Paper/developer Combination : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am gearing up for round three of a foray into large format photography, and have been away from the darkroom for a few years. What suggestions does anyone have these days for a paper/developer combination to start off with. I will be doing landscapes and architectural work. I want to shoot TMax 100/400, need paper/developer that is not too exotic but that I can grow into. Thanks for your help.

-- Jim Poehling (, December 07, 1998


Ilford MC FB, both IV and Warmtone, are superb papers. I develop in Ektonol Type 2; Dektol is far too harsh for my tastes. Tone in Selenium 1:3 to completion. As for T-Max, good luck. I found it a temperamental film, soft emulsion, very prone to scratching, took an eternity to fix, exhausted my fixer in half the time, etc. Why bother? (In all fairness, some love it. Why, I dont know.) My preference is Tri-X 4164 in Rodinal. (I shoot 8x10 so grain isnt a problem.) Beautiful scale, very good for N-1 to N-3 processing. (If I didnt tray process, Id go with PMK Pyro for nearly everything, but I cant use gloves and its too toxic to put my hands into.) For my next round of 8x10 work, however, Im going to look very seriously at Ilford Delta 400. I use it in medium format (with PMK) and its a great film. I think Ilford makes the best B&W materials today. (Too bad Ciba-Geigy is such an environmentally insensitive company: See my Site at:

-- Peter Hughes (, December 08, 1998.

i prefer tri-x also for the same reasons but with different developers,perceptol,xtol at full strength one-shot. I also strongly agree with using a fiber-based paper i use cachet expo g in dektol@1:5 but use a 1:20 to 1:50 dilution of selenium toner because i like cooler prints. Expo is an exotic for sure and i don't proof on it, it's very expensive. I should try another print developer, just haven't gotten around to it. I've preached and preached against tmax, but no matter how hard i try my photo friends in my town persist in using it and get good results, they aren't as critical as me about grain structure and dependability. they also print on rc so that oughta tell you something.

-- Triblett Lunger-Thurd (, December 09, 1998.

Plus-X in D-76 straight..develop by inspection with a green safelight. I've had really good results with the "Zone IV" (I Think that's the correct name) that Calumet markets..developed in Dektol. It's a very neutral color black (super black) with a superb, clean Bayarta based white. I use the fiber based multi-contrast type which allows me to do filter burns very easily . This really extends the range. I use the Ilford extended range filter set. A good dense negative will really lay down the greys, yet keep a really deep zone 0 black. I'm experimenting with using the Ansel Adams two part print developer described in "The Print"

-- Charles Matter (, December 09, 1998.

Now THERE'S a question one never sees asked! Isn't the best answer "pick a combination, and stick to it until you know everything about it?" Point being: don't wantonly change papers or developers until you know how subtle changes will affect your print. I'm (quite obiously) no expert on the subject, but I've read and believe that a person with good darkroom skills can start with Plus-X developed in D- 76 and make good-looking prints on (gasp!) resin-coated paper developed in (GASP!) Dektol!

Now that that's out of the way, since you are shooting TMax, a fine- grained, inherently high-contrast film, you probably want relatively high-contrast, high-resolution prints. Personally I would go for a cold-toned paper (pick one: Kodak, AGFA, Ilford, etc.) with a developer that is recommended by the manufacturer. Dektol (WHEEZE!) is always supported, is inexpensive and is flexible. Oh, go with fiber-based papers for fine prints (the paper has a tactile feel and archives much better), but for practice, use resin-coated stock; it's inexpensive and can be washed in 1/10th the time.

What it all boils down to is: 1)decide what you want your prints to look like; 2)pick a paper/developer combination; 3)make your prints look like your visualization in #1; 4)repeat until you are an expert at #3; 5)change #2 if you haven't become a complete snob in your choice of combination; 6)repeat.

-- Chad Jarvis (, December 10, 1998.

its hard to pick one film/developer-or print/ developer combination. Thats like saying you are only allowed to paint with the color red. Some images lend themselves to a warm tone where other images are quite cold. Experiment until you find what works for your images. Read everything you can, look at other fine work, when you find what you like it is no sin to copy it. at least as far as film/developer combinations. or paper style/developer combinations. If there are 10 photographers you will get 10 different reasons to follow their example. I wish you luck on your quest, it will be a life long journey.

-- jacque staskon (, December 14, 1998.

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