View Full Version : FP4+ Pyrocat HD - Rotary for MGWT Paper

Shawn Dougherty
22-Sep-2011, 08:28
Sorry to start yet another time and temp thread... I have searched LFF and APUG but haven't found anything really specific. The closest I've come across is the following POST (http://server3.reid.org/forum/showpost.php?p=74321&postcount=19).

I am going back to developing my 4x5 (and 5x7 @ some point) negatives in home made BTZS style tubes. When I did this before it was generally with JCPro100 or Tri-X. I now use FP4+ and am switching back to this process from Rodinal (Adonal) in a slosher tray.

I am looking for ISO & development time starting points for 70 F, 1:1:100 with continuous agitation in a tub of water. The end is contact printing on Ilford MultiGrade Warmtone paper. I will be using PF's Glycol Pyrocat HD.

I plan on doing my required testing, it's just nice to start out in the ballpark.

Jay DeFehr
22-Sep-2011, 10:14

Printing stained negatives on VC paper opens up a can of worms, regarding development time. I recommend doing your film development calibration with graded paper. Once calibrated for graded paper, you can print on VC paper, and use magenta filtration to adjust contrast to taste. For scenes of normal contrast to be printed on grade 2 paper, try 6:00 for a start.

Scott Davis
22-Sep-2011, 11:09
Six minutes is awfully short! Granted I'm aiming for a contrast grade for platinum/palladium, but I've been using the Massive Dev Chart times for 70 F, just running it hotter (75 F) because that's the coolest I can get water out of my taps in the summer. I've been using 13 minutes for FP4+ in Pyrocat HD 1:1:100. If you stick to 70 instead of 75, but keep the 13 minutes, you should be fine and dandy for printing on silver gelatin. This is in a Jobo rotary processor running at the slowest possible rotation speed. If you're doing BTZS tubes, you're probably getting similar rotation frequency and speed, or maybe less.

Jay DeFehr
22-Sep-2011, 12:47

Sometimes extrapolating data can be unreliable. Pyrocat HD 1:1:100, 70F 13:00/Rotary will produce much more contrast than needed for printing on grade 2 paper.

Contrast does not build in a strictly linear way, as shown in development time/contrast curves. Catechol oxidizes very rapidly, and oxidation is promoted by elevated temperatures and agitation. In practice, this means 2X development time ≠ 2x contrast.

6:00 is a ballpark time, optimum time might be as much as 7:30, but certainly not 13:00.

Shawn Dougherty
22-Sep-2011, 13:42
Thanks fellows.

I only use MG Warmtone at this point, I don't even have graded paper around to try. I like to make fully exposed negatives that are soft and print at high paper grades, say 3.5, 4, or 4.5.

Based on that, your recommendations and Sandy's old post I think I'll start my testing with an N scene at ISO 80 (shadows on zone IV). I'll make 4 identical negatives, develop them for 6, 8, 10 and 12 minutes @ 70F (1:1:100) and then make prints. That should give me a pretty good idea where I need to be.

Michael Kadillak
22-Sep-2011, 14:17
Thanks fellows.

I only use MG Warmtone at this point, I don't even have graded paper around to try. I like to make fully exposed negatives that are soft and print at high paper grades, say 3.5, 4, or 4.5.

Based on that, your recommendations and Sandy's old post I think I'll start my testing with an N scene at ISO 80 (shadows on zone IV). I'll make 4 identical negatives, develop them for 6, 8, 10 and 12 minutes @ 70F (1:1:100) and then make prints. That should give me a pretty good idea where I need to be.

Sounds like the best way to proceed as you should have your bases covered. Would be curious as to your results and how you feel about the results you are getting. One thing I know for sure is that one should not try conventional pyro with FP4+ as it is a disaster in the mid tones.

Jay DeFehr
22-Sep-2011, 15:06

The issue with MG paper is that the pyro stain acts as a continuously variable low contrast filter, and the result is that stained negatives will always print on MG paper with a split-filter effect. This moving target makes calibration difficult, especially using real images, because what looks best for one particular image might not translate to another.

