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Thread: Noob questions about development

  1. #1

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    Noob questions about development

    Ok, so I started developing my 4x5's because the distance to a lab that would develop them is too big to go back and forth with 6 shots each time. And the price would drive me to sell the camera pretty quick.

    At the moment I'm using Foma 400 because it is cheap and a fast film (given the season). As developer I got some Ilford LC29 and Kodak HC-110. Stop bath and fixer is Ilford as well. I also have a Jobo CPE2 with a 2509N so I can do 6 sheets at a time.

    Now last time I got the camera out I took 2 shots each time and then developed 6 of them in LC29 and 6 (identical) in HC-110 dilution B. Stop and fix were identical.

    If I look at it on a light table I don't see problems. But then I'm a complete noob at development. When I scan it, I have a very reduced greyscale range so I end up with a scan that is very darkish grey, with not much contrast (well at least much less then I can see on the lighttable). Now I can get an acceptable result when I set the black, grey and white points but I have a feeling that something is wrong that I shouldn't need this. Maybe also less sharpness. And I never see the grain as I do in some scans on the forum.

    But being noob I geuss there are a lot of variables at play. So I'd like to get a bit more input for the following:

    - temperatures. I put the Jobo at 20C and I also have a thermometer in the bath at the position of the drum. Now if I look at development tables, then I see things like "8 minutes at 20C" and "7'40" at 21C". That is almost half a minute difference for a 1C change in temperature. But if I look at the thermometer, then it is going up-down at least 2C with the bath just sitting there (and the CPE2 set at 20C). So I cannot imagin that when pouring in/out, and then the tank only partially in the water that the bath inside the tank isn't changing more than those 2C. So how critical is this really?

    - same with times. There is written 7 minutes, but between stopping the motor, taking the tank out and draining it there is at least 20 seconds. Same between pouring in, placing the tank and starting the motor. Makes more than 30 seconds easily. How critical is this timing? From what I remember from chemistry, reactions are proportional to concentrations and some constant (iirc depending on the specific reaction). On the other hand, diffusion into the gelatin is also part of the whole and that is slower. Will 10-20 seconds more or less matter?

    - scanning. Now I understand that I will lose both definition and range of greyscale, but is it normal to lose about 1/4 to 1/2 of the greyscale after a scan? This is on an Epson V500 with the provided software and holder at 4800dpi.

    - when I look at the developed photos with LC29 and those with HC-110 I fail to see a difference. Again, is this to be expected? Would any of these developers give more or less lattitude with time and/or temperature? I do not expect a developer to make a change in definition/detail, this being more the lens and the dummy doing the focusing. Or does it?

    - would it make sense to change to a different film? Or should I persist (at least till better weather) with the Foma?
    Expert in non-working solutions.

  2. #2
    Joe O'Hara's Avatar
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    Re: Noob questions about development

    Hi Havoc,

    Temperature matters, timing matters, but most importantly consistency matters. Doing it the same way every time, and changing
    one thing at a time until you get the results that you want. Usually, with film development, we tinker with the time and try to keep the
    temperature the same.

    I'm not familiar with the Jobo machine you are using, but if it is working correctly, it should be able to hold the temp sufficiently
    "the same" from one development session to the next for you to consider that variable under control. Note, the developer does its
    thing at any (within reasonable limits) temperature, just faster when it's warmer, and slower when its colder.

    As long as you pour the developer in and out the same way every time, that variable is under control and you can adjust the
    development by how long you leave the machine running. More time -> higher contrast, all other things equal.

    Regarding how to optimize development for scanning, in my experience (Epson 700), a scanner has more than enough dynamic
    range to capture everything in any reasonably well-processed negative. In particular, it can easily deal with negatives that
    are extremely hard to print on silver-gelatin paper (a fact that came painfully to my attention when I started silver- instead of inkjet
    prints a few years back). In other words, negative development (again within reason) is not very critical for scanning in
    my experience, whereas it is for making "wet prints".

    BTW, I keep saying "within reason"-- that means that if you follow the film and developer manufacturers' recommendations
    for time and temperature, have an accurate thermometer, and keep things clean, you should be close enough to make
    good scans.

    There is good info as I recall on moderator Ken Lee's website on how to approach scanning. Basically you want to get
    everything in the negative in the scan file, and do the tonal adjustments in Photoshop or some other proper editing program.
    (I always just used Epson's scanner SW; other workers use more capable scanner packages that may allow them to get
    optimum print files all in one step.) I set the "output" range in the scanner SW to the maximua, and then set the white and black
    points on the input a little past the ends of the histogram, whatever it happens to look like. Typically, you get an image that looks flat
    and gray, but all the information is in there. You can expand it or whatever later in your editing program. What you don't want to do
    is clip the highlights or shadows by setting the input range too tightly.

    Differences between developers are typically subtle. I wouldn't expect to see a huge difference in similar negatives
    developed in different developers (with the exception of pyro-based developers, in some cases).

