Adams Zone System 35mm

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Justin F. Knotzke, Jan 4, 2004.

  1. Justin F. Knotzke

    dddd Guest

    dddd, Jan 5, 2004
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  2. Justin F. Knotzke

    pobo Guest

    Late here. i use the zone system for 35mm a lot because it works and i
    don't have a lot of film. So i load my own on 12 exp rolls. My fave
    developer is rodinal becuse it has a lot of different dilusions and goes a
    long way and my favorite film is agfa 100 apx but Im looking for a
    replacement. most everything i shoot is at f2 to f8 outdoors. you dddd
    gota be some kind of nutcase if you think altered development doesnt fit
    in the system.
    pobo, Jan 5, 2004
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    THE ZS. White says so, and Adams says so.

    You are misinformed, sir.
    Michael Scarpitti, Jan 5, 2004
  4. "While variable film development is today a specialist practise, the
    adjustment of development time to compensate for a wide variety of
    subject contrast ranges is still the most effective way to control
    rendering. Through variable film development the intentions of the
    photographer can be crystallized in the negative."

    The Zone System Manual, Minor White
    Michael Scarpitti, Jan 5, 2004
  5. See pages 88-92 of 'The Negative'. Here Adams discusses miniature format negatives.
    Michael Scarpitti, Jan 5, 2004
  6. My understanding is that each of the components of the ZS
    are independant, therefore they can be used independantly.
    This methodology works for me and has for 18 years, regardless of
    film format. Although in practice I don't typically carry (3) 35mm cameras
    to make sure each shot fits in the appropriate Zone for developing.

    When using roll film cameras I typically use the ZS for location of 18%
    grey Zone V using a spot meter once or twice during a given "shoot".
    Gregory W Blank, Jan 5, 2004
  7. And why do people have to do that, insecurity is my guess? That describes Mr Scarpitti to a "T"
    I am sure there would have been more exceptance of some of his opinions
    if he had not started out with alot of stupid superior BS from the start of his correspondance here.

    So you can respect him all you like, I think he asked for it in terms of the angered responses !
    Some of us just got tired of it all and killfilled him.
    Gregory W Blank, Jan 5, 2004
  8. Yes, I think we all know that here. It's a loosely-used term. Few people here
    will ever meet face-to-face or drink together.
    Archive, schmarchive. All you gotta do is read back in the active messages in
    the group for some of MS's very nasty exchanges with people.

    There's a history to this, you know. Didn't just arise with your arrival (or
    de-lurking) here.
    Basically he's a thorough-going Zone System hater. Completely irrational.
    David Nebenzahl, Jan 5, 2004
  9. Justin F. Knotzke

    dddd Guest


    This quote only says VFD is the most *effective* way to control rendering in
    the negative. It does *not* say VFD is required by the ZS.

    Further, I do not display negatives; I display prints. As stated on page 93
    (The Negative), paper selection may be the best way to control contrast in
    prints made from 35mm negatives. The ZS is intended as a way to organize
    your thinking and process so that you can communicate your vision through a
    photographic print. It is not offered as only a way to produce negatives.

    The quote contains nothing that contradicts what Mr. Adams writes in "The
    Negative" when he states 35mm photographers can readily enjoy the benefits
    of using the ZS sans VFD.

    I will read the section of "The Negative" you suggest in your other post and
    get back to you tomorrow.

    I give you credit; unlike "Frank Pittel" you provided your cites so that
    others can evaluate your interpretations for themselves.

    Dewey Clark
    Ebay Sales:
    Restorations, Parts for Hamilton M21s, Products for Craftsmen
    Makers of Historic Timekeepers Ultrasonic Clock Cleaning Solution
    dddd, Jan 5, 2004
  10. Let me put it to you this way (and at the same time do a little more checking
    up on your understanding of the Zone System, which I still suspect is a bit

    Let's say you want to use the Zone System, and your subject has an extreme
    brightness range--too much for "normal" development, without either blocked
    highlights or shadows. Let's say for the sake of discussion that the
    brightness range is 2 stops greater than normal (meaning densest to least
    dense [fb+f] of a "normal negative). What are you going to do?

