I poked around in my freezer and found I had 3 different 4×5 emulsions, all ISO 100. Hmm, maybe I can do back-to-back-to-back shooting with these, develop them all in the same tank and check them out. Maybe it will be of use to someone else? So why not write it up along with pretty pictures and histograms.
So I did. The three contenders are: Kodak TMax 100, Fuji Neopan Acros 100, and Arista.EDU 100. The camera is my recently acquired Graflx Speed Graphic with a Kodak Ektar 127mm/4.7 lens. I often use semi-stand Rodinal 1+100 for my developing, which is 3 or 4 gentle inversions at the start, then 2 gentle inversions every 20 minutes, for an hour total. Because TMax has an anti-halation layer that seems to take forever to remove with my tanks (Stearman Press SP-445), I pre-soaked them all for about 5 minutes with multiple changes of water till it ran mostly clear. To try to control any differences, I made sure I put the different sheets into a single tank for each of the two subjects. I have two tanks so they were processed at essentially the same time. The scanner is an Epson V700 with 4×5 holders. I used the Epson scan software and did not do any adjustments other than the default (which uses an unsharp mask). I used the Gnu Imaging Processor (GIMP) for modifying light levels and resized ‘as scanned’ jpgs to 1024 at the widest. I forgot to resize the preferred jpgs.
Now these are scans and my community darkroom is the throes of a move, so I can’t show how these different emulsions print using the same developing technique (yet). But in all cases, the exposures were the same, 1/5 of a second, F11. I tend to meter off something that I want to put as middle gray and let the highlights and shadows fall where they will. At some point I will probably get a better spot meter and do individual metering/developing, but not just yet.
I have 3 images of each sheet along with the histograms, directly out of the scanner, and what looked good to me. Both subjects were trees out in the woods as the sun was going down, probably 6-6:30pm eastern.
I believe my finger got in the shot as I was pressing the shutter release.
For editing, I did what I always do. Move the black point, white point and take a look. Then I will adjust the gamma level to what looks good to me and stop there.
I can’t say I like one emulsion over the other until I begin printing with these, but straight out of the developing tank, the Arista looked best to me. After drying and looking at the negatives, the Acros and Arista seemed quite similar and I think the scans bear that out. With my own editing style for scans, I think my fav is the edit of the second tree for Arista, followed closely by the Acros. Despite the initial scan looking like caca, the TMax cleaned up pretty well. I normally only clone out any stray dust or small scratches and do these kinds of level adjustments you see here, and that is about it. I will hopefully be able to post a follow-up with my darkroom printing results and thoughts.
I played around with the cropping and level adjustments even more and might try to get something similar to this for a final print from the 2nd Arista 100 shot.