I've been thinking about it for a while and since I had a day off I decided to shoot a roll of 400 speed film at 1600. Why? Well, I guess I just wanted to see how pushing the film two stops would affect the final images. Here's how I did it and a look at some results.
First of all, let's go through how I normally develop. The chemicals that I use are always the same: Kodak HC-110 (B) developer and Ilford Rapid Fixer. I use a Paterson tank (because plastic reels are the best!) and to keep track of time I use an iPhone app called Massive Dev Chart Timer. The best part about the app is that it tells you the correct developing time for your particular choise of chemicals.
So, here's how I did it.
- Pre-rinse: cold water, 2 minutes, constant agitation. (For some reason this step is not included in the app.)
- Developing: 16 minutes at 68°F. Constant agitation for the first full minute, then gently inverting the tank four times at the top of every minute for the remaining 15 minutes.
- Stopbath (water): 1 minute, constant agitation.
- Fixer: Constant agitation for the first full minute, then gently inverting the tank 4 times at the top of every minute for the remaining 4 minutes.
- Final rinse: simply flooding the tank in the sink for 10 minutes.
- Wetting agent (water mixed with 2 drops of YES dish detergent): 2 minutes, constant agitation.
Now on to the result. The images below were shot hand held in poor lighting conditions using a Minolta X-700 and a 50mm f/2 lens. No masterpieces, i admit, but I was lazy and didn't even leave my appartment!
My test was in no way scientific. For example I could have shot another roll of the same compositions at box speed for comparison, but Tri-X is a film that I already know by heart. I simply wanted to see if I would notice any differences from normal developing, and I did! Higher contrast, more grain and less detail in shadow areas, just to mention some.
Then why push the film if the result is lower quality images, you might ask. Well, for one thing I wouldn't have been able to shoot hand held at box speed in such low light at all. Another advantage of pushing is that in daylight, a higher ISO lets you increase your shutter speed to freeze the action when your subject is on the move.
I might push another roll, this time using another type of film, say Ilford HP5?