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  1. #1
    David Lyga's Avatar
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    Is continuous tone with 'process' film feasible?

    A few years ago a local historical society was changing their archiving into digital and offered, for free on Craigslist.org, twelve 100 foot rolls of 35mm Kodak ImageLink microfilm (NOT perforated!). I was the lucky 'buyer' and I gave them $10 for their bounty.

    Since then I have tried to get continuous tone. I have succeeded only partially. With this film, if you overexpose, you get both highlights and mid-tones blocked. If you try to compensate with dilution or truncated development, you get (lighter) blocked mid-tones and highlights. You simply cannot overexpose this film as from mid-tone upwards, the 'shoulder' gets crammed and melds into one tone.

    If you underexpose this film you get delightful highlights and usable mid-tones. But shadows are totally blank. The film is so contrasty that NOTHING seems to be a compromise. Folks, for low contrast subjects, NOTHING is better for tonal rendition. It is sensational. But any normal or high-contrast scene is either a technical disaster or becomes a special picture that, (for 'esoteric', aesthetic reasons only) is either under or over exposed.

    Sometimes I wish to get as complete a record of a scene as I can and I overexpose (EI 4) to 'get it all'. As a result, my highlights become recorded at about the same value as do my mid-tones, but there is some shadow detail. Other times, I like a more stark, poster effect with completely black shadows and brilliant mid-tones and highlights.

    Is there a way to force everything onto this film? Or is this simply not possible with process films of this type? I usually use a standard developer with baking soda added in order to reduce its activity, as this film attains density much faster than 'normal' films. - David Lyga

  2. #2
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    I don't know if it would work... have you tried Technidol?

  3. #3

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    Spur Modular UR is the most capable developer for such films, some reach 12 to 14 stops.

  4. #4

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    There are several mix yourself developers to develop this film as a continuous tone negative. Examples are the POTA, Burton, Collins, and H&W Control formulas. I have tried to use Imagelink and other similar films but have never really gotten a useful contrast with them - always a bit too contrasty. Good luck as it may involve a bit on tinkering.
    Last edited by Gerald C Koch; 12-02-2012 at 02:13 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  5. #5
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lyga View Post
    ... 35mm Kodak ImageLink microfilm ... for low contrast subjects, NOTHING is better for tonal rendition ...
    I think that's your answer right there: use it for what it does well. "Never try to teach a pig to sing: it wastes your time; it annoys the pig."
    DARKROOM AUTOMATION
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  6. #6

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    It may help the discussion to illustrate what David is referring to, since it also pertains to the other thread about shadow detail and Bill's interest in distorted contrast for midtone placements with maximum expansion.

    Attached is a no/low flare characteristic curve for CMS 20 (another document/micro film). Note Tech Pan was a little easier to "tame" than some current microfilms. This particular curve was part of an attempt to establish some baseline characteristics to which I could compare the results with low contrast developers and alternate dilutions of compensating developers. This was a while ago so I will have to look for the other charts.

    As for getting a more useable tonality overall, and slightly more speed, I found TD-3 (a Catechol developer) gave the best result. Interestingly that developer also worked quite well with Tech Pan - and I believe it was originally formulated specifically for Tech Pan. Certainly it worked better than POTA and Adox's Adotech when it comes to uniformity. I wanted to try dilute FX2 but never got around to completing the tests on this film because I knew I wouldn't use it anyway. I was just curious.

    Low contrast developers flatten the curve but also limit the maximum densities so while you can get continous tones out of them, you will never have as long an exposure scale as a general purpose film. That is the point to keep in mind. So, assuming you want to use one of these films for its resolution and lack of grain, I would suggest the following:

    1. If you want shadow and highlight detail, use for relatively short scale subjects with a low contrast developer and/or low contrast development technique.
    2. If you want maximum expansion of a short or very short scale subject, use with a range of developers from compensating to general purpose.

    In my opinion, big time expansions or distorted tonality without golf ball grain are the reasons to use these films. Although many would disagree with me, I don't think they are very useful in general photography for making prints from small/medium format negatives look like they were made from large format negatives. To my eyes that simply doesn't work. You get fine grain but that's all. And you sacrifice much in the way of tonality. Put simply I have never seen a print from a microfilm negative that didn't look exactly like it was made from a microfilm negative. Film speed is another potential issue. Tech Pan actually had a semi-workable film speed depending on how you developed it. But its spectral response was rather odd and speed could vary substantially depending on the lighting.

    Anyhow, just some thoughts. If I can locate the other curves I'll post if there is interest.

    Michael
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails CMS20_baseline_FX2.JPG  

  7. #7
    David Lyga's Avatar
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    Yes, thanks all, especially Michael R 1974:"big time expansions or distorted tonality without golf ball grain are the reasons to use these films".

