Excessive Grain

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by lvc, Aug 25, 2003.

  1. lvc

    lvc Guest

    I am having problems with too much grain in my B&W photos. I think it is
    caused by something I'm doing or not doing during film development. I'm
    using 35mm Ilford FP4+ at EI 125 and developing as follows:

    D-76 1:1 at 68 degrees for 11 minutes (recommended time)
    - agitate first five seconds and rap on counter
    - agitatate five seconds each 30 seconds thereafter
    Stop bath for 30 seconds with constant agitation
    Kodak Rapid Fixer w/o hardener for 4 minutes
    Wash 30 seconds
    Heico Perma Wash for 30 seconds w/constant agitation
    Wash 4 minutes
    Photo Flo 30 seconds

    All the chemicals subsequent to the D-76 are within 1-2 degrees of 68. I'm
    seeing the grain when enlarging to 5x7 and above. What could be causing the
    grain? Could it be my agitation technique? I agitate 5 "cycles" during
    each 5 second agitation period. Is this too much?

    What are the primary factors influencing the grain other than film
    selection, EI and developer selection?

    Thanks.
    Vanessa
     
    lvc, Aug 25, 2003
    #1
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  2. : I am having problems with too much grain in my B&W photos. I think it is
    : caused by something I'm doing or not doing during film development. I'm
    : using 35mm Ilford FP4+ at EI 125 and developing as follows:

    : D-76 1:1 at 68 degrees for 11 minutes (recommended time)
    : - agitate first five seconds and rap on counter
    : - agitatate five seconds each 30 seconds thereafter
    : Stop bath for 30 seconds with constant agitation
    : Kodak Rapid Fixer w/o hardener for 4 minutes
    : Wash 30 seconds
    : Heico Perma Wash for 30 seconds w/constant agitation
    : Wash 4 minutes
    : Photo Flo 30 seconds

    : All the chemicals subsequent to the D-76 are within 1-2 degrees of 68. I'm
    : seeing the grain when enlarging to 5x7 and above. What could be causing the
    : grain? Could it be my agitation technique? I agitate 5 "cycles" during
    : each 5 second agitation period. Is this too much?

    If by "5 'cycles'" you mean five complete inversions of the tank, that
    may be too much. In Ilford's beginner's guide to film developing
    (http://www.ilford.com/html/us_english/pdf/Film Hobbyist.PDF),
    it recommends four inversions in 10 seconds once every minute for
    agitation. The data sheet for FP4 Plus recommends the same level
    of agitation.

    Overdevelopment will make a film's grain more apparent.
    If you know an experienced photographer who can take a look at your
    negatives, ask him or her if they seem to be over-developed. Many of
    the introductory books will have illustrations of over-developed
    negatives, but most people find it hard to judge a negative against
    these illustrations.

    : What are the primary factors influencing the grain other than film
    : selection, EI and developer selection?

    : Thanks.
    : Vanessa

    Warren B. Hapke
     
    Warren B. Hapke, Aug 25, 2003
    #2
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  3. lvc

    Jytzel Guest

    Are you printing on hard paper?
     
    Jytzel, Aug 25, 2003
    #3
  4. lvc

    Dick Guest

    One possibility is your thermometer; it has happened to me. If you are
    using a dial type, they can easily be off from being jarred or otherwise
    aggressed upon. You might want to calibrate it against a good mercury (or
    other) lab type thermometer. Or even take it to a store and see how it does
    against others there.

    Dick
     
    Dick, Aug 25, 2003
    #4


  5. Vanessa:

    You should not see grain in 11x 14's from FP4.

    The recommended time is also probably too high. What kind of enlarger
    are you using, and enlarging lens?

    Agitate by inverting and rotating simultaneously TWICE per minute (in
    immediate succession) after the first minute. NO MORE THAN THAT!
    (During the first minute right after you pour the developer in,
    agitate with FIVE inversions and rotations during the first 10-15
    seconds.) Then STOP! Just stand there and watch the timer. Don't move.
    Don't hold the tank or touch it. Set it down and step away from it.
    Keep the tank from vibrating. Don't place it on anything that moves.
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Aug 25, 2003
    #5
  6. lvc

    lvc Guest

    I'm using Ilford Multigrade IV Deluxe RC Pearl paper without a filter. I
    have the filter set but haven't started using them yet. I have just
    re-entered the hobby after many years away and the filters intimidate me a
    little. I haven't found a book that gives a clear description of exposure
    adjustments, etc.

