Unable to get beyond grade 2 with my color head enlargers

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by mcilroy, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. mcilroy

    mcilroy Member

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    Hi all,

    i'm setting up my new darkroom, and did some first tests today. As i had nothing better to do today :whistling: i thought i might as well calibrate my color heads for my two papers (Fomatone FB and Adox MCP).

    So i contact printed a Stouffer 21 step wedge on both papers, starting with full magenta on both enlargers. When the sheets were developed, i was counting 7 to 8 clearly distinguishable steps, which corresponds to grade 2 or slightly below according to this article:
    http://www.jbhphoto.com/articles/vcno2/eyeballcal.pdf

    Using no filtration at all results in Grade 0.5 :confused:

    I can rule out:
    - Fogging. I used fresh paper and did a safe ligth/stray light test with pre-flashed paper
    - Paper issues. I get the same problem with both papers, and both are fresh (bought two weeks ago)
    - Enlarger issues. Both of my enlargers show the same results

    It seems to me that it's the developer, although it is fresh and was mixed just two weeks ago. I'm using Moersch Eco 4812.
    Unfortunately, i don't have another developer or multigrade filters for further investigation.


    Any ideas?

    Best regards,
    Matthias
     
  2. MDR

    MDR Member

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    You can use film developers like Rodinal for paper development. The dilution is something like 1:2 so not very economic, if you get different results with the film developer it's developer going bad otherwise, take a look at the multigrade/color filters in your enlarger could be that they have faded.

    Good Luck

    Dominik
     
  3. mcilroy

    mcilroy Member

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    The filters look ok and not using any filtration results in Grade 0.5 :pouty:
    Thanks for the hint on film developers for paper! I will make another test with a higher concentration of the paper dev first, to see where this gets me.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I have seen a safelight cause this first hand, not enough to fog paper but enough to prevent higher contrasts being achieved, Paterson released a VC safelight to prevent this.

    Try a better safelight with a dedicated VC fliter and make sure the distance is more than the recommended minimum, use a dimmer switch if needed.

    Ian
     
  5. mcilroy

    mcilroy Member

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    The safe light must be ok, as i don't get different/better results when exposing and developing the paper with the safe light turned off.
     
  6. mcilroy

    mcilroy Member

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    I just did another test with a freshly mixed solution (this time 1+10 instead of the normal 1+14) which didn't gave me better results.

    What suprises me is that - apart from the lack of contrast - the developer works just fine. The image on Adox MCP begins to show after 10 sec. and the blacks are as deep as they should be. I will pick up a bag of Dektol on monday to be sure it's not human error...
     
  7. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Rodinal was original intended for paper too.


    Steve.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    D72/Dektol was originally a film developers as well.

    Ian
     
  9. mcilroy

    mcilroy Member

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    I guess any standard film-developer can also be used for paper and vice versa. One just needs to know or find the right dilution and time. In the end, they are all based on the same handful of developing substances, preservatives, restrainers etc. :smile:
     
  10. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    What combinations of filtration are you using? What enlarger do you have? Most colorheads are calibrated in density values (for example 0-100 giving 0.00 to 1.00 density equivalent for the three colors Yellow, Magenta, Cyan). And some don't even go up that high.

    Multigrade paper needs the magenta to go way over 1.00 - so to get into the higher values you may need supplemental filtration, probably only need a single (1.00 density magenta) filter in a filter drawer or under the lens - then use the dial to fine-tune the results.
     
  11. mcilroy

    mcilroy Member

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    I'm using a Kaiser with multigrade head and a Kienzle T67/69 with digital color head.

    I'm aware of the problem, that i can't expect to obtain a real grade 5 with a color head (or even 4, at least not with every paper). But as mentioned, even with white light (no filtration) i only get about grade 0.5, and just about grade 2 with full magenta, which definitely should not be the case with fresh paper.
     
  12. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Well, it's not like you are using a bargain or compact colorhead with limited controls.

    One thing I do now that I didn't do before is develop for a full 3 minutes in Dektol 1+2.
    -I used to develop 1 1/2 minutes...

    Also make sure you give enough exposure to result in several choices of black.
    -The scale gives you 21 steps, so any overexposure will simply give you more information.
     
  13. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    OK 7-8 clearly distinguishable steps. Plenty of development.

    How many of those steps would you want to use? If the last few dark steps are so close together that you wouldn't want your shadows plunged into them... Maybe you shouldn't count them.
     
