A friend of mine recently gave me ~45 rolls of Fuji Acros 100 120 film. I have been using Ilfosol 3 to develop Ilford HP5+ with good results. I have not been so keen on the Ilfosol 3 for Tri-X and prefer Rodinal for that application. What are the best developers for Acros assuming you want to take advantage of its smooth grain characteristics. I am a fan of grain in Tri-X and HP5+, but Acros is a different beast. I appreciate your thoughts.
Shutterbug! Thanks for posting your question.
At one time, a few years ago, I was using quite a load of Fuji color transparency materials so I was buying my film directly form the distributor and got into their black and white emulsions as well. Prior to that,I was using mostly Kodak black and white products. I mention this because I had my developer types and procedures as to time, temperature developer dilutions, and agitation intervals and methods all set up and standardized for the Kodak films. To test out the Fuji film, I started out by comparing them to their Kodak counterparts.
As for developers, at one time, I had shelves full of different developers for a wide variety of films and effects, however, this became too complicated an impractical in a professional studio/lab so I standardized on Kodak HC110. It is a basic liquid concentrate and it is easy to make stock solutions and employ different dilution for different films and desired effects. I did have experience with Rodinal. as well
So...Lets compare the different “beasts”.
Tri-X and T-Max 400 and similar films, although the two films have different grain structures, they are basically high speed films with good gradations (not overly contrasty) and medium to slightly coarse grain.
Plus-X and T-Max 100 are medium speed films with finer grain and tend to be a bit more contrasty.
Then there is Acros- As I remember it and some of the similar Fujipan products- it is like good old Verichrom Pan, that is, medium speed, good gradations and not really overtly contrasty but a bit more snappy than the Tri-X ilks.
Developers??? With all the aforementioned films, I produced excellent results with HC-110 Dilution B but it is difficult for me to recommend an exact development time and procedure. Here's the drill: Unlike color E-6 and C-41 fill processing recommendation which are very stringent as to time, temperature and agitation, that is if you expect good color rendition, density and easy print-ability and which is oftentimes carried out in automatic processing machinery under strict chemistry monitoring, black and white processing is all over the place. Yes, there are manufacturers recommendations but many workers tend to do their own thing, oftentimes with comparatively sloppy procedures. So...firstly, when you start of with a new film, it is bets to test it out by shooting a few rolls under your typical working conditions and exposure methods. Start of wit the recommended time/temperature and agitation intervals for that film or a similar one and vary the time on 3 or 4 different rolls shot under similar test conditions. Choose the developing time that produces the desired results. I could probably give you densitometer readings coordinates, but most folks don't have a transmission densitometer on hand so you will need to eyeball the results and make test prints.
Here's the important part: By adopting the following procedures, I have found that my 35mm stuff looks like medium format work and my medium format results look like 4x5 large format stuff! And I get incredibly fine and tight grain even on the high speed films. I pretend I am processing color film: I maintain the exact temperature in all the baths- EXACTLY 68°F. Film does not react well to high temperatures or big temperature differential from one bath to the next. Theses temperature shifts cause minor reticulation (shifting of the emulsion coating off the base) that causes coarser and ugly grain. I make certain that my stop bath is not overly acidic and oftentimes just use water. Sometimes the recantation of the developed film, in a alkaline sate, when it hits a very acidic stop bath will “shock” the emulsion and bring on more minor reticulation. I use rapid fixer but also make certain that it is not over concentrated and mixed exactly according to its directions. I use a hypo clearing agent or washing aid but NEVER over-immerse the film on that stuff or use it as a holding bath. These washing aids may neutralize acids but part of their function is to soften the emulsion so as to facilitate more thorough and faster washing. I wash the film in temperature controlled water exactly as recommended by the hypo cleaning instructions and not a minute longer. The idea of all this is to KEEP THE WET TIME DOWN. Excessive wet time swells the emulsion, causes more of that minor reticulation and exacerbated the grain. Also remember- that developing tank is not a Martini shaker! Violent agitation causes over development, streaks, and more of that reticulation damage. NEVER heat dry your film- air dry it in a clean place. If you do lots of work and want to buy or build a film drying cabinet- just use gently forced and filtered air.
Speaking of “filters” . I use filtered water in my film washing tank and use distilled or de-minerilized water to mix my chemicals. This avoid quality loss due to water impurities or hard water. The chemicals last longer as well. I found that Rodnal was OK but preferred the resulting grain from HC-110 and D-76
My final test for Acros was HC-110 Dilution B for 7 minutes @ 68°F. with gentle agitation for 5 seconds every 30 seconds. I worked with a open cylindrical tank and would gently lift and twist the stack of reels. This can serve as a starting point for you testing, however, you will have to decide on the best density and gamma for you method of printing. If you print on a condenser enlarger, the gran and contrast will be more pronounced as opposed to a diffusion, cold light or a color enlarger which yields softer contrast and lesser accentuation of the grain. If you scan the negatives and go digital- you will need to determine the best quality for that method.
Exposure-wise- with most black and white negative films, I generally expose for good shadow detail and the print down for the highlights. You will need to adjust your development time to accommodate you exposure methods.
This sounds like a big mess but once you standardize your process, it becomes routine and very consistent and easily repeatable.
I hope this helps. Ed
Ed - Thanks. There is lots of good info in that post. I have fairly significant experience but it is limited to mostly HP5/HP5+ and Tri-X. Some of it is pretty dated as well. I put up the darkroom while raising kids and am now getting back into it. My friend went full digital and he had ~45 rolls of Acros in his freezer his wife wanted him to either shoot or get rid of - lucky me. HC110 seems to be pretty popular. I may have to give that a try.
... My friend went full digital and he had ~45 rolls of Acros in his freezer his wife wanted him to either shoot or get rid of - lucky me. HC110 seems to be pretty popular. I may have to give that a try.
You ARE lucky!
Fuji Neopan Acros 100 used to be my favorite B&W film. It's gorgeous stuff!
45 rolls of 120 is a wonderful gift from your friend.
It's been years since I shot and developed the stuff myself, so I really can't contribute. But I'm following this discussion because I hope to be using some Acros 100 soon.... I've been assembling a Koni-Omegaflex TLR system (6x7, 58mm wide angle, 90mm standard & 135mm portrait tele lenses)... plus I just picked up a Diana F+ for a couple bucks at a local secondhand store. I'll be getting some Acros 100 120 myself, for use in them (I have some rolls of 35mm frozen, too).
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