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  1. #1
    marktweedie's Avatar
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    Prescysol and the Zone System

    I've just decided to give Peter Hogan's chemicals a go and wondered if anyone had any experiences of using these with Zone System concepts. It seems from what I have read that altering development times to change contrast will not have the same result as with a non-staining developer. In fact, it seems that as long as the exposure is vaguely OK that you can develop however you want and that the Zone System is effectively redundant! Surely too good to be true! I aim to report back when I have tested but would welcome any experiences of others so far.

  2. #2
    Dave Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marktweedie
    I've just decided to give Peter Hogan's chemicals a go and wondered if anyone had any experiences of using these with Zone System concepts. It seems from what I have read that altering development times to change contrast will not have the same result as with a non-staining developer. In fact, it seems that as long as the exposure is vaguely OK that you can develop however you want and that the Zone System is effectively redundant! Surely too good to be true! I aim to report back when I have tested but would welcome any experiences of others so far.
    That's my experiance; I look forward to reading about yours.
    Regards Dave.

    An English Eye


  3. #3
    Stoo Batchelor's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=In fact, it seems that as long as the exposure is vaguely OK that you can develop however you want and that the Zone System is effectively redundant! [/QUOTE]

    Hi Mark

    I feel that you have just lifted the lid of a huge can of worms by writing the above sentence, but so what, hopefully every ones still half asleep.

    You more than most , using 5x7, know how important it is to get your exposure spot on. Having said that, yes ,Prescysol and Prescysol EF are (using Peters words) 'Very forgiving' Like Dave, I use nothing but for my M.F film, and its lovely stuff. And occasionally, in diffficult lighting situations, Iwill bracket, but have found that there was no need as I always end up using my first frame. In fact, I end up with, at a push, three usable negatives.

    You won't be disappointed

    Stoo

    P.S.Its good with 35mm aswell, but I mainly use pushed Ilford 3200, so stick with their developers for that.

  4. #4
    Dave Miller's Avatar
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    Lets clarify a this a little bit for those unfamiliar with this developer.

    Since the recommended development time for any film in Prescysol EF is either 8 min with agitation or 10 1/2 min partial stand then it follows that increasing or decreasing development times to modify contrast is probably a waste of time. Peter Hogan suggests experimenting with the strength of the brew to achieve contrast changes, but I haven’t tried.
    I particularly like the way I can mix film makes, and speeds in the same development cycle, for example Maco IR820, Delta 100, and Delta 400 in the same tank.
    The staining effect has the effect of reducing negative contrast, making them much easier to print.
    Regards Dave.

    An English Eye


  5. #5
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    The Zone System is, after all, a SYSTEM.

    Which incorporates several elements, from deciding what the picture-on-the-wall is to look like; to which lens, filter, and film will be used, how it is to be exposed, developed, printed, and illuminated on the wall.

    Conventionally it is practised by envisioning the image of the subject you wish to make, measuring how it departs from reality, exposing and developing the film to result in an ideal negative from which you can easily make the print you wish. There are limits, of course, to what can be achieved.

    Alternatively the same results can be accomplished by developing the negative to satisfy specific qualities which allow the variability to be achieved in printing.

    The chief merit of a 'standardised and ideal negative' is that local contrast is not sacrificed to the conventional interpretation of 'zone system', which mandates specific end points on the curve whilst allowing the more important midpoints to fluctuate.

    A staining, compensating developer ( be it PMK, PyroCat, or Prescysol EF ) brings many properties which are effectively exploited by a ' standardised and ideal negative '. For the majority of subjects we tend to photograph, and the majority of situations we tend to make pictures, it is easy to satisfy Zone System criteria by:

    1. visualisation
    2. exposure for the deepest shadow as it will need to be in the print
    3. 'Standard' development
    4. Printing, using normal or soft developers in conjunction with variable grade papers to achieve the visualised image.

    This will make perfect sense to some, and be anathema to others.

    Here is an example of an image made under this system, illustrating its practicality: full and velvety shadows; normal local contrast and density of midtones, and rich variation of highlights that are neither 'blocked' nor 'blown'. Exposure: 1/30 at f/1.4; Film: TMY @ 400; Developed normally in Aculux 2. Printed on #2 paper, in selectol soft & dektol. Subject brightness 8000 : 1.

    Any film/developer combination with a long straight-line ( HP5, FP4, for example ) would have made the same image. Prescysol EF would likely have allowed more control in the printing, and reduced the need for 2 bath development.
    "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. #6
    Stoo Batchelor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Miller
    Peter Hogan suggests experimenting with the strength of the brew to achieve contrast changes, but I havenít tried.
    Spot on Dave

    And like you, I havn't needed to experiment as I get perfectly developed Negs everytime. Which is why I use it.

