Contrast problem with TechPan : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

Hi all, I am quite new to developing my 35mm negs. I have had phenomenal luck with APX100 and Delta100; using specified times I usually end up with a full range of contrast and none-to-very-few blown-out highlights. BUT...I am most interested in limiting grain as much as possible in my pictoral applications...even in 8x10. I just processed my first roll of TechPan, rated at ISO25, metered the way I always meter. I processed it in Technidol at 68 degrees for 7 1/2 minutes (the time reccomended by someone who uses TechPan successfully). What I ended up with were quite flat negatives, all the info is there, but "squished" into mostly middle grays; the negs needed an Ilford #4 contrast filter and still don't quite look right. My Question Is: If I increase the development time, will this increase the contrast (such as happens when developing a print, where the blacks get blacker over time)? Should I do everything else the same next time, but extend to maybe 9 minutes in the Technidol? Thanks All. I hope I have asked this clearly...Shawn

-- shawn gibson (, June 07, 1999


Oh yeah...I agitated, fixed, etc., according to Kodak's reccomendations in the Technidol pamphlet. Shawn

-- shawn gibson (, June 07, 1999.

It seems Alan Gibson has already answered the theoretical part of this at "". If I don't hear from anybody, I'll just assume an increase of 1 1/2 minutes in development time will be a good starting point to raise the contrast. Sorry for posting something which seems to have already been answered. Shawn

-- shawn gibson (, June 07, 1999.

Well, Shawn, you are the first person I have ever heard saying that Tech Pan is not contrasty enough 8). You can try and develope longer to see if that gives you what you are looking for. I use about eight minutes in technidol with Tech Pan rated at EI 25 and get negatives that print on grade two or three depending on the subject. One thing, is the subject matter inherantly low contrast and you are trying to punch it up a bit in your print?

If you still need more contrast, try developing in HC110 dilution F for 6 minutes. This, in general, gives me negatives that are barely printable on grade zero paper if at all. But in your hands it could answer your problem.

-- Fritz M. Brown (, June 07, 1999.

Hi Fritz, No, my subject was quite high-contrast, outside on a sunny day in diffuse shade, with white walls for bounce all around; I was photographing my best friend's daughter. If you would like, I could send you a scan of either a neg or a contact sheet, and maybe that would help determine the cause. I know what you mean, too, I have heard that TechPan is quite high contrast normally. Maybe I got a wierd roll or something. I know I processed exactly to Kodak's spec.'s, and 7 1/2 minutes was definitely the time. Thanks for whatever you can offer. Shawn

-- shawn gibson (, June 07, 1999.

Not knowing how technidol is made up... did you mix it correctly? Maybe the concentration was incorrect.

-- Nigel Smith (, June 07, 1999.

If you are using technidol liquid, did you you use two of the liquid packets? I one time developed with only one packet and got negatives like you are describing! Recheck the instructions!

-- Gene Crumpler (, June 08, 1999.

Wow! I didn't even read this question, because I've never used this film. Then I discover I have apparently already answered it!?

In general, increasing the development time will increase the contrast (as I noted elsewhere), but this is (as the others are saying) already a very high contrast film. I can't advise you, but it does sound as if something is wrong, rather than just needing a little adjustment.

-- Alan Gibson (, June 08, 1999.

My Kodak spec sheet says 5-11 minutes at EI 16-25 for Tech Pan. I use 9 minutes at 68 degrees, 1 packet liquid Technidol for each roll exposed at EI 25. I've only seen flat negs after severe underexposure, consistent with the underdeveloping theory. You might try selenuim toning your processed negs -- I've done some toning with TP and made some negs a little "harder."

-- John O'Connell (, June 08, 1999.

I think that Gene's experience may have been with developing 120 roll film where you need 500 ml to process a single roll. In that case you need two packets to make up 500 ml. But a single roll of 35mm should only need 250 ml of developer and one packet makes that much. Outside of that possible error of mixing it at half strength, I cant think of anything that would lead to really low contrast results. Maybe you got a bum lot of technidol? Try another roll of film and see if it was a one time problem. If so chalk it up to a random glitch. If not try another lot of technidol.

Another developer you might want to try is TD-3 from Photographers Formulary . I just bought it for the first time and can't tell you how it works in my hands yet, but others seem to like it quite well. Plus you get a true speed increase to EI50 with it. It's a lot cheaper too.

