To push or not to push? (FP4 @ 320)

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Daniel Jackson, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. Daniel Jackson

    Daniel Jackson Member

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    Hello all,
    I've been having a great time getting into film and processing with a Yashicamat and Tri-X the last year or so, but I ran into a bit of a snag last week when I was shooting some "fun" shots at a friend's wedding.

    I couldn't find any Tri-X in any of the few remaining fridges in Edmonton before I left for the wedding, but I did find some HP5 and FP4. I bought enough HP5 to cover the shoot, and a roll of FP4 for later experimentation--just for the hell of it.

    All went basically as I expected, and the Yashicamat (with a Metz potato masher and bracket for indoor shots) made an excellent impression on the lady photographers. ^_^ The wedding was well covered by professionals and friends with more "modern" equipment, but I'm sure that the couple would really appreciate an album of nice 8*10 prints (printing questions to come at a future date, as I'm just getting started there) so I tagged along with my antiques.

    Trouble is, I packed that roll of FP4 in the film bag when I left, and accidentally loaded it instead of HP5 halfway through the shoot. I shoot Tri-X (and now HP5) at 320, so it's not a full two-stop underexposure, but it's close. I only realized that I'd loaded FP4 about halfway through the roll, and decided to keep going.

    Shoot was outdoors on a hazy/slightly overcast day, pretty much ideal lighting for the purpose, and I used a K2 yellow filter (so exposure was basically within half a stop of the film rating, but with the filter factor taking it away again.) Some close-to-mid shots had the benefit of a good reflector--so I'm not overly worried about losing too much detail in facial shadow areas, but black suits are tricky to get detail from in the best of conditions. (And white dresses are pretty easy to overexpose. Sigh.)

    Would you push this roll one stop in a normal developer?

    Would XTOL at normal development be basically the best I can expect? (I've read that XTOL's compensating effect basically gives you one extra stop in shadow detail.) XTOL's not something I've done before, I'm willing to try it if it's going to make a noticeable improvement.

    Would a longer development with a more dilute developer be more likely to save some shadow detail without blocking highlights? I'm not 100% sure about the effect of dilution compared to time-based push. Adams gives a bit of info on dilution and compensating effects in "The Negative," but his chemistry seems a bit different, and he's using push/pull in more deliberate ways than I am. I've seen the numbers on the Massive Dev chart, but they don't come with example shots or descriptions of the other effects that come with the dilution.

    Mostly, I'm asking if you experts think a change in dilution/time can improve these negs. I'll then shoot and process a test roll (cut in half, processed half normal, half pushed/diluted/whatever) and decide what to do for the "real deal." The HP5 I'll develop normally.
     
  2. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I would give it 25% - 30% extra development time.

    I have done the reverse - I had HP5 in the camera which I thought was FP4 so it got two stops extra exposure. A 40% cut in development time sorted this out.



    Steve.
     
  3. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Answer 1: Have Elevator Gallery in Toronto do it for you.
    Answer 2: Do it yourself, with some developer you have experience working with.

    Were it me, XTOL would be my first and second choice, and only choice.

    If I had only one chance, I'd use the Kodak published time for FP4 in XTOL @ 1+1. I would use the EI 500 time, and agitate the film every other minute ( 14.5' 20˚ ). That ought to put you close to a normal shaped curve for 320.

    EVEN better would be to expose a test roll, and test drive it !

    Xtol is great for this because it is a very efficient developer: it naturally developes shadows to a higher EI than other developers, without over developing the midtones and highlights. FP4 is a pretty good film for this- you may find you've found a look that you like !

    don
     

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  4. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    What you need to do increase the effective EI of your FP4 (not hard) while preventing the contrast from screaming skywards and making the pictures on this roll look totally different from your HP5+ shots (much harder). As a life-long devotee of Ilford chemistry
    http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/200621612182416.pdf
    I would reach for some Microphen and use it 1+3 for 30 to 40 minutes using a semi-stand technique (agitation continuous for 1st minute and then 10 secs. every 3 minutes). I'd definitely try a test roll first - if I had to choose, I'd rather have negs that were a bit thin and needed hard paper than negs which were overdeveloped and had blocked-up highlights. Good luck in any case!
     
