What is your favorite film for push processing?

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This question us prompted by an answer in the thread about pushing Agfa 400. In that thread the respondant states that his favorite films for pushing are HP5 and TriX. Yet in other discussions I have seen people say that they hate HP5 and just love Delta 400 for pushing. Clearly these two answers are due to different expectations in the results of push processing so I pose the question to all: What is your favorite film for push processing and why? Are you trying to get slow film performance at low light levels or are you trying to get a particular grain structure that can only come from abusing your favorite emusion. For my part, I have been experimenting with pushing HP5 recently. I have been shooting an old abandoned territorial prison and trying to explore the character of the place and to access the stories of the men that were incarcerated there. I have been shooting HP5 at EI 1600 and developing accordingly. I want grain. I want the intimacy of the shot to be offset by the distance created by a low key print with golf ball sized grain. The one thing that I have noticed in using HP5 is that I am losing shadow detail faster than I expected. It doesn't detract from these particular images, and in fact some images are better, but if I were trying to record a wider contrast range in low light I think I would use a different film, probably a T-grain film. So what are your thoughts?

-- Fritz M. Brown (brownf{DHWTOWERS/TOWERS3/brownf}@dhw.state.id.us), February 18, 1999


If it's high speed and big grain you want try Kodak Recording Film. "Low tech" films like Tri-X and HP-5 developed in Ilford Microphen will give about 2/3 stop in real speed gain. Acufine developer will give about the same speed gain with a little more grain, in my experience. EI 1600 is going to cost some shadow detail with these films in any case. My favorite: Tmax 400 at EI 800 developed in Microphen for good shadow detail and fine grain. Delta 400 in Microphen is a bit slower with more distinct grain, but more forgiving, in my darkroom.

-- Tim Brown (brownt@ase.com), February 18, 1999.

If you want some major grain for effect, try Tri-X rated at 1600 and DOUBLE-LENGTH development in straight D-76.

This is what I used to use for low light photography back in the late 60s, before there were new-tech fast films. As I recall, even 5x7s were QUITE grainy in this arrangement. Of course, Tri-X has been incrementally improved many times in the last 30 years, so it probably has better grain now...

-- Michael Goldfarb (mgoldfar@mobius-inc.com), February 19, 1999.

Since the statement of the push performnce of APX-400, TrI-X and HP-5+ belongs to me, I feel somehow involved in this discussion. Of course, this is purely up to the photographer to choose the way of his or her work, i.e. the look of the prints, but I think there are some more or less objective characteristics. I absolutely agree, on the contrast issue. Pushing by 2 stops will lead to a gamma index of 0.75 to 0.8 and undaoubtedly some shadow detail will be lost. If a smoother tonal gradation is desired, the best choice for me would be Neopan 1600. I found that the grain is comparible to HP5?+ pushed to ISO 1600 with lower contrast. Underrating it to ISO 1000 gives me even better results. I should state here, that often I push HP5 or Tri-X not because more speed is needed (of course this does not hurt enybody) but because I just like the way it looks. Concerning T-grain films, many people, including me believe that they are slightly overrated, with the nominal speed of TMY for instance being around ISO 320. On the other hand it's also well known that all these have narrow expousure latitude particulary towards underexposure, so I think their push performance isn't that good. There is one thing clear, prints made from pushed old and new tech films will look different and finally it's all up to the personal taste.

-- Evgeni Poptoshev (evgeni.poptoshev@surfchem.kth.se), February 19, 1999.

T-Max 3200

Why not try T-max 3200 instead of trying to push 400 ISO films to 1600? Its base speed is 1600 and it can be exposed at 3200 or even 6400 with increased development. Its got the biggest, coarsest grain I've ever seen! I once shot it at 3200 (hand-held, with candles as the only light source), followed Kodak's recomendation for development and got rather dense, beefy negs with suprisingly good shadow detail and HUGE, pervasive grain. High values will run together a bit, but that's par for the course at 4-digit ISO's.

-- Joel Pickford (pickimage@csufresno.edu), February 20, 1999.

What I was trying to ask wasn't what film should I use but what film do you use. Specifically, are you a photojournalist who pushes film to be able to do your job in low light but are trying to get maximum low light sensitivity without losing detail to grain, or are you a fine arts figure portraitist and are pushng film to get a certain textural effect from your film. And whatever your photographic goals, how does it effect your selection of film and EI.

-- Fritz M. Brown (brownf{DHWTOWERS/TOWERS3/brownf}@dhw.state.id.us), February 22, 1999.

It depends on what I or you are trying to accomplish. Certain developer and film combinations actually give nore speed than others, WITHOUT PUSHING! (e.g., HP5 and Microphen) Why not ask yourself what it is you want to do first, rather than concentrating on the materials. If you need high quality under miserable light conditions, I woyuuld choose fast lenses first, coupled with a super speed film (e.g., Ilford or Kodak 3200) and rate it at the optimum quality speed point (about EI 800-1000) no more! And see what you can do.

-- Michael A. Scarpitti (mscarpit@asnt.org), March 27, 1999.

First, I don't know Delta3200 yet; a first glance at tests gives me the feeling it's rather flat. I would like TMZ better. Second, TMZ is a very special film for special effects with grain. Third, for predictable results, nice grain and a nice tonal scale I prefer FUJI Neopan in 35mm (1000 ASA in HC110). In MF I think I would prefer HP5+, not any problem up to 1600 ASA, in 35mm not nice in grain and tones. The old-fashioned way for 35mm is Tri-X in Diafine, up to 1200 ASA, but a bit drabby in tonal scale.

-- Lot (lotw@wxs.nl), March 28, 1999.

Someone mentioned Kodak Recording Film (2475). Unfortunately, I think it's been discontinued. Does anyone know differently?

My housemate has done some beautiful work with this stuff in the past, but it doesn't seem to be available anymore.

-- Arthur Evans (ae@meer.net), April 26, 1999.

I shoot a lot of Little League games at night, so speed is an issue. I've had excellent results shooting Delta 3200 at 3200, but do occasionally shoot Tri-X @ 1600 and push two stops in developing for special effects - this gives me VERY high contrast, and really makes players stand out against ths black background.


-- Barry bean (bbbean@beancotton.com), June 29, 1999.

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