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  1. #11
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    Even if one could sort that all out, it is then important following the "lab testing", to conduct blind image evaluation tests. Sometimes you come to a set of conclusions based on densitometry etc, but in actual image evaluation subjective factors come to the surface.
    Early on I wanted Delta 100 to be my medium speed film, I wanted the newest and best tech blah, blah, blah.

    Over and over and over though, even with un refrigerated abused films, FP4 consistently makes better prints for me. As much as I try to understand why, it eludes me. In the end it doesn't matter why, it just "is" for me.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  2. #12

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    Bruce Barlow did it with papers and paper developers. It turned into a pretty massive undertaking (I think he has posted about it in here). I've seen the resulting prints, and overall the differences are really subtle. In most cases it's a difference in feeling vs. something you can actually point to. Once you get past grain differences, the result for film would be similar, and probably more so.

    I don't want to say such a test with B&W film isn't feasible, but it would be a huge challenge, and I don't think the result would yield much useful information except for the tester.

    What is feasible, is to take two or three films of interest to you, shoot subjects that you like to shoot, process them the same, make some sample prints and see what you like. Then, take that film make some more shots and tweak the process and look at some more prints. If nothing else, once you've gone through that, you will have learned enough that a massive head to head test probably isn't necessary.

  3. #13

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    The most impressive attempt I've seen was by Richard Henry, and he presented his data, which is practically unheard of in photographic "testing" outside the manufacturers' laboratories. He even equiped himself with a microdensitometer, exposure devices built to ISO specs etc. However the purpose was not necessarily to compare materials. It was to evaluate the unsubstantiated claims made by noted photographers in their books, magazine articles etc, and the various other myths that pervade the subject of photographic materials and processing.

    The most interesting part of the work concerned printing (papers, print development etc). Although the data is for outdated materials no longer available, the great value of the book is it teaches us to question what we've been told and what we've read.

    What drove Henry (a retired clinical chemist) to undertake these experiments was his observation that photographic materials and processing are unique subjects in the sense that totally unqualified experts write about technical things. And they are often taken as gospel. Further, they make statements without any evidence or supporting data, without citing sources, in many cases without even a reasonable basis for the statements. This would be preposterous in any other field. Yet in photography this is how it goes. So Henry set about testing some of the more common accepted wisdom, truths etc.

  4. #14

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    hi Arctic amateur ...

    there is a dilemma ...

    i think the problem that will happen is that it isn't only the developer and the film
    BUT the exposure in the camera AND the way the person is developing the film.

    there is no "one size fits all " scenario when it comes to film.
    i have made my tmx look like tri x, and provia look like an autochrome, just by the way
    i exposed the film.

    good luck !

    john
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  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    To compare say FP4+ in D-76 to Adox CMS 20 in Adotech, doesn't tell me very much. The films are entirely different, as are the developers.
    Well I think that there is a lot of validity to testing films in the developers that are commonly used to develop them. No one in their right mind would develop Adox CMS 20 in D-76. So what's the point of even conducting such a test? Adox CMS 20 is a bad example because we all know if money was no object we would all develop every single roll in Adotech II. So for that emulsion there is no ambiguity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    What drove Henry (a retired clinical chemist) to undertake these experiments was his observation that photographic materials and processing are unique subjects in the sense that totally unqualified experts write about technical things. And they are often taken as gospel.
    That doesn't sound that unusual. Have you ever heard US politicians talk about just about anything?

    Quote Originally Posted by bdial View Post
    Bruce Barlow did it with papers and paper developers. It turned into a pretty massive undertaking (I think he has posted about it in here). I've seen the resulting prints, and overall the differences are really subtle. In most cases it's a difference in feeling vs. something you can actually point to. Once you get past grain differences, the result for film would be similar, and probably more so.
    Maybe... maybe not. I'm sure the differences are less than some would like to believe. Having said that I've seen some side by side tests that were revealing. I would do something like ISO 100 and lower films in Rodinal. And other films perhaps in the manufacturer's recommended soup and then compare. At any rate I would try and soup stuff in developers that are commonly used with that film. Or maybe one test with the commonly used developer and one with the manufacturer's recommended developer. To be honest with you there really aren't that many emulsions and developers. I would just use the top two or three at each speed. This would be a useful experiment for a photography magazine to carry out. I would purchase photography magazines if they had useful articles like this versus a bunch of repetitive gear articles.

