XTOL and grain

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by mikepry, Nov 24, 2007.

  1. mikepry

    mikepry Subscriber

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    I have been using some Fomapan 200 (35mm) and tried it out first with Rodinal and the grain was to much for my taste. I then tried Xtol, which I use for all my LF work and the rec. times were 6 min. (straight XTOL). I felt like that was a little too short so to minimize any possibility of errors in processing time I used the XTOL 1:2. After some testing I ended up at 7 min. with only 5 inversions to start and one gentle inversion every 30 sec. Finally great negs to print but holy cow the grain seems worst than the Rodinal! What gives? I primarily do LF but want to do some 35mm work and I keep hitting all these stumbling blocks. I have purchased a bulk roll of the Fomapan 200 and want to stick with it. Can anyone advise as to why the XTOL is giving the horrendous grain? Here is an image I did down in Alabama to show the grain I'm talking about. Thanks for any info you could pass on.

    Bayou le Batre
     
  2. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Mike, a reminder and a suggestion:

    Reminder - the grain size and shape is an emulsion characteristic - put there by the film manufacturer. For finer grain, Try Delta 100 or TMAX-100.

    Another Reminder: Undiluted XTOL is a fine grain developer that contains both sodium sulfite and ascorbate - try it undiluted with the FOMA 200.
     
  3. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Did you scan a print or a negative to show us? What is the minimum density over fog of the negative? Did you try bracketting exposures plus and minus half a stop?

    I have seen a lot of my own photos that look grainier scanned than printed, even when I scan them from the photographic print. Scanners have a world of their own problems. If you have not already, do a Google on "grain aliasing."

    Generally, with more than the absolutely necessary negative density comes more than the absolutely necessary graininess.

    Forgive me if you already know all this.
     
  4. mikepry

    mikepry Subscriber

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    I have a link at the bottom of my post (Bayou le Batre) that is a neg scan. I have also printed it and it is GRAINY. I don't know about the minimum density over fog but do know that I did a few test strips till I got the highlights where I want them and the shadows just fell into place beautifully. The finished print just sparkles and I couldn't be any more pleased ....... except for the grain.

    I have wanted to do a minimum density over fog test but all I have is an incident meter and I don't know if I can do it with that or not. My camera doesn't have a meter.

    Mike
     
  5. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I think you have fairly little grain for 35mm, especially considering it's Foma. Out of curiosity, what did you expect? I have some ISO100 negs with more grain than that.
    I have been using a staining developer lately, which seems to mask the grain quite well. PMK is supposed to be good for enlarging. I've been using FP4 with Pyrocat-MC and Pyrocat-HD and get very nice grain with it.
    Don't know if that helps or not. Your print looks like a print made from 645 and ISO 400 film.
    - Thomas
     
  6. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    One point is that what looks like grain in screen-sized scans like the one Mike has posted is often not grain at all, but digital compression artifacts. To see the actual grain, you usually need a much higher-resolution scan. This point is actually moot for Mike, since he reports that a conventional print looks grainy, but it's worth mentioning for others.

    I've just reviewed some sample scans I've made with Fomapan 200, and I also see XTOL producing worse grain with this film than some other developers. For me, both D-76 and Ryuji Suzuki's DS-10 produce better grain, at least in my samples. (These are rather unscientifically collected, though; it could be I'm seeing differences in degree of development.) Therefore, you might want to try D-76 or DS-10. For me, PC-Glycol and DS-12 produce results that are similar to those of XTOL. I've never tried this film with Rodinal or any pyro developer, so I can't comment on these combinations.

    My own impression is that, even in XTOL, Fomapan 200 is finer-grained than most ISO 400 films. (T-Max 400 is an exception.) If you're used to larger formats, it could be you're simply running into the limitations of 35mm. Perhaps you'd be happier with medium format as a relatively portable format. Failing that, a T-grain film might be what you need. (There's some debate about whether Fomapan 200 is a T-grain film. I tend to believe it's not.)
     
  7. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Looks similar to my 35mm Tri-x in xtol at 1:1. I think you'll need to go to Tmax or Pan-F if you really want significantly less grain in 35mm.....I also noticed that you are in Salem....that is about a half hour from here...small world.
     
  8. mikepry

    mikepry Subscriber

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    That's what I was thinking. Maybe Xtol isn't suited for this film (as far as grain goes). But the tonality is so nice. I was also thinking that maybe it is the higher dilution that could be the culprit. Before I go off headstrong for that ever evasive magic bullet, I think I will try either straight, or 1:1, or both. I know I will have grain with the smaller format of 35mm but not a piece of #50 grit sandpaper for a sky! Trust me, the finished 8X10 is waaaaay grainy. Thanks for all your input.
     
  9. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    I've used a decent amount of Fomapan 200, not with XTOL but with my own ascorbate-phenidone developer that is very close to XTOL. Fomapan 200 is not a fine-grained film but the results are pleasing. I did find that the same film with Rodinal 1+50 showed considerably more grain (these are from scans, not prints). You may get more pleasing results by rating the film at EI 100 and cutting dev time, or use your XTOL undiluted, as others have suggested. Good luck!
     
