An overview of B&W film by YOU!

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Mearns, Feb 8, 2008.

  1. Mearns

    Mearns Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm looking at buying in bulk, and because I live in NZ (isolated from the world) I won't be able to try them before I buy so what I'm wanting is your opinion on any number of any of the following films :D :D Ie. Love it, hate it, and why? Contrasty, Flat, Good for pushing/pulling... Anything, that will help me make a more informed decision as possible.

    • Kodak Tmax - Ok I know what this is like. Its the cheapest stuff in my area. I think its ok...

    •*Ilford, I like this, I like their HP5+ and their PanF+ but its pricey where I am.

    • Foma Fomapan

    • Efke

    • Rollei Retro

    Thats really all I'm looking at at the moment. Thanks

    Oh, btw, if there is a website that will give me an overview of these films then please let me know.
     
  2. Mearns

    Mearns Member

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    Oh... And

    • Fortepan
     
  3. John Simmons

    John Simmons Member

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    Please tell us what format you are shooting as it will make a difference in whats recommended.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Well I use predominantly Tmax 100 and 400 which are superb, I used to also use Agfa APX100 (Rollei Retro) but once it was discontinued in 5x4 I stopped using it in 120 & 35mm but again excellent as good as Tmax100 and a full stop faster for my use.

    Ilford films are all excellent, the only reason I've not been using them was I preferred APX100, and the Tmax's, which came out before Delta 100 etc.

    Adox/Efke - I use the KB14/PL14 now known by its more modern ISO rating as KB25/PL25, very very good.

    Forte, well asn the plants closed I wouldn't start using it now, it's OK for large format but comparatively not as good s the others for grain, sharpness etc.

    Fomapan, I'm testing, it's very strange in 120 because of it's blue base, not sure what to make of it yet.

    In all honesty I can use all the films I've mentioned other than Foma (at the moment) and produce excellent negatives and prints, the crunch really comes if you shoot 35mm where the greater enlargement makes the differences more apparent.

    Ian
     
  5. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    I shoot mostly 4x5 and MF, although I recently got a 35mm RF. I shoot almost exclusively HP5 in 4x5 and MF, which I mostly develop in HC110. I am an amateur, so I don't shoot a huge amount (I would estimate ~100 sheets of LF and 50 rolls of MF per year), and by sticking with one developer/film combination I get to know what to expect pretty well. I am worried that by adding another variable into the mix, I would get confused.

    One of the things that I like about HP5, which I also had with Plus-X and Tri-X which used to be my films of choice, is that there is a relatively smooth and slow variation of contrast with developing time. I played with some of the T-max films, and found them more difficult to control contrast. Perhaps with more practice....

    Now, I am considering going to something else in 35mm, mainly because I am afraid of the grain in those tiny negatives, so I am thinking of something with finer grain - perhaps FP4+.

    All things being equal, I will tend to lean towards Ilford since I feel that they have a greater commitment to the B&W market. I used to use a lot of Plus-X and Kodak paper, both of which have been discontinued now. I hope that Ilford materials will be supported for the forseeable future.

    I purchase film approx every six months, from B&H since what I get from them is much fresher than my local camera shop, and I keep it in the freezer.
     
  6. Smudger

    Smudger Member

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    Alternatives..

    If you have'nt tried them, Fuji Acros 100 & Neopan 400 are excellent films.
    I've ordered twice from Megaperls in Japan.
    Good prices, and surface mail,the cheapest option,reaches me in Dunedin (NZ) within a week of ordering.
    You may have to sign up with PayPal.
    http://www.unicircuits.com/shop/
     
  7. walter23

    walter23 Subscriber

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    FP4 is my general use B&W film. Works good; light hits it and some kind of photochemical reduction occurs which can then be accellerated with developing agents to give this weird inversed image which can be projected onto commercial photosensitive paper. You have to hit it with a little more light than you do something like HP5, but the tradeoff is that you get more (and much smaller) clumpy particles that form the image, which makes the image look smoother and finer.

    Some people like getting bigger clumpy particles so they use HP5.

    Sometimes I want to capture light from wavelengths beyond 750 or 800nm exclusively, because it makes nice pictures, so I use Efke IR820 or Kodak HSI / HIE if I can find it.