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  15. chimneyfinder

    chimneyfinder Member

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    Hello, Matthias.
    Are you getting a full range of tones with you results, albeit at Grade 2, e.g. are shadows muddy at all. If your tones look good it would seem the developer may be ok. I breifly had an LPL enlarger with the multigrade head which appeared fine, but I also could not get beyond @ grade 2 at the maximum setting.
    Also, are your bulbs ok, a spent halogen bulb won't bring any joy.
    Regards, Mark Walker.
     
  16. mcilroy

    mcilroy Member

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    Hard to tell, but i wouldn't say that the darkest or lightest steps are too close together. If i center the exposure around step 11, i get three to four nicely graduated steps before max. black as well as towards paper white, using full magenta filtration.

    I will wait until i have the Dektol mixed, and might try to find someone who can borrow me an Ilford MG filter set to make some comparative test.


    Tones look good, as far as i can tell. But as the problem is exactly the same with both enlargers, i don't think it's an enlarger issue at the moment. And as i said: white light results in grade 0.5 (+/- a little) which shouln't be the case even if the magenta filtration is too weak.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2012
  17. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I'd keep an eye out for a CC 40 or CC 50 Magenta filter. That would be a good thing to throw in the drawer if you have one... That way you can use the colorhead + magenta to get the full range (instead of sometimes using MG filters and other times using colorhead - which I would find frustrating)
     
  18. mcilroy

    mcilroy Member

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    Sure, if it really turns out to be a color head issue, i will have to look for some permanent and convenient solution. The MG Filters would just be interesting for some comparisons (full magenta compared to #5 Filter, full Yellow compared to #0 and no filtration compared to #2).
     
  19. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    On what basis have you concluded that without filtration you are only getting 0.5 grade? Without filtration of any kind most papers and certainly Ilford will give you grade 2.

    As you say that your developer is fine and presumably your exposure is correct and paper is fresh, I wonder if your conclusions from your step wedge is wrong or is it a question of a different set of perceptions about what each grade looks like.

    There is no way that unfiltered MG paper should be grade 0.5. A grade 0.5 print from a properly exposed neg should be very soft and grey looking and without any real blacks and yet you say that the blacks are OK?

    I am very puzzled

    pentaxuser
     
  20. mcilroy

    mcilroy Member

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    In my first post of this thread i mentioned this article:
    http://www.jbhphoto.com/articles/vcno2/eyeballcal.pdf

    Sure, without a refection densitometer it is hard to tell exactly which grade one actually gets. But as far as i understood it, counting the number of clearly distinguishable steps between max black and paper white will at least tell me the grade within a reasonable amount of accuracy.

    Using no filtration, I counted 9-10 steps, which according to the article corresponds to 1.35-1.50 log ER or roughly grade 0.5 (1.40 log ER).

    And prints do indeed look too soft, but getting real black is of course just a question of exposure time with any negative and grade, when we ignore highlight exposure.
     
  21. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    In this recent thread we discussed how you need a scale that reaches 150 or 170 to dial in Magenta for high grades - use the most you can get. OP in this thread could only go up to 100.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum41/105679-color-head-fixed-grade-paper-2.html

    I don't exactly know how to measure the density of a magenta filter, but I took a #4 filter and put it under the green dot on my densitometer, it measured over 2.50

    So I think a CC 100 Magenta would be awesome to add...

    ---
    I also think this may be a matter of interpretation. The standards are based on a specific range, somewhere like 4 to 96%... and mcilroy, you're using eyeball to interpret. So you could be counting a higher number than technically getting.
     
  22. mcilroy

    mcilroy Member

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    This might be the case, but judging from normal enlargements of well developed and exposed negatives, results are still way too soft. Dialing in full Magenta gives acceptable results.

    But first things first... If the new developer doesn't make a significant difference, I will have to look for some filters for further investigations.
     
  23. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The white light contrast is low. You have a paper/developer problem.
     
  24. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I think your filters are shot away. Try a multigrde filter beneath the lens.
     
  25. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Hard to believe either Kaiser or Kienzle would make a head without dichroic filters.
     
  26. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    This would seem to be the first step in analyzing the problem. Get some regular VC filters and try them. If you get similar results, your enlarger is OK and you are either not developing correctly or you are misinterpreting the results. If your prints look OK, it's misinterpretation. If you get different results, the magenta filter in your enlarger has faded, and you will need to get a replacement. Magenta filters do that, and it may not be obvious to the eye.