Really basic newbie questions.....
I'm trying to do some B&W developing and am not happy with the scanned results. I haven't entered a darkroom since childhood and didn't do much even then. I'm not sure how much of the problem is my own ineptitude, how much is the scanner, and how much is just expectations that are too high.
This is what I've been using:
Film: Ilford Delta 100&400 in 35mm format as well as a couple rolls of Ilford HP5 plus 400 in 120 format. I also have some fuji neopan on hand but haven't tried it yet.
Camera: An old Canon rebel 35mm with some of canon's best lenses as well as an old 6x9 folder. In addition to the internal meter I've been using a Sekonic L358 (the 6x9 doesn't have a meter).
Chemicals: Kodak DL-76, Kodak pro fixer, Indicator stop bath, and photo-flo 200. I've been using the ilford website for development times, kept all chemicals and tank in a water bath at 20C. I haven't got my filling/emptying down so I might be running a bit long on times. For fixer I've been using 8 minutes.
The results have been rather poor, low contrast and a lack of sharpness or detail. Very grainy. The 75 year old 6x9 produces better results but that seems to be mostly due to the larger negative.
Any suggestions? Reading through other posts it seems that using the ilford DD-X might help? If I use Ilford developer should I switch fixers/stop bath as well? More or less development times? More/less agitation? Lower/Raise the exposure?
Thanks in advance for any help.....
FWIW, and from another relative newbie, I have many negatives that print just great and won't scan worth a darn on either my Epson 3170-Photo or my Microtek 8x10 negative scanner. IMHO, the real test of the quality of the negatives is going to be a traditional print.
The differences you would see by switching to a different developer would be small. If you are relatively new to processing and are getting grossly inadequate results, I think you need to first look at your process before you start switching developers.
D-76 is a classic developer - essentially identical to Ilford ID-11. So the times/temperatures should be about the same for both.
Your description of the results "poor, low contrast and a lack of sharpness or detail. Very grainy." suggests a few things. First, lack of sharpness or detail could be an equipment problem, but low contrast and grainy suggests a processing problem. I suggest trying to fix the processing problem first, and then see if there are any other issues that need attention. Also, you need to separate your problems with film exposure and processing from any problems with scanning.
What are the times and temperatures you are using for development? More importantly, what kind of agitation pattern are you using? Can you show us some examples of the results you are getting?
It may be overexposed film, it may be old expired film, it may be the scanner settings. How do the prints look? You haven't said anything about the age of the film or of the chemicals.
The best proof of the film is the print, so if you can get a print made you can then see how good the negative really is. A scanner doesn't always do a good job without being tweaked a bit to respond in a manner similar to the print paper. Also the unsharp mask can make the grain look really awful if it's not set right, needs the radius set to a size bigger than the grain.
I too have an epson 3170 flatbed scanner but do not have any traditional printing equipment or dedicated film scanner. In addition to the rather crappy epson software I tried various settings in vuescan with little improvement. Printing the scans to an epson 4000 they look better than on screen but still not great -- with a bit of work in photoshop they are still not as good as a one hour photo colour print and no where near the quality of my dSLR.
The film is all within the expiration dates and went straight from the camera to the tank. The chemicals were freshly mixed each time and are also well within the expiration dates.
For development times the last roll was an HP5 120 at 7 1/2 minutes, 20C. At the suggestion of the local photo finisher (where I bought the supplies) I was agitating every 30 seconds rather than once per minute. I was using the motion he suggested which was to tip the tank on it's side 3 times and give it a bit of a swish. I was carefull to turn the tank slightly each time I set it down so the next tip would be in a different direction.
I didn't bracket the 120 film but did for the last roll of 35mm and took this in to account for the 120 roll. The -1 stop exposures were consistently better than the others which suprised me but I still wasn't happy with the results.
I guess my next step is to trade some negatives with someone with a better scanner and see if I can get a couple printed chemically. My ultimate goal here is a panoramic film camera and scanned negatives but if I can't do at least the black and white developing myself I might be better off looking in to a medium format digital back.
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Before you go to the expense of a new scanner or a digital back, why not try an enlarger?
DBP: ultimately I want the image on the PC. Unless are you suggesting printing it and then scanning the print?
I will try and get a local lab to print a few test shots but there aren't many places around that will deal with B&W.
Stick with it -- it could be a variety of factors as mentioned above, and it's possibly a combination of you getting used to a particular film, developing regime, and then whatever hoops you have to go through with the scan. I have a 3170 as well as a Minolta slide scanner. I have better results with b&w film on the 3170 than with the slide/film scanner. I shoot a variety of films and formats, and the 3170 scans the negs pretty well. A recent example with Tri-X is here:
Stick with a particular film and developer combo -- HC110 is a favorite of mine, and works well with most films.
35mm is just a means to an end and I'll probably give away the film rebel once I've gotten to where I want to go --- I have high end digital equipment that adequately covers small format.
What I'm aiming for is 6x12 & larger panoramas with a view camera. I'm trying to use the 35mm film as a simple (and cheaper) way to get some skills up and test some ideas before wasting a lot of time on this.
I live in a small town next to a small city so the chances of finding an enlarger for sale locally aren't great. Most of the photographers I know don't shoot film anymore so I'm probably going to have to pay someone to print these and may actually have to send them off to Vancouver or Calgary at a much higher expense.
I will try shooting a roll at half the iso. The light is really bad this afternoon and all I have on hand is 100 film so I might have to try it tomorrow.
Am I understanding correctly that you are turning the tank on it's side 3 times each 30 seconds? You might want to try turning the tank completely upside down and back (should take about 1 second) for 10 seconds each minute, rotating it slightly each time. Agitation can have an impact on the results and they way I understand you to say you are agitation sounds a bit off.
You should be able to get good results if you give it a bit of time and work with some of the people here to get these problems worked out - if I can learn to do it, you can!