Adox CMS 20 advice?
I'm considering shooting some landscapes on Adox CMS 20. Does anyone have any advice (please include examples shots!) on how to get the best tonality from the film? The promise of high resolution is very tempting but the film appears to be difficult to work with. I've had a look at filmdev.org but there aren't too many examples...
From what I've read and seen so far, negatives tend to exhibit excessive contrast and little highlight or shadow detail when shot at ISO 20 but the situation improves when the film is rated around ISO 12 (this is also stated by Adox). Many people, however, believe that the correct ISO is actually ISO 6. Is this true? I can't find any examples of scenes shot at ISO 6. How should development be adjusted? I don't know much about darkroom theory: how will shooting at ISO 6 improve tonality? If I gain shadow detail, will I burn out the highlights? Some people also advocate exposing for the shadows...
It also seems that poor results are to be expected if the film is developed in anything other than Adotech and there seem to be fairly substantial differences between the Adotech I and Adotech II developers. Is this true? Adox have, no doubt, spent a very long time perfecting the film and developer but it's not impossible that someone may have found something better.
People usually disagree with me on this film but I will give you my two cents based on the testing I've done with it (35mm only).
1. You will have to do some careful testing to determine your working EI, how best to expose, etc. These films have ZERO latitude so care is necessary. Determining toe contrast is critical because you need to give these films the least amount of exposure possible to produce adequate shadow detail. Process very carefully.
2. In my tests I found my realistic exposure index to be closer to EI 3.
3. Adotech I was not a very good developer, in particular because uniformity was terrible. People argued with me on this, citing the claims Adotech I was "perfectly matched" to CMS20. Since Adox then reformulated it, my guess is it was not "perfectly" matched after all. I have not tried Adotech II. Hopefully it is better. I would try that first.
4. At the time, since I did not like Adotech I, I tried a few other developers and found the best results were with TD-3. Suggest you try Adotech II first. Others may have additional recommendations such as developers from Spur.
5. No matter what developer and process you use, these films do not have long exposure scales. Therefore they are best used under low to medium-low contrast conditions.
6. **I have never seen an example (scan, print etc) that looks like it was made with anything other than a high contrast copy/document film. Shadow detail is always poor, and highlights are blank. People will tell you the high resolution and ultra-fine grain of films like Tech Pan, CMS20 etc can make 35mm negatives print like medium or large format. But I have never seen any evidence of this. In practice these films promise much more than they deliver. If you value tonality, you are much better off with a general purpose fine grained film such as TMax 100. Even if you could take advantage of the high resolution capability of CMS20, there is a lot more to image quality than resolution.**
Hope this helps.
I think that you could get better results from something like Ilford Pan-F. Reduce the EI to ISO 25 or 32 and develop in Perceptol or D-23 1+1.
To add to what Michael says about CMS 20; bracket, bractet, BRACKET your exposures. Your exposure must be spot on because of the lack of latitude of this film.
In particular I fully agree with Michael's point #6. Some years ago I pursued the lure of very fine grain prints with 35mm film. I was unable to obtain reasonable results after trying a number of special film/developer combinations. Contrast was always too high and the results unpleasant.
I just finsihed developing my first six rolls of Adox CMS 20 about a week ago and I won't deny this film is quite a challenge to get used to. Personally I enjoy a challenge so I suspect I will be shooting more of this stuff but I wouldn't expect to get great results right away with it.
All six rolls I did were done on 120 film. On all six rolls I did meter for ISO 20 and bracketed really heavily, two stops over and under. Letting in one extra stop of light seems to have been the sweet spot in almost every case so for me the working ISO was about 10. I used the Adotech CMS II developer and I didn't bother adding water after each roll to keep the developer from going bad. Instead I just developed all six rolls in one sitting at the Adox recommended times and temps for ISO 20.
My results were pretty good and and contrast was under control for the most part. Granted, I have the advantage of living in Oregon where it is overcast almost all the time so I get to work with very even lighting.
