A few words on the B & W films still available

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by RattyMouse, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Hi Folks....after over a decade away from film, I am back shooting medium format film. I am waaay out of practice with film and was wondering if folks who have the time, and inclination, help me out with some guidance on the black and white films that are still available for 120. Due to the cost, I would rather start out experimenting with some initial ideas from friendly folks here rather than all on my own. Soooooo, if you could write your impressions of the following films, just a sentence or two (nothing large), that would be MOST helpful! Things like when not to use such a film would also help a lot.

    Kodak

    Tmax 100
    Tmax 400
    Tri-X 400

    Ilford

    Delta 100
    Delta 400
    Delta 3200
    HP5 400
    FP4 125

    Fujifilm

    Neopan 100


    THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!
     
  2. hsandler

    hsandler Member

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    I am in a similar position. I have been shooting Delta 100 and 400 at rated speed and developing in Kdak Tmax developer using times and temperatures from The Massive Developing Chart with good results. Recently I tried pushing Delta 400 to ISO 1600 in Tmax and it worked well, although obviously more grainy. I should mention I scan my negatives and dont print in a darkroom.
     
  3. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    tmx ( 100 ) tends to get really blocked-up if you use a flash.
    i have used pretty much all the films mentioned,
    and they all can yield great negatives.
    i tend to over expose and over develop my film and process everything
    in coffee with a shot of print developer for good measure.
    except for delta3200 ( i have never used 120 version of this film )
    i have never had trouble with any of the films mentioned.

    have fun !
    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2012
  4. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    All of them are very nice films. They all work very well. All can provide museum quality results.

    We really have no clue what will suit your preferences best, neither do you probably, I know I didn't when I came back to film. Mostly we just have opinions about what suits us best. To really understand what suits you, you need to shoot and print and even then your preferences will change over time as your experience grows.

    There are lots of threads addressing this already, I'd suggest a few searches, like "FP4 vs" or "Acros vs" or whatever.

    The best advice is just get out and shoot and have fun.

    If you want reliable exposures right off the bat, use an incident meter, shoot at box speed, develop your film per the directions with something normal like D76 or XTol.

    If you are using a lab you might een start with Ilford XP2 instead.
     
  5. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I mainly use Kodak products for film. Tmax400 and Tri-X are so flexible and capable, I don't know when NOT to use them...

    These days most film are so much alike other than obvious things like ISO speed. Sure, you can make them act differently but that's true to a lot of extent with any film.

    When-ever I don't know what exactly to expect, my standard film is Tmax400. Processed normally with D-76, I have never been disappointing.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2012
  6. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Ok...I think I asked too much. How about something simple like, TMax 400 vs Delta 400. What would be best for street photography? Delta 100 vs Tmax 100 vs Neopan 100? Same thing, for street use.

    Thank you everyone!
     
  7. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    I see variations of this question from time to time. Which film is best? Which film should I use? My thoughts: It doesn't matter. Just pick one and start using it. For me I started using T-Max 400 as my standard 400 speed film. I am trying to select different papers to get different looks in the print. You will see more differences in papers and printing techniques that you will by changing films. Once you settle on a couple of different papers, you can start to tweek your film processing to get desired results from the paper.
     
  8. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Thanks Mopar guy...That helps a lot....I'll focus mainly on price at first, so I can shoot more film and experiment. Neopan is the cheapest if I remember right.
     
  9. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Virtually any film and developer combination will deliver good results - you just need to pick one and learn how it works.

    As a guide, for my photography I have been standardised for over 10 years on Delta 400 (with an EI of 200 following testing) developed in Barry Thornton's two bath for 5.5 minutes in each bath.

    It works well for me, I know exactly what I will get and my results are always consistent. I have also been standardised on Adox Fine Print Vario Classic glossy developed in Dokumol for 3.5 minutes.

    People choose all different combinations of film, developer, paper, technique to suit their tastes.

