View Full Version : Unmanagable negative contrast

Simon Rodan
20-Feb-2001, 03:57
I have just bought an Omega D2V and am trying to make my first prints from 4x5 n egs. I have exposed the neg placing the shadows on Zone II and the main element of interest on Zone V. Highlights fell on Zone IX. This would seem to call fo r normal development.

However, when I develop the negs (Ilford Delta 100) in both HC111 (dilution B, 6 minutes) and D76 (stock, 9 minutes) which according t o Ilford is the recommended times for normal development at 68F, I get negs that are so contrasty I cannot print them on Ilfospeed grade 2.

I don't want to m ove to grade 1 as I am trying to get the development times sorted for grade 2 pa per. With D76 I have tried cutting development time to 3 1/2 minutes which helps but I am worried that in doing so, I am loosing shadow detail.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

20-Feb-2001, 04:44
Given the subject range you mention, I am not surprised, as I would go with something like N-2 for this range. With Delta 100 for N-2, try an EI of 50 - 64, and Rodinal 1:50 for 7 - 9 minutes.

Robert A. Zeichner
20-Feb-2001, 08:29
I would suggest placing the darkest areas of the scene in which you want to see distinct textural print detail in Zone III. After setting your lens accordingly, I would then use a second reading of the lightest area of the scene in which you want to render distinct textural detail, to determine development. If it falls in Zone VII, Normal. If it falls in Zone VIII, N-1. In IX, N-2. This will result in a flatter negative than you currently have and will print easily for you. I would highly recommend that you consider using Ilford Multigrade IV paper. You can adjust your contrast with each negative and "rescue" the occassional goof without investing in boxes of every grade. Going this route will require some exposure compensation under the enlarger if using contrast filters. I've been using an Aristo VCL 4500 light source on my enlarger for the last three years and this dual grid system has eliminated the need for doing this. Good luck.

John H. Henderson
20-Feb-2001, 10:13
Typically, the manufacturer recommended times are going to result in negatives that are too contrasty. Regardless of the manufacturer. This may be to achieve the contrast that is defined in the ISO standard at which the film speed is measured. This contrast is usually too much for most subjects. Cutting down development to achieve a more useful contrast (Contrast index, gamma, or however you want to measure it) also tends to lower the speed of the film. This is why photographers (LF, in particular) rate the film at a lower speed than the ISO rating.

I didn't completely understand the need for down-rating the speed until reading Beyond the Zone System. It explains all of this. Get it. Read it. Make a mess of it like I did.

Scott Walton
20-Feb-2001, 13:01
To give yourself a longer developer time, finer grain use D76 1:1. As others have stated, manufacturer times are a bit hot. There is a good web site: www.digitaltruth.com for times of most developers but testing is always a good thing to take in consideration your water (hard or soft) and other variables. This is why alot of people use distilled water...

John Hicks
20-Feb-2001, 13:29
Ilford's development recommendations are obviously too much for your SBR, enlarg er and paper.

I'd suggest just using D-76 1:1 for the same time or, if that doesn't work, ju st go to 1:2 or 1:3.

Steve Singleton
20-Feb-2001, 16:37
Is the D2V a condensor enlarger? Apparently Kodak's development recommendations are based on a diffusion light source which can handle higher contrast negatives. Why the hell they don't say that in the fine print is a mystery; maybe to encourage us to experiment with the materials as much as possible. I too would suggest D-76 1:1 to get longer, more repeatable times and start by reducing development time by 20% or so if you print by condensor.

Doug Paramore
20-Feb-2001, 18:21
Kodak does state in at least some of their info sheets that the development times are for diffusion enlargers and times should be reduced for condenser enlargers. I don't know about every BW film they make, but the sheets for TXP Professional state this. I agree with Steve that about a 20% reduction in time is a good starting place. For condenser enlargers, increase the exposure and decrease development. Think about getting a cold light head for that great old Omega and forget about highlights blocking up.


21-Feb-2001, 12:17
I'd agree... i'd leave the d76 time and temp where it is and cut it 1:1... see where that gets ya... if it is a condensor D2 like mine know also that in a condensor, Ilfospeed g2 looks like a g3 paper... or I should say, it does in mine. Same goes for kbrome g2... also, in mine. Some g2 papers are less contrasty so keep lookin' or cut your paper dev with some Selectol soft or other low contrast dev if you're committed to that paper. Tweak it from all directions if you know how... you'll soon find a combo that works.