Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/08/10

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Improving leica-made images
From: Alexey Merz <>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 11:42:09 +0100 wrote:

> I strongly urge you to learn to develop you own film.  It's the only way to
> have control over a critical part of the printing process.  If you don't have
> good negatives, you can't make good prints. 

Sing it, Brother!

> I don't think you can beat Tri-x.  It's quite forgiving and has beautiful
> tonality.  It has the perfect look for Leicas.  My current favorite developer
> is Kodak XTOL.  It gives fine grain and the prints have a certain sparkle that
> I don't see with other developers.  I would rate Tri-x at 200 or 250 to get a
> little juicier negative and use about 10 % less time than Kodak recommends.
> If you want finer grain than Tri-x, I would suggest Ilford Delta 100 rated at
> 100 in XTOL.  It's slightly fussier than Tri-x, but very pretty.

I generally rate Tri-X at 320 for standard usage, and develop at -10% (HC110); 
sounds like we're on the same wavelength. 

Still, I always preferred Ilford HP5 in HC110. I had to work out development
times (I rated HP5 at 400 or 800 depending on use) but my HP5 negs often 
seemed to have a luminosity to them that was absent when using tri-X.

Now I use TMAX 100 & 400 with TMAX developer, at rated speeds, in TMAX
developer used EXACTLY as Rochester recommends (including temp control
to +/- 0.3 degrees C and a water jacket to keep it that way- these are
comparatively finicky films!). Fantastic films, but not the best to 
learn on.

One other thing: if you're just beginning, shoot a LOT of film. I STRONGLY
suggest buying a bulk loader- it removes many inhibitions if you know that 
you're only paying a $0.05 US per frame shot.

Good luck,

- -Alexey