You speak of exactly what I try to get away from. Sorry to be drifting away from the original topic a little bit, but do you honestly believe that anybody besides obsessive photographers care about a small gain in perceived sharpness or slightly finer grain?
Originally Posted by Alan Johnson
I'm not Ralph Gibson or Mary Ellen Mark, obviously, but when I show my photographs to others they seem a lot more interested in the content, the composition, the light, expressions, and so on - and this goes for both photographers and non-photographers. Of course there is always one person that has to ask what film I used, but to me that's just an exception to the rule.
Do you often go into museum exhibitions of photography and hear people talk about sharpness or grain?
I received a couple of rolls (unexposed) last year, that were kept in a warm office of a designer in Athens for the last decades...
I can say I am happy reading the good news, guess that they won't be in an un-shootable condition...
We'd have to define "good results" with respect to Beutler. Edge effects are one thing. There's also granularity (among other things) and tone reproduction.
The big thing about Pan-X seems to have been that it was a fine grained film with good resolution which also had a long scale of moderate contrast. This is in comparison with the shorter scale and high contrast more typical of slow, fine grained films. But that was then.
I think it is just another one of those old films people swear were "better" than the newer films.
On balance, I'd agree with Thomas/Roger, particularly concerning current films. The most observable difference in image structure characteristics is granularity. And excluding the shoulder, characteristic curves for most contemporary 100-400 speed films are substantially the same.
I don't think the public including me could tell a factory copy from an old master (in appropriate surroundings).
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
I venture to suggest that most film photographers care about grain and sharpness, not just those labelled as you have done.
To get back on topic, I'm interested in reproducing the Panatomic-X appearance and it seems either it cannot be done or it is not known how to do it.
Alan - it seems more experimentation is in order. Are we sure a Beutler-type developer can't increase adjacency effects with TMax 100? It is an exceedinly fine grained, high resolution film with a long scale and gentle shouldering. To me it is superior to Pan-X (not to mention the extra speed) in any case, but if you're looking for exagerrated micro-contrast as an enhancement to perceived sharpness perhaps there is something that can be done with a low-sulfite Metol-Carbonate type of developer. Or something with a lower pH. Fuji Acros might be another film to try.
An alternative would be to try something like Beutler or a variant, maybe FX-1 or a two-bath, with Pan-F, which might flatten out the curve.
In the attachment Puts does not give the formula for the "maximum definition" developer. It isn't clear whether Beutler would fall under his characterization of MD or regular grain either.
Do you imply that photographs shot with newer and more modern films are not the real thing, but merely a copy of what it could have been?
Originally Posted by Alan Johnson
What I'm saying is that I see way too many photographers who care excessively about grain and sharpness, and forget to practice to become photographers that produce prints that have something to say. A good photograph does not begin and end with 'that special film', or any other material of our choosing. It is something much much larger than that, to find ways to communicate something that is important, to tell a story, or to provoke emotion.
Sure, the journey is important to the photographer, and I do understand why someone might seek perfection in their choice of film, but if anybody seriously believes that switching from Panatomic-X to Ilford Delta 100 is going to make any sort of fundamental change to how successful their photograph is, then perhaps it's time to step back and take a good look at the big picture?
Are there differences between the two films? Sure there are. But why do they matter so much?
Wouldn't it be funny if Plus-X were actually just a reformulated/sensitized Panatomic-X such that the speed gain is there? Maybe Pan-X is just a less sensitive long scale film as opposed to something like Pan-F which is a true slow speed fine grain film. I'd think Plus-X with an ND filter or just shot at a slower speed could offer a pretty decent low speed medium contrast replacement. Certainly not worth pining over something that disappeared ages ago and we know will never come back in it's original form.
Michael, I agree with what you say. From Leica Fotografie International 4/2000 p19, Erwin Puts states that the latest generation of T-grain and Core-Shell films are less compatible with the sharpening effect than classic films APX 25 and 100, Kodak Plus-X or Ilford Pan-F+ and Ilford FP4+.
Thomas,I am approaching the question not particularly from the point of view of making good photographs but rather from the point of view-here is an old process (acutance film development) where the old films are no longer available and the process has been lost-or has it?
I think we look at this in fundamentally different ways.
Originally Posted by Alan Johnson
My philosophy is to communicate mostly with tonality, which is almost entirely under my control. Paper + paper developer has a set of characteristics with respect to tonality, and then I develop my negatives to get what I want in the print, and fine tune with print contrast. Sometimes high contrast prints, and other times softer.
Grain, sharpness, and resolution I don't even think about anymore, because I've noticed that most viewers seem to be mostly affected by tonality, as it sets the mood of the print extremely effectively, dark or light, smooth shifts in tonality, or really harsh ones. So much can be done and is in our power to change, if we just know how. So that's how I see things. That tonality will greatly emphasize the message of what I'm trying to show with my photograph, it has the power to fundamentally alter how others view it, and that interests me. I can do all sorts of crazy things with it, things that are not 'correct' at all by the book, but appeal to me - like shadows that are completely featureless to add weight or create negative space, or highlights where some areas are paper white in order to lens a really intense highlight, or a print where all highlights have been toned down towards lighter mid-tones for a really somber or mysterious look, perhaps in combination with really rich dark blacks, etc etc etc.
Grain is what it is, and I find it doesn't change that much with developer choice. It just is. My two cents.
I understand your perspective Thomas; focused attention on content is more important than attending to quality but losing sight of what makes it worthwhile...
I was marginally satisfied with Panatomic-X. I wanted always "just a bit more" resolution.
The replacement TMAX-100 offered "more sharpness but just a bit less resolution at more than twice the speed".
I recognized it as a tradeoff that was going in the wrong direction for me.
If a 25 speed regular grain film, or a 50 speed tabular grain film were available, I'd be happy to try that in 35mm. Because that would have MORE resolution than Panatomic-X. (Which is what I am looking for in the first place.)
Meanwhile, my quest for MORE resolution simply led me to bigger film size(s).
That strikes me as an elegant solution to the problem - it gives me what I want, and I am fairly assured it will be available going forward.
Lately I revisited 35mm to see how I really feel about grain. I had a very good time exploring grain, I love it and will use it at times for certain kinds of photography. But I still prefer the higher-resolution appearance that led me to fine-grain film in the first place. So I plan to use 120 and 4x5 when I am looking for fine detail. And I will use 35mm when I want to work faster.