Which kind of film-developer for this rendition?
Alright! I'm starting my own adventure in darkroom printing. :-)
(To be precise, I'll start next week with the beginning of a course)
As far as I have noticed from other people, there is no worse way to learn making good prints than trying everything on the market, histherically.
So I don't really want to spend too much time in testing and selecting all the films avaible, developed in every possible way. I'd like to start with 1-2 films and 1-2 developers (and possibly 1-2 papers).
I've already decided to do a "poll" between everyone who's into film photography and prints his own photos to know which could be the film-developer combination that comes close to my taste.
Generally speaking, my first priority would be a wide tonal range. The widest possible from a bw film. I don't care much for definition, contrast or grain - although sharpness is important. Mainly, I like smooth tones that give a special three-dimensional feeling to pictures.
With color, I tend to expose my pictures for highlights, since I don't like burnt highlights while I like low-light atmospheres. I'd want to do the same for bw and while keeping the highlights correctly exposed, I'd want good details in midtones and some details in the shadows.
Which kind of film is suitable for this? Which developer?
Please consider that I'd start with liquid developers (like HC110, Tmax, Rodinal); I don't want to mess since now with powders.
FP4+ and HP5+ (not my favorite, but fits your description) and ID-11 or D-76 or HC-110 or Rodinal should be fine. I think Clayton makes a liquid version of D-76 (called something like F-76), but I'm not sure what's available in Italy. It's probably best to start with an RC paper like Ilford MGIV RC and a developer like Dektol or Agfa Neutol WA if you prefer a liquid. It's good to learn with the basic stuff before branching out into anything too exotic.
Don't want to jump right in with a criticism but....
When you say you expose for highlights in colour, do you mean with colour reversal/slide film? The usual way with B&W is to expose for the shadows, i.e. ensure you have good shadow detail. You then develop by the right amount to ensure the highlights are not blown and print easily on to paper (this is the old "expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights" mantra much beloved of B&W workers). B&W film has much greater latitude than slide film (several stops worth) so the danger of blown highlights is much less.
Having said all that:
Film: (1) FP4+ for fine grain and controllability (2) A faster film (can't really recommend as I hardly ever use above ISO 125 but any of the usual suspects will do you: HP5+, Tri-X, Tmax 400 etc).
Developer: (1) Rodinal - can be sharp at the expense of some grain. Very cheap. Lasts forever in the bottle. (2) The only other devs I have used are are either powder (ID-11 etc) or mix-it-yourself) so can't really advise but you may want to have a fine grain one such as Paterson Aculux 2 to compliment the Rodinal.
Paper: (1) Ilford Multigrade IV RC: bulletproof general purpose RC paper - with Ilford multicontrast developer. (2) Agfa Multicontrast Premium FB. Tones well but is fibre so needs long wash times compared to resin coated. Try Neutol for neutral tone and Neutol WA for warmer blacks.
Later on you might want to try some graded papers, but stick to VC for now. Ditto powdered developers: why pay for water (plus much more for postage if you order by mail) when you can just pour the packet of chemicals into your own water and stir?
Have fun! Bob.
Good Evening, Fulvio,
I like HC-110 and T-Max for film, LPD or Dektol for paper. Ilford MGIV is fairly consistent from batch to batch. From your comment, I'm not sure whether you're accepting of graininess or not. ("Smooth tones" suggest not, but the previous sentence could suggest otherwise.) Also, you make no mention of format; it's a lot easier to get smooth tones in MF and LF than in 35mm. If you're in 35mm, I'd suggest one of the newer tabular-grain films, but, in larger sizes, there a lots more choices.
