Edward Dasso So, I would love some help from you guys! I am very new to film, especially medium format, and I am a little confused at the results of the images I've gotten back. I expected the Dynamic range to be much greater than digital, yet I see blown out highlights in her face and arm, and a great loss of detail in the blacks of her hair/leggings. There is a STEEP drop off from the highlighs of her face to the blacks of her mouth. This is really soft light too... I had a softbox bouncing off a wall to disperse the light as much as possible. My digital images of this same scene shows a LOT more dynamic range. This image was processed and scanned by Dot Dotsons (local film store), and judging by the negative... the scanning process was fairly accurate to the original.
So, my two theories are that #1- Tri-x 400 produces a more contrasty image than I expected, or #2 the developing was done wrong?
The lighting was soft, so it isn't responsible for loss of detail. The camera used was a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II (lens 110mm F2.8 shot at F4).
Am I missing anything? I would love some input and feedback from you experienced folk.
it could a number of things. black and white film has a tremendous dynamic range. i've been shooting tri-x and am constantly blown away by it. i feel like digital has only just begun to run the same race in that regard.
how did you have the images scanned? that could be the culprit. i had scans done of some film and they were awful. i redid the scans on the epson v700 i have access to, just to double check, and the film, though underexposed, was entirely usable rescanned. could also be bad processing, or bad shooting, though it would have to be pretty far off. i recently shot some expired hp5, accidentally underexposed it 2 stops, and then didn't push it far enough, in what turned out to be slightly exhausted developer...it's grainy, but still looks decent.
I reworked the image links. Thanks for the responses so far! I metered using a dslr. I should also note that I shot a roll of Portra 400 that turned out decent (still not 100% happy.. but they were a lot better), as well as plenty of Polaroids that turned out perfectly.
I'm not sure on the scanner, but as far as I could tell, the negatives reflected the same loss of detail as the scans.
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Tri X has a tremendous amount of resistance to over exposure. If you are printing with an enlarger it is very difficult to get the exposure or development wrong enough to lose detail in the highlights, it just needs a bit of patience and a longer exposure at the printing stage (hoping of course that the longer exposure does not make your negative "pop.") However my experience of scanning is that scanners cannot cope very well with dense negatives (or very thin ones either for that matter) so that may be your problem. I have heard some B&W enthusiasts say they get better results by making and scanning a darkroom print than by directly scanning the negative.
1. If things are blown out you didn't meter right or something is wrong with your equipment. Use a lightmeter not a camera.
2.You didn't/don't develop yourself,, so you loose control over stuff you could fix/do in the darkroom, possibly.
3. If you are scanning it/them in, it needs to be scanned in at the highest Bit 64/32 not 8 and I would only work/edit with them in photoshop...
4. This will be hard to fix because you do not control everything, you may expose correctly then they leave it in something too long or not enough,,, and it doesnt matter if all your work was done correctly...
Lancaster, England, United Kingdom
RKD Photographic wrote: Looks like a crap scan, but it's hard to tell without a decent print to compare it with - get a good print made and scan that instead...
Crap scan was my first thought too.
What scanner are you using?
I wouldn't say getting everything printed and scanning the prints is the best long term solution (assuming you've got a scanner that can do the job properly with negatives once you figure out how), but getting a print will at least show you what you can get out of that negative, so that as you play with your settings you can try to get closer to how the print looks.
Personally when I scan negatives, I scan in with the tonal range compressed slightly (to 16Bit TIFF), so it looks a bit low contrast, because it's VERY easy to alter the black & white levels after the fact, as long as they're not clipped, then an S curve adjustment to bump the highlights and knock the shadows down.
If you scan with too high contrast, the detail simply isn't there to pull it back.
Chichester, England, United Kingdom
Have you tried examining the negative with a loupe to see what detail you can see. If you don't have a loupe use a 50mm lens by looking through the front element i.e. the opposite way you'd look through it if it was mounted on a camera.
Many dev & scan type labs will send a file with some curve applied to it by the scanner software which may have been what as happened. Also, the dmax for scanners varies and is less than an optical print.
Tri-x is very tolerant but using manufacturers film speeds and times often results in underexposed and overdeveloped negs. The only way to get good results from b&w is to dev yourself unless you find a very specialist lab, this way you can control the process end to end an test your materials. Luckily it is cheap and easy with no darkoom required.
I'm not sure how true b&w neg film has more DR than digital is anymore. My D800 has over 14 stops and even pyro/compensating developers would stuggle to get that.
