Part of my ongoing creative exploration of Zone Plate and Pinhole photography has entered a new area… high speed film. Most applications of Pinhole or Zone Plate photography require the use of a tripod or some sort of support device but that does not fit with my current shooting style SO I have just run tests of Ilford Delta 3200 and Kodak P3200 in a variety of different developers from an EI of 3200 – 25,000 to see if it would be possible to hand hold exposures under a variety of common lighting situations and get a negative that-when-scanned would have all of the expressive grey tonality I need with contrast in check… the answer is Yes! The best film for pinhole and zone plate high speed applications in my opinion would be the Kodak P3200 at 3200 – 6400. The sample images below are just a very quick test done at the end of the day in rainy overcast very flat light… the image on the left is a 28mm F32 zone plate on my Leica M7, the image on the right is a 28mm F151 Pinhole also on my Leica M7… both hand-held at shutter speeds over 1/30th even in this dismal low light… shot at an EI of 6400. The cropped image is a 5″ x 5″ example section of the pinhole image scaled to 20″ x 30″ … remember this is an EI of 6400 shot through a pinhole. I think the visual quality is amazing and I plan on shooting this afternoon and posting a fuller series of articles starting in a few days with the “secret” developer info as well as thoughts on working with pinhole and zone plate with high speed films on a variety of different cameras. Just a quick note- no noise reduction or sharpening has been applied to any image and all images are dry scans on my Imacon Scanner.
The sun has just come out (lots of rain here in VT this time of year) so I am off to shoot!
Viva la Revolution- Stephen
UPDATE: Ok so most of the day has passed and I have managed to shoot two rolls of the Kodak P3200 at and EI of 6400 (the sun was out for exactly 2 hours!) and just finished processing them… they look fantastic! My exposures were for the most part using the pinhole (f 151) at shutter speeds ranging from 1/60 to 1/15 on my M7. I will post images sometime tomorrow…
2 thoughts on “High Speed Pinhole and Zone Plate Photography, Part 1”
This is great! I’ve converted an old rangefinder camera to a pinhole and have been trying to figure out a film/ developer combination to get an EI of 25,000 ASA. Then I can use it as a point and shoot. Tried Rodinal 1 to 50 for 51 minutes stand development but I think I’m about 2 stops short (this was with tri-x). They are probably printable but losing too much detail in the shadows so I’ll be interested to see what you come up with. I also tried a 1 to 100 mix (Rodinal) and let it sit for 12 hours but there wasn’t any difference so I think I’ve hit a wall as far as the Tri-x /Rodinal combination is concerned. Interestingly I did the same thing with Tmax 3200 but it didn’t push any further than the Tri-x.
Other recommended developers are Xtol and Microphen but I haven’t got that far yet.
Nice to read your research on Diafine. My favorite developer! – but its no good for this project.
Cool Pic’s, I would have never thought of using higher speed films i.e. 3200. The most I’ve tried has been 400 Ilford. but the majority I use is 100. I would like to see more of your work with zonplates.