For the cost of film compared to the time it takes to set up an 8x10 shot, it is probably a good idea to make a back up negative. I usually do.
The other day I photographed a very low contrast scene; a muddy creek bed in full shade. I used Tmax 100 and “overexposed” by one stop. I then tray processed one negative in Ilford developer mixed 1 to 4 from the concentrate, continuously removing the bottom negative and putting it on top in a stack of 8. I processed them for 8 minutes at 68 degrees (the bottle recommended 7 minutes). I pre-soaked the negatives for 4 minutes in plain water before beginning development.
After all that, the negative was still a bit low contrast, so I processed the second negative exactly the same way except for 12 minutes. It has a lot more “snap”. In fact I now wish I would have went to 15 minutes.
I doubt if I will run out of paper grade printing either negative. So my question is: if I print the second negative on say grade 2 paper and the first negative on grade 3 paper will I be able to get the same quality print?
I suspect I will try it but I am interested in what people have to say. I am having trouble understanding why I need to use the zone system with modern variable contrast paper, unless I have a high contrast scene where I am concerned with pushing the highlights too far onto the shoulder.
Note: I work full time and have a 60-year-old house so I like to get final prints from darkroom time not just experimental data.