    Actually, it would be nice to know if you have tried two reels of 120 in the same tank, but not on the same reel. Barry Thornton recommended not to practice this with Di-Xactol, I can understand the reasoning behind it, but I can't remember reading anything about Prescysol.

    Kind Regards

    Stoo

  7. #7
    Leon's Avatar
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    My developer of choice is Pyrcocat HD - but having used both this and Peter's Precyscol, I can say they are very similar with almost identical results - I only use the PC because I mix it myself and this works out way cheaper than buying Precyscol.

    NOw both developers work on the x amount of part a, to y amount of part b to z of water. If I want give my film an n+ development time, I increase the amount of part b - with pyrocat and fp4 that means 1:1:100 for 14 mins at partial stand give me my n time. 1:2:100 for 14 mins partial stand gives me my n + development. the excellent effects of catechol on highlights means you dont really need to worry about n- times.

  8. #8
    Dave Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoo Batchelor
    Spot on Dave

    And like you, I havn't needed to experiment as I get perfectly developed Negs everytime. Which is why I use it.

    Actually, it would be nice to know if you have tried two reels of 120 in the same tank, but not on the same reel. Barry Thornton recommended not to practice this with Di-Xactol, I can understand the reasoning behind it, but I can't remember reading anything about Prescysol.

    Kind Regards

    Stoo
    I’m not clear as to your meaning Stoo. I normally but two 120 films on each reel as this is the most economical method. I have used up to five reels in a tank i.e. 10 films at any one time, which I find a bit nerve racking. Generally the films will be of mixed types, and all rated at the manufactures standard times; the exception being Maco 820 which I had to trial to establish its rating with this developer. That speed worked out to ISO ĺ whereas in Rodinal I rated it at ISO4.

    Leon raises the question of cost, but since so little Prescysol is needed, and the shelf life is so good I don’t consider this a factor considering all the other costs involved just to get a developed film into the tank. Maybe some one would like to do the sums, and post a price comparison.

    If I were using sheet film, then the zone system would be attractive, but since I use roll film, and a roll may contain a range of shots, and lighting conditions, I don't find it too helpful in practice. However it can be a useful tool to employ when needed, but that's another subject for another day.
    Regards Dave.

    An English Eye


  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Miller
    Lets clarify a this a little bit for those unfamiliar with this developer.

    Since the recommended development time for any film in Prescysol EF is either 8 min with agitation or 10 1/2 min partial stand then it follows that increasing or decreasing development times to modify contrast is probably a waste of time. Peter Hogan suggests experimenting with the strength of the brew to achieve contrast changes, but I havenít tried.
    I particularly like the way I can mix film makes, and speeds in the same development cycle, for example Maco IR820, Delta 100, and Delta 400 in the same tank.
    The staining effect has the effect of reducing negative contrast, making them much easier to print.
    Dave and others. From what I have read it would seem that in low light situations the film could at least be rated at twice its box speed and still produce useable negs.

    Is twice box speed the limit? If not can more be risked by altering ratios of developer and to what detrimental effect on those negs shot at box speed.

    I have often been in situations the ideal combo would have been with HP5+ where at least EI 800 and sometimes EI 1600 would have been helpful. Classic case is the need for outdoor shots, then indoor shots such as church interiors, museums then nightime available light shots all on the same roll. Often on the same day!

    From all accounts XP2 gives some of this flexibility but is better at lower than box speed rather than higher and cannot really be used at more than twice box speed.

    Pentaxuser

  10. #10
    Stoo Batchelor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Miller
    Iím not clear as to your meaning Stoo
    You have answered my question perfectly Dave.

    Previous to using Prescysol, I was a user of Di Xactol. Barry Thornton would say that by using more than one reel in a tank, with the partial stand method, you would, he believed, produce uneven development. He painted a picture in my mind of the film sitting in the developer, and while the film stood un-agitated, the developer would very slowly seperate, so the developer at the bottom of the tank would be slightly stronger than at the top, causing un-even development. Barry's standing time was a recommended two minutes. Peters is three, bar the period after your last agitation, which is slightly longer. With this in mind, and the thought of the developer seperating, I thought the longer standing period would magnify the un-even development problem.

    I have been developing all of my films individually up to now. Not confident of putting two films on one reel (from a days shoot, three would probably be the norm anyway) I have been toying with the idea of getting a larger developing tank and developing three films together, one per reel.

    The good news is that your already doing this, all be it with two films per reel, with out any development problems. Fantastic, I'm going to save a fortune let alone valuable time.

    Now if you told me that you have successfully developed Delta 3200 @ 6400 in Prescysol, that really would be a dream come true!

    Thanks for your help

    Kind regards

    Stoo

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