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Author Topic: State of Film 2012 - Help with Developers and Filters and Tests  (Read 24406 times)
Brian Hirschfeld
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« on: April 12, 2012, 11:56:38 AM »
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So I had posted here before, and am finally getting around to actually doing the test. The idea is to take all of the commercially available 120mm and 35mm films and analyze them as well as provide sample images and my opinions on them. I have compiled a list (see excel attached) which includes the format / brand / name / type / ISO of the film which I have already filled in.

Analysis of the films will be done after they have been processed etc, but the tests I intend to do as of now are exposing the film properly, then + and - 1 and 2 stops of exposure (i.e shutter speeds and EV) and then to do this three times but then on the second and third rolls expose the film as if it were 1 or 2 stops greater to push process it to see how it stands up. So that is 3 rolls of each.

Then I hope to also take one roll out and just shoot some samples with it of a general nature (portraiture, landscape, macro whatever I am doing). Which brings us to 4 rolls.

I was thinking to develop all of the films which have recommended developers in the developer recommended for the film, or that would be recommended for each film to yield the best result. (I will send the film to a lab)

another issues is using filters, I know for the IR films on the list, I will use some type of filter, and was wondering which of the 3 most commonly suggested would be best to used with all of them, R25, 87C, 92 seem to be the options.

It would be great to get an opinion about whether I should bother pushing the film 1+ AND +2 or just do one of these to lessen the number of roles used for the test. recommendations for best developers for each of the films suggested would be greatly appreciated.

And please, I know its a lot of work, and you can always poke flaws into the process and say why it would or wouldn't work, but keep it reasonable, and also no complaining about the cost of the films, developing scanning whatever, I want to do it and am going to do it and have the ability to do it and thats just the way life is.

Thanks in advance for the constructive help, don't feel obliged to answer for everything, just the ones you know best, would greatly appreciate. Also if for some reason I have something on there that is no longer in production (i.e would be expired film now) please let me know.

Thanks,
Brian Hirschfeld
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Deardorff
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2012, 10:23:27 AM »
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What does all this have to do with actually producing photos that look good?
I am not trying to be rude, but see over the past 40+ years so many caught up in the testing/questioning/what is 'better' baloney to the exclusion of actually photographing.

I know many who can discuss all the arcane trivia and most of those do not have work to show.

I see Reichman with actual photos on the front of this site. He can do both and does it well. But, on top of it all - he has actual photos to show.

I and a number of others can probably take any film/developer combination you want, work with it a bit and produce good images, well seen and technically well done in printing and presentation. I have friends producing excellent work with combinations I would not touch with  10 foot pole - but it works for them.

Test a big if that is what you like but what good is it if you can' make fine images?
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Brian Hirschfeld
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 04:19:19 PM »
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Well I always find myself testing out all sorts of films, and not just having a set of films I use, so on a personal level, I want to compare all of these films so I can know which ones I like and can just "use" and have in my arsenal and know I like, and I think the best way for me to do that is to be able to see them side by side. I also think it may be interesting for others as well so at least I can justify the effort and cost in my mind in two ways.

Any suggestions? I would shoot them all outside, but I am concerned about repeatable situations with natural lighting....anyone have any ideas on whether this really matters, as long as they are all shot at similar times?
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IanB
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2012, 09:47:43 AM »
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I think this is a brave project, but have a couple of reservations about your proposed methodology:

What you suggest will give potentially useful and instructive results for all films which use C41 or equivalent process - i.e.: colour negative and chromogenic B&W films;
BUT:
+ or - 1 or even 2 stops may be too much for E6 process colour films, as these transpaprency types have much less exposure latitude. In these situations +/- 0.33 or 0.66 of a stop may better represent the useful range within which the films can handle exposure,
AND:
traditional B&W films can have their contrast range and grain size (and exposure value) hugely changed by both exposure and development - not just times and temperatures, but variations in the effects imparted by different developer chemistry. Learning about this is part of the "Art" (or at least "craft") of monochrome work, and can take a lifetime to learn. Very few people skilled in this area will use the manufacturer's recommended speed for any film.

For instance, my favourite film for landscape work in mono is Agfa APX100 (Included I think under its newer Rollei name in your list - I still have a load in the freezer from before Agfa went bust). However, I expose at EI 50 or 64 using teh Zone System (depending on subject contrast) and develop in a slow-working metol-only developer - this gives very fine grain and a huge dynamic range for the subtlety I like. It scans very well indeed, and grain is small enough to allow scanning at full 4000ppi. I have a colleague who likes the same film, but pushes it to EI 200 or 400, or even more, and develops in a much stronger developer (I don't know what -he won't tell me!). The affects are so different you would not realise we are using the same film.

Of course, you can also modify developer times and temperatures of colour films to adjust contrast range, too...

I'd really recommend you divide your films up into families depending on developer chemistry (pretty much as above), and use a separate methodology for each. C41 are probably the easiest to work with, and traditional B&W the most complex.

