Best B&W portrait film?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by emanded, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. emanded

    emanded Member

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    I've got a studio session coming up and will have some spare time for myself - hopefully! I then plan to do some B&W film work for which I need a good clear and bright result with smooth skin tones. Not taken film in the studio before so any opinions would be great.
    I currently use FP4+ and Prescysol (staining developer) for all my landscapes, I find it perfect for this but is this a good option for the studio?
    Oh, it will all be done on a Contax 645.
    Many thanks.
     
  2. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    If you are familiar and happy with this combination (and I don't see why you wouldn't be) use it for portraits as well. No better tool than the one you know!

    I predict, it will be just fine.
     
  3. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I think the best black and white portrait film left is Plus-X. Quite a nice flavor to it!
     
  4. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    I too would recommend sticking to your usual film and developer. If your usual film were something bizarre, it might be different.
     
  5. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

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    I really like TMX @ 100 ASA. I use D-76/ID-11.

    Just a thought, I find Posing, Lighting & Composition are pretty important! I love North Window light!

    Have a wonderful time making your portraits!
     
  6. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    I have consistently achieved very nice skin tones in the past on Kodak Plus-X 125.
    I see that you shoot mostly Ilford FP4+, which is their direct competitor to Plus-X. :D
    So...I'd stick with that, because that great tonal range is "easy" to get in the old emulsion films. And if you're shooting 120, then there won't be any grain to speak of anyway!

    Best,
    Jed
     
  7. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    FP-4 and D23 always gave me the best skin tones. Perhaps Tri-X and D23 would be even better, but I do not recall ever having used it for people pictures.
     
  8. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    Yes, FP4+ is a great film for portraiture, no problem.
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Another vote for stick with what you've got, FP-4 is a great film for Portraits

    Ian
     
  10. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    TMY-2 400 gives you an extra 2 stops so you can lower the lights a bit.
     
  11. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    It depends a lot on your style and how you work. Most portrait photographers want a bit of a toe on the characteristic curve and not too mush contrast. But that doesn't apply to everyone or to all circumstances. Kodak Tri-X Pan professional (320) is a traditional favorite; so is Ilford FP-4. After trying a film you think would work well for your style, look very critically at the prints. Then ask yourself what film or processing characteristic you would change to make things more the way you want them. With that, you can pick your best film, developer, and process.
     
  12. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Member

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    Use what you are used to. It is always the best film.

    FP4 and Plus-X are practically the same and any teeny difference between them is not worth exploring.

    You're already changing environment. It's best to have as many variables known as possible.

    Test the lighting and your processing!

    - Thomas
     
  13. Rolleijoe

    Rolleijoe Member

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    The T-Max films are too contrasty for portrait work, and in fact Ilford gives a nice "glow" to skin, and hides the blemishes quite well. Although I've always used HP5+, the high-quality of the lens (Zeiss is God), combined with this film should deliver outstanding results.

    Plus-X, I've never been that happy with their skin tones, either.
     
  14. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Member

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    You control the contrast in development of the film, and Tmax films are perfectly capable of doing portraiture.

    It's a lot more about how you use your materials than what you use.

    All examples attached are Tmax 400 from medium format, processed in replenished Xtol to yield different results. I produce a soft tone when I want, and I can produce a harder tone when I want. One film, one developer.
     

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  15. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Thomas, your command of the "one film, one developer" is impeccable. Are you adjusting E.I in the camera as well, or do you always rate the same, and the differences are due to development time and/or agitation only?

    Thanks for the advice,
    Jed
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Member

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    Thanks Jed,

    I do change EI based on lighting. Flat light I underexpose and over-develop by agitating more vigorously and more often. In high contrast situations I I over-expose, but not by much, since Tmax 400 has very little toe and Xtol gives arguably the most shadow detail of any developer. So I might shoot at EI 250 if it's really contrasty. Then I extend agitation intervals to about every 5 minutes depending on the situation. Adjust time as necessary.

    - Thomas