i give up on my internal meter...
so, i've been back to full manual for a couple months now, but i'm becoming more and more unhappy with my camera's internal meter. it seems to be adequate for color, but generally over exposes black and what (which i'm shooting exclusively at this point).
anyway, i'm going to use the guide lines from the ultimate exposure computer and see how that works out for me, but i have a couple questions that i thought you guys might be able to help out with.
question the first...
if i'm using fp4 (iso 125) should i use the iso 100 column?
actually, that's the only question other that if anyone has had good results using this method.
I'm familiar with sunny 16 and that's accounted for in the ultimate exposure calculator as well. is there any other good methods out there?
Photography by the seat of my pants.
That's a bit puzzling because if your camera's cell was faulty then it would be for both colour and bw films. Also, negative films can usually take more than one stop over or under exposure without a big loss.
You can indeed look at the iso 100 column for fp4, you're just going to be very slightly overexposed.
Anecdote: I accidentally overexposed a Fuji 160 by 2/3 stop last month. It didn't show any visible damage.
Perhaps you haven't calibrated your own personal Exposure Index for FP4. The idea is that the box speed and recommended development times of most b/w films will end up with excessively contrasty negatives. To get better mid-tones and more controlled contrast, you want to slightly over-expose your film (by rating the FP4 at 100, for instance) and then slightly under-develop the film, by 10-20% from the recommended time for your developer. These two steps have the effect of decreasing the slope of HD curve of your film, rendering a more controlled contrast and better mid-tones.
There are film testing methods that will keep you doing film tests for the remainder of your photographic life. But if you are instead interested in taking actual pictures, then start with reducing your exposure index from 120 to 100, and reduce your development times 10-20%, then shoot a roll and see how you like the results. Tweak your development times as necessary.
This is the road many experienced film shooters end up going down, hence the interest in semi-stand, compensating developers, to control contrast, increase edge effects and reduce grain clumping; and also the endless search for the magic developer that does it all.
In many respects, getting consistently great results from small-gauge B/W film is a greater challenge than large format, because everything has to come together in order to make the final print work well, including the micro-contrast and granularity effects of the developed film being evident in the finished print.
Enjoy your exploration of B/W photography, but don't get too hung up on the technical side that you can't engage your creative vision. Some of the best photographers of the 20 century had little or no technical darkroom skills at all.
I'm interested -where would I find this "Ultimate Exposure Computer"?
Ed Sukach, FFP.
When you say your black and white is overexposed, do you mean the negatives are too thick or dense, or your prints are too light? Who is developing your B&W film and how are they doing it? In what developer, agitation, time, temp? Are the b&W prints machine prints or hand printed? There are quite a few variables here that could be a factor in your b&W not looking the way you want. Try to narrow down the possibilities.
Processing your own b&w will let you fine tune a process that works for you and gives you the results you are looking for, plus it can be a lot of fun too. Good luck.
"Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight"
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In-camera meters are always reading reflected light, and unless you have calibrated eyeballs to compensate the meter reading when the metered area is not 18% gray in mean tonality, your reflected meter will always be subjected to 'subject failure' (what Kodak called it, when subject scene was not averaging to 18% gray reflectivity.
As for color vs. B&W overexposure, if you shoot color neg it is very tolerant to overexposure...you can overexpose color neg by up to +3EV and still end up with a good quality end result! So the satisfaction with color exposure could merely be due to the better tolerance of color neg, and the fact that a lab is doing the film processing and printing, effectively hiding the overexposure from you!
You might need a 1.35v battery (Wein cell) rather then a 1.5v battery.
i've had the lab develop and i've developed myself with the lab printing (no dark room yet) and the results were basically the same. i think i need to shorted the development time (if i understand joe right) and see if my contrast gets better. i think i might be seeing too much contrast and interpreting that as over exposure. does that make sense?
the film i developed myself was fp4 in dd-x at the recommended times and dilution. as far as how the lab is printing i'm not sure, i'll ask next time i'm up there. i know they do custom enlargement but i'm not sure they use it as a standard or if i have to request it.
Photography by the seat of my pants.
Is the lab printing by hand or with a machine? If the lab is using an automated machine and doesn't have someone who can make judgments about how the prints look, it may be that the machine just isn't set up to print B&W well. I wouldn't mess with your film development times until you can determine what you really have on the neg.
Originally Posted by BimmerJake
If you don't have a darkroom, find a lab that can make you a real B&W contact sheet, and then you can see if your exposures are relatively consistent with each other and how good they are in general. You might ask them to make more than one contact sheet--one printed at the minimum exposure time for the maximum black in the unexposed part of the film, and if that doesn't look good, ask them to make one where most of the exposures on the film look good on the contact sheet. The first sheet will tell you if you are overexposing in general. The second sheet will tell you if, despite possible exposure errors, you still have enough detail on the negs to get a good print.
Look at the negs with a loupe as well. See how much detail you're getting in the shadows, which will be the light areas on the negs. If you have shadow detail where you want it, then you're giving enough exposure, possibly more than enough. Make a series of exposures on one roll bracketed a half or a third step apart, whichever is easiest with your camera, and make notes, and then look and find the first image that has sufficient exposure to give you enough shadow detail where you want it with a minimum of exposure. Use that to figure out what your nominal EI (Exposure Index, or your personal "ISO" speed) should be.
This is only an anecdotal observation on my part and based on one experience only but I developed FP4+ the other night in DDX for a friend and I was surprised at how dense the negatives were. As I wasn't the taker of the negs I can't eliminate the possibility of exposure errors but it may well be that the FP4+ time for DDX might simply be over-generous.
Originally Posted by BimmerJake
I usually find Ilford times to be very accurate but I'd certainly go for 10-15% less, even at 125 and certainly at 100