I hope that's helpful.
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Brian Hirschfeld
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2012, 10:35:52 AM »
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Right the Color Negatives, and E-6's are easy since they are just processed straight, but that is the kind of information I was looking for, if you could make some recommendations as to what ISO's you would use with different films you are familiar with, I would greatly appreciate it.

I want to take the films to and past their limits and that is why I want to go +/- 2

Also if you could recommend developers to be used, for best results with specific films, I would also appreciate it, don't have to make recommendations about them all, just whatever you have some knowledge about, thanks.
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KevinA
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2012, 04:07:42 AM »
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Seriously life is to short. Unless you get some kind of pleasure out of this (which is way beyond my grasp) just pick one or two films as and when and play with them. No way in your lifetime are going to test all the permutations of films and developer and all the variables.
I've just tested Pan F and about to test Rollei Pan 25, I will pick the nearest to what I want then refine from there. My tests will only relate to my cameras and working methods.
I'd rather be shooting subjects than testing film.
To each his own.

Kevin.
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bill t.
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« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2012, 01:11:32 AM »
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Very few people here have developed more rolls and sheets of film than me.  At my zonish peak, it would take me months to really figure out all the ins & outs of only 1 or 2 developer/film combinations.  Gaining mastery of just 1 single emulsion and a single developer is no trivial task.  The idea that it might be possible to investigate many such combinations at the same time and reach meaningful conclusions seems hugely impractical, based on my remembered experience.

Words of wisdom...get one film and one developer working exactly right and don't rock the damned boat afterwards.

For instance, expect to spend at least a dozen or more development iterations just getting the film agitation correct enough that there is no development induced density mottle.  I know quite a few photographers who never got that far.  But as far as I'm concerned, those old Nikkor tanks and reels never looked more handsome than over there on the shelf, and that's where they will stay.

Rodinal, Acufine, Diafine, D76, FG-7, E-3, E-4, C-22, C-41, all kinds of esoteric German developers that came in sealed glass ampules, it was so wonderful and all so wizardly.  And there is something abount the gurgling sounds, and smells, and the rotating inertia of stirred photo solutions, and the clinking of stainless steel tanks, you had to have been there.  But what a hassle.  But OK, just promise me you'll stay away from HC-110, it's the pits.

And I scanned a bunch of 35mm and 120 negs recently for a documentary.  I had forgotten how grungy film would be.  I though something was wrong with my scanner.  Went back and looked at original prints.  Nothing was wrong with my scanner.  Don't expect too much from film.  Actually, nobody I know from the good old days who actually used film still does, except for masochistic purposes.

But it could be fun, too.

OOOPS!  Kirk still uses film, sometimes, and to good effect.  Maybe he'll chime in.  If he does, be sure to listen.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 01:13:17 AM by bill t. » Logged
John R Smith
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« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2012, 01:10:08 PM »
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Words of wisdom...get one film and one developer working exactly right and don't rock the damned boat afterwards.

Words of wisdom indeed. We could paraphrase that for today with -

. . . get one sensor and RAW file, one software package and one printer working exactly right and don't rock the damned boat afterwards.

Thank you for that sensible insight, Bill.

John
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2012, 02:23:13 PM »
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Quote
OOOPS!  Kirk still uses film, sometimes, and to good effect.  Maybe he'll chime in.  If he does, be sure to listen.

Indeed I do and I agree life is too short, but I am only a "tester" to solve my immediate needs and these days that is entirely B&W. For many years I only used Tri-x and HC110 in 4x5. I loved the tones but found the combo a little grainy. When I need a new film/dev combo I look at peoples WORK. If I like what I see then I will test and test extensively. For a few years then I switched over to Acros in readyloads developed in T-Max RS-HEAVEN! But now ready loads are at a premium and I can't justify the expense so I am back to loading fiilm holders. So now I have settled on Ilford FP4 rated at ISO 60 (I am stockpiling it) in a tanning developer, Pyrocat HD in Glycol. This is after trying some other "off the shelf" deveolpers. Why tanning? I liked what I saw in some friends work AND since I scan allot and print digitally some (scanners have problems with dense highlights) a tanning developer protects the subtly in the highlights for scanning.

So what does all this mean? Finding a good combo is a long journey and only has meaning for me and my image making needs. In B&W manufacturers recommendations for ISO and developers and developmental times are only recommendations-everything must be tested for your imagery needs. I only shoot landscape. If I were to shoot portraits it would be an entirely different combo.
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Thanks,
Kirk

Kirk Gittings
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bill t.
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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2012, 12:47:04 AM »
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Ted Orland and I both had darkrooms in the same design studio.  Circa 1972 he came back from a Yosemite Workshop with a photo of the HC-110 page in Ansel's lab notebook.  Apparently Ansel was a good record keeper, at least of time & temps & concentrations.  Ted spent weeks slaving away with that stuff, just couldn't get enough snap out of the highlights for the Omega cold light head and Brovira #3.  Went back to punchy old FG-7.

