Processing Black and White Film for Scanning – Diafine and TX!

If you’re like me you’re always on the lookout for a great black and white film/ developer combo for scanning. I’ve tried many different films and developers and then recently stumbled upon the great marriage of Diafine and TX (Kodak Tri-x)…my new standard. Watch the videos below to learn more about this dynamic combination and for tips on proper processing techniques as well as a few quick tips on scanning black and white negatives. Be sure to also check out my sample pictures under the videos to see just how good it is. (Click on the images for a larger view.)

Video:

Please note that due to YouTube 10 minute video limit I had to break this 12 minute discussion into two parts. (Be sure to watch both videos!)

Video 1

Video 2

Example Pictures:

This image illustrates the huge dynamic range possible with TX and Diafine. In this example TX was rated at 1600, 35mm. (Check out that shadow detail!)

TX1600_DynamicRangeExample

This example is TX at 1600 in low flat lighting…the full print size is 16″x24″ and the crop is a 4″x6″ section out of the full image area. Film size: 35mm

This example and the close up represent TX at 1600. The final image size (print) is 16″x24″ and the crop represents a 3″x3″ area of the final image at full size. Remember…this is TX at 1600 in 35mm!!

EveCropAt1600TX35mm16_24print

Processing Information for Tested Films:

Fuji Acros 100 EI 200 70-75 5+5 (Best choice for really big enlargements and where an EI of 200 is ok.)

FP4 EI 200-250 70-75 3+3 (Very nice but I prefer PMK for FP4).
TMY-2 EI 500-640 70-75 3+3 (Very nice combo but I’d stick with Xtol or D76 1:1…see my review of this film here on the Figital Revolution.)

TX EI 1250-1600 70-75 3+3 (My personal favorite and my new everyday film. I also keep an ND filter with me (.9) for the bright afternoon light and just remove it as the day ends so I can shoot this film all day long on my M7 with no worries!)

All chemicals are mixed with distilled water. Processing is done by hand with stainless steel tanks and reels.

I will be posting Part 2 in a few days which will cover my scanning techniques (specific and general) as well as basic file handling. Part 3 (next week) will focus on the final print and have a demo (yes another video) on hand coating your own paper for inkjet. Stay Tuned!!

For a quick audioblog on my printing techniques and my thoughts on tonality just click on this link: A Fear of Gray

All images and video Copyright Stephen M. Schaub 2008

35 thoughts on “Processing Black and White Film for Scanning – Diafine and TX!

  1. The only film I don’t like in Diafine is HP5 Plus. It gives only a modest speed increase, but golfball-sized grain. Unfortunately, though, Diafine can be really hard to get outside of the USA (here in Canada there is no distributor at all).

  2. Love the posts (videos as well as text). On my way to B&H to pick up some Diafine. Will try to post some comments on my personal results.

    I’ve been using TX & Rodinal for a while. Can’t say the results have been flattering, although Rodinal does allow for incredible push speeds. There was a post by Merciful on RFF. TX-400 pushed to ridiculous extremes with acceptable (if dramatic) results. How does Diafine fair as a push developer?

  3. Hello Stephen, came across your video. I actually know nothing about film..for I began shooting in the digital age of things I guess. I just invested in a Hasselblad 503cw..I am planning on doing your process and them taking them to be scanned. I am going to use the tri-x 400..now you said that I can use that fima at a setting of 1600? I don’t fully understand. Also, Is it the same process for medium format film? Final question..after you do the entire process showed in you video..what happens next? You said you rinse..and then what..Sorry I have no idea

    Thanks

  4. Also Stephen forgot to mention..I fI take it to a pro photo lab for scanning..should I give them special instruction on how to scan…like you said..turn the sharpness off…scan the positive..not the negative? Or should they know that?

  5. Hello Anthony- Here are the answers to your questions…by the way welcome to the Hybrid World of film and digital!!

    TX in Diafine has a usable EI from 400-1250/ 1600…but TXP, Professional Tri-X has an EI of only 400 in Diafine so buy the version you need based on your lighting situations. The processing is the same for both in 120mm and 35mm.

    Here is a link to an article I wrote on your usable EI:
    https://figitalrevolution.com/2008/05/19/exposure-index-ei-latitude-film/

    After rinsing you use a wetting agent life LFN or Photoflo (follow directions on the package) to help dry the film without water spots. The film should hang dry for at least 4-8 hours in a dust free area….think of it like hanging your clothes on a clothes line…two clips at the top and two at the bottom works best. Then cut and sleeve and you are ready for scanning….be sure to be careful when you handle your negatives as it is possible to scratch them.

