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Ilford XP2 vs. Kodak T400
Old 02-26-2010   #1
baycrest
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Ilford XP2 vs. Kodak T400

I've been trying to get "reasonably clear" (notice I didn't say sharp, cos I can't seem to achieve sharp scans at all) scans using a HP G4050 flatbed and been getting sometimes ok results and at other times pretty bad.

I was wondering if it might have something to do with the film, or aperture used. I don't think its my scanning ability, I'm using Vuescan and its fairly straight forward, I think. Yes it could be my scanner, but, I hope not.

To get acceptable clarity scans for viewing say at 1200 X 800 on the monitor, I usually have to sharpen the picture at 200% Radius=0.3 Threshold=1, sometimes twice, but then I'm picking up a lot of "grain" from the sharpening.

They scans from the lab are better than what I can produce from my flatbed. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by that.

I'm using Kodak 400Tmax & I'm wondering if I'd get sharper results (and less grain) if I used the Ilford XP2?

As well, I'm accustomed to taking most people pictures wide open or near wide open. Would I do better for scanning if I stopped down to 2.8 or 4 or 5.6? Lets assume I can avoid camera shake.


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Old 02-26-2010   #2
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Most flatbeds will struggle a bit with 35mm film, but if you are using full aperture, your zone of sharp focus could be tiny, especially if you are close to your subject. Stop down a couple of stops and you should see an appreciable difference if the scanner is working OK and your lenses are focussing sharply on the film plane. I don't have much experience with T Max, but XP2 is a great film choice. I suggest you shoot a few frames, tripod mounted, on XP2 and have the best frame commercially enlarged and scan the same neg to a similar size and compare. That should tell you all you need to know. Looking at your camera's, you have some great kit, so I doubt the problem lies with your scanner (or with your expectations!). When I changed from an Epson 2450 flatbed to Nikon Coolscan V ED, the difference was huge on 35mm.

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Old 02-26-2010   #3
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Hi,

XP-2 produces very fine grain like ISO 100 films.

I use Rodinal to develop XP-2 and TMAX and have found TMAX + Rodinal produces grains too much for my liking.

Here are two examples developed in Rodinal and scanned from film in my Canoscan 8800f:

XP-2
TMAX 400


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Old 02-26-2010   #4
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Thank you Ray & Ray for the advice and telling me what works for you.

I'll pick up some XP2, stop down a couple of stops and see the difference in grain and clarity.

If that doesn't work out too well, I'll have to go back and reconsider my scanner.

Thanks again
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Old 02-26-2010   #5
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PAGE 115, "The Black and White handbook" by the venerable Roger Hicks and Frances Schultz

Chromogenic Development
Ilford's XP2 ...developed in ordinary C41 developer: the image is therefore formed of dye clouds, not metalli silver. Because of this, over-exposure gives finer grain rather than coarser...
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Old 02-27-2010   #6
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Thank you again Ray for the reference.
Picked a copy up on eBay. It was $5 and I'm sure there'll be some pearls of wisdom in there that can help my photography.
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Old 02-27-2010   #7
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rob, the advice on shooting XP2 at iso 250 or even 320 improves the midtones too in my experience. kodak BW400 and XP2 scan very well compared to silver-based negatives, although you can expose and develop the latter specifically to improve scanning results (another topic itself and covered in detail on other threads).
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Old 02-27-2010   #8
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I've shot a couple of rolls of XP2 @ iso 200 for my daytime shooting.. if properly metered the noise is almost negligible.
I scan my negatives at 4800dpi on my Epson V700 (more examples @ flickr):



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Old 02-27-2010   #9
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Bay,

fyi, the author Roger Hicks is on this board as well, he has a dedicated section.
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Old 02-27-2010   #10
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Thank you Mike & Renzsu for the tips. Those images shot with XP2 at 200 or 250 came out great.

I'll definitely give it a try.
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Old 02-27-2010   #11
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Here is nice example of XP-2 fine detail recorded at ISO 320, Lens: 50mm Summarit f/1.5 @ f/8.. C41 developed, scanned at 5000dpi with my PlusTek 7300 35mm scanner.



Hay, who is that guy in the reflection
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Old 02-28-2010   #12
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Hi DNG,

I little off topic, but you mentioned you're using Plustek?
If you're taking portraits, do you find you need to stop down to say 5.6 or more so the scanner will give you reasonably sharp results?
Or are you able to get pretty good results with the lens wide open at f/1.4 or f/2?
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Old 02-28-2010   #13
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Thank you Ray for the comment on Roger Hicks!
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Old 02-28-2010   #14
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Rob,

I don't think you need to stop down to get sharp scans from most lenses you'll probably be using. I've made some bad, blurry scans on a flatbed of my own with my T* Zeiss glass, and I KNOW it's sharp. It's just the scan process.

My experience: a Nikon scanner with real ED glass is the way to go at home (the different models will basically differ in speed and resolution, but all are remarkably sharp). Aside from that, using a C-41 B&W film with a machine scan from a lab is very good. I've made what I consider to be nice scans with my Epson 4990, but that is for on-screen use. To go big, I go with something else.

The other bit of advice is after you scan, don't globally sharpen...just sharpen details and the narrow area in focus if shooting wide open. This way you'll get nice sharp scans but you won't be sharpening the grain in areas like sky, etc. (oversharpening there can result in pepper-like grain).

