View Full Version : Acutance in 8x10 Contacts How Important?

Walter Glover
15-Sep-2003, 14:29
The Paterson range of developers has recently been re-introduced here in Australia which means that once again the wonderful Crawley brews are readily available.

I processed some 4x5 Delta 100 in FX-39 a week or so back and the difference in acutance is astounding. Enlargements to 16x12 are appreciably crisper.

I am about to do likewise with some 8x10 FP4+ in Acutol (FX-14) to see what gives there. I only ever contact print my 8x10s and so I was wondering what others think of the need for improved acutance with 8x10 contacts. I understand that part of the appeal of Pyro is the increase in apparent sharpness and often the pyro negs are contacted for Platinum and other alternative processes.

David A. Goldfarb
15-Sep-2003, 14:54
One would think it shouldn't matter, but it really does. It's like the difference between writing with a soft blunt pencil and a hard sharp pencil. There is just a crisper sense of line. Try and see for yourself.

Bruce Watson
15-Sep-2003, 15:55
Do you (or anyone else) have any experience with high acutance developers on 400 speed films, specifically Tri-X? The work I do, I need all the speed I can get. I can't drop down to the 100 speed films. All the research I've done says that the high acutance developers don't do much for 400 speed film. But.... I've never found anything from anyone who actually did those experiements. I haven't yet had the time to try them myself. So I would be interested in anyone's experiences in the area of high acutance developers and 400 speed films in 4x5 or larger.

David A. Goldfarb
15-Sep-2003, 16:38
I use Acufine with (old) TXT in 4x5" for handheld work and get an honest speed of EI 640 and good tonality, 6 min. at 68 deg. F, in a Nikor tank, agitating every 30 sec.

I haven't tried it with TXT in 8x10", and I haven't tried the new Tri-X yet.

geoffrey james
15-Sep-2003, 19:50

I was led to believe that the 8x10 tri-X is still the old emulsion. But so much of this stuff is urban legend. I have shot quite a bit of the new 120 (400) Tri-X and am impressed by the fine grain. Something tells me the shadow detail isn't quite the same, but otherwise it's really good.

Gem Singer
15-Sep-2003, 20:06
Hi Hogarth,

I have been using Ilford's Ilfotec DD-X developer, with HP-5+ film rated at EI 400, and getting very high acutance. Although Ilfotec DD-X is supposed to be a liquid version of Ilford's Microphen (PQ) powder developer, it is formulated with potassium sulfite, whereas Microphen contains sodium sulfite as it's preservative. I haven't been able to verify this, but I suspect that potassium sulfite is less grain soluable than sodium sulfite, making Ilfotec DD-X a slightly sharper developer than Microphen. I have also been using slow, deliberate agitation, which helps to increase acutance. (See my article "An alternative Method of Developing 4X5 Film" on this website).

David A. Goldfarb
15-Sep-2003, 21:39
I think the new 8x10" Tri-X may not be out yet, but my impression is that it's coming. I still have about 50 sheets of 8x10" and around 100 of 4x5" to use up before I need to buy more.

tim atherton
15-Sep-2003, 21:54
as I recall, recently Kodak had "run out" of Tri-X sheet film as they ran down the stock of "old" tri-x and the likes of B&H were selling out.

As I understood it, anything showing up in the major stores with large turnover (and it si labelled differently) is supposed to be the new tri-x? (B&H's seems to be the catalogue number for the new tri-x in 8x10)

Walter Glover
16-Sep-2003, 02:57

As we speak I have some 4x5 Tri-X (old stock) loaded and will be giving it a try in Acutol (FX-14). I shall report back.

Ilfotec DDX is a regular dancing partner in my darkroom but as good as it is I just feel it lacks BITE.

I did compare Delta 100 in DDX and FX-39 and found the FX-39 negs much more to my taste. I use the BTZS approach to determining speed and development so I know that the negs were almost identical in density and contrast. Even taking the DDX neg a half grade filter higher did not make for a match.

John O'Connell
16-Sep-2003, 05:56
I haven't tried pyro, but I'll say that other high acutance developers haven't made much difference in my 8x10 negatives (TMY & 400TMY so far). I like my highlights pretty hot and my negatives somewhat dense (Azo grade 2 & Pd printing) and as long as the highlights are far enough up the curve I can't really see much difference between the solvent developers and the acutance developers. 8x10 has made me very much a "magic liquid" skeptic. If I was enlarging, I'm sure I'd feel differently: I devoutly use Rodinal 1:50 for my small format stuff & cringe when I print my negs from straight D76.

As far as fast films go, is that the "new" 400TMY is a bit of a pain. It seems to be slightly slower (160 rather than 200) and requires more development time (+20%, and maybe more). If I didn't need the film for its reciprocity behavior I'd be experimenting with PMK and HP5+.

Walter Glover
16-Sep-2003, 12:42
Aaah John,

The reciprocity characteristic of the T-Max emulsions is certainly an enticing temptress. But at what price? Have to say I was using TMY for 8x10 until I picked up a pack of HP5+ that a store had in stock (no 8x10 B&W film is imported into Australia as stock items - it is all indent only - so a box in store is a delight one grabs.)

I was so impressed by the HP5+ that it became my standard fare and then I similarly acquired some FP4+ and loved it too although it is quite different to the HP5+ tonally.

As for actutance development of the 8x10, I'm about to do a 'Fred Picker' and get into the darkroom and try some.

Thank you for your enlightened comments.

Mark Sampson
17-Sep-2003, 12:16
Try choosing a scene to photograph that has some "edges" and brilliance to it, shoot duplicates, and process a sheet each in your two likely developers. Then print. Without the direct comparison you'll never know for sure.