The Project of "Opinions on BW Materials" - Please ALL help!

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by arigram, Dec 16, 2004.

  1. arigram

    arigram Member

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    What if we had a database, either in text or html, that would list -ALL- known films, developers and papers with practical information on each and opinions by users? Do you think such a project is viable and useful? If yes, would you contribute to it?
    If it is indeed viable and succceeds, I would like it to be available online so anyone could contribute and use it. Maybe in APUG?
    Such a database could be invaluable to a beginner or someone that wants a change from their usual film, paper or developer.
    I made an example form in M$ Word doc format with tables and I would people to take it as a base and expand and change it on their will.
    So, what do you think?
     
  2. Deckled Edge

    Deckled Edge Member

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    Two hundred and fifty rows x 40 columns x 400 APUGers' opinions.
    Call it the Kama Sutra of Photography. 4,000,000 opinions that no one has any intentions of trying.
     
  3. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Great idea, but I'm not sure the effort would be practical.

    Product specs tend to change over time, and products get dropped entirely. Absent some objective criteria for testing, opinions become anecdotal at best - particularly when removed from the context of a discussion and distilled into a succint form. Searching the archives here and elsewhere on the 'Net is probably as good as it gets, as that approach usually provides the context needed to interpret the responses.
     
  4. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    It is a great idea but for whom does it answer what question? When I started my journey into this odd realm of trying this and that, I was exploring methods to achieve a certain look in my work. Even now, I am trying to improve that certain look as I go on. I have explored about 8 different B&W film developers trying to get the right accutance for a sharp look for a particular degree of enlargment. So what works great for one format is too grainy for small format or too soft for a larger format. With these 8 different developers, I have tried about 8 different emulsions as well, that all respond a little differently in each of the 8 different developers I have tried. That is 64 combinations of emulsions and developers to try to meet a certain criteria. Then there are other considerations, once a combination has been found, it may have drawbacks. I like TRI-X in microdol - I don't like the loss of one stop film speed, I don't like the capacity and shelf life. The price is OK. Now I am working with PC-TEA to see if the results are as good without these objections. MYTOL was an improvement over microdol in that I got the film speed back but still the other considerations had not changed. For larger formats, PMK was great but not very enlargable. DiXactol gave the same accutance with finer grain at higher cost. Now I use Pyrocat HD and get the same performance as DiXactol cheaper and easier. So this is what I use for sheet film - from 4x5 that gets enlarged to 8x10 that is only contact printed. - I get the accutance I want and the grain is fine with the added benefit of highlight compensation. For formats that get enlarged much more, I am looking at PC-TEA - I have not settled on it but the road looks promising. I can always come back to MYTOL if it doesn't work out.

    Now having said all this, would a chart have shortened my path? Would I have started out with where I am now? Probably not, because until I made an 8x10 that looked like a collection of dots because of the huge grain, I would not have appreciated a combination that keeps the grain small. If I had not made a print that looks mushy, I would not have wanted to see the sharpness that can be had with a high accutance developer. It is the learning through experimenting that set the definition for the spec. It is the same thing for lenses and formats as well. And I have not even mentioned the third dimention which is paper and paper developer. With staining film developer, there is a different response to VC verses Graded papers. I tend to like to use Graded fiber papers where the stain is less useful but still provides some grain masking. And then there is AZO. Yes - I do keep Amidol on hand and I save up all my contact work and batch it out a few times a year.

    So the question is as big as the choice of what to shoot, how to depict it and what size media will it finally be presented on. I think a chart that listed - Cost per roll/sheet - staining/tanning or non/staining tanning - high accutance - fine grain- high solivent - surface developer - toxisity - shelf life - would be very handy. - But I think that question is as easily answered as an idividual who pops up here and states what they want to achieve and then does what we all do - try and see. -

    So that is my $.10 worth ....
     
  5. arigram

    arigram Member

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    I don't disagree with any of you, but I think you took this a bit the wrong way.
    The point is to list characteristics that are either supplied by the manufacturer or are constant, not so much if you like one film or a combination of some things.
    Granted, I put the comments line there, but it could always be used in a different way than the example I gave, something infomative, such as "not in production any more" or "the new emulsion is different from old one" or something of that sort.
    The whole can be constantly updated when the official status or characteristics of a product change. That's why I thought at being put online would be a good idea.

    It's not about a list of "magic bullets" but of base material that you can work with.
    For example, what are the characteristics of a paper that you cannot find around you, so you can't just pick up a pack and try it out. What's the texture like? Is it good for lith? What about it's D-Max capabillity?
    We all know that Rodinal does not "dissolve" the grain and that helps the acutance and the edge effect, but also means that the grain would be more apparent.
    What about Pyro? Why should anyone use such a mysterious thing? Is it mysterious? For most photographers it is consindering that most have no access to it or even heard about it.
    What about print developers? Why would anyone use Agfa's Neutal WA? Or something of Tetanal, or Fotospeed, or... Is there a difference?

