Excessively grainy prints
I've just got my darkroom set up (Meopta Axomat 5 35MM enlarger with a Nikkor EL 50mm f/2.8 lens - using f/8 for printing) and i've been doing some test prints over the past month or so. I'm mostly happy with them so far, but they do seem to be excessivley grainy for the film type used (i've so far developed prints from 100 TMAX and Neopan 400). I wouldn't expect to see so much grain on a print from a well exposed daylight shot on TMAX 100 or Neopan 400 for that matter, but even at 7x5 i can see grain quite prominantly, mainly on soft areas like skin and skies.
Now i have nothing against grain, but it does seem a bit excessive for the films used. It's quite visible at 7x5 even on the TMAX 100 shots.
I'm printing on Kentmere VC Select and developing in Ilford Multigrade for 1:15
What affects grain in prints? The paper, the chemical temperature, the lens aperture etc? My cellar is very cold, although i keep an eye on the dev temperature whilst i'm printing.
Or is it more likely i messed up developing the negatives? They look fine, seem to have nice density and decent exposure (they were taken using a Nikon F80). I can see the grain 'pop' up when i focus on the enlarger and look through my focus finder. They were all developed at 20 degrees in HC-110 (B) using Kodak's agitation scheme.
It is not the printing process. You won't see the paper grain. If the prints look grainy it is the negative.
Hard to say if the grain in the negatives is "normal" without seeing the prints. But TMax 100 is virtually the finest grained film out there and should not give grainy prints at that magnification. Neopan 400 is significantly grainier than TMax 100, but a 5x7 enlargement should still be relatively fine grained. That being said, everyone has a different subjective definition of "grainy". Grain will always be most visible in featureless areas of relatively uniform density (cloudless skies etc) because there is no image detail to obscure it. HC-110 would not be the problem.
If small prints appear that grainy (again, hard to tell what that means without seeing), particularly with TMax 100, the only explanation I can think of, besides reticulation (which is pretty hard to pull off these days), is severe overdevelopment of the negatives. Gross overexposure in the camera would also contribute. Are the negatives particularly dense?
To rule out reticulation entirely, can you confirm when you developed the negatives the stop bath, fixer and wash water were all reasonably close to 20 degrees?
If the film was over developed or over exposed or a combination of both that will give a massive grain increase.
If you state your film developer/concentration and time/temperature we may be able to help.
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Are you making full frame prints or are you cropping to enlarge a small area of the negative? Even a large format negative can look grainy if you "zoom in" enough.
Yes, you will see grain suddenly "pop up" when you look through the focusing magnifier. That's what's supposed to happen. It tells you that you have the image in focus. However, the final print shouldn't show too much grain unless you look closely.
Also, don't forget, you can see grain in many prints, even well done prints, if you analyze from a close distance. Normal viewing distance for an average size print is usually considered to be approximately arm's length or more.
Last edited by Worker 11811; 01-26-2013 at 03:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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After checking my negative notes for the prints i just did they were done at:
TMAX 100 in Ilfosol 3 for 5:30 (Inverting the tank four times during the first 10 seconds, then 4 inversions during the first 10 seconds of each subsequent minute)
Neopan 400 in HC-110 (B) for 5:00 (Agitating 5 seconds every 30 seconds)
I measured the temperature to 20 degrees for everything but the final wash. Does the final wash temperature matter?
The negatives themselves look fine exposure wise, the meter on the F80 is pretty good. The prints are not being cropped, i'm printing so the whole negative shows on the print.
I have been TRYING to create HUGE grain.... I wish I had your secret.
Here's something to think about. What you are seeing as grain on paper isn't really grain. Grains are black spots on negative. So on paper, they appear white. If you are seeing BLACK spots on paper, that is a space between grains on negative.
As such, light and white area on print, thus dark and dense area on film, tends to exhibit more of this kind of thing. Layers of grain stacked up on film emulsions letting very little light through in fewer spots. So these area are less dense (on paper) and appear more grainy.
A lot of this is normal but it's hard to say without seeing what you are talking about.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Are you sure it is grain you are seeing and not recticulation?
Originally Posted by Idonex
Yes the final wash temp might well matter if it is a lot different from the dev/stop/fix temps. If you are developing to the Kodak times and it certainly looks as if you are using Kodak agitation and the negs look right exposure-wise then that only seems to leave 2 options:
1 The wash temp is the problem. It is a lot different from the other temps
2. Your definition of grain in a print is a lot different from other users and/or you have an ability to see grain which most of us do not have.
Option 2 would seem unlikely but cannot be entirely ruled out.However I'd check your wash temp and next time ensure that all temps are within about 1C of each other. The film should withstand a greater range but if this tight range does not solve the issue then you can at least rule out reticulation but I'd have no idea where you would then look for the solution.
Reticulation seems highly unlikely, particularly in the case of TMax. Huge temperature swings would be required, and even then.