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Thread: Zone I SET

  1. #1

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    Zone I SET

    Ok, so this is new territory for me. In an effort to gain more control over my exposure and development process, I am trying to find my film speed (.1 over film base + fog) for TMAX 400. With the help of a generous forum member here, I now have that determined.

    In trying to find my Standard Development Time I have encountered problems. I have adjusted my enlarger so the light barely covers an 8x10 enlargement. My exposure to get any kind of separation between complete black and the next lightest grey tone was 2 seconds at f16. 2 seconds does not sound right to me. My only thought is that setting the enlarger for an 8x10 print may have been suggested when using a 35mm negative and that a 4x5 negative should have a larger projection onto the enlarging easel. Or something else.

    Any efforts to help me will receive mucho good karma!

    Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Re: Zone I SET

    Standard development time is determined based on Zone VIII. The way I determine this in the darkroom is the following:

    1. Set the enlarger height for a fairly generous coverage of an 8x10 area of, say, a printing easel.
    2. Insert a negative and focus the enlarger.
    3. Insert a blank negative (Zone 0) and make a test strip (I use 3 sec increments)
    4. Process this sheet as you normally would and let it dry (archival washing is not necessary here)
    5. Determine which stripe reveals black where the subsequent stripes don't get any darker. Be careful here because all you need is an acceptable black.
    6. Insert a probably Zone VIII negative, cover half a sheet of paper, then give your minimum time to reach dMax black (from step 5)
    7. Process this sheet as you normally would and let it dry.

    What you're looking for a just a hint of tonality between the exposed and white unexposed part of the paper. If no difference, decrease development time by 20% and repeat the above. If the exposed side goes to gray, increase development time 20% and repeat the above. Rinse-n-repeat until you've found a proper Zone VIII print value; usually doesn't take more than a couple of trials.

    Others use density strips, etc, but this was the way I did it before I got a densitometer many years ago.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3

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    Re: Zone I SET

    2 seconds is indeed a short time. I think those who can help need a bit more info to assist.

    What format negative and what enlarger, light source, and lens focal length are you using? Also, what paper?

    There also remains the grey area (pun intended) of what you consider "any kind of separation" between black and your Zone I. There is typically more apparent separation on the negative than appears in a print at the low end, for various scientifically-grounded reasons.

    Nonetheless, forgive me for asking, but are you certain your lens aperture is actually stopping down properly? I use an Omega D2 with a coldlight head. With a 120 neg (base is slightly less dense than 4x5 of same film) last night printing to 8x10 on slow paper (Ilford Warmtone FB) with a Grade 2 filter, I was printing for minimal exposure at f/8 with an 80mm lens for 15 seconds. Even a fast paper like Ilford MG fiber would have been in the range of 7 seconds at the same aperture, so f/16 would have been 28 seconds.
    Philip Ulanowsky

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  4. #4

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    Re: Zone I SET

    Separation between Zone 0 and Zone 1 has absolutely nothing to do with determining standard development time for any given film. Perhaps I misunderstood the point of the OP inquiry?

  5. #5
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Zone I SET

    A couple of points. First, you want at least .1 above film base plus fog for Zone I. I like about .15. You then want Zone VIII to be about 1.3 above fb + f for a diffusion enlarger. Making judgements about shadow separation of prints is a sticky wicket. How much illumination? What counts a visual difference? You should do a Zone System test ala Fred Picker's The Zone VI Manual.

    If you don't want to do that, then find a representative scene. Give your best guess at an EI, meter as normal, and give your best guess as normal. Now print on grade 2 with no dodging and burring. Make the best print you can. Now....do you need more shadow detail, then estimate a slower EI. if the lower print values are too high, then estimate a slower EI. Now for the lighter print tones. Are they too dark? Then you need to develop more. Too bright? Then develop less.

    But....at least at first...do the full test. After experience, it usually just takes one or two negatives done with the less extensive method to be close enough for government work.
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
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  6. #6

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    Re: Zone I SET

    Fred,

    A couple of comments:

    First, the goal of all that Zone System testing is a negative that will print well at an intermediate contrast setting, usually somewhere around 2-3 for VC papers. This was, and is, the entire reason for finding a particular development time. The Zone System ended up seeming technical and precise, but in actuality, it was designed to be a practical way to apply some of the more arcane (to most) sensitometric principles. So, don't try to be overly precise with things, especially in the beginning.

    Second, your two-second exposure time seems short to me, even for an 8x10. Check to make sure everything is working properly; lens stopped down, etc. Knowing what enlarger, lens and light source you are using would help.

    Now, to the test: What you are making and what Alan describes is a Proper Proof, i.e., a print where the film base + fog density is rendered just a barely perceptible shade lighter than maximum paper black. I like proper proofs because they give me a lot of information, but they are only tools and you have to know how to use them correctly. Also, they are not intended to be prints for viewing. Fine prints often have a much different exposure than you'd use for a proper proof.

    To test to find your proper-proofing time, you should be comparing a clear area of the negative like the rebate to maximum paper black achieved with no negative in the light path. I do this by simply shifting the negative in the carrier so light is visible to one side of the negative. I make a test strip of the rebate/no negative area, process and dry the strip (drying is important) and then, under what I consider to be average viewing light, evaluate it. The lighting is important too, since too much light will enable you to see more separation than too little. You need to find the happy medium here. The idea is to find the time where the film rebate is just barely lighter than the maximum paper black next to it. This is your proper-proofing time. Don't look at shadow values in the print; their rendering depends on exposure. What you're looking for is the minimum exposure to give you an acceptable black from a clear area of the film.

