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    If you want to know more about this in detail, read "Beyond The Zone System" by Davis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arctic amateur View Post
    What is the "simple test"? To shoot several rolls of the same scene with the same exposure settings and vary the development time, or is there a less costly way?
    A very simple thing to do (if you are satisfied with the EI you are using for shadows) is to place a uniform textured target in uniform shade, expose the target at +2 (Zone VII) and then +3 stops over (Zone VIII) the metered value and develop. Be sure to have a frame on the roll that is not exposed, use this frame to put in the enlarger, illuminate to a 5x7 or 8x10, do test strips to determine what the minimum time is for maximum black (MTMB) given your enlarger light source and paper developer, evaluate the strip when dry. Then, while keeping the same enlarger height as for the MTMB test, place the Zone VII negative in the enlarger, make a print, then place the Zone VIII negative in and make a print, expose both for the MTMB time.

    Remember, at a +2 exposure (Zone VII), the resulting print value is expected to render "full" texture. The Zone VIII print value is the lightest print value that is expected to retain some sense of texture in the print. So now, evaluate these prints when fully dry, if you feel the VII and VIII prints are too blocked, then your development time was a bit too long. Make the +2 and +3 exposures again, along with a blank frame, on the next roll, but this time reduce the development by some percentage of the original time, make the prints again and re-evaluate. When you are pleased with the textural rendering of the Zone VIII print when compared to VII, then that film development time would be your "N" dev time.

    Of course, once you have "N", getting N+1 and N-1 dev times are just as possible with this visual method. For N+1 on your next roll, make a Zone VII exposure of the textured target , using the "N" dev time as your base time, develop the roll for a percentage of time longer (make another unexposed frame for another MTMB time because base+fog will increase with longer development time and it can decrease with shorter dev times). For N+1, you want the Zone VII exposure you made to develop to a negative density that is equivalent to the Zone VIII negative density with "N" dev. For N-1, you want a Zone IX exposure that you make to develop to a negative density that is equivalent to the Zone VIII negative density with "N" dev.

    It's very simple to do, but written descriptions of these things are always more convoluted than the actual thing itself. Of course, with roll film, you'll be resigned to developing the roll to favor just one or even just a few frames, while other frames may not benefit.

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