  5. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    It also wouldn't hurt to buy another roll of FP4, rate it the same, shoot a test roll in similar conditions (with flash, etc.) and then do a trial development of the test roll. Chop it up into thirds and you can experiment a little bit to see what works best.
     
  6. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    Diafine would be another option - you can get an easy EI250 out of this combination, so the extra bit to 320 shouldn't make too much difference.
     
  7. Daniel Jackson

    Daniel Jackson Member

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    Thanks for all the suggestions!
    As I stated in my original (overly long ^_^) post, I will shoot a test roll and try a couple of methods.

    I looked at The Negative again last night, and this is what I'm getting: The reduced concentration and agitation from these recommendations will bring up the low values without overly affecting the high value areas, due to the higher availability of active chemistry in the low-value areas (and corresponding lower availability in high-value areas.) Thus, shadow values will be "pushed" without the drastic increase in contrast.
    Have I got that right?
    Are XTOL and Microphen actively compensating as well, (I know that they're both popular for push processing, but I'm thinking of something a bit more subtle than that) or is this more a function of dilution/agitation? Would Diafine work differently? (two-bath processing sounds fun... but tricky in a small tank.)
     
  8. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Your summary is partially complete, and you raise so many possibly misleading side issues, it is incorrect to agree with it.

    You have raised two issues: How to develop an underexposed film which needs normal midtone contrast;
    and how does compensation work.

    The second, first. Compensation is caused by reduced agitation and increased time. There will be no 'pushing', the shadows will develop to their normal densities.

    How to do it ? 20 years ago, the best choice might have been Microphen. XTOL will give you more shadow detail, normal midtone contrast, and normal highlight densities... if you do the requisite work to sort it out.

    A shortcut is as I suggested. It will print normally, although probably on a #1 paper instead of #2.

    All the other 50-years-ago-methods, water bath and so on, work to the degree they incorporate reduced agitation.

    See Sandy King's and Steve Sherman's discussions about minimal agitation.
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I have found that minimal agitation works great for underexposed film. It really is true that Xtol is good for pushing, and I have tried using it at 1+3 at 70*F for 30 minutes with Plus-X film that was exposed at an EI of 400 roughly. I agitate the whole first minute of the development time, and dislodge air bubble by rapping the tank very firmly a few times on a counter top before I set it still for the remainder.
    It did indeed give me full shadow detail, and normal midtones and high values.
    I have also done this with Pyrocat-HD and Pyrocat-MC, and it works perfectly with those developers too. I have only tried it with Fuji Neopan 400 and Kodak Tri-X, though. They are great developers for FP4 too, but I don't know if you can bring back almost two stops to look normal.
    Don's advice is really good. He has a lot of experience and is very knowledgeable.
    Good luck, and have fun printing!
    - Thomas
     
  10. Daniel Jackson

    Daniel Jackson Member

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    Thanks for the great response, guys. I'm learning a lot here.
    Off to pick up some XTOL and shoot the test roll...