    If I develop at the recommended time for a given temperature, how can that
    be wrong?

    I've read in Carson Graves book "The Zone System for 35mm Photographers: A
    Basic Guide to Exposure Control" about a procedure to test for
    overdevelopment. I'm planning on running this test over the next week or
    so.

    Vanessa
     
    lvc, Aug 25, 2003
    #6
  7. lvc

    lvc Guest

    I'm using a Beseler 23CII with a Rodenstock 55mm f/2.8 Rodagon lens.

    Vanessa
     
    lvc, Aug 25, 2003
    #7
  8. My data sheet from Ilford shows 8.5 minutes, but I recall some changes
    being discussed in here.... You are right to expect virtually
    grainless results with this combination. As someone already
    commented, you may wish to check the accuracy of your thermometer,
    too. Do you have any known extreme in your water supply in regard to
    alkalinity or minerals? If so, you may wish to try using distilled
    water.

    I went through an extensive review and testing of agitation techniques
    many years back. I happened to be using this combination of film and
    developer for the tests. What worked best for me was extending my
    development times to the range you are in, initial gentle inversions
    for 30 seconds, followed by 2 gentle inversions each minute to the end
    of dev time. This gave me the best evenness of open sky areas,
    controlled blocked-up highlights and made for easy to print negatives.
    When I switched to a diffused light source (I use a 23CII), I extended
    my times a bit.

    This is pretty much my routine, too. Don't be afraid to experiment
    with the filters.... Sometimes, the wrong contrast can exaggerate the
    grain clumps that would normally not be so apparent. Make certain
    your temps are as even as you think and that you aren't "shocking" the
    film (ie, at the wash cycle) and suffering from reticulation effects.
    It just seems that something extreme is going on here for you to have
    grain trouble with this combo. With D76 1:1 on this fine-grained
    emulsion, it seems most likely that you are over-developing and I'd
    throttle back on issues that enhance development (temp, time and
    agitation). Keep us posted, you've got me curious now!
     
    Craig Schroeder, Aug 26, 2003
    #8
  9. The procedure is correct. How is the contrast of the
    negatives? I don't think you are overdeveloping but the
    contrast will tell you that. Development time determines
    contrast.
    The only things I would change about your procedure are:
    Initial agitation should be continuous for the first 30
    seconds. After this whack the tank to knock off any air
    bubbles.
    Secondly, Ilford's times are for agitation of 10 seconds
    once a minute rather than the Kodak agitation of 5 seconds
    every 30 seconds. This should not make a big difference.
    Ilford does not specify the contrast index in its
    development charts but generally rates its films for
    development to a somewhat lower contrast than the ISO
    standard. The Ilford contrast is about midway between that
    needed for diffusion printing or contact printing and
    condenser printing.
    Nothing in your procedure should result in excessive
    contrast so I am a bit puzzled. FP-4 is a reasonably low
    grain film.
    I suggest trying the following.
    Try another similar film. Probably the closest is Kodak
    Plus-X. See if it gives you significantly finer grain. There
    should not be a big difference. What I am getting at is that
    the FP-4 you have may be defective, it wouldn't be the first
    time Ilford has had trouble.
    Without seeing the prints its hard to know how much grain
    you have or what it looks like so its hard to analyse the
    problem.
    There are finer grained developers than D-76 1:1 although
    its fairly fine grain. Kodak Xtol will yield finer grain.
    You can get very fine grain by using a developer like Ilford
    Perceptol or Kodak Microdol-X at full strength but will lose
    some sharpness. At this point I am suspicious of the film.
    Keep in mind that if you are working with 35mm film you
    will see some grain except on the slowest films.
    Minimum grain is gotten with tabular grain films like
    Kodak T-Max and Ilford Delta or Fuji Acros. They all require
    somewhat more care in development since they gain contrast
    faster with time and temperature than other films.
    What kind and grade of paper are you using.
     