    It is more about a snapshot of what the materials are more or less about than a Magic List of Everything You Want to Know About BW Materials.
     
  6. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I suppose that it would be like Digital Truth's Massive Development Chart except that the information would be, by neccessity much more subjective. I'm not sure how it would work out.

    APUG membership has such a huge variety of experience and expertise that a project for compiling and organizing it into a form that could be referenced is worth some thought.
     
  7. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Foltsam, that's exacty what I thought.
    Tim Rudman has some very descriptive and helpful charts on his books about papers, chemicals and such that are not very different from what I am trying to do. After all, how much variety of experience one can have with T-Max, or with Rodinal, or with Forte papers apart from liking it or not liking it?
     
  8. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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  9. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Most people are happy working through the suggested variations at their own pace. Opinions aside, you can never really know what's right without rigorous testing.
     
  10. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The problem with that is that many of us don't believe in the manufacturer's specs - nor that any product is constant over time. Films, developers, paper - all is likely to change without notice.

    No wait - since all research staff has been laid off and replaced by programmers, there's a chance that the remaining analog products will stay constant from now on!
     
  11. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I think the idea would be good for the various formulas out there. Plenty of different formulas for developers etc with often no info at all. It wouldn't have to be detailed info but at least basic info. If nothing else something that would let people sort film developers into full speed or not full film speed. To sort paper developers into warm or cool. Maybe adding some papers that tone well with the toners.

    BTW it's just not that the chemical companies can change stuff they don't have to ship the same product around the world. The same name different products depending on the source.
     
  12. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Well, I guess I'll just do it by myself with whatever can gather from the net and my experience.
    I think you are just lazy.
     
  13. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    arigram,
    rigorous testing does not equate to "just lazy". People who are very serious about their work ,which most are on this site, work very hard to determine what is going to work best for them. There are so many virables involve and so much is subjective it is's not pausable to create what your are suggesting.

    It is great that you are thinking and making suggesstions, but don't take it as a rejection of your person.

    On the other hand there may be some who think you are being lazy not to do the foot work yourself.

    There is always more than one side to the discussion.
     
  14. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Such information in table form could be useful in the way the Massive Dev Chart is useful--to provide a few starting points for individual experimentation.

    Ultimately, there's no substitute for trying stuff out and seeing how it works for you. All the charts and internet forums in the world won't tell me as much about what paper to use as my own reference file of prints made on different papers and my own experience in having made them.
     
  15. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Well, Ann, you do have a point.
    I cannot do the testing myself. I only have access to two films, one paper and one film developer. Tri-X, Rodinal and Forte paper for example I learned about on the Internet and from the books I have. I had to make special orders myself to get the stuff.
    All I am asking for is opinions of people who regularly use that stuff.
    I mean, there are so many threads in which lovers of a particular kind of paper or developer or film passionately state their opinion. All I am trying to do is gather those statements that can be practically used, such as how does a particular paper react to toning or how different XTOL is to D-76, as STARTING POINTS not as a Fundumentalist's Bible.

    It may be simple for you to just go to the store next door you have been buying stuff for last three decades or try stuff out from the friendly "have it all" mail order or make up a developer yourself, but not everybody can do that. Most people don't have such luxuries.
    If it was not Tim Rudman's book on Lith in which he lists papers with exactly those details, I may never have tried Kenmore papers or seeked out the now out-of-stock Forte papers. If I did not carefully read Internet forums I may have never tried anything else than Ilford HP5+ developed in Ilfosol-S printed on Ilford MGD RC paper with llford MGD developer. Because that's all I can buy around here. And yes, I wanted something else.
    I just thought that a chart like that would be an inspiration to try out stuff and get more educated on photographic materials, the life-blood of our art.
     
  16. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    that does make sense.
    i pulled out Tim's Lith book and checked on the information you are referring to and i can see how it would be helpful to you.

    We do a class that inables people to chose as many papers as they like and development them in about 15 different developers /ratios and when all is done spread them out and compare them to each other. It is hard to get two people to agree on what they are seeing; and this is were the difficulty lies.

    I will take another look at your chart and see if i can fill in some blanks for you, but again rememeber this can be so subject; as David indicate and took the words right out of my brain; the massive development chart is just a guide line , a starting point, just as Tim's chart are. Notice how many times he says "varies in processing. So, in the end you will still need to run your own quality test; but perhaps it would element special ordering ?

    I can't give you the dmax of the papers as i don't read those, altho, we could.
     
  17. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    arigram, i have been looking at your chart, and really i am not trying to give you a hard time. As an example, you list Ilford MC as being neutral/green in tone. I never see it as having a green cast, altho,i do find Galerie as having a bit of olive tone until it is toned. Ilford will pseudo lith like crazy, the neutral version much better than the warm (IMO) and that is the huge rub some one else may get much different results.

    I am going to email you a hand out i give to my students, don't know that is going to cover all your questions but perhaps it will give you something to use when deciding on what you need to order