I like the recommendation to start with the basics, and something like Tri-X in D-76 or FP-4+ or HP-5+ in ID-11 would qualify (I'd lean toward Tri-X, but that's a matter of taste), and then stick with it for a year before trying other things. Even if you don't end up with this combo for the rest of your life, it's good to have something tried and true that you know inside and out and that is well documented as a benchmark for testing other films and developers.
XTOL is very popular and can produce beautiful results, but there are also reports of consistency issues--the mysterious occasional XTOL crash that no one seems to be able to explain. There's a lot more history behind D-76, ID-11, and HC-110.
You cant in Australia, at least thats what Ive been told. I went with
Originally Posted by Woolliscroft
Technical Pan Rodinal 1+300 30 minutes
as listed at http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.html. The mistake I made first time round was not enough developer used (you need a larger tank at this dilution), and I got the fractions slightly wrong so did 1+240 instead. 2nd time round it looked great.
You dont need replenishers with Diafine, its two bath, and gets better with age and use apparently. Also, since its a compensating developer, you can mix all different films together, exposed differently and it doesnt matter.
Originally Posted by Ole
How does Diafine achieve all this? In part by being a two bath developer. A Diafine kit makes two solutions. Solution A is the developing agent and solution B is the accelerant. When the film is processed it is first placed in Solution A. The developer is absorbed into the film's emulsion layer. After the recommended time of three minutes solution A is poured back into the bottle. Since it doesn't have any accelerant in it it doesn't weaken over time. If you leave the film in the solution longer than three minutes no harm is done. All the developer that the emulsion can hold is absorbed within three minutes, additional time has no effect.
Next solution B is poured in also for at least three minutes. Solution B contains the accelerant and causes the developer to begin working. Since the amount of developer available is only what was absorbed into the emulsion the development runs to completion, unlike other developers where development is stopped at some pre-determined point. After three minutes or more solution B is poured back into the bottle. Since development has run to completion there is no unused developer left to react with the accelerant in the bottle (though the accelerant may be slightly weakened in practice this has no effect at all.
As with solution A if the film is left in for more than three minutes no harm is done. Development runs to completion in three minutes so longer times in the second solution don't result in over development.
No stop bath need be used, again because development to completion, so fixer can be poured in immediately after solution B is poured out. Fixing and washing are done normally. If you re-use your fixer you can use a water rinse between solution B and the fix to slightly extend the life of the fixer.
One of the great things about two bath development is that the shadows will develop with great detail and the highlights won't blow out. Highlight areas which received the most light require more development. The since the only developer available is what is contained in the emulsion (absorbed during the first bath) the developer is exhausted before all the exposed silver in those areas is developed so the highlights maintain detail and don't block up.
The shadow areas have less exposed silver so there is sufficient developer in the emulsion to develop those areas completely. This results in excellent shadow detail.
Combining those two effects means that contrast is controlled and the resulting negatives will have "normal" contrast even if the original scene had extremely high contrast. Normal contrast scenes are also rendered beautifully. In my testing I found that low contrast scenes don't lend themselves to development with Diafine. The resulting negative can be quite flat. (Update: If low contrast scenes are to be developed using Diafine I have found that shooting the film at the manufacturer's recommended ISO setting will allow the resulting negatives to achieve more normal contrast.)
Just before I goto bed, one last question, how does Delta 400 compare with HP5+ ? I've ruled out FP4 as apparently its not very punchy, even though its fine grain.
Delta 400 has finer grain than HP5+, and even though I like traditional looking films in general, I really like Delta 400, particularly at EI 200 in Perceptol, though it looks good at 400 in D-76 as well. It's capable of very solid blacks, delicate highlights, and smooth gradation. Why don't I use it?--it's not available in sheet sizes, just 35mm and 120.
Originally Posted by snaggs
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The Delta films have finer grain than the equivalent "traditional" films, but seem to have less flexibility. At least I've never liked my results with them
Originally Posted by snaggs
FP4+ is "punchy" enough for anything, it all depends on development. It is my favorite film in all sizes, from 35mm to 5x7". It is a bit slower than HP5+ / Delta400, but a speed of ISO 100 shouldn't stop anyone from using it!
Personally I prefer slower films, since it lets me open up the aperture for reduced DoF without needing super-duper shutter speeds of 1/4000 or so. It can be really difficult getting a diffuse background with a fast film when your fastest shutter time is 1/100!
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Daniel, my only overall caution is not to over-research your film/developer decision on the web, before actually getting hands on with it. You will frequently find with darkroom work that your results will vary widely from the next person, and what you might see as "punchy", someone else might see as flat.
Originally Posted by snaggs
For many many folks, FP4 is a great film. The bottom line is that there is no "right" answer, and your work will not be judged by these choices.
Your work will be judged by the totality of your ability to produce an image that reflects your vision. Your choice of film and developer is one step toward achieving that goal.
Picking one film (doesn't *really* matter which one, though one with more overall flexibility, like Tri-X or HP5 gives you a lot of lattitude to experiment) is sound advice. Doing so allows you to focus on refining your techniques both in and out of the darkroom while holding an important aspect of your craft constant.
Once you understand well how you can adjust the look of one film, and you find its limits, you can then start trying other films and developers which move the look beyond those limits that you now fully understand about the first film. In fact, before trying new films, I'd probably suggest varying the developer - first vary the dilutions and times of your first developer, learning how to push and pull the film, etc., then start varying the developer itself - for example, I recommend starting with D76, try it in a number of variations over a variety of images (rolls of low contrast, high contrast, pushed, pulled, etc.). Then start trying Rodinal, and observe how that developer changes the look and feel of the image.
The most important thing is to make a choice and start shooting lots of images with it. Form your own judgements. Then expand. Then tell us about it!
Last post before mine is undeniably very good advice. I won't add or take anything away from it, simply second it.
"Make good art!"
- Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera".
- Yousuf Karsh
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit".
Me too. What Chuck said. Excellent advice.
As noted above you cannot adjust your developing times with a divided developer like Dianfine to compensate for lighting conditions, and you cannot change film speed mid roll. I use Dianfine in the summer when my tap water is 90 degrees, but I had to do extensive film testing to find the film speed that works for me. I used (or the lab) Dianfine for low light news photography when flash wasn't practical but it never a first choice for me. I would look at a standard pairing like Trx X in HC 110 or D 76.