Has anyone used Ortho Litho film?

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I noticed that Freestyle sells Ortho Litho film, 8x10/100, for $32.95 a box. Is this the same type film, blue-green sensitivity only, that photographers used to use? Has any one used this film? Does it have any particular draw backs other than a lack of red sensitivity? Any suggestions on a starting EI and film developier for using it for landscape photography?

-- Beau Schwarz (ejschwarzjr@hotmail.com), February 06, 2001


Litho films are used for lithographic reproduction. That is negs of line art, type, half-tones, etc. These are things that are pure black and pure white only, absolutely no mid tones. Therefore, litho films are not good for landscape photography unless you want some kind of special effect. A better choice film would be Ilford's Ortho film that is for continuous tone purposes. I believe it has a speed of about 80 while most litho films have a speed of about 6 or less.

-- Ken Burns (kenburns@twave.net), February 06, 2001.

You can get some midtones out of litho film. I forgot how but call Kodak 800-242-2424. I believe it was with dektol developer. Depending on subject mater this film can be quite interesting despite it's 6 or 12 iso. I used to use it for super high contrast with slight midtones that would fade into black/white. It can be a strange but fun film for crazy fine art photographers.

-- john (dogspleen@juno.com), February 06, 2001.

yes you can use dektol for a dev and it will yeild a few midtones but they will be abbrogated to put it lightly. Neat to play with for posterizations and stuff. Buy a gallon of opaquing juice tho', you'll need it.

-- trib (linhof6@hotmail.com), February 06, 2001.

I've used the Arista lith film in 8x10 (suits my pocket). I develop it in D23 at about 1:4 and it yields very reasonable gradation i.e., a longer scale than it was designed for. I'm sure developing in something like Technidol or POTA will yield pictorial gradation as well - basically any developer that is designed for getting pictorial gradation out of document films.

A couple of things to keep in mind though. The film is about ISO 6 - be prepared for long exposures. The film will not fit the standard 8x10 holders perfectly - be prepared to trim it down to size. The film has a thinner base with no anti halation backing. This means its probably bowing a little more than the slightly stiffer regular film - its never bothered me terribly but if you obsess about stuff like this, its worth keeping in mind. The lack of an anti halation backing means that light can bounce back from the back of the holder - you can get the pattern of the holder showing on the film sometimes. My solutions was to fog one sheet of film completely and to tape that to the holder and load the film I'm planning on exposing on top of that. The two film thickness might also compensate some for the thinner film issue.

I have to add that lith films are among the sharpest films I've worked with, if you expose and develop carefully. Getting pictorial gradation i.e., getting it to hold a long tonal scale is not terribly difficult - POTA, modifications of POTA with glycin, D23 1:4, Technidol etc should all do the trick. Plus you get to develop by a bright safelight. Cheers, DJ.

-- N Dhananjay (ndhanu@umich.edu), February 06, 2001.

Another application for this film would be for making high lights masks, to prevent the filling of the highlights when you make contrast masks. With the Ortho mask on your slide you then make the conventional Pan Masking negative.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), February 06, 2001.

If you really want results similar to what early photographers used to get with the ortho films of their day, it will be a whole lot easier to use Ilford's Ortho film. It is a continuoous tone film, will not require manipulation with special developers, has enough speed to be reasonably workable (if you need to stop down at all, an EI 6 film will require the better part of the rest of your life for the exposure time), will still prove to have acceptable grain characteristics (we're talking 8x10 negatives after all), and will give you the tonalities expected. Stay away from the litho films and you will be much happier.

-- Ken Burns (kenburns@twave.net), February 06, 2001.

I've used a bit of Ilford's Ortho Plus copy film for doing just that-copywork. But, if I had the choice between it, and say,Kodalith for continuous tone daylight work I'd go with the Ilford any day. You'll probably be looking at an EI around 80 for daylight with a general purpose developer like D76. This film responds well to a variety of developers. I use it for copying things like tintypes or line drawings, and get consistent negs. from a deep tank line set up with TMAX RS or for higher contrast, LPD 1:4 in a tray. I think as far as ease of use goes, and maybe using it to simulate an old ortho emulsion (maybe for portraits?), that it would just be a whole lot better. But, it is more expensive. One other thing about it is that it's coated on a polyester base, and if you treat it right, this should be pretty stable in storage. I've really gotten tired of using Kodalith over the past few years, mostly due to it's chemistry, and I'm really happy with this Ilford film for when I need to jerk contrast alot. Anyways, hope this helps, and good luck.

-- D.K. Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), February 06, 2001.

Arista's lith film is commonly used to make enlarged positives and negatives for alternative processes. The principal problem is taming the high contrast. This is usually done with a dilute paper developer, e.g. Dektol 1-4 or 1-6.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlink.net), February 07, 2001.

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