Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
The key to great prints is printing skill (assuming the image is great to begin with). Frozen Lake and Cliffs is my favourite Ansel, and I often use it as an example in discussions about perfect chemicals/materials because that negative was pre-zone system, developed in partially exhausted D76, it is grainy, has very thin shadows, and blocked highlights.
Quote Originally Posted by c6h6o3 View Post
I remember reading an interview in the 80s with Brett Weston wherein he talked about switching from ABC pyro to a non-staining developer. (I'm not sure, but I think it was Ethol UFG). His point was that the choice of developer really doesn't make much difference. A fine printer can work with any negative. If Brett Weston didn't care, should we?
Glad you said it. Every time I bring up the importance of printing, somebody gets PO'ed. So you brought it up, not me. More is the pity that photography is now judged at large via the display of a computer screen.

Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
Again very wrong because a staining developer can be finer grained than a standard fine grain developer, and significantly sharper, and will retain that sharpness with enlargement.

Of course itb does depend on the balance of the developer formulation, some staining dev formulae will give increased grain and excessive acutance, fine for contact printing but awful for enlarging.

For the record, I have foregone the final return to developer staining step for some years now. I use PMK more for its "fine grained" characteristics, not the "grain-masking" staining. There is still more than enough stain for me. I notice no difference in the pre–only and post stained negative's ability to produce a fine print except that the former are easier to print through with my cold light. I currently use it on fine grained 120 films as well (Pan F, Rollei Pan), since it seems to produce mostly better results (fine grain and sharpness) than other common developers.

But, all other factors being equal, which they're not, I'd prefer to use Rodinal on everything. I guess I'm more of a reluctant user of PMK.