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Einst_Stein

Horrible Grain of Delta 400 according to Flickr

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I searched pictures posted on flickr.com, using "leica HC110 delta 400" as the searching key.

To my surprise, the 1st 300 pictures I looked all are horrible grainy, much worse than what I found by "Leica HC110 TRi-x".

According to all my readings,  Delta 400 is supposed to have much finer grain (or "grain cloud" or "grain clusters"). Some poster even use the "grain? what grain" as the title in their post to emphasize how "grainless" is the Delta or Tmax.

I understand it could be the results of improper exposure or development. But judging by the small sample statistics, the difference of grain pattern between Delta 400 and Tri-x is far less than I expect. 

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In HC110 I can't think of a more horrible developer for a T-grain film. Use DD-X a developer made for T-grain films.

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DDX is fine and easy to use. Long shelf life in my experience.

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1 hour ago, Photon42 said:

DDX is fine and easy to use. Long shelf life in my experience.

What dilution do you use DDX at - I have 500ml of it but have never used it as at the recommended 1-4 dilution it seems very expensive.

Can it be used at the more normal 1-9 or 1-14? 

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I am not sure why, I was never that fond of the Delta films. I use Delta 100 for 8x10, but that is because for some reason it is dramatically cheaper than Tmax in those sizes, and also comes in a 25 sheet pack vs. 10. At 8x10 any discussion of grain is essentially meaningless. 

Have you considered Tmax 400? It is probably the most advanced black and white film ever produced...it is pretty forgiving of processing, has very fine grain and a huge tonal range. So large, in fact, that Kodak does not even recommend changing your development times to push it one stop. So basically, it is an ISO 400-800 film in one roll. 

As for a developer, I tend to stick to Xtol at 1+1...it has a long life if you use a tank with a floating lid, and it is cheap and rather environmentally friendly. DDX is a good developer as well, but here it is extremely expensive because we need to pay hazardous materials tax based on weight and dilution. 

Edited by Stuart Richardson

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2 hours ago, paulmac said:

What dilution do you use DDX at - I have 500ml of it but have never used it as at the recommended 1-4 dilution it seems very expensive.

Can it be used at the more normal 1-9 or 1-14? 

I use 1+4.

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I did use XTOL 1+1 quite a bit in the past. It is just that there is only the 5l chemicals pack available only, which needs to be set up in one go. I never had an issue with shelf life, but XTOL is reported for its "sudden death" issue, probably due to water ion composition in some areas (iron, whatever ...). DDX and XTOL are my favourites, DDX being the easier to work with, XTOL the more environmental friendly one.

 

 

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I am pretty sure the sudden death thing is a long dead relic of the small packets. I did have it once many years ago, but I have been using it in my lab/studio for the last ten years without a failure. That said, Iceland's water is quite soft. I have no qualms with DDX other than the cost, but I would be slightly careful of storage life depending on where you are. The problem with many liquid concentrates is that their life is not always as good as a powder in a low volume film world...if you are in a market where the solutions are likely to have taken a long time to get there and then might sit on the shelf for awhile (like Iceland), I would steer towards powders. In a higher volume market or buying from a big store like B&H, Freestyle, or FotoImpex I think it is less an issue. Of course, this does not apply to rodinal or HC110, which have near infinite storage lives. 

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I searched Flickr again. This time remove the developer from the search let. “Leica delta 400”.

The first 300 photos still look horrible. Worse than Tri-x. I don’t understand the argument of the grain difference.

It could be due to the improper exposure, development, scanning, or photo editing, since these are digitized pictures. 

For whatever the reason, Delta 400 has horrible grain characteristics among the Flickr posters.

I also searched “Leica tmax 400 hc110”,   Indeed it is much finer statistically,

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7 hours ago, Stuart Richardson said:

I am not sure why, I was never that fond of the Delta films. I use Delta 100 for 8x10, but that is because for some reason it is dramatically cheaper than Tmax in those sizes, and also comes in a 25 sheet pack vs. 10. At 8x10 any discussion of grain is essentially meaningless. 

Have you considered Tmax 400? It is probably the most advanced black and white film ever produced...it is pretty forgiving of processing, has very fine grain and a huge tonal range. So large, in fact, that Kodak does not even recommend changing your development times to push it one stop. So basically, it is an ISO 400-800 film in one roll. 

As for a developer, I tend to stick to Xtol at 1+1...it has a long life if you use a tank with a floating lid, and it is cheap and rather environmentally friendly. DDX is a good developer as well, but here it is extremely expensive because we need to pay hazardous materials tax based on weight and dilution. 

