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  1. #11

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    Hi Frank. To gain tonal separations, especially in the shadows you might try lifting the exposure further up the film density characteristic curve. That is, simply expose the film about 1/3 to 1 full stop higher than the box speed.
    This has the affect of moving the low density shadow exposures up away from the curved 'toe' and in to the straight line chacteristic where tones are better separated. An easy way to achieve this with consistency is to set the camera to around ISO 80 for Delta.
    There is no need to be concerned about the highlights becoming overexposed as the film has up to around 18 stops exposure latitude anyway. But to make it easier to print, use N+ and N- development. This will increase and decrease the effective contrast of the neg without really affecting the shadows at all. There is lots of info around about n+ and n- development if you haven't tried it.
    It is a little to get the head around at first, but I found these principles substantially improved my negatives in a relatively short time, and gave considerably more control over the whole exposure/contrast process.

    To reduce grain perhaps try Kodak HC110 or Ilford liquid devlrs if (like me) you become too impatient with the long development times of very dilute Rodinol. Have fun.

  2. #12
    FrankB's Avatar
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    Many thanks for all the responses. Some great suggestions in there.

    I'm currently veering towards a trial of Paterson Aculux 2 and, if I like it, a full film speed / dev time test of Delta 100 in that soup. I have Delta 100 test negs for both 1:50 and 1:100 which I will revisit and re-evaluate. If Aculux doesn't fit the bill then I'll give Prescysol a try.

    DF - I use Ilford Multigrade liquid developer mixed 1:9. I haven't sworn a lifelong vow of monogamy to that particular paper dev, but I would need a convincing reason to change...
    The destination is important, but so is the journey

  3. #13
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    A little off topic - but as far as the final product is concerned (print), you don't have to get a divorce - try speed dating a baggy of Dektol to make one quart is about $3.50 CDN - I assume in the US its a little over two bucks. I tend to use it 1:1 and have loved the results. For the price, worth a try and once its gone - its gone! Just mind your times, as it will get alittle funky if yu leave the print in too long I find.
    I wish I had a better scanner - I would love to support the claims that preceed mine - Rodinal 1:50 with Delta 100, IMHO works like a charm!

  4. #14
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Testing for film speed and developing time is certainly a step in the right direction, just so you know what you're working with, even if you aren't in a position to use development to control contrast, and another camera (large format or interchangeable backs) isn't on the agenda.

    Once you do test, you might target your negs for printing on grade 3, rather than grade 2 as is often done. That should give you a thinner neg with finer grain and still plenty of room to increase or decrease contrast at the printing stage through filtration with VC paper, choice of paper grade with graded paper, development time and temperature, and choice of paper developer.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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  5. #15
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankB
    DF - I use Ilford Multigrade liquid developer mixed 1:9. I haven't sworn a lifelong vow of monogamy to that particular paper dev, but I would need a convincing reason to change...

    Hi Frank

    Thanks for the info.

    The reason I wondered about your paper/developer combination is that your paper's performance defines the negative's requirment. Your developer, in my experience, while making a good looking print demands a lower density highlight than does, for instance, a home brew developer like 120.

    With Delta 100, you'll get MUCH better results with Rodinal 1+50, and using an agitation of 5 seconds per five minutes. Delta wants desperately to build highlights in Rodinal, and you have to starve them to allow the shadows to build density. I'd predict you can make a visible improvement, but there are much better combinations you can use.

    With Rodinal, FP4 is MUCH more suited to the 'fat' negative you want. ALSO: Plus-X, TM100, and -for what it's worth- APX 100.

    With Delta 100, XTOL 1+2 gives you exactly what you want right out of the gate, and will be virtually grainless.

    Aculux 2, although I don't have specific data from testing, I think will be closer to what you want than Rodinal ( fuller shadows ) but still have highlights that will press the range of your paper/developer. XTOL will be much better.

    I think the remaining options would be ID-11/D-76, and the Ilford liquid developers. The D-76 results ought to be in your general direction, but shouldn't be an improvement over XTOL. Based on other folks' work, I suggest DD-X. But I haven't looked at it myself.

    ( oh, by way of explanation, last winter I had a bout with the flu and to keep from going absolutely crazy I did film testing.... )

    good luck,

    don
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  6. #16

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    Start with the film speed and development time tests. Until you've done that, everything else is pretty much a guess. You need a firm foundation under you.

    Also, keep in mind that there's only so much improvement you can get, given the size of a 35mm negative. If you really want better negs, you have to move up in film size.

    Then you get to do the tests all over again!

  7. #17
    FrankB's Avatar
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    Many thanks, Don. Great work (and I'm glad I didn't have to do it! )

    My test lineup is now looking like this (timings (initial only) from digitaltruth) -

    Rodinal 1:25 9 mins Agfa agitation (control)
    Rodinal 1:50 14 mins agitation 5 secs every 5 mins
    Aculux 2 1:9 8 mins (dunno about agitation, 10 secs each minute?)
    XTOL 1:2 13 mins (again dunno about agitation, 10 secs each minute?)

