Kodak TechPan

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I am wondering if somebody can tell me about using the Kodak TechPan B&W film. I have been working with Velvia exclusively in 4x5. Recently, I bought some T-Max 100 to start to dabble with, although I have not developed any of it. I know that the T-Max is an excellent film, but I am curious what are thew advantages of the TechPan in terms of tonality or other qualities not readily apparent. I am only going to use it as a continuous tone film. Thank you for your responses gvl

-- Gregory von Liebig (g.vonliebig@ia-global.com), November 15, 2001


Based on using it a lot for 35mm, it really isn't appropriate for 4x5. It would be difficult to develop evenly in sheet film size, it's tonality isn't the best and it's main claim to fame is extremely fine grain, which is not much of an advantage for 4x5. I think you will find TMax 100 virtually grainless in 4x5, even for large prints. It also has better tonal scale and should be easier to develop.

-- David Rose (DERose1@msn.com), November 15, 2001.

I agree about the preferred use of TMax (or other more "normal" tonal scale films) over TechPan for 4x5. There are circumstances that have warranted its use over the years (very low contrast situations), but I think you will find yourself fighting the contrast for little gain, if any, over 4x5 TMax. BIG enlargments maybe, but still you won't have the tonal control you would have with other films without more trouble than it's probably worth.

-- Don Welch (donwelch@hotmail.com), November 15, 2001.

Tech Pan can be mighty finicky to work with; it has an odd spectral sensitivity, it's slow, and it curls and flops around with changes in humidity. I think that due to various tolerances and slop in the entire system you won't gain anything in sharpness over TMX, Acros etc.

Try Rodinal 1:100 5'/72F or C-41 developer (dev only) 8-9'/68F, EI 12-25.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), November 15, 2001.

Tech Pan would, in my opinion, only be useful in 4x5 for:

1. Special spectral sensitivity (extended red);

2. High contrast, as it was designed, which isn't you're intended use, as you say

3. Extremely slow speed (for extended exposure)for some special purpose.

With 4x5, you rarely have a concern over excessive grain. I use older technology emulsions (Tri-X, Agfapan, etc.) frequently in high energy developers (read: emphasized grain) and have never felt a need for finer grain. With TMax 100, I just can't imagine needing to get finer.

That plus the extra processing hassles & special developers: why give youreself the headaches & pay the extra money?

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), November 15, 2001.

Frankly I've always found TMax to be just as difficult to deal with as Tech Pan. Though I find them both finnicky, I've found that I can get pretty consistent continuous-tone results with Tech Pan if developed in D-76. Someone said the tonality of Tech Pan is lacking...change devlopers; that's the secret to Tech Pan. I've always rated mine at 50 and developed pretty much according to the tech spec. And as far as its resolution overkill goes: can you really have overkill in resolution? Anyway to make a long story boring, you can do anything with just about any film given enough practice. (I know this because it's taken me several years to make Plus-X and D-76 do what I want.)

-- Chad Jarvis (cjarvis@nas.edu), November 16, 2001.

I used to use Tech Pan in 4x5. I used it for portraits, and it works pretty well for that.

I quit using 4x5 Tech Pan because of

A) pinholes in the negatives. Supposedly TP is very sensitive to stop bath, and it is best to use a simple water stop instead. This was never a problem for me in 120 or 35mm, however.

B) dust. The thin base seems to be a dust magnet, particularly post- development.

C) reciprocity. The speed difference between it and TMX isn't such a big deal until you get exposures beyond a few seconds, and then things get even slower for TP.

I really liked the effect of TP in portraiture -- your neg is always contrasty enough, and blemishes really don't show up very well -- but you can get the same effects from overdeveloped TMX with an orange filter. But the above problems make the stuff impossible for me to live with in the long haul.

-- John O'Connell (boywonderiloveyou@hotmail.com), November 16, 2001.

Thank you all for your responses. At least now I have one less thing to worry about.



-- Gregory von Liebig (g.vonliebig@ia-global.com), November 16, 2001.

Just to bolster your decision, and others' opinions, I recently saw a show in NYC of prints 40 inches square made from TMax 100 in d-76 1-1 negs shot with a rollie. That means 20x enlargements, you could see grain at 2', but not much of the image! And they were vey sharp.


-- Andy (buckwiet@yahoo.com), November 21, 2001.

When I started out in photography about 35 years ago, Kodak Tech Pan was called High Contrast Copy Film. There were some magazine articles written on how to use exotic developers to turn it into a continuous tone film. Eventually Kodak seized upon this and changed the name to Tech Pan (and came out with its own developer for it). In the early 1970's, I struggled with the 35mm version in order to achieve high resolution and fine grain, but the results were almost always unsatisfactory. Seems unnecessary for 4x5.

-- Michael Feldman (mfeldman@qwest.net), November 21, 2001.

Has anyone used Kodak Tech Pan for the extended red effects? I have used the Kodak IR emulsions in b/w and color in 35 mm and really like them. It's a shame that Kodak discontinued the IR film in 4x5 sheets.

-- Diane Maher (colrehogan@excite.com), December 02, 2001.

Well I have a different take on Technical Pan Film in 4x5. I find it an excellent film for my landscape and portraiture work. Though I don't do much portraiture with it. I love the stuff and don't find it all that difficult to work with. And I love the extended red sensitivity. I think it's better than Tmax 100 too. But what I question is why would you want to use it? Tmax, Delta, Acros are much easier and in 4x5 unless you are enlarging to 4 feet x 5 feet why do you need it? At 30x40 Tmax and Delta are superb. What grain? There isn't any if you process it right. Why make it hard on yourself. James

-- bigmac (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), December 03, 2001.

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