I think the next time I try this film I would like to give it a go in 35mm. In my case I was using an RB67 with a lens that had a maximum f/stop of 4.5 which meant I was always using a steady tripod and limited to scenes with zero movement. Even a tiny breeze was a no-no given the long shutter speeds I had to use. In 35mm I have faster lenses which may give me a bit more flexibility when working with such a slow speed film.
By far the biggest challenge when working with this stuff was the extreme curl I got in the film after it was developed. It was near impossible to load the film in a negative sleeve or holder for my scanner without getting my fingers all over it. Really annoying. I don't typically have problems with film curl but this was an exception for sure.
If you want to see samples of the work I did please feel free to send me an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will point you to my blog which has a few shots posted.
There's a recipe for Caffenol LC+C somewhere online that's essentially a weaker version of it. http://silent1.home.netcom.com/Photo...ml#Caffenol_LC
This worked very well for me. In fact, I wish I'd have developed a tad longer (I don't have my notes handy but can respond later —I think I exposed at box speed and dev'd 12 mins at 68 degrees F)
I ordered another box of CMS20, intending to mix this developer again and add at least a minute to the dev time. LOTS of midtones with this developer / film combo. Very high resolution. Pretty stunning. I blew up one negative to 11x14 and had a hard time focusing it because there was so little grain.
I'll try to scan negatives later as well. That Caffenol LC+C is the way to go.
Okay ... I have looked at my notes, now. And had another look at the negatives, some of which I quickly scanned. I guess that the ONLY negatives I printed were the not-contrasty, flat ones. Which is why I remembered the negatives as being flat. MY MISTAKE and another nod to areality's post; this stuff is a challenge to work with — but, I do think Caffenol is a viable option over the proprietary developer.
In full sun, harsh lighting, still quite a lot of contrast. That's probably why I made the prints I made and not the others. I used the Caffenol LC (as opposed to Caffenol LC+C) recipe because I was having trouble finding ascorbic acid powder.
I souped it for 12 minutes at 20 degrees c / 68 F and used one inversion every three minutes.
These are scanned at 800ppi on a v500, with no post processing except to reduce file size.
Harsh light / full sun:
same roll of film, etc.
> Adox have, no doubt, spent a very long time perfecting the film
No, Adox did nothin wit tha film CMS 20 is Agfa High Definition Pan, a very constraty working reproduction film (thought for b/w documents).
> No matter what developer and process you use, these films do not have long exposure scales
SPUR developer works at least satisfying. I used some rolls wit an older version of this stuff. The highlights were slightly too dense for my taste, but manageable.
I wrote a text in German. May be at least the images are of use for you:
If you intend to burn in highlights or sky take another film.
This post kind of begs the question:
Does anything resolve as well as CMS 20 ... but has more latitude in development?
I couldn't swear to it, having never done it with CMS 20, but I would suspect a good compensating developer like DiXactol if you are using 120, or 510 Pyro, would be the way to tame a high contrast film. It certainly works with Pan F, and means the contrast range is kept well in check without producing flat negatives. Both developers also provide a lot of exposure leeway while you are nailing down your exact times.
> Does anything resolve as well as CMS 20 ... but has more latitude in development
As well - no.
You may think about Agfa Copex Rapid. It is a reproduction film for grey tone reproduction. It is quite sharp, and gives with SPUR developer fine shadings of grey. It can be used even on sunny days. But the resolution is lower. I made some prints from 35mm -> 30x40cm. I burned in the sky slightly, and got some grain there. Agfa High Definition Pan is nearly grain free. You may have problems using a focus scope - you don't find any grain.
> a good compensating developer like DiXactol if you are using 120, or 510 Pyro,
No way. I tried everything. If you use extremely diluted compensation developer you may prevent the film building up to much density. But the "medium density" is the same across the whole negative, much to less differentiation. SPUR developer contains a forceful inhibition system, whose effect cannot be copied with other substances.