    Second example: your subject has a contracted brightness range, by the same
    amount (2 stops). Name two ways to deal with this situation.
    David Nebenzahl, Jan 5, 2004

    Again, nothing to do with the fact that ZS can be used with 35mm and ZS
    can be used with or without VFD, as Adams wrote. Aa quoted. And that is
    the key issue. You have been trying for ages to prove that ZS can't be
    used with 35mm. Well, you are still 100% wrong. I'm repeating myself.
    Read the damn book. And did something happen to your Caps Lock?

    Severi S.
    Severi Salminen, Jan 5, 2004
  12. Justin F. Knotzke

    dddd Guest


    Pgs. 88 to 92 of my edition of "The Negative" cover the theory of film
    development and how the ZS can be used to manipulate the negative. I could
    find nothing that states VFD is a required element of the ZS; nor is there
    anything that states the ZS does not apply to 35MM. Since this section is
    immediately followed by the section which talks about VFD being the only
    aspect of the ZS that may not be as useful in 35mm as it is in other

    It appears you have arrived at your conclusions by interpreting the same
    ideas as I. I guess we will just to agree to disagree on the value of the
    ZS for 35mm while agreeing that VFD for 35mm is not all that useful for
    those who value fine grain.

    Dewey Clark
    Ebay Sales:
    Restorations, Parts for Hamilton M21s, Products for Craftsmen
    Makers of Historic Timekeepers Ultrasonic Clock Cleaning Solution
    dddd, Jan 5, 2004
  13. Justin F. Knotzke

    dddd Guest

    In order to assure every issue raised is addressed, we should address the
    issue that was on the table prior to yours before
    expanding this conversation.

    It was: "Just give us the citations where it states that VFD is a REQUIRED
    element of the ZS."

    Here is an issue I would like to address after we get through the one
    reiterated here and the one you just raised.

    "What is the role of the ZS in the digital age? Does the lack of negatives
    mean the ZS is dead?"

    Dewey Clark
    Ebay Sales:
    Restorations, Parts for Hamilton M21s, Products for Craftsmen
    Makers of Historic Timekeepers Ultrasonic Clock Cleaning Solution
    dddd, Jan 5, 2004

  14. The zs consists of two parts:

    Visualization (assignment of zones, etc.)
    Variable Film Development (VFD)

    This is clear from both Adams and White's writings.
    Michael Scarpitti, Jan 5, 2004
  15. David Nebenzahl wrote (in part):
    Speaking of history, I wonder if some posters fail to realize that every
    post made on UseNet is archived (with the possible exception of
    alt.binaries..., but I never looked for any of those, so they may be
    there too). If you make a fool of yourself on a newsgroup, it can haunt
    you forever or until the laws of magnetism are changed.
    Jean-David Beyer, Jan 5, 2004
  16. dddd wrote (in part):
    Since I have not practiced digital photography since the mid 1970s, I do
    not know first hand what the limitations are. I suspect, though, that
    unless things have changed a whole lot since then (we used TV cameras
    and high speed analog to digital converters back then), there are
    limitations at the low end of the brightness range comparable to the
    threshhold (toe) of the film, and limitations at the high end of the
    brightness range corresponding to the saturation (shoulder) of the film.
    The mechanism is the same, so it will still be necessary to use good
    exposures by which I mean to place the important parts of the subject in
    the right part of what, for film, would be the D/H curve; i.e., the
    transfer function of the photodetector of the digital camera.

    Since there are both limitations due to noise and saturation, the number
    of bits per picture element cannot be increased without bound. This is a
    limit something like the grainularity of the film. Because the
    photodetectors cannot be made arbitrarily small, the resolution is
    likewise limited.

    It seems to me that use of the Zone System, especially the part dealing
    with exposure, will apply to digital imaging as well as to film. When
    the contrast of the subject is too great for the detector, you will not
    be able to give shorter development (and it is too late to diddle it
    with the GIMP or Photoshop) to get it all in, so in those situations you
    will have to decide to let the highlights block, or to sacrifice shadow

    What surprised me a bit in all the variable development time arguments
    is the main problem I find with reducing development. If I have a
    subject whose brightness range is 14 Zones or so (e.g., when
    photographing inside a blacksmith shop but also wanting good rendition
    of the scene outside the window), I can easily enough sacrifice a stop
    or two of shadow detail, and do an N-3 development of the negative) and
    get it all in. But of course the local contrast from such development
    makes for a boring image. And I know of no automatic way of getting high
    local contrast and low overall contrast except to choose a different
    subject, or at least a different way to visualize it. Of course,
    sometimes supplementary lighting inside the building is an option.
    Jean-David Beyer, Jan 5, 2004
  17. Justin F. Knotzke

    Frank Pittel Guest

    I'm sure that this reply is going to get me added to a lot more killfiles but here

    : You don't need to. Just give us the citations where it states that VFD is a
    : REQUIRED element of the ZS.

