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  1. #111
    Stephen Benskin's Avatar
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    Kenton, what type of enlarger do you use, condenser or diffusion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Benskin View Post
    Kenton, what type of enlarger do you use, condenser or diffusion?

    Its a Beseler 23c with a condenser head. It seems to work fine with 35mm and Tri-X negatives but when I switched to 120 all hell broke loose. But I've never tried printing anything other than T-Max in 120. The top bellows is adjusted to 6x7 and its using a different lens obviously. Those are the only change from 35mm.
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  3. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    Seriously though,

    Which TMax?

    And which etc.?

    And you meter how?

    And you develop how?

    And shoot it at EI 100, 400, ... ?
    Etc. means Delta and Acros. Tmax 400. Out of photographing experience and looking at my ciurves, I find that these flat grain films rise very suddenly, nothing happens then when they rise they go very straight. If you underexpose there is no detail in the shadows. My point of view. With more conventional film (especially good old Efke) the toe is gentle in its rising and with an accidentally underexposure you would still be able to salvage a bit more detail.

  4. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbrede View Post
    Its a Beseler 23c with a condenser head. It seems to work fine with 35mm and Tri-X negatives but when I switched to 120 all hell broke loose. But I've never tried printing anything other than T-Max in 120. The top bellows is adjusted to 6x7 and its using a different lens obviously. Those are the only change from 35mm.
    For a negative to print the same on the same grade of paper when comparing a condenser and diffusion enlargers, the negatives need to have different density ranges. Because of the light is more parallel with a condenser, a greater portion bounce off the film grain effectively increasing the contrast of the negative. This is called the Callier Coefficient. If the manufacturer has only one set of development instructions, they are usually for diffusion enlargers. So, if you are following the instructions and using a condenser enlarger, you are over processing. I don't believe this is the complete answer as to your situation, but it probably plays a factor.

    This is a chart from Photographic Materials and Processes that compares the required negative density ranges for different paper grades printed in both a condenser and diffusion enlarger.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    There is something you wrote that is somewhat puzzling, " Even with a strait #00 filter, the darks would build up in seconds, before the highlights, and that was stopped down to f/22 and f/32 on the enlarger." Is there something about the f/Stop that you believe is significant? I think there's something in this sentence that might help solve your problem.

    Have you tried making a print without any filters? What about making a printed using graded paper? Maybe your processing is off with the 120 film. A simple test sensitometric test will tell you what you're getting. BTZS explains how to do it well enough to achieve something meaningful. You can also read one of your negative. If the density range should match the paper LER and you're still getting overly contrasty prints, then it can't be the processing.

    The problem here is that what you are experiencing, too contrasty with 00 filters, seems to extreme if you are correctly doing everything you say and based on your positive experience with 35mm. I think we are missing a few pieces of the puzzle.

  5. #115

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    Quote Originally Posted by kbrede View Post
    Its a Beseler 23c with a condenser head. It seems to work fine with 35mm and Tri-X negatives but when I switched to 120 all hell broke loose. But I've never tried printing anything other than T-Max in 120. The top bellows is adjusted to 6x7 and its using a different lens obviously. Those are the only change from 35mm.
    It does sound like contrasty negatives, but it is hard to say without seeing the negatives (and the original scene) if the issue is entirely one of too much development, or if perhaps there is underexposure as well.

    When you say the shadows quickly go black when printing (and you say you are closing down the lens - which should not be a variable here) it makes me suspect there may be some underexposure in addition to the obviously high contrast. Not sure. Can you possibly post a scan of a sample TMax negative?

    On the other hand, there might be no problem at all with the processing if the scenes are simply high in contrast, and/or higher in contrast than the scenes you had been shooting with Tri-X. If it turns out there is simply too much contrast in the negatives plain and simple, try developing less. As you play with reduced development times you may have to give a little extra exposure. But first just start by developing less and see what happens to contrast. As Stephen noted, the manufacturer instructions for development times are typically for diffusion enlarging. They will typically recommend reducing development time by around 15% for condenser enlarging. But 15% overdevelopment would not bring you down to a #00 filter. Something strange here.

    I have a few additional questions :
    -Is your tank plastic or metal?
    -Have you checked the temperature of the developer when it comes out of the tank?
    -Are the TMax negatives relatively neutral in colour or do they have any kind of strong tint to them (magenta, purple)?

    I don't want to overcomplicate this. In the end, you have to use materials you get good results with, so if you prefer Tri-X, no reason to use TMax. The only point I want to make is while the conventional wisdom is that the TMax films are significantly more difficult to work with than say Tri-X, this has not been my experience in testing. They are a little more sensitive to exposure and development variations, but I find them to still be quite forgiving. In particular, the notion TMax films are inherently prone to "hot" highlights is suspect based on my data.
    Last edited by Michael R 1974; 01-21-2013 at 07:55 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    They will typically recommend reducing development time by around 15% for condenser enlarging. But 15% overdevelopment would not bring you down to a #00 filter. Something strange here.
    That's what I was thinking. Processing for the wrong type of enlarger won't account for the degree of apparent contast Kenton is experience. His statement about the f/Stop made me think that there's something he might not be telling us because he doesn't know all the influences. That the negatives are fine or slightly contrasty but the problem is doing something wrong elsewhere. We need to start to eliminate some of the possibilities beginning with the film processing. Either testing using a step tablet or finding the density range of one of the negatives he has used to print.

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    OK, I was out of T-Max, so I did some testing on Delta 400. On the North side of the house I photographed my wife wearing a white shirt with texture, a dark blue sweater and holding a gray card. I took an incident reading from her position, pointed at the camera. I shot one frame with what the meter gave me, at box speed, and then opened up the aperture 1/2 stops, 4 times. So a total of 5 shots. I used up the rest of the roll, doing some spot metering. The last exposure I took the camera into the darkroom, with the lens cap on, and took the last frame.

