Film testing methods
Finally I managed to buy a slight bigger bag of film. Films are rebranded FP4+ and HP5+. Now I thought doing some testing with these films before starting shooting them, but I'm lacking methods of doing it.
I have searched and found few very good sounding tests. But for my disappointment they have always required densitometer, which I don't have. I don't even know if I want to get so deep in this testing thing.
So now I'm looking for simple way to adjust my EI and dev.time to suit my styles. Anyone there with ideas or weblinks?
BTW, I'm shooting 120 6x4,5
I found the directions here to be really clear and useful. Zone 2 Tone I'm not a pro or anything, but a while back I was having a lot of trouble getting Rodinal and D-100 to work properly. Les Meehan's article saved me a lot of time and heartache and helped me to get my EI and dev times sorted.
You don't need a densitometer to do the tests either.
Hope this helps (it really helped me!)
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I use a method that was taught to me by my NCOIC while I was in the Air Force. You start with a Kodak Projection Print Scale, it is a basic 10 step wedge, normally you use it find the printing times for any given negative. But if you use a clear negative in the enlarger, and start a test print by placing the scale over paper cut to size stopping your lens down to F8 or 11 then make a test starting with 4 seconds and increasing each test by 2 seconds until you have a test print with 10 distinct shades of gray zones 1 to 9. Some folks use step wedges or strips with up to 48 values, but I find a 10 step wedge works ok. I use either normal paper, for me grade 3, or VC paper with a filter for grade 3, some would use grade 2. Once you know what your printing time you can test your film.
I shoot outdoors, I want to create a test that has zone 2 to zone 9 values, meaning shadows to hightlight. For the past few years I have my wife stand our patio wearing a black sweater with some texture, standing on a white rug with some texture, our potted plants cast a shadow, the white wall also has some texture. I aslo have myu wife hold a gray card. As exposure sets the shadow I run my first roll though the EI 25 to 800. I use an average meter and a normal lens. I develop this roll at the recommended time. Then I print a contact sheet using the F stop and time determined by my test print. What I am looking for is shadow details, zone 2. When I find the contact negative with zone 2 I print that negative and it should at the same F stop and time. If the enlargment still has good shadow details I look at the highlights. If the highlight are too gray the devleoment times need to be increased, blocked development needs to be shortened. Sometimes the rated EI and standard development times work and you are done. But if the development times need to adjusted I shoot a roll with each frame my found EI. I cut that roll into 3 or 4 sections, if the highlights were gray I develop each section increasing development times by 10% until I get the highlights I want, if blocked I decrease development times by 10% until I get what I want.
This is usually a weekend long project. But once you nail your EI and development time you should be able to shoot, develop and print and get good working prints. If you change anything, paper, paper developer, film, film developer tempature, agitation you need to start all over.
I have been looking for a replacement for 120 Plus X and I am to point where I will be testing several films with several developers over the next couple of weeks. At this point I may give in and get a used densitometer, it is much quicker and more percise.
Les McLeans book "Creative Black & White Photography" has a very good section on just that. Also, Adams' "The Negative" has a section. You may also find find detail discriptions thru Google searching.
Save yourself a lot of grief and NAIL your system by calling Fred Newman at the View Camera Store 480-767-7105. I just got off the phone with him that's why the number was handy. Ask him about doing the tests with the BTZS. It's simple, he'll do all of the work for you, and, you'll have your system down like you've been shooting the film for 20 years! I can't hype it enough. It's definitely worth anyone's time to check this out.
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In The Ansel Adams Guide : Basic Techniques of Photography - Book Two, a technique is described where one makes a print using a blank negative (film base + fog), makes identical prints using negatives exposed for zones I through VIII, and then compare the exposure times to calculate relative density. They claim that it is a very accurate method. It also seems pretty quick, consisting of developing one test strip per negative and then comparing the tones produced. And it could be even shorter if you just use it to get Zone I and Zone VIII densities.
I've started using this process but haven't finished, as it appears from my first run that one of my Mamiya TLR shutter speeds is off. My zone I through VI measurements seemed about right, but VII and VIII were way too dense.
I have put together an Excel spreadsheet that calculates densities based on this approach, using enlarger f/stops and exposure durations and charting the results against an "ideal" curve. It appears to work pretty so far - with the data set from the book and for my partial test. If you want to try it out, I'm happy to forward the file.
Originally Posted by Jimi
If you dont want to do too much testing and want accurate results I would recommend you take advanatge of the film testing service at the view camera store web site. The expose the film and send it to you, you develop according to your favorite temperature and methods and you send the film strips back to them. They plug the values in the plotter and send you back curves and recommended times for exposure and development. It cant get any easier than this.
This sounds easy if you know your ideal developing times, but if you're using a new film or developer, wouldn't it take a number of tests to calculate your EI and N-1/N/N+1 times? And this assumes that your meter and shutter speeds are calibrated to match theirs. It might be handy, though, to see if your density calculations are matching theirs - do the return the negative to you?
Originally Posted by Jorge
Their testing method is based on the BTZS, so you dont need to know ideal times. WHat they do is identically expose 5 strips or sheets of film and send them to you. You then develop at 4, 5:30, 8, 11 and 16 minutes and you send the developed strips back to them, you tell what kind of paper you plan on using and they will send you back developing times and EI for n+2, n+1, n, n-1, n-2
Originally Posted by MSchuler
Depending on your paper your n+ times might not reach quite n+2.
Of course, your meter might give you different EI than theirs, but it would only be a matter of making a slight adjustment. As to the lenses, well theoretically you should make a test for each lens if you plan to follow ZS or similar methods. I dont know anybody that does this, we all trust that our lenses fall within certain degree of error we can adjust when printing.
If you are planning to stick with one developer and film, IMO this is the best option for those who do not want to do or invest on the testing.
I'll have to agree with BOBBYSANDSTROM-- the BTZS system made the most improvement on my work.