A couple of examples of Kodak BW400CN, scanned at a minilab, and the shots were wide-open, which is the way I like to shoot too:









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Old 02-28-2010   #15
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^ those are pretty much the images that made me want to try C41 b/w film
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Old 02-28-2010   #16
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Renzse,

Thanks again.

I know you agree with me...C41 b&w is a little-known modern miracle.

And for Rob...you can take a box-speed C41 film and change the ISO on the fly one stop either way and get a great picture. Like Renzsu said, and has the images to back it up, shoot ISO 200 during the day and then shoot 400 in the evening (or even 800).
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Old 02-28-2010   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baycrest View Post
Hi DNG,

I little off topic, but you mentioned you're using Plustek?
If you're taking portraits, do you find you need to stop down to say 5.6 or more so the scanner will give you reasonably sharp results?
Or are you able to get pretty good results with the lens wide open at f/1.4 or f/2?
Haven't used the it at f/1.5 yet... in a few weeks I have a shoot with a gal I've shot before, I will take some then.. in fact, I'm only bringing my DSLR to set up the exposure for the studio stuff

But, I sharpen and do basic post before the scan with the included software. I figure, if the file is sharp. that is my new original. I'll make some test shoots at f/1.5 and smaller for your question.
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Old 03-02-2010   #18
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Hi David,

So if I can summarize, I should try overexposing daytime shots and underexposing low light shots by 1/2 to a full stop by setting the ASA to 200 or 800, if my film speed is 400?

Thanks
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Old 03-02-2010   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DNG View Post
Haven't used the it at f/1.5 yet... in a few weeks I have a shoot with a gal I've shot before, I will take some then.. in fact, I'm only bringing my DSLR to set up the exposure for the studio stuff

But, I sharpen and do basic post before the scan with the included software. I figure, if the file is sharp. that is my new original. I'll make some test shoots at f/1.5 and smaller for your question.
I've found that sharpening with the OEM software left some significant artifacts in my scan. So I tried sharpening in post where I could test out various amounts of USM quickly without having to re-scan the negative, which takes up some additional time.

Based on your comments, I'll retry sharpening at the time of the scan, using different sharpening strengths & see what comes out.
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Old 03-02-2010   #20
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Rob, overexposing in bright daylight at ISO 200 is good...it'll reduce overall contrast, and I've found BW400CN to be fairly contrasty at 400 in full daylight.

400 in the evening is just right. I only mention 800 because the Kodak data sheet says you can do it with no problems. It'll probably be contrasty, but in the evening you might be okay with deep blacks.

Nice tones in full daylight at ISO200 (Kodak BW400CN):

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Old 03-03-2010   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DNG View Post
Haven't used the it at f/1.5 yet... in a few weeks I have a shoot with a gal I've shot before, I will take some then.. in fact, I'm only bringing my DSLR to set up the exposure for the studio stuff

But, I sharpen and do basic post before the scan with the included software. I figure, if the file is sharp. that is my new original. I'll make some test shoots at f/1.5 and smaller for your question.
I've confirmed directly with Nikon that any curves adjustments set up in NikonScan are applied after the scan, not before. The implication, though not confirmed, is that sharpening may also be applied after, not before the scan.

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Old 03-03-2010   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DNG View Post
Haven't used the it at f/1.5 yet... in a few weeks I have a shoot with a gal I've shot before, I will take some then.. in fact, I'm only bringing my DSLR to set up the exposure for the studio stuff

But, I sharpen and do basic post before the scan with the included software. I figure, if the file is sharp. that is my new original. I'll make some test shoots at f/1.5 and smaller for your question.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hlockwood View Post
I've confirmed directly with Nikon that any curves adjustments set up in NikonScan are applied after the scan, not before. The implication, though not confirmed, is that sharpening may also be applied after, not before the scan.

Harry
Do you mean that the scanner scans the negative, then applies the sharpening or other adjustments from the scanner software ?
I don't think my scanner has such an option, or tells me "when" (before or after) the scan the adjustments are applied.
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Old 03-03-2010   #23
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I have shot XP1,XP2, and XP2 Super at 200 over the years and have found it to be an ideal ASA. Compared to Kodak, I think the Ilford is much better. I have shot literally hundreds of rolls. At one time
Ilford sold an XP Chemistry kit. That was great for home developing.
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Old 03-03-2010   #24
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In my view both films shoot much better at 200 or 100 than at 400 or higher. 200 is a good compromise (reasonable speed- great tone ) so mostly I just stick to that. The tonal qualities at these lower ASA settings (ie with moderate over exposure) are really smooth and pleasant. I think this photo was shot with one or the other in my M3 then scanned.

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Old 03-04-2010   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DNG View Post
Do you mean that the scanner scans the negative, then applies the sharpening or other adjustments from the scanner software ?
I don't think my scanner has such an option, or tells me "when" (before or after) the scan the adjustments are applied.
That's exactly what I mean. In NikonScan, you apply a Curves adjustment once the preview image is acquired, then scan. But the adjustment is applied only after acquiring the full scan - according to the Nikon technician. This may be true as well for sharpening. But I didn't ask about sharpening because I regard that as more complex and best done in post.

I should also add that the end product of my workflow is primarily an archival print, not a web image. It may be that a simple sharpening step in the scan software would be adequate for the latter.

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