For my kinds of use, all these films have dramatically different personalities which truly do affect the final result. Yeah, they are all fine products and will all give outstanding results once you understand them - and that means understanding their limitations too. For example,
a snow shovel might look quite a bit like a drainage trenching shovel, but just try digging a drainage ditch with a snow shovel!
Craft is indeed a better word than technique. I have come to a point where I just want to make more prints. All the stuff about films and developers just gets further and further removed from the realm of 'relevant' the more I do this. Just want something that works...
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
T-grain or not - it really doesn't matter.
Have a good weekend! I'm going on APUG break for the weekend.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
Drew, your flair for overstating the differences between contemporary general purpose films is always fun.
TMX was my main film for many years in the 1980s and early 90s, mostly for its fine grain, but then I started shooting larger formats and thinking about other things--line, gradation, spectral response--because grain wasn't so much of a factor, and my films changed. I like the look of Tri-X in its various incarnations and FP-4+ and also Delta 400.
The similarity of TMX to desaturated digital (without emphasizing one channel over another or tweaking the curve), I suspect is a factor of spectral response. Even before digital took off, I thought it had a B&W video look. It's not what I'm after, but thankfully, we don't all have to have the same look, and there are many choices out there.
In some way it has a lot to do with one's printmaking process. John Sexton, for instance, lists TMX as one of his more frequently used films in the notes to his books, but he also does a lot of detailed localized dodging and burning, and given his process, it probably makes sense to start with a somewhat neutral, maybe even flat neg, that can be brought to life through a very controlled process in the darkroom. If the neg is too "expressive" to begin with, it closes off possibilities at the printing stage.
Oh so today you are a psychiatrist.
Originally Posted by StoneNYC
Stone, until you decide to print your own negatives with an enlarger and print them on your digital track and try to match them yourself, I'm done trying to help you.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
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When did the tabular grain films come on the market? I did some googling but the earliest reference I could find was to tabular technology first being used in VR1000 color film in 1982. John Sexton's article about getting best results with TMX, still available on the LFP site, appeared in 1987. I thought they came out in the mid 80s, a long winded way of saying "wasn't it later than 1980 you had that conversation?"
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
No real matter though.
Mark is right about the variables in darkroom printing but they are pretty insignificant (or if they aren't you really need to improve your process) for what Stone is suggesting and the argument is sort of specious to me. What Stone suggests is actually reasonable, and I'd do it except that I don't think I have any t-grain negatives in 35mm or 120, at least that aren't very old so I don't trust my process back then or the films to be the same, nor any conventional ones in 4x5! Oh, I do have some Foma 400 in 4x5, even some of the very same scene shot at the very same time in the same light with the same exposure (though developed differently) as TMY-2, but comparing TMY-2 to Foma 400 isn't fair to either. If one wants to make a comparison like this it should be to HP5+. TXP is, as folks have said, rather different.
Originally Posted by markbarendt
I can tell you what it would show though - if developed to similar contrast the tabular grain film will be finer grained and that's about the only difference you'd see in well exposed and processed photos. Getting them well exposed and processed is a bit different though in that the tabular grain films do have an amazingly long straight line portion in their curve so are incredibly forgiving of exposure as long as important shadows don't fall completely off and as long as one doesn't mind the increase in grain with more exposure, and conventional films build and lose contrasts less quickly with changes in development time and temperature making them more forgiving of small errors there.
The comparison of FP4+ and TMY-2 illustrates this perfectly. They look so much alike but with a couple of stops speed difference which just points out that tabular films are less grainy at a given speed - 400 tabular grain is comparable to 100 speed conventional grain - but otherwise look similar. Yes, most tabular films and especially Acros and TMX have less reciprocity failure too, which is important for some work and not for most. Some films have different spectral response, particularly Acros, but I think this has less (maybe nothing?) to do with tabular versus conventional grain and is more a design decision with the emulsion and sensitizing dyes.
This is also why my "non challenge" that I didn't want to bother with stopped at 11x14 from medium format. At that size you won't see the grain from either without a magnifier. Make it 11x14 or even 8x10 from 35mm and you probably will. Make it 16x20 from MF and you might, from 35mm you definitely will (from 4x5 you won't though.)
Excellent work can be done with either style. Pick a film or two and get on with it.
Roger... I get all kinds of flak from people who don't encounter the kinds of lighting situations I routinely do. Take a walk in the redwoods and
everything is soft and misty, then the sun comes out and there's twelve stops of range. Want crisp separation all the way thru the highlights
into the deep shadows? Gotta get real picky with film and developers at that point, or life will be miserable in the darkroom. At that point, TMY
and FP4 are very different animals, and I've shot lots of both. They also differ signifcantly in filter response. Or you can grab another allegedly
"general" (whatever that means) neg film like ACROS, do your homework, and find out it's not even officially a pan film, but something else which
makes the rules of filtering very different indeed. Now start getting crazy and try making something like color sep negs from these various films and the differences become dramatically apparent. And a contact printer might take great exception to the generalization if he attempts
to push certain films significantly. A few of them are cussing over the loss of Super-XX in this respect. I'll agree with you that sticking with
something until you learn it is perhaps best. But at that point, if it becomes hard to handle certain subjects, it might be time to explore different films and developers.
Drew, I've no doubt YOU can see very significant differences in these films. That doesn't mean most people can or will.
You are also doing final output very far removed from what most people are talking about with either (ah-hem) hybrid scan-and-print or conventional enlarging onto conventional VC paper with a bit of dodging and burning as needed.
And I too use several films, possibly too many. Mainly I stick to TMY-2 (with a bit of Foma 400 for grins) in 4x5 and Tri-X and FP4+ in 120 plus D3200 in 120 for low light. I could make do with TMY-2 (because Tri-X isn't really available in 4x5 and TXP not in 120 so I can't standardize on one of those, otherwise I could) and D3200, though maybe at the expense of an occasional ND filter in bright light if I didn't want the grain increase from overexposing 120 TMY-2.
I still goof around with a lot of different films, but mainly in smaller formats. I just can afford either the dollar expense or extra weight of toting
about more than one black and white 8x10 film at a time, and one color film. So I am currently preferring TMY400 just because it is so versatile
and also for speed (the wind is incessant most of the year here on the coast). With 4x5 I tend to bounce between TMY and ACROS. The latter
has a lovely natural rendering in mtn light in particular due to its orthopan response. But locally I ten to use TMY even in 4x5 cause of the
wind. But with 120 and 4x5 just depends on the look I want. If I want to make a crisp print reminiscent of large format I'll obviously choose
something with high acutance like ACROS or PanF; but it I want something snapshooerly, it could even be Delta 3200. I'm a format schizophrenic to begin with, so can't help experimenting with many different film, papers, and developers too. I just can't afford them all in
sheet film at the same time.