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Author Topic: what's the hot B&W film and developer combo?  (Read 32192 times)
RichardChang
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« on: April 27, 2006, 04:08:49 PM »
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Dear List:

I'm wondering what folks are using for their black and white film and developer, when the target is a fine art, silver based print.

In the old days, I used Super XX and Tri-x, developed in HC 110 or Weston's ABC Pyro formula.  The thick emulsion films had much better development flexibility than the thinner emulsions, but took a hit on accutance.

Today, the trend seems like it's based on the T grain technology containing an essentially linear transition to highlight, with the flip side containing vapid local contrast and plenty of scattering of enlarger light through the heavier silver densities.  Today also seems to have a different acceptable "look" to the prints, where the endpoints are within range and the transitions are lacking in any real emotion-- it's easy to see this response in any of the photo rags publishing pictures of contemporary work.

What are folks on this list using?  As an additional query, how many are using condenser enlargement or diffusion enlargement, and who has both?

Thanks for the feedback,

Richard Chang
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boku
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2006, 06:36:35 PM »
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I'm an old guy - you mean there is something other than Tri-X and D-76?
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2006, 08:16:59 PM »
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Interesting question, Richard. It's good to know there are some other film-and-phenidone Luddites here in digi-land!

I shoot a lot of MF film, nearly all B&W, and I've tried just about any one you could name. I think any rational photographer should be able to do any job from a stable of 3 or 4 films, so I have tried to simplify and stop my ceaseless tinkering! My favorite films, by speed category, shake out like this:

Medium speed: Plus-X (good), FP-4 (awesome), Delta 100/TMX 100 (excellent.)
Faster speed: HP5+, Tri-X, Delta 400, +/- TMY 400; Delta 3200 (exceptional, rated at 1600)
Specialty/niche: Efke 25/50; MacoORT25c just for kicks

I develop them all in Xtol from 1+0 down to about 1+2 depending on film and subject matter, then scan on a Nikon 8000 and print digitally on a variety of fine-art matte papers on the Epson 4000. In this sense my answer won't be completely relevant to you, since you are wet printing on silver gelatin.

I like the rich creamy tonal scale I get from the conventional films, and the cool crisp rendering of detail and fine grain from the T-grain films. Like you I find the T-grain films to have a less desirable tone range, in the way you describe, but this is not objectionable for the right subject matter and lighting. I'd go digital on my Contax if I could afford a back, just for the workflow, but I dearly love the texture and feel of B&W film.

I have used a lot of different developers but keep coming back to Xtol for its great balance between acutance, fine grain, and tonality. I think if I were wet-printing on silver gelatin I'd lean more towards staining developers like PMK Pyro or Pyrocat HD, but the stain confers less of an advantage, if any at all, when the negatives are scanned.

Hope this has helped some.
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michael sebastian
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RichardChang
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2006, 04:02:50 PM »
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In response to Mike's comments, I'm not actually shooting film anymore, except in the last few days, when I shot some zone system tests with Trix, Pan F, and T-Max.  I did the transmission densitometer plots and verified most of my remembering of why I gave up film and went digital.  

The loss of contrast in the shadows is brutal.  And, for densities with a D-log report in excess of 2.15, it's blown out for any grade of silver sensitized black and white paper (unless you add additional light to the print exposure).  In my experience, I don't let important high values fall above zone VII without development correction.  This makes just about any scene with backlight a normal-minus development, and it almost always makes for a scene that needs a plus in the shadows, along with that minus for the highs.  Seems like you just can't win, unless you can spot a 5 stop scene.

T-max in T Max developer is an exception; this combo delivered lukewarm contrast throughout the highs because it delivered a 2.13 D log density at zone X, in contrast to Tri x's similar valued (2.08 D log) zone VII.  Ten zones in the same density as 7 zones means there are more tones, so they must have less local contrast.  This compaction is fine for smoothening skintones but it makes for a less than ideal landscape emulsion.

