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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    35mm RF

    Film grain vs paper grain at higher grades

    We've heard it before-- when faced with a low contrast scene, underexpose and give the film more development to increase the contrast. In the old days, this might make sense with graded papers. But with VC papers, is this still good advice?

    If I'm not wrong, this effectively amounts to pushing the film and therefore increases film grain. Which means I'll get a more grainy pix when I print, albeit with better contrast.

    Would it be better for me to expose and develop normally, then print at a paper grade to increase the contrast?

    I know printing at a higher grade (say grade 4) would result in a more grainy print. But would it be as grainy as printing from a pushed negative at (say) grade 2?

    I suppose greater film grain on a lower grade paper is different from greater grain on a higher grade paper. Which is preferable, in your view?

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    West Midlands, UK, and Turkey
    Multi Format
    Yes it's still good advice. But it really depends on how low the contrast is and also how you envisage the print looking.

    If you increase development slightly and use a grade higher paper then your prints shouldn't be significantly more grainy.

    It's preferable to have good negatives as they will be far easier to print.


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Richmond, VA
    Multi Format
    Increasing development makes sense to me, and maybe without underexposing. Underexposure will dump shadow detail, which, if the subject (and lighting) are flat (low contrast), may not be required to fit everything into the range capability of the film/developer combo. Just adding to development time will also increase separation between adjacent tones too (like in the middle of the range, from zone 4-7), and with VC paper, you can use one exposure at a low grade to bring in highlights, then a high filter to blacken the shadows below the desired detail level.
    My feeling is always fill up the negative. It may take longer to print, but the results are usually richer.



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