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  1. #1

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    More speed, less grain

    I enlarge to 8x10 or 11x14 from 35mm negatives. Using Tri-X with Xtol 1:1, there is more grain than I would like on an 11x14 print that I really coned down on from the negative.

    I have done 11x14 before where most of the negative was used and I found the grain acceptable using Tri X or Neopan 400 shot at 320 and developed in D-76 1:1

    I plan on shooting indoors without a flash and want a B&W print film (35mm)/developer combo that can be enlarged to 11x14 with not too much grain (very subjective, I know).

    I've read of Diafine with Tri-X rated at 1250 is a good pair. Is that the "best" combo or is Neopan 1600 rated at box speed or less with X tol or Delta 3200 with whatever developer better for less grain?

  2. #2
    keithwms's Avatar
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    It depends how much perceived sharpness you are willing to trade away for the lower grain.

    For low grain, I think my money would be on the neopan 1600 in wd2d+ or another pyro. I think xtol/perceptol etc. would likely give more grain than you want... more apparent resolution too, but that's the tradeoff. Some will rightly assert that xtol and neopan 1600 is a very nice combo, but if you are feeling a bit too sensitive to the grain, well...

    Experiment, experiment!

    Delta 3200 is a 1600 speed film, no question about it. But since you are shooting 35mm, personally, I'd go with the neopan. It is superior in many respects, in my opinion.

    IMHO the very best thing you can do to lower grain while retaining speed is to hop up to a larger format; 645 can give you the same lens speed but the grain will be more along the lines of what you'd get in 35mm a half stop slower; for a really rough approximation see my blog on the subject of format advantage.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  3. #3

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    Perhaps TMAX 400 with a speed-increasing developer would satisfy you. That's what I would try. DD_X or Microphen developers. Emphasis on the "try". Experiments are the key to finding what I like. TMAX400 can be exposed at 800 with no change in development, hinting that it might be pushed another stop with success.

  4. #4
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    I use Kodak Tmax 400 (TMY-2) with Xtol replenished. From 35mm I have very fine grain in an 8x10 enlargement.

    I think you'll find it difficult to find a developer that gives you finer grain than Xtol replenished and looks sharp to the same degree.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #5

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    Thanks for your suggestions. How do you replenish X tol as I use it diluted 1:1 one shot. What changes in development times are there once you replenish? Does X tol replenished give fine grain with all films such as Neopan 400 or Tri X in addition to Tmax 400. I just want to limit my films and work with Tri X or Neopan 400 which I have loads of.

  6. #6
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Have to agree with Thomas, Tmax 400 (new or old) is superb in replenished Xtol. It's worth noting that once seasoned a replenished developer gives better results with all film than the same developer used fresh, finer, grain, better tonality & sharpness.

    Ian

  7. #7
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Replenished Xtol is basically stock solution, and each roll that you process will require you to replenish with about 70-100ml fresh stock per roll.

    That's it. Then you have to do some basic testing to find processing times that suit you. Neopan 400 is more temperamental than Tri-X with a pronounced shoulder. Xtol keeps that in check pretty well, but you want to be more careful with your exposures. If I were you I'd use Neo 400 in flat lighting and Tri-X for everything else.
    Tmax 400 gives a substantial improvement in grain compared to both those films, but both films you're using are not exactly fine grained films to begin with. If I were you I'd settle on one film instead of two, which will help you understand better what happens during processing, and how to tweak your processing so that you can increase or decrease contrast to suit your needs in printing.

    - Thomas

    Quote Originally Posted by ymc226 View Post
    Thanks for your suggestions. How do you replenish X tol as I use it diluted 1:1 one shot. What changes in development times are there once you replenish? Does X tol replenished give fine grain with all films such as Neopan 400 or Tri X in addition to Tmax 400. I just want to limit my films and work with Tri X or Neopan 400 which I have loads of.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  8. #8
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    A decent starting time for an exposure index of 400 for Neo 400 is about 8 minutes, with constant gentle agitation for the first 30 seconds. I would agitate 10s at the 3m and 6m mark, so two more agitations. But that's how I like to use it.
    Tri-X could use a minute more for normal scenes.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  9. #9

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    I fully agree with Thomas about TMY-2. That film is just about, if not the finest grained 400 speed B&W film on the market right now, considerably less grainy than Tri-X, and has a very nice tonal range to boot. Does it look like Tri-X? Not exactly, but I think you'll find it agreeable. Kodak hit a home run when they developed this laterst version of the film.

    I use XTOL 1+1 almost exclusively with this film and don't find grain to be a problem. Of course, it is a fast film and 11 x 14 is an awfully big enlargement to make from a 35 mm negative, so I do expect to see some grain. That is unavoidable. For prints with no apparent grain, a larger negative is the key. That's the bottom line.

    Replenishment is not hard to do, but can be problematic if you don't run a lot of film. It works great in labs that run a lot of film because everything is turned over regularly and the system reaches a point of stable equilibrium. For the occasional user, the developer can sit around oxidizing for days, sometimes weeks, between uses, so you can't count on consistency. Kodak gives very explicit instructions on the practice on page 4 of this publication In any case, I've used fresh stock solution XTOL and fresh XTOL 1+1 and the differences between the two modes of use are slight. The tradeoff in the slightly lower grain to be had by using straight stock solution is offset the consistency I get by using fresh dilute developer.
    Frank Schifano

  10. #10
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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    One other option... Ilford XP2.

    It's not a true black-and-white film (you develop it in C41 chemicals; well, when I shoot it I have someone else develop it in C41 chemicals, but you get my point). However, because it's dye-based the apparent grain is smaller.

    Give a roll a try and see if it fits your application. It can be printed much as any other black-and-white negative since it has no orange mask like other C41 films have.
    Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.

    Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?

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