    With regards to the special lab instructions just say please don’t sharpen the film in scanning and ask what they feel is a good dpi for their scanner…for most 120mm film 3200 dpi is plenty in 16 bit. The RGB transparency setting is nice but gray scale neg is also fine depending on how good the scanner operator is and what scanner they are using as each is very different.

    Hope this helps.
    Viva la Revolution!
    Stephen

    1. I just shot a few rolls of TRI-X at a mixture of 400 – 1250 with the intention of processing in Diafine. I just came across this post, ALL TRI-X available in the UK at least is now TRI-X professional, so I take it that means I’ve under-exposed all the shots at over iso 400! – Can you still get the original Diafine? I can’t find it even in online US stores.
      Kodak states that all TRI-X labelled Kodak Professional is TXP.

      1. There are two versions of Tri-x… the new TX and in 120 there is TXP… TXP is an ei of 400 whereas TX (35mm) is a variable EI in Diafine from 400-1600 but around 800-1200 works best. Diafine is avail here in the US… Calumet has it as does Adorama…B&H has it but they wont ship it for some reason… also check with Freestyle.

  6. You started off saying you want your 400 speed film to be 400 speed… later you said Tri-X 400 becomes 1250/1600 speed film using Diafine…

    What has your experience been exposing Tri-X 400 @ 400 and then developing in Diafine… specifically with scanning?

    I’m interested because I’m only beginning to explore the world of film and developing myself… I like what I’ve seen of Tri-X 400 film, but I don’t always want to be exposing at 1250. I’ve heard a lot of people say they get the best results when rating it at 1250… but I’m not sure they are talking about scanning…

    Thoughts?

    Thanks!

  7. What happened to your suggested use of dr5 chromes for scanning? I am very near to this lab and I can say with out a doubt this process beats any negative process for scanning.

    Just curious.

    B.P.

  8. “B&H has it but they wont ship it for some reason”

    In the aftermath of the ValuJet Flight 592 crash in the Everglades, the FAA and ICC have cracked down on what items may and may not be shipped by air. B&H follows these guidelines scrupulously. The result is a small number of (mostly darkroom) items we cannot ship. We regret this inconvenience.


    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video

    1. I understand the air issue but why is ground an issue as Calumet will ship Diafine but BH will not… I use to work at UPS and know that ground is not an issue. I only ask this as many people have approached me on where to get Diafine and I would direct them to BH as I do for many items but with in store pickup the only option it leaves out a lot of our readers.

      Cheers-
      Stephen

  9. I would have thought the new Tmax 400 would have worked better simply because it’s one of the only B&W films, that seem to have scanning thought about in it’s design.

  10. I shot my first roll of Tri-X, but by mistake at box speed of 400 then developed it in Diafine. The results are very good even though I goofed. It scans quite easily on my Epson V700. Thanks for the tutorial.

    Just a quick question: Do you ever shoot the same roll with multiple ISO? It seems its quite possible, not sure how it will look. I may try that next.

  11. Hi Stephen,
    I finally found a great resource for a hybrid analog to digital workflow. Unfortunately the video seems not to be available anymore. Do you have any plans to make it available again. This would be great.
    Thanks anyway. This is a great site and I really like exploring old archived articles.

    All the best
    Sebastian

  12. Thanks Stephen, would be great, if you can find it…

    Additionally I have a question regarding KODAK TRI-X roll film. It has been mentioned above that 120 TX400 has a usable EI of 400 in Diafine, while 135 TX400 has an EI of 400-1600. This confuses me a bit. Is there a difference in the emulsion between those to sizes? I am aware that KODAK changed TRI-X a couple of years ago, but I thought they provide the same new TRI-X in different sizes.

  13. Hi Stephen,

    I know I am bothering you again here at this old thread. I am just digging slowely through all those old posts and find so much valueable information that keeps me really busy. Thanks for all the work!!!

    This pot is about 5 years old and I wonder if you have more up to date experience with developing film for scanning. I have already listened to you aduio podcasts and post about stand development. Do you have any further and more up to date information available?

    I know you have removed the youtube files , do you see any chance to make them available again. I would love to see them, especially the videos in this post and the one in the follow up post (https://figitalrevolution.com/2008/03/29/scanning-color-mangement-and-photoshopthe-diafine-and-tx-sagepart-2/)

    I guess you are really busy, but I am just too excited about the concept of Diafine or stand development, so I need to ask questions. Hopelfuly you don´t mind.

    All the best
    Sebastian

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