    Richard Knoppow, Aug 26, 2003
    #9
  10. : On Mon, 25 Aug 2003 21:32:16 GMT, "lvc" <>
    : wrote:

    :>> > I am having problems with too much grain in my B&W photos. I think it
    :>is
    :>> > caused by something I'm doing or not doing during film development. I'm
    :>> > using 35mm Ilford FP4+ at EI 125 and developing as follows:
    :>> >
    :>> > D-76 1:1 at 68 degrees for 11 minutes (recommended time)

    : My data sheet from Ilford shows 8.5 minutes, but I recall some changes
    : being discussed in here.... You are right to expect virtually
    : grainless results with this combination. As someone already
    : commented, you may wish to check the accuracy of your thermometer,
    : too. Do you have any known extreme in your water supply in regard to
    : alkalinity or minerals? If so, you may wish to try using distilled
    : water.

    Ilford lists a time of 8.5 minutes in D76 1+1 on the inside of the film
    box for a roll of FP4 Plus that I have. Their online PDF and their
    large time and temperature chart for all their films lists a time of
    11 minutes for the same film. (All these times are for E.I. 125).
    Oddly enough, the film box lists a time for ID-11 1+1 (8 minutes)
    that differs from the D-76 time, though only by .5 minutes.

    I have very limited experience with FP4 Plus, but I suspect that 11
    minutes could produce overdevelopment.

    Warren B. Hapke
     
    Warren B. Hapke, Aug 26, 2003
    #10
  11. While bad water is always a possibility most photo
    solutions are pretty tollerant of water. Packaged D-76 is
    very heavily buffered so its not very vulnerable to pH
    variation due to water.
    The developing agents will destroy some other chemicals
    commonly found in water.
    The usual minearal content is calcium and magnesium
    carbonates. These have little or no effect on developer pH
    but can be deposited on the film if present in very high
    concentration. These deposits are visible as white rings or
    irregular deposits. They can be prevented by using a final
    rinse of distilled, or demineralized water with a little
    alcohol and wetting agent in them
    Water 1.0 liter
    Isopropyl alcohol, 99% 25.0 ml
    Kodak Photo-Flo 2.5 ml
    You can use rubbing alcohol by adding about 35ml. The
    amount is very non-critical. Just use rubbing alcohol whcih
    is just alcohol and water, not the kind with Oil of
    Wintergreen in it.
    If demineralized water is not available you can get
    adequate water by boiling it for ten minutes, then allowing
    it to sit and cool. Much of the mineral content will be
    deposited on the container (this is why tea kettles get a
    crust). other solids will precipitate. Syphon off the clear
    water for use. Boiling will drive off dissolved gasses like
    air and chlorine but not chloramines used in some areas to
    kill bacteria. These can be removed by an activated charcoal
    filter (Brita filter for instance) but are generally
    harmless to photo chemicals. Again, the sulfite and
    developing agents will destroy much of what is in tap water.
    I don't think the water accounts for the grain unless its
    _very_ alkaline and with soluble alkalies.
     
    Richard Knoppow, Aug 26, 2003
    #11
  12. The increased development time would increase contrast
    substantially and could well increase grain. The difference
    is not trivial. I wonder which time is actually correct.
     
    Richard Knoppow, Aug 26, 2003
    #12
  13. Are you using an accurate thermometer? Are you using any thermometer
    at all?

    You should not see grain in an 11 x 14 from FP4 properly exposed and
    developed. What contrast of paper are you using, and is it graded or
    VC? What filter # if VC?
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Aug 26, 2003
    #13
  14. lvc

