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View Full Version : Want to pick up LF again: Film suggestion for 4x5" and/or suitable developer for HP5



schlicksbier
9-Oct-2018, 01:46
After working with collodion I got hooked up with large format photography again and I want to make a new series in 4x5ď. Since sheets are quite expensive to get developed and I splash around with collodion chemistry anyway, I want to resume self developing too (also since Iíve still all the hardware).

At first Fomapan films seemed like an obvious choice since they are cheap to try, but I wasnít impressed with their medium format films. They attract way too much dirt, dust and scratches. And Iíve read that lots of users report the same with sheet films.

So Iím thinking Ilford HP5. Kodak is way too expensive as sheets and ISO 400 would be the best choice since Iíll be only shooting available light in a lot of different lighting situations.

But what would you recommend as developer? There seems a vast range of opinions there.

What the developer should offer:
A good shelf life (so probably concentrate and not powder).
It should offer a good balance between sharpness and not too much grain.
It should be possible to rate the film at least at 320 ISO if not boxspeed.
X-TOL is ruled out since itís only available for 5l solution which is way too much.

At that point Iím thinking Ilford DDX or do you have better suggestions?

koraks
9-Oct-2018, 01:54
You could give pyrocat a try. It gives in my view a fairly good optimization between grain and acutance, without the uneven development that I get with 510 Pyro.

Also, fomapan films in my experience (and I've used them a lot!) don't 'attract' dirt and scratches etc, but the emulsion does suffer at times from unevenness (fomapan 400) or small defects (particularly 200 and to a much more limited extent also 100). However, move of the foma films really hits the 320 iso mark you're aiming for, so it's not an option for you anyway.

Als an alternative to HP5+ you could also consider Rollei RPX400. I've recently started testing with this film and it seems very promising. However, it's not much cheaper than HP5+ (and sometimes even more expensive if you're not in Europe) and doesn't seem to have a clear advantage over HP5+ other than price as far as I can tell at this point. Still, it looks like a good and usable product so far (it's coated by Harman as far as I can tell).

schlicksbier
9-Oct-2018, 02:06
I'm not the biggest fan of brands like Rollei or Lomography. Noone can be sure what is really behind that or if they decide to change the manufacturer at some point (like Lady Grey - switch from Kodak to Foma allegedly). And with Rollei it's often defrosted leftovers so noone knows how long the stock will last ...

Yeah, it's really strange with Foma. I've stumbled upon people who almost never had any issues with Foma and people who have almost always issues. As far as I've learned you'd get the Foma 400 as a 400 ISO film when you develop it with the Thornton two bath developer. But it's only really suitable for high contrast scenery ...

I'd have to see if Pyrocat is available in Germany at a reasonable price. I know that it can be easily mixed by oneself, but before I'd purchase all the ingrediences, I'd want to try the developer first ... :-)

Leszek Vogt
9-Oct-2018, 02:27
You can also try D23 + Ilford...that shall be a good combination.

Les

schlicksbier
9-Oct-2018, 02:48
I have to admit that (again since the collodion photography) I love the idea to mix the chemistry myself. And indeed, Leszek, the D23 sample images at http://www.kennethleegallery.com/html/tech/D-23.php look great ... :)

Bruce Barlow
9-Oct-2018, 04:00
Go with HP5+. These are priceless negatives. Life's too short to use film about which you're not completely confident.

I use Pyrocat. Works for me.

Pere Casals
9-Oct-2018, 05:26
X-TOL is ruled out since it’s only available for 5l solution which is way too much.

5L of Xtol is only 12€, it would develop all you have (until 200 4x5 sheets) during one year at least. So I don't see why you want to rule out it...

Xtol is ECO friendly because is Vitamin C based, with a little amount of phenidone.

With HP5+ and Xtol you obtain a 1/3 stop speed advantage in the shadows, and it has best fine grain vs sharpness balance: this is quite interesting for a cubic grain fim like HP5+

If you are unsure about your tap water being optimal for Xtol you can mix it with deionized (or distilled) water, to ensure +1 year the mix in the shelf.

In fact mixed Xtol is preserved better than D-76, but Xtol had some sudden death issues decades ago from the 1L packages. With deionized you won't have problems.

With any developer you should make drop tests, this is with lights open you throw a drop of developer every min on a film end, after 12min you fix it, so you can know the developer strength after 6 months by comparing the drop test made just after mixing it.

You may want special things from a developer, but Xtol it's a really good one for HP5+.

koraks
9-Oct-2018, 06:21
I'm not the biggest fan of brands like Rollei or Lomography. Noone can be sure what is really behind that or if they decide to change the manufacturer at some point (like Lady Grey - switch from Kodak to Foma allegedly). And with Rollei it's often defrosted leftovers so noone knows how long the stock will last ...
I'm not sure where Rollei get their emulsions from, but it's allegedly coated by Kentmere specifically for Rollei. That makes it not too different from any other kind of film, with the only difference that they use toll manufacturing instead of manufacturing in-house. We've seen virtually any film being reformulated over the decades, so long-term stability is always a bit of a concern. I would hesitate to place the Rollei films at the same level as e.g. Lompgraphy's, which are known to be rebranded existing products of inherently variable quality as they are known to use outdated leftovers from other brands. I can't tell for sure, but I suspect that not only are the RPX 100 and 400 films coated by Harman/Ilford, but the emulsions manufactured by them as well under contract with Maco. I see no inherent problems concerning film quality or consistency with this setup. Actually, I personally suspect the quality will be less variable and more dependable than e.g. Foma's entirely in-house produced films (which we know suffer from coating difficulties from time to time) and at similar levels as Ilford's own-brand products.