    Once you've got your proper-proofing time, then print a negative, process and dry it and evaluate.

    Not enough shadow detail? Decrease your E.I. (and vice-versa). Blown highlights? Reduce your development time. Muddy grey highlights? Increase developing time.

    Keep in mind, that your standard, or "Normal" development time simply means that you get the shadow detail you want from the placement you chose and that the way the highlights fall after you made that exposure choice line up roughly with the Zones in the Zone System.

    If you are calibrating to, say a # 2 1/2 filter, then you've got lots of leeway when getting around to making the final print to adjust contrast. So, at first, just shoot for hitting a one-stop (Zone) window. Then, keep good field notes, proper proof your negatives for a check and adjust your E.I. and development time(s) as needed following the general advice: If your shadow detail isn't what you want it to be, adjust exposure (E.I.). If your prints are consistently too contrasty, decrease development time (and vice-versa). That's about it.

    And, the Zone System is a visualization tool more than a scientific method of exposure and development. You're not trying to be able to consistently reproduce a certain print value from a given negative density, rather you just want to get within a stop or so of that, so there's a relatively large window of acceptable exposure and development that you can make an excellent print from. Just hit the window.

    Best,

    Doremus

  7. #7
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Zone I SET

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred V View Post
    Ok, so this is new territory for me. In an effort to gain more control over my exposure and development process, I am trying to find my film speed (.1 over film base + fog) for TMAX 400. With the help of a generous forum member here, I now have that determined.

    In trying to find my Standard Development Time I have encountered problems. I have adjusted my enlarger so the light barely covers an 8x10 enlargement. My exposure to get any kind of separation between complete black and the next lightest grey tone was 2 seconds at f16. 2 seconds does not sound right to me. My only thought is that setting the enlarger for an 8x10 print may have been suggested when using a 35mm negative and that a 4x5 negative should have a larger projection onto the enlarging easel. Or something else.

    Any efforts to help me will receive mucho good karma!

    Thanks.
    I think you are OK. Go ahead and print your Zone VIII negatives (processed for different times) and check for just-off white separation to find the correct one.

  8. #8

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    Re: Zone I SET

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan9940 View Post
    Standard development time is determined based on Zone VIII. The way I determine this in the darkroom is the following:

    1. Set the enlarger height for a fairly generous coverage of an 8x10 area of, say, a printing easel.
    2. Insert a negative and focus the enlarger.
    3. Insert a blank negative (Zone 0) and make a test strip (I use 3 sec increments)
    4. Process this sheet as you normally would and let it dry (archival washing is not necessary here)
    5. Determine which stripe reveals black where the subsequent stripes don't get any darker. Be careful here because all you need is an acceptable black.
    6. Insert a probably Zone VIII negative, cover half a sheet of paper, then give your minimum time to reach dMax black (from step 5)
    7. Process this sheet as you normally would and let it dry.

    What you're looking for a just a hint of tonality between the exposed and white unexposed part of the paper. If no difference, decrease development time by 20% and repeat the above. If the exposed side goes to gray, increase development time 20% and repeat the above. Rinse-n-repeat until you've found a proper Zone VIII print value; usually doesn't take more than a couple of trials.

    Others use density strips, etc, but this was the way I did it before I got a densitometer many years ago.

    Hope this helps.
    This was my approach early on. I think that it's also important with this approach to determine a "maximum black" exposure for your enlarger. Determine the shortest enlarger exposure time that will render a Zone I negative as maximum black on whatever paper you plan to use. Use this exposure to print your Zone VIII negative.

    But over the years, I've become comfortable using as my "N" standard development time, that which renders a Zone VII negative at 1.35 density units on a densitometer.

    Also, don't underestimate the amount of time a densitometer can save in doing these calibrations. It can be substantial.

  9. #9

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    Re: Zone I SET

    Everyone...my apologies for sending you down the wrong path. See, I warned you this was new territory for me. What I should have said was Standard Enlarging Time (SET). I was trying to find the proper printing exposure to determine the first noticeable tonal separation from black. I finally realized my mistake when some of your answers referred to adjusting development times to achieve Zone VIII.

    Testing is being done with TMAX 400 4x5, Omega enlarger, 135mm lens and Ilford MGIV paper with no filter.

    However, all your helpful information regarding determining Zone VIII detail in a negative will be very helpful as this will be the next step in my journey (after I solve the 2 second exposure problem).

    To review and clarify, with my enlarger set to provide coverage for an 8x10 print, why is my exposure time only 2 seconds at f16?

    Thanks again.

    Fred

  10. #10

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    Re: Zone I SET

    Thanks for the extra info. I'm guessing that your Omega is configured for standard twin-condenser, or twin plus variable enlarging. In any case, to make an 8x10 from a 4x5 with my 135, the lens is about 16" from the easel. I can't test an exposure time now, and I use a coldlight source with an extra diffusion layer in the neg carrier (for masking) anyway, but at f/16 without a filter, I can't imagine how you're down to 2 seconds, even with a 212 bulb.
    Philip Ulanowsky

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

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