Scott Bridge, The Hexomniscope and Diafine Developer

Scott Bridge from the Vanishing Vermont Series.
Scott Bridge from the Vanishing Vermont Series.

I’ve written extensively on this web site about the qualities of Diafine Developer and different Black and White films for the purposes of scanning. Here is an example of Fuji Acros 100 (EI 160, 120MM) shot with my Hexomniscope Pinhole Camera by Abelson Scope Works and processed in Diafine Developer….did I mention that the exposure was F205 at 37 Minutes?! The final print size is 28″ x 90″ and is printing as I type!

Viva la Revolution

Vanishing Vermont and the Hexomniscope

 Exciting news! I have just begun a new project called Vanishing Vermont which, when completed in a year or so, will be a show and book (co-authored with Eve Ogden Schaub) more information as the project develops…

Meanwhile, I have spent the last few months testing different pinhole and zone plate camera systems and have settled on the Hexomniscope by Ableson Scope Works for these new artworks. I’m still in the early stages of working with this new system but the flexibility is amazing (as are the huge 6×17+ cm negatives!) Images are printed on Japanese Kinwashi as a d’Vinci Noir (image size: 28″ x 90″.) The camera is really quite small and weighs in at around 3lb.

I am off to California tomorrow for a bit of shooting (Yes with this camera) so stay tuned for a full report when I return.

In case you are wondering….Film: Fuji Acros processed in Diafine (of course), 360 degree image (6 images), 8 minutes at f/180.

Viva la Revolution!

New Testing Results for InkAid and Film Processing!

The following updates are based on additional testing conducted by me at Indian Hill Imageworks. If your current method works fine for your needs then no worries… otherwise give these “refinements” a try.

Viva la Revolution-
Stephen Schaub

1. Handcoating your own papers with Inkaid- How many coats?: 2+ (12-24 hrs air dry between coats is best). Also be sure to really mix your InkAid…I use a paint mixer which can be found at most good hardware stores attached to a power drill at low speeds- it works great and costs under $10 bucks!

2. Diafine Developer “UNIVERSAL TIME/ AGITATION PROCEDURE”:

  • 4.5 Minutes in A and B with 2 gentle inversions at: Start, 1.5 minutes, 3 minutes and again at 4 minutes…dump at end (4.5 minutes and then do the same 4.5 minutes with B.) This increased standing time produces some fantastic negatives! 
  • NO PRE WET
  • Developer Temp between 70-75 F (temp does not affect the developer but temp does affect the film’s emulsion…big difference between film at 68F and film at 80F!
  • All films tested here on FR for the purposes of scanning can be processed using this “UNIVERSAL TIME/ AGITATION PROCEDURE” for scanning purposes. Just as a note, I only use metal reels and tanks.

3. 320 TXP and 400 TX are DIFFERENT FILMS (yes I know this is obvious but…)

  • EI Range for 320 TXP (120mm)…EI 320
  • EI Range for 400 TX (35mm and 120mm)…EI 400-1600 (800-1250 best)

4. Fuji Acros EI 160 using UNIVERSAL DIAFINE TIME… my new favorite film/ developer combo!

Final Note: The “UNIVERSAL TIME/ AGITATION PROCEDURE” has been tested for scanning purposes only.

The 5 Minute Zone System

This short audioblog (under 5 minutes) will give all photographers who want better control over their exposure when using black and white roll films a quick and easy working solution: The 5 Minute Zone System! This is not your grandfather’s full-bore Zone System but rather a user-friendly method for predictable, repeatable results! Just click on the audio link and give it a listen… Viva la Revolution!!

More info on the FULL-BORE Zone System: Click Here! 

What is YOUR Usable EI – Exposure Index?

First a quick bit of background info:

Exposure Index- “EI”- is your personal speed setting for a particular film and developer combo that in most cases is different than the manufacturers posted ISO or ASA data (lots of reasons for this difference) and it reflects a photographer’s specific film requirements with regards to shadow and highlight detail, contrast, grain, etc… Many photographers do extensive testing to determine the best EI for a particular film and developer combo but in the end most photographers settle for a single EI and developer time for a particular film. An example would be- “I shoot Kodak TX at an EI of 1250 and process in Diafine 3+3 at 70F.”

Now for the Diafine Twist:

That tested EI is not the “only perfect EI” but rather just one possible working EI when using Diafine Developer. For example, I have determined that TX processed in Diafine at 3+3 has a USABLE EI range of 400-1250/ 1600…that means that I can rate it at 400 or I can rate it at 1250 if I need to or I can rate it at any in between EI based on subject exposure requirements- there is enough latitude with regards to exposure and development with TX and Diafine that both of these EI are possible for scanning purposes and produce brillant negatives…even one shot right after another on the same roll at a different EI, each would get the same processing time in Diafine– it is like working with the very forgiving Ilford XP2 Super which can handle a range from EI 100-800 (C-41 film) but with real B&W film! (Note: I love XP2 Super but it is a very different looking beast than conventional B&W film.)  With a “normal” developer, say D-76, you would need to increase or decrease your development time or temp or both if you changed your EI beyond half a stop with most black and white films.

