Dixactol & Aristo Head?

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I used Dixactol with Ilford Pan F film recently for the first time and became frustrated with the extremely long printing times. I use an Omega D5 with the Aristo Variable Contrast head. I used it both in the split contrast mode and selected filtration mode. In neither mode was I able to get properly exposed prints. Times were extended to 3 minutes at f5.6 and still more exposure was needed. The negatives were stained using Dixactol's single bath procedures. The stains were dark but the negatives appear to be properly exposed. Is the problem Pan F? I am really puzzled over this one. I am accustomed to long print times of 1+ minutes in the split contrast mode but nothing this long. I would appreciate your comments.

-- Robert Bedwell (rlb@triad.rr.com), April 06, 2001



Even thought you provide a lot of information, not everything is here. What size prints are you making? From what size negatives? Is it possible that your film is over overdeveloped?

Remember, any staining developer is going increase your printing times. I recently started using TriX in PMK with a Zone VI VC head. My times for an 11x14 went from around 30 seconds to almost 2 minutes. But, the prints are much, much nicer.

-- Ed Farmer (photography2k@hotmail.com), April 06, 2001.


If I were you, I would start by making a proper proof of the negative on whatever paper you normally use at whatever contrast setting you consider normal. This will give you a methodical method for passing judgement with confidence on negative exposure and development.

If you are unfamiliar with the term "proper proof", I will give a brief explanation. Make a contact proof of the negative. Give the proof the minimum amount of exposure that will still produce maximum black in the unexposed but fully developed edges of the film. The density in these areas will be close to the same as the densities of the shadow areas of the image that were placed or fell in Zone 0. This exposure can be determined with accuracy by making only 2 or 3 test strips.

Once this is done, you can pass judgement on negative exposure by determining if shadow detail is adequate or not. If exposure was incorrect, I would recommend first correcting that problem by making another exposure at whatever film speed is deemed necessary to give appropriate shadow detail. Then you can determine if the film exposed at the new speed rating was developed appropriately by judging if the highlight detail is correct or not. If adjustments in development are necessary, then make them while exposing and developing another test negative.

Once you have executed these test steps, you will know for a fact that you have a correctly exposed and developed negative. For me, at least, it is much easier to forge my way through new and unknown territory such as this by approaching the situation as methodically as possible. A proper proof gives quite a bit of sound information that can be used in passing judgement and making corrections with confidence.

-- Ken Burns (kenburns@twave.net), April 06, 2001.

You will probably have near-normal times if you print on a graded paper with a nice long scale. Try Bergger Prestige grade 2.

-- Ed Buffaloe (edb@unblinkingeye.com), April 06, 2001.

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