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dkmoore

pushing film speed

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Hello all,

Until now I have used all film at the rated speed with my M cameras. I am curious how far I can push certain films. For instance, when indoors and if I have 400 speed film loaded, can I fake the system and put 800 or even 1600 without completely wrecking the film? I'm assuming at a minimum this will create more/harsh grain but will the exposures be ok?

I'm mostly using:

Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak portra 160 and 400

Thanks for the tips!

Dustin

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In my experience pushing film increases grain somewhat and decreases dynamic range. In the 1960s I shot a lot of indoor sports on Tri-X rating it at EI (Exposure Index) 1200, and developing in Acufine, and preferred the results to what I got pushing in other developers. At that time Acufine stated that their recommended rating for Tri-X was 1200 in Acufine as that was what the developer was designed for, and that this wasn't really "pushing" as with other developers. I'm sure there was a lot of marketing-speak in their claims, but we really liked the results.

For sports like basketball and hockey in our ancient stadiums poor lighting I also used Kodak recording film - I think 2475 - at higher ratings and got good results.

Back then we would mix 1-qt of Acufine developer and 1-qt of Acufine Replenisher, returning the developer to the stock bottle after developing, and adding 1-oz. of replenisher for each 36-exp roll developed. So we'd get about 32 rolls of film per qt. of developer without having to adjust development times as it was used. (Doing reportage for student publications meant a lot of available light shooting.)

The company that made Acufine then has folded, with another company now marketing the developer, and they no longer sell the replenisher. Also, now they claim Tri-X should be rated at 1000 EI for Acufine. Over the decades there may have been changes in chemistry, film, or marketing sanity.

Edited by TomB_tx

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You aren't changing the speed of the film, you're simply underexposing it and then over-developing it to compensate for the underexposure. Full-strength Microphen works well, as does Acufine; you'll lose some shadow detail and pick up some grain. Some films react pretty well to this (Tri-X, HP5+) and some are very good at it (TMZ, in T-Max developer 1:4). I tend to reserve it for dull, overcast days where there isn't that much shadow detail to worry about, and the over-development punches up the overall contrast a bit. Also stage shows or night street scenes where you might need a higher shutter speed, and it's fine to let the shadows go completely black.

Edited by Chuck Albertson

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Thank you both for the detailed responses. I’m ok with crushing the blacks when I’m purposefully pushing the film. I’ll be careful with the exposure in general. 
 

i didn’t realize how important the chemical part of the equation is. I’m very much a novice with film.  

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36 minutes ago, dkmoore said:

Thank you both for the detailed responses. I’m ok with crushing the blacks when I’m purposefully pushing the film. I’ll be careful with the exposure in general. 
 

i didn’t realize how important the chemical part of the equation is. I’m very much a novice with film.  

By the way, you can push Portra 400 (never tried it with Portra 160), but if you're not developing with C-41 chemistry at home, make sure your lab offers the service (usually not more than a one-stop push, and at extra cost).

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34 minutes ago, Chuck Albertson said:

By the way, you can push Portra 400 (never tried it with Portra 160), but if you're not developing with C-41 chemistry at home, make sure your lab offers the service (usually not more than a one-stop push, and at extra cost).

Thanks for the tip! I noticed the up charge this evening when I was looking around at processing labs. 

Edited by dkmoore

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Hi Dustin, 

Try some Tmax 400. The tonal range is so long that you can use it at ISO 800 without any changes at all...Kodak recommends the same development times for 800 as it does for 400, you will just have a bit less shadow detail and more contrast. In general, you can easily go to 1600 with good exposure, and probably 6400 if you are ok with high contrast and heavy grain. 

Delta 3200 is a 1200 ISO film designed for pushing. Provia 400X advertised itself as being a slide film that can shoot at 1600. I used it that way during a volcanic eruption and the images came out just fine. The main thing to remember is that for most film pushes, you have to compensate in development. Depending on the process, there may be alternative chemicals as well. But for 1-2 stop pushes you are probably fine with a conventional developer like Xtol or D76. 

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1 hour ago, Stuart Richardson said:

Try some Tmax 400. The tonal range is so long that you can use it at ISO 800 without any changes at all...Kodak recommends the same development times for 800 as it does for 400, you will just have a bit less shadow detail and more contrast. In general, you can easily go to 1600 with good exposure, and probably 6400 if you are ok with high contrast and heavy grain.

Agree. I shoot TMY at 800 in gloomy weather, and develop it with stuff shot at 400. The Kodak data sheet has suggestions for normal and pushed development times:

https://imaging.kodakalaris.com/sites/prod/files/files/products/f4043_tmax_400.pdf

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I used to shoot Tri-X at 1200 and process it in Diafine. Super easy and super quick.

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On 12/19/2019 at 2:36 AM, Stuart Richardson said:

Hi Dustin, 

Try some Tmax 400. The tonal range is so long that you can use it at ISO 800 without any changes at all...Kodak recommends the same development times for 800 as it does for 400, you will just have a bit less shadow detail and more contrast. In general, you can easily go to 1600 with good exposure, and probably 6400 if you are ok with high contrast and heavy grain. 

Delta 3200 is a 1200 ISO film designed for pushing. Provia 400X advertised itself as being a slide film that can shoot at 1600. I used it that way during a volcanic eruption and the images came out just fine. The main thing to remember is that for most film pushes, you have to compensate in development. Depending on the process, there may be alternative chemicals as well. But for 1-2 stop pushes you are probably fine with a conventional developer like Xtol or D76. 

Stuart, when you say about tonal range on the first paragraph, do you mean as shoot as EI800 but develop for 400 (so no push)? I guess that mean the pictures would be a stop darker but because the tonal range is so good one won't realize it? Am I correct?

