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With or Without Pre-soak?
With or Without Pre-soak?
A development trial
Published by Bill
20th October 2008
Default With or Without Pre-soak?

Objective

To try to determine if there is any difference between a film processed with and without a pre-soak


Exposure Method
The film used was a roll of 120 sized Ilford FP4 Plus with an expiry date of April 2009. For convenience it was rated at 100 ISO. This gave a good correlation between speed and stop without having to estimate thirds on the aperture scale.

The camera used was a Rolleiflex 3.5F focused on infinity to take out any variation due to ‘bellows’ effect.

The Target was a piece of mid grey mounting board lit by north light from a north facing window. The light was constant throughout. The camera was positioned so that the card filled the full negative area.

The meter was a Pentax Digital spot meter. The reading of the card was 8, which at 100 ISO gave a Zone V exposure of 1/15 sec at F4.

The film was then shot as follows:
Code:
Frame   Zone     Exposure Given
  1.    Zone V    1/15 @ f4
  2.    ZO        1/15 @ f22
  3.    ZI        1/15 @ f16
  4.    ZII       1/15 @ f11
  5.    ZVIII     ˝ @ f4
  6.    Blank
  7.    Blank
  8.    Zone V    1/15 @ f4
  9.    ZO        1/15 @ f22
  10.   ZI        1/15 @ F16
  11.   ZII       1/15 @ f11 
  12.   ZVIII     ˝ @ f4
The meter reading was checked at the end of the shoot showing no deviation.


Development
The film was split into 2 halves and each half loaded into a development tank. It was then processed as follows.

Part 1 Processed in ID 11 1 + 1 at 20 oC for 7 minutes 30 seconds. The film was agitated by inversion constantly for the first 30 seconds followed by a rap on the working top. It was then inverted once each 30 seconds for the rest of the development time. Following development a stop bath of Ilford Ilfostop was used for 30 seconds at 20oC. This was then followed by 10 minutes in Ilford Hypam at 1:4 again at 20 oC agitated at 5 minutes.

Part 2 This received a 5 minute pre-soak in plain water agitated by 1 inversion each minute. The film then received the same treatment as Part 1.
I checked the temperature of the developer at the end of the processing time. Without the pre-soak it was 19.7 oC while with the pre-soak it had remained at 20 oC. The room ambient temperature during development was 18.9 oC. All temperatures were measured with a RH Designs digital thermometer.

The films were washed by the Ilford method and hung to dry.

Readings
The following density readings were taken using the densitometer feature built into the RH Designs Analyser Pro.
The negatives were placed in the carrier of a Durst M605K using the 6x6 film mask. The lens used was an 80 mm f4 Schneider Componon S and the lamp was allowed to ‘warm up’ for 5 minutes before any readings were taken.
Initial readings were of base fog above the enlarger light level with no film in the carrier. They were without pre-soak - 0.1 and with pre-soak - 0.08.

The meter was then zeroed on base fog and the following density readings taken and so are above base fog.
Code:
Negative   Without      With
           pre-soak   pre-soak
  ZO         0.2        0.17
  ZI         0.37       0.30
  ZII        0.54       0.42
  ZV         1.09       1.06
  ZVIII      1.82       1.83
Conclusion
While this is not a definitive and exhaustive test it does show that there is a difference between with and without pre-soak. Those without seem to give a denser negative, which suggests that the pre-soak does have a diluting effect on the developer albeit small. This may be offset by the developer holding its temperature better because the pre-soak is building heat into the tank which helps maintain the developer temperature. This should help to improve consistency between films.

From the density readings it looks like I am over exposing and over developing my films or the shutter is running slow. This will be the subject of further personal testing.

All tests reflect the equipment and working practices of the person doing that test. Similar test by other people may give different results.
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  #1  
By Dave miller on 20th October 2008, 05:45 PM
Default

That’s interesting Bill, thanks’ for taking the trouble to carry out the experiment and publish your article. It bears out the results that several predicted in the tread where we discussed this subject. I think the most important fact to emerge is the need for consistent working practices rather than a need to soak or not.
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  #2  
By Peter Hogan on 20th October 2008, 06:53 PM
Default

Glad you downrated the film, but what was your development time in relation to the recommended dev time? It's a fact that using rated ISO figures and recommended dev. times [B]will[B] result in overexposed and overdeveloped negs. Using standard developers you really need to downrate your film by as much as 30% to 50% and reduce dev times by a similar amount.
The proper route is to test to determine your own personal film speed and dev. times. (Shout if you don't know how) These will vary from person to person and even camera to camera of the same make!
As to pre-soak I do, because I don't like the anti-halation dye in my dev, I don't want pinholes, and I believe pre-soaking gives more even development. However, it's a personal thing, and many people choose not to, and probably with no ill-effects.
Peter
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  #3  
By Bill on 21st October 2008, 06:22 AM
Default

Hi Peter,

The Ilford site gives 11 minutes in ID11 at 1+1 with the film rated at 125 ISO and at 20 degrees C.

