Pushing b/w sheet film

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Like many, I would love a faster b/w sheet film for windy/human/animal subjects.

I currently use TMY with an (N) EI 320 using BTZS tubes and Xtol dev. If I push this by a stop, I am at the absolute limit in terms of useable contrast. EI 500 is what I use for approximately N+2. (I have a densitometer.) I'm not complaining about the contrast control of TMY, just that it doesn't seem a very good film for push processing.

I don't have much experience with HP5+ or the Fortepan 400, and I wonder whether they may push with a more gentle increase in contrast. I'm open to other developers though I am happy with Xtol with my most used film (TMX, EI 100 for N) and it is nice to minimize the number of alternate chemicals aging in the darkroom. Also, the tube development doesn't work as well with dilute developers because of the small volume of developer the caps hold (60ml).

Any suggestions? I would love something not too contrasty at 800. I promise not to complain about grain. :-)

(TMZ in readyloads anyone?)

-- Eric Pederson (epederso@darkwing.uoregon.edu), April 29, 2002


I can get an EI of 640 out of TMY with PMK+.

-- Ed Buffaloe (edb@unblinkingeye.com), April 29, 2002.

Based on my experience with both films, I'd say you'll pick up 1/3 to 2/3 stop using HP5+ instead of TMY. TMY is slightly finer grained, but other than that, I find HP5+ superior overall.

If Ilford ever comes out with Delta 400 in 4x5, I think that would be an even choice. For now, though, I don't know anything better in 4x5, speed wise, than HP5+.

-- Ted Kaufman (writercrmp@aol.com), April 29, 2002.

I have gotten a true speed of 500 from HP-5+ in XTOL.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), May 02, 2002.

Errrm! Dare I suggest going to medium format for this type of work?
This'll gain you two stops in terms of depth-of-field or useable aperture. The grain/format tradeoff stays about equal, giving you more-or-less the same sharpness and granularity as pushing sheet film, but with two stops more shutter speed to play with. Plus, you still hold on to some genuine shadow detail.
Plus, plus, you've a wider range of materials to choose from.
Sorry to burst some bubbles here guys, but LF isn't a panacea for every photographic problem.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), May 02, 2002.

If you develop HP-5+ to normal contrast for pt/pd (N+2 for silver), you can get true EI of 800. I love how pt/pd allows higher film speeds.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), May 02, 2002.

Thanks for all the replies (the server seems down a lot these days). At a minimum, I'll run some tests on HP5+. N+2 at 800 sounds appealing.

Pete: I agree that medium format would work better for many exposures I make, but in my case, I'm usually making about 6 exposures in a day outing and about 2 of them need more speed (for my f32 and red filter or whatever). I'm already carrying a 35mm camera as a light meter and for incidental shots. Adding a medium format to this assemblage seems crazy, although I suppose I could get rid of the 35mm camera as partial compensation. I'd have to buy a medium format camera and a couple lenses too -- or a roll back and a separate light meter would work, I suppose.

-- Eric Pederson (epederso@darkwing.uoregon.edu), May 02, 2002.

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