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  1. #1

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    Diafine - what's the catch?

    Looking at the numbers Diafine looks too good to be true. It gives a speed increase by a factor of two or more for slower films (e.g. FP4+ @ 250, Plus-X @ 400) and you can reuse it almost indefinitely. What do I loose by using Diafine instead of D76, for example, with Plus-X?

  2. #2

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    In my experience, the greatest loss is flexibility. You're forced to stock different films for different purposes; as opposed to just one or two films like Tri-X, which you'd use anywhere from EI100 to EI3200 with appropriate developing later.

    Also, some films don't work well in Diafine (in my case, Tmax 400). I find that agitation is also critical. I now leave my film to develop with no agitation, if not the contrast goes way too high.

  3. #3
    Eric Jones's Avatar
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    I have used Diafine almost exclusively with TXP (Tri-X Pro 320 ASA). For shear flexibility on a single roll film as far as exposure goes, it is great. I can get great prints anywhere from 200ASA all the way up to 1600ASA with great snap and no blown highlights. The drawback is they develop to a fixed contrast. There is no flexibility at all in regards to manipulating the contrast for creative effect. I have also ran TMAX 100, FP4+ and FP5+ and was disappointed overall on these three films (just bland flat pics for the most part). The stuff does last forever though. I have developed at least 100 rolls of TXP 220 with 1qt. and it just keeps on going.

  4. #4

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    With the dark days of winter upon us, I'm using more and more of this stuff. The catch to Diafine you have no control over development. A given film will develop to a given contrast index and speed and that's all she wrote. My two favorite films with this developer are Tri-X 400 and FP4+. Tri-X gets rated at EI 1250 to 1600 depending on the quality of the light, and FP4+ gets EI 250. Rating Plus-X at EI 400 is optimistic and the results are too contrasty.

  5. #5

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    all that has been said so far is true: Diafine will give a film a certain contrast per given E.I.

    But based on my experiences I will add this: When testing a film with diafine, start underxposing to the point where the frames will only print with a grade 4 or so. I accidentally did this and LOVE the results. Not very forgiving, but beautiful. Look at my gallery and website (the sertão 2004 series) for examples with surplus Macophot film.

  6. #6

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    When I tried Diafine, I found the EIs to be way overstated, at least for TX. I didn't provide more zone 1 density than other developers. The basis for that EI, and the reason it works for some people, may be that the developer is strongly compensating, so it gives a lot of contrast in the shadows.

    I also had problems with streaking - the recommendation to agitate minimally in bath B does not seem to be right.

  7. #7

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    I agree. Diafine seemed to work best for me agitated 10 sec. per minute in both A and B baths. In 4x5, I find that Diafine gives nice shadow detail (and excellent highlight compensation) with HP5+ rated at 200. What you lose is the ability to increase contrast via development. You can obtain a nice combination of compensation with the equivalent of N+1 development by developing, washing and fixing the film, and following this with a soak in selenium toner diluted 1:1 with water for 5 minutes (process in the selenium per A. Adams recommendations). I have used Diafine for its inherent compensating qualities, not as a speed increasing developer.

  8. #8

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    Thanks for all of the responses. I just tried a short roll of Plus-X 135 exposed at 400. Diafine does seem to increase the contrast on what is already a very contrasty film. The increased contrast worked well on some of the shots but not as well on others. I found that I had to fuss more exposure times and contrast during the printing process than I do when I expose at 125 and develop in D76.

    I have also tried FP4+ in Diafine exposed at 250. The the results were much better than Plus-X, but I suspect that 250 is a bit optimistic for this combination. Next roll I will bracket between 250 and 125.

  9. #9

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    here's my suggestion to you:

    "waste" a full roll on exposure testing. Find a good scene, and meter it. Then, shoot at the box e.i., then close the aperture blades half a stop & shoot, repeat until you are some 4 stops faster than the stated e.i.
    Then find another scene and repeat.

    Make a series of well exposed contact sheets, at grades 2 all the way to 5. Then pick the best looking e.i. corresponding paper grade based on how the tonal scale.

    Like I said before, the film I've been shooting looks COMPLETELY different when shot at 100E.I. to be printed with no filters than at 200 E.I. to be printed at about 4.5. Even though both print nicely, the tonal scale is VERY different.

    BTW, try efke films with diafine. The surplus Macophot (efke) film I use is fabulous (but not very indicative of a "normal" efke film, it is surplus after all).

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andre R. de Avillez
    BTW, try efke films with diafine. The surplus Macophot (efke) film I use is fabulous (but not very indicative of a "normal" efke film, it is surplus after all).
    I second this recommendation. The only developer I've been able to get reasonable results with on the surplus Macophot UP100 film (from J&C last year) is Diafine. In all others I got horrendous speed loss.

    It works well with Efke 25 too. Here is a sample (35mm Efke 25 in an Olympus point-and-shoot):




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