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Dustin,

I have pushed Tri-X to ISO 1600 with good results.  The grain was pretty much the same as if shot at ISO 400.  The only difference I saw was a bit of lower contrast in my work prints.

I would expect pretty much the same result if you to push Kodak Portra 160 and 400  to ISO 1600.  Negative emulsions have a fair amount of flexibility these days.

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13 hours ago, fatihayoglu said:

Stuart, when you say about tonal range on the first paragraph, do you mean as shoot as EI800 but develop for 400 (so no push)? I guess that mean the pictures would be a stop darker but because the tonal range is so good one won't realize it? Am I correct?

Yes. Since the tonal range is so large, Kodak recommends simply underexposing one stop. When you print or scan, it is easily compensated for. It is detailed in the Tmax 400 datasheet...you can find all sorts of times there. I use Xtol 1 to 1 in a Jobo, and the times are accurate for me. 

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Take look at my street photographs (from my website or IG account, links below).  90%+ of the color are taken with Portra 400 and pushed one stop. I push to get an extra stop of speed, not because I like the rendition better.  You lose a little saturation and gain a little grain and contrast, but for street photography it is perfectly fine.  I would push the film for family photos and portraiture, however.  Pushing Portra 400 more than one stop really thins out the negative and enhances the effects the I just described.  I don't like it.

I wouldn't push Portra 160.

As others have said, Tri-X is very pushable.  My general workflow is to rate the film at 800 (+1) and develop it at 1200 (+1.5).  I find that this gives me the speed that I want in the street and pops the highlights a bit.

In general, the more you push the more contrast you will get and the more thin your neg will be.  So you need to take this into account and make sure it is appropriate for your purpose.

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On 12/18/2019 at 9:36 PM, Stuart Richardson said:

Hi Dustin, 

Try some Tmax 400. The tonal range is so long that you can use it at ISO 800 without any changes at all...Kodak recommends the same development times for 800 as it does for 400, you will just have a bit less shadow detail and more contrast. In general, you can easily go to 1600 with good exposure, and probably 6400 if you are ok with high contrast and heavy grain. 

Delta 3200 is a 1200 ISO film designed for pushing. Provia 400X advertised itself as being a slide film that can shoot at 1600. I used it that way during a volcanic eruption and the images came out just fine. The main thing to remember is that for most film pushes, you have to compensate in development. Depending on the process, there may be alternative chemicals as well. But for 1-2 stop pushes you are probably fine with a conventional developer like Xtol or D76. 

This is exactly the info I was looking for. Thank you and Happy Holidays. 

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On 12/21/2019 at 8:19 AM, Herr Barnack said:

Dustin,

I have pushed Tri-X to ISO 1600 with good results.  The grain was pretty much the same as if shot at ISO 400.  The only difference I saw was a bit of lower contrast in my work prints.

I would expect pretty much the same result if you to push Kodak Portra 160 and 400  to ISO 1600.  Negative emulsions have a fair amount of flexibility these days.

thanks for the info. I probably will only push a stop but it’s nice to hear these films have latitude. I’ll let my developer know when I do this in case they need to change up their process. 

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On 12/21/2019 at 8:45 PM, A miller said:

Take look at my street photographs (from my website or IG account, links below).  90%+ of the color are taken with Portra 400 and pushed one stop. I push to get an extra stop of speed, not because I like the rendition better.  You lose a little saturation and gain a little grain and contrast, but for street photography it is perfectly fine.  I would push the film for family photos and portraiture, however.  Pushing Portra 400 more than one stop really thins out the negative and enhances the effects the I just described.  I don't like it.

I wouldn't push Portra 160.

As others have said, Tri-X is very pushable.  My general workflow is to rate the film at 800 (+1) and develop it at 1200 (+1.5).  I find that this gives me the speed that I want in the street and pops the highlights a bit.

In general, the more you push the more contrast you will get and the more thin your neg will be.  So you need to take this into account and make sure it is appropriate for your purpose.

Interesting tip regarding Tri-x. I may give that a whirl.

Agree for contrast, not for all situations, so I will keep that in mind when pushing the film  

I am just now starting to experiment with changing speeds. I want to try developing my own film as well but haven’t gotten that far yet. 
 

thank you for the info!

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On 12/18/2019 at 11:37 PM, Chuck Albertson said:

Agree. I shoot TMY at 800 in gloomy weather, and develop it with stuff shot at 400. The Kodak data sheet has suggestions for normal and pushed development times:

https://imaging.kodakalaris.com/sites/prod/files/files/products/f4043_tmax_400.pdf

Thanks for the link 

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41 minutes ago, dkmoore said:

Interesting tip regarding Tri-x. I may give that a whirl.

Agree for contrast, not for all situations, so I will keep that in mind when pushing the film  

I am just now starting to experiment with changing speeds. I want to try developing my own film as well but haven’t gotten that far yet. 
 

thank you for the info!

My pleasure!

and one correction in my post - I meant to say that I would NOT push film when taking family photos.   I prefer to bring all of the properties of the particular film to bear for this stuff.  
 

and best of luck with your home development - i know lots of people who do it with great success.  
 

and i hope to see your results on the “i like film” thread 🙂

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1 hour ago, A miller said:

My pleasure!

and one correction in my post - I meant to say that I would NOT push film when taking family photos.   I prefer to bring all of the properties of the particular film to bear for this stuff.  
 

and best of luck with your home development - i know lots of people who do it with great success.  
 

and i hope to see your results on the “i like film” thread 🙂

I figured it out! 😎

I will definitely post some more film shots. I’ve probably only posted 5 or so film shots in total. Although the images I make with film I tend to like a much higher percentage than digital. 

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