Good luck.

-- Fritz M. Brown (, June 08, 1999.

Hi Shawn, I had the same problem with Tech-pan. Using Technidol, I was developing at 68F for 11 minutes. My negatives too were sort of flat and required grade 4 paper to bring it up to par. This worked fine until I decided to use some Luminos Charcoal R, which is only available in grade 2 1/2. Selenium toning helped, but I never got the contrast I was looking for. Then I tried Photographer's Formulary TD- 3. This was my saving grace. Not only does it allow you to adjust the contrast level through dilution and agitation, but it also gives you an extra stop of speed for good measure. I still shoot at 25, but my neg's are denser now. The standard diltion gives me all the contrast I need to print successfully on grade 2 1/2 paper. The best part is that I'm still getting the micro-fine grain I need for 16x20 prints. Get some. It's what you need.

Good luck,


-- Walter Massa (, June 08, 1999.

Thanks everyone. I am going to give Technidol a few more tries, with more development time as the first changed variable. If that doesn't work, I'll switch to TD-3 (or Pyro?--suggestions?). I DO have one question: there was a small light leak when I was loading the film into the tank; I would expect, however, that such a thing would not lead to uniform errors, and the roll was quite uniformly flat. Someone turned the hall light on when I was in mid-load. Time to buy some duct tape for the bathroom door. Thanks again. Shawn

-- shawn gibson (, June 09, 1999.

Instead of duct tape, invest in a changing bag. You are working by feel anyway and doing it inside a cloth bag is no more dificult. Thatway you can load reels while watching television or something and noone can ever turn the lights on at the wrong time on you.

-- Fritz M. Brown (, June 09, 1999.

Light leak? That's the problem, I'm pretty sure. Someone did the same thing to me -- loading up my sheet Tech Pan, gee it seems brighter in here, DAMN, hurry, finish up, lid on, sounded like Yosemite Sam when I come out.

I was using the dreaded Yankee tank, so the outer sheets on the rack were shot, but the inner sheets were printable but certainly not as nice as they should have been and lower in contrast (compared to properly loaded & developed film I did later). Don't let the slow speed fool you about light leaks. Additionally, there's a good deal less neutral density in Tech Pan's base than in most, which exacerbates the problem. Although that base is also responsible for one of Tech Pan's processing joys -- the delicious way it slides right on metal reels, especially after a few rolls of TMAX.

How thick are your negs? Are they faint (underexposure / underdevelopment)? Or are they just dull? I'm thinking they're "just dull" as your original post didn't distress about underexposure. If so, the light leak is a surer bet.

Of course, I'd have never thought to ask you about a light leak, or the content of your water, or possible rust contamination from an ancient tank, or if you fully mixed the Technidol / water solution, or if you carefully removed all of the coatings on a 15-element zoom before you shot the film with it straight into the sun, etc., all of which make me think that there could be an explanation tomorrow that will strike me as more likely. Good luck!

-- John O'Connell (, June 10, 1999.

Hi John. The negs were not thin--just flat. Were you kidding about the loading?--I had a hell of a time loading it, but I have new plastic reels...should I switch to metal? Also, no zoom; I just bought a neato Contax S2 and a 50mm 1.4 Zeiss, with which I use a hood. I have a shoot tonight, but I'm afraid to use any Tech Pan--maybe just one roll, keep the light out, I don't know whether to develop for 9 minutes or 7 1/2 like last variable at a time: what do you think?. Thanks. Shawn.

-- shawn gibson (, June 10, 1999.

FOLLOW UP: Just thought I'd let you know, I shot 4 more rolls at EI25, in Technidol at recommended dilution, for 8 minutes. The negs and the first prints blow me away, at 11x14. Musta been technique/error/wierdness with the first roll. I did notice, however, that, even though the negs print wonderfully and easily, with a full contrast range and practically no grain, the negs themselves DO look a little thin. Is this normal? Thanks. Shawn

-- shawn gibson (, June 14, 1999.

When I had the light leak, the usable negs were correct in density overall, just with depressed highlights (low contrast). I did get significantly better results with selenium toning (30 sec, 1:3 Kodak selenium toner:water, no prewet), but nothing that made me want to do it that way all the time.

