View Full Version : First Time processing Questions:D76/TF-5

4-Apr-2014, 07:27
Hello, I've searched the forums and found a few answers on the internet, but I'm developing BW for the first time(Started my life in digital and working my way up to analog).

I'm looking for high acutance(sharpness or whatever the word is) negatives, with good tonality. Outside the actual capture itself, can someone help build suggestions for agitation tips and times

1)I got some Ilford HP5+ 4x5 sheets that I plan on using this weekend at box rating of 400(any feedback and preferred box speed with sample images would be appreciated)

2)Will be using Mod54/Paterson3 tank with D76 and TF-5 as a fixer to keep things as simple as possible for myself. Can someone confirm that I will need 1 working liter solution for the tank. Does diluting 1:1 with adjustment of time affect 4x5 grain/sharpness much(trying to see if I can preserve D76 as I prepared a gallon and understand it is one shot without replenisher).

3)Development -agitation techniques?

4)Stopping - can I go straight to TF-5 after dumping the developer or will I need to stop in between. Does a tap water active rinse(ie water continuously running) vs fill/agitate/dump make any difference. Does temperature of stop water matter. Do I need to use distilled water?

5)TF-5. I understand this works as a rapid fixer - what times do you guys like to use(standard 30 seconds?). Does temp matter as long as it is around room temp. Does agitation style affect outcome. techniques or feedback appreciated.

5)Final rinse--does it need to be distalled water if tf-5 was used. will film still spot. preferred technique(running water and for how long)

There are a lot of opinions out there on the internet...many of them conflicting. I definately appreciate any feedback from your experience. Would love to post my results by the end of the weekend

4-Apr-2014, 08:45
I am a first-time processor of sheet film, and I have read some recent threads with useful information. Among other things, there were recommendations for books and tables.

First up: the MassiveDev site, a crowd-sourced film vs. developer time/temperature chart that also comes as a phone app:

Steve Anchell's books, The Darkroom Cookbook and The Film Developing Cookbook. The first one is probably easier to read. The Film Developing Cookbook spens a lot of time on DIY developing solutions.

Lambrecht and Woodhouse, Way Beyond Monochrome 2nd ed. This looks like a very useful book, I have some projects picked out already.

Just browse your way through the Darkroom forums here, or search, or look at the bottom of the page for "similar threads". Plenty to learn here at LFP! Also, lots of opinions on best film, developer, tray vs tube vs taco vs tank, and so on, from people who achieve good results with widely varying techniques.

Doremus Scudder
5-Apr-2014, 01:48
I'm with Nancy here.

Read up before you start blundering around in the dark! Knowing, at least in theory, what you should be doing will help tons. There are reams written and easy to find on the Internet (here, APUG, etc., etc., ...) about black-and-white processing. How about this for starters: http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/aj3/aj3.pdf

A few tips to help:

Don't worry so much about acutance/sharpness, etc. Use your D76 one-shot 1+1 and you will have great sharpness and no noticeable grain in prints up to 16x20 from 4x5 negs. All that sharpness vs. grain stuff is for little film :) If exposed and developed correctly, your negs will have good "tonal quality."

Use manufacturers' recommended times/methods for all processes (i.e., read the instructions!). If you like, take a developing time from digitaltruth or wherever, but be aware that developing times are personal and you will have to adjust as you go. Kodak's instructions are simple and clear: If your negatives are consistently too contrasty, reduce developing time (start with 15%). If they are consistently soft, increase development time. With today's VC papers, you should be able to print just about anything but a real mistake.

The whole exposure/development thing is important, and there are many ways to arrive at optimum exposure and development (Zone System, BTZS, Pray...). To keep it simple to start with, shoot at 1/3-2/3 of a stop slower than box speed (LF film does fine with a bit of overexposure, but doesn't like underexposure much at all) and develop as indicated by the manufacturer or (some would say) 15% less. Whichever you use as a starting point, you should be in the ball park and, after a time, be able to make the adjustments you need.

I don't know how much your tank holds, but you should be able to figure that out easily; fill it up, dump into a measuring graduate, voilą! These guys will likely know the answer too: http://www.mod54.com/

Agitation for most applications is: constant inversions in a torus motion (i.e., twist and turn simultaneously) for the first 30 seconds, then a couple of inversions every 30 (or 60) seconds thereafter. Consistency is the key. Whatever you do, do it always.

Stop of some sort is needed. I prefer an acid stop for all my work, even with alkaline fixers (TF-5 does fine with an acid stop), but many use plain water. If you use water, use a couple of changes.

Learn how to do a clip test to test your fixer for time/exhaustion. You take a scrap of film, dunk it in the fixer with agitation and see how long it takes it to clear. Do this in fresh fix to get a benchmark clearing time for that film/fix combination. Do the test before each batch to find a fixing time and check for fixer exhaustions. Fix for three times the clearing time or the manufacturer's recommendation, whichever is greatest. Toss your fix when the clearing time is twice that in fresh fix.

Washing film in tap water is fine. Use a distilled water/wetting agent solution for the final rinse of at least 1 minute to prevent drying marks.

And, search more and read more!



Bruce Barlow
5-Apr-2014, 04:45
My "Finely Focused" book has a long bloviation on film speed tests to determine a good ISO. I used to sell kits that led you through it, with the required ND filter.