Yeah, it's really strange with Foma. I've stumbled upon people who almost never had any issues with Foma and people who have almost always issues. As far as I've learned you'd get the Foma 400 as a 400 ISO film when you develop it with the Thornton two bath developer. But it's only really suitable for high contrast scenery ...
I haven't tried Thornton's, but maybe I will. To date, I prefer Foma 100, 200 and 400 in either Pyrocat HD or 510-Pyro, with the latter being more prone to uneven development (edge effects) particularly in 120 and 4x5, but 400 in 135 does really great in 510 Pyro. The emulsion defects seem to be fairly specific to each emulsion, and according to my observations are something like this:
Fomapan 100: once in a while a fairly large (say, 20um) hole in the emulsion, particularly in 120 (on average at most one defect per roll) and more rarely in 4x5. Not or virtually not at all in 135.
Fomapan 200: plagued by tiny (5-10um) specks (dots or tiny stripes) of thin/missing emulsion in 120, which vary in number per square inch across a roll. Doesn't seem to be as prominent or at all present in 135. Haven't tried 4x5.
Fomapan 400: generally free of emulsion defects, although I have used a 100ft roll here with a stripe of minus density a few mm from one of the edges along most of the length of the roll. Perhaps the odd emulsion gap like in Fomapan 100, but never to an extent as to bother me.


I'd have to see if Pyrocat is available in Germany at a reasonable price. I know that it can be easily mixed by oneself, but before I'd purchase all the ingrediences, I'd want to try the developer first ... :-)
I'll help you out if you want. I can mix you up a 50ml bottle and send it to you through the mail. I'm one country to the west so it'll work ;)
BTW, as an alternative to pyrocat, you can use Moersch finol or tanol. Should be easily available in Germany and the results are in my experience virtually identical to pyrocat.

Luis-F-S
9-Oct-2018, 07:20
Hard to beat HC-110

Steven Ruttenberg
9-Oct-2018, 10:49
So far, I have used Ilford D100, getting ready to try HP5 400, uesd Acros and Tmax 100. Developed in Tmax Developer and 2-bath pyrocat. I prefer 100 asa, though 400 has its uses. Also, I prefer Tmax, a box of 50 is only 2.00 a sheet, Hp-5 400 is about 1.60 a sheet so not much difference 80 vs a 100 bucks. But HP5-400 should be good. Those are my preferences at the moment.

Peter Collins
9-Oct-2018, 12:24
Yes, Luis is right (for me)!!

HC-110 in dilutions B, G, and H gives me flexibility here in New Mexico, which gets hot in the summer, 100F+ or 38C+ on really bad days, and since I live in a very small space, with tap water (for temperature control) sometimes pretty warm.

HC-110 makes mixing easy; I use a 25-ml graduate to go from concentrate to actual developer (B, G, H); I do not make intermediate stock solutions. Advice that I received, I pass on: When closing the HC-110 concentrate bottle, squeeze out some air, BUT be sure to use a plastic bag or equivalent atop the mouth of the bottle and then screw the cap down tightly. (If you don't use a thin-film plastic, the bottle will take in air. Why? Ask Kodak/Alaris.)

I mix developers in 1,000ml batches in $10 Nalgene bottles graduated in milliliters--which marks I check--because I use ~<500ml for development of 4-4x5 sheets in my SP-445 from Stearman Press LLC. This works in my limited space--only one closet dark enough to load film holders and the SP-445; the processing can be done in the kitchen under normal light once the 4 sheets are loaded into the SP-445. Worth every penny!

Film? I settled on HP5+ because of (1) cost and (2) reasonably assured future supply. I can't comment on HP5+ and other films.

angusparker
9-Oct-2018, 16:34
Surprised no one has mentioned Rodinal aka Adonal yet. Long shelf life, cheap, great for LF sized negatives. My two cents mirrors most of what has mentioned so far: https://www.angusparkerphoto.com/blog/2017/1/my-favorite-black-white-developers


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro

koraks
9-Oct-2018, 23:51
Probably because he wants full emulsion speed and rodinal isn't exactly known for achieving that.

schlicksbier
10-Oct-2018, 01:09
BTW, as an alternative to pyrocat, you can use Moersch finol or tanol. Should be easily available in Germany and the results are in my experience virtually identical to pyrocat.
Ah cool, than I will try Moersch since I want to order there anyway to try out D23 ... :-)


Also, I prefer Tmax, a box of 50 is only 2.00 a sheet, Hp-5 400 is about 1.60 a sheet so not much difference 80 vs a 100 bucks. But HP5-400 should be good. Those are my preferences at the moment.
Prices in Germany are quite different. HP is at 1.84 per sheet, TMAX at 2.60 - almost a third more expensive. Plus I don't want to use a T-shaped crystal film, instead I prefer a more "classic" one ...



Probably because he wants full emulsion speed and rodinal isn't exactly known for achieving that.
Plus as fair as I read Rodinal enhances the grain more than other developers ...

koraks
10-Oct-2018, 02:02
I recommend the Moersch product; I've tried his finol years ago and it was fantastic. Later I started meddling with pyrocat and got the same results, but Moersch does all the weighing and mixing for you ;)

And yes, rodinal tends to emphasize grain a little more. But in LF that's usually not such a big deal. The speed penalty sounds like a deal breaker for you though.