    Are you an idiot?? When and where have I written anything that would give you the
    slightest idea that I believe that the zone system requires the altering development
    time to control negative contrast??

    : Or, we will be left to conclude there is no such citation.

    You will probably conclude whatever idiotic idea that you want to conclude. The fact
    is I've never read anything in the Negative or any other book that states that
    requires the use of controlling negative contrast through development times. I
    suppose that in you warped and pathetic little mind you think you've won something.


    Keep working millions on welfare depend on you
    Frank Pittel, Jan 5, 2004
  18. Justin F. Knotzke

    jjs Guest

    With respect, old-timer, digital sensors have their own problems that
    don't accurately parallel the nature of film exposure/development. Typical
    problems include blooming highlights and noise at the upper and lower
    extreme ends of exposure, respectively. To control the former we use
    contrast filters (well, at least I do) and/or fill light and the lower end
    problem is quite infrequent and being addressed by new technology.

    And of course, there's Photoshopping for digital, and HDRC, the later
    accomodating far greater a contrast range than a single film exposure can
    possibly render with detail, tones and range.

    "Contrast Filter" - Not the same as we are accustomed to in B&W
    photography. The filters I speak of are not colored. They are rather
    special diffusion filters of various grades. I might write an article on
    using them in MF photography.
    jjs, Jan 5, 2004
  19. Justin F. Knotzke

    dddd Guest


    I agree that principles of the zone system will still apply; if you regard
    the central principle to be picking where you want the key tone of the
    vision you are trying to communicate should fall. It is just you emphasize
    the exposure and the printing process with digital. I don't where one is
    left if the ZS is interpreted to be centered on the negative.

    I wonder if digitals will help with the situation you describe? I haven't
    really thought about it and I am throwing this out there...
    Moose Peterson writes that digital cameras provide far more latitude than
    you get from film (I think he said at least 2 more F stops). I wonder if
    this would help where you are now using N-3?

    Also, I suspect digital cameras as we know them today cannot supplant film.
    With film, you have a physical piece of evidence to document the shot. With
    digital you have nothing but a magnetic pattern. Plus I think in the near
    future "photographic" scenes will be made that are painted pixel by pixel
    that you cannot discriminate from the magnetic pattern of "real" digital

    Just think where we would be with all the NASA and Holocaust conspiracy
    theorists if we only had digital recordings? I think film will remain the
    standard for historical documentation for quite some time.

    Dewey Clark
    Ebay Sales:
    Restorations, Parts for Hamilton M21s, Products for Craftsmen
    Makers of Historic Timekeepers Ultrasonic Clock Cleaning Solution

    dddd, Jan 5, 2004
  20. What do you mean by that term? What do YOU understand by saying 'use'
    the ZS?
    Then something has to give. If the range is too long, the range is too
    long. I would resort to greater dilution to compress the highlights,
    typically, without impacting the mid-tones. I would NOT reduce
    development overall to flatten the negative, which is what zs dogma
    Use a snappier paper.

    By reducing development overall for all negatives, as I do, one ends
    up with less negative-to-negative difference. This is because
    contrasty scenes get contrastier with more development. As you
    approach zero development, differences between negatives approach
    zero. Of course we don't use zero development, but the point is that
    reduced development and using grade 3 paper as 'normal' results in
    negatives that print within about one grade from almost any scene,
    from very flat to very contrasty, with an appropriate film and
    developer combination, such as Ilford HP5+ and Acutol. With this
    combo, I can print any scene with grade 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 at most
    (Multigrade IV).

    That's how it is done, my friend:

    1. Compensating development
    2. Minimum development + grade 3 paper, more or less.
    Michael Scarpitti, Jan 5, 2004
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