Quote Originally Posted by bpm32
Okay, after much reading and thought, I bought a 4x5 camera. Today, I exposed my first neg... and I already messed it up. I'm trying out the zone system after having read The Camera, The Negative, and The Print by Adams.

Film: Ilford Delta 100 pro b/w
Developer: Kodak D76

I metered on an "important" low, which at a shutter speed of 200, came in at f5.6. Then I metered an "important" high, which came in at f22. Now I don't know much about this system yet, but from everything I've read, that sounds like a pretty wide range. The worst part is, I never adjusted the camera... I just exposed the darn neg at f5.6 @200. I THINK I should've exposed the neg at f11 @ 200... that would put my "important" low at zone III.

So, my question is... can I develop this negative in a way such that it would bring that "important" low down to where I intended it to be AND contract that range so the "important" high will be at or near zone VII?

Also, everywhere I read about this, I see developments of N, N+1, N-1, etc, etc. I can't seem to find how I determine what +1 or -1 should be. I assume it's an amount (or percentage) of time. Do I have to run tests to determine this? I believe I have a book that suggests some tests, but it also says I need a densitometer, and I don't have one.

Please keep in mind this is the first I've ever dealt with 4x5 and the zone system. So, if anything I've written or asked is way off, be kind.

I really appreciate any guidance you folks can give me. Thank you kindly for your time.

Hi Brian, The first thing that we need to determine before we get into exposure and development considerations is whether F5.6 will give you adequate depth of field so that the nearest and fartherest object in your scene are at acceptable focus. In my experience using a view camera I don't ever remember making an exposure at F 5.6. All the proper exposure and development in the world is for nothing if the image is not sharp.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me begin by saying that a F5.6 to F22 scene comprises five zones of brightness (in Zone System parlance). This would equate to Zone III through Zone VII or Zone II through Zone VI. Since you can represent tonal scale of Zone II through Zone VIII on paper, you can see that this scene could afford to have the contrast expanded and the way that is done is through N+1 or N+2 development.

Now if you exposed this negative at F5.6 then you have recorded Zone V through Zone IX. The meter always indicates a Zone V value at the recommedation. You could also have exposed this at F8 at 1/125, or F11 at 1/60, or even F16 at 1/30 second. (nearest actual shutter speeds to the multiples or dividers of your indicated shutter speed). All of these combinations would have given you the exact same exposure that you have with the important addition of greater depth of field.

Now let's take the F16 at 1/30 second...remember this is a Zone V placement in order to give a Zone III placement the proper exposure would have been F16 at 1/8 second. (Two stops less exposure then the Zone V recommendation of the meter).

Always remember exposure (f stop and shutter speed) is about shadow detail and development is for print highlight values.