Tmax+XTOL vs TriX+D76
My experiment is still on going, but I'd like to solicit opinions from folks far more experienced here.
I have been having problems with getting what I want from my chosen 35mm film+developer, Tmax400-2 + XTOL. I have shot them with EI200, EI400, developed full strength, 1:1, regular time per chart, -20%, -15%, etc.
The result seems to be too high in contrast with not much of smooth middle gray. It goes from shadow to highlight too quickly. Developing it at -20% to lower the contrast ended up being too thin, -15% showed not enough contrast but also no smooth middle gray. For lack of better way to express the result, the result is "jumpy" from shadow to highlight.
Now, I just shot my first roll of MEDIUM FORMAT film and developed it. This time, the combination was Tri-X 400 developed with D-76 1:1 -10% dev time. The result was fantastic. It had the level of contrast I liked and very smooth and long gray tones. This was the result I was looking for.
Now, the question part:
1) What's my problem with Tmax-400 and XTOL combination?
2) Are these the expected result?
3) Is this the result of different enlargement factor? (135 vs 120)
I have a frig full of Tmax. If there is a problem with my shooting or processing, I'd like to keep using them. I'm very tempted to get Tri-X for 135 and/or process Tmax in D-76... but I'd like to get my bearing before I start mixing matching.
You could be doing any number of things wrong. I use TMX and TMY more than a little bit, and I never have that sort of problem with either. For the record, I develop both in either D-76 or XTOL 1+1. I don't find TMAX films to be lacking at all, but they are more sensitive to development controls than the old standbys of Plus-X and Tri-X. Make sure your thermometer is accurate and consistent, and when all else fails, RTFM. Find it here for TMX and here for TMY.
How and how often are you agitating? Too much agitation can lead to too high contrast for a negative. The standard method is 5 inversions every minute, followed by tapping the tank to dislodge airbubbles.
Originally Posted by tkamiya
I RTFM'd so much that at one point I had Kodak literatures on my bed side table. My adgitation method is:
30 seconds wait
30 seconds wait
and repeat 2/30 combination for rest of the processing time.
The difference is in the film, not developer so much. In either case you need to zero in on the accurate development time and quit bouncing around using different films/developers. Each combo needs to be zeroed out to print properly and then compared, same subject. same time.
Published times are not necessarily correct. there are differences in enlarger, enlargings lenses, water, thermometers. If all you stuff is not perfect, the times are off. Diffusion enlargers require a more conrtasty neg than condenser.
I find Kodak times almost perfect if I take 10% off for a condenser enlarger.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
What causes the symptoms I described though? If I developed, the contrast will be lower. If I developed longer, it will be higher. What is the cause of this lack of smooth middle gray?
For the record, I am not jumping combination... My choice for 35mm is tmax400 + XTOL. I picked Tri-X + D76 for medium format. I intend to stick with this combination.
I appreciate the tips, but can someone please offer practical directions that I can take my experiment? Symptoms are rather consistent. It is obvious the problem exist on my end as others are getting excellent results. I'd rather not randomly change my parameters. (or is that an only way?)
You are on the right track. As Frank Schifano said above, TMY is less forgiving of development error than 400TX. Your goal should be to identify and control varaibles: subject, exposure (meter and methodology), temp, time, agitation, developer strength (freshness, dilution.)
May be time to start over. Start at box speed for tmy which you should easily attain in either developer. Start with fresh dev used full strength as long as you'll be using times of at least 5 min. (I think it's foolish to reuse developer, given how cheap it is compared to the investment you make acquiring the images.) Go with Kodak's recommended times minus 5-10% to start. They aren't far off.
Try to shoot scenes of average contrast and full tonal range for testing purposes. I'd meter off a gray card if reflective metering so that you minimize that variable.
Choose an agitation method and stick with it, precisely. And use a water bath to control your developer temp; I'd say this is where most people go awry, and a degree or two off is enough with TMY to make a difference. Ideally you want at least a 5-min dev time so that small errors aren't so large a proportion of the total time. Include fill and empty time in your dev time, or not---just do things the same way every time.
Print the resulting negs on grade 2 paper/filter and see what you've got. I'd recommend adjusting only dev time at first as you zero in on your "correct" time, just so you don't have so many variables in play. You can also adjust contrast with agitation, but time is simpler and does the same thing more or less.
Once you've nailed the "normal" time for average-contrast scenes you can start playing with the other variables. Make changes in 5% increments and keep good records, and you'll have it nailed within a few rolls.
I think you are right - I should start over. As you say, I have too many parameters that are changing and that's part of my problem. I don't know what to change next. I've got a frig full of Tmax400-2. I think I'm going to do a scientific experiment in controlled environment. I knew, Tmax is sensitive to development parameters but may be it's far more sensitive than what I assumed.
I *always* use fresh solutions. Not freshly mixed but NOT reused. I just didn't add yet one more parameter. It's confusing enough!
TMY is less forgiving of development error than 400TX
This has been urban legend from the first time a lab guy souped test Tmax in HC-110 and didn't get Tri-X. Development error is very difficult to achieve with TMY & XTOL.
Here's what it looks like (from Foto Import, agitation every 30 seconds)
TMY-2, in EITHER XTOL or D-76 is totally linear over a 14 stop range. No jumps, bumps, lumps, or potholes. There isn't anything YOU can do to change that. The tonal relationship doesn't change, only the slope, so if you overdevelop by two minutes you still have a linear tonality, but you have to print on a softer paper. BTW, overdeveloping by 2 minutes is a 2 stop push with TMY2 and XTOL. Tri-X and D-76 needs 2'45", so, yes, I suppose TMY2 IS more sensitive to a mistake, but missing the mark by 2+ minutes isn't really a 'mistake'.
How are you evaluating your film ? Eyeball, Scan, or Print ?
MAKE CONTACT PRINTS if you aren't.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
My evaluation methods are very unscientific. I print it using D-II enlarger with #2 filter to Ilford RC MG, process it with Dektol, then view with my own eyeballs. I have contact prints but frames are so small (35mm) that they are unsuitable for evaluations. Right now, I neither have the equipment nor the knowledge to do any other form of evaluation. But, I do know, my current results aren't what I am looking for. They are very hard, harsh, and not very pleasing. I will be taking Mike's advise and do more testing from scratch. Sensitive to processing or not, I think I will benefit much more by having a solid set of data.
Thank you for the chart and assurance that there are no technical issues with this film in conjunction with what I am trying to achieve. I am VERY sure, I am the problem, not the product.