You say you like to make soft negatives, and increase contrast in printing, which I think is good practice, in general, but you should keep in mind if you're using graded contrast filters, the grade marked on the filter won't translate to a similar grade on the paper when using stained negatives, and the more you develop your film, the more difficult it will be/ the higher grade contrast filter you'll need to get contrast in your highlights, which is counter intuitive. Also, the more contrast filtration you use to get contrast in your highlights, the more your shadows are likely to block up, because there's relatively little stain there to counteract the heavy magenta contrast filtration.

My point is that actual calibration and trial and error testing are very complicated with stained negatives and MG/VC papers, and virtually impossible using real images, as opposed to step wedges. Another thing that might not be intuitive- you almost always need magenta filtration when printing stained negs on MG paper. The procedure of increasing film development until your negs print with the correct contrast for G2 paper without contrast filtration doesn't work with stained negs and MG paper, and you end up with negatives that print on G00 paper, with a heavy split filter effect, and all that extra development increases grain, decreases sharpness, and distorts gradation.

I don't write any of this to discourage you, but to give you a few pointers that might make it easier to analyze your results. So, to sum up:

Stained negs always print with split filter effect on MG paper

The split filter effect increases with increased film development

You always* need magenta filtration when printing stained negs on MG paper

When printing stained negatives the grade marked on the filter does not translate to the equivalent grade of the paper when using that filter.

I hope this is useful to you.

* The exception being when film is developed to print on the lowest grade the paper can produce.


I don't know what you mean by "conventional pyro", but I suspect your claims are circumstance-specific, as I've never noted anything similar in all my testing, nor have I read anyone else making similar claims.

Michael Kadillak
22-Sep-2011, 15:16
Then I will be specific for the benefit of the broader audience. ABC pyro is the pyro formulation I was making reference to as far than optimal with FP4+.

evan clarke
22-Sep-2011, 15:19
Shawn..all this stuff is dependent on the pH of your water and the resultant pH of your developer..it's a personal endeavor..EC

Jay DeFehr
22-Sep-2011, 15:29

I haven't used ABC-Pyro for years, and frankly, I'm not sure why anyone would want to, but I don't remember ever seeing "disastrous" mid tones with ABC and FP4+. Attached is the only example I can find.

Jay DeFehr
22-Sep-2011, 15:37

How acidic do you think the water would need to be to affect the working properties of a Pyrocat HD working solution?

Shawn Dougherty
23-Sep-2011, 06:16
Oh crap, Jay! I have the developer but am gone Monday through Tuesday. Can't try it till next week.... Now I'm going to be all in knots thinking about this. =)

I was just going back to Pyrocat HD because of some uneven development issues with my slosher tray and rodinal - that only show up on negatives with areas of even tonality. Back when I was using JCPro100 & Tri-X in Pyrocat HD (rotary in tubes) my negs were ALWAYS very evenly developed... but, I was printing on graded paper.


Shawn Dougherty
23-Sep-2011, 06:29

So I really want to go back to the process of rolling negatives in tubes - for a few reasons.

Primarily, they are the most evenly developed sheet film negs I've ever produced.

However, I print on Ilford MG Warmtone. I love that paper, I only have to stock it, nothing else. So, should I be looking at a different developer, non staining ? I love the look of my prints when I develop my negatives in Rodinal, I just want to get away from tray / slosher tray developing and can't see using Rodinal for that. I only contact print these - no enlarging.

Is anyone out there using Pryrocat HD and contact printing there negatives on VC paper? I could go back and print some of my old negs on MG Warmtone - but they were cooked pretty hard to print on Azo... these are not the negs I would be making now.

Jay, you used the word intuitive, that's how I like to work!

Richard Wasserman
23-Sep-2011, 07:09
I don't contact print, but do use FP-4+ in Pyrocat extensively printed on VC paper, including MGWT and love the results. I don't see why it should be any different with contacts than enlarging, unless I'm missing something?

