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Thread: Different than expected results with FP4 @ 125 in XTOL 1:1

  1. #1

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    Jul 2017
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    Question Different than expected results with FP4 @ 125 in XTOL 1:1

    I've come back from my backpacking trip with the Intrepid 4x5. For BW I only shot FP4 and also took some 35mm shots on the drive there and back. I rated FP4 at 125 and developed the results in XTOL 1:1 (for both 4x5 and 35mm). The results are...kinda weird?

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    The first two are 4x5, the second is 35mm. The 35mm one kinda shows what I didn't expect. I took a photo of a mountain stream where the water was darker than the surrounding foliage, though the negative doesn't really show that and I'm not quite sure why? It feels like it's both contrasty but also flat at the same time? The confusing looking 4x5 of the rocks on the left with trees/mountains on the right is actually a mountain lake. The rocks are the shoreline and the trees/mountains is the reflection from the water. Looks super busy and nonsensical of course, but I expected a different tone between the rocks and water.

    The photo of the frozen lake and trees with mountains turned out rather well. You can't tell that's a frozen lake as well. I could perhaps dodge/burn that (in the Darkroom or Lightroom) but the overall photo I like. That was the best example.

    I made contact prints of the 4x5 (I don't have a 4x5 enlarger yet, boo) and enlarged the 35mm to 5x7 in the darkroom. Those results are better than the scans but still have sort of an odd look. I would have expected more tonality.

    Hindsight I should have brought some Delta or TMAX 100 to compare but I was trying to keep things simple. I got some decent results overall, but yeah a little confused as to what may be going on. Should I perhaps pull the film next time? Try something other than XTOL (I liked it for the economy/film speed/environmental reasons)? HP5 would have been my other choice but I'm looking for a solid medium speed film to use.

  2. #2

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    Re: Different than expected results with FP4 @ 125 in XTOL 1:1

    Odds are that you're confused by the color of the scene and haven't managed to translate that into b&w tones when you composed and shot the images. The scans/prints look quite usable to me. For more separation, you'd increase development instead of decreasing it, and for more separation in values color filters in front of the lens can be useful.

    In short: not really sure what problem you are seeing or trying to resolve. It all looks fairly normal to me.

  3. #3

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    Re: Different than expected results with FP4 @ 125 in XTOL 1:1

    Oh yeah certainly possible I didn't read the scene right. I expected a bit more separation in tones. More like what I tend to expect with HP5. In the creek photo, the water was a dark brown and the foliage was a lighter green. It's possible I misread that scene for sure but I definitely expected darker water. I had only brought a yellow and red filter with me on the trip - guessing perhaps a green filter might have been a good choice? (Red/yellow may have made the water lighter?)

    Also, in terms of Delta, I've read some conflicting data. By the sensitivity curve, it looks like it's flatter than FP4 (less contrasty)? I think in this case that's probably not what I wanted either but curious if I am interpreting that correctly.

  4. #4

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    Re: Different than expected results with FP4 @ 125 in XTOL 1:1

    Are you sure you're not mixing up spectral sensitivity and h&d curves? If you mean the latter: within certain limits, you can make a film curve as flat or as steep depending on how you develop it.

  5. #5

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    Re: Different than expected results with FP4 @ 125 in XTOL 1:1

    Hehe nope not sure at all But I was referring to the spectral curves here yep. FP4 has a bump from about 570 to 640 whereas Delta 100 is less prominent. In listening to David Hancock's all about film series (Here's his take on FP4), it sounds like FP4 would have more contrast than Delta but I recall hearing the opposite? That bump in sensitivity I guess could explain why the water was brighter than I expected since it was a brownish tone (which would include red)? I noticed the spectral curve for HP5 is actually strikingly similar to Delta 100 so I'm thinking I should give it another look. I never thought of Delta 100 and HP5 as close to each other in look (and I'm sure the spectral chart doesn't tell the whole story here at all).

    The H&D curves Ilford provides are using HC for FP4 and ID-11 for Delta but look similar. They don't show the shoulder for Delta though. But that also makes me think Delta might have a little less contrast?

    The Ilford tech sheets in case anyone needs them:
    https://www.ilfordphoto.com/amfile/f...roduct_id/686/
    https://www.ilfordphoto.com/amfile/f...roduct_id/679/
    https://www.ilfordphoto.com/amfile/f...roduct_id/691/


    I think my conclusion is that I probably should have just taken HP5 :P But I'm still really wanting to have a nice medium speed film. For LF it doesn't matter as much grain-wise, but having a medium speed stock for all formats to use would be a nice to have.

  6. #6

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    Re: Different than expected results with FP4 @ 125 in XTOL 1:1

    The water likely was reflecting the sky more than your eye saw especially at a low angle and all the various angles of the water surface. A polarizer might have given you more what you expected. Lens flare has some difference too for smaller formats than larger ones.