If your overall density was correct at 7.5 minutes, don't change a thing yet unless that light leak was BIG. Just load your reels while everyone else is asleep (I do that with my sheet film now). Not that I have anything against changing bags, I just like to spend my nickels and dimes on film.

Tech Pan will eventually be second nature. "You'll love it. It's a way of life."

I wasn't kidding about the loading, actually. TP goes on my ancient Nikkor reels much nicer than TMX or TMZ. I find Ilford much easier to load than the thick Kodak stuff, too. The only time I used plastic was in 120 with TMY and TMX, and you may have something there -- it did go on pretty easy (if only TMY wasn't such a disappointment at 800).

Congrats on your S2: I'm an F3 & 50/1.4 guy myself -- if it's not interesting, no lens can help you!

-- John O'Connell (, June 14, 1999.

If your prints are fine, the "thinness" you're seeing is the Estar base lacking most of the 2 stops of ND built into most other films. And, theoretically, if you are underexposing slightly, that grain is even smaller!

-- John O'Connell (, June 14, 1999.

OK John: smaller (still!!!) 'bout rating at ISO16?--what do you think? I'm still afraid to go 16x20...I've shot about ten rolls now at ISO 25 (always printing with a 3 1/2 filter, and I have to burn-in highlights a little, but only on a few negs...the images blow me away). I LOVE this emulsion. I haven't had a single processing problem since the first. Loading it still sucks, so I think I will go buy some metal (maybe my plastic's warped...); any advice there? And oh yeah, I had an F3 with the 35mm 1.4. Great setup, but I needed a spot meter (probably for neurotic-perfectionistic-o-my-gosh-I-don't- have-the-talent-to-guess reasons). Oops it's lunchtime gotta go.Shawn.

-- shawn gibson (, June 18, 1999.

Technidol produces images with a Contrast Index of .50 to .70. I have had great success at 11 minutes at 68 degrees.

-- Carl Wegerer (, June 21, 1999.

Hi Shawn... EI 16 would actually increase the grain (theoretically). You'd be overexposing a silver-based B/W film, putting your image on the shoulder. EI 25 would be lower on the curve, and (theoretically) smaller-grained. I've never really noticed objectionable grain with Tech Pan unless I shot it at EI 400 and pushed it in Dektol.

You must love Polapan-style contrast: 3.5 paper and Tech Pan...

Loading? You might just like thicker bases. At least someone out there prefers loading the nigh-inflexible base of T-max.

As far as big enlargements go, I don't make them. I was getting distracted by the grain in 8x10's when I switched to it (grain that wasn't big enough to be enjoyable, yet not small enough to impress). But being able to explore a neg and crop with relative abandon to pull out decent images is great. It makes up for my sloppy portrait technique.

And the "did you take that with the little camera" disbelief questions are nice.

-- John O'Connell (, June 23, 1999.

Hi again John. Yeah, I used to love Polapan. But I don't use anymore it since I'm processing my own film...Polapan--look at it the wrong way and it scratches right through!!! I've gotten used to loading, too. And (sadly), I have also noticed that, even at 11x14, with no more than 25% of the image cropped (on warmtone Ilford fibre), things start to fall apart. It is probably because I handhold--but with a 50mm lens at 1/250 sec, so...I'm confused a bit about the ISO 16 bigger grain thing, but it doesn't matter...I love tech Pan at 25. I'm trying to make it my regular film, and I find I'm using it in many cases where I would normally have shot with APX 100; I just have to remember to open up a bit less than normal or I blow out the highest highs. I'm curious about the results with Pyro, but I don't think I'll buy for a while yet. Thanks again John. Shawn

-- (shawn.gibson@utoronto.cashawn gibson), June 23, 1999.

Just to complete the info on the thread:

"The 0.1 neutral density built into the ESTAR-AH Base is one-half to one-third that found in conventional 35 mm picture-taking films. Correctly exposed and processed pictorial negatives may appear to be "thinner" than normal. It is important to take this into account when you judge the printability of negatives." (Kodak Tech Pub P-255)

Shawn: grain on silver-based B/W films increases with increases in exposure, given the same development. Grain on C-41 B/W films decreases with increased exposure, given the same development. Laurie White's IR book has some great examples.

-- John O'Connell (, June 25, 1999.

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