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Film tests: getting the best out of FERRANIA P30 Alpha part 2 – by Scott MiccicheFilm tests: getting the best out of FERRANIA P30 Alpha part 2 – by Scott Micciche

Film tests: getting the best out of FERRANIA P30 Alpha part 2 – by Scott Micciche

A few months ago, I wrote about the results of my tests on FERRANIA P30 Alpha in various developers. Today, I’m back with part two. Part one explored FERRANIA P30 Alpha developed in ADOX Rodinal, ILFORD ILFOSOL 3, Tetenal Paranol S, Kodak D-96, HC-110 and T-MAX. For part two, I’m going to walk you through my process for FF No.1 Monobath, Kodak XTOL and the stellar ADOX Silvermax.

As before, the tests you see below are based on a methodology that is repeatable by anyone with access to darkroom developing equipment.

Here’s what I cover:

 

 

 

Developer selection and schemes

I made a big mention in part one that P30 represents the return of a lineage of black and white motion picture films and as such, we would be starting from scratch to look for a methodology to set our baseline – replicating, or getting as close as possible to the look of Federico Fellini’s Otto e Mezzo (8½).

Allow me to reiterate notes on selecting developers to test the film with; and the schemes and techniques used.

 

Developer selection criteria

As with part one, the basic criterion for selecting developers for these P30 tests is as follows:

  • Must be absolutely reliable and infinitely repeatable: no coffee, wine, or beer developers (variation in type, quality and availability will unpredictably impact results).
  • Must be readily available (aside from Kodak D-96 or other hand-mixed formulations).
  • Must be safe. Pyro, for example, can be dangerous to handle and inhale, especially in powder form.
  • Must be forgiving. Forgetting to agitate, or getting a bit too aggressive should not punish too severely, this isn’t C-41!
  • Should provide a good tonal scale.

As with part one, developers for part two were also selected based on their ability to be used in at-home development systems such as Paterson tanks, Rondinax and Jobo film processors.

 

Development schemes and technique

I continued to follow the optimal pH/developer temperature, as described by FILM Ferrania’s Marco Pangni: 21ºC and pH 9.5 (with a ±0.5 tolerance).

As with part one, we also have the following considerations:

  • Generally, higher pH developers need less agitation and/or time and this is true for most film developing.
  • Lower pH developers can use more, or even constant, agitation (Kodak D-96 as an example).
  • Motion picture films are processed in a continuous, gentle agitation scheme.
  • Stand developing, especially semi-stand, where inversions occur at even intervals during the duration of the development time, tends to be compensating, without loss of film speed (Rodinal/R09).

From this we can use the following to inform our development technique/scheme for each developer used:

  • Agitation: higher pH = less agitation.
  • Low pH has been more or constant in terms of full development with more agitation. The Ph scale is logarithmic so 8.5 -> 9.5 = 10x the alkalinity – wow.
  • Temperature is important, although not as strict as C-41 requirements: consistency rewards.
  • Developing device should be accessible: Rondinax/Patterson/Jobo.
  • Water: distilled water with a pH of 6 is much lower than tap water in most places and is something neutral for everyone. Measuring your tap water in terms of contaminants and pH might be handy in lieu of distilled water purchasing.

It all boils down to this: precision in measurement, using distilled water and careful monitoring of time and temperature.

 

The developer list, part two

Part one described development schemes and results for FERRANIA P30 Alpha in ADOX Rodinal, ILFORD ILFOSOL 3, Tetenal Paranol S, Kodak D-96, HC-110 and T-MAX developer.

Part two adds FF No.1 Monobath, Kodak XTOL and the stellar ADOX Silvermax to the list.

The developers and outline development schemes are as follows:

 

01: Adox Silvermax developer

  • I followed the recipe for ADOX Silvermax 100 film.
  • 1:29 Dilution, 11 minutes @ 20C
  • Agitation: 1 minute continuous, 1 inversion/30s thereafter
  • Water stop bath
  • TF-4 Fix 5 minutes
  • Ilford water-saving wash
  • Photo Flo and hang dry overnight
  • pH 9.9 (MSDS)

 

02: FF No.1 Monobath

  • No dilution, 6 minutes @ 21C
  • Wash 5 minutes
  • Photo Flo and hang dry
  • I followed the official instructions:
    • Quickly pour the monobath at room temperature (70-72°F or 21-22°C) into your daylight tank. Ensure that the negatives are completely covered by the monobath fluid. Agitate using the inversion method continuously for the first minute, then invert once at each subsequent 30-second interval. Total development time is 6 minutes.
  • pH 8-10 (MSDS)

 

03: Kodak XTOL

  • 1:2 Dilution, 10 minutes @ 22C
  • Agitation: XTOL-documented agitation: 5-7 initial, 2 inversions every 30s.
  • Water stop bath
    TF-4 Fix 5 minutes
  • Ilford water-saving wash
  • Photo Flo and hang dry overnight
  • pH 8.2 (MSDS)

 

 

Cameras, metering and scanning

As with part one, we’re keeping this simple!

