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  1. #1

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    If XP2, then why not Reala for monochrome.

    Like many people, I have made beautiful monochrome prints with Ilford's XP2Super (and before that, XP1 and XP2). Over on the Ilford forum, an Ilford Fact Sheet titled "Making Your First Black & White Print" states on Page 3 (right column in the PDF): "Printing from Colour Negatives. Multigrade paper produces reasonable black and white prints from colour negatives. Use a Multigrade filter 3 or 4 to set an initial contrast level." When I saw this the other day, it got me thinking.

    Why only a "reasonable" result with color negative film? Why not as good as a chromogenic film? Is it just the orange mask, or something else?

    Occasionally I have made a satisfactory black and white print from Reala 100, but there was no black and white negative of the same scene available for comparison, which might have made a difference in my satisfaction.

    I know some people shoot color negs and then scan them for both color and B&W output on an inkjet printer, but I don't recall seeing anyone recommend shooting color negs and then printing on traditional black and white paper in the darkroom (unless they were using Panalure).

    When I find the opportunity, I plan to shoot the same scene with both FP4+ and then Reala 100 and print the results on Multigrade. But it will be awhile before I can do so. Meanwhile, I wondered if any of you have had any experience with this. If so, and assuming you were not happy with printing color negs on Ilford Multigrade--and yet like XP2 Super--do you know the technical reason for that difference?

    If I could get an excellent monochrome print from color film, then I would shoot Reala 100 and Superia 400 exclusively. I could have color for the "family snaps" and yet have scenics and still lifes on the same roll. Otherwise, I use Reala 100 (in two formats), Superia 400, XP2 (in two formats), and FP4+ (in two formats).

    Pat Trent

    PS: Apologies if there is a thread on this point somewhere, but I could not find one here or in some other forums I searched (or Google).

  2. #2

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    My experience is that two things happen when you attempt to print color negatives on black and white paper not designed for the task. One thing is an exaggeration of the grain of the color negative. The other thing is the tonal values look off. While it is relatively easy to get enough contrast, the resulting image just does not look quite right...that is because the color negative renders the image in three color layers, and the black and white paper is not sensitive to all of these colors. That is why Kodak used to make Panalure paper, which was more panchromatic in its sensitivity, thus rendering the "tones" correctly.

  3. #3

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    Wouldn't graded paper be better because it would respond equally to the blue and green in the film?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by PHOTOTONE View Post
    My experience is that two things happen when you attempt to print color negatives on black and white paper not designed for the task. One thing is an exaggeration of the grain of the color negative. The other thing is the tonal values look off. While it is relatively easy to get enough contrast, the resulting image just does not look quite right...that is because the color negative renders the image in three color layers, and the black and white paper is not sensitive to all of these colors. That is why Kodak used to make Panalure paper, which was more panchromatic in its sensitivity, thus rendering the "tones" correctly.
    That's what puzzles me, the point about the grain. XP2 Super produces fine grain when exposed at EI200-250, and Superia 400 also has reduced grain when shot at EI 200-250 compared to exposures at 400. What I can't figure out is why color negative film (say Superia exposed at EI 200-250, or Reala 100 exposed at EI 64-80) would have more grain than XP2 in a B&W print on monochrome silver paper.

    OK, so you're finding that the tones might be there, but "off." I will look for that when I run my own side-by-side comparisons.

    Thanks for the reply.
    Pat

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by reub2000 View Post
    Wouldn't graded paper be better because it would respond equally to the blue and green in the film?
    Probably. It was the quote from Ilford in reference to Multigrade that got me thinking about this, but if I recall correctly, I used graded paper for those prints I made from color negs, and I would start out with graded paper for this purpose.

    I found 400 speed color neg a bit grainy in 35mm but the 100 speed was smooth. Didn't try it yet in 120 roll film.

    Pat

  6. #6

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    Pat. There has been "offshoot" posts on this in Panalure threads. Some have even posted thumbnails to demonstrate that standard B&W paper makes a good job of a colour neg.

