One developer and One film forever. : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

So I got my one camera and one lens (which is the only lens I will be using for the next two years at least). Now I want to know what YOU would use as your one film and one developer for life (any sheet film format). No I am not taking what you say as gospel, I do have my preferences. I've picked PMK Pyro as my developer. I want to test out FP4+, HP5+ and T-Max 400. They are all good but I can't make a choice. I am asking because I want to know what you picked and why. I want to know all the reasons even if something like, "my drug store carries it". I am interested in sharpness, grain, gradation, N+ & N- development and your feelings about the materials.

-- David Payumo (, November 04, 2000


David Without a doubt, FP4+ in PMK Pyro would be my choice of a single film developer combination. Bitingly sharp negs with smooth tonal range. And those highlights!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- paul owen (, November 04, 2000.

I like FP4 and HP5+, both are very good. My favorite is Tri-X, easy to develope, smoooth tonal range and when used with Pyro developers, very sharp acutance. My only beef with it is price. Forget T-Max unless you are willing to put out a lot of money for drum processors. Pat

-- pat krentz (, November 04, 2000.

I am shooting Arista 400 in 8 X 10 and plan to switch to PMK Pyro from D-76. I imagine that's all I'll ever need. For me, price was a deciding factor. Hopefully neither product will be discontinued before I can amass a life time supply.

But I haven't tested the Bergger product either.

-- Sean yates (, November 04, 2000.

i use t-max 100 exclusively, around 4000 negs per year. prior to about 10 years ago, i used only tri-x. i loved tri-x for fine art applications, but for the architectural work i now do, the grain structure of t-max 100 is superior, and the emulsion is very consistent. i know that fuji and ilford work well for many professionals also. i think you are correct in your understanding that the main idea here is the importance of standardizing your film and developer relationship no matter which film you select. get to know the nuances of the film - and learn to expose and develop to enhance the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses. over time, you will get so familiar with the film you will understand exactly what you need to do when faced with diffcult lighting situations (which seem to be the norm). dont feel bad about using a single lens - there are advantages to being extremely familiar with the way a specific lens sees. the more your equipment becomes just an extension of the way you see a scene in your mind, the better your work will be.

-- jnorman (, November 04, 2000.

Hi David,

How are things down town? Thanks for your opinion on the lighting. I don't know what those other products are, but I'll check it out before I purchase anything.

With regards to your question on film and developer, I recommend to you The New Zone System Manual, by White-Zakia-Lorenz. The reason I say that is because, your choice will depend in part on what kind of contrast you want out of your negs or how many zones/ gradation you want, as your personal development technic will strongly influence sharpness, grain, gradation and so forth in any of the avalible films. There is a wide range of grain and gradation you can pull from any film depending on how you rate it and how you develope it, which of course is dictated by whether you want a full gradation in your prints or if you want to decrease or increase the standard contrast range. Are are you contact printing or enlarging; I take it since you are using 4X5 you will be enlarging; so how does your film development interact with the head on your enlarger? That's a variable unique to your situation. Using any med to fast 4X5 as it is rated I haven't had any problems with grain enlarging to 8*10 with a Beseler/condesor.

Arista 400 is a great buy, I kind of pivot it around ASA N=200. That means working out the N+ and N- times with your light meter and shutter, you should be able to maintain standard contrast each way - if that is what you want. Although you will have to work out a compensating procedure from long exposures. Arista is the same as Ilford. Arista is cheap in the USA, but how do you get it across the boarder and past Revenue Canada? You have to look up Freestyle on the web and compare Arista + import duty + tax to buying Ilford HP5 + GST from Henry's (or 8Elm or someone else down there).

That said, tri-x seems to have a haunting quality about it which can not be described in the categories you've listed, but Kodak is serious about making a profit. I shoot a lot of Ilford Ortho + because it seems to have something unique about it too. Some people absoultely hate ortho. APX 100 is just plain good. With regard to your question, I think two people could take the same film and use it in such different ways you couldn't recognize it as the same film. Then again, I've been wrong before.

Cheers, David

-- david clark (, November 04, 2000.

Delta 100 in 4x5 sheet and 120 roll dev. in DiXactol single bath for 8min.(N). Very similar to Pyro, superb sharpness, long tonal range with excellent zone 2/3 shadow detail and VIII highlight detail. This dev. is very forgiving of under/over exposure and has better keeping properties then Pyro. Barry Thornton ( who devised this dev. recommends Delta 100 in 35mm and HP5+ in sheet and 120. Worth looking into.

-- Trevor Crone (, November 05, 2000.

After years of using Ektapan and APX100 processed in HC110 dilution B I am now switching to Ilford FP4/HP5+ processed in PMK Pyro. Because I photograph the Southwest landscape as well as portraits and architechture I'm currently leaning toward HP5+ for it's increased speed. This also allows me to use the same film in 14x17, 11x14, 4x10, and 8x10. If wind is not a constant consideration for your work and therfore you can use a slower film I would investigate FP4, in PMK Pyro for wonderful grain as well as tonality. In which case Freestyle Sales would be the lowest cost supplier.

-- JDMcglasson (, November 05, 2000.

Another vote for FP4+ & FP5+ in PMK Pyro.

-- Don Sparks (, November 05, 2000.

So I guess people know the fireworks about Pyro. Well we know it goes well with FP4+ and HP5+. However is the long exposure characteristics of T-Max the main reason why people use it?

-- David Payumo (, November 05, 2000.

I vote for FP4+ in Rodinol. Ridiculously sharp results and very pleasing image characteristics.

-- Dave Munson (, November 05, 2000.

Ansco Isopan in Harold Harvey's Panthermic 777.

-- Bill Mitchell (, November 05, 2000.

Try some ordinary things that can give extrordinary results...APX-25 in Rodinal, Plus-X in ID-11, HP-5 in either one, depending on what you need it to do. I tend to get better results with greater dilution.

-- Steve Clark (, November 05, 2000.

Dave, PMK with FP4 and HP5 is a great combo, I also use TMAX 100 with PMK for incredibly sharp results.

In MF try agfa 25 with PMK.

It's hard to pick one single film choice.

-- Dave Anton (, November 05, 2000.

About PMK Pyro. I immediately did some research and boy is Pyro dangerous. Easily fatal if ingested. If you have children (as I do) do not use this for your home darkroom. I will consider using Pyro once my children are older. In the mean time, can anyone recommend any safer substitute that has similar properties to PMK?

-- Pat Brouillette (, January 11, 2001.

> Panthermic 777

Good choice.

Do you have a source or formula for it?

-- John Hicks (, January 11, 2001.

As far as I know, Bluegrass Packing is the only source for Panthermic 777. I love this stuff in combination with my 35mm tri-x. If anyone knows the formula I would like to have that.

-- Rick Droz (, May 24, 2001.

Sorry, that was Bluegrass Packing, 12720-D Westport Rd. Louisville, Ky 40245. I haven't ordered from them in well over a year and am not sure they still handle it. I'm currently living and working in Cambodia and am a bit out of touch. If anyone does know a source of this formula, I feel that would work for me better than having it in the package.

-- Rick Droz (, May 24, 2001.

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