I have shot and processed thousands of rolls of Tri-X and Plus-X, in 35mm and medium format rolls, as well as 4 x 5 sheets. Try developing the film in Ethol UFG: short times and does a great job. I scan some of my old negs using a really old flatbed scanner made by Microtek: Scanmaker X6. It does a great job of giving me excellent scans that preserve the tonal range that these films can deliver. If you know anyone that prints using a diffusion head, such as the one I have made by Omega: Super Chromega 4 x 5 XL, using dial in filtration for a #2 or 3 filter, you will some very good quality prints if you have exposed and developed properly. I could see only one of your images but it looks muddy, without much revealed in the shadow areas, and also is low contrast. I suspect your lighting could have been better, and the scan better as well. Just my $.02 worth.
I could only see one of your images. It looks correctly exposed - there is both shadow and highlight detail, nothing looked "blown out". But the image was a bit contrasty. You might try slightly over exposing, and cutting developing time a tad.
When I have ever used a DSLR as a light meter for film, it tends to slightly underexpose relative to what my various analog meters for film cameras would indicate. Maybe this is because film tends to prefer slight over-exposure to under; and the opposite is true for a digital sensor.
Then again, as others have indicated, the scan itself may be the cause of the problem.
State College, Pennsylvania, US
Look at the neg on a light table. If you are happy with the amount of info on it (and if it was metered and developed properly, you should be), then the scan is the next thing to check. B/W film scanning is a tricky craft (IMHO) and when you look at a scan, it should be a bit on the flat side, contrast-wise (and even a bit dark). Post production software is where all that stuff is dealt with - a scan should give you the same amout of stuff to work with as if you took the neg to an enlarger.
As others have indicated, it’s much harder to troubleshoot when you don’t control all of the steps. That’s not always possible for everyone, so...
If, as you say, the loss of shadow detail in the scan is a true representation of the negative (I find it difficult to eyeball that without a loupe and a light table, but you may have better eyes than I do), two possible issues might be metering or developing.
First, it’s been well-discussed that DSLR metering is often not equivalent to film speed so your camera’s 400 setting doesn’t produce true ISO400. Some have said it can be off as much as a stop, and while Tri-X is easily tolerant of a stop difference, error is error.
Second, _how_ you or your camera meters a scene is relevant. I’m not saying that you don’t know how to meter, just that spot or matrix or averaging in your DSLR has been largely optimized for your sensor. The areas and the algorithms that the camera uses may not best fit your scene.
Third, the development stage is critical. Which developer, fresh or replenished or exhausted, time, temperature and operator preferences all play a role. Is the shop pounding out roll after roll daily, only on Thursdays, or is this the first roll of 120 that they’ve seen in weeks? All can make a difference.
Finally, there’s the (lesser, I think) possibility that the shutter is off in your lens.
If this is your first roll through the RZ, I wouldn’t sweat it too much. Go buy some green peppers, fire off some shots bracketed from -2 to +2 exposure, see what you get.
Tri-X didn’t garner the reputation that it has for so long with so many because it doesn’t work, so my guess is that your issue is somewhere in the above and not the film itself.
State College, Pennsylvania, US
One more thing....
I don't mean to threadjack, but if you are going to shoot a decent amount of b/w film, it is well worth the small investment in a developing tank, chemicals, etc., and a film scanner. Even if the scanner is more basic (like an Epson 700), you will recoup what you spent after paying for someone else to develop a few dozen rolls.
It is also possible that the lab you use isn't using a super high-end scanner anyway and developing your own film and doing your own scans will allow you to fine tune your own set of preferences, from start to finish.
I owned a studio for years and only shoot for fun these days, but all the stuff in my portfolio was shot on Tri-X and scanned on an Epson V500 scanner (granted, I shoot 35mm). But I like the control and I can shoot a roll at 10am and have the pics developed, scanned and interpreted all in the same day.
Another vote for very very crappy scan...I dont think you missed metered because the 1st image is way contrasty...If it was a metered wrong then it be overly too bright or too dark, especially when taking into account the light source.
the first image is just bad...way too contrasty
the second image doesnt look that bad but I would expect a little more from 6x7..
Well, thank you all for your lengthy replies! I took my negatives down to the lab that developed my film, and they are going to have more people take a look at the negatives to determine the root issue. I've heard of horror stories, but seriously, a business that has been developing Tri-x for as long as Tri-x has been out should have a system down by now don't you think? I guess my lesson has been learned... on my FIRST roll of medium format film. I guess better to learn now than to learn on a wedding or something!
