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  1. #1
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Assessing Contrast

    I've been rolling a few APX100 and FP4+ in my Yashica-D in the last few weeks, and I'd like to start assessing its features a little more closely. Although I've been shooting often, I haven't printed anything yet, so if my reasoning is flawed because of that, please stand up.

    Basically, I'm trying to understand what is my lens' (Yashikor, 3-elements) impact on contrasts, in order to see whether I should shoot with a yellow filter all the time. By looking at my contact sheets, I have the impression that contrast is not very accentuated in my pictures. Even with more/less exposure, I tend to get a slightly narrow range of values on my contact than I'd like.

    My first deduction was: a contact sheet of roll film is a print that is not optimized for any specific pictures, therefore it's only there to give a positive image. However, when comparing on the same sheet pictures taken at different degrees of exposure with pictures taken with a yellow filter, the yellow filter ones win. I have a wider range of values, and that is what should be expected of a K2 filter.

    So how do you assess the contrast in your negatives, besides printing them? How can I get an idea of my lens' impact on contrast? And why are certain lens more contrasty than others in the first place? Is a contact sheet notoriously bad for assessing contrast?

  2. #2
    jmdavis's Avatar
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    I'm not going to try to answer the "assessing contrast without printing" part of your question. But I get good contrast using my Yashica C with fp4 rated at 100. I'm looking at some shots of a regatta that I did last year. It was an overcast day and I used n+1 at when I developed the fp4. The shots show good overall and local contrast, very good blacks and detail.

    Others may disagree, but I would be somewhat hesitant about always using the yellow. I tend to think of it more as a tool for specific situations rather than a norm.

    Mike

  3. #3
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmdavis
    ....But I get good contrast using my Yashica C with fp4 rated at 100. I'm looking at some shots of a regatta that I did last year. It was an overcast day and I used n+1 at when I developed the fp4. The shots show good overall and local contrast, very good blacks and detail.
    ....
    Mike
    Actually, this is something I'd like to understand too: provided that we can control contrast at the level of the negative and at the level of print, where does it matter most?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv
    I've been rolling a few APX100 and FP4+ in my Yashica-D in the last few weeks, and I'd like to start assessing its features a little more closely. Although I've been shooting often, I haven't printed anything yet, so if my reasoning is flawed because of that, please stand up.

    The final determiner of a negative's contrast is the print


    Basically, I'm trying to understand what is my lens' (Yashikor, 3-elements) impact on contrasts, in order to see whether I should shoot with a yellow filter all the time. By looking at my contact sheets, I have the impression that contrast is not very accentuated in my pictures. Even with more/less exposure, I tend to get a slightly narrow range of values on my contact than I'd like.

    Altering development is the way that one alters contrast...not altering exposure

    My first deduction was: a contact sheet of roll film is a print that is not optimized for any specific pictures, therefore it's only there to give a positive image. However, when comparing on the same sheet pictures taken at different degrees of exposure with pictures taken with a yellow filter, the yellow filter ones win. I have a wider range of values, and that is what should be expected of a K2 filter.

    If you have a measurable amount of yellow an blue colors in your scene then you are probably correct. However if your scene has a preponderance of green and red then the yellow K2 will not have as much effect on contrast

    So how do you assess the contrast in your negatives, besides printing them?

    Yes by printing

    How can I get an idea of my lens' impact on contrast?

    By trial and by printing...or by densitometric evaluation

    And why are certain lens more contrasty than others in the first place?

    Probably because of the coating more then any other factor

    Is a contact sheet notoriously bad for assessing contrast?

    Not necessarily...but a print is better
    Donald Miller

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv
    Actually, this is something I'd like to understand too: provided that we can control contrast at the level of the negative and at the level of print, where does it matter most?
    I would prefer to have the most optimal contrast on the negative. Sometimes it requires contrast adjustment at both then negative and at the printing level...not necessarily an either/or judgement.

  6. #6
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Thank you so much Donald!

    There's nothing like a weighty point-by-point answer; I'm going to start printing and developping myself, then.

    Michel

  7. #7
    jmdavis's Avatar
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    I try to control the contrast such that I can print with a #2 filter. But let's think about the question a little more.

    Contrast can be controlled via exposure, filters, and film choices on the camera side. In development we can exert contrast control through our developer times. On the printing side we have variables of exposure, filtration and development.

    Since I try to print at a #2 and don't generally use filters, I use exposure and development to maximize the ability of my film to be printed at a #2. But all that does is get me in the correct range. I still need to fine tune the ultimate product (the Print) to make it the best that I can.

    So, I think that we can use all of the variables to one extent or another to create the "fine print" that is the ultimate goal.

    Mike

  8. #8
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    What about the effect of lens shades on contrast? I was reading in another thread someone mentioning them as a way to increase contrast by stopping stray light which washes out the image.

  9. #9
    jmdavis's Avatar
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    They can help to shield the lens from direct and or oblique sunlight with could cause flare and reduced contrast. In 4x5 and 8x10 I just use my darkslide as a shade. The Yashikor is at least single coated. I actually think that it may be multi-coated. Stopped down to f8 or f11 it has good contrast.

    Mike

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv
    I've been rolling a few APX100 and FP4+ in my Yashica-D in the last few weeks, and I'd like to start assessing its features a little more closely. Although I've been shooting often, I haven't printed anything yet, so if my reasoning is flawed because of that, please stand up.

    Basically, I'm trying to understand what is my lens' (Yashikor, 3-elements) impact on contrasts, in order to see whether I should shoot with a yellow filter all the time. By looking at my contact sheets, I have the impression that contrast is not very accentuated in my pictures. Even with more/less exposure, I tend to get a slightly narrow range of values on my contact than I'd like.

    My first deduction was: a contact sheet of roll film is a print that is not optimized for any specific pictures, therefore it's only there to give a positive image. However, when comparing on the same sheet pictures taken at different degrees of exposure with pictures taken with a yellow filter, the yellow filter ones win. I have a wider range of values, and that is what should be expected of a K2 filter.

    So how do you assess the contrast in your negatives, besides printing them? How can I get an idea of my lens' impact on contrast? And why are certain lens more contrasty than others in the first place? Is a contact sheet notoriously bad for assessing contrast?
    MHV,
    Pick up a copy of The Zone VI Workshop by Fred Picker and carefully follow his instructions on how to make a "proper Proof". That way you'll have a solid baseline from which you can compare contrast.

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