    This cheeky response is basically my way of saying that I don't think it matters what film you end up using so long as you take the time to learn its characteristics and get a film of the right speed for your requirements. Something you can easily get a new supply of should probably be your primary concern.
     
  8. Anton Lukoszevieze

    Anton Lukoszevieze Subscriber

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    I have shot loads of Fomapan 100 120 film and I absolutely love it. I develop it always in APH 09 (original Rodinal formula) at 1:25 for 8-8.30 minutes. I have made exhibition prints from it too. The blue base does seem weird at first, but I have grown to miss it in other brands, strangely. I am enjoying NP 100 asa films too for 1/4 plate and whole plate. Like Foma (but not blue!).
    Anton
     
  9. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    I really like the new Tmax400. I don't think they changed much, from what I read online, but if you need a good solid 400 speed film you won't go far wrong. I'm probably going to use Tmax400 as my exclusive 400 speed film but still have lots of Fuji Neopan 400 to shoot too. My lower-speed fine-grain film of choice is Fuji's Acros, but Ilford PanF is great stuff too. Our local shop stopped carrying it though - no demand - so I probably won't shoot much of it. I have a feeling grainwise, Acros and PanF are equal.
     
  10. Mearns

    Mearns Member

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    Wow Thanks everyone! You've all been a great help already!

    Thanks Smudger, I'll check it out!

    Oh and by the way I'm shooting 135 and 120
     
  11. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    You need to also consider Kodak 400Tri-X, possibly Kodak 320Tri-X (depending on if you are using sheet films), and the Fuji black and white films. All these should be available in your area. Also remember that Kodak TMAX comes in three different flavors - TMX (speed 100), TMY (speed 400) and TMZ (35mm only, speed between 1000 and 25000 depending on processing). My experience with 400Tri-X has been excellent. I find that the TMAX films are also very fine, but note that they are all quite different from ordinary films and from each other. Some learning is usually required. I have no experience with the Fuji products, but reviews have been good.
     
  12. steelydam

    steelydam Member

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    I've used Tri-X developed in D-76 now for nearly 20 year and it's worked great for me. I keep hearing Kodak is getting rid of more and more of their b&w products and I wanted to look around at other options so a few months ago I ordered several 35mm rolls of Ilford HP5, Fuji Neopan 400, and Foma 200 to see what they were like. After shooting them all and developing in my usual D76 1:1, I still like Tri-X best. It's weird - my Tri-X negs look pretty dull/non-contrasty compared to the others, especially the HP5 negs which really "pop" visually. But when it came to printing the HP5 has more contrast and grain than I wanted. Tri-X is very easy to print and have come out looking great and the grain is very fine for 400 speed. The Foma 200 grain was comparable, but even on a dull grey/noncontrasty day, the highlights in a lot of my pics were blown out.

    Verdict? I'm staying with Tri-X for now. In 400 speed I liked Fuji next best followed by Ilford HP5. I also shoot a lot of Plus-X and think it's stellar.
     
  13. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    If you are looking for smooth tonal transitions and subtler contrast: try the lower speed ilford deltas, the tmaxes or perhaps acros, in the appropriate developer.

    If you like a fair dose of traditional edge contrast but still smooth tones and fairly tight grain, try fp4+ in good old ID11/D76 1+1, rated at box speed.

    If you are on the go and need more speed options (push/pull), and like the 'character' of the fp4+, then try hp5+, again in ID11/D76 1+1 and rated at box speed, or xtol if you want finer grain. I rarely mess with xtol or similar but that option is there.

    Among the higher speed films, consider the higher neopans and also delta 3200. Regarding the Fujis, check at megaperls, sometimes they have some Fuji oddities that don't appear elsewhere.

    If I were exiled for years on a remote island and granted a bulk quantity of film and developer, I think I would pick hp5+ and xtol.
     
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  15. semeuse

    semeuse Member

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    I love pushing Efke KB400 in Diafine or Hubl's Glycin- an EI of 1600, while grainy (I like film grain), still gives excellent tone
     
  16. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    I think you really only have two choices for bulk 135 film, Ilford and Kodak.