    From my limited experience, Delta 100 has more separation of tones while FP4 is smoother between the tones. With Delta and HC110 I was usually getting too much contrast but with FP4/HP5 I could get muddy flat tones. Eventually I resorted to using dilute Pyrocat developer and altering time/agitation for the scene contrast. I won't say I am getting perfect negatives with a specific density but I am much closer than I used to be assuming no screw-ups during metering or exposure.
    The mountain waters of North Georgia call out to me, I visit and leave only tripod holes behind. The Appalachian Trail is my treadmill and gym.
    http://www.esearing.com

  7. #7

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    Re: Different than expected results with FP4 @ 125 in XTOL 1:1

    Indeed all good points. I did have a CP with me for LF but not for my 35mm. I purposefully broke against typical suggestion and bought filters that fit the 52mm size of my LF lens so I didn't have to carry as much weight - I didn't take my 35mm on the backpacking trip directly. The shots I got were from the trail head once we got back to the car. Would have been helpful there I bet.

    For the reflection photo I thought about a CP and should have tried it, but I was worried about killing the reflection which was the thing I wanted to capture. I didn't think about reflection from the sky though, that's a good point - I don't believe I used any filter for that shot. If it was reflecting a lot of the sky, a YEL8 might've been a better choice?

    As far as pyro goes, I don't think I'm ready for that yet Interesting you get muddy tones with HP5 and HC-110 though. I rather like the look though I push it to 800 typically (and use dilution B). I haven't shot HP5 in LF enough yet to know how it may affect 4x5 though. The last time I tried HP5 in 4x5 I did a stand development with HC-110. Turned out ok but they weren't landscapes.

    I think if Delta has better separation it may be worth another look next time I'm rocking landscapes. I do have some 4x5 sheets of it (hindsight I should have brought some on the trip, I was just trying to keep things simple).

  8. #8

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    Re: Different than expected results with FP4 @ 125 in XTOL 1:1

    How are you metering? If you have a spot meter, you can get a pretty good idea of how tones in a scene relate to each other by simply metering the different areas and noting the difference. Sure, there's a bit of a spectral sensitivity mismatch between meter and film, but I think you're overemphasizing this aspect of things a bit. More important, especially for colors in nature that are not all that saturated, is the overall reflectivity.

    FWIW, the scans you posted seem to have adequate separation of tones; maybe not what you were hoping for, and I think there lies your problem.

    Really, learning to visualize what your materials and methods will give you is, IM-HO, the most important thing in B&W photography. The film did its thing just fine, you just needed to have evaluated the scene better and known what results your materials would deliver.

    Best,

    Doremus

  9. #9

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    Re: Different than expected results with FP4 @ 125 in XTOL 1:1

    I developed some FP4 in Xtol 1+1 recently. I used the manufauturers guidelines (10 mins and 30sec inversions) and to me it looked over developed. It was my first attempt at this combination but but I did think the tonality was compressed (so muddy) but still very contrasty. I was testing a camera so there were other problems in the mix too (I suspect the shutter was a stop slow) so I can't be definitive. I suspect cutting the dev time might improve things or possibly rating the film at 200? Something about the standard info doesn't seem right to me.

  10. #10

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    Re: Different than expected results with FP4 @ 125 in XTOL 1:1

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Really, learning to visualize what your materials and methods will give you is, IM-HO, the most important thing in B&W photography. The film did its thing just fine, you just needed to have evaluated the scene better and known what results your materials would deliver.
    Name of the game there, yep I agree! Part of what I enjoy about BW photography so I thought it deserved quoting here. And yep what I had in my mind is not what I got this time around.

    In line with Tobias' experiences a bit, I didn't expect the results I got with FP4/XTOL whereas, say, with HP5/HC110 I've been pretty spot on with what was in my head versus what came out (though haven't shot too many landscapes with HP5 and not in LF). Tobias' explanation of muddy with high contrast is kinda what I'm seeing in some of these negatives (not all, e.g. the framed mountain shot turned out how I wanted).

    Super valid point about the spot meter though. Yep I use a Sekonic 758 with LF. I was looking for generally an actual grey subject (e.g. a grey rock) that was roughly middle grey then look at values on either side, tending to side with a bit of overexposure when comparing multiple greys. I would also often compare that to the incident reading. I was trying to use a bit of a different technique (in reading through AA's 2nd book) there and I may have done something wrong. In truth though the those rocks/reflection shot I'm actually don't remember what values I got for the rocks versus water and this is a super good point here. I'm actually not sure if I even metered the water.

    The river/creek shot was on my X-700 and I used in-camera metering. That was mostly a function of time. If I had more time I would have much preferred to break out the LF camera for those.

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