So here are a few films I use with their USABLE EI range based on my testing. (NOTE: all USABLE EI listed are for Diafine Processing as outlined here on Figital Revolution.)

  • TX: 400-1250/ 1600 (3+3 at 70F)
  • 125PX: 125-400 (3+3 at 70F)
  • Fuji Acros: 100-200 (4.5 + 4.5 at 70F)
  • TMY-2: 400-640 (3+3 at 70F)
  • FP4+: 100-225 (3+3 at 70F)

Final Thought…why would you want to have a different EI for the same film or know the EI range for a particular film? The answer is flexability (how much can I over or under expose and still get a good negative)- with this approach and knowledge let’s say, for example, I am working with a film like Kodak TX-just load a roll in the morning and start shooting and adjust your USABLE or “flexible” EI as the day and lighting change… when you’re done just process the whole roll with your normal Diafine processing time and scan away! The results are consistantly USABLE and amazing.

Discover X Films! Kodak 125PX in Diafine!

I just couldn’t help myself…I needed to test yet another film in Diafine! What I have discovered has made me very, very happy. If you have been following the progression of articles here on The Figital Revolution I have been posting on Diafine Developer and an array of different black and white films for scanning purposes it should by now be clear by now that I feel that this is a great combo when ease of process, sharpness and huge tonality are required. Yes, there are finer grain developers but this finer grain comes at a cost, namely film speed which is something Diafine has no problem with!

So here is what I have just found….Kodak 125PX in Diafine is a perfect match!!! I’ve never given 125PX much thought until I decided to try this test and the results have made me a convert. I love the look of the grain, it is REALLY sharp and has a beautiful tonal range with a working EI of 320-400. Marry 125PX with my other favorite “X” film TX (EI 1250-1600) and all bases for my needs are covered. Here are two sample pictures made recently on 125PX…the full size image is 16.5″ x 25″. (35mm negative, 6300 optical dpi wet mount scan.)

Please note that the second image was shot under very flat light and scanned at 3150 dpi.

Here is my processing Technique:

  • Diafine Developer at 72-75 F
  • Part A 3 minutes (two inversions every minute…gentle.)
  • Part B 3 minutes (two inversions every minute…gentle.)
  • Water Stop 1 minute Fill and Dump (72-75 F)
  • Fix Kodak Rapid (5 minutes)
  • Wash 1 minute running water (72-75 F)
  • Perma Wash 1 minute constant agitation
  • Wash 5 minutes (68-75 F)
  • LFN
  • Dry

The temperature for the Developer Part A and B is very important. I found that at 68-70 F my negs were a bit thin in the shadows and by increasing the temp just a few degrees (well within the usable range for Diafine of 70-85 F) everything fell right into place. I also now use this time and temp for TX as well – I often soup both films at the same time…very convenient! I no longer use a prewet for Diafine developer as over time it will dilute Part A to a point that could potentially cause problems.

So in conclusion… TX and 125PX are fantastic films and are now my personal films of choice for all of my black and white shooting. Every roll is run in Diafine as described above and the scans are easy and amazing! Give it a try you too may fall for the combo of “X” films and Diafine.

Final Note: I use in my workflow a bit of noise reduction on my images (Noise Ninja). These images are not at the default setting suggested by Noise Ninja but represent NN at about 1/4 strength.

Viva la Revolution!!

Fuji Acros 100 and Diafine Developer – Part 2

Finally part 2! Here are some sample images made on my M7 Leica and my Rollei 2.8 (F – 1960) using Fuji Acros at an EI of 160.

The two square images of course were shot with the Rollei (120mm) and the hand and zipper image was made with my Leica M7. Full size the Rollei images are 18″ x 18″ (142MB, 16 Bit, Grayscale, 120mm Negative, 3200 dpi scan) and the hand and zipper image is 16″x 24″ (160MB, 16 Bit, Grayscale, 35mm Negative, 6300 dpi scan). The detail crop of the zipper represents approx a 3″x4″ section of the larger 16″x24″ print…amazing!

Here is how I processed it…

Fuji Acros 100…EI 160

  • Diafine Developer at 68-72 F
  • Part A 4.5 minutes (two inversions every minute…gentle.)
  • Part B 4.5 minutes (two inversions every minute…gentle.)
  • Water Stop 1 minute Fill and Dump (68-72 F)
  • Fix Kodak Rapid (5 minutes)
  • Wash 1 minute running water (68-72 F)
  • Perma Wash 1 minute constant agitation
  • Wash 5 minutes (65-75 F)
  • LFN
  • Dry

For more information on the process and testing conducted please listen to the audioblog link below….

TIP– When your developer starts to get dirty…say after 30 plus rolls just run it through a coffee filter to “clean” it…use a different filter of course for each solution.