  10. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    If it were my choice, I would bracket exposures 1/2 stop over and under to see least the that would give the required shadows. It might help, and with pictures like that one, it would be worth wasting some film. I'm like one of the other posters. My first reaction was "What grain?"
     
  11. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I never use Xtol At 1:2 with 35m film; 1:1 is as far as I go being that the format size can use all the benefits it can get to give a nice enlarged print. If you use it straight and you get what you determine to be lot's of grain I would consider the film. Maybe use the grain for it's effect and graphic nature?
     
  12. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Check for fine reticulation. I found some on one brand of film, but I had to use a 30X microscope to see it. Look in the space between frames. I have been careless with temperature control between fix and wash lately because most modern emulsions are hard enough to take it. I do not use a hardening fixer, either, but the reticulation does not appear on FP4+.

    This reticulation can show as grain, and can cause intensification of grain. It may depend on whether your enlarger diffuses or condenses.
     
  13. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I forgot to mention: I used 1+1 dilution with the D-76, XTOL, and DS-10; 2+1 with the DS-12; and 1+1+48 with the PC-Glycol (using 15% sodium carbonate solution as the "B" stock). As others have suggested, changing the dilution can affect the graininess of results.
     
  14. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    I'm a regular user of Xtol 1+1 with Ilford, Fuji and Kodak films in many film sizes. "Excessive" grain has never been an issue with this developer. I have only used Rodinal a few times in 35mm and did not like the grain. In my limited experience Rodinal produced more grainy negs than Xtol so as others suggest it appears there are factors other than the base characteristics of these two developers to be considered.
     
  15. pentaxuser

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    It is there in the scan if you look at the sky. It reminds me of SFX and Rodinal. Skies are the giveaway. Even D400 and Rodinal give the popcorn effect with sky. I think I used HP5 and FP4 as well before reaching, for me, the inescapable conclusion below.

    Rodinal may last forever and mine certainly will as I can't see me using it again. Still it had the benefit of convincing me that I wasn't a grain person.

    pentaxuser
     
  16. mikepry

    mikepry Subscriber

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    Yes the sky is the giveaway for sure. I went through a really serious test with Rodinal and this film as I really want to get to know the ins and outs of it as well as what developers it responds to good or bad. I will say though, after making a few more prints, if you have an image without allot of continuous tone, like a close up of driftwood, or leafs on the ground, etc. the Rodinal is so super sharp. Almost surreal sharp. I know if I do a body of work like that I will without a doubt grab my bottle of Rodinal (1:50).

    I really like this film allot and bought a bulk roll just to plug into it with the few developers I use to see what combinations are good and for what they are good for.

    Into XTOL now and will try Pyrocat HD next.
     
  17. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Efke & Pyrocat

    Hi Mike,

    I went ahead and printed the image we talked about (to 8x10) just to see what it looked like. This is a crop to 5x7 from the actual 8x10 image, as I didn't want to choke things too badly with too much wasted band width. Although it isn't as sharp as I would like to see it, the grain is certainly small enough. Still think you might want to give this combination a try for fun and small grain. Since you have the original image and test film, I was curious to see what you might find with your test print. Best, tim
     

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  18. Agiyo

    Agiyo Member

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    The most common reason for grain like that is reticulation. That is where a temperature change causes the film base to expand/contract at a different rate from the emulsion, causing the emulsion to clump up to some extent.

    Keep all your solutions from the pre-soak (if you use it) through the fixer within 1/2F degree, or you will never know what your film is capable of. Using a water bath is often helpful.

    Joe Cantrell
     
  19. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    I can't tell for sure from the posted photo, but it seems that the sky reflected in the still water is not as grainy as the direct sky, which is mostly a diffuse reflection from the clouds. Could it have something to do with the spectral response of the film? A mirror is not always a true mirror and films certainly do not have uniform spectral response.
     
  20. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

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    I just looked at the original posted image and I don't get it. It looks like 35mm printed to that size. My one experience with foma gave me the impression that it is kind of grainy for the speed. I think if grain annoys you, you should use a different film.. like Acros or Tmax 100.
     
  21. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    Is your "1:2" dilution 1+1 or 1+2? I hate the colon as dilution nomenclature because in a lab, 1:2 dilution means 1+1, whereas in photography it usually means 1+2. So if you're really doing 1+2, you're diluting out the solvent effect of Xtol. Your negs will be sharper and grainier. Straight Xtol will produce a solvent effect that dissolves the edges of your grain and redeposits them--so the grain is softer (at the expense of some sharpnness). Make sure you're not overdeveloping the negatives, because overdevelopment makes film go grainy very fast. If you're shooting at an EI of 200, you just might be underexposing and overdeveloping. Try an EI of 100 and back off on the development time. You can also try using Pyro which allows you to build up density with stain--allowing shorter development and less grain. Good luck.
     
  22. JohnArs

    JohnArs Subscriber

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    You use the wrong film if you do not like the grain, its the first outpoint!
    XTOL should not have been diluted is the 2. one!
    Use of TMX 100/400 or Delta 100/400 or Fuji Acros 100 and XTOL undiluted and you are on the safe side!
    Just my 2 Swiss francs!
    Armin J. Seeholzer