View Full Version : Has anyone used Ortho Litho film?

Emile J Schwarz
6-Feb-2001, 14:11
I noticed that Freestyle sells Ortho Litho film, 8x10/100, for $32.95 a box. Is this the same type film, blue-green sensitivity only, that photographers used to use? Has any one used this film? Does it have any particular draw backs other t han a lack of red sensitivity? Any suggestions on a starting EI and film develop ier for using it for landscape photography?

Ken Burns
6-Feb-2001, 14:32
Litho films are used for lithographic reproduction. That is negs of line art, type, half-tones, etc. These are things that are pure black and pure white only, absolutely no mid tones. Therefore, litho films are not good for landscape photography unless you want some kind of special effect. A better choice film would be Ilford's Ortho film that is for continuous tone purposes. I believe it has a speed of about 80 while most litho films have a speed of about 6 or less.

john g
6-Feb-2001, 15:19
You can get some midtones out of litho film. I forgot how but call Kodak 800-242-2424. I believe it was with dektol developer. Depending on subject mater this film can be quite interesting despite it's 6 or 12 iso. I used to use it for super high contrast with slight midtones that would fade into black/white. It can be a strange but fun film for crazy fine art photographers.

6-Feb-2001, 15:29
yes you can use dektol for a dev and it will yeild a few midtones but they will be abbrogated to put it lightly. Neat to play with for posterizations and stuff. Buy a gallon of opaquing juice tho', you'll need it.

N Dhananjay
6-Feb-2001, 16:40
I've used the Arista lith film in 8x10 (suits my pocket). I develop it in D23 at about 1:4 and it yields very reasonable gradation i.e., a longer scale than it was designed for. I'm sure developing in something like Technidol or POTA will yield pictorial gradation as well - basically any developer that is designed for getting pictorial gradation out of document films.

A couple of things to keep in mind though. The film is about ISO 6 - be prepared for long exposures. The film will not fit the standard 8x10 holders perfectly - be prepared to trim it down to size. The film has a thinner base with no anti halation backing. This means its probably bowing a little more than the slightly stiffer regular film - its never bothered me terribly but if you obsess about stuff like this, its worth keeping in mind. The lack of an anti halation backing means that light can bounce back from the back of the holder - you can get the pattern of the holder showing on the film sometimes. My solutions was to fog one sheet of film completely and to tape that to the holder and load the film I'm planning on exposing on top of that. The two film thickness might also compensate some for the thinner film issue.

I have to add that lith films are among the sharpest films I've worked with, if you expose and develop carefully. Getting pictorial gradation i.e., getting it to hold a long tonal scale is not terribly difficult - POTA, modifications of POTA with glycin, D23 1:4, Technidol etc should all do the trick. Plus you get to develop by a bright safelight. Cheers, DJ.

Paul Schilliger
6-Feb-2001, 17:25
Another application for this film would be for making high lights masks, to prev ent the filling of the highlights when you make contrast masks. With the Ortho mask on your slide you then make th e conventional Pan Masking negative.

Ken Burns
6-Feb-2001, 18:50
If you really want results similar to what early photographers used to get with the ortho films of their day, it will be a whole lot easier to use Ilford's Ortho film. It is a continuoous tone film, will not require manipulation with special developers, has enough speed to be reasonably workable (if you need to stop down at all, an EI 6 film will require the better part of the rest of your life for the exposure time), will still prove to have acceptable grain characteristics (we're talking 8x10 negatives after all), and will give you the tonalities expected. Stay away from the litho films and you will be much happier.

6-Feb-2001, 19:14
I've used a bit of Ilford's Ortho Plus copy film for doing just that-copywork. But, if I had the choice between it, and say,Kodalith for continuous tone daylight work I'd go with the Ilford any day. You'll probably be looking at an EI around 80 for daylight with a general purpose developer like D76. This film responds well to a variety of developers. I use it for copying things like tintypes or line drawings, and get consistent negs. from a deep tank line set up with TMAX RS or for higher contrast, LPD 1:4 in a tray. I think as far as ease of use goes, and maybe using it to simulate an old ortho emulsion (maybe for portraits?), that it would just be a whole lot better. But, it is more expensive. One other thing about it is that it's coated on a polyester base, and if you treat it right, this should be pretty stable in storage. I've really gotten tired of using Kodalith over the past few years, mostly due to it's chemistry, and I'm really happy with this Ilford film for when I need to jerk contrast alot. Anyways, hope this helps, and good luck.

Brian Ellis
7-Feb-2001, 10:30
Arista's lith film is commonly used to make enlarged positives and negatives for alternative processes. The principal problem is taming the high contrast. This is usually done with a dilute paper developer, e.g. Dektol 1-4 or 1-6.