    John Hicks Guest

    OK...in "graded paper" terms that's roughly a #1, maybe slightly
    higher if you're using a condenser enlarger because of the Callier
    Effect.
    The development aimpoint is usually that most of your negs print
    easily on grade 2 to grade 3.
    So if your negs are giving you proper-contrast prints without a
    filter, you're essentially "overdeveloping" them and printing with
    lower contrast to compensate. And the more development, the more
    graininess.
    It's a _recommended starting point_, not something you must do.
    Since everyone's equipment and techniques are different a "one size
    fits all" development time can't be given.
    So you need to do some testing. I'd recommend you stick a #2 or #3
    filter in your enlarger and make some more prints. If they're too
    contrasty (virtually all black and white, harsh) then when you develop
    your next roll of film reduce the development time by about 20
    percent. If those prints with a #2 or #3 filter are satisfactory then
    you're all set, and they should be less grainy. If they're still too
    contrasty then reduce time by another 20 percent etc until you arrive
    at a development time that allows most of your negs to print easily
    with a #2 or #3 filter.
    If otoh your prints are too muddy grey with no accents of almost
    pure black and white then you need to _increase_ development time; an
    increment of 10 percent is about right. Your goal is still the same;
    to print on a middle filter.
    This is difficult without seeing your negs; I'm assuming that
    they're overdeveloped because you're printing on low-contrast (no
    filter) while if they were "properly" developed you'd be printing with
    a middle filter. While there are other factors that can affect
    graininess, imho this is the most likely culprit and definitely the
    first thing to work on.
    I recommend a book; _Beyond Basic Photography_ by Henry Horenstein.
    BTW, the amount of agitation has no significant effect on
    graininess, and intermittent agitation has been shown to yield
    slightly grainier negs than continuous agitation but remember that
    it's not particularly significant. For those who want to argue from
    the peanut gallery, go read _Controls in Black and White Photography_
    by Dr. Richard J. Henry, Second Ed. PP 223-224, then please cite any
    references whose experimental results indicated otherwise.
     
    John Hicks, Aug 26, 2003
    #14
  15. lvc

    lvc Guest

    The thermometer quality issue is an interesting one. I'm using a dial
    thermometer from B&H. I would be thrilled to switch to a digital
    thermometer (more gadgets!!), but which one? There aren't that many on the
    market (at least on the B&H site). The Kaiser looks good (at $75) but after
    that they look a little risky.

    Any suggestions here?
     
    lvc, Aug 26, 2003
    #15
  16. Why, no, John, I agree with everything. I've seen beginners attempts
    at agitation, though, and they act like they've got epilepsy or
    something. Most over-do it.
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Aug 26, 2003
    #16
  17. lvc

    lvc Guest

    I'm not that much of a beginner.

    lvc

     
    lvc, Aug 26, 2003
    #17
  18. Vanessa:

    I have checked the Ilford info, and D-76/ID11 1:1 are indeed listed as
    11 minutes. Somehow, however, this seems to be too long to me. The
    time in Acutol is only 6 minutes for 35mm film, and the times for
    Acutol are usually about the same as for straight D-76, for which
    Ilford is suggesting 8 1/2 minutes. All the Ilford times look too long
    to me.

    See:
    http://www.patersonphotographic.com/chemistry/data.html

    Why don't you shoot several test rolls and bracket your exposures, and
    send one undeveloped roll to me along with a developed roll. I'll run
    the undeveloped roll through Acutol for you and then send it back to
    you after I compare them. Contact me offline and I'll give you the
    necessary info.
     
    Michael Scarpitti, Aug 26, 2003
    #18
  19. lvc

    Norman Worth Guest

    Maybe it isn't the process. FP-4 does have noticeable grain, but not
    objectionalble grain for most users. You can see it if you look hard. If
    the film is old or has been improperly stored the grain could become larger
    and some veiling fog appear. Try a fresh batch of film if your negatives
    seem overly dense in the unexposed areas. You might try a different film,
    perhaps 100 TMax or Pan-F, and see if the grain is more to your liking. You
    could also try developing in undiluted D-76 or another fine-grain developer
    for less noticeable grain with a slight loss in edge effects and apparent
    sharpness.
     
    Norman Worth, Aug 26, 2003
    #19
  20. lvc

    Dan Dunphy Guest

    At least 2 people have stated the proper development time is 8.5
    minutes. If so, 11 minutes is way over-development.
    Also, Condenser enlargers require a bit less development than
    diffusion enlargers for the same filter and paper.
    Try 8.5 minutes and a grade 2 or 3 filter.
    An indicator of over agitaion is often higher density toward the
    edges. The film releases bromide, into the developer, which acts as a
    development restrainer, in the highlights, where the most bromide is
    released. This keeps highlights from blocking up. Over agitation
    washes this bromide away from the areas that need it.
    Dan

    Colorado Springs, CO
    My advice may be worth what you paid for it.
     
    Dan Dunphy, Aug 27, 2003
    #20
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