    In the Ilford handbook called "Ilford Multigrade Papers - A Manual For The Darkroom" there is an example. While it admits that red comes out as black and that blue skies appear white, the prints used in the example only seem to demonstrate the former. The blue sky on the colour neg print has been reproduced as a mid grey as would have been the case if the neg was B&W using say an orange filter. This may of course have required extensive burning to get this but if it did you'd have thought that Ilford would have mentioned this as being the only way to darken skies.

    So yes the tones are different from what they would be if it was a B&W neg but in the print that was used the fact that red looks darker( it didn't look black as I understand the word) not lighter than green does not in my opinion detract from the print.

    All I can say is that if the original colour print had not been shown and I had been unaware that it was shot from a colour neg, then I'd have been none the wiser.

    Presumably in close up people shots, lips and tanned skin would look darker but this may not be a bad thing. Depends on how dark the lips would turn out, I suppose.

    I am sure others will be able to give their experience on this. Maybe someone will attach an example of a person shot.

    Ilford go on to say that printing exposure times may be 3 to 4 times longer and as a starting point use a #3 or #4 filter. It also recommends that you use slower, high definition colour neg film but doesn't say what constitutes slower and high definition. I'd have thought Reala would have met the qualification. Not sure about Superia 400 which is medium speed. Higher speeds look grainier - again this may suit some subjects.

    Give it a go from a colour neg. You may be pleasantly surprised by at least some prints. Whether it would be a complete substitute for B&W negs or XP2 Super, only you can decide.

    I have yet to try it myself but will at some stage.

    pentaxuser

  7. #7
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    I've printed mono shots from Reala some years ago, but I'm not sure that it is the same film now as it was back then. The other difference was that I printed them on Tetenal Vario Comfort paper and that suited them way better than Ilford MG. They were portraits and I'd shot colour for the model and some 120 b&w for myself, but the best expressions were definitely caught on the Reala, so I tried printing them. They were clean and grain wasn't an issue, so I'd certainly say it was worth trying.
    Last edited by Peter Black; 01-20-2007 at 03:50 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: correct name of paper

  8. #8

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    Pat. Having seen the comments on graded v multigrade paper, I can add that Ilford says that its multigrade papers have a slightly wider colour sensitivity and are thus more suited to printing colour negs than conventional graded papers.

    I know this flies in the face of others' comment and I am not looking to start an argument but I thought you should know what Ilford's statement is.

    As I have said I cannot comment from experience unfortunately

    pentaxuser

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by PatTrent View Post
    Why only a "reasonable" result with color negative film? Why not as good as a chromogenic film? Is it just the orange mask, or something else?
    Dear Pat,

    Definitely something else. Think about it this way.

    Consider a colour negative. All colours are reproduced as their complementaries i.e. red = cyan, cyan = red, green = magenta, magenta = green, blue = yellow, yellow = blue.

    Consider a B+W photographic paper. A graded paper is normally sensitive to blue/UV only, a VC paper to blue + green (hence the way they are normally filtered: minus blue = yellow and minus green = magenta).

    B+W paper is insensitive to red and yellow -- otherwise you couldn't use safelights. Anything that's cyan or blue in the original, e.g. a blue sky, will be red or yellow in the negative and therefore print disproportionately dark. With other colours, there will be a tonal shift: yellows (blue in the neg) will print almost like whites.

    The orange mask in all current colour neg films except Rollei Scanfilm merely acts as a safelight and prolongs exposures. Scanfilm prints faster but the tonal shifts are still the same.

    In many subjects, the colours are desaturated and impure, and you can just about get away with a print on VC, but the tonality will still be nasty. On blue-sensitive (graded) paper, things will be even worse.

    Hope this clarifies matters.

    Cheers,

    R. (www.rogerandfrances.com)

  10. #10
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    One further point, following up on the above.

    The success you achieve will vary with the subject matter of the photograph.

    If the image depends on differentiating between the various colours for its effect, the result is likely to disappoint. If, however, the original subject of the photograph is either substantially of one colour, or if it is, in fact, mainly grey or black and white, the result may be entirely satisfactory.

    The problem is in visualizing the result ahead of time.

    Matt

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