Another perspective on the quest for ultra fine grain (from 5x4)....

In the search for improved enlargements I have film hopped, especially after falling in love with APX 100 at the exact moment the 5x4 was axed. I have used Acros 100 and TMAX100 quick and readyloads etc etc. I have found that getting the right pictorial effect is the tough bit, as it is all about balancing fine tonality and grain with apparrent sharpness (not the same as fine grain, but caused by grain). IMHO ultra fine grain does not do a print any favours at all unless you print really large from small negs (when grain would otherwise be large and potentially ugly if you dont want it!). I do the LF landscape thing and have found that fP4+ is great up to a max of 16 x 20 in ID11 1+1 for the look I am after and it is beautiful at 16 x 12 or so. Yes, the TMAX 100 and ACROS allow greater enlargements for a given tonality, but they lack the sparkle that the traditional films have for my eyes. I do use acros, but only when I need to travel light (or have no changing facilities)and use the quickloads or for greater than 16 x 20 enlargements (rare). I have found that at smaller sizes, the modern tech films produce images lacking in sparkle and apparrent sharpness. I have therefore concluded that as I prefer the look of tradtional films (Not a techie so cannot explain why I feel that they look so much better) and sometimes want 20 x 24 enlargements with no grain, sumptuous tonality and oodles of sparkle, that 8x 10 is the way ahead (for what I want). I will be using Efke 100, which is actually quite grainy, but truly beautiful on a print. I have used it in 5x4, and it is simply gorgeous. When I am doing lots of walking, It will be 5x4 and FP4. in 120 rollfilm, I am sticking to APX100 as this is in a league of its own for me (in ID11).

There you have it. Use film/dev/paper combos that produce beautiful images that you like the *look* of and if the grain is too much at the print size you require and tonality is breaking up, use a bigger piece of film. Alternatively ask if you treally do need a huge print. I truly believe that images 'want ' to be a certain size. Some want to be any size, some must be big, others small. Only a small proportion MUST be large to 'work'.

So, you may find, like I did, that chasing fine grain does your images more harm than good. I found that I lost the grain, but also the soul of the image. I have read this sort of verdict before and thought, "yeah right, these are sermons from Ansel Adams disciples, who would throw away a DDS contaminated by T Grain film. They MUST be irrational, bearded types who cant deal with progress." Beards or no beards, they were right.

By the way...........The best example I have found of a truly bitingly sharp, ultra fine grain combo with a look I like is 5x4 acros in Dixactol Ultra (similar to Pyrocat HD). However, even that looks soft and lacking in edge at less than 16 x 12. At 16 x 20/20x24 it is incredible!! (you can only now comfortably see grain under a focus finder)

All that I have said above applies to what I like the look of, but if you have seen LF images that you would like to emulate from small negs, you will be doing better than me if you manage it! I simply found that many modern films lack soul and try as I might, I could not make them pretty! The only exception so far is Delta 100, which is appears to have more potential for me (more grain than TMAX100, but sharper and has more soul).

You guessed it, beard growing now in progress.