What densitiy range in a "good" negative?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by naaldvoerder, Jan 16, 2005.

  1. naaldvoerder

    naaldvoerder Member

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    Hello,

    I,m trying to better my negatives. Is there a density range a "ggod"negative should have to get near black and near white in a print on grade 2?

    Thanks

    JJ
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Depends on the paper or print process and the enlarger. A good starting point is to try to place Zone VIII at a density of 1.2 over base+fog. You may want a little more if you use a diffusion or cold light head, and even more (around 1.5) if you're contact printing on Azo, and yet more for many handcoated processes.
     
  3. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    Depends who you read, which paper you print upon, etc. You could do some sort of film test (ring-around, zone system, Beyond The Zone System, etc.) to match your exposure and development technique to a specific brand and contrast of paper along with a certain type of enlarger. Such an exercise will inform you a great deal about your process and materials.

    Sounds like you may have a transmission densitometer if you are asking about density range. If so, probably the simplest thing you can do is obtain a 21-step transmission density tablet and find the range of your photographic paper first by making a contact print with the step tablet. This will give you information specific to your printing material which you can use to finetune film exposure and develpment to obtaing a match between the tablet values and your film densities. (Actually you can get pretty close just by comparing densities of the step tablet to your film on a light table without even using a densitometer. The Stouffer 21-step uncalibrated tablet [#2115 IIRC] will cost around $9 and is a very good investment.)

    Joe
     
  4. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    1.0 is good. That's the simple answer. That's for printing. You cannot always place a Zone where you think you want it. If the scene brightness range is too wide to fit within that range with normal development, no amount of diddling with density range is going to keep you from having to dodge or burn to keep the local contrasts high enough to be interesting while "fitting" the total range onto a paper image, no matter what grade of paper you choose. Painters have known that for centuries.

    A normal scene range of 5 or 6 f-stops can look pretty good on paper without a lot of fooling the eye. Beyond that, if you underdevelope to bring density range within normal paper range, your image will probably look dull. You jump to a grade 3 and you're back to burning highs or dodging lows so you keep local contrast high while retaining high and low detail.
     
  5. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    You really need to qualify what you are measuring and that varies between who you read or listen to as well as your materials.

    I also find a target density range of ~1.20 (Zone VIII @ 1.30 - Zone I @ 0.10) generally good for my silverprint enlarging materials but I hesitate to recommend that specific figure because YMMV. I've arrived at that figure by testing and by defining what I'm actually measuring (i.e., Zone VIII-Zone I). Others may be quoting figures derived from a different set of measurements and/or materials. Film type, developers with different curve characteristics, paper, enlarger type, enlarging lens contrast, etc., are all going to influence the results.

    I think you will be better off just to measure the density range of the paper you are using and then adjust your film exposure and development to that rather than using someone else's target density range value. As you can see by the first few replies in this thread, the numbers recommended are going to vary. However, that doesn't mean anyone is giving you wrong information, just relating different experiences.

    Joe