Best B&W Film to use with strobes?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by MikeGates, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. MikeGates

    MikeGates Member

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    Hi all--

    I am *just* now setting up studio space (actually, two days ago), and am trying to learn my way around lighting. My partner has a digital camera, and this has been useful for getting some instant feedback on how shadows fall, etc., but I am dying to get in and start shooting with *my* camera, and I'm a die-hard analog user.

    In the past (and it has been a long time--I am only now getting back into my photography), I pretty much used Tri-X for everything. What is a recommended film for use in a studio situation? How fast or slow a film do I need for best results and minimum grain? My camera, until I can afford an MF one, is my trusty ol' 35mm Nikon F2.

    Thanks!

    Mike in Alaska
     
  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Hi Mike,

    I can't say there is a best, as black and white depends on the shadows and toneality of the scene, I have used T-Max in most situations with great results, and have used HP-5 as well, going into a new studio situation, I would recommend getting a few rolls of different ones and play with exposure and light to see what works best in your style of shooting as well as your particular lighting set up. I really like working with T-Max 100 for in the studio.

    Dave

    PS, I posted some information on your co-op thread about a couple of things we ran into with the co-op studio.
     
  3. bmac

    bmac Member

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    I would go with one oftwo films depending on if you are doing your own processing.

    1) Tmax 100 if you process youself. It has great tonality, is consistant from batch to batch and is easy to find.

    2) If having a lab process it, I would use Ilford XP2 Super shot at 200 for pretty much the same reasons as #1
     
  4. MikeGates

    MikeGates Member

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    Okay, then--T-Max 100 it is, then! Thanks. I intend to process all my own film and prints, except for color (I guess I'll teach myself to do color eventually, but I'm in *love* with black and white).

    Mike in Alaska
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    For 35mm T-Max 100 is a good choice.
     
  6. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Mike,

    Another vote for T-100, but I think you'll get good results with a number of different films.

    Konical
     
  7. MikeK

    MikeK Member

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    Most modern films will work just fine if you expose and develop them correctly, be carefull and avoid hot highlights.

    Your choice of film though will be influenced by the power output of your strobes. The lighting for my home studio is provided by two Norman LH 2 heads bounced into umbrellas. Using a 150mm f4.0 lens I really need a 400 speed film to get the depth of field I need for a good head and shoulders shot. If you have access to a flash meter you might want to check to see what your working apertures are going to be for different film speeds.

    Hope this helps

    - Mike
     
  8. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    For portraits, you may want to avoid the new-technology films such as Tmax and Delta and you may find you prefer the look of FP4+ etc. Many people seem to prefer older technology films for portraits. There are no rules of course, for everyone who sucessfully uses Tmax, there will be another one that snorts in derision and insists on using HP5+... Have a look in the galleries here and elsewhere for shots you admire and see what film & developer was used.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  9. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Since when is T-Max considered new tech? That confuses me a bit, as I have used it for several years now.....Kodak introduced the T-Max emulsion many years ago...Have I missed something?

    Dave
     
  10. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Tabular grain emulsions as used in Tmax and Delta are generally referred to as "new technology" emulsions, as opposed to "conventional" films of the Tri-X, FP4+ etc type - despite the fact that TMax must have been around for over 10 years now.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  11. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    AgfaPan 100 - APX. Why? I *like it*. Reasons? - Superstition, aesthetic bias ... so...?

    Unless you have some sort of strange film with weird reciprocity failure characteristics on the "short" exposure side .. the same factors that govern the selection of any film apply. Easier question: Does anyone know of a film that should *NOT* be used with studio flash equipment...?!
     
  12. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    I like Agfa Scala myself and use it all the time in studio. But I'm partial to transparencies to begin with.

    Regards, Art.
     
  13. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    My vote is Delta 100 @ ISO 100. Developed in Rodinal for 13:30 @ 20C.

    See this thread for more info

    See attached photo for a shot from my studio with two strobes.
     

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  14. tbm

    tbm Member

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    I, too, absolutely love using Delta 100 at ISO 100 for portraits. I develop it in Microdol-X 1+3 for 17 minutes at 75 degrees and the results are breathtaking!
     
  15. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    35mm? Portraits? Hmmm... Ilford Pan F+ comes to mind. If more speed is needed, FP4+ would be perfect in my book.
     
  16. sp_maher

    sp_maher Member

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    For what it's worth...one of my favorite natural light combos is FP4+ in HC110b, but I have a hard time making that same combination work when using flash (direct or diffused) indoors. For controlled flash or strobe work I go with Delta 100 or XP2.
     
  17. MikeGates

    MikeGates Member

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    Thanks for all the input! I intend to do portraits and figure studies...
     
  18. djklmnop

    djklmnop Member

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    I use Pan F+ and Afra APX 100 souped in Microdol-X or Perceptol 1:3.. Excellent tonality and grain. Check out my gallery.
     
  19. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    Mike, I've used Tri-X for many years and still do. It is a lovely film especially when developed in XTOL. That developer will give you a negative with slightly reduced grain and full speed. In other words, I expose the Tri-X at its rated 400 speed. Tri-X is quite forgiving of exposure errors... well, maybe a stop under or over.

    Another film which has given me good results with strobe is AGFA APX 400. This German film is slightly grainer but has beautiful tones. look at the wrestling picture in my vast (three picture :smile: ) portfolio. It is strobe lit APX 400
     
  20. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    I just shot a few portraits with Tri X and my Hasselblad using strobes and a soft box. I wasn't crazy about the results, too low contrast. The thing is I had a lab process the film and make the prints. If you use a lab, I think you should run a test of the same shot using a few different kinds of film to see what works best. If you're developing and printing yourself, then it's a whole different story. Generally, I've had really good luck with TMAX100 or 400 with lab processing.
     
  21. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    While I agree that the light output of the strobes being used may influence film selection, I'd suggest selecting a film (and developer) that gives you the look you want, ignoring the fact that you're using strobes for lighting. For use with 35mm, that might be a slower, finer-grained film like Pan F+, or a medium-speed film like FP4+, or even one of the tabular-grained films like T-Max or Delta 100.

    The choice is really a matter of personal taste and style - something that only you can resolve through testing.
     
  22. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    If you are familiar with a film (like TX), use that -- so that you can move forward PREDICTABLY. Using a new film when getting used to artificial lighting is to add unknown variables to the equation. Is your lighting creating hot spots and hard shadow areas, or is it this snappy new unknown film?

    Whatever you choose, stick with it until your comfort level is high or until you have some COMPELLING reason to switch (like the need for fine grain or color). Then do the same with the new film.

    If you have no other considerations, pick something with a lot of latitude, so that you don't bury yourself in blown highlights etc. I recommend Tri-X rated at 200 or 250 for that. Quite lovely stuff, really. Don't worry so much about uber-fine grain, go for tone -- Tri-X does well and is a flexible friend.