Originally Posted by Dr Croubie
As others have stated you need to simplify. I would stay away from the Advanced Technical Pan stuff for right now. Delta 100, Acros 100, and Tmax 100 are all great films. Pick one as you medium speed film and stick to it. All of those films can be developed in Rodinal. Rodinal keeps forever even when opened. It is a liquid concentrate that you dilute in water when you need it. You can use a simple kitchen measuring cup to measure out the water and use a medicine dropper or syringe to add a few milliliters of Rodinal (Adox Adonal). Rodinal is not a fine grain developer. That really isn't a problem with 120 100 ISO film. It makes for sharp negatives. Rodinal grain is a bit aggressive for 400 ISO 35mm film. Frankly I don't even use it for MF 400 ISO film.
There are recipes for Rodinal and Acros/Tmax 100/Ilford Delta 100 all over the internet. I say pick ONE film and develop multiple rolls. Tweak as you go along.
Evaluating negatives... You need to make sure you are exposing your negatives correctly. You need to get a good modern hand held light meter like the Sekonic L-308S. It is a good incident meter. I don't think it does spot metering though. Learn how to use the meter. You may want to get some scans from whoever processes your film. Depending on what kind of outfit it is the scans may be anything from terrible to somewhat acceptable. What you want to see is if they get significantly better tonality compared to your scanning efforts. If they do then the problem may lay in your scanning workflow. Also have you calibrated your monitor? A lot of people have big cheap TN panel monitors that are uncalibrated. Get an IPS monitor and calibrate it. If you don't have a good calibrated monitor you won't be able to evaluate anything using it. The other thing is in order to make a definitive statement about a negative you have to print it. I scanned my negatives for a long time and only late in the game started actually making prints in my own dark room. Well the scanner was able to get a decent scan out of a lot of negatives that were low quality. If you tweak your negatives for scanning that doesn't mean they will be ideal for dark room printing. A well exposed easy to print negative will scan just fine. Shoot for a nice darkroom negative and it will be scannable. Scanners allegedly prefer thinner negatives but I shoot for darkroom results and scanning hasn't been a problem. I make my negatives as dense as they need to be for darkroom printing... no more, no less.
I didn't catch what country you live in. If you are in the US Rodinal (Adox Adonal) can be purchased at Freestyle Photographic in California. I actually recommend starting with some 100 ISO film and Rodinal. You need a minimal amount of equipment to mix it up and it lasts forever. Every other developer I've ever used costs more and requires much more equipment to mix up and store. The beauty of Rodinal is you mix up just what you need each time and all you need is a measuring cup and a medicine dropper.
The paterson system you pointed out is what I use to develop my film. People will get into plastic vs steel reel debates, but you should just use what works for you. When loading 120 film on the plastic reel I suggest starting at the end that has the tape on it. So in the darkbag unroll the roll of film entirely while removing the paper backing and then load it onto the real from the end that has/had the tape on it. Be patient. Loading the reels is the hardest part of developing film. It will take you awhile to get proficient.
Running around the internet collecting different films and trying them out is fun. Unfortunately as a neophyte you aren't going to be able to learn anything and improve your process if you keep doing that. I like 100 ISO film so I picked ONE kind and shot box after box of it. I tried different developers at different concentrations with varying agitations. But for the most part I kept shooting just one kind of film. You have so many variables it is hard to trouble shoot. You have a light meter, film, developer, scanner, monitor, etc. You need to examine the steps in your workflow and make sure they are all being operated in stringent and consistent manner before evaluating results and making changes. I personally would go out with a good hand held meter, your best camera/lens and take a picture of a scene with the sun directly behind you. I would do it on a sunny day and on an overcast day. I would do something similar with a portrait. A nice head shot so you can evaluate skin tones in bright sunshine and on an overcast day. I would then send the roll to North Coast Photographic Services. Have them develop it and do an enhanced scan of the entire roll. This process is not the cheapest but it is very good. When you get your roll back assuming you used 100 ISO film from Ilford/Kodak/Fuji and correct metering technique you will have a reasonably developed roll and some good scans. You can use them as a baseline to check your scanner, monitor, and home developing efforts. Although like I said home developing efforts should be tweaked for darkroom prints. But at least you will be able to address really gross errors using a scanner.
On a side note places like Costco do excellent large prints pretty cheaply. The prints need to be large at places like that so they use the Inkjet vs the light jet which often has color casts. You can even get FREE printer profiles for Costco stores across America from Drycreek Photo. It beats buying ink and paper, cleaning, and profiling your own printer. If your activities are sporadic I would recommend this route. At least try it out before committing a bunch of money to a printer. Ink jet printers need to be used regularly or their ink nozzles get clogged up.
Last edited by Noble; 03-28-2013 at 02:56 PM. Click to view previous post history.