    I'm still not getting the nuances of what reduced agitation is actually doing for the development, and what XTOL is doing, and how either factor affects shadow detail. Sandy and Steve mostly discuss "micro-contrast" in mid-high value areas, and low value areas are still developed normally. Steve's shots seem to be mostly low-contrast, and he's using the method to increase subtleties in the (not especially high) high value areas that will stick out in a print.
    Steve's discussions of this always note that the low/high contrast effects sound counter-intuitive, so I guess I just need to try the method already and see for myself. ^_^
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    During normal development you agitate once every thirty seconds or once every minute. That insures a fresh supply of active developer in contact with the emulsion.
    When you reduce agitation, the fresh supply of active developer works longer in the same area of the film. The highest activity of the developer is in the highlights, as that is where density of silver eventually will be highest.
    So, relative to how high the density is in a specific area of the film, the developer exhausts and slows down or stalls development - in that particular area. That means that a scene with very bright highlights will receive an extremely compensating form of development, and that a dimly lit scene can get a boost, all based on developer exhaustion.
    Now think of contrast - what is contrast? Difference in brightness in two adjacent areas. Since the developer is mostly active where it doesn't have to work so hard, you can get some interesting effects where fresh developer 'creeps over' from a less dense to a more dense area. This can cause an edge effect that appears to increase sharpness and local contrast. It really is pretty cool to watch and can be quite beautiful in some instances.

    I hope that helps in understanding the concept of extreme minimal agitation.

    - Thomas


     
  12. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    Diafine?
     
  13. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Don Cardwell's lucid description of how XTOL can be used to boost the "speed" of FP4+ has got me thinking. My current 35mm film is HP5+ rated at 200 and developed in ID11 1+3 for sunny days. Great for hand holding, with orange filter, at around f8 at 125th. I am happy with the prints from these negatives, but could always do with extra sharpness for when I want to make bigger prints.
    Could I switch to FP4+, rated at the same 200 speed, developed in XTOL as Don outlined, and be able to make sharper ( or bigger ) prints with good tonality?

    Alan Clark
     
  14. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    The easy answer is to just develop as normal. Your "actual" EI for FP4 could be as high as 200, and your "actual" EI for HP5 could be as low as 200. Who knows unless you have tested. At any rate, with some printing skill, you can probably get usable shots just developing as normal.

    You could then intensify the negs with the intensifier from Photographer's Formulary, if needed. It is actually rather affordable.

    The next easy answer is to just assume box speed for FP4 and do a simple push. You exposed 125 at 320. That is 1-1/3 stops under. It could be worse! Your shadows and midtones will be darker than normal, but you can develop for either more time or with more frequent agitation to make the high mids and highlights look normal. With good printing skill, etc., etc.

    The hard answers come when you start wanting to rescue as much of your shadows as you can. In this case, you might want to employ a developer that typically reinforces a film's speed. X-Tol, for instance, or perhaps T-Max.

    Then, you can use less frequent agitation to reinforce those shadows even more.

    Personally, what I would do is combine a push with less frequent agitation. Sounds counterproductive, but it works quite well.

    Also, I would personally test a roll (or two) first, if the shots were really important to me.

    Expose another roll of FP4 at 320, in as close to the same lighting as possible, including flash, if that's what you used. Mix up some X-Tol or T-Max (or Ilford equivalents). Cut about 1/3 off of your roll and develop it normally. See how it looks. Proof the frames to see what you can get them to look like. Next, cut another 1/3 and try a simple push to see what the results are. Proof, etc. Next, try the last 1/3 at 3x normal development time, but agitation half as often as you did with normal development. Proof, etc. If you shoot more test rolls, you can do more tests!

    Oh...and do it all at 75F to reduce the time! I do everything at 75F anyhow, except for Efke.

    Good luck. You're not as bad off as it sounds.
     
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  15. Daniel Jackson

    Daniel Jackson Member

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    Sucess!

    Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone.

    The test roll looked good in XTOL, with a straight push as well as with 1+1 and 1+3 dilution / semi-stand techniques. I went with 1+3, 19 minutes semi-stand @ 20°C for the "real deal." (Mostly because I had the right amount of XTOL for that dilution sitting in the bottom of a bottle after the tests.)
    I'm pretty sure this roll would have been quite printable without any push, but I learned something more about processing technique so I'm happy. ^_^
    I've also got a second developer to play with now. (Was using strictly TMax before, for convenience.)

    Now to catch up on printing... Ugh...