of these methods that the other does not have ?

    Thank you !
     
  2. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I always contact proof my negatives at a MTMB time that I have established for the paper and developer that I use. If a proof is too dark or light it tells me my exposure was off. If the shadows look good but the highlights are flat or blocked up it tells me my exposure was good but development time needs to be adjusted. So over time I can spot patterns and make adjustments in exposure or development as needed. The advantage of this method to me is that it is a regular part of my process that requires no additional time, energy, or materials to conduct "tests."

    I suspect the advantage of the enlargement method is that enlargements are the final product and so everything going into the enlargement is factored in. I'm not sure that advantage would be worthwhile to me. At the enlargement stage I would rather concentrate on making the best print possible with the negative in hand.
     
  3. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Get a copy of Minor White and Richard Zakia's "The New Zone System Manual" for lots more info about "proper proofing" and calibrating using prints instead of a densitometer. I've used that method of ZS calibration for years with success.

    To answer your question: If you plan on enlarging, then do your tests using the enlarger, light source, lens and enlargement size you plan on using most. The enlarger itself introduces some loss into the system plus an enlarged print almost always has a different contrast than a contact print, even when using a diffuse light source. You can do the tests with contacts, but they will be different from enlargements. Usually it's not by much, but why not get as close as you can?

    I also "proper proof" all my negatives, but always notice that the contact sheet contrast is a bit different than the enlarged prints on the same grade. I try to calibrate for the enlargements.

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  4. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    what dan said.
     
  5. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    I concur with Dan, my method is the same, and goes back to the original Barry Thornton article, http://www.awh-imaging.co.uk/barrythornton/unzone.htm. To be honest, it changed my photographical life in a fundamental way.

    Any method works, but stick to one of them. :smile:
     
  6. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    I do the MTMB for an enlarged proof because I don't do contact prints for the final product. If you develop the paper to max black in a proof and you're pleased with both the shadow placement you made and the most important highlight value(s), well then, that's exciting, and you've got something there to work with.