I am pickingTri-x for MF (Contax 645, Hasselblad 6x6, Fujifilm 6x8 and 6x9). HC110 and Rodinal are now my favorite developers, but I will drop Rodinal once the bottle is empty. I used Verichrome and APX-25, APX-100 in the predigital life, usually used HC110, Rodinal, and PMK.

Since I use mostly Leica Digital now, I start to pick up the Leica film camera, so 35mm format. I don’t feel tri-x is objectionable in the grain business, according the MF films I shot. But I wonder if Delta or Tmax could be a better choice, strictly for the grain. I doubt I would find benefit in their tonal rendition. 

Judging from the sampled Flickr posts, it does not seem Delta’s finer grain is real, practically speaking. Perhapss it takes a much better skill than the average Flickr posters to really realize it.

Edited by Einst_Stein

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I had never shot Delta 400 before last year. But once I tried it, I liked it a lot better than the HP5 and Tri-X i used in the past. The tones are subtle and delicate, and I found that there was less harsh contrast. Very fine grain too, even when pushed.

The shot on the beach was made with an M4 and 35mm Summaron F2.8, Delta 400 (rated at 400) developed in ID-11 1+1

Other shot was on an M5 and 50mm Summicron, Delta 400 (rated at 400) developed in ID-11 1+1

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I am not surprised on the first picture. It's mostly just white and black. The second one has the grain similar to the ones I saw on flickr, but yours is on the fine side. I don't see the grain advantage over, say, Tri-x. I also think these two pictures do not care much about tonality. 

A landscape with mixed level of details and full gray level and a portrait of young girls may reveal more differences with respect to this topic.

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I find the Tmax films to be exceptional...I never liked too many Ilford films or Tri-X, but I really liked Neopan 400, 1600, and Neopan Acros. Sadly, two of the three are long long gone, and Acros is also now history. I tried Tmax 400 as a replacement and was amazed at how good it was. In MF I found that though it was slightly grainier than Neopan Acros, the tradeoff made it very acceptable. The tonality is great as well. The photo below is Tmax 400, albeit in 4x5. Tmax 100 is also excellent, but a bit less forgiving in processing and exposure. It does have better reciprocity characteristics than Tmax 400, though unfortunately not as good as Acros. 

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On 2/23/2019 at 5:03 PM, Einst_Stein said:

For whatever the reason, Delta 400 has horrible grain characteristics among the Flickr posters.

It's worth remembering most Flickr posters are just happy to get results and feel they've mastered film and chemistry by developing a recognisable image. In reality they are sloshing films around in whatever chemicals they have or whatever chemicals are fashionable, not understanding that the best chemicals for the job may not be the cheapest and not understanding there is no such thing as a universal developer when it comes down to refining quality. For most people 'good enough' is good enough, always has been, always will be.

Edited by 250swb

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And quite a few people - and cheap laboratories- manage to get horrible grain aliasing in their scans.

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12 hours ago, 250swb said:

It's worth remembering most Flickr posters are just happy to get results and feel they've mastered film and chemistry by developing a recognisable image. In reality they are sloshing films around in whatever chemicals they have or whatever chemicals are fashionable, not understanding that the best chemicals for the job may not be the cheapest and not understanding there is no such thing as a universal developer when it comes down to refining quality. For most people 'good enough' is good enough, always has been, always will be.

You might be right. I have no way to tell what it means to me.

I believe on the right hand, every film and every developer can produce excellen things. But I can only care what is most likely to come for the normal people like myself.

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12 hours ago, jaapv said:

And quite a few people - and cheap laboratories- manage to get horrible grain aliasing in their scans.

I suspect the scanning, the post processing, and the skill are also be the important factors.

The bottom line is, what's the end result on average.

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1 hour ago, Einst_Stein said:

I suspect the scanning, the post processing, and the skill are also be the important factors.

The bottom line is, what's the end result on average.

Which is wrong, start with crap and you aren't going to save it. Start with a superb negative and you can track down what may be compromising it in scanning or post processing, but it isn't reversible. Flickr is a bunch of 'well meaning' amateurs with no idea what is going on, there are no shortcuts in film processing, do it right or don't complain.

Edited by 250swb

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12 minutes ago, 250swb said:

Which is wrong, start with crap and you aren't going to save it. Start with a superb negative and you can track down what may be compromising it in scanning or post processing, but it isn't reversible. Flickr is a bunch of 'well meaning' amateurs with no idea what is going on, there are no shortcuts in film processing, do it right or don't complain.

I believe you are absolutely right for people live in ivory tower. For true experts, as I have heard very often, it's not the film or camera or the tool, it's the one behind these tools.

But I am among the average people staying with flickr, photo.net, etc.

 

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HC110 is just bad for T grain films and it is why both Ilford and Kodak each make a developer specifically for T grain films. What is 'ivory tower' about that?

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