How can I tell a good negative from a 'not so good'...(B&amp

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by jdmartin8, Jan 9, 2005.

  1. jdmartin8

    jdmartin8 TPF Noob!

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    Much like the next post in line here, I predominantly shoot black and white, and I think I would like to develop my own film (35mm), and then pick and choose which negatives to print.

    My question is: What do I use to view the negatives, to determine the good ones from the junk? I don't have an enlarger, nor do I have any of the other dark room equipment.

    I'm new to all of this, so any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks...

    Jim
     
  2. ferny

    ferny TPF Noob!

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    I'm newer to this than you, so excuse me if I'm wrong. :mrgreen:

    I think you use a thing called a focus finder or a focus scope. It allows you to get a very close view of the negative so you can tell if it is in focus or not.
     
  3. aggiezach

    aggiezach Yup...

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    I think you're thinking of a grain focuser. That is used when you are using an enlarger. To view a negative, you'll need a light source (preferable a light box that is daylight balanced) and a Loupe. You can get a pretty decent loupe for a good price. Check the sponsors of this site FreeStyle and Adorama

    Zach :D
     
  4. sbalsama

    sbalsama TPF Noob!

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    Those are for grain focusing during printing, Ferny. I don't think they're used any other time, though I could be wrong. People come up with the funniest uses for items...

    Usually, jd, I just hold up all my negatives and look at them one by one. If it's blocky and contrasty (or under/over exposed far too much), those are junk (depending on your intention for the shot). Overexposures are easier to work with, I think. The other thing I look for is sharpness, which if you have good eyes could be done with just a pair of eyes and a good light. That's pretty much how I decide which negatives to print, besides the obvious "oh this shot looks pretty" composition choice.
     
  5. sbalsama

    sbalsama TPF Noob!

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    You beat me :p
     
  6. aggiezach

    aggiezach Yup...

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    :lol:

    That happens to me quite often!

    Zach :D
     
  7. ferny

    ferny TPF Noob!

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    I thought they were used with an enlarger, but also thought they could be used with negs. It's nice to know the truth now. :)
     
  8. ferny

    ferny TPF Noob!

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  9. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Besides just holding them up to a light source, you can use a loupe and a lightbox (or even a loupe and the window). There are also many varieties of slide viewers available from dirt cheap to expensive. With medium and large format negs it's pretty easy to just hold it up to the window and see what you've got.

    It's hard to write or talk about what a well exposed neg looks like. Not too dense, not too thin. Start printing your own, it's those negs that are easy to print. :wink: If you know another photographer who does a pretty good job, maybe you could ask to see their negs.

    The best way to evaluate whether I want to print a neg is a contact sheet, IMHO. I'm still lazy, and don't contact print everything, although I know I should. A neg scanner helps some, but scans rarely shine like an actual print.

    A grain magnifier is used for focusing during printing. It sits on the easel or the sheet of paper used for focusing, and allows you to focus on the grain rather than the image itself.
     
  10. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'll toss this in, as well: you WILL develop an "eye" for evaluating your negatives the more you work with them. There have been a couple I've had that I thought would make dandy prints, only to struggle in the darkroom later and see that it was over- or under-exposed.

    I bracket a lot when I shoot, which kind of makes negative evaluation harder (for a beginner like me), though I know ultimately the reward will be being eventually able to zoom in on the one good negative from the spread. :)
     

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