Well guys - there is generally a give and take in most situations. Not having overall stain to print through could be seen as andvantage as far as contrast goes. I see a positive difference in the middle grey tones - zone 5 through 7 - like sky and chrome and metal with the added overall stain. The overall stain reduces the grainieness. IMHO. I have enough chemicals to mix 10 liters of regular fixer. I could go back and re-test. I have some new lighting I want to try and I also have some zone test negs - undeveloped in a box I could try. I am always seeking for improvements - at this time though, my frontier is probably not in the negatives but in the printing. My negatives 4x5 TRI-X in PMK with TF4 are full and rich and easy to print. It is now a matter of new darkroom skills to interperet my negatives in different ways. - Frank
As a general rule my belief is that overall stain, which functions like b+f, should be avoided. Very high levels of non-image stain may have some benficial results in limited cases but the benefitws with most films and formats are outweighed by the negatives.
Briefly, high levels of general stain result in:
1. longer exposure times
2. lower contrast
3. some grain masksing
On the whole the advantage of grain masking may outweigh the longer exposure times and lower contrast for medium and high speed 35mm films, and for high speed 120 film.
For sheet film of 4X5 and larger size there is rarely a need for grain masking since these films already provide smooth grain at normal enlargement sizes. Therefore, printing negatives 4X5 and larger, even with silver gelatin printing, the longer exposure times and loss of contrast are more signifiant than any grain masking that make result.
For alternative printing where a fairly high Contrast Index is needed, and exposures with UV light are fairly long (even with film with low shadow density), the loss of contrast and longer exposure times are generally unacceptable.
For alternative procesess
I must confess - I only use PMK only for 4x5. I use DiXactol for MF (higher cost, less ovarall stain, higher accutance and tighter grain) and split D23 for cute little films. (Very fine grain - high solvent - good accutance) I found tanning developers unacceptable for enlarging very much.
Staining is really different over film types as well. TRI X has a lot of overall stain (which is a benefit for the large grain it has IMHO) , APX100 almost no overall stain. FP4 is minimal. I have never had so much overall stain that it increased exposure times measurably or caused me to jump a paper grade. Most of my subjects these days are N or N-1 and I am certainly not overdeveloping anything.
I have used several kinds of commercial and home brewed fixers and I like the results from TF4. I like the short wash times and not needing to use hypo clearing agent any more. The cost of chemicals is insignificant to the value of my time or the possible value of the print or the cost of the trip.
And ... many folks are not even sure at what ISO speed, their film performs with their chemistry to achieve one zone over B + F for a zone 1 ev anyway. (Which I have done with consideration of the higher overall stain on TRI X)
So hopefully - with all sacred cows now slaughtered .... I'd bet we could all agree that if you can capture 12 stops over B+F with/including a high overall stain and you did get grain masking that will help TRI X print smoother on a 24x20 print, one might find the stain an asset. Now - lets talk about pre-flashing ....... (just kidding)
- I have not done any alternative printing and I am sure different considerations might make any kind of staining developer undesirable. I understand that UV capable densitometers are required to faithfully evaluate PMK negatives and that would lead me to believe that overall stain could be a real issue there. For the Cachet, Forte and Ilford fiber papers I use, the results please me greatly - and are well received by others typically as well.
I guess we are back to the fact that no processes are ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE and each discussion is usefull for the possibilities it opens up to be explored. At least that is the way I find them.