View Full Version : Underexposed 4x5 negs

Sheldon Crook
29-Aug-2005, 11:42
I am a complete newbie in the large format but have done quite a bit of 35mm and medium format b/w work. I have started using an 8x10 view and 4x5 Graphex camera and am doing something wrong.

I don't have a separate exposure meter so have used my OM-4 with the normal 50mm lens to meter the subject, using the same film speed as in the large format camera. I then used the exposure indicated on the 4x5 camera. However, all negatives are coming out extremely underexposed and thin I have used a tank method to develop the negs, using the same techniques (agitation, etc) as with other formats. The details are:

Film - Kodak Professional TMax 100 w/ recommended dev time of 8.5 minutes (exp 3/06)

Camera - Graphex 'Crown Graphic' w/ 135mm lens

Developer - Clayton F76 1:9

Are there any obvious errors in my methods or equipment that stand out? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

steve simmons
29-Aug-2005, 11:52
Your metering technique may be the problem. Is your 50mm lens seeing the same thing s your 4x5 camera? The shutter on your view camera may not be accurate - have you checked it? Have you calibrated your film speed for the 4x film? Simpy relying on the mfg recommended film speed anddev time is not a good way to proceed. You need to do your own testing.

steve simons
view camera magazine

Richard Ide
29-Aug-2005, 11:53
Hi Sheldon

Is there any possibility that you put the film in the holders backwards by accident. I did this a short while ago to a sheet of film when I was distracted when loading holders. I lost one shot but it gave me an idea for using barrel lenses. I made a properly exposed shot with the emulsion reversed and all I have to do is compare it with a microscope. Visually it looks ok. The exposure difference is about 5 stops. Can't think of another reason.

James E Galvin
29-Aug-2005, 11:55
The easiest way to do that is to load the film backwards in the holder, that is emulsion side AWAY from the lens. The light then has to go through the anti-halation dye, and you will be very underexposed. Take a look at your loading into the film holder, using a piece of old film (or one of your underexposed negs). Where are you putting the notch code on the film? With the holder flat on the table, dark slides out toward you, the notch should be at the far right corner.

Brian Schall
29-Aug-2005, 12:00
Are you extending your bellows beyond the infinite setting and not adding the bellows compensation to your exposure? By extending your bellows and not increasing your exposure settings you will get under exposed negatives.

Paul Butzi
29-Aug-2005, 13:29
If the film is massively underexposed, then I would agree with the previous posters who suggested that the film was loaded backwards. See the photos at www.butzi.net/articles/filmload.htm (http://www.butzi.net/articles/filmload.htm), with the notch code on the top edge of the film, and the notches on the right end of that top edge, the emulsion side is facing toward you.

If they seem slightly underexposed, remember that sheet film does not have nearly the base density that 35mm film does. The base density of 35mm film is quite high, to prevent light piping along the film from the exposed film leader when you daylight load your camera.

So 4x5 negatives are going to look quite a bit thinner than 35mm negatives even when they're properly exposed.

John Cook
29-Aug-2005, 13:54
Sheldon, as an experienced photographer, I would assume that loading film face down in the holder would be too simple an error. Surely, you can read notches.

A Crown Graphic is an old camera with an old lens and shutter. Even when new, those shutters were notoriously inaccurate. You really should have it checked. But, the problem is virtually always a matter of slowing down. Not speeding up, which would be necessary to get thin negatives.

My best guess is that with sheet film the image size tends to make "normal" subjects with 35mm into macro shots. A full-frame teacup, for example becomes greater than life size.

So my suggestion is to try some far away landscapes to make your tests. When I first began with large format, I was forced to figure bellows extension factor on a lot more stuff than I had realized would be necessary - even on portraits. Shooting a few polaroids also might help. Also, you might look into a simple digital shutter tester from Calumet.

Sheldon Crook
29-Aug-2005, 14:20
Thanks to all the responses and suggestions, I appreciate your expertise. It seems that the 4x5 shutter might be way off. I ran a test roll through the OM-4 and used the same developer and techniques to develop it and it came out fine. So I will get the shutter either cleaned or just do some calibrations shots.
Thanks again for the help.

Richard Schlesinger
29-Aug-2005, 15:14
Before spending money on shutter cleaning etc. you might try making an exposure using either 'B' or 'T' exposure - about one second. Or two (reciprocity shouldn't be a big problem) just to see if the hypothesis about film loading pans out. Shutter timing, especially if you are using slow speeds, i.e. 1/4, 1/2 second (look through the lens, off the camera and see if thy look right) shouldn't cause the gross underexposure you state.

Report back with the results of trying all this stuff! Please.