    For me, my choice has been for totally repeatable and predictable results, fine grain, sharp negatives with good micro-contrast and a full tonal range in my prints. Working in this way, I can concentrate on finding new images without any other concerns because all variables have been pinned down.

    Hope this helps,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  10. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Thanks David. I understand what you are saying here. When you say Delta 400 with an EI of 200, that means over exposing 1 stop, right? You are setting the iso at 200 correct? Thanks again.
     
  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Foma films are missing from that list.

    Fomapan 100 and 200 are great films and I've been using them for over 5 years now initially from necessity they were available in bulk packs (10 rolls) from my nearest decent photo-store, I've not tried the 400 so I can't comment about that film.

    Outside the UK I find Ilford and Foma films more widely available than Kodak which I'd previously been using exclusively and switched primarily back to Ilford when I just couldn't get Tmax films in Chile/Peru. Foma films are my back up.

    With the issues at Fotokemika (EFKE) this will have an impact on Fotoimpex/Adox and the films and papers they plan to coat in Germany, and it will be interesting to see how they fill some of the looming gaps in the market.

    Ian
     
  12. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    There is no difference in usability. 400 = 400, 100 = 100, and both speeds have there uses.

    There is no magic bullet here. You are comparing Good Granny Smiths to Good Red Delicious'. There each good, they are each apples, they each have the same food value, they each have essentially the same nutrients and calories, they can both make great pies, snacks. You have to take a bite of each (shoot & print them) if you want to know the difference.
     
  13. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Ilford PAN F can be added to your list and also Adox 100 is worth a try. It's quite cheap too.


    Steve.
     
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi rattymouse

    just settle on 1 film and use it for a few months.
    tri x or foma 400 or hp5+ ...
    don't get yourself in the trap of testing/using
    every film, and every developer and every paper ...
    you will end up digging yourself a hole and not be able to get out of it.

    as the others have said, the best thing to do is get a bunch of film and take photographs.
    you might want to bracket your exposures for a few rolls, to figure out how you want to
    rate your film in a variety of situations ... and to see how your meter and shutter work ...

    then ... when you decide outside on the street i like shooting at box speed,
    indoors i like to under expose and over develop a little ... dovetail your film to your own use ...

    good luck !
    john
     
  16. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    I do not think the visible differences between various films are all that great. It will make more difference which developer you chose and if you meter and develop properly/carefully. I would simply use one of the 100-400 ISO films to begin with. My personal preference is Ilford, but that is just my taste...
     
  17. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    RattyMouse,
    Are you going to Scan/print digital or use an enlarger/wet process? Your choice of film/developer will be a little dependent on which you use. One film I like for both is Fuji Acros in Rodinal 1:100 or Ilford DD-X 1:7, but that's just me of course. It would be a pick for a good starter film to try and the price is as good or better than the rest. Also, since you are a Shanghai kind of guy you could try some Shanghai GP3 film. I have never tried it myself, but others have. Some have really liked it, but others didn't. I have tried Chinese ERA in 4x5 and it was a very nice film at a great price too, but I don't think it's made anymore. It's going to be hard beating your Fuji S5 PRO for color work, but I find film much more rewarding for monochrome work. For 400 seed film I think Delta 400 and T-max 400 scan better than Ilford HP5, but for certain things the HP5 enlarged prints can't be beat.
     
  18. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Rattymouse: First, all the films currently made by Kodak, Ilford and Fuji are of excellent quality. I would not be comfortable saying the same about anything else on the market right now (based on my own experiences and the experiences of others).

    Second, they will all work well in most any developer worth using. I'll exclude staining developers for now.

