I think BT's take on it was not that they become acutance devs as such, but that they give good sharpness and fine grain by virtue of edge effects caused by dilute metol now being visible as solvent sulphite has been reduced by dilution. His view was that undiluted they produce unacceptible mushiness and by diluting them you get the triplee whammy of reasonable acuatnce, fine grain and highlight control. I have used perceptol a fair bit at 1+2 and 1+3 and it is fine grained and provides reasonable sharpness. It is still poles apart from a true acutance developer. I did a 20x16 off a 5x4 fp4 plus neg dev'd in both perceptol 1+2 and Exactol lux (fine grained pyro dev). Even dev'd at 1+2, perceptol was way mushier than the exactol lux and grain was not visible in either. I would expect the results from smaller formats to be more obvious still. Pyrocat or Dicxactol produce greater acutance still than Exacctol Lux.
Originally Posted by Tach
Equipment troubleshooting: RF alignments spot-on? Enlarger lens absolutely haze-free? Very little haze can radically affect overall tonality and accutance. Is your enlarger aligned perfectly? Is it truly solidly mounted and stabilized? Do you have any subtle vibrations from equipment or environment that travel through the enlarger?
Developing: Are you certain that your combos are getting proper curves? Humps and flat spots can make certain tone ranges go "dead" on you. Your current materials are not known for this sort of problem but add in technique, agitation, metering, local water, etc and things can still happen to have you chasing your tail on these things. You may simply be seeing dry-down effect and a simple 1/2 step in contrast or exposure adjustment will bring some sparkle back?
Consider getting a step wedge and explore the paper limits and behavior of your materials. If you don't have a darkroom meter, consider getting one. The simple Ilford meter is a good simple one and there are many others that are also inexpensive (especially in the used market).
You might also try some tripod vs hand-held tests.... It's humbling to see the difference and can re-inspire some taking technique practice and respect for smooth shutter release motions. This is all pretty basic stuff but when stretching 35mm into 8X10 wall hangers, small deviations at the various steps can stack up to results that aren't quite what they would/could be.
I would take this person's comments with a bit of scepticism as he seems somewhat confused (at least on terminology). You should take my advice with a similar trepidation, too!
Just for a sanity check, would not f/2.8 to f/8 be three stops, and therefore call for 8X exposure?
Originally Posted by grahamp
On the muddiness side, here's a quick idea. Just do everything that you normally do when developing the film with one exception: develop for, say, 50% longer than normal. This should punch up your negs dramatically (or possibly catastrophically, but hey, it's a test).
Then take one of the negs that was criticized for muddiness and print at the minimum time for maximum black. Do the same with the new +50% negative. Compare for relative muddiness/contrastiness. You will now have two firm guideposts and you can triangulate from there.
Also, be sure that you are spending enough time in the print developer. If you are in a cool basement or similar, then you may need more time in the print developer than the factory recommends.
Best to you,
I just had another thought.... I had some Delta 400 in the freezer and grabbed a few rolls in error, thinking I was taking some HP5+. I have been luke warm about Delta 400 results in the past and had kind of avoided the project of sorting it out. I used the film that day and tried Ryuji's DS-10 on them. I don't recall ever having easier to print negatives and I'm going to work out my times, true film speeds, etc when I can get to it. The combination really seemed made for each other in this small trial of mine.
If you want acutance then either PMK or espescially Pyrocat HD will give relatively fine grain with high acutance and sharp details. Pyrocat HD used as a stand eveloper is outstanding. I have not used it with 400 speed film. I use very little high speed film. However, The developer is outstanding in acutance and sharpness with resonably fine grain.. The unblinking eye website has a really nice article by Sandy King on using this developer. It is very easy to work with. Here is what I do for stand development.
ALL TEMPERTURES AT 70ºF
One liter of tap water,
4 milliliters of Pyrocat A.
3 grams of washing soda or other SoDium or Potassium Carbonate.
stir to make a homogeneous solution. This should be done shartly prior to staring development not a day ealier for example.
Start with a 5 min presoak in tap water with agigtation.
transfer film to developer and agigtate for the first minute.
Leave developer stand for the remainder of the time without any agigtation.
I use about 100ml of vinegar to tap water for a mild stop bath.
Fix, I have been using Kodak Rapid Fixer w/o hardener which is trouble free. As far as I know othr fixers should work fine but I have not used them.
The developer is used one shot....IE not reused.
I use a lifting rod on an open tank. A different tank for each solution. My agigtation is by gently lifting the rod upward about 2 inches..the rod is NOT twisted.. and allowing it to setlle and re-lifting in about 1.5 second cycles for whatever time I am agigtating the film. Agigtation should be followed as above for presoak, for the first minute of stand development and regularly for the other baths.
rinse in wetting agent and distilled water.
Dust free drying .
This has given me nicely developed negatives with the best acutance I have ever experienced in 43 years of photography.
I would, because of the high dilution, recommend no more than the equivakent of one 36mm exposure film per liter of developer unless you test to be certain that the liter will develop more film area without pooping out.
For scenes with a lit to shadowed area of 2.5 to 3 stops as measured with an incident reading or reflection reading from a gray card
rate the film at 200 ISO speed and a 45 minute development time for an initial test,. This is a TEST and should only help you to zero in on what works best for time. Do this for important negatives without testing might be very foolish.
An appropriate devlopment HC110 and Rodinal will also get rid of mushy grain.
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Claire, if your just using the "B" solution premixed, are you uisng it 1:1, or what? The 3 grams is throwing me off.
Originally Posted by Claire Senft
Obviously your using a large tank for a liter of solution. Is there an interlayer agitation effect going on here that precludes further agitation from such a seemingly weak solution?
Originally Posted by Claire Senft
I just recommend the winner in sharpness, fine grain, and film speed.
XTOL at full strengs or 1:1 was the winner some years ago in a german Lab mag.
8x10 should be not a problem at all! I printed 400 and 100 ASA up to 30x40 cm! Are you working with modern lenses and they get cleaned regularly? Are you using prime lenses or zooms? If zooms only the best are good enough!
When I got sometimes lenses from other photogs in front of my eyes then I see just dirt allower it kills sharpness and contast!
Working as much as possible with the sharpest aperture on you lenses. On most modern lenses is 2-3 f stops closed the sharpest!
I am not using a premix of solution B. I am merely adding 3 grams of washing soda (Sodium Carbonate) to the mixture of PyroCat HD A and water. If you try to make solution B full strength with Sodium Carbonate you are unable to reach the recommend 75% solution by dissolving 750 grams Sodium Carbonate in a liter or 75 grams in 100 ml of water and have to work with a lesser dilution of say 20% solution. Apparently this can be made into a full strength 75% solution with Potaasium Carbonate. The Pyrocat B if full strenght is usually added in the same porportion as the Pyrocat A. So the easy way for me to do it is to add 3 grams of Sodium Carbonate directly to the water/pyrocat A. instead of having a premix. It is for me no more trouble to weigh 3 grams than It would be to add 3 ml of 75% solution of Potassium Carbonate. 30 seconds af stirring and you are ready to go.
This works like a charm. The presoak in water is important and should not be omitted.
This method is intended to maximize the edge effects of Pyrocat A. Read the article by Sandy King on the unblinking eye. He explains this developer much better than could I.
FWIW, if you do decide to try mixing your own, I had very nice results with Rjuyi Suzuki's DS-12 on Delta 400. Very sharp, not overly grainy.