View Full Version : B&W film/processing help

Chris S
13-Feb-2006, 17:46
Hello again, Ok I'm trying to decide on B&W film, chemicals, and type of proccessing.I'm new to 4x5 and have not shot B&W in many years.Last that I did was 35mm with Tri-X, D-76, and stainless inversion tanks.Now with the internet I'm just totally confused as there is an over abundance of information!I ran into this shot at photosig of this dried leaf that was shot with 4x5 APX 100 and developed in PMK Pyro.This is exactally the type of subject matter and look I'm after.For now I will be scanning on my Epson 4990 and printing on my Epson 2400.Since APX is no longer made, what would be a good Film/Developer combination to start out with to get crisp negs to scan like this leaf.Also since a Jobo 3010 drum and CPA are out of my budget I was thinking either BTZS tubes, HP Combi-Plan, or a slosher and 11x14 trays from FF.Any input on that would be great too.The bathroom tub will be my darkroom for now.Thanks a bunch!...............................................Chris


Eduardo Aigner
13-Feb-2006, 18:40
I like the classic TriX + D76 1:1. I develop them on a Jobo CPE-2, not that expensive these days.

You picture has some artifacts on my monitor, different grades of black on the background. Possibly a Photoshop and / or calibration problem.

steve simmons
13-Feb-2006, 18:52
If you are new to large format may I suggest some reading

User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone

Using the View Camera that i wrote

large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga.

Try your library or Amazon.com


there are several articles on our web site


I am a great fan of PMK. Get and read The Book of Pyro by Gordon Hutchings. Tray processing works well. There is a how-to article on the Free Articles section of the View Camera web site.

steve simmons

Chris S
13-Feb-2006, 18:53
Hi Eduardo, I'm just curious, are you looking at it on an LCD monitor?I noticed similar artifacts at work on our Apple Cinema Display 23" LCD monitor.Here in my home studio I use a Sony Artisan 21" and La Cie Electron Blue 19" both CRT's, and the images look great.I'm thinking I'm going to have to learn a new work flow to get images to look good on both CRT's and LCD's

Chris S
13-Feb-2006, 19:08
Hey Steve, thanks for taking the time to respond!Your book was the first I bought.Was a big help!Also have bought the last couple issues of View Camera and enjoy them a lot!I'm off to order Hutchings book next.Been playing with Type 55 and a 545i holder recently, and am now getting ready to buy regular film and chemistry since its a little less expensive.I just wanted to make sure I get a combo working that does well for scanning.The sample I posted was souped with pyro, and at least on my CRT's seems to look pretty good.

steve simmons
13-Feb-2006, 19:21
Tri-X and FP4+ both work well in PMK.

steve simmons

13-Feb-2006, 20:01
Hi Chris,

Good suggestions by Steve. I highly recommend both the Stone and Dykinga book in addition to Steve's book as well.

I also have a 23" Apple Cinema Display and there is definite artifact on my monitor as well. It shows up just where the leaf is connected to the stem and continues up until the bend. And, there's a straight-edge line running down on the right hand side of the image.

I've just run a gray scale what-cha-ma-call-it on my system and it still shows up as different shades of black and grey.

Nice image though... I like it! :)


Ron Marshall
13-Feb-2006, 20:04
Chris, I hand roll a Jobo 3010 on the Jobo $20 roller base. Reverse direction every two revolutions, 50 rpm. Even, consistent negs, and low chemistry cost. I like FP4 or TMX both in D76 1:1. I plan to try a pyro developer soon.

Ken Lee
13-Feb-2006, 20:55
I have an Apple Powerbook, and I have calibrated it with Gretag Macbeth Eye-One... and the artifacts are quite evident. Given that LCD monitors do a poor job at rendering low values, this suggests that on a calibrated CRT, it should be even more evident.

Another factor to consider for botanical shots of this sort, is lighting. One might argue that while the leaf itself is not particularly attractive, the dramatic lighting and close attention has transformed it into something which conveys deep poetic feeling.

Chris S
13-Feb-2006, 21:35
Hmm.......I have my monitor calibrated with the dedicated Sony puck and artisan color reference system software, and the photo looks great.Maybe my CRT's giving up the ghost, although I do notice when at work on our Cinema Displays alot of images from sites such as photo.net look too harsh and contrasy till I view them at home on my Artisan where they look great.Heck maybe my eyes are going bad :(Anyway would a slosher be a bad idea for PMK?According to the PMK instructions at FF, they say that when you agitate at first the negs should be clanking against the edge of the tray and you should be spilling a little developer out of the tray if you are doing it right.What about inversion agitation with PMK in a combi-plan?

Ed Richards
13-Feb-2006, 21:36
If you are scanning, I strongly recommend Tmax 100 in Xtol 1:3.

www.butzi.net/articles/process.htm (http://www.butzi.net/articles/process.htm)

Use a jobo expert drum and get a used bessler base from Ebay for about 30-40. Do not sweat the reversing rotation - I gave that up and still get perfectly even negatives.

Dave Moeller
13-Feb-2006, 21:47
Looking at the image on my calibrated ViewSonic PF790, the image looks great. However, if I crank up the brightness from the normal level, I can see awful artifacts in the image. Perhaps your LCD is too bright?

Eric Biggerstaff
13-Feb-2006, 21:58
I use HP5+ in DDX 1+6 in a Jobo 3010 drum on a Beseler base. The film speed increases with this combo but I like it. Also try Ilford Delta 100 in DDX, it is a nice combo as well. Best to just pick one and work with if for a long time to get to know it. There are MANY really good combinations out there, Steve Simmons has great suggestions on reading material.

I like the image you have but I too see the artifacts in the image.

Have a great one.

David Vickery
14-Feb-2006, 10:17
I almost always used the HP combi-plan tanks for my 4x5 film. I used them like a set of (small) deep tanks. I never had issues with processing film in the dark, so I never tried to use them as daylight tanks. They work great as I used them and they are simple and affordable.

I have no knowledge of digital imaging so I don't know which combination is best for scanning. I too see artifacts in that image.

Brian Ellis
14-Feb-2006, 11:05
D76 has probably been sold continuously for longer than any other commercially available developer still on the market. It's been around for something like 75 years IIRC. The reason is it's an excellent all-purpose developer that produces good results with a variety of different films. Tri-X and D76 is still a good combination. So is TMax 100 and D76, especially if you do the testing appropriate to determine plus and minus development times. Along with several friends I spent a lot of time testing PMK a few years ago, making duplicate negatives and developing one group in PMK the other in D76 1-1, then making prints from each set. We found no advantage to PMK with the scenes we were photographing and the materials we were using (i.e. the same print could always be made from either set of negatives, there was no way to tell which print came from the PMK negatives and which came from the negatives developed in D76 or HC110). But some people like it and perhaps the results would have been different with different scenes and/or different materials.

Nigel Smith
14-Feb-2006, 17:54
whose picture is it? maybe ask them!

BTW, if you copy into an image editor, and move the midpoint level, lots of stuff comes into view... looks like they've manipulated the crap out of it. Obviously their monitors are not the same as all these calibrated ones! Nice end result though.