    100 speed tabular grain
    -TMX is the finest grained, followed by Acros, followed by Delta. TMX is also finer grained than PanF+.
    -All three have very similar characteristic curves until the very high densities, where TMX has the most gradual shoulder (lowest highlight contrast), followed closely by Delta. Acros has very high highlight contrast and develops to much higher highlight densities than the other two films.
    -Acros has essentially no reciprocity failure up to two minutes
    -All three are very flexible
    -Many people rate these films at around EI 64. This depends on the developer though. For example, Delta 100 can be rated essentially at box speed when developed to normal or slightly reduced contrast in Ilford DDX. Acros tends to be the slowest of the three. But this all depends on how much shadow detail you prefer.

    FP4+
    -Similar characteristic curve to Delta 100, but a little grainier, and needs more reciprocity compensation than Delta
    -Subjectively sharp, with a long, flexible tonal scale
    -It is probably the best medium speed not-quite-tabular-grained film around, one of the standards.
    -People typically rate it around EI 64 (depends on desired shadow detail)
    -Many people prefer the tonal rendering of more traditional films like FP4+, HP5+ and Tri-X compared with the tabular grained counterparts, and find them easier to print. Sometimes this is hard to define specifically, but you'll often hear people say they just prefer the "look" of these films versus TMX/Delta/Acros. The tradeoff is slightly more grain for the speed.

    400 speed tabular grain
    -The current version of TMax 400 ("TMY2") is incredibly fine grained for a 400 speed film, with very high resolution. In my tests I have found it to be even finer grained than Delta 100 let alone Delta 400.
    -Unless you value the look of current Tri-X, I will go out on a limb and call TMY2 the best film available to someone wanting a long, flexible straight line tonal scale, high speed, high resolution and extremely fine grain. Indeed it gives up very little versus TMX 100 in sharpness and graininess, with two stops more speed and good reciprocity characteristics. I think this film would be hard to beat for street work, and can easily be used for landscapes etc as well.
     
  19. kbrede

    kbrede Member

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    If you're looking for inexpensive film you might want to give Arista Premium 400 a try. It's reported to be Tri-X. Developing times are identical. That's what I'm starting with.

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/192364-Arista-Premium-BandW-400-ISO-35mm-x-36-exp.
     
  20. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Yes I am giving one more stop of exposure than the box speed (setting my meter to 200 rather than the 400 indicated on the box). This is because my tests showed that, with my way of metering exposure, my camera - Mamiya 7 with 65mm lens, my choice of developer, my way of agitating the developing tank, I found that I needed to give more exposure than the box speed indicated. The primary reason for this is that, at a rating of 400, the shadow areas of the negatives (important for my photographs as you will see on my website) were too thin to yield the level of detail that I require.

    You will often find that people who rate their films at box speed do not want/need the level of shadow detail that, for me personally, is important.

    Good luck with finding a film/developer combination that suits your requirements. If, like me, you are interested in urban landscapes with strong contrasts and geometric qualities then I can certainly recommend my choice of film and developer. If your interests lie in other areas, perhaps the best thing to do is look through the APUG galleries for work that appeals to you and then PM the photographer and ask them what film/developer combination they use. This should give you a rewarding starting point.

    All the best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  21. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Depends on the size of the print. At a small magnification say a 4x5 print what you say is true. But differences would be seen in an 11x14 print.
     
  22. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    +1
     
  23. seadrive

    seadrive Member

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    If I were doing "street photography", I would want a fast film; I'd shoot Delta 3200, rated at EI 1000.

    If I couldn't (for whatever reason) use Delta 3200, then I'd use Delta 400 or T-Max 400. They're both excellent films, but I think TMY-2 is just a tad (maybe 1/3 stop) faster than Delta 400. Quality-wise, you can't go wrong with either of them.
     
  24. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    You could rate it at ISO 1000 because that's what it is!


    Steve.
     
  25. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    Yes but since he is a medium format shooter, I didn´t suppose that that would bother him too much ;-)
     
  26. seadrive

    seadrive Member

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    Ilford calls it Delta 3200, not Delta 1000. So pardon me for thinking someone might not realize that it's really a 1000 speed film.

    Sheesh! :blink: