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Lenny Eiger
19-Aug-2009, 14:46
Hey folks, Scott Sheppard of Inside Analog Photo just did a podcast with me. It was my first one... Here's the link:

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?i=58576101&id=291806626


Lenny

SW Rick
19-Aug-2009, 17:03
Great podcast! Let's hope there is a sequel.

Steven Barall
19-Aug-2009, 17:29
Really great Lenny. It's so great to listen to someone who is completely committed to what they do and also so incredibly level headed and intelligent. It's great that there are people like you who are always out there looking for more quality and then doing the hard work to get it.

Lenny Eiger
20-Aug-2009, 09:26
Thanks very much, guys.

Lenny

sanking
20-Aug-2009, 20:55
Thanks very much, guys.

Lenny


Hi Lenny,

Congratulations. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

I also did an interview with Scott recently and that should be available in the near future.

Sandy

Eric Leppanen
21-Aug-2009, 01:08
Hey Lenny,

Enjoyed listening to your podcast...Just one question if I might re your recent film test comparing Efke 25, Delta, FP4+, HP5+, TMX and TMY-2 (hope I'm not jumping the gun on your upcoming B&W podcast): what factors led you to prefer Delta and TMY-2 for your workflow? As an 8x10 shooter, the argument could be made that grain doesn't matter, and that the "traditional" films (particularly FP4+ and HP5+) give more latitude than Delta/TMY-2.

I shoot TMY-2 myself, but I'm curious as to your findings. Did Delta/TMY-2 provide better midtone separation when scanned? Also, what does Delta give you versus going exclusively with TMY-2?

Lenny Eiger
21-Aug-2009, 10:20
Hey Lenny,
Enjoyed listening to your podcast...Just one question if I might re your recent film test comparing Efke 25, Delta, FP4+, HP5+, TMX and TMY-2 (hope I'm not jumping the gun on your upcoming B&W podcast): what factors led you to prefer Delta and TMY-2 for your workflow? As an 8x10 shooter, the argument could be made that grain doesn't matter, and that the "traditional" films (particularly FP4+ and HP5+) give more latitude than Delta/TMY-2.
I shoot TMY-2 myself, but I'm curious as to your findings. Did Delta/TMY-2 provide better midtone separation when scanned? Also, what does Delta give you versus going exclusively with TMY-2?

Hmmm. I hope I can make this reasonably short... It was a lot of film.

Let me say first that we found very interesting things - that relate to a hybrid workflow that are very different in a traditional darkroom scenario. My results are specific to the hybrid workflow. They are my results. I can be wrong about an assumption or two. I was figuring these things out so that I could shoot my photos, and not to set industry standards, or set the rules for everyone else. Respectful disagreement and discussion are always welcome.

There are two main factors. If you look at contact printing, you are correct, grain is not an issue with anything close to a properly exposed and developed 8x10 negative. One could also add that there is some smoothing when an image is projected and enlarged. In a drum scanning workflow, the idea is generally to articulate the grains so that the image retains the maximum amount of sharpness. If one generates enough pixels and there is no interpolation, this grain will come along to whatever size is specified. However, one has to ask - where is the line? Is there one place where grain becomes important, is there a bottleneck of quality somewhere? I believe there is.

Every printer lays down ink in a similar fashion. It's pretty amazing what happens. The head slides along just over the surface of the paper and it's capable of mixing colors in that small space. The other thing that's happening is that if you take the example of a gray, that the printer lays down dots in the now famous "stochastic" pattern. Stochastic just means random. (It isn't random, but it looks a little random, and is not evidently visible, so the eye doesn't perceive the pattern so as a bunch of dots, or a grid, but a coherent image.) There are numerous dithering patterns that different RIP's allow one to choose, but they all do the same thing - take a solid color and mix it out to a gray, not unlike what a halftone pattern does in offset printing, except better. If you look at a print with a 10x loupe, you will see a lot of little tiny rectangular dots. As of this writing, this is where I think the "bottleneck" is. What it means is that if you have a file with lots of grain, larger that the pattern of the dithering pattern, you will see grain. If your file has less of a grain pattern than the dithering, you will see the pattern of the dithering (no matter how small your grains are). I conclude that, when approaching graininess in a hybrid workflow, one is either exceeding the dithering pattern, or not.
FP4, when properly developed, did not exceed the dithering pattern. When overdeveloped, it did. This was true of TMAX 1 and 2, Delta and Efke. HP5 was over the dithering pattern no matter how it was developed. TMY2 was just under, to my surprise.
This concept also applies to critical sharpness. The loss, going from f22 to f45, is almost invisible. It might be the 12 inch Rodenstock Apo Sironar-S, but the Nikon 300 performed just as well. I should add that I am doing this on my scanner and my printer (1440x1440), PhotoRag 308 - a matte paper, and did not test every printer, so your results may vary. I tend to like depth of field much more than super critical sharpness - I like having everything in focus.

Now to your second question. Midtone separation. This has been an issue for me for a number of years and I have now gotten it to work as I expect, repeatable and all. I believe that the key rule is: you must not exhaust your developer before its work is done. A target density for a negative to be used in a silver darkroom is in the neighborhood of .8-1.0. Some will like a little more or less, I don't want to argue the point. The target for my negs is 1.8-2.0, basically double. This is closer to what one would use for an alternative process, any printing that likes an actinic light source. In the past, I used PMK in a Jobo, even modified the formula, and concluded that the modern films, like TMax, were garbage. I was wrong. The developer was developing out the highlights well enough, but the midtone separation wasn't there. Other people, famous in the sport of developing, who shall remain nameless, concurred and I left it at that. I went back to the wonderful but very slow, Efke. I now believe the problem all along was that PMK was exhausting itself in the drum. You should see what the Delta looked like - downright awful! Other folks say they get it to work just fine, I haven't seen their negs but I have no reason to doubt that this is possible.

I tired a lot of developers, the one that worked best was Xtol 1:1. The midtones separate beautifully, with no issue, in all films that were tested. I hasten to add - there are routes I haven't tried. Sandy has graciously offered to develop a piece of film for me and I haven't gotten around to it yet. So has Dave Wood, of DR5. I wanted to shoot photographs for a bit and take a break from testing.
The surprise - and cautionary note - was that the range of times for Xtol 1:1, at 72 degrees F, went from 6 to 8 mins, for N-4 to N+2. At 8.5 minutes, the grain literally exploded, way past the dithering point. I have been used to the old rule of 17% difference per stop, which led to times of roughly 4 mins to 14 mins or so in developing. These times are way tighter.

Finally, Delta was the sharpest of the films we tested, altho the difference is under the radar of the dithering pattern so it doesn't really matter. It has been delivering smooth separation in the printing (with full development). There are two reasons I chose Delta, one was that Ilford has made this commitment to b&w and it is a lot cheaper than the Kodak film, which is now an obscene $5 a sheet, packed only in 10 sheet boxes, etc. TMY2 is not quite as smooth as the lower speed Delta, but it suffices, so I will use it when I need the extra 2 stops. We didn't test Acros, because I have guesses about what Kodak and Ilford will do going forward regarding discontinuing specific film and I have no clue about what Fuji is up to. Their policies regarding what they will sell to us, are a mystery to me. Perhaps someone else has some insight. I know its a good, altho' expensive film.
I hope that answers all your questions.

Lenny

P.S. I should add that the young and energetic Michael Cone (no relation to Jon) helped me in doing the tests.

Eric Leppanen
21-Aug-2009, 11:35
Lenny,

Thanks for sharing, that was quite a project! What enlargement factor/print size did you use when evaluating dithering patterns? Did you use 16x20"?

Also, did you test undiluted Xtol and, if so, how did it compare to Xtol 1:1? My understanding is that many Xtol-based commercial B&W dip-and-dunk machines (such as the one operated by my local custom B&W lab) use only the undiluted stuff.

Lenny Eiger
21-Aug-2009, 12:11
Lenny,

Thanks for sharing, that was quite a project! What enlargement factor/print size did you use when evaluating dithering patterns? Did you use 16x20"?

Also, did you test undiluted Xtol and, if so, how did it compare to Xtol 1:1? My understanding is that many Xtol-based commercial B&W dip-and-dunk machines (such as the one operated by my local custom B&W lab) use only the undiluted stuff.

We did test it. It didn't perform as well. Labs are always trying to put more volume thru, that's part of the problem...
We tested sizes to 32x40. The fun part is that the dithering pattern doesn't get any larger when you go up. That's what makes it all work.... when you stay under it.

Lenny

sanking
21-Aug-2009, 12:43
We didn't test Acros, because I have guesses about what Kodak and Ilford will do going forward regarding discontinuing specific film and I have no clue about what Fuji is up to. Their policies regarding what they will sell to us, are a mystery to me. Perhaps someone else has some insight. I know its a good, altho' expensive film.
I hope that answers all your questions.

Lenny

P.S. I should add that the young and energetic Michael Cone (no relation to Jon) helped me in doing the tests.

I too am clueless as to Fuji's marketing strategies. It is perplexing to me that Acros in sheet film size is one of the most expensive films on the market, but Acros in 120 size is much less expensive than both Delta 100 and Tmax-100, at least when purchased from suppliers like B&H.

Sandy King

Ed Richards
22-Aug-2009, 17:01
Hi Lenny,

How about Xtol 1:3? Several us have very good luck with 1:3, and it gives you a little more leaway in developing times for pull and push.

Lenny Eiger
22-Aug-2009, 18:36
Hi Lenny,

How about Xtol 1:3? Several us have very good luck with 1:3, and it gives you a little more leaway in developing times for pull and push.

I agree, a very reasonable possibility. It's one of the next things I am going to try. We wanted to make sure to take any exhaustion issues out of the picture. We were doing 5 8x10's in a single drum....

Lenny

Gary Nylander
23-Aug-2009, 11:02
Great interview, lots of good information and inspiration.