What should I know when taking negs to a processor?

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I will be taking some 4x5 negs (Probably Tmax 100) to be processed and I would like to know what I should be aware of when doing this. Do I need to tell them under what conditions the scene was photographed, exposure etc.?

I am fairly new to LF so any info would be great!

Thanks, Clark

-- Clark King (ckphotographyusa@netscape.net), May 05, 2002


The lab is probably not going to care about your exposure or lighting conditions, they will assume your exposure was proper and they will develop the film as they normally develop film...unless you tell them otherwise. For example, that you underexposed a stop so you want it pushed, or you overexposed and want it pulled. That will cost you extra. I'm not sure TMAX 100 is the film I'd recommend for getting started (small variations in processing produce considerable changes in negative density) but if your lab is very consistent in its processing techniques you can make adjustments on your end to tailor your exposure to the length of time they develop it, and it should work out. You will find that a good TMAX 100 negative looks a little on the thin side compared to what you are used to, though it will print fine. People accustomed to other films have a look in their mind's eye and overexpose or overdevelop the heck out of TMAX trying to get there. So don't look at the first batch that come back, say "wow, these are thin" and start exposing them more. Try printing them. Ask the lab what developer they use and what their normal processing temperature and time are. That will help you evaluate the results.

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), May 05, 2002.

Thank you Kevin. Great info very much appreciated!


-- Clark King (ckphotograpjyusa@netscape.net), May 05, 2002.

If it is a good pro lab, communication is good to open up to with your lab! If you have shot TMX on a cloudy day, it might be wise to let them know this and they "should" recommend a push of say 10% if they are worth their salt! Otherwise your negative/prints will lack luster. Remember, the lab can make you sink or swim. It is half of the process! As I said, communication is good otherwise they will process normally and your stuff may not be what you want. Experience will help also.

-- Scott Walton (walton@ll.mit.edu), May 06, 2002.


All of the above recommendations are very good.

BUT . . .

IMHO, Keep more of the control in your own hands. Learn to process B & W film for yourself. It's not difficult and the expense (after purchasing chemistry, trays, etc.)per sheet is minimal. You don't even need a "darkroom". Sink top in a dark (night-time) bathroom will do. T-Max 100 can be touchy if you're new to film development. Start with something easier. Try Agfa 100 4x5 in a tray, 7 min. @ 68 deg. in HC 110 dil. B.

You didn't say if you were printing for yourself. I highly recommend printing for yourself for full control of your art. If you're using a lab for your b & w printing, you'll need to develop (no pun) a good relationship with them so they will know how you want to show your work.

In short: You be in control. Of the taking process to show your vision. Of the film development process to show your control of technique. AND of the print process to show your art.

All of the above is just my opinion. Opinions are worth everything you pay for them. I could be wrong.

Good luck and good light.

-- Steve Feldman (steve@toprinting.com), May 06, 2002.

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