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Old 25th August 2010, 02:19 PM
Kev M Kev M is offline
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Default Filter Grades in Mono Printing

This is probably a really dumb question but I won't let that stop me from asking it

I've got a copy of an Ilford printing book that they were selling very cheaply at Focus on Imaging this year which has examples of a single negative printed at different contrast grades. My question is, is the contrast of a print dependant only on the filter (assuming multigrade paper and no dodging and burning) or is it a combination of the negative and the filter (I know someone is bound to say it depends on the paper too but lets keep it simple for now)?

My negatives are generally pretty thin and lack contrast, it's something I'm working on but at the minute every time I find something wrong and change it for the next roll I just end up finding something else wrong and see little or no improvement. Because they're thin the lack a full contrast range which I then try to fix at the printing stage. I guess an example of my question would be, if I had two negatives, one with decent contrast and one pretty flat looking, and I printed them with the same settings (filter, exposure, etc) would I get the same contrast range in the print?

I've recently started dabbling with split grade printing and have found that it has helped with some tricky negatives but this weekend I was using my usual method but gave up in the end and printed a straight grade 5 which was acceptable. How do you know what filter grade you want if the contrast range is going to be different dependant on every negative?

Cheers,
Kev
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Old 25th August 2010, 04:20 PM
Dave miller Dave miller is offline
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The contrast range obtained from a thin and correctly exposed/developed negative will differ, as would the exposure required. The thin negative will also lack shadow detail.
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Old 25th August 2010, 05:06 PM
Hughes Hughes is offline
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I think you have underexposed negs. or you asa set is out.
Check you asa at Z11 against minimum time for max black on your printer. Then check your dev time against a ZV111 neg at the same print exposure. This will show a popular max contrast that you can then after adjust.
ATB Hughes
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Old 25th August 2010, 05:09 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
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I may be making a statement that doesn't help as you know the answer but if your negs are consistently thin and need a grade 5 print to look right then it strongly suggests that you underdevelop.

If you use times recommended by your developer's manufacturer this should lead to most negs being printable at between grades 2.5 and 3.5. If you do already stick to recommended times then it suggests that something like underexposure is the cause which could have several causes.

A test for personal film speed and development times might be worthwhile

Mike
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Old 25th August 2010, 05:15 PM
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Andrew Bartram Andrew Bartram is offline
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Kev

Lack of negative density can be due to under exposure and or under development.
With regard exposure look in the shadows, is there detail where you want it or are there large areas of blank shadows.
If the required shadow detail is lacking then decrease your ISO rating on your meter or camera.
If the shadow detail is OK check chemical freshness, be consistent over time and temperature.
It is not unusual to find manufacturers times somewhat too long and need cutting by 30% to get a good printable negative, times can otherwise give an overly contrasty negative, you don't have this problem so unless you are using really short dev times or your chemicals are out of date then look to exposure.

Good luck

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Old 25th August 2010, 06:16 PM
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Default neg density

Kev, I would suggest that you look carefully at the numbers and names at the edge of the film, as these are put there by the manufacturer. The density of these will give you a clue about how accuracy of your development time/temperature. Donít always go by the manufactures development times, as they are often only a guestimate, particularly if they are quoting times for a different manufacturer to themselves. Find what works for you and stick with it.
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Old 26th August 2010, 09:38 AM
Kev M Kev M is offline
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Thanks for the replies chaps. It;s vary rarely that they're completely see through, there's normally always some shadow detail but probably not as much as there should be.

I've been using Neopan400 almost exclusively since I started shooting film over the last 18months and had started to agree that it was either under exposure or development. The last two rolls I processed at the weekend were exposed at ISO200 to try and give more shadow exposure and then developed at ISO200 to try to retain the highlight detail but still they were thin. Perhaps I needed to expose at 200 and develop at 400 to get them a bit denser.

Of course the other problem may be that my developer was knackered on this occasion, it had gone a bit brown even though it had been stored in the garage and only opened a couple of months ago. I use Ilfosol3 for simplicity, as I don't develop all that regularly powder developers seem a bit wasteful because they have to made in fairly big quantities. Seeing as Neopan400 is out of production and I'm coming to the end of my stock I'll do some rough guess work to try and improve the quality of the negatives and then get into personal film speed testing when I find a suitable replacement for the Neopan.

Thanks chaps.
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Old 26th August 2010, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kev M View Post
I use Ilfosol3 for simplicity, as I don't develop all that regularly powder developers seem a bit wasteful because they have to made in fairly big quantities.
If you don't use a lot of film, try Rodinal developer. It's liquid, and keeps for years. Extremely economical! It's best for slower films though, I'd rate Neopan at 320 or even 250 in Rodinal.
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Old 26th August 2010, 01:33 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kev M View Post
Thanks for the replies chaps. It;s vary rarely that they're completely see through, there's normally always some shadow detail but probably not as much as there should be.

I've been using Neopan400 almost exclusively since I started shooting film over the last 18months and had started to agree that it was either under exposure or development. The last two rolls I processed at the weekend were exposed at ISO200 to try and give more shadow exposure and then developed at ISO200 to try to retain the highlight detail but still they were thin. Perhaps I needed to expose at 200 and develop at 400 to get them a bit denser.

Of course the other problem may be that my developer was knackered .

Thanks chaps.
In this reply I am making an assumption that Neopan 400 is the same in 35mm as in 120. I have found Neopan 400 at box speed in 35mm to be particularly contrasty( prints at about grade 2 max from the negs) which seems to be the opposite to what you find.

In fact I now develop it at about 12% less than the Ilford times( I use DDX not Ilfosol).

While not suggesting that you follow my dev times, the evidence suggests based, on my experience, that maybe your developer is at least partially exhausted.

A test I have heard about but haven't tried is to cut an exposed piece of film such as the leader and develop in a small dish. If it hasn't gone completely black by half of the recommended dev time then it is likely to be exhausted.

Alternatively, keep your old dev but get fresh dev and try again. If this makes a difference then throw the old stuff. If it doesn't then you need to look elsewhere for the cause but at least you still have your old but good dev.

Best of luck

Mike
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Old 26th August 2010, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kev M View Post
Of course the other problem may be that my developer was knackered on this occasion, it had gone a bit brown even though it had been stored in the garage and only opened a couple of months ago. I use Ilfosol3 for simplicity, as I don't develop all that regularly powder developers seem a bit wasteful because they have to made in fairly big quantities.
The old Ilfosol (S) used to go off quite quickly once opened. The newer Ilfosol (3) was supposed to address that issue.

If your developer is brown then I think it needs replacing. I would suggest Ilford DD-X as a good general purpose developer.


Steve.
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