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Thread: XTOL and grain

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    mikepry's Avatar
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    XTOL and grain

    I have been using some Fomapan 200 (35mm) and tried it out first with Rodinal and the grain was to much for my taste. I then tried Xtol, which I use for all my LF work and the rec. times were 6 min. (straight XTOL). I felt like that was a little too short so to minimize any possibility of errors in processing time I used the XTOL 1:2. After some testing I ended up at 7 min. with only 5 inversions to start and one gentle inversion every 30 sec. Finally great negs to print but holy cow the grain seems worst than the Rodinal! What gives? I primarily do LF but want to do some 35mm work and I keep hitting all these stumbling blocks. I have purchased a bulk roll of the Fomapan 200 and want to stick with it. Can anyone advise as to why the XTOL is giving the horrendous grain? Here is an image I did down in Alabama to show the grain I'm talking about. Thanks for any info you could pass on.

    Bayou le Batre
    "EVERY film and paper is good .......... for something"
    Phil Davis

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikepry View Post
    I have been using some Fomapan 200 (35mm) and tried it out first with Rodinal and the grain was to much for my taste. I then tried Xtol, which I use for all my LF work and the rec. times were 6 min. (straight XTOL). I felt like that was a little too short so to minimize any possibility of errors in processing time I used the XTOL 1:2. After some testing I ended up at 7 min. with only 5 inversions to start and one gentle inversion every 30 sec. Finally great negs to print but holy cow the grain seems worst than the Rodinal! What gives? I primarily do LF but want to do some 35mm work and I keep hitting all these stumbling blocks. I have purchased a bulk roll of the Fomapan 200 and want to stick with it. Can anyone advise as to why the XTOL is giving the horrendous grain? Here is an image I did down in Alabama to show the grain I'm talking about. Thanks for any info you could pass on.

    Bayou le Batre
    Mike, a reminder and a suggestion:

    Reminder - the grain size and shape is an emulsion characteristic - put there by the film manufacturer. For finer grain, Try Delta 100 or TMAX-100.

    Another Reminder: Undiluted XTOL is a fine grain developer that contains both sodium sulfite and ascorbate - try it undiluted with the FOMA 200.
    Tom Hoskinson
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    gainer's Avatar
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    Did you scan a print or a negative to show us? What is the minimum density over fog of the negative? Did you try bracketting exposures plus and minus half a stop?

    I have seen a lot of my own photos that look grainier scanned than printed, even when I scan them from the photographic print. Scanners have a world of their own problems. If you have not already, do a Google on "grain aliasing."

    Generally, with more than the absolutely necessary negative density comes more than the absolutely necessary graininess.

    Forgive me if you already know all this.
    Gadget Gainer

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    mikepry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gainer View Post
    Did you scan a print or a negative to show us? What is the minimum density over fog of the negative? Did you try bracketting exposures plus and minus half a stop?

    I have seen a lot of my own photos that look grainier scanned than printed, even when I scan them from the photographic print. Scanners have a world of their own problems. If you have not already, do a Google on "grain aliasing."

    Generally, with more than the absolutely necessary negative density comes more than the absolutely necessary graininess.

    Forgive me if you already know all this.
    I have a link at the bottom of my post (Bayou le Batre) that is a neg scan. I have also printed it and it is GRAINY. I don't know about the minimum density over fog but do know that I did a few test strips till I got the highlights where I want them and the shadows just fell into place beautifully. The finished print just sparkles and I couldn't be any more pleased ....... except for the grain.

    I have wanted to do a minimum density over fog test but all I have is an incident meter and I don't know if I can do it with that or not. My camera doesn't have a meter.

    Mike
    "EVERY film and paper is good .......... for something"
    Phil Davis

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    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    I think you have fairly little grain for 35mm, especially considering it's Foma. Out of curiosity, what did you expect? I have some ISO100 negs with more grain than that.
    I have been using a staining developer lately, which seems to mask the grain quite well. PMK is supposed to be good for enlarging. I've been using FP4 with Pyrocat-MC and Pyrocat-HD and get very nice grain with it.
    Don't know if that helps or not. Your print looks like a print made from 645 and ISO 400 film.
    - Thomas
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    One point is that what looks like grain in screen-sized scans like the one Mike has posted is often not grain at all, but digital compression artifacts. To see the actual grain, you usually need a much higher-resolution scan. This point is actually moot for Mike, since he reports that a conventional print looks grainy, but it's worth mentioning for others.

    I've just reviewed some sample scans I've made with Fomapan 200, and I also see XTOL producing worse grain with this film than some other developers. For me, both D-76 and Ryuji Suzuki's DS-10 produce better grain, at least in my samples. (These are rather unscientifically collected, though; it could be I'm seeing differences in degree of development.) Therefore, you might want to try D-76 or DS-10. For me, PC-Glycol and DS-12 produce results that are similar to those of XTOL. I've never tried this film with Rodinal or any pyro developer, so I can't comment on these combinations.

    My own impression is that, even in XTOL, Fomapan 200 is finer-grained than most ISO 400 films. (T-Max 400 is an exception.) If you're used to larger formats, it could be you're simply running into the limitations of 35mm. Perhaps you'd be happier with medium format as a relatively portable format. Failing that, a T-grain film might be what you need. (There's some debate about whether Fomapan 200 is a T-grain film. I tend to believe it's not.)

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    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    Looks similar to my 35mm Tri-x in xtol at 1:1. I think you'll need to go to Tmax or Pan-F if you really want significantly less grain in 35mm.....I also noticed that you are in Salem....that is about a half hour from here...small world.

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    mikepry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srs5694 View Post
    I've just reviewed some sample scans I've made with Fomapan 200, and I also see XTOL producing worse grain with this film than some other developers.
    That's what I was thinking. Maybe Xtol isn't suited for this film (as far as grain goes). But the tonality is so nice. I was also thinking that maybe it is the higher dilution that could be the culprit. Before I go off headstrong for that ever evasive magic bullet, I think I will try either straight, or 1:1, or both. I know I will have grain with the smaller format of 35mm but not a piece of #50 grit sandpaper for a sky! Trust me, the finished 8X10 is waaaaay grainy. Thanks for all your input.
    "EVERY film and paper is good .......... for something"
    Phil Davis

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    I've used a decent amount of Fomapan 200, not with XTOL but with my own ascorbate-phenidone developer that is very close to XTOL. Fomapan 200 is not a fine-grained film but the results are pleasing. I did find that the same film with Rodinal 1+50 showed considerably more grain (these are from scans, not prints). You may get more pleasing results by rating the film at EI 100 and cutting dev time, or use your XTOL undiluted, as others have suggested. Good luck!

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    gainer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikepry View Post
    I have a link at the bottom of my post (Bayou le Batre) that is a neg scan. I have also printed it and it is GRAINY. I don't know about the minimum density over fog but do know that I did a few test strips till I got the highlights where I want them and the shadows just fell into place beautifully. The finished print just sparkles and I couldn't be any more pleased ....... except for the grain.

    I have wanted to do a minimum density over fog test but all I have is an incident meter and I don't know if I can do it with that or not. My camera doesn't have a meter.

    Mike
    If it were my choice, I would bracket exposures 1/2 stop over and under to see least the that would give the required shadows. It might help, and with pictures like that one, it would be worth wasting some film. I'm like one of the other posters. My first reaction was "What grain?"
    Gadget Gainer

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