Since I began making my own prints I have been permanently surprised at the quality of the prints. The amount of detail in the prints is really astonishing. The resulting detail and quality even with 135 film is much higher than the scanner could ever produce out of medium format film.
Of course, one wonders if all this medium format photographing has been not needed detour for achieving the photographic reproduction I was looking for? It is now even more apparent that I am really a megapixel junkie – or a lines-per-millimetre version of the same.
Even in 135 film give surprisingly good results there is of course always even more to bring out from medium format, properly handled.
“Properly handled”? Yes, finding my way in the darkroom, and reading Lambrecht’s Way Beyond Monochrome, more or less at the same time, has made me aware of how much the actual negative quality is represented in the print. It is a whole new dimension now that I slowly start to appreciate the entire process. This is fun!
For a beginner it is probably a stupid idea to try out new films and paper at the same time. But as I am interested in finding out how large a difference there is between different papers it is logical, although perhaps not good…
As I was ordering Fomapan paper I threw in 10 rolls of Kentmere 100 film (135 film type) too just for fun. Yesterday I developed the first Kentmere 100 (half)roll. As I already had a Fomapan 100 in the pipe for developing I did them both at once on two spools in the same developer soup.
My standard developer recipe has slowly meandered towards HC-110 syrup in a 1:60 mix (5 ml to 300 ml water). Both films were then developed for 8 mins at 20 degrees C. And they both turned out identical! For Fomapan 100 I would never have dared to try a full 8 mins, but since Massive Dev Chart hints Kentmere 100 a few minutes longer in HC-110 than Fomapan and 6m30s to 7m00s works well with Fomapan I imagined 8 mins might be a bit too long for the Fomapan and a bit too short for the Kentmere. But no, they both responded very well to this treatment!
Both films are of ASA 100 but shot at ASA 50 in the same camera for these experiment and for the season. All outdoor scenes this winter and beginning spring are ver low contrast ones with overcast skies and bad light. I assume that the 8 minutes have to be shortened to prevent overdeveloping when the contrast increases later in the spring and summer.
Having run on a mix of Kentmere VC (which I found too fast) and old Ilford Ilfospeed (of which I only have some odd sizes, and anyway isn’t manufactured any longer) I will now focus (pun…) on Fomapan Variant 312, a non-curly paper with lovely finish.
Compared to the Kentmere VC it is much slower (15 s f/11 compared to 8 s f/22, you do the math). It is also a variable contrast paper and thus has to be “tamed” by yellow and magenta light for controlling the contrast.
It took a while (actually a bit longer!) to get the paper under control as it differed so much from the Kentmere. Now I think I have gotten a bit on my way with it. All the test strips and negatives have to be done again… And I have a feeling it requires more precise base exposure (with Yellow light) to get good results.
Above is the result of contrast control with Fompan Variant 312 (click them!). From left to right are 16 s at f/11 with no magenta at all, 30 s magenta and 60 s magenta (which roughly corresponds to “M+1”, “M+2” i.e. 1 stop magenta overexposure compared to the base exposure of yellow only etc.) The leftmost is pretty acceptable but as I want a more tarnished look the M+1 is more to my liking, while the print to the right has way to much contrast at M+2.
Another shot on the same film. Left is 16 s yellow at f/11, no magenta, and to the right the same with added 1/2 stop magenta (16 s f/9.5). Both in this scan and in the print the contrast came out surprisingly hard.
A detail of the right picture above:
While the contrast is higher than I expected I like the result. The amount of detail above may also vindicate the rumours on the web that the film is specially grainy.
Looking through the focus scope the Kentmere 100 has about the same amount of grain as Fomapan 100 albeit with a slightly different surface structure. As far as I can fathom I would have no problems using Kentmere 100 as a general purpose film in the same way as I use Fomapan 100 and 200.
For some kind of comparison here are two prints taken with the same camera but with Fomapan 100 film.
A rather impressive satellite dish on Fomapan 100 developed as above here with 16 s Yellow at f/11 and 16 s Magenta at f/11 (M+/-0).
All scans above are from prints with 205×135 mm (8″x5.3″) picture area and are scanned at 800 dpi.