Long time lurker making a first (somewhat nervous) post. I've absorbed some understanding of the science of photography (have tried to read BTZS and a Fred Picker? book), but still don't have it all straight in my head.
I've been developing my own for 3-4 years now, and after starting out with many films and many developers, I seem to have settled on Neopan 400 as my film of choice using Adox ATM49 1+2 as my developer, and have been developing at box speed. This choice was based on falling in love with the darker tones and grain characteristics in Neopan, and then reading something on APUG which prompted me to try ATM49.
I've found that my darker tones are very black at 400, but I've also found that the highlights will often seem to "flare". I have tried reducing my development time to try to tame the shadows and it's fine for indoor lower contrast shots, but once I get outdoors with sunlight etc, I still cannot control the highlights. Furthermore the shadows are still quite black.
I had been considering dropping to a lower EI, like 200 or so, to try to get *slightly* more shadow detail but am concerned that this will make my problem with the highlights even worse.
Would the general advice be that I should start doing BTZS graphs etc, or can someone say categorically "yeah Neopan is fussy like that, it's the wrong film to use if you're after controlled shadows AND highlights"? I'm quite close to switching films, but I like the results so much from indoor shooting that it seems worthwhile persisting with this.
Many thanks in advance, and apologies if the question is badly posed.
I recommend that you test your film and developer, there are many ways to test, ZS, BTZ, but the issue appears that you get good shadow detail at box speed so you need to reduce your development time to control the highlights.
I have not use Neopan 400 so I can't give you any specific advice on it. However, I highly recommend you get a copy of 'The Edge of Darkness' by Barry Thornton and read it. It may open your thinking to about exposure and development. I bought a used copy off Ebay and the only section underlined by the previous owner dealt with exposure and changing the EI to suit conditions.
Thornton recommended shooting at box speed and developing normally for low contrast situations. For higher contrast situations, reduce the film speed by 2/3 stop and reduce develoment by 15%, for very high constrast situations, reduce the film speed by 1 stop and reduce development by 20%.
This is good advised to try out. If done it and don't have any complaints.
I use Neopan 400 quite a bit and dev it in Microphen (stock) or Rodinal (1:50).
For me it seems capable of lovely detail in both shadow and highlight detail is one of Neopans strengths.
Have you considered your exposure?
I meter for the area where I want detail in the shadows and then close down 2 stops, I find that with developers like Rodinal at 1:50 that if I avoid vigourous agitation say one or two slow/rolling inversions per min I get great shadow/highlight.
This is Neopan 400 in a very dark cathedral, with bright spot-lit pillars deved in Rodinal 1:50
Shadow and highlight preservation is one of the reasons to use Neopan IMHO
"The Edge of Darkness" is my favorite photography book. The easiest to read and most moving photography book I've yet to read.
Originally Posted by r-brian
Neopan 400 is my standard 400 emulsion of choice. While I do not practice zone system or BTZS, I find it is a superb film. MY developer of choice would be Pyrocat HD. This film and dev combination is truly a great match. I rate it at box speed, but it can tolerate some over exposure for making sure you get all your shadows exposed. That said, during pyrocat HD development, I have yet to have highlights block up or flare. All my negs are developed for printing on a Dichroic head enlarger, and they also work well for graded paper printing.
This film has tremendous latitude, and with Pyrocat, you will not be disappointed. It's simple and consistent which is what matters most to me as thinking about all of the technical aspects will detract from the actual image making process. IMHO..
I used this film for a few years when I lived in Japan so I do have some experience with it. 400 isn't the correct EI for this film and developer. You must test your film/developer combination. Try an EI of 250 and cut back by about 20% on your development time. Print using maximum black minimum time method. You'll then be able to decide which direction to go from then.
Many thanks for all the input. Lots to think about there.
Mark...is that a print scan?
I agree. In my experience shadow detail is weak at 400 ISO and this film does not like overdevelopment. After experimenting with various ISO ratings and developers I could not get a result which equalled what I could get with Tri-X or HP5. The results were usually still too contrasty for my taste although pyro developers produced the best results.
Originally Posted by Andrew O'Neill