More Contrast out of T400CN : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

I'm new around here so please forgive any blatant ignorance.

I've started experimenting with Kodak T400CN. The results have, thus far, been satisfactory but not stupendous. I'm rating the film as 400 (I'm using Nikon N70 if that's of any importance) and using a local camera store for film processing. My question is how can I get more contrast from the film. I understand filters should probably be my first choice. But I'm wondering if I can change ISO ratings or have the lab do something at the processing end that would give me better results.

The look I'm after is B&W portraits where you can see every pore & blemish in all their beautiful/ugly glory.

Thanks in Advance, Mike Moore

-- Mike Moore (, December 27, 1998


"The look I'm after is B&W portraits where you can see every pore & blemish in all their beautiful/ugly glory."

Doesn't seem like you're using the right film for that. Try Ilford Pan-F with the sharpest Nikkor you can get your hands on, preferably something like the 105 f/2.5. If you must use a C-41 process film, try Ilford XP-2. Overexpose one stop to gain more contrast. But really, to get what you want, you need to do your own developing and printing.

-- Peter Hughes (, December 27, 1998.


Yes, ortho film will accentuate blemishes and other facial imperfections, but let me correct you: ortho film is sensitive only to ultraviolet, blue and green light, not red. You can get a similar effect on panchromatic film by using a green or cyan filter.

-- Tim Brown (, December 28, 1998.

Low contrast prints can be due to low scene contrast (ie; the lighting), or printing on too low a contrast grade of paper. The other factors that will result in poor contrast are related to developing of the film, but we will assume it is processed properly since most labs can do C-41 without huge errors.

Filters can help scene contrast but it's difficult to determine if in your case it's an issue. Filters are most dramatic with sky and clouds, less so with foilage, even less so with skin tones.

Kodak T400CN is no more a "low contrast" film than standard Tmax films or any other negative film. I would bet (in fact I'm virtyually certain) the low contrast prints are due to poor printing . Rememeber that automated enlagers also aim for 18 % gray. Operator overide can adjust print contrast and exposure if the lab/operator knows what it is doing. Find a good lab, or have them printed on graded black and white paper.

BTW: My local lab often prints T400CN too high in contrast. Kodak isn't stupid....they spend millions and million before a product goes to market. If there is a problem with film don't switch films switch processing. Anything put out by Kodak, Fuji, Ilford, Agfa in any speed or type, just like any modern camera and lens of any sort or style, can outperform anyone reading this forum.

-- Peter Thoshinsky (, December 31, 1998.

Mike Moore doesn't indicate whether he is judging contrast by the negative or print. I have used a fair amount of T400CN and XP-2, with processing by different labs - home photo type and professional. In general, I haven't seen much difference in the NEGATIVE contrast from conventional film. Printing is a different matter. Prints have ranged from muddy crud to top quality, to a "burned out" Kodalith look. I believe that Kodak has a filter pack for the labs to use in printing T400CN, but I expect your average 1 hour lab never even heard of it. This may be the problem. As for filters, I haven't done much with them, but I think that the film shows a little less contrast with the red (25) filter than I expected in use for cloud/sky contrast, but that is just an impression. My suggestion - get a good lab, ask about the filter pack, and what paper they print on, and experiment. Good luck.

-- Richard Newman (, January 19, 1999.

Mike, I think Tribletts printing experience is pointing on the right way to get the best contrast out of the "400" CN: overexposure. Or, more important, really avoid underexposure. With a rating of ISO400, you may underexpose this film. With an underexposed negative it is impossible, without selective burning, to get a full contrast range because you cannot print to maximum black without everything else look grey. And to burn wrinkles, pieces of hair or even pupils of the eyes is as good as impossible. If you rate the film at 320, 200, you are more on the safe side, you can print to maximum black and control the highlights with graded paper, multi-contrast paper, developer, etc. 2 steps overexposure (i.e. rating the film 100 ASA) surprises me but some overexposure really makes sense.

-- Peter Olsson (, January 20, 1999.

Kodak recently made a printing kit available to mini-labs for their new Select B&W C-41 film but the Kodak printing kit isn't always the answer. I have manage a mini-lab/camera store and I gave up on the test negatives for XP2 that I got from a national company. I made my own test negs from T-Max 100 and Tri-X and ran some tests on my machine to determine aims using my densitometer. I'm gettting better results that way than I did before and because I established the process for printing B&W on my color machine it's easier for me to modify it, and I did when T400-CN came out. I also can do very respectable prints from "regular" black and white negatives. Maybe your lab doesn't understand what they're doing well enough. If I didn't do a lot of B&W at home on my own I wouldn't know how to modify my procedures at work to make the B&W prints better.

-- KC Dougherty (, January 26, 1999.

Simply read Kodak4s data sheet for T400CN: Use filter 3-3= when printing normal negatives.

-- Jan Kwarnmark (, February 03, 1999.

First, you must decide if the C-41 process required for chormogenic films is a convenience or a nusiance. Developing film at home is quite easy; you don't even need a darkroom, just a changing bag and a 'daylight'tank and an acurate thermometer and timer. That way you can get the contrast results you want. Personally, I find 'Black & White' films that use color dyes and chemistry a discomforting concept.

-- Michael D Fraser (, February 04, 1999.

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