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Thread: What 400 speed film to push a stop or two?

  1. #1

    What 400 speed film to push a stop or two?

    I am looking to continue shooting some indoor window light portraits and Tmax 400 @ 400 is a bit slow so I am looking for opinions on the "best" film to use and push to 800 or 1600. Any suggestions? If you are curious, my shutter speed was at about 1/10th give or take a stop for the last time I shot.

  2. #2

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    Re: What 400 speed film to push a stop or two?

    You're shooting large format on a tripod, right? I'd really not worry about it unless you are in the multiple seconds & subject movement can become an issue. 'Pushing' film is rarely a good idea unless your contrast range is too low to get the print/ scan you want.

  3. #3

    Re: What 400 speed film to push a stop or two?

    Quote Originally Posted by interneg View Post
    You're shooting large format on a tripod, right? I'd really not worry about it unless you are in the multiple seconds & subject movement can become an issue. 'Pushing' film is rarely a good idea unless your contrast range is too low to get the print/ scan you want.
    Yes, I am on a tripod but with the models movement, it wasn't always the sharpest. It wasn't bad, but I thought it could be better. Im using a Calumet Cambo, Manfrotto Tri-Pod, Kodak Commercial Ektar f/6.3, cable release.

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    Re: What 400 speed film to push a stop or two?

    Too bad you didn't stock up on Fuji Acros

  5. #5

    Re: What 400 speed film to push a stop or two?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Noel View Post
    Too bad you didn't stock up on Fuji Acros
    If I had the money at the time

  6. #6
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: What 400 speed film to push a stop or two?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoulfulRecover View Post
    I am looking to continue shooting some indoor window light portraits and Tmax 400 @ 400 is a bit slow so I am looking for opinions on the "best" film to use and push to 800 or 1600. Any suggestions?
    My suggestion is that you don't. Push. Because pushing doesn't actually work. With any film.

    If the Zone System taught us anything, it's that you can find your individual exposure index based on your developer and workflow, and that your personal EI doesn't vary much. So pushing becomes understood as underexposing and over developing. And if you underexpose, you don't give the film enough exposure to record shadow detail in some areas. In practice, this often isn't that detrimental. Until it is.

    The over development part is done to extend the highlight detail back out to where it should have been "normally", so that the part that metered Zone VIII, and which your underexposure slid down to Zone VII, is now "pushed" back to Zone VIII. Unfortunately, it takes most of the Zones down to Zone IV or so along for the ride, thus changing your mid-range tonality. Often not a great thing, and often sort of painful if printing in a chemical darkroom.

    At an exposure of around 1/10s, you are courting reciprocity failure in the shadows with cubic grained films like Tri-X and HP-5+.

    Given all the above, I'd suggest you use a modern t-grained film like TMY-2 (to get you completely out of any reciprocity failures at 1/10s) and expose and process normally. See what you get. If you find too much motion blur because of the long shutter speed, go ahead and cut the shutter speed (exposure) in half (a "one stop push") but develop normally (or only a little longer, half a stop more development). See if that works. As you incrementally expose less and develop more, you'll be increasing graininess in the highlights and changing the mid-tones, so at some time it'll be just too messy to continue. Then it's time to punt (lights and reflectors) to get more exposure and regain your sanity.

    Bruce Watson

  7. #7

    Re: What 400 speed film to push a stop or two?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    My suggestion is that you don't. Push. Because pushing doesn't actually work. With any film.

    If the Zone System taught us anything, it's that you can find your individual exposure index based on your developer and workflow, and that your personal EI doesn't vary much. So pushing becomes understood as underexposing and over developing. And if you underexpose, you don't give the film enough exposure to record shadow detail in some areas. In practice, this often isn't that detrimental. Until it is.

    The over development part is done to extend the highlight detail back out to where it should have been "normally", so that the part that metered Zone VIII, and which your underexposure slid down to Zone VII, is now "pushed" back to Zone VIII. Unfortunately, it takes most of the Zones down to Zone IV or so along for the ride, thus changing your mid-range tonality. Often not a great thing, and often sort of painful if printing in a chemical darkroom.

    At an exposure of around 1/10s, you are courting reciprocity failure in the shadows with cubic grained films like Tri-X and HP-5+.

    Given all the above, I'd suggest you use a modern t-grained film like TMY-2 (to get you completely out of any reciprocity failures at 1/10s) and expose and process normally. See what you get. If you find too much motion blur because of the long shutter speed, go ahead and cut the shutter speed (exposure) in half (a "one stop push") but develop normally (or only a little longer, half a stop more development). See if that works. As you incrementally expose less and develop more, you'll be increasing graininess in the highlights and changing the mid-tones, so at some time it'll be just too messy to continue. Then it's time to punt (lights and reflectors) to get more exposure and regain your sanity.

    Thank you! Very informative and Ill pick up some Tmax. Unfortunately, I don't process the film myself. Its sent to a local lab

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