I’ve published a technical review of Fuji’s recently re-released Neopan 100 Acros II black and white film.
Simple Film Lab is offering three new Black and White film tonal distribution profiles for black and white film sent in for processing and scanning.
The new tonal profiles are meant to be applicable to black and white film sent in for processing to normal contrast and is meant to provide a look similar to what you can get if you were to do an analog darkroom print using a split grade printing technique to punch in the shadows and blacks with a grade 5 filter and also control the rolloff of the highlights using a grade 0 or 00 filter.
So, let’s take a look. As a frame of reference, first a frame of Ilford HP5 in 120 format exposed (with an incident meter) to ISO 400 and developed to ISO standard 0.615 contrast and scanned in with a matching tone profile to make the straight line part of the characteristic curve land on Gamma 1.0.
Contrast wise, it’s pretty much what I’d expect of a linear black and white digital image, and is basically what you’d expect to see if you just did a straight print at grade 2.5 in a darkroom.
There isn’t anything special about it, and in all honesty, the floating point DNG that you get from Simple Film Lab is insanely malleable and can have a huge amount of dynamic range that you could recover any number of ways in either Adobe ACR or Adobe Lightroom.
So the first profile is called BWSG1, which is short for “Black and White Simple Grade 1”.
This tone curve starts with the standard normal contrast curve of the image above, but includes the equivalent of adding a couple of extra seconds of exposure at grade 5 if this where being printed onto paper in a darkroom.
This is what it looks like:
Just like with adding a couple of seconds at grade 5 in the darkroom, the mid-tones and highlights are largely unaffected, but the blacks and shadows punch down a bit and make for a significantly more punchy looking image while still retaining the same contrast in the rest of the image.
The second profile is called BWSG2, and is a progression of BWSG1. In this tonal distribution profile, we keep the same look of BWSG1, but include the equivalent of a grade 0 rolloff on the extreme highlights. The effect here in this image is very subtle, but in images where there are lights in the frame or very high contrast specular highlights, it provides the same effect of burning in the highlights at the lowest possible contrast so that you retain as much detail in the highlight areas as possible when printing in the dark room.
This is what it looks like:
The difference in this image is admittedly extremely subtle, however, if you look closely, the cloud cover is not the same luminance level as the BWSG1 image because it is just at the bottom part of the grade 0 rolloff. So everything brighter than the cloud cover (i.e. light sources etc) would have a nice gentle rolloff to pure white.
The third profile is called BWSG3 and is a progression of BWSG2. In this tone profile, we start with BWSG2, and add the equivalent of even more exposure time at grade 5 so the increased contrast amount moves a bit up the tonal scale and starts to effect what would be zones 4 and 5 if this were printed on paper in a dark room. Likewise, on the highlight side, we move the grade 0 exposure down the tonal scale ever so slightly and introduce an equivalent of a grade 00 exposure at the extreme top of the characteristic curve.
This is what it looks like:
Again, the mid-tones are mostly intact, but the image is rendered in a significantly more punchy manner while still retaining very legible details in the important parts of the image.
It should be noted that if you want maximum post processing flexibility, these three tone curves may not be for you, as they bake in a specific look that is meant to look similar to what you would get with a well rendered analog darkroom print.
These tonal distribution profiles also are not as good of a fit for films that don’t have particularly flat characteristic curves. For example, JCH StreetPan has a very S-Curve shaped characteristic curve, and so these profiles won’t necessarily render the same way.
These tonal characteristic curves are also meant for films that are developed to “normal contrast” (i.e. ISO standard 0.615 contrast), and therefore won’t have the same visual effect with films that are normally push processed like Kodak TMAX P3200 or Ilford Delta 3200.
Since these are specifically developed looks, they are not available for free because every frame needs to be individually looked at and adjusted to provide the best rendering into the selected tonal profile, just like with doing an analog dark room print, where you have to adjust for every frame to best fit it onto the paper while still providing nice punchy blacks and lovely highlight rolloff to white.
So with that being said, I also want to provide affordable pricing, so if you’d like your black and white film that you send in for processing and scanning to have this look applied, it’s not a huge additional expense, so the pricing is an additional $5 per roll, and can be added to the straight scan through the deluxe scan options. I’ll be updating the downloadable order form to reflect the new profiles in the coming days, but if you want these looks sooner than that, just send me an email and request it and we’ll work out payment at that time.
In the future I’ll be adding a handful of new tone profiles that will provide a few more variations on what has been released so far, and to better address film developed to other contrast levels.
Till next time!
I’ve updated the tech sheet for Fomapan 200 and added an official tech sheet for Fomapan 400. Both films now are developed with replenished XTOL to the ISO standard contrast 0.62, so check out the available tech sheets if sending film in to Simple Film Lab for exposure guidance and sample DNG files so you’ll know what to expect if sending film in to be processed.
It should be noted that the tech sheets are just films that we’ve officially looked at. We develop all black and white and C-41 films, so if you’ve shot film that we don’t have listed, that’s not a problem. We can still develop it and scan it in for you, we just don’t have an official position on how to expose it and such because we haven’t officially looked at it.
You can find it here.
If you send your StreetPan film in to Simple Film Lab, please refer to the tech sheet so you’ll know what to expect. It includes sample images along with downloadable DNG files to look at.
Our Order Form has been updated.
There have been a couple of refinements and some additions, detailed below:
You can now pay via credit card, or you can pay via PayPal. Just put your PayPal address in the same spot as the credit card number, and send payment when you drop your film in the mail. I’ll correlate the payment with the email address. You can alternatively just wait for me to receive your film and send you a PayPal payment request.
This option has been refined to reflect a change in time (which affects film speed and contrast) in 60 second increments. If you want finer grained control over that, then you can still specify a custom time in the custom film development section.
The default option here has been changed to develop only. If you want scans, you will have to select something. This is to reduce the amount of confusion about what type of scan you’ll be receiving. Please refer to the scan types available to see what you get with each one.
You can now request that your film be developed with a number of Ilford’s line of developers, namely, DD-X, Ilfosol S, Microphen, and Perceptol. We may add HC/LC29 in the future, but for now, this is a pretty significant increase in choice.
This section is for us to communicate to you! When we send your film back to you, we also send your order form back to you. What you can expect to see here is the twin check(s) of the film you sent in, and detailed notes of your development session for future reference. This way, as you send more film in, you have a frame of reference and can request changes or tweaks from there.
Just as a reminder, if you want to use Simple Film Lab to get your film processed and scanned, please consult the published tech sheets so that you’ll know what to expect for results.
Next Up: JCH Streetpan 400
Just a quick note, I’ve completed and published the tech sheet for Ilford FP4+ Film.
If you send your film in to Simple Film Lab, you can now see what you’ll get if you shoot Ilford FP4+ film and send it in to us to process and scan in. Check the review out here. I’ve included a characteristic curve, a slideshow of sample images, and downloadable sample Adobe Digital Negatives of what you could get if your film was handled by us.