TMAX and Dev. by Inspection : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hello All,

I was introduced to the development by inspection method recently at a workshop. I had the opportunity to do some of the processing myself, and felt that this might ba a method that I should consider for my own processing.

We were using Ilford and Bergger films at the workshop. Back at home, I've gotten the right filter and a switch setup so that I can do my own development by inspection. I have been using TMAX 400 recently, so that's what I started my tests with.

The problem is, I don't see the density changes through the base side like I was able to with the Bergger and Ilford films. It appears that the TMAX (in D-76) does not clear enough to see the density through the base, as is the traditional method for development by inspection.

I know the anti-haliation dies take a good bit to clear in TMAX 400. Does this make the films essentially unsuitable for development by inspection in the traditional method? Clearly, you can still look at the emulsion side, but that's not the way everyone does it, presumably because the negative looks overly dense from the emulsion side.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

-- Michael Mutmansky (, July 29, 2000


Good question.

How long is your pre-soak? Increasing it might help a bit.

I have just started d.b.i. seriously and am convinced it's the way to go although it was rocky starting at first.

8 X 10+ is no doubt easier to judge than smaller formats and using a 15 watt bulb in the familiar Kodak bullet-shaped (or bee-hive shaped) safelight with the # 3 Wratten safelight 3 feet away made all the difference-I had been using the 7 watt Brownie safelights.

I have also limited myself to shooting simple compositions with bold, obvious highlight areas and developing the same day (or weekend) as I shoot, until I get more familiar with the look of things.

That said, a fellow who has been doing it longer than I uses the same 7 watt Brownie, 2 feet from his tray, and views the negative transilluminated, as on a light board, rather than reflected. He says it works well for him that way. He is using Bergger film and I think Tri-X.

-- Sean yates (, July 29, 2000.

The Tmax films will need about 5 minutes of pre soak, more than is needed with the older style films. Tmax 100 and 400 both work well with inspection development and I find Xtol to be a very good match for them, giving clean results. But, it you start shooting HP5+, forget Xtol as it gives a very high film base fog level, unacceptably so for me. I go back to ID11 or Rodinal if using HP5+. When developing I view the reflected light from the base side of the negative rather than viewing through the neg and have found it works well, even for negs with subtle detail highlights I want to emphasize. One good way to get used to your combination is to shoot 6 identical exposures and process them together. When you first turn on the safelight to view one negative, put it in the stop. Then as you view the others, one by one as the minutes pass, put one in the stop at each turning on of your green light. Since you are only viewing one negative at a time, fogging is hard to do. With your 6 of the same exposure, you get a nice progression from (most likely) underdeveloped to overdeveloped and can immediately view them in the fix after the last neg has been done. Different films look a bit different when wet, so you need to get used to the characteristics of what you use. After a bit of experience it will be easier. If you want a bit more fine tuning, shoot he same shot as your first test, 6 sheets each, two stops under and two stops over. Then develop the same way. This will give you normal, under and overesposed negs that are normally, under and overdeveloped. A complete course in darkroom development and contact print problems and solutions in one small box of film. Similar to a color print 'ring around', this will help you to better understand, ina way you can show others, what the results of exposure and development changes are.

-- Dan Smith (, July 29, 2000.

Thanks Dan and Sean,

I'll try a longer presoak. I normally do about 2 minutes, but I'll increase it to 5 or so, and I'll use moving water so the water won't get saturated with the purple dyes.

I am doing 8x10 film, and I thought that switching to a different developer might help. I'm processing for platinum, so the negatives aren't too hard to read, the contrast needs to be pretty high for a successful platinum print.

I love the notion that I can make a subjective judgement about when to pull a negative based on experience. If I don't expose the negative quite right, there is one final chance to make some corrections while in the soup.

I'll post back after some further presoak trials with TMAX 400.

-- Michael Mutmansky (, July 30, 2000.

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