Kevin Crisp
24-Dec-2015, 09:15
I realize I am reviving a very old thread. But I was exploring one of my fridges and found some of the Freestyle material I bought quite some time ago. I think I bought it to try masking highlights but never got around to it. So I take it this is relatively slow, more like paper. Can I use any safelight with it? Develop in dilute Dektol -- any ballpark time for what is a normal development time? Thanks.

John Kasaian
24-Dec-2015, 09:21
Kevin, I use a red safe light and develop by inspection in diluted paper developer so any "time" is more a result of the dilution and the look you want. I simply pull it out of the soup when it looks developed---no times needed! It's actually a lot of fun to work with:cool: Speed is around ISO 3 IIRC.

24-Dec-2015, 10:06
And remember the base is very thin, and sometimes hard to lay/stay flat in a film holder...

Steve K

24-Dec-2015, 17:52
.. sometimes hard to lay/stay flat in a film holder...

In my case: technical film is hard to stay in the filmholder.
Once the sheet flipped out of the holder while closing the dark slide.
Since then, glueing was a good idea.


Drew Wiley
29-Dec-2015, 09:27
Arista Ortho Litho is about 75% blue sensitive and 25% green sensitive, in other words, Ortho as described, and certainly no substitute for old Pan Masking film,
which was indeed Pan. If you need something suitable for true pan masking purposes, I have a developer tweak that gives TMY an extremely low contrast
relatively straight line distinctly superior to Pan Masking film. A lot of photo students apparently use Ortho Litho film as an inexpensive continuous contrast film,
but it's difficult to keep it from mottling a bit in such circumstances. I use it as a true high contrast lith film for highlight masking (as opposed to unsharp contrast
or color correction masking).

Drew Wiley
29-Dec-2015, 09:28
Oop, typo... I meant TMX, not TMY, or as an alternative, the dev will work well with FP4 too.

Fr. Mark
12-Jan-2016, 15:29
Jim Galli had a recipe using 1:100 Rodinal with a smidgen of a couple restrainers in it (iirc benzotriazole and KI) to get continuous tone from Ortho litho films. I found Rodinal 1:100 satisfactory for what I was doing. It is v. thin base and I have had it come out of 4x5 holders when putting the slide back in. Free style does or did offer it cut to fit 4x5 holders but I found it a bit small to stay in place reliably. I also found it hard to avoid mottling. I bought some for making enlarged negatives either with intermediate positives or directly by Ed buffaloe's reversal process but haven't tried that yet.

Chauncey Walden
12-Jan-2016, 17:46
Here's Jim's recipe: http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com/FreestyleAPHS/DevelopingAPHSwRodinal.html

Jim Noel
12-Jan-2016, 19:52
I rarely take the 8x10 out without at least a couple of holders loaded with Ortho-litho film and have done so for too many years.
DJ has given a most complete and accurate answer.
Soft working developers such as D-23 and POTA are ideal for use with this film. Diluted paper developers cannot work as well to provide a long scale because they are designed to be much more active. Try developing a piece of enlarging paper in a film developer and you will discover the difference. If it develops to proper density, it will take an excessive amount of time.
Jim Galli's alteration of Rodinal does work beautifully.

Drew Wiley
13-Jan-2016, 09:26
One thing ya gotta be careful about is that graphics films can be cut full sized, since they are intended for lab use, and not always trimmed down to fit a filmholder
properly. This is a risk you take if someone simply re-markets something for dual purpose before thinking it through. Best to stick with known sources like Freestyle.

Fr. Mark
13-Jan-2016, 22:19
You can cut Ortholitho film with safelights on. I do it with Xray. Fear not! Freestyle's 4x5 for film holders seems a little small for me. If I were cutting it down from 8x10 I'd make it fit more snugly. It might avoid the falling out of the channels problem. Extracting film from the bellows of a camera can be challenging...Another possible solution that I think maybe someone mentioned on this thread is to put some backing paper or film in. I'd suggest making it matte black. I really like film with anti-halation if I have any choice.

Fr. Mark
13-Jan-2016, 22:32
Another thought: do you like the look of Ortho films? If so, go for it. Try X-ray, too, I particularly like Ektascan B/RA. But art is hard under best of circumstances and life is short. I don't know about you but I don't blow through film that fast, particularly in LF. Sometimes there's a lot of comfort in having a film that's thick enough to support itself in a film holder, that has a speed rating on the box, that has some reciprocity failure data available, that looks like normal film, that you can develop with normal developers. I went from taping 35mm film pieces in 4x5 holders in the pitch dark just to be able to do something with film in the new to me camera someone gave me, to using paper negatives, to trying Ortho-litho film, all while trying to make caffenol C work. All without ever really learning what real negatives look like...it was a relief to buy 50 sheets of Arista Edu 100 and use Rodinal or Tmax dev or D-76. It was MUCH easier to get something that looked like a proper negative and that printed like one with silver paper or new cyanotypes. My money saving side often wins out, and I often regret it when it come to art materials. Sometimes cheap materials are too costly. End of sermon.