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Another recommendation for Ilford FP4+ as an all-around B&W film. I prefer Ilford DD-X as the developer, but Ilfotec HC is also convenient and produces good results with FP4+ and other films. I also like Ilford's MGIV paper, and concur with the suggestion of starting out with the resin-coated version for maximum convenience.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
Seems like (almost) everybody started out with FP4+, so did I. For higher speed I started with HP5+. Developer was Rodinal, 1:50 with FP4+ and 1:100 ( 5 ml in a 500 ml tank) with HP5+, 40 mins, inversions every 5 mins, 60 mins for 800 ASA, gives rather flat negatives.Powder developer was ID-11, but I was more into Rodinal, later I used Kodak Xtol, these days I mix Mytol which is very close to Xtol.
You could also look at the developers from Italy (www.eccofineart.com), ECCO 96 seems to be a Metol-Sulfite developer similar to Perceptol/Microdol-X, diluted 1+2 times are rather long around 15-18 mins.
My vote goes to Agfa Multicontrast, I love their fibre papers and also use the RC paper, preferable 312 pearl.
Print developer Calbe N 113, neutral tone, powder for 10 l goes a loooooong way.
Check with www.fotoimpex.de if they still have Orwo film, it is FP4+ raw material, the also stock Calbe Chemie. BUT I might be easier to get Rodinal in Italy as shipping of Rodinal might be difficult, hazardous liquid, actually corrosive.
Oh, btw welcome to the world of Darkness and LIGHT
Colour? We can always use an airbrush later...
Thanks everybody for their answers.
In reply to those who asked which format I would use: from 6x6 (Rollei TLR) and 6x7 (MamiyaRB) to 4x5" (Graflex); no 35mm at the moment. I feel quite lucky to have all these cameras and wish to use them for what they're designed for!
I've recently bought (for about 200$, believe it or not!) a 5x7" enlarger with maaaany accessories and lenses. I can also use a Jobo CPE-2 for film developing (and maybe paper fixing, while I'd like to do develop the paper in trays).
When I mentioned "color" in my previous message I was meaning both negative and positive (slide) film (mostly slide film that is... like Fuji Astia, which has a kind of low contrast rendition). Sometimes I used chromogenic b&w too, which may count or not as "color negative".
Many of you have suggested Ilford FP4. The only product of Ilford I've ever used is the Super XP2 chromogenic film so I can't comment much about their true bw films. But as far as I know Ilford company is confronting bad times. People are having troubles in finding Ilford products here in Italy... As a second choice, which is most close to Ilford FP4?
My friends in Italy have suggested Trix or Tmax films. There's a friend of mine who's a huge fan of Efke films; his results are astonishing but he develops his rolls in Pyro PMK which I don't really want to handle because of its toxicity (at least for now, since I'm a beginner).
[QUOTE=Fulvio]As a second choice, which is most close to Ilford FP4?/QUOTE]
Ilford FP4+ is a really nice film. Fortunately, I've been able to get it in 120 and 4x5 formats here in US. But if I were up against it, I'd choose Kodak's Plus-X for a replacement film in this class. Very nice, but a bit more expensive here in the US. I think it's true speed might be a bit faster than FP4+. For a 400 speed film, my first choice is, hands down, Tri-X. HP5+ is good, but you can't push it as hard and the grain structure is not as attractive.
I think you ought to mention if there are any brands you cannot get first. Going for easy to get bigger brands makes sense......
I would go for FP4 plus and hp 5 plus or Trix, for a slow and fast film.
As for devs, if you must go for liquids I would go for HC110 (economical and cheap)and Ilford DDX. Ideally I would get Paterson Aculux 2 which I think is great, but I dunno if you can get it in Italy. It is cheap and produces great negs.
Agfa Multicontrast Classic FB ( a favourite) or Ilford MG (tho I am not a particular fan) for simplicity.
I would stay away from Tmax and Delta films. Traditional films are more forgiving if you are starting out, more tolerant of error. The two films I mentioned are pretty flexible and whatever you do (almost) they should do fine. They are also good alrounders. Many will advocate Rodinal, which has its merits, tho it cannot really be describes as an allrounder. It is sharp but grainy and is very good for that.