Jay DeFehr
23-Sep-2011, 07:20

IMGIV FB WT is one of my favorite papers. There's no reason you can't get beautiful prints on MG paper with stained negatives. I mentioned the issues I did because you mentioned calibration, which can be very complicated with these materials, and one can be led by them to less than optimum negatives if one expects them to behave like more traditional combinations. Many people go to great lengths to get the split filter effect in their prints using combinations of contrast filters with dodging and burning, etc., so it can be useful, under appropriate circumstances. The split filter effect has nothing to do with evenness of film development, it is strictly the effect of the stain on MG paper.

I didn't mean to freak you out. Just don't think that because you need to use magenta filtration to get the best print, your negs are under developed. If you chase contrast without filtration you'll end up with much more contrast in your negs than you need, and all the consequences thereof. A negative of normal contrast, suitable for printing on grade 2 paper should require between 30 and 50 units of magenta filtration to print with something like normal contrast on MG paper. Without a step wedge, densitometer, and color analyzer, this passes for calibration with these materials. There's no point in pursuing a degree of precision you don't have the equipment to achieve. If I was running your test, I would develop for the following sequence: 5:30, 8:00, and 11:00, and I would guess optimum development time would be less than 8:00 rather than more. Your negs should look a little thinner to the eye in the highlights than non-stained negatives, but not watery thin. And wet negs will look thinner than dry ones, but you already know all this. Just go for it, and keep my comments in the back of your mind, not in the front. Good luck, and have fun!

Shawn Dougherty
23-Sep-2011, 07:35
That makes sense, Jay. I'll see if I have any grade 2 paper left floating around to do some basic testing.

I usually contact print by putting graded Ilford gels in the negative carrier of my enlarger, but, it is a dichro enlarger so I could always just use Magenta or split grade or both.

Thanks again, Jay.

Richard, if that's the combo you're using then I'm sure I can make it work! =)

Richard Wasserman
23-Sep-2011, 08:05
Thank you Shawn, you're very kind.

Shawn Dougherty
23-Sep-2011, 08:32
Your Chicago River Series is simply phenomenal...

Jay DeFehr
23-Sep-2011, 09:04
Your Chicago River Series is simply phenomenal...


If you have a dichro head, there's no reason to put a filter in the neg carrier. The dichro head gives you much finer control, and avoids dust/scratches, etc. on the contrast filter appearing on your print.

When you put your negative in the carrier, and project it onto your easel, put a piece of white paper in your easel, and add magenta filtration until the image is neutral gray. That should give you a good starting point for contrast filtration. Good luck!

Shawn Dougherty
23-Sep-2011, 09:17
I only make contact prints so it doesn't affect anything. I used to do the + mag but found the Ilford numbers simpler...

Thanks, Jay!

Jay DeFehr
23-Sep-2011, 09:31
Ah, contact printing! I see. Well, that throws out my suggestion for projecting on the easel, and it makes over development less critical, too. I wish I was printing today. Have fun.

Shawn Dougherty
13-Oct-2011, 07:53
Well, I've been doing some testing with the FP4+ as well as HP5+.

This scan is from FP4+, ended up using 10: 5: 1000 dilution at 7, 8, 9, 10 minutes. I think I like the print from the 8 minute time the best, printed with a grade 4 filter. Image was made on an overcast day, wet conditions, about 5 stops in the scene.

HP5+ is looking like 10 or 11 minutes for my N time, have not scanned any prints yet.

Thanks for all of the advice!


13-Oct-2011, 09:12
See if I can figure out how to attach a photo. This is an 8x10 FP4 neg that I processed in Pyrocat HD and then printed on Ilford MGWT fiber. It was an experiment for me just getting to know Pyrocat but I was very impressed with the result. Not sure if it comes across as a jpg but it has very good shadow detail and glowing highlights and is extremely sharp looking. I had to over sharpen the scan to try to get the same sense of clarity and sharpness. If my attachment doesn't attach then the image is here:


Ok so I see my image didn't attach. Maybe I am not allowed or maybe just dull witted.