Pyrocat-HD & Pyrocat-MC with Efke 25 and Ilford FP4+
I have tested Efke 25 and Ilford FP4+ in 4x5 sheets with several different developers.
The best developer I have used, with these films, so far is PMK Pyro. I have found the grayscale gradation to be very good with these two films in PMK Pyro. However, the grain is very large and am finding that the negs lack sharpness.
I spoke with Photo Formulary this morning and they recommended trying Sandy King's Pyrocat-MC and Pyrocat-HD developers. Have any of you had experience with Efke 25 or Ilford FP4+ with either of these Pyrocat developers? Is the grain very tight and sharp with a smooth tonal gradation?
My goal is to use a traditional film with a developer that keeps the grain as tight as possible. All the developers I have used, thus far, have made the grain the size of golf balls.
FYI, the other developers I have tested, besides PMK Pyro, are Ilford Microphen, Perceptol, DDX, and TFX2.
Looking forward to everyone's feedback.
I develop both films (4x5) in pyrocat using extreme minimal agitation for FP4+ and minimal agitation for PL 25. I don't use PMK so I can't offer a first-hand comparison for grain size, but I don't believe you will be disappointed. I have a tough time finding the grain to focus on with either one.
Both films have smooth tone graduation, PL 25 being the smoothest IMO.
PL25 is very nice for skin tones with PMK pyro. Not sure what you have found with the grain size, as Efke 25 has very tight grain in almost any developer I can think of.
One drawback with PMK is the lack of ability to do minimal agitation, as Alex has said. PMK will give uneven staining when the agitation cycle frequency is reduced too much. Also, shadow values tend to be pretty muddy with PMK. Pyrocat is much better in many respects, but grain isn't as smooth because the general stain tends to block apparent grain. tim
I am currently developing both of these films in Pyrocat-MC. I use minimal agitation with Efke 25 (35mm, 120 rollfilm and 8x10 sheet film) developed in Pyrocat-MC diluted 1+1+100. The negs show fine, tight grain, high image acutance and excellent tonality.
I develop FP4+ in Pyrocat-MC diluted 1+1+100 with extreme minimal agitation. The FP4+ negs show fine, tight grain, high image acutance and excellent tonality.
I agree with Alex that the Efke 25 shows the smoothest tonal graduation of these two films.
I don't use PMK, so I can't offer a comparison.
Everything is analog - even digital :D
Are you saying that the grain is tigher in PMK? Or are you saying that the grain is not as apparent in Pyrocat? I want to minimize the grain and get a sharper neg?
Originally Posted by noseoil
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PMK will give the appearence of smoother grain (or tighter, if you will), because the "general stain" acts as a mask to fill in places between the silver grains with density which is not silver, but stain. It is "self-masking" in that it tends to blend the grit of grain with a matrix of stain. This is why shadow values tend to be muddy with PMK, because the general image stain reduces micro-contrast within the thin areas of shadow. I have not found large grain to be an issue with PMK, with FP4 or Efke 25. Which developers have you compared PMK with to say it produces large grain? Larger grain can tend to provide a visually sharper look at times, because the grain adds a gritty sharpness to edges which is not there with smaller grain.
For sharp images with excellent tonality and excellent shadow values as well (micro-contrast), use pyrocat-hd and minimal agitation. This will give negatives which appear to be "etched" on the film due to edge effects from longer development cycles. In 4x5, both FP4 and Efke 25 will give smooth, sharp images without grain. If you are doing 40" x 50" enlargements, you may see grain, but at 16 x 20 there won't be enough to see (especially at my age). tim
P.S. Just how large are we talking about for a print size when you say 4x5 and PMK with Efke 25 makes big grain? What light source for the prints?
P.P.S. Minimal agitation is defined as the first minute of gentle agitation, followed by 10 seconds every three minutes, until full development is realized for a given SBR. This is done (by me) using a diluted amount of pyrocat (1:1:150).
P.P.P.S. You really have to see the difference between PMK and Pyrocat with minimal agitation to believe it. Please don't take my word for it. Give it a try to see what you think.
Thanks for the feedback. PMK is the tightest grain I have scene compared to the other films I have tested. I think the Efke 25 is tighter than FP4+ with a smoother gradation.
I know about those developers that adds grain to edges and I would like to stay away from that.
In terms of output, and do not shoot me, I am drum scanning on a Howtek 4500 and printing on a custom diluted hextone carbon inkset. Largest print size I can do is 24x20.
Already purchased some Pyrocat-HD and Pyrocat-MC from formulary yesterday. Will test next week with Efke 25 and FP4+. Also, I am developing in a rotary processor as well at 75 degrees.
Am I better of developing this film in PMK or Pyrocat in trays or BTZS tubes?
I use 4x5 FP4 developed in Pyrocat HD as my standard film. I used to process it in a Jobo and it worked very well. You might want to try using it at 1.5:1.5:100 to make it a lttle more resistant to oxidizing from the constant agitation. I have since switched to using hangers and tanks and minimal agitation. There is a gain in acutance and speed, small, but noticable.
Before I started using Pyrocat I used PMK for about 2 years. I found Pyrocat to have significantly finer grain and more sharpness. I use VC paper and I think the highlights print better with Pyrocat. Pyrocat also works much better in a Jobo. It doesn't oxidize nearly as quickly, and the negatives have a much lower level of base fog.
I'm curious to know how to get coarse grain out of FP4+. I use mostly 35 mm and can't find the grain in an 8x10, and I have very good enlarging lenses. Let me in on your secret.
Some who have used PMK or other pyro soups are not happy with the color of Pyrocat MC. Sandy uses it with good success in printing processes that need UV density. I have used the same recipe as Pyrocat MC, but substituting pyrogallol weight for weight for the catechol, and I use semistand development with no sign of unevenness. I use it 1:1:100 with the same carbonate B as for Pyrocat.
I think you will like the Pyrocat MC, though. I can't even get grain out of 35 mm HP5+.
Hi Tim - I'd be interested in your minimal agitation time and temperature range for FP4 in Pyrocat? Thanks.
Originally Posted by noseoil