    I processed the film in DD-X using 15% less time than published, 8.5 minutes. I used the same developing regime as I outlined a few posts back. I made a few test strips and found max black to be 8 seconds at f/32, with #2 filter. The enlarger was set up to print an 8x10 print.

    I used the max black settings to expose frame 1 and frame 2, with a #2 filter. The detail was fine in the sweater, on frame one but the sweater was too gray. Frame two, which was exposed 1/2 stop more, was trending in the wrong direction. So contrary to the directions I was following in, "Way Beyond Monochrome," I should have stopped down, instead of opening up.

    For kicks I took the same negative and made a print, so the sweater looked naturally dark. That was 10 seconds at f/22, #2 filter. The shirt was blown out and the gray card wasn't quite dark enough.

    So, extrapolating from that, I'd have to shoot at ISO 800 to get a decent black, printing with the max black exposure settings. The problem is, I'm at f/32.

    As I mentioned before, my meter is calibrated and I checked it against another meter I just bought new. Both meters matched. The Mamiya that shot the neg in question is from KEH and rated excellent. I also shot a Rolleiflex at the same time, which was just CLAed by Krimer Photo. The Rollei neg printed a little lighter than the Mamiya neg at max black, maybe 1/2 stop. So I think the meter and the camera isn't the issue.

    My enlarger uses a 75 watt bulb. I bought a new bulb for my enlarger. I tried the new bulb and the bulb it came with, both printed the same. I pulled the condenser. It just looked like two big magnifying glasses on either end. Nothing looked skewed or out of place. The head was set for 6x7 or 6x6, depending on which neg I was printing.

    I made a print at max black, totally in the dark, and it matched the one done with the safe light. I bought some ilford paper. I gained a stop using the ilford paper over the Ultrafine I'd been using. I also checked and made sure the aperture blades were moving on the 80mm El-Nikor. Pan developer was at 20c. Neg was placed emulsion side down in the carrier. Mirrors in the bathroom were all covered. The enlarging filters are brand new.

    I'm stumped. I'm attaching a photo of the neg I printed. The density looks pretty close on my computer screen.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails neg.jpg  
    Last edited by kbrede; 01-21-2013 at 07:35 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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  8. #118

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    The negative certainly doesn't look underexposed. It looks fairly dense and contrasty. I'll have to read your post again, but I'm not clear on the specifics of this speed test methodology or the procedure you used for a maximum black time. I am also puzzled by what seems (to me) to be a very short "maximum black" time.

    And just to go back a little to make sure, are you saying applying these procedures with Tri-X resulted in much different results when printing? Did you do the same type of test with Tri-X?

    I'm missing something here.
    Last edited by Michael R 1974; 01-21-2013 at 07:50 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #119

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    The negative certainly doesn't look underexposed. It looks fairly dense and contrasty. I'll have to read your post again, but I'm not clear on the specifics of this speed test methodology or the procedure you used for a maximum black time. I am also puzzled by what seems (to me) to be a very short "maximum black" time.

    And just to go back a little to make sure, are you saying applying these procedures with Tri-X resulted in much different results when printing? Did you do the same type of test with Tri-X?

    I'm missing something here.
    Nope, I've never done any testing with Tri-X. This is the first test I've done with any film. Just n general I didn't have problems using Tri-X but I was also using a different enlarger. I should have tried a Tri-X neg with this enlarger today. Drat.
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  10. #120

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    The negative certainly doesn't look underexposed. It looks fairly dense and contrasty. I'll have to read your post again, but I'm not clear on the specifics of this speed test methodology or the procedure you used for a maximum black time. I am also puzzled by what seems (to me) to be a very short "maximum black" time.
    I'll try to summarize the method.

    Taking the exposures:

    A. Find a subject rich in detailed shadows (Zone III) and has some shadow tonality (Zone II).

    B. Set light meter ISO to box speed.

    C. Stop lens down 4 stops from wide open, f/8. Take an incident reading, finding the shutter speed using this aperture. Keep the exposure time within ⅛ to 1/250 or modify the aperture for the duration of the test.

    D. Take the following exposures:


    1. Use settings from step C.
    2. Open ⅓ stop.
    3. Open ⅓ stop.
    4. Open ⅓ stop.
    5. Open ⅓ stop.
    6. Open ⅓ stop.
    7. Use settings from step C.
    8. Use settings from step C.
    9. Take a blank negative. (lens cap on)
    10. Use settings from step C.


    E. Develop the film for 15% less time than normal.

    * I used 1/2 stops, instead of 1/3 stops. My scene was wife wearing dark blue sweater, white shirt and holding gray card.

    To find paper black:


    • Use blank negative from step 9 above. Scratch in order to have something to focus on.
    • Set enlarger to make 8x10 print.
    • Insert #2 filter.
    • Focus negative
    • Stop lens down 3 stops.
    • Make a test strip.
    • Process normally and dry.
    • In normal light, make sure there are at least two but not more than five exposures, which are so dark they hardly differ.
    • Pic out the first two steps that barely differ from one another and select the lighter of the two..
    • This is your paper black settings.


    ** I think I made a mistake in picking my max black. It should have been 10 seconds at f/32 and not 8 seconds at f/32.

    Find effective film speed:

    Make prints of the first 6 exposures taken in step "D" and dry.
    The exposure settings that result in the first print with good shadow detail, is your EI.
    Last edited by kbrede; 01-21-2013 at 09:43 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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