    You will probably get a lot of other, possibly quite different advice from others here. There are many ways to get good
    results. The above just reflects my own strategy and workflow. Pick something that is convenient for you and practice
    doing it consistently, then change one thing at a time to optimize your results. Enjoy the journey!
    Where are we going?
    And why are we in this handbasket?


    www.josephoharaphotography.com

  3. #3
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Noob questions about development

    Film is usually processed to print the full scene tonal range on #2 paper. B&W processing does not have to be exact, if one has a spectrum of paper grades available (#00 to #5).

  4. #4

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    Re: Noob questions about development

    It's normal that you don't get the full dynamic range of the scanner in your development and that you have to adjust the curve to have the image run from pure black to actual highlights or even pure white. A negative that precisely occupies the entire dynamic range of your scanner will be a nightmare to print in the darkroom.

    With foma 400 you should be able to see the grain even with a scanner like the v500. Perhaps your film does not lie perfectly in the depth of focus of your scanner. However, don't expect your scans to be extremely sharp when using a flatbed scanner like the v500. The maximum actual resolution of this scanner is somewhere around 1800 or 2000dpi. Scanning at 4800 is in my opinion and experience a waste of time. I usually scan 4x5" at 2400dpi and 8x10 often even lower to keep file sizes in check.

    As to development: sounds like you're doing quite alright. Joe made some good remarks on it

    Keep in mind that foma 400 usually achieves an iso of about 250 or 320 depending on developer. I like to shoot it at 400 however, and accept that I lose a bit of shadow detail this way. Both foma 400 and 100 have a bit of an s-curve which you either love or hate. I quite like it myself.

  5. #5

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    Re: Noob questions about development

    Quote Originally Posted by Havoc View Post
    When I scan it, I have a very reduced greyscale range so I end up with a scan that is very darkish grey, with not much contrast (well at least much less then I can see on the lighttable).
    Let me add something to what has been said...

    The scanner software settings will result in a more or less contrasty digital image. You should provide more information to make a good diagnostic.

    > Screen shots of your scanning software, showing settings.

    > An Scan of a significative negative alongside with an Stouffer density wedge, T2115 model for example ($7.5) in this way we'll see the true densities in the nedative by comparing to the wedge steps. And you'll have a nice virtual densitometer.


    Important, better scanning 16bits per channel, and save it in TIFF file to not lose the 16bits, a jpg saves in 8 bit... trim scanner levels to get all negative dynamic range, then you can edit perfectly in Photoshop, Paintshop or GIMP to obtain the tonality you want by bending the tonality curve.

    But first step is providing exact information about what you are doing, so I'd recommend you obtain a density wedge, you will obtain exact information about your results, and you would obtain precise advice about it.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #6

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    Re: Noob questions about development

    Ok, thanks. Plenty of advise already:
    - I'll keep developing as I'm doing and see to get as consistent as possible with it
    - I'll try the Foma 400 at 320 and 250 and see where that gets me (keeping the development identical)
    - get a wedge and then see what I can get out of that with the scanner
    - I'm scanning in 16-bit, but Gimp doesn't want that, it is only 8 bit so far. So I'll try another application also.

    Guess I'll be back in a couple of weeks.
    Expert in non-working solutions.

  7. #7

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    Re: Noob questions about development

    Quote Originally Posted by Havoc View Post

    - I'm scanning in 16-bit, but Gimp doesn't want that, it is only 8 bit so far. So I'll try another application also.
    GIMP 2.9.2 allows 16 and 32 bits per channel...

    https://www.gimp.org/news/2015/11/27...-9-2-released/

    Get fun !

  8. #8
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Noob questions about development

    If you just want some feedback on development, post a pic of your negative beside a step wedge on a light table. or hold it up to a window and take a photo.

    Foma 400 and hc110 is not a 400 speed combination; probably 250. I am not familiar with the other developer.

    Ken Lee's webpage for scanning is good to check over too. Flat scans are desirable, then adjust the contrast/curve after.

  9. #9

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    Re: Noob questions about development

    I'm still at Gimp 2.8 so it's time to update.

    A wedge is on my shopping list. Only it doesn't seem that easy to find in europe. Only place I find one at the moment is Fotoimpex.

    If Foma 400 and HC110 is not a good combination, what would be a better one? In de datasheet of Foma 400 they speak of Ilford Microphen, I think my shop has that in stock. Would that then be better?
    Expert in non-working solutions.

  10. #10

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    Re: Noob questions about development

    Quote Originally Posted by Havoc View Post
    I'm still at Gimp 2.8 so it's time to update.

    A wedge is on my shopping list. Only it doesn't seem that easy to find in europe. Only place I find one at the moment is Fotoimpex.

    If Foma 400 and HC110 is not a good combination, what would be a better one? In de datasheet of Foma 400 they speak of Ilford Microphen, I think my shop has that in stock. Would that then be better?
    Mine it also came from fotoimpex...

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