  6. #16

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    Thank you for all your replies, and I'd like to apologise for my sarcastic reply to darkosaric. It looks rather ruder now than I intended when I wrote it, regrettably. I'm sorry.

    If I may try to qualify my question a bit - I'm not interested in which films are objectively and measurably better than other films, I know that such a question is mostly meaningless. These quotes touch upon the question I'm trying to ask:

    Quote Originally Posted by dorff View Post
    Black and white films are picked for their character as much as, if not more than, their absolute quality, I think.
    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    [...] FP4 consistently makes better prints for me. As much as I try to understand why, it eludes me. In the end it doesn't matter why, it just "is" for me.
    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    i have made my tmx look like tri x, and provia look like an autochrome, just by the way i exposed the film.
    What I'm interested in is the character, or "feeling", of films. I don't have any specific scene in mind and I'm not searching for a suitable film for a purpose, I want to see what this elusive "character" is simply out of curiosity. If different films have different character, there must be a difference, if subtle, in the final image. Is it the spectral sensitivity? Contrast? Latitude? I can read about differences and kind of understand descriptions of a film's properties, but it's so much easier to understand with two pictures side by side.

    Of course many other things can change the final result, which is why I was trying to say "don't change anything except the film". Difficult, certainly. Perhaps sending the films to a pro lab would make it easier to ensure consistent development?

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noble View Post

    That doesn't sound that unusual. Have you ever heard US politicians talk about just about anything?
    I'm referring to technical/scientific fields and literature.
    Last edited by Michael R 1974; 01-25-2013 at 09:18 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arctic amateur View Post
    What I'm interested in is the character, or "feeling", of films. I don't have any specific scene in mind and I'm not searching for a suitable film for a purpose, I want to see what this elusive "character" is simply out of curiosity. If different films have different character, there must be a difference, if subtle, in the final image. Is it the spectral sensitivity? Contrast? Latitude? I can read about differences and kind of understand descriptions of a film's properties, but it's so much easier to understand with two pictures side by side.

    Of course many other things can change the final result, which is why I was trying to say "don't change anything except the film". Difficult, certainly. Perhaps sending the films to a pro lab would make it easier to ensure consistent development?
    The character is determined primarily by the inherent properties of the emulsion layer(s). The shape of the characteristic curve and spectral sensitivity determine tone reproduction. The image structure characteristics are determined by the type, shape and size of the silver halide grains, the various dyes added (sensitvity, acutance, anti-halation), turbidity etc. Depending on the mix of all these things, different developers can have different effects.

    So, to do what you are trying to do, you would develop all the films to the same contrast (measured either by CI or other gradient methods) in a developer such as D-76 either at stock strength or 1+1 dilution. To be accurate about contrast you'd need to generate characteristic curves.

    The curves for the films under these processing conditions would also be important (in my opinion) because they can help explain why you're seeing what you're seeing in the side by side tests with actual photographs - at least in terms of tone reproduction. Of course, only general conclusions can be drawn, especially since a characteristic curve can be generated in so many different ways.

    Start there, I guess. There are still many variables at work even when shooting the scene. So the conclusions you come to might only apply to your camera etc.
    Last edited by Michael R 1974; 01-25-2013 at 09:18 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #19
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    I am big on side by side comparisons and do a lot of them. However I do them with very specific goals. I think you are right in that side by side comparisons will show you something you otherwise can't see. For instance I know I want to use Acros, so first I do density tests with the developers I am interested in so that I can get the development exactly as I would use it. I already know the developers I want to consider. Then I set or find a situation and shoot a couple of rolls that I can cut in the dark and develop in the different developers. Then I make prints and mark them on the back in pencil. After they are dry and I don't know which are which I study them until I see differences. Then I look at the back and reveal what they are and then I study them again.
    It is useful to me to do this because I have very limited variables. If you wanted to compare a few films then it would be useful to already know what developer you want to use.
    For instance I knew I wanted to use Beutlers developer for a project and I needed to use a 400 speed film. So I got several 400 speed films and figured out the correct exposure and development times for all and then did a side by side comparison on several situations/subjects. I was able to learn which had the most acceptable grain and which had the best highlight detail and which had the higher or lower mid range tones.
    The problem most people are pointing out here is that there are too many variables with several films and several developers. I agree with that.

  10. #20

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    How did you come to the conclusion you needed a Beutler developer before choosing the film?

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