Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2002/01/22

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Subject: [Leica] Very Low Light Low Contrast
From: "Gareth Jolly" <>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002 08:41:01 -0000

B Entus wrote:

>High contrast low light conditions came up in the Neopan  : Resofine
>How about (very) low light and low contrast-
>does anyone have reliable film and developer combinations?
>Supplemental lighting is not an option here, and difficult even to give
>more exposure.

>(So far I have tried both Delta 3200 and TMZ, various times in TMAX
>developer (and a recent try with Xtol 1:1)- negatives remain thin/flat and
>hard to print)

For my jazz project, I spent about a year down at a jazz bar photographing
and trying to print the (often almost unprintable) negatives.

Neopan 1600 in Xtol might be what you're looking for.  Alternatively, try
Tri X pushed to 1600 in Xtol 1:2 if you think this would give you sufficient
shadow detail.  The pushing will mean the negatives will be higher contrast.

What are the conditions?  Where is the light coming from?  Are you shooting
at full aperture?  Can you shoot at a slower shutter speed if you steady the
camera somehow?  I found a tabletop tripod on my M6, resting on my shoulder,
was very effective.

As for printing the negatives, I found a few techniques quite useful for
very thin negatives - chiefly, split grade printing and flashing (or partial
flashing).  I'm happy to go into this, if it would help.

If you are desperate, there are a few other techniques listed in the Film
Developing Cookbook - chiefly hydrogen peroxide (essentially suspending the
film over a steaming hydrogen peroxide bath during the development to
'bleach' the shadows) or latensification (exposing the film to a safelight
at 10 feet for 15 - 40 minutes before developing).  Not for the faint
hearted and not sure how well they work with modern films such as TMax,
Delta and Neopan.

Gareth Jolly

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Replies: Reply from "Don Dory" <> (Re: [Leica] Very Low Light Low Contrast)