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Thread: Film Grain

  1. #1

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    Film Grain

    Currently I use kodak tri-x film, but i tend to get alot of obnoxious grain (at least on 35mm). Is there anything I can do to reduce it and/or what film tends to have the least visible grain? Preferably something available on both 35mm and 120/220.

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    Well, TriX is not a fine grain film, that's a fact. That's one variable. The other variable is the developer you use. You didn't tell us something about it. While the the film itself is the major factor, developer and dilution also affects the grain you'll get. One more thing that can affect the size of grain is the temperature of the final wash and differences between the temperature of the various chemicals you use. You'd better keep differences at a minimum. If your process is "correct", then using something like Tmax or Delta is the way to go.

    So, tell us a bit more about your process...

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    I use D-76 developer, diluted 1:1::developer:water. I make sure the water temperature is constantly at 75 degrees(F), although my developer and fixer are probably at room temperature, which would be ~5 degrees less.

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    In that case, you're a grainophobe sir :P
    70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit shouldn't matter much. If that's obnoxious, then try modern emulsions, or slower films.

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    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    There are a number of so called "fine grain" developers available. Every one that I know of is, in a sense, a "cheat". The grain is characteristic of the FILM - it can be made to appear less well defined by blurring the grain edges ... at the inevitable expense of acutance (read: sharpness). Personally, I'd rather have a sharp, well defined, CLEAN grain.

    Demonizing grain was a pleasant recreational pastime for the manufacturers of miracle developers in the past ... these were supposed to decrease - eliminate grain altogether, while increasing film speeds to astronomical numbers. Generally, they WORKED - but at the expense of tonal scale, definition and overall appearance. SEVERE expense.

    If you do not like D-76 try something else. T-Max has been suggested - I personally do not favor T-Max (seems "harsh" to me) but many LOVE it; there is a wi=de selection available (I left the Freudian slip).
    I would suggest, though, that you do not concentrate on any one characterstic - such as grain - it is FAR better to evaluate the results by overall appearance.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

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    Use a slower film, a t-grain emulsion (Ilford's Delta or Kodak's T-Max) , a fine grain film dev., an undiluted film dev., (D-76, 1+0 will give finer grain than 1+1, or move to a larger format.

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    Dear thisismyname09,

    Try Xtol undiluted. You should see notably smoother images.

    Neal Wydra

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    Quote Originally Posted by thisismyname09 View Post
    I use D-76 developer, diluted 1:1::developer:water. I make sure the water temperature is constantly at 75 degrees(F), although my developer and fixer are probably at room temperature, which would be ~5 degrees less.
    The development times are usually given for 20*C (68*F), did you reduce the time slightly to compensate for the higher temperature? Also, what ISO did you rate the film at?

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    Quote Originally Posted by thisismyname09 View Post
    Currently I use Kodak Tri-X film, but I tend to get a lot of obnoxious grain (at least on 35mm). Is there anything I can do to reduce it and/or what film tends to have the least visible grain? Preferably something available on both 35mm and 120/220.
    First thing to do is move to 400Tmax (aka TMY-2). Then move from D76 to XTOL. Undiluted will give you smaller grain. As you dilute it more you'll get increased sharpness in exchange for more graininess. But these differences are fairly small. These two changes will give you a big change in graininess IMHO.

    Next thing to do is hone your exposure and processing. If graininess is your thing, you want to make sure you have negatives that are just barely dense enough to print well, and no more. Graininess is directly related to density, so less density means less graininess. This kind of honing of exposure and processing is covered well in the dozens (hundreds?) of books on the Zone System and its variants.

    If these changes aren't enough for you, you'll have to give up some film speed. Your next best bet is 100Tmax.

    If that's not enough for you, you'll have to move up in format. Moving to 5x4 is a huge change, but you'll never have to deal with graininess again. A 10x enlargement is 50x40 inches after all, and prints I've made that size from 5x4 are nearly grainless. From Tri-X no less.
    Bruce Watson
    AchromaticArts.com

  10. #10
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    09,
    With all MQ developers like D76, "grain" is a function of the amount of development, all other things being equal (which, of course, they never are). That being said, you might consider underdeveloping slightly. In addition, the old lab rats would always add a little bit of used developer to the fresh soup "to soften up the grain." If you use a replenisher with your D76, the "grain" will become less apparent as colloidal silver in the used developer coats the image.
    A friend who was an army photographer said that it was drummed into them to keep all film wet times to a minimum for the best "grain." And, as others have said, keep your temps close and constant, as well.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

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