Thank you, Michael, for the wise advice. I approach the testing, and the purchase of a densitometer, with a purpose. I've been printing for over 30 years, but with a more serious regularity, and in LF, only for just over 10. Over this last period, I noticed that I would like to get more shadow detail than I was getting, in high contrast scenarios, and that I would like to have more control over the appearance of highlights without having to traverse paper grades from 2 to 4.

I am also on a quest to wean myself off split-grade printing, which has worked well for me—I have managed to get 24 pieces into a successful exhibition thanks to that technique—but which is now a crutch I want to let go, so as to simplify my dodging and burning, partly a function of the benefits but also complexity of Ilford 500H head. I have also missed the metronome for far too long...

Though I usually print at 2.5, I have, I think, too many grade 3, 3.5, 1.5, and an odd few even grade 4 prints. Mind it, the subjects I photograph, and the way I want them printed, tend to have their contrast ranges a bit all over the place, and I am still learning how to control it. All these years I have been using box speeds and the Massive Dev Chart timings, plus 40% for N+1, and perhaps -30% for N-1. Last year, after I attended John Sexton's wonderful workshop, I have started to cut the speed of films I used. The dev times had to be cut too, but now there was less data as to how to do it—Dev Chart provides too many answers for these cases. Still, this has made my negatives much easier to print!

What I would like to do now, is to formalise the times and speeds, hence the adventure into densitometerland. I hope this gives some context to my question. Besides, all of you guys seem to have enjoyed that adventure... Off to run some evenness of development tests now...