B&W Film Suggestions for 120?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by snegron, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I dusted off my old Mamiya RB67 and 645 this weekend. I'm planning on ordering some B&W film this week. For many years I used Tri X for 35mm; I can't remember ever using Tri X for 120 though. I do remember the very visible amount of grain with 35mm Tri X. While it was a nice effect with 35mm, I would like to achieve a cleaner image with 120 B&W; less grain, medium contrast, more defined tones.

    I plan on shooting a mix of portraits and landscapes. Any suggestions?

    Looks like my ISO 400 choices at B&H are:

    - Rollei/Agfa Retro 400S

    - Fomapan Action 400

    - Tri X

    P.S. I don't plan on developing the rolls myself; I will be sending the negatives out for developing and I will scan them once I get them Or have them scanned during developing).
     
  2. Rolfe Tessem

    Rolfe Tessem Subscriber

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    I would recommend TMAX-400 (TMY). Definitely available at B&H and will deliver full box speed in most developers. For 100 speed, a lot of people like Fuji Acros.
     
  3. snegron

    snegron Member

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    Thanks Rolfe! I have never used TMAX-400. How does it compare to Tri-X in terms of grain/tonality? Any major differences/advantages over Tri-X?
     
  4. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    If you want cleaner grain than TriX (I love,especially in 120) I'll agree with both of these.
    I'm not a huge fan of Tgrain but considering you dissed Tri X (lol j/k)
     
  5. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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  6. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I'm shooting for the closest "Ansel Adams" look without having to go large format... :D
     
  7. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Heres a 645 TMY neg that shows the grain structure a bit. Flat light this day was overcast
    web_-06.jpg

    D76 1+1
     
  8. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    If you really liked Tri-X 35mm and just wished for less grain... then stepping up to 120 will give you less grain on the same film.

    I have grown fond of certain TMAX-400 characteristics. I like the fine grain, sharpness and the fact I don't really need a yellow filter to get detail in the skies. There's a different reciprocity failure curve too.

    None of this is earth-shattering. But those are differences that you might expect to see when you change film.

    If you just move to 120 size then everything you remember still holds true.

    p.s. I work for Kodak but the opinions and positions I take are my own and not necessarily those of EKC.
     
  9. snegron

    snegron Member

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    Thanks! Very cool image! Looks like the grain is less noticeable than with Tri-X.
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    How long ago was it that you used Tri-X in 35mm? I recall in 80s when I used Tri-X, there was a quite visible level of grain. But, when I use it today, and I do it regularly, I don't find the grain objectionable even when I enlarge it to 11x14 with small amount of cropping. If you must stick with ISO 400, I find Tmax 400 to be as grainless as it can get for ISO 400 film.

    But, if it was quite a while ago you used Tri-X, I recommend you'd try again because the formulation has changed. It's quite nice.
     
  11. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    brucemuir,

    Nice example!

    snegron,

    If you want clear/sharp landscapes you may want to step down to a 100 speed film.
     
  12. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Oh yea it's pretty smooth.
    That's 645 also so if you get 6x7 you'll do better yet.
    It's not unseeable like TMX can be but it's pretty dang clean.

    My favorite was Neopan400 but alas…
    that stuff gave you box speed no prob and just the right spot between a Tgrain and traditional grain.
     
  13. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Thanks Bill and yea you're right.
    TMX or better yet try some Fuji Acros 100
    That stuff was really cheap also until recently. Still reasonable though.
     
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  15. snegron

    snegron Member

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    Thanks Bill! I was wondering the exact thing you mentioned; if going from 35 to 120 would appear to have less grain due to being a larger format. My biggest issue with 35mm Tri-X was the higher contrast/less tonality in mid to lower tones. I'm hoping to increase IQ with a lower grain film.
     
  16. snegron

    snegron Member

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    Unfortunately the 90mm lens on my Mamiya is only a "C", so I would have to mess around with filters if I wanted to get a bit punchier images. I have better glass on my 645, but the drawback is the smaller image size... :sad:
     
  17. snegron

    snegron Member

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    100 would be the best option, but I'm hoping to go handheld. I'm contemplating ISO 200 though...
     
  18. snegron

    snegron Member

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    Last time I used Tri-X I think was back in 1987. From 1983 to 1987 I was shooting several rolls a day and doing my own developing/printing for press work. I still have a few developed negatives from back then; they look grainy compared to what I do now in PS! :smile:
     
  19. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    TriX has been tweeked since the late 80's but even so you wont get the antiseptic grainless look that converted digi files deliver.

    You could try dialing in your development times for that 90 if you feel its a bit low contrast but the nice thing about those earlier lenses is they can give better shadows sometimes.

    RB lenses are so cheap you could pick up a more modern lens for not too much I'm sure. I bet you have something your not even using you could sell if you really feel you need a punchier lens.
    Those 6x7 negs are worth getting no matter how you do it and I've never really been disappointed with any mamiya glass I've had in a few formats.
     
  20. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I don't know who first said "the sharpest lens in your bag is your tripod", but they were right. IMHO, if you're trying for "as close to AA as possible on rollfilm", the tripod is more crucial than choice of film.

    That said, though I'm not a T-grain fan myself, I think TMY seems like your best bet if you really need something that will work handheld while allowing you to stop down for appropriate depth of field. The difference in apparent grain between 35mm and 120 is there, of course, but less so in 645, and it sounds like you might still find Tri-X (or HP5) too grainy for your purposes. (Probably Fomapan 400 too; if anything it's a bit grainier.)

    But basically, high speed and small grain are natural enemies, and you aren't going to really be able to optimize for both at once. You might find that TMY is a good compromise, with perhaps FP4 or TMX as a slower film for tripod use and bright conditions.

    -NT
     
  21. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Tri-X and T-max are my two choices.

    Jeff
     
  22. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I need a tad (just a tad) of grain; enough to let the images stand out as only true film can. While I convert a bunch of color to B&W digi files all the time, it's just just not the same; they lack soul.

    The 90 does do well on shadows, but it lacks contrast/saturation (at least with the Porta films I put through it). I'm guessing if I use a filter on it I will get better results, but then my hopes for handheld diminish even more.
     
  23. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I agree with you 100% regarding the tripod! However, due to weight/volume constraints of the places I will be shooting, I can't take a tripod. Looks like TMY might be the choice this time. I have never used it, so I will do some experimenting with it. :smile:

    p.s. I was just kidding about Master Ansel; if anything, I will be going for a more "refined street/portrait" look. My hopes are to ultimately get a few 16"x20" prints I can feel happy with.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2013
  24. Nikonic

    Nikonic Member

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    There are some very convincing grain emulation software programs out there. They are quite good but they still lack the depth and randomness of silver grain, IMO
     
  25. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I usually get nice B&W conversions with PS, but again there is that "something" that they lack. I'm hoping that I don't end up with the same type of results after scanning my 120 negatives though...
     
  26. Nikonic

    Nikonic Member

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    No, I mean something like TrueGrain. It's really good stuff if you're a wedding photographer or something and shooting film is out of the question. But currently I don't think there's a replacement for grain.