    I'll shoot a couple of rolls of 120 on a (hopefully) typical landscape at meter, +1, +2, -1 and split each roll in half. That should give me a rough idea of which combination I prefer.

    Seadrive - I take your point and actually agree with you. However, the alternative as I see it is a full test of every combination, which is a very time-consuming project. With my luck by the time I'd finished my chosen materials would be discontinued! The above will hopefully give me an idea which I can then refine with a proper test of the front-running combination.

    Next question - I'm disinclined to support Kodak with their policy of moving away from traditional photography. I would rather support a company that intends to remain within the traditional arena. (Please don't let this point draw the thread off track. Yes, I'm probably being foolish and unreasonable. But I'm happy that way, so leave me be! )

    Does any other company manufacture an equivalent to XTOL (or Dektol, come to think of it!)?
    The destination is important, but so is the journey

  8. #18
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seadrive
    ...Also, keep in mind that there's only so much improvement you can get, given the size of a 35mm negative. If you really want better negs, you have to move up in film size.
    )



    hi seadrive.

    Ahem. Does APUG really mean "big negative snob" ?

    Oh, c'mon.

    " THRRRPPTT ".

    : ]
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankB
    Does any other company manufacture an equivalent to XTOL (or Dektol, come to think of it!)?
    That may depend on what you mean by "equivalent." I'm unaware of any chemical near-clones to XTOL, as there are for, say, D-76 (Ilford ID-11 to name just one example). Paterson FX-50 is probably the closest in this respect; it's a phenidone/ascorbic acid ("PC") developer, just as XTOL is, but I don't know how similar the two are in operation. There are lots of mix-it-yourself PC developers. This newsgroup post has the XTOL formula, based on Kodak's patent filings. (This means you shouldn't mix it yourself for commercial work, but it's OK for hobbyist use, if I understand correctly.) One ingredient (diethylenediaminepentacetic acid, pentasodium salt) is apparently very hard to locate. According to this thread, you can substitute an EDTA salt (search for "EDTA" to find the comment). Note that I've not tried mixing my own XTOL clone "from scratch," so I can't promise this would work. I have mixed other PC developers, though, most notably Gainer's PC-Glycol and one of Suzuki's PC paper developers.

    As for Dektol, my understanding is that it's basically a tweaked version of D-72, which is a widely published formula from many years ago. I don't know offhand who makes D-72/Dektol clones, but I'd be surprised if some paper developers (particularly house brand type stuff) weren't Dektol clones. Photographer's Formulary sells something it calls "TD-30 Improved Dektol." I don't know just how much "improvement" went into this, though -- it could be "improved" enough that it doesn't do what you'd want it to do.

  10. #20
    fhovie's Avatar
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    Life is too short to try to do everything with little negatives - If you want to enlarge and you want good tonality and accutance and separation - enlarge less. If you need bigger than 5x7 prints, get the best glass you can with the largest negative you can wield. My minimums are 6x6cm and Zeiss glass. My best is 8x10 negs contact with AZO paper and Amidol. I use 35mm when the 6x6 camera is too big or too slow to use (almost never). That is the only time I use 35mm. I use 6x6 when I cannot set up for a static shot with 4x5. It is not a snob thing - it is a - life is too short to waste time with little negatives that do not contain enough information to make a great print thing. With all the pros dumping their Hassys for digigizmos - everyone can now own good glass and decent negative size at a fraction of the cost of even a few years ago.

    Also - know your developers - and - mix your own. Or at least get a developer that matches your format. For 35mm - there is MicrodolX, D-23 or Xtol. These developers are optimized to reduce grain size for better enlargements of cute little negatives. It will cost you though - less accutance. XTOL is better for that comprimise. You can mix your own - it is called MYTOL and it is posted here somewhere - I use it when I use fast film and want to make large prints - It keeps pretty good accutance and doesn't enlarge the grain. When you shoot larger formats, then bring out the miricle soups - Pyrocat - PMK- Rodinal etc - They work best for larger formats. Especially Pyrocat. Fine grain - good accutance - wonderful for MF & LF. BTW - there is nothing scary about mixing your own developer - Just get a good scale - take precautions and follow the directions. I mix everything from scratch now and my consistancy is better and my costs are way down - (So I can buy better lenses)

    Lastly, get a densitometer. As printers are dumping their darkrooms for PCs, Densitometers can be had on e-bay for $100. Then you can match your density range to your paper. For Scene Brightness Ranges of 5, I use FP4 and develop for a density range of 1.25 (which is what my paper can print based on printing a step wedge) - For SBR of 9, I use TRI-X. - Whatever I do - the process has been tested and I know what I will get when I develop my film ... I will get a negative that has the density ranges to print well on the grade 2 paper I use.

    With all this mastery of technique that leaves all the energy spent on capturing a compelling image - which is what it takes to make something worth printing in the first place.
    My photos are always without all that distracting color ...

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