Condenser vs Diffusion Enlargers
Hello. I'd like to check if I am on the right course.... Please offer opinions and ideas if you would.
I have an Omega D-II with Variable Condenser Housing. This is the type where one condenser can be used for multiple focal length lens simply by lowering or raising a lens in the housing above the main condenser.
The bulb inside the lamp housing is frosted 75 watts.
According to Kodak literatures and Ilford, when using condenser type enlarger verses diffusion type, the development time needs to be shortened by 10 to 20% to compensate for Condenser type having higher contrast than Diffusion type. OK with me so far...
Then, when I looked at current product offering by Omega and Beseler. Most of them are Condenser type. (why would Kodak write its documentation based on less popular type of enlarger?)
I am at a stage where using Tmax-400 film and full development time resulted in way-too-high contrast print. I reduced the development time by 20% using XTOL and the negatives were thin. I tried 10% and contrast was still too high for my preferance and shadow details were not quite there. I am going to try using ISO200 setting and use 20% reduction in development time.
Am I doing the right thing here? It seem like the whole process is far more difficult than it needs to be. I'd like to do a sanity check.
Since I am using VC type paper, is there anything wrong with using suggested ISO setting, suggested development time, then simply use grade-1 filter, rather than 2, to adjust for the increased contrast??
Originally Posted by tkamiya
Don't make it too complicated. Good looking prints are the only thing of importance
You sound as if you are on the right track. Check your negative quality carefully. See if you are burning out highlights or loosing details in the shadows. With Tmax 400, an ISO 200 setting and Normal development works well most time for me but development technique and shutter speed performance is critical. Once your negatives are OK just juggle with VC paper and filters to compensate for contrast problems. Take lots of pictures and tweak your techniques. After years of a slap happy approach I learned to pay a lot of attention to developer temperature and to do the occasional shutter speed test. My Calumet shutter tester is my favorite aide. I find consistency boring but it sure pays off.
There are two problems with aiming for "grade 1".
Originally Posted by tkamiya
1st, it doesn't leave a lot of room for going lower - if you have too much contrast with the 1 filter, there aren't many choices lower than 1; and
2nd, for scenes where some parts exhibit high micro-contrast, and other parts (e.g. shadows) exhibit low micro-contrast, the low print contrast may result in muddy low contrast parts of the scenes.
It is better instead to adjust your exposure to get good shadow detail, and then adjust the temperature, time and agitation of your development until both the macro-contrast and the micro-contrast show well on something between grade 2 and grade 3.
10% difference in development time makes no difference in shadow detail. There is a difference somewhere else, shutter speed or meter response not linear most likely or just bad imterpretation of the meter recommendation.
10% less for condenser is very close in my experience.
A print on #1 paper with a overdeveloped neg does not look the same as as an undeveloped neg on #3.
The tone curves are not the same for each grade. With time you will see.
Then there is the problem of of a scene with excessive contrast. If you are already at #1, there is no place to go. So you are forced into heroic measures like masking or flashing or low contrast developers or reducing the contrast of the neg chemically. Many types of paper are not made in #1
Figure out what to do and what is going wrong and do it right.
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you said it!
fine tuning negatives for enlargement seems to be a big
part of photography. i never realized this until after
i bought myself a cold light head and later on began to contact print negatives.
every (printing) process has its own needs.
ps. have fun!
Another one of my nagging concern is, is TMAX-400 generally produce higher contrast result than what was available from Kodak 25+ years ago? I don't have the negatives anymore so I can't tell you what speed or type it was but I recall it was readily available at any camera stores. I don't recall getting as dark black as I do with Tmax-400.
One thing which may help is to print a step tablet using the different filters (VC) and look at the density range for each of the filters (keep your other variables - time, temperature, developer dilution, agitation - constant). Even if you don't have access to a densitometer you can still determine the density range by counting the number of steps and can then begin to formulate ideas about the density range for your "normal" print. Until you know what the DR for your enlarger and "standard conditions" is, it is difficult to establish a set of processing parameters which work for your desired print values.
You're just establishing a base for yourself with a given film/developer combination.
Many find the Kodak ISO to be optimistic and a 200-320 more in line with reality.
I'd suggest using a roll of film to determine your own EI before you start doing any serious
printing, You'll find it much easier in the long run.