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Sunday, December 1

Firstcall 400S in Rodinal


I'm still having fun "testing" Firstcall 400s, trying to find the best way to use it. If you remember, this is an attempt to find a film that will give me nice, contrasty results for the dull-weather photography I like. The first roll I shot was developed in D76 1+1 but I rated it at its box speed and it was apparent in the negs that there's no way it's ever going to make that speed.

This time round I bracketed at 400 ISO, 200 ISO and 100 ISO and developed it in Rodinal 1+25. Rodinal at that dilution should be a little contrastier than a 1+50 mix although grain has a tendency to increase slightly. Here are some of the bracketed negs at, left-to-right, 400, 200 and 100.

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firstcall 400s, film, grain, sharp, spur, nhc, analogue, analog, photography, darkroom, print, silver gelatin, enlarger, enlarging, 35mm

firstcall 400s, film, grain, sharp, spur, nhc, analogue, analog, photography, darkroom, print, silver gelatin, enlarger, enlarging, 35mm

firstcall 400s, film, grain, sharp, spur, nhc, analogue, analog, photography, darkroom, print, silver gelatin, enlarger, enlarging, 35mm

The negatives emerged from the fix looking quite robust and punchy but not overly so. It was obvious again that 400 ISO is pushing things a little too far with this film. I'd say that 200 ISO is a viable speed and maybe even more exposure wouldn't be a problem. For my needs, I'd probably stick with 200 ISO.

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firstcall 400s, film, grain, sharp, spur, nhc, analogue, analog, photography, darkroom, print, silver gelatin, enlarger, enlarging, 35mm

firstcall 400s, film, grain, sharp, spur, nhc, analogue, analog, photography, darkroom, print, silver gelatin, enlarger, enlarging, 35mm
Some bracketed exposures. Left to right: 400, 200, 100 ISO
Nikon F90x, 85mm f1.8 Nikkor AF-D

I have to say that grain is quite pronounced with this film/dev combination. Is it too much? Depends on how much you like grain, I suppose. For my everyday dull weather film it's probably too grainy for me. I like grain but I wouldn't want too much on every shot I take. Rodinal 1+50 would have been a little smoother but maybe not as contrasty. Firstcall 400S did well from a grain point of view in D76 and maybe rating it at 200 ISO in that developer would be the better option.

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A scan of a print from Firstcall 400S at 200 ISO.
Early morning at Monifieth beach.
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A crop from the sky left of the sun.

However, I have another trick up my sleeve. Spur have started making a developer designed to give high contrast. There's a bit of a movement in Spur's native Germany along high contrast lines which I don't think is really replicated anywhere else to the same extent. Spur NHC is the brew concerned and the company sent me a bottle to try out. My concern is that it might be just too harsh. There's a fine dividing line between nice, punchy tones and soot and whitewash.

As a result, I've never found a good enough reason to use it. Maybe now is the time to give it a whirl with Firstcall 400S. Just thinking about it is a bit scary as I reckon the grain might be overpowering. Never mind, though. Nothing ventured, nothing gained so it might be time to crack open that bottle and get down and gritty. (Did I really just write that?)

2 comments :

Hernan Zenteno said...

I differ with you looking at the negatives. I prefer the 400 ASA mood. But maybe I am more in the thin side of the negatives preferences cause late years I scan the them and I am more able to get a long scale of tones with this kind of negatives. And all depends of the paper you use. I you use warm tone fiber papers (I remember the old good Forte WA doble weight) you will need a more dense negative. But if you use Agfa multicontrast classic you can print a very nice photo. Now, as you can read, I am outdated with my papers, all depends what are you using. I tend to suggest that 320 ASA would be ok. The other thing that have take in consideration is the kind of light you are using in your enlarger. I was more familiar with condense enlargers so I prefer not much dense highlights. The grain is not much for the photo you scanned but all depends what size was. If that grain if from a 8x10 print then if you will enlarged very much big you will end with pretty big grain.
I prefer rodinal 1+50 at 18 C temperature. I think the grain is a little bit less and the tonal scale is gorgeous. Contrast is always manageable with variable contrast papers or developers for print. Just thinking.

BRUCE ROBBINS said...

Hi Hernan,

The scan of the Monifieth beach pic is indeed a 10x8. I suppose the subjects of the negatives in this post aren't the best for illustrating my "dull day" problems as the light wasn't as dull as I normally like. And I use a diffusion enlarger which doesn't help things. I certainly agree with you that it would be much easier to scan one of the 400 negs!