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  1. #1
    Necator's Avatar
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    High contrast film?

    Hi,
    A couple of months ago I began developing my own B&W film. I do not have a darkroom, so I use a changing bag and the (at least here) controversial approach of scanning my negatives, and adjusting them in Lightroom before I order prints online.

    It is thus pretty easy to adjust the contrast, but I would like to do it right (ie contrast should be where I want it on the negative). Is that achieved through film selection, development technique, choice of developer or a combination?

    I have shot mostly Fomapan 100, developed in Rodinal 1+25 or 1+50, and used the development times from the massive dev chart. So far the contrast has been lower than I was aiming for.

    What are your thoughts?

    Henrik

  2. #2
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    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

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  3. #3

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    Dear Henrik,

    The vast majority of optical printers adjust contrast and density while printing. In concept, this is not so different from what you do. If you are getting a nice full histogram from your scans you are quite close.

    Look here for some examples on judging negatives: http://www.ephotozine.com/article/As...negatives-4682

    Neal Wydra

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Necator View Post
    Hi,
    ...

    It is thus pretty easy to adjust the contrast, but I would like to do it right (ie contrast should be where I want it on the negative). Is that achieved through film selection, development technique, choice of developer or a combination?

    I have shot mostly Fomapan 100, developed in Rodinal 1+25 or 1+50, and used the development times from the massive dev chart. So far the contrast has been lower than I was aiming for.

    ...
    Henrik
    The answer is all of the above. Some films (e.g. KB25) are more contrasty than others. Some developers produce more (or less) contrast than others. Developing longer produces increased contrast - shorter produces less contrast. More vigorous agitation produces more vigorous development, and hence contrast. There are many books that discuss the Zone System, which treats this issue rigorously. In general, you need to experiment or make tests until you get a satisfactory combination. If you use roll film, you try to get things so that most negatives (scenes with average lighting and average subject contrast) need minimum or no adjustment (or print on grade 2 or 3 paper). Of course, some negatives will not fit into that category. They will have harsh or overly flat lighting or some extreme of subject contrast. Those will be difficult, but you can usually get an acceptable print if they are exposed correctly. If you use sheet film, you can use the full Zone System approach, but many use the same technique as roll film users.

  5. #5
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    Kodak Plus-X has great contrast.
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

  6. #6
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    I use Kodak Tri-X at 400 ISO and XTOL full strength and follow the directions. It comes out bang on every time. Not high contrast unless the scene is high contrast. Do you want high contrast from a low contrast scene?

    Steve
    Last edited by Sirius Glass; 09-21-2009 at 04:14 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

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  7. #7
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    I actually like relatively low contrast in my negatives for scanning: it's easier to increase contrast in software than to decrease contrast...
    If contrast is WAY too low, you should look at both the contrast of the scene you photograph (a low contrast scene will not give high contrast negatives) as well as development time: thin&low contrast negatives can be improved by increasing development time...

  8. #8

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    You may be able to achieve some contrast control by evaluating the scene and using specific color filters.

    http://www.tiffen.com/camera_filters.htm

    \
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    "Lo único de lo que el mundo no se cansará nunca es de exageración." Salvador Dalí

  9. #9

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    Contrast of the negative is controlled by development. The longer you develop, the higher the contrast.

    Changes in development affect the effective speed of the film. So as you shorten development, you have to increase exposure.

    Rodinal is a "speed losing" developer. To develop to "box speed" on most films, you have to develop it to moderately high contrast (contrast index of like 0.65 to 0.7 or more). So either lower your developing time and EI, or use a developer than maintains film speed (say D-76 or HC-110), or is "speed enhancing" (say, XTOL, DD-X, or Microphen).

    Note that for a scanner, the "challenge" isn't the contrast, per-se. It's how dense the highlights of the negative are, at a certain point it can't see through the dense negative, or gets noisy. But, that's pretty much free with reducing development time and EI.

  10. #10
    Necator's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your input. Mark, thank you for mentioning Ansel Adams "The Negative", I have now ordered it from my local library, should be an interesting read.

    Looks like I should experiment with longer development times (longer than the ones listed in the massive dev chart). I was not aware that Rodinal was a speed losing developer, that could explain my flat looking negatives. I have considered getting some HC-110, not as a replacement for Rodinal, but rather as supplement. It is also said to be better at handling Tri-X and Tmax type films.

    Just out of curiosity. I have noticed that the development times (massive dev chart) for Fomapan 100 in Rodinal are a lot shorter than for e.g. Agfa APX100 or Ilford FP+. Are films really that different? For APX100, the development time is almost twice as the one for Fomapan 100.

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