I have plenty of books on testing film for personal speed and development, including Les McLean, Les Meehan, John Blakemore, Ansel Adams and Barry Thornton. I just need to get down to it and do the work.

I don't pre-soak but seeing how it helps to maintain the developer temperature I probably will do from now on.

Bill.
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  #4  
By Dave miller on 21st October 2008, 09:46 AM
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillMar View Post
Hi Peter,

The Ilford site gives 11 minutes in ID11 at 1+1 with the film rated at 125 ISO and at 20 degrees C.

I have plenty of books on testing film for personal speed and development, including Les McLean, Les Meehan, John Blakemore, Ansel Adams and Barry Thornton. I just need to get down to it and do the work.

I don't pre-soak but seeing how it helps to maintain the developer temperature I probably will do from now on.

Bill.
I'm impressed with your library Bill. Are you going to try each authors method consecutively or concurrently?
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  #5  
By Argentum on 21st October 2008, 10:35 AM
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Hogan View Post
It's a fact that using rated ISO figures and recommended dev. times [B]will[B] result in overexposed and overdeveloped negs. Using standard developers you really need to downrate your film by as much as 30% to 50% and reduce dev times by a similar amount.
Hmmm,

I think this is not necessarily true. The question is how many stops of subject range do you expect to capture on film? Paper holds 7ish. Film manufacturers tend to give speed and dev times to capture 7ish stops on neg film.
Now if you are a zone system person you will no doubt think you need 10 stops but that is not true for a lot of people and a lot subjects.
If you assume 1 zone is one stop and then apply it to a manufacturers dev time for 7ish stops then you are making a mistake. If the film dev captures 7 stops then divide 7 by 11 ( 11 zones. 0 thru X) which gives 0.63 and then each zone is 0.63 stops.
So if you then meter a zone 3 value you close down 1.26 stops and not 2. You would be 0.75 of a stop out if you used 2 stops. And if you meter a zone 8 value, then you open up 2 stops and not 3. You would be a stop out if you used 3. And that is where the myth comes from that film manufactuers speeds are wrong. It is zone system workers who think AA's 1zone = 1stop is a fixed rule. It isn't but they try to apply it to a neg range which it doesn't fit. Then they tailor development to fit the zone system and to do that they need more exposure and less development. But that doesn't mean manufacturers speed or dev times are wrong.

Then the question is how many stops in the subject and how many can I get on the film without making the subject look flat because it's compressed too much. Most closed (no sky) subjects are 7 or less stops. Only when you start metering bright clouds and deep shadows do you start getting the 10 stop and plus ranges.
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  #6  
By Bill on 21st October 2008, 11:24 AM
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave View Post
I'm impressed with your library Bill. Are you going to try each authors method consecutively or concurrently?
I forgot Lambrecht and Woodhouse in the list.
I think I will select just the one and stick with that. I need to read the appropriate sections again and make some notes for myself. In truth they are all fairly similar in method.

Bill
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  #7  
By Dave miller on 22nd October 2008, 06:41 AM
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by percepts View Post
Hmmm,

I think this is not necessarily true. The question is how many stops of subject range do you expect to capture on film? Paper holds 7ish. Film manufacturers tend to give speed and dev times to capture 7ish stops on neg film.
Now if you are a zone system person you will no doubt think you need 10 stops but that is not true for a lot of people and a lot subjects.
If you assume 1 zone is one stop and then apply it to a manufacturers dev time for 7ish stops then you are making a mistake. If the film dev captures 7 stops then divide 7 by 11 ( 11 zones. 0 thru X) which gives 0.63 and then each zone is 0.63 stops.
So if you then meter a zone 3 value you close down 1.26 stops and not 2. You would be 0.75 of a stop out if you used 2 stops. And if you meter a zone 8 value, then you open up 2 stops and not 3. You would be a stop out if you used 3. And that is where the myth comes from that film manufactuers speeds are wrong. It is zone system workers who think AA's 1zone = 1stop is a fixed rule. It isn't but they try to apply it to a neg range which it doesn't fit. Then they tailor development to fit the zone system and to do that they need more exposure and less development. But that doesn't mean manufacturers speed or dev times are wrong.

Then the question is how many stops in the subject and how many can I get on the film without making the subject look flat because it's compressed too much. Most closed (no sky) subjects are 7 or less stops. Only when you start metering bright clouds and deep shadows do you start getting the 10 stop and plus ranges.
I think that's a well stated argument that seems to fly in the face of traditional wisdom, anyone wish to support, comment, or counter it?
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