Advice on film/developer combinations
As usual I am tapping the best photo resource I know to answer a few questions I have about film and developer combinations. The reason for asking is that I am new to LF photography and will be developing my own film for the first time.
First, a bit more background for you to digest. I currently shoot Tri-X (400) in 120 format which is then processed at the lab. I like the look and feel of the film and the way it prints on Ilford MGWT, but I also know the film is unavailable in 4X5.
As a starting point I have ordered a box of 4X5 TXP (320), the professional grade Tri-X. I am also open to other people's experiences with film in this speed range (320-400) as I tend to photograph people and like having an extra stop or to in hand. I also don't consider a bit more grain to be a distraction.
You should also know that I plan to buy BTZS tubes to use in the development process.
For all of you out there using TXP, what developers do you use, in what dilutions, development times, and why? What is the "look" you get when you develop the negs (shadow detail, contrast, etc)? What other benefits do you realize? What are the disadvantages if any (price, toxicity, volume, mixing, etc)?
For all of you who don't use TXP, which film do you use, developer, times, etc and why?
Thanks in advance.
In 4x5" I shoot a fair amount of Tri-X, and I use PMK for most purposes--it gives very smooth tonal rendition and beautiful highlights. When I want more speed I use Acufine. I tend to print on graded paper with a cold light head, and I develop 4x5" either in a Nikor daylight tank or in trays. I think it's a fine all-purpose film with a classic look for landscapes or in the studio. I also shoot it in 8x10" and process in ABC pyro for contact printing.
Thus far, I'm still working through a stock of older TXT, so my times might not be quite the same as for the new TXP sheet film, but you could use them as starting points.
TXT, PMK 1+2+100, 68 deg. F, agitating every 15 sec--
9 min. at EI 160 for N-2
11 min. at EI 200 for N-1
16 min. at EI 250 for normal contrast with a cold light enlarger
24 min. at EI 250 for N+1
For N+2 try 18 min. in ABC pyro 1+1+1+7
TXT, EI 640, Acufine stock, agitating every 30 sec.:
6 min at 68 deg. F
5.5 min at 70 deg. F
5 min at 75 deg. F
Just a note that J&C Classic 400 is no longer the same as Fortepan 400, though the old version of Classic 400 and Fortepan 400 were the same emulsion. I'm not sure which the Arista.EDU 400 film is. The new Classic 400 is a big improvement over the old Classic 400.
David G's times for TXT and PMK pyro are plenty close for TXP as well. My friend uses the newer TXP quite a bit and has settled on 15:00 at 70f for "N" time with an asa rating of 200 for shadow values. This is for use with a dichroic head enlarger (Omega D5-XL) on grade 2 paper. She gets very nice results with this combination, but it is for tray development, not BTZS tubes.
With tubes you will have to look closely at your rotation and times to make sure everything is working for you properly. Don't know about oxidation/stain residue with the tubes, so do some testing before you have a shot you really care about.
It's still made in the Forte factory, but it's not the same as Fortepan. Originally fotoimpex was just rebadging Fortepan, but when people (like me) complained about inadequate density from ClassicPan 400, they improved it, so New Classic/ClassicPan 400 is now its own thing. It is possible that Forte will decide to make the same changes to their own branded Fortepan 400, but I don't think they can be counted on to be the same emulsion. This is my understanding from correspondence with Mirko Boeddeker at fotoimpex.
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I sent some Arista.edu film to Sandy King and according to his testing it belongs to the same family as Forte film. Who knows, or cares what it really is, expose and develop Arista & Forte films similarily and the curves will be equally similar.