The company I work for is building a monochrome digital back and it's ideally targeted toward the high end black and white crowd.  In order to understand what we're wanting to say with our marketing, I need to understand what folks are doing with the current film based workflow.  It occured to me that I'd like to really understand the current toe and shoulder compromises that modern films and developers offer, in contrast to digital's mathmatically consistent tone progression.  What people shoot and how they handle the materials is highly relevant.  Thanks for the feedback.

Richard Chang
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michael
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2006, 06:15:30 PM »
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The company I work for is building a monochrome digital back and it's ideally targeted toward the high end black and white crowd. 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=63960\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Well, that's fascinating!

What more can you tell us?

I know at least a half dozen MF digital photographers who are eager for a mono back.

Michael
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schaubild
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2006, 12:24:28 AM »
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I almost exclusively use Rollei R3 with it's dedicated high and low speed developers.. It's a little grainy at ISO 100, but the flexibility to use it (theoretically) from 50 to 6400 is more important to me. My other favourite is the Maco Ort25 with Docufine developer, no visible grain, extremely sharp.

Friends of mine favour the Fuji Acros, their results on 8x10 are truly spectacular, quality wise. Developer is normally Moersch.
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pobrien3
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2006, 11:32:04 AM »
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I know at least a half dozen MF digital photographers who are eager for a mono back.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=63968\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
What am I missing here - what would be the advantage of a monochrome back over the existing colour ones??
Peter
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2006, 11:40:02 AM »
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What am I missing here - what would be the advantage of a monochrome back over the existing colour ones??
Peter
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Much higher detail resolving levels due to the lack of bayer interpolation/AA filters.
Check out Pete Myers review of the [a href=\"http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/kodak-760m.shtml]Kodak 760m[/url].
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RichardChang
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2006, 01:44:15 PM »
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Quote from: pobrien3,Apr 29 2006, 04:32 PM
What am I missing here - what would be the advantage of a monochrome back over the existing colour ones??


The differences in color>monochrome vs straight monochrome are various, and they add up to superior quality.  If you can imagine shooting black and white film through a weak diffusion filter, you'll get the idea of what color to mono looks like.

Color filter schemes on Bayer pattern sensors (most cameras use this, but not all, the Foveon comes to mind) contain a cube of filters where 4 pixels make up the cube; two greens on one diagonal and a red and blue on the other diagonal.  This is the mathematical cube of Photoshop's bi-cubic interpolation-- it tries to use all the color possibilites when enlarging the file.

This color scheme has an interesting respone-- the three different colors contribute different amounts of resolution to the picture, it's known as luminance (Photoshop calls it luminosity in their blending mode).  Green contributes 58%, red contributes 30%, and blue contributes 12% to luminance.  We put two greens in the cube for two reasons: because that contributes a lot toward luminance/resolution, and because human visual perception likes to see luminance.  We can hunt in low light for example because our eyes are geared toward lots of luminance, we don't need to see the color of a deer to perceive it.  Additionally, our brains will make up color information that isn't there-- compare what we see in flourescent light to film shot in that same light.

If your picture contains lots of detail in colors that are complimentary to red and blue (cyan and yellow), those colors are likely to be efficiently absorbed by the Bayer pattern filtration, not exactly optimal when the luminance contribution is 30% for red, and 12% for blue.

When the color camera develops the picture, there is only one of the three colors on the matrix pixel sites, but the color file needs to have all three colors in each pixel's three channels of R/G/B.  This generation of channel information is the development routine and it works pretty good for most reflectances.  Where it falls into difficulty is when detail becomes very fine and it's focussed sharply-- we can get color aliasing errors (sometimes called a christmas tree effect due to the resemblance to christmas lights).

The dSLR market (and the happy snap market too) have chosen to blur this aliasing error into un-recognizability with the AA filter, instead of teaching the customers how to fix(or mitigate) the problem in Photoshop.  If I were selling to this audience I'd do the same thing. Not everyone has Photoshop of course and there is some time necessary to effect the fix-- for me it's a matter of craftsmanship; I'll do it on my color captures because I don't have a problem with effecting the fix and I'm not willing to suffer the anti-aliasing filter's diffusion effect.  For mono, I don't have to think about it because the filter's not there.  I get full sharpness from my lenses, something dSLR shooters haven't seen since they shot film.

