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  1. #1

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    Do my negatives have too little contrast?

    Being new to film photography, it's not clear to me how much contrast my b&w negatives "should" have. I've attached a representative example of how my current negatives look straight out of the scanner.

    I do not have any immediate plans to do any optical prints, instead I wish to scan my negatives.

    In this case, is it better to have negatives lacking in contrast (to be fixed with "curves" in Photoshop), or should the development procedure be altered to give more contrast?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails img001.jpg  

  2. #2
    darkosaric's Avatar
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    Hi,

    can you explain in details procedure how do you develop your negatives (which film, developer, agitation...)?

  3. #3
    bsdunek's Avatar
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    The information darkosaric asked for would be helpful. The thing I notice is there are no good highlights or whites. They look gray. I would say a little more contrast would be good. That said, it does depend on the scan, and, as I print mine in the darkroom, that's the eye I look with. Let's see what others say.
    Bruce

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  4. #4
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    Looks like natural lighting in shadow. No flash. No direct sunlight. If you're using roll film and this is but one exposure then I doubt that changing processing would do much for you. However, for the aforementioned reasons, this is a guess. NEED INPUT.
    Thank you.
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  5. #5
    mts
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    I agree that your sample is quite flat without good highlights. Are your film edges completely clear of fog? Consider photographing a black card, a white card, and 18% grey card side by side in sunlight using a series of exposure values that should produce one or more good negative going from Dmin to Dmax. Then adjust your processing accordingly to get the best possible result.
    By denying the facts, any paradox can be sustained--Galileo

  6. #6

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    Note that "straight from the scanner" images tend to look flat, because the first priority in scanning is to avoid clipping. If the highlights look grey in a scanned image, you can always brighten them later, but if you lost information at scan time you can't get it back. So I wouldn't be too quick to assume that a flat scan means a flat negative.

    But the highest values in this image still look pretty low, and that's where more information from the OP would be helpful. How dark are those areas on the negative (as compared to, say, the exposed leader)? Do those grey highlights mean that the white point on the scanner was set too high, or that the densest areas of the negative are kind of murky rather than a substantial black?

    Sorry for the d*g*t*l content, but I think it's necessary to tease apart the aspects of the image that can be traced to various stages of the hybrid process that got it to us.

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    Nathan Tenny
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  7. #7
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    Straight from the scanner images do not look this flat. I can tell he's using a Nikon film scanner as well (which I also have) and they do not output flat negatives like this unless the negative is lacking contrast itself.

    This looks underexposed and/or underdeveloped. Shadow detail is there but highlights seem more than a stop off. Also, you can see shadows from the arms so I don't think the entire scene was under a shadow.

    My vote is for underdeveloped based on the feel. Edge markers will tell the tale.
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

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  8. #8

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    Thanks for the replies.

    The film is Fomapan 100, developed in Calbe R09 1:40 for 7.5 minutes at 20 degrees Celsius. I agitate continuously for the first 30 seconds, then for 5 seconds every 30 seconds. I use Kodak Max-stop.

    The scanner is an Epson 2480 and I use the included "Epson Scan" software set to "BW Negative".

    I see no fog on the film edges.

    To my untrained eye, the highlights on the negatives look completely black. Before I got the scanner I was actually concerned that I was severely overexposing and overdeveloping, because there appeared to be absolutely no detail in skies etc.

    I can't remember what the light was like in this particular shot, but almost all of the shots I've taken (some of which I know were in bright sunlight) share the same problem.

    I don't think I'm underexposing. I've actually exposed 2/3 - 1 stop more than what the meter suggests.
    Last edited by anjo; 05-31-2009 at 01:51 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    If it's 120 roll film then there may be an issue with the Fomapan 100 film base which is quite blue, while this has no detrimental effects when enlarging it does when scanning compared to a more conventional film base.

    I rarely scan negatives but did scan some Fomapan100 negs from my Mamiya 645 last Sunday and they do have the same flat look as yours. So it may not be the best choice of film for scanning unless you spend some time tweaking the scanner settings to get the best from these films. Both Fomapan 100 & 200 give best results around half the stated box speed.

    Ian

  10. #10

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    Sorry, should've mentioned that it's 35 mm film. I don't know how the base of the 120 version looks, but the 35 mm version is also sort of blue-grayish.

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