    Fuji stopped bulk 135 film last year, so they are out of the equation.

    These three companies have a track record of very well made products.

    FP4+ is an excellent product that will work extremely well from 50 to 200. It has one of the best tonal ranges I know of.

    HP5+ at 200 isn't as fine grained as FP4+ but of course at 320 or 400 to 800 it is better than FP4+.

    Depending on the tax system in your country, you may be better off purchasing Ilford films from the USA.

    My last purchase of 200 sheets of Ilford FP4+ from Badger in the USA was 47% cheaper than buying it from any Australian shop. That price included freight!

    You may also look into mixing your own developer from scratch. Unbelievably cheap and you should always have fresh stock solution.

    Mick.
     
  17. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Well, there still are more bulk DP 35mm films on offer than made by these two companies.
    Look at the range of Maco. (All branded as Rollei.)
     
  18. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    AgX, yes there is Maco, but the price of their films that I looked at this morning in my photo store, was prohibitive for single rolls.

    However I just looked up the same store online and found that Maco film was about the same price of Kodak bulk films.

    I'm glad you pointed this out, I haven't given Maco much thought for bulk film before this time.

    Ilford are the most expensive nearly $80.

    Maco UP400 is next at $62.70

    Kodak Tri-x 400 is $62.15

    All Australian dollars.

    Mick.
     
  19. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Tmax? Don't like it. Never have. Ilford HP5+, FP4+, PanF+? I'm comfortable with them and like the results I get. TriX and Plus-X are a couple more to consider. I like them both.

    That means exactly zero to you.

    I don't know of any film that is truly wretched. You find a film (or several films) you understand and like and stick with it. Once you become comfortable with a film, you don't have to think about what you're doing, you just...do it.

    So, my advice is to buy a few rolls of each film you're considering and see what you like best before jumping into a bulk batch that may not work for you.

    Then go buy a lot of the film(s) that fits your comfort zone.
     
  20. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Of these films you mention I have used both HP5+ and Pan F but mainly HP5+. Pan F can be restricting for handheld shots in the U.K. for a lot of the year due to our lattitude(50-60 degrees N). HP5+ has a great tonal range and used in both Perceptol and DDX has a great range of speeds. From say 200 to "the sky's the limit"- well all the way to 3200! However in 135 at greater than box speed it begins to get quite grainy. Depends on your print size of course.

    pentaxuser
     
  21. Mearns

    Mearns Member

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    First of all thanks everyone who has replied, GREAT responses! Just what I was after.

    Not really, I'm all for opinions over facts in this case, I like to know why people like or don't like film...

    Thanks
     
  22. GeoffHill

    GeoffHill Member

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    It's really intersting to read peoples opinions on things where there is no real answer to what is best.
     
  23. Mearns

    Mearns Member

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    Thats exactly it! :smile:
     
  24. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    B&W papers, yes they have been discontinued for some time. Plus-X, that's news to me. Just bought 20 rolls of 120 last week, and it's fresh dated too. I've had no problems getting my hands on 100 ft. bulk rolls of 35mm stock either. AFIK, there is no news from Kodak about its discontinuance, and I've checked for press releases.

    Check your facts before a rampaging rumor about another film biting the dust goes viral, will ya? Next thing you know, it will become a self fulfilling prophesy.
     
  25. Smudger

    Smudger Member

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    Film Poll

    Well there you go Mearns : Apugers have just recommended every film currently available..
    With the exception of Lucky brand film...
     
  26. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    If Ilford is good enough for true born Englishmen, then it's good for anyone, by God:tongue:!

    HP5+ in PMK/PCAT-lovely smooth prewar tones [Preceptol for finer grain-dilute Perceptol is lovely with anything in fact]
    XP2-likewise but has the grain of a medium speed film
    Neopan 400-punchier than HP5 and pushes well, especially in XTOL
    Delta 3200-for when you feel the need....the need for speed. A godsend for MF portraits in available light [good with DDX, Micropen, FX37]
    Agfapan 25/100/400-lovely tones but RIP
    ADOX-worth checking out if you liked Agfa [good with staining devs, 2 baths, Microdol, Perceptol]
    Foma-ditto