The mono sensor has a higher native ISO because there's no Bayer pattern filtration--and therefore no filter factor.

That's most of it.  If you have specific questions, post them here.

Richard
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RichardChang
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2006, 03:27:22 PM »
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Quote from: michael,Apr 28 2006, 11:15 PM

>What more can you tell us?

<I know at least a half dozen MF digital photographers who are eager for a mono back.


The backs we have encompass 6, 11, and 16 megapixel sensors.  The 6 and 11 are Dalsa sensors and the 16 meg is a Kodak.  As soon as we can get a bigger mono, we'll make that too.   It's unfortunate that Kodak doesn't have the 36mm x 48mm mono in their catalog, the 4096 x 4096 is the biggest they'll sell.  The 6 and 11 are 24mm x 36mm.

The backs have the same cost as our color cameras since the sensor cost to us is the same.  6 meg E3 mono is $7,000,  11 meg E 427 mono is $9,000, and the 16 meg E4 is $13,000.

We fit our backs onto 200, 500, 900, Flex and Arc bodied 'blads.  We do Mamiya RB, RZ, and 645 bodies.  Bronica Etr and Sq series bodies.  Fuji GX 680 and Contax 645 AF.  And we do all of the view cameras.

Our cameras are designed to shoot into a computer, we don't do removeable media.  The new E Seres backs were designed to shoot into a 1 inch thick computer made by a company called OQO (it's 3.5" by 5" on the other dimensions).  Runs XP and XP Pro, MegaVision's Photoshoot capture app and Photoshop, and has a 40 gig HD, Firewire, Bluetooth, WiFi, and USB 2.  OQO's range in price from $1,500 to around $2,000, depending on configuration.

If you have any questions post them here.   MegaVision will be at Photokina and Photosplus (Javits) this year, drop in and see us if you're around.


Richard Chang
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2006, 08:50:20 PM »
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I see another expense being notched up on your digital odessey Michael!

Then again if it is tethered only it would be of less use to the landscape photographer. Richard, in limiting the backs to tethered use only are you targeting the studio crowd exclusively?
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RichardChang
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2006, 06:28:23 PM »
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I see another expense being notched up on your digital odessey Michael!

Then again if it is tethered only it would be of less use to the landscape photographer. Richard, in limiting the backs to tethered use only are you targeting the studio crowd exclusively?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64050\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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RichardChang
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2006, 06:51:20 PM »
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Quote from: pom,Apr 30 2006, 01:50 AM

>Then again if it is tethered only it would be of less use to the landscape photographer. Richard, in limiting the backs to tethered use only are you targeting the studio crowd exclusively?


No, we're not.  My personal shooting is mostly landscape (www.TransitionOfTone.com, click on the Lucky with Light link); it's been a passion for 30 years and counting.  The new OQO setup is really great for landscape because one can see how the tonality of the development intention will fit on the paper's density range and renderable endpoints, with a single meter capture.  I'll compromise toward more exposure if the scene demands it.

Not all scenes we attempt to record will stretch the contrast capabilities of our capture device.  When we shoot less contrast, I think it's practical to lower the density range of the development intention.  I head toward the reflection densitometer derived measurement of the paper if I can, by lowering the DR of the developer.  Using the Color Coded Light Meter, this results in an accurate placement of the scene's highest important value, relative to the just separable high value on the paper.  As the DR changes, there are more tones when the DR goes up, and fewer tones when the DR goes down.  

In filmspeak, you can choose to place your scene's highlight on your paper with Velvia or Portra, or any film in between these emulsion's contrast.  It's the equivalent of making a grade 2 neg for grade 2 paper or a grade 4 neg for grade 4 paper.  You might not like the look, but then again, maybe you will like the look.

The .dng file that Photoshoot makes can be developed in Photoshoot or in ACR, it's your call.  In my opinion, there are qualities that the perfect exposure will contain, because a more accurate exposure can often be made with Color Coded Light Metering than can be made with a histogram.  You can see the pixels that are important to you, color coded in highlight and shadow areas; you can see those that will just render, and you can see those that won't, on your chosen target.  The ability to see this is a capture application functionality.  Until now, we're not used to having this type of information in a portable solution.