For a long time I was heavy into ABC Pyro developer.  Was very nice with thin emulsion Plux-X 4x5, gave wonderful luminous shadows and incredible definition to distant details and nearby textures.  And if I looked at the negative in grazing light, it even had some texture.  Just me and my Anba Wood View and my chemically tanned finger tips, and 16 precious sheets of film stuck into 8 light leaking holders.  Imagine having a flash card that could only hold 16 exposures.  Those big flash cards have completely changed how we see and how we work.
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Petrus
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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2012, 01:15:31 AM »
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  Imagine having a flash card that could only hold 16 exposures.

Imagine? When I went on my first assignment abroad with my brand new EOS-1D in 2002 I was given two 512 MB CF cards with it. I had to be quite careful with my shots and erase all bad ones right away. How many D800 RAWs would a 512 MB card hold? 16?

It is quite amazing that shooting slides costs now about 5 times more than shooting digital and NOT reusing the memory cards...
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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2012, 03:13:44 AM »
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The advice about finding and then sticking to a very small set of films is on the money.

I built and held my career on few films: in 35mm I used FP3 and later changes of it to FP4 Plus at 125ASA; HP3 and then its variations to HP5 Plus at 400ASA and for 120 I used, exclusively, TXP 120 at 320ASA. All of this was processed in D76 1+1 at times discovered through testing. Consistent results and no surprises is the name of the game when you have to be able to repeat over and over again. Panatomic X and Pan F I only used as an amateur when I was chasing imaginary targets that meant nothing in professional life.

With colour transparencies it was 35mm Kodachrome 64 Pro (the slower Kodachrome was too contrasty for me) followed by Velvia 50 and in 120, Ektachnrome 64 and Velvia 50. I did as little colour negative work as possible because of the fact of having to output colour processing when, from experience doing color prints myself, I realised that labs wouldn't go the final test because it took them from profit into loss.

It's like women: find and get to know the right one as well as humanly possible and you'll feel little need for another. Bliss.

Rob C
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Chris Calohan
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« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2012, 06:02:36 AM »
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I know...I am the new guy on the block and what do I know...well, me personally, not nearly as much as I would like to, but what I don't know (and it is vast), this man does: Al Weber. And if it is about film and developers and all those wonderful moments between snapping the shutter and hanging the print, Al Weber is your go to guy.

Might I strongly suggest you start a dialogue with this man: http://www.stare.net/weber/newsletter/

Al Weber is the walking-talking encyclopedia of film. If he was measured in volumes of knowledge, he would fill an entire library on photographic lore, technique, shooting, processing, testing, etc. Write him and let the learning begin.
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« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2012, 06:45:08 PM »
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I'm confused my the OP's initial post if the plan is to shoot film and send it to a lab to be processed, or do the developing himself. If we're talking about conventional B&W film and lab processing by all means stop wasting everybody's time. Commercial processing of B&W film is inconsistent at best and horrid at worst. I've set up several commercial B&W lines and you have a choice between a few developers that work with a wide variety of films or a wide variety of developers for a choosen few films. Labs will have to choose one developer that works with everything and does nothing well, and likely use constant agitation or even worse; nitrogen burst.

The E-6  / reversal side of things is a bit more consistent, but still frought with peril. With the demise of Kodak Ektachrome expect those few labs still running E-6 to switch over to Fuji controls, which is actually a good thing given that Kodak calibrated E-6 lines would under-develop Fuji reversal films by a significant degree. Properly processed Velvia and especially Provia look nothing like their Kodak processed contemporaries and gain significant shadow density and color range when color developer / developer times are increased  accordingly and pH is tracked properly. Several years ago I semnt three test roles of Provia to theree different labs and got three different results back. Only the lab using one shot E-6 chems produced trannies that looked decent. Kodak E-6 has to run under reduced times to keep their tendency of blocking high gamut colors to a minimum.
 
That being said, sticking with the more mainstream B&W films and hand processing would yield the most meaningful results. I've done this myself, and nothing is more entertaining is watching the modern film like TMAX 100 get compared to more classic films like FP4 (and determining the classic films are superior).
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BobDavid
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« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2012, 08:28:32 AM »
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Brian has good intentions. My guess is that Brian is an avid photographer and he is independently wealthy. He has a romantic fascination with silver halite processes. That is fine. I like my stereo; it runs on tubes. Does it sound better than a solid state amp? No. I just like the tubes due to a romantic/nostalgic connection. If I had unlimited financial resources and could passionately pursue something, I would most likely photograph more dogs than I am currently photographing. I love dogs. Brian is a camera techno-geek. He loves photography and he is having a blast. He is generous about reaching out to the community-- both seeking and answering questions. Go Brian. Have fun. Seize the day.
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