Zone system 'controls & testing' and inspection development : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

If I am developing by inspection, other than exposing to make sure my shadow detail is adequate and developing until I can see the highlights are where I want them, what else about the Zone System am I missing? Yes, I meter & make a note about some negs that will need minus or plus development, but only as a method to sequester these negs into the stack so I will have an indication to check the development sooner or later in the chemistry. But the interminable testing and re-testing is something that has disappeared since using inspection. The negatives are coming out fine. Anyone out there know what else I may be 'missing' in using inspection development?

-- Dan Smith (, October 24, 2000


I think that developing by inspection is an interesting technique and is something that I want to learn to do. I guess my only disagreement is about how hard zone system testing is to do.If you have >> interminable testing and re-testing << then you are doing something wrong. I test my materials every year just for piece of mind. The last three years tests have all turned out the same. It takes me 2 hours start to finish for all the tests. So agree that developing by inspection is an interesting approach, I disagree about how "hard" zone system testing is to accomplish. What ever it takes to get the images you are after.

-- Jeff White (, October 24, 2000.

Dan, as long as you can print your negs on a grade 2 or 3 paper, then it sounds to me like you're not missing a thing.

I must say, however, that I agree with the preceding comment that interminable testing and retesting need not be necessary when developing "in the dark". It's just tough to be as precise as with inspection development.

-- Chad Jarvis (, October 24, 2000.

If I did not test every Saturday afternoon I would have nothing to do. Keeps me sharp and I know my film, developer, and equipment is doing what it is supposed to. It also ensures that my film is used on a regular basis so it does not go bad.

I have tried development by inspection, but the only thing I get is deep dark dense negatives.


-- Bill Smithe (, October 24, 2000.

I only use development by inspection to determine correct times for standard time and temperature development, which is what I use in most circumstances. Plus and minus developments are very tricky to judge by inspection. For extemely low-contrast subjects, it is often difficult to see any high values on the base side (my usual criterion for a correctly developed negative), and extremely high-contrast subjects have the opposite problem--when one sees the high values appear on the base the negative may already be overdeveloped. But if it works for you, go with it.

-- Ed Buffaloe (, October 25, 2000.

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