In the studio I'd like a bigger display than the OQO's 3.5 x 5 inch display.  The OQO has enough video RAM to run a 20 inch monitor with millions of colors and it can accept a valid ICC display profile, so it can be used in the studio too.  Outdoors, I want the OQO's svelt size and weight, and the ability to see it perfectly in bright sunlight.

When we say tethered, it's not tethered in the traditional sense, it looks like this:
http://www.mega-vision.com/products/1shot/1shot.htm

Richard Chang
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Greg_E
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« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2006, 11:23:30 AM »
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We fit our backs onto 200, 500, 900, Flex and Arc bodied 'blads.  We do Mamiya RB, RZ, and 645 bodies.  Bronica Etr and Sq series bodies.  Fuji GX 680 and Contax 645 AF.  And we do all of the view cameras.

Digging up kind of an old post but... Horror of horrors:
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RichardChang
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« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2006, 03:23:02 PM »
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Quote from: Greg_E,Jun 20 2006, 04:23 PM
Digging up kind of an old post but... Horror of horrors:

This looks interesting.  The image makes me wonder if it actually worked.  I don't see how the MV camera back could have had its image plane placed where the Rolleicord needed it to be.  We had probably a half dozen requests to fit our backs onto Rollei's SL66, but none that I can remember for the TLR bodies.  This is truly in the spirit of the photographer's of old; if you needed somethiing done, you did it yourself.

This is an image that I've never seen before.  It could have worked, as long as the image plane could have been shimmed properly.

Any idea of where did this image came from?

Richard
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Greg_E
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« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2006, 09:42:58 PM »
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Any idea of where did this image came from?


My work bench. After attaching the MV back to the camera, a quick measurement showed that I needed to move it closer to the focal plane. So I'm currently making a new mount for the body, which also involved machining the body to allow the MV back to move closer. The final version should allow your E series to focus as the mounting point will only be .032 inches above the film guides. I've had a couple of people ask me about it, but so far the cost seems to be the big problem. Too bad, this would really be kind of neat with an E4 attached. I doubt that the lens would really be able to perform well enough for the E5 or E6, but there is enough room between the film guides to fit one of those backs.
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RichardChang
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« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2006, 05:10:54 PM »
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Greg:

If you've taken the interface plate off, you may have noticed the stainless steel shims under the plate.  You may find that placing the sensor approx .010" closer than it needs to be will allow you to shim out to the perfect lens-to-imageplane distance, where it matches the aerial ground glass view.

I'd think you'd have an easier time of doing the SL 66 since it has a removable back which contains the filmplane.

Richard
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sjprg
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« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2006, 11:13:58 PM »
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I'm an old guy - you mean there is something other than Tri-X and D-76?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=63882\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Is Panatomic X still available? I sure enjoyed the images from it.
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« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2006, 06:30:23 AM »
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Seen this?

http://www.imx.nl/photosite/technical/adox/t005.html


There was a long running spat between Erwin Puts and Cornelius Fleischer at Zeiss. Cornelius was claiming extraordinarily high resolution figures from certain silver based films with certain Zeiss lenses. Erwin refused to accept them, arguing they were at best theoretical and could not deliver the tonality required for photographic purposes.

My vote tended to go towards Erwin, it was always my experience with ultra high resolution films that they were really intended for document copying, and although they may deliver spectacular results with black and white test charts they weren't really practical for real world photography.

This Adox film however appears to offer something new, although at ISO 16 and 35mm format only it's obviously limited in application! I've ordered a few rolls and I'll give it a try against a Canon 1Ds MkII and report back.
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« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2006, 02:52:53 PM »
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My favorites when I was shooting a lot of art-landscapes with my Hasselblad:

Ilford Pan F 50 in Zone Six thin elumsion developer (two part)<see if Calumet still caries it.

Agfa APX 25 in Rodinall.

Ilford SFX near Infra red in whatever Ilford recomends (can't remember).

T-Max 100 in T-Max developer still isn't bad.

I print my favorites on Brilliant MC-FB... developed in Zone Six chemistry.<< all availible (I hope still) from Calumet in Chicago.
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