    Yes, this film excels in the 'expansion' you state, Michael, and is right at home with low exposure (E.I 32?) and Dektol (1:1). The fact that you simply cannot get a contrasty scene all into this film is a fact of life. Some developers might help but not succeed in getting a 'Tri-X' tonality.

    georg16nik: I will look up the 'spur modular UR' but will not hold my breath in anticipation of complete success.

    Bill Burk: no I have not tried Technidol. But I can say, without equivocation, that Tech Pan is not all that difficult to process in standard developers in order to obtain FULL scale negatives. All you do is either dilute and/or add sodium bicarbonate to the developer to get truly magnificent negatives. Much needs to be said as to why Tech Pan became 'in vogue' only AFTER it was discontinued for lack of interest! The film was/is sensational because it did not block up if developed with care. In fact, why, how, for what reason was the ImageLink even MADE since Tech Pan 'does it all', and without compromise?

    Gerald Koch: Since you have never seen a truly satisfying negative with ImageLink maybe I, therefore, rest my case. Thanks all. - David Lyga
    Last edited by David Lyga; 12-03-2012 at 08:56 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #8

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    Correct, while you can get a grey scale out of these films with low contrast developers, you will never get the exposure range of a Tri-X (or any other current general purpose film). It just ain't gonna happen. Even with Tech Pan, while I found TD-3 worked better than Technidol (a POTA variant) the total exposure range was still quite limited in comparison to general purpose films. Regarding POTA and similar Phenidone-based low contrast developers, it is tricky to use and is very prone to uneven development and streaking. One must remember when Levy formulated it, it was for photographing nuclear tests. The idea was to get as wide an exposure range as possible from film (not Tech Pan), and not much else mattered. Mottle, unevenness etc would not have been major concerns given the intended purpose.

    A big reason for the popularity of Tech Pan, and why people were bent on trying to make it work with dilute Rodinal etc, was the notion propagated in magazine articles etc (I have several of them) that you could make prints from 35mm negatives look like medium format, and make prints from medium format negatives look like 4x5. That was based on the extremely fine grain and high potential resolution of the film. In practice I have never seen this work. I have an article from an issue of Photo Techniques (part of a survey of B&W films available at the time) that summarized the situation quite well.

    This is not to say people haven't done interesting work with Tech Pan (and other such films), but the most success comes from playing to a given material's strengths rather than trying to make it behave like something entirely different.

    Best,
    Michael

  9. #9

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    Zeiss Camera Lens Division and some of us APUG members are achieving full tonal scale and excellent resolution, fine grain etc out of such films..

    Agfa Copex-Rapid 135 in Spur Modular UR (new) reaches ISO 40 and full 14 stops range and ~ 200 lp/mm, the 120 format is faster - ISO 50.
    in 2006, Zeiss Camera Lens Division reached 400 lp/mm @ ƒ/4 - the diffraction limit of white light using Zeiss Biogon T * 2,8 / 25 ZM and Spur Orthopan UR film (Adox CMS 20).

    Zeiss stated several times that they use photographic techniques similar to normal pictorial photography.
    Some of us already been there, done that. We are talking about real world photography.

    Kodak Imakelink is quite capable film, when developed properly and in appropriate developer.
    Spur used to offer a developer specifically for this film to utilize ISO 20, it was called Spur Imagespeed. I am not sure if its available in US.
    Spur Modular UR (new) probably is available in US.

  10. #10

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    I might mention that the best examples with microfilm were found on the Spur website. IIRC their developers were a bit pricey and then there was the added expense of shipping. There is an addtional developer that could be tried and that is Perfection XR-1. From the patent are the two following formulas.

    Formula A

    Distilled water (50°C) …………………………………………… 750 ml
    Metol ………………………………………………………………………………………… 0.25 g
    Sodium sulfite (anhy) ……………………………………………… 30.0 g
    Phenidone ……………………………………………………………………………… 1.5 g
    Hydroquinone ……………………………………………………………………… 0.5 g
    Borax ………………………………………………………………………………………… 0.75 g
    Distilled water to make ………………………………………… 1.0 l

    Formula B

    Distilled water (50°C) …………………………………………… 750 ml
    Metol ………………………………………………………………………………………… 0.25 g
    Sodium sulfite (anhy) ……………………………………………… 30.0 g
    Phenidone ……………………………………………………………………………… 1.75 g
    Hydroquinone ……………………………………………………………………… 0.25 g
    Borax ………………………………………………………………………………………… 0.5 g
    Distilled water to make ………………………………………… 1.0 l

    The XR-1 instruction sheet says that the concentrate has a pH of 7.7.

    Usage

    Usual dilution is 1+3.

    I have a bunch of 16mm Agfa Copex sitting in my freezer. While I tried several of the developers that I previously mentioned I never tried the XR-1 developer. I would be interested if anyone would get a good result with either one.
    Last edited by Gerald C Koch; 12-03-2012 at 11:34 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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