 

Cameras and metering used

All cameras used should be operating within the manufacturer’s specification (shutter speeds, meter working 100%, light seals intact, etc.).

  • Nikon F2 center-weighted meter performed the best (NOTE: This F2 was recently fully serviced by Sover Wong in the U.K., including the DP-12 meter).
  • Nikon F4 spot metering, Adams Zone System.
  • Nikon F6 spot metering, Adams Zone System (I use the F6 as it allows me to dump “EXIF” from the rolls).

 

Scanning Workflow

  • Scan entire roll through a Kodak Pakon F-135, using the TLX client -> 16-bit Planar Raw files.
  • Convert the 16-bit raw to a linear tiff using ImageMagick.
  • Invert the negative using Colorperfect in monochrome neg mode (default BW Start setting).
  • Load into Adobe Lightroom for cataloging, possible dust removal, minimal cropping.
  • No further adjustments (I stay away from Adobe’s laplacian filters: highlight/shadow/clarity sliders)

 

Scanner focusing

  • For some reason, I thought my Pakon focusing was off, but none of my images using Kodak D-96 are sharp, so maybe this developer results in too much softness.

 

 

Results

All the tests here were developed in a Patterson tank. The three sub-sections below describe the development scheme used, as well as two sample images each.

You may click/tap the images to view them in fullscreen, or you can follow the Flickr link under each mini-gallery to see all images from each roll.

 

01: Adox Silvermax

Dilution1:29
Time (MM:SS)11:00
Initial inversion60 secs
Subsequent inversion1 inversion/30s thereafter
ISO80
Temp~20ºC
pH (est.)9.9

View additional results from this roll on Flickr »

 

 

02: Famous Format FF No.1 Monobath

DilutionStock
Time (MM:SS)6:00
Initial inversion60 secs
Subsequent Inversion1 inversion/30s thereafter
ISO80
Temp~21ºC
pH (est.)8-10

View additional results from this roll on Flickr »

 

 

03: Kodak XTOL

Dilution1:2
Time (MM:SS)10:00
Initial Inversion5-7 initial
Subsequent Inversion2 inversions/30s thereafter
ISO80
Temp~22ºC
pH (est.)8.2

View additional results from this roll on Flickr »

 

 

Conclusions…for now (again)

In the conclusion to part one, I said that I would be continuing to test FERRANIA P30 Alpha with more developers. I think I’ve done that! Writing part one I felt it inappropriate to add my own commentary on the images presented. I have had a change of heart for part two.

The crib notes:

ADOX Silvermax developer:
Winner. “Best” negatives, clean, full development, nice highlight rendition (see skin tones).

Famous Format FF No.1:
Nice development, even handled some I pushed purposely for this roll.

Kodak XTOL:
I didn’t get this recipe correct, unfortunately.  The gamma is off, leading me to blame underdevelopment. I will be revisiting in the future.

Taking all of the developers I’ve used into account, ADOX Silvermax developer is my absolute winner, by far. It produced clean negatives, deep blacks and smooth tonality. It is a very strange developer, with no smell, color or the “feel” of an alkaline solution. The developer also carries no ORM-D tag, so shipping should be far less restrictive than many others.

Tetenal’s Paranol S comes in a very close second and FF No.1 Monobath 3rd. Coming in last place is Kodak XTOL developer. It is definitely my least favourite of the ones tested so far and there is some speed loss. I will continue to tweak my recipe to give it a fair shot.

Although Silvermax developer is the definitive winner to my eye, the purpose of these tests is to give you the information you need to choose your own. Vision and desirability differ from photographer to photographer and from day to day.

So now, it’s over to you, the film photography community. Social media and forums have so far helped immensely with respect to collaboration and visual findings regarding P30 Alpha. I very much look forward to more of the same.

Thank you for reading and please make sure to leave your thoughts and experiences working with these and your own tests in the comments section below.

~ Scott

 

 

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About The Author

Scott Micciche

I am a hobbyist film photographer based out of Sacramento, California.

4 Comments

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  1. Hi Scott,
    Good work, as part One was!
    Just one question: should we assume that you shot the P30 at ISO 100 instead of ISO 80? I have some rolls of P30 and Silvermax developer as well, so I’m very interested.
    Thanks a lot and keep on going!

    Reply
    • Scott Micciche

      No, I have shot the P30 at box speed (80). Since the Silvermax 100 is so close to 80, I decided to use it as a base and it worked well. I believe if I had went to 50 or 125, then I would need to adjust 15-30s less or more development. I hope this helps.

      Reply
  2. analogphotobug

    Thanks for this review. I had some problems with P30 (probably a camera failure), But I still have 2 rolls and I’ll try them out soon (in another camera of course). We typically use F-76, any ideas on that developer?.

    Reply
    • Scott Micciche

      If it is supposed to be like D-76, then follow the best practices document for D-76. I particularly like D-76 1:1 for 13 minutes when shot at 50 instead of 80. Use Kodak’s recommended agitation method.

      Reply

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