I hear you guys loud and clear when you say that bringing film to a lab is a crap shoot! One person in another thread said: "Sending your film out to someone who has unknown controls is like buying Kobe beef & deep frying that sucker until it turns into leather."
One thing that is apparent to me is that my exposure seems to be correct. It doesn't really matter how I got there, I did. I'm not saying I exposed perfectly, but It seems to be right in the middle to me. I could be extremely naive in regards to my exposure, but it looks right where I wanted it to be when I shot.
When I was down at the lab I looked at the negatives again using a magnifying glass and their light table, and noticed a little more detail than the scanned showed, but not more than I could get out of the scans using contrast adjustments in Photoshop. The negatives ARE screwed up.
I will keep working on it. I am going to look into building a darkroom for myself so I can avoid the cost of paying someone to screw up my negatives. I absolutely LOVE the look of film, and am not gonna give up until I can consistently produce the results I want. Then I can properly weigh the decision to stick with film, or to conform to the masses and shoot digitally. Who knows, maybe by then the technology will be cheap enough for me to afford to replicate the film look digitally (something i personally don't think will ever happen).
you dont need a darkroom to develop film. Just a closet to load the film in the tank and the developing itself can be done in the kitchen or bathroom. Initial expense is like 150.00 but once you have everything then it gets real cheap real fast....and once you get the hang of it the results will exceed labs.
ybfoto wrote: you dont need a darkroom to develop film. Just a closet to load the film in the tank and the developing itself can be done in the kitchen or bathroom. Initial expense is like 150.00 but once you have everything then it gets real cheap real fast....and once you get the hang of it the results will exceed labs.
+1 than you need a enlager some more chems and a small darkroom,,,then you'll be in control and you will be amazed to watch your images pop thur,,,, then the fun BEGINS
Edward, speak to the lab tech and get to know him/her. Ask what chemicals are used and how the film is developed, time, temp. Agitation etc. if there's more than one person, speak to the most experienced person. Ask to have them show you a negative that has been overdeveloped vs. underdeveloped and how it affects the digital scan. Lots of variables involved, not to mention your metering which by how you described your process, needs refinement. If you really want quality Black&white prints, you won't find it in these forums. Read the suggested books by Ansel Adams, for a start, then, if your local community college had a traditional darkroom setup, take classes. It will save you time, money and frustration
If you are going to shoot film get yourself a good light meter I have a Sekonic L358 and it works a treat. 2nd. There is no one in the Eugene area I would trust with my processing and you'd be far better off doing it yourself. For scanning Bob at Evergreen on 7th. doesn't do a bad job and will work with you. Forget DD's there is no one there that knows anything and Shutterbug just sells stuff.
I shoot large format and just roll my own. Look on EPSON's store and get a referb. V750P and with Silverfast vr.8X software you will be doing as well as it can be done.
Oh, you poor, silly man. You are now in for a world of heartache, frustration, and suffering.
And awesomeness. Did I mention the awesomeness?
I couldn't have said it better. I've been banging my head against the wall trying to get consistent colors between frames of color negative film. Someone, please tell me what's with the conspiracy against making scanning software with a GUI that's anything less than atrocious and a crime against humanity?
i can´t see the analog pictures, but as i´m using the RZ for myself there is one little tricky thing you have to keep in mind. caused by the fact that you´re moving the front lens when foccusing (sorry, i don´t know the correct english term - word by word translation would be bellow extension ) you loose some light. so you have to open up your aperture. there is a little scale on the right hand side of your bellow. +0,5 / +1 / ...
maybe thats caused a loss in the shadow areas? - just a thought that crossed my mind
Joey wrote: Edward, speak to the lab tech and get to know him/her. Ask what chemicals are used and how the film is developed, time, temp. Agitation etc. if there's more than one person, speak to the most experienced person. Ask to have them show you a negative that has been overdeveloped vs. underdeveloped and how it affects the digital scan. Lots of variables involved, not to mention your metering which by how you described your process, needs refinement. If you really want quality Black&white prints, you won't find it in these forums. Read the suggested books by Ansel Adams, for a start, then, if your local community college had a traditional darkroom setup, take classes. It will save you time, money and frustration
Walk into the valley of greatness,,, not much money there, but like said before there is Awesomeness the will blow your mind