CHEAP QUALITY FILM

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by hairday, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. hairday

    hairday Member

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    I went to buy some rolls of medium format film film today (ilford Hp5+) and was shocked to find it is now £5 per roll. Other than Kodak and ilford, I have never tried other black and white film and wondered whether cheaper options could be recommended. A google search for cheap film brought up FOMA and i wondered whether anyone had tried this and what they thought about it in comparison to the likes of ilford and kodak?
     
  2. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    hairday, in the USA it's much of the same thing. In fact I wrote a post about the ridiculous price of today's films. And most denied that the present film prices were out of line. Denial gives such personas reprieve I guess. But you, hairday, are more attuned to the real world, don't make 'big bucks' and know how ridiculous these ripoff prices truly are. What to do? Drastic:

    My recommendation: use 35mm and cut if from bulk. Remember this (as most will not): You can get the SAME quality from 35mm as from 120 if you use a film speed that is 2 stops slower in the 35mm. And that is a fair comparison because with 35mm you can get away with using 2 stops larger aperture and get the same depth of field as with medium format because with MF you have '80mm' as normal focal length and with 35mm you have '50mm' as normal focal length. Think about this. Thus, if Plus-X is used in 35mm you would have to use Tri-X to be able to use the same shutter speed because you would have to close down the aperture in medium format two stops to get the same depth of field as with 35mm. If you used Pan F in 35mm you would have to use an ISO 100 film in medium format to get the same results, etc. - David Lyga
     
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  3. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    My experience has been that you get what you pay for, barring the occasional fantastic deal.

    Kodak, Fuji and Ilford are consistently the top shelf stuff.

    The other European film is less expensive, and frankly pretty good but not up to par when compared to the big guys. However I do think both Adox and Foma are excellent value in price/performance.

    The Chinese film I have used is OK, and it is dirt cheap compared to the others.

    I have never tried the film from India (name escapes me now) so I cannot comment.

    What I, personally, am waiting and hoping for is that Adox will truly be able to get a reasonable recreation of APX 400 to work. That feat, to me, should make Ilford sweat.

    MB
     
  4. hairday

    hairday Member

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    Wow, I never realised that David. Your obviously very, very knowledgeable about the technical side of things whereas this is my weakness! The reason I use medium format, is to produce better print enlargements as i focus on the fine art side of things with my photography. I was taught that 35mm was ok to produce up to 10x8 inch prints any larger from this size of negative would show deterioration in the print. To produce larger high quality prints i believed would require the use of 120 upwards in negative size depending on intended output size of the image.
     
  5. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    No I'm not so smart, hairday, just always learned things the hard way.

    When people claim their superiority with 120 film I have to place things into perspective: usually we start at '35' and 'progress' to larger. With me it was the opposite and I gained, after years and years of doing minor repairs on cameras, an appreciation for the painstaking precision with 35mm. You will achieve no greater quality with 120 unless you put Pan F into the 120 and place the camera upon a tripod. Any other way you always can use a slower film with 35 and literally match the quality of 120. The depth of field advantage with 35mm presents this advantage over 120 cameras. - David Lyga
     
  6. Necator

    Necator Member

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    While carefully steering clear of the 135 vs 120 debate, I can add, that Fomapan 100 works very well for me in 120 format. It develops well in both Rodinal and D76. In 400 ISO, and if I need to push beyond that, I stick with HP5+ though.
     
  7. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Hairday, you should change shop.

    My usual provider sells HP5 plus 400 for €3.54*.
    http://www.westernphoto.it/prodotti/HP5

    I look on the internet for good prices and buy 10 - 20 rolls (or more) at a time to amortize shipping charges, or I always buy some film if the shop have them, when I buy something else. This keeps costs low. My advice is: shop around. Goods travel freely. Distributors cannot play games with prices any more.

    * That's £3.1125 this moment, according to Yahoo. You save 37.75%. Buy bulk, freeze, and film will be cheap again.
     
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  8. Dr. no

    Dr. no Subscriber

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    While I have not used Foma, I have used Arista and Lucky--both are fine, the Lucky has a more fragile emulsion and tends to make crescent moons if not handles very carefully ( and even then...) when wet. And it curls horribly.

    While you can decrease grain by pulling film, to a degree, there's still nothing like increasing area. I have subjects I have shot with panatomic on 35mm, and FP4 on 120 and 4x5 (they were plants, they held still), all on tripod and pretty deep DOF. It's not just grain, there is a huge difference in resolution as well. The 35mm produced a very adequate and gallery-quality print a 11x14, but MF and LF were several levels better--as many people have said, a feeling "you could fall into the print". It all depends on what you want to pursue.
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Good. I have bought som Adox 100 in 120 rolls but haven't tried it yet.


    Steve.
     
  10. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    Right now, there is cheap, high quality film - at least here in US.

    - 2 for 1 packs of 35mm HP5+. About $5 at Freestyle (was at Adorama but not longer shown online).
    - Acros 100 120 for 2.69 and Neopan 100 SS (not Acros) 135/36 at Adorama

    May not help you outside of US, but for us a good deal.

    The problem is that you have to be opportunistic, which can be in conflict if you're trying to be consistent.
     
  11. jglass

    jglass Subscriber

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    Arista Premium 400, which is rebranded Tri-X is a very good deal if in the US, at about 2.20 per roll.
     
  12. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Try telling a Hasselblad shooter that 35mm could compare with medium format.
     
  13. hairday

    hairday Member

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    Thanks guys for all of your advice. i will certainly experiment a bit with the 35mm v 120 thing. I do really need to shop around a bit more for my film and thanks for the link to that website where you get the hp5 at such a great price. I think it would be interesting anyway just to try out some different brands of film. I believe that Ilford are about to push up their prices again soon, across the board on film and paper.
    I fear that as prices continue to rise, demand will continue to fall and the time will come when film is no longer available:sad:
     
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  15. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Personally I use Delta 400 in medium format and HP5 in 4x5. It's hard to compare the US vs European cost of film because it is purchased in different currencies and other than the US there are vat taxes and here different localities have different sales tax rates. Also I suspect that 35mm shooters tend to take more exposures because the film rolls are longer and many may use cameras with auto advance. I generally use a tripod and don't take as