In my experience, everybody tested for ISO, made an exposure at that ISO, opened up one stop (halving the ISO) and making a backup negative. Including Fred Picker, who routinely did it, and always when I was with him in the field.

In later conversations, I would ask: "Which one did you print?" The answer was always...and I mean always..."the one with more exposure." Half the tested ISO. Me, too, I noticed.

So these days, I rate HP5, Tri-X, and TMAX 400 at 200, rather than the rated 400, and sally forth into the world. So far, I haven't missed, and the detail in the shadows is luscious. The objective is not to test and live by the test. The objective is a good negative from which to make a good print. Doing this gets me way close enough for photography.

Now, development time is another matter, and doing a development time test is worthwhile. That said, even if you miss by a bunch, and think you've overdeveloped and blocked up the whites, don't despair. There's actually detail there, just turn on the enlarger bulb and go out to lunch. If you're under, that's why God invented higher contrast papers, and you may be able to get an acceptable print. Your shadows may look awful in either case, but it may be a salvageable picture. Depends on what's in the picture. Until you have the time and patience to do that test, use the rated time for that film in that developer. It will be just fine.

Remember that there is so much error built into the process: Is your meter accurate? Aperture accurate? Shutter speed? Mixing dilutions? Developer temperature, which is huge? Timer accuracy? Printing decisions are subjective, and depend on many things, including whether you got drunk the night before, what you had for breakfast, whether you argued with your significant other, and everything else that constitutes life. We hope that these all cancel out, and that's a good idea to keep in mind to keep yourself from going crazy. This is supposed to be fun. So have faith that the Universe will deliver a good quality negative, and let you make a good print.

No offense intended, but I think you're way out ahead of yourself worrying about sharpness and acutance and all that stuff. Get familiar with the processes, learn to make a good negative and a good print from the starting points, and then decide whether there's something more that you want.

Example: My first 4x5 was a Wista. In full testosterone, I decided that I'd use the Wista until it couldn't do what I wanted to do.

I'm still using it. It's been supplemented by 5x7, 8x10, and digital, but it is still probably my favorite camera. How much of that is weepy sentimentality is my secret. How much of that is loving 4x5 Platinum prints figures in, too.

So many of us have so far to go to just master - and I mean master - the basics, that most conversations about "advanced" techniques are pretty unnecessary.

Finally, remember that a good print of a bad picture is still a bad picture. An OK print of a great picture is a great picture, that as your skills and experience deepen, you'll be able to print even better.

Enough bloviation for one post. Probably too much.

7-Apr-2014, 09:35
Bruce, did you have a career in advertising? - "now, with Enhanced Bloviating" - sounds like a laundry powder ad. I picture a soap bubble with eyes and a perky expression...

Re: sentimentality about first camera: My first "real" (135 format) camera was a Mamiya-Sekor DTL 1000, with the novelty of having both TTL average meter and spot meter options. Everything was manual. I loved that camera, it still makes me smile to pick it up. It wasn't the greatest camera in the world, but it was the greatest to me. In fact, I am still using (occasional) one of my old lenses, with adapter, on digital: Mamiya Sekor 60mm f/2.8 macro with preset aperture ring. The all manual camera has affected my preferences ever since. Unless I am shooting action with my digital camera, I put the thing on manual focus, manual exposure. It makes more sense to me than putzing with "auto exposure compensation".

7-Apr-2014, 13:17
Thanks for the replies.

I've been familiar with the massive dev chart and I have steve anchells book. I think I just needed to plunge in the pool and swim. Developed my first set of sheets and boy was it fun.

I went ahead at used stock D76, but am happy to know that 1:1 won't change a whole lot in 4x5 so I can conserve some money.
I needed a liter for the mod54, no big deal.
I metered and developed for ISO 400 but I agree a smidge more exposure with keeping it at 200 would not have been the worse thing in the world.
I did a tap water stop, but didn't repeat it--not sure if made a difference with using TF-5 anyways.

I used a TF-5 as recommended and washed with tap water afterwards. Only one out of 6 negatives with a water spot as far as I can tell. I'll try the film strip after a couple more 6-packs of 4x5 to see if I'm exhausting it. Thank you for the tip. Would photoflo improve my odds of no spots or does TF-5 contain the wetting agent in it?
I have got about 2 pinpoint areas of white(?pinholes), which I can clone out in digital, but am happy with the exposure otherwise. Googling pinhole and development leads to lots of links about pinhole photography...Anything I can do to improve this or is having one or two pinholes pretty standard?

I've got much to explore and learn, and keep notes of what works and what doesn't, and excited to do it. The standard search function in the forums doesn't work as well I would hope, but I'm getting more of what I need with the advanced search.

thanks, will post some shots when I can get them scanned.
As a fun project, I'm building my own film processor with a DIY sous vide machine(STC-1000 controller) for under $100 that will be able to do BW, c41, or e6. Should be done by the end of the week.
I'll try to work out as many kinks as a I can with BW before moving on to developing color but I see no reason why I can't work on developing skills with all three processes at the same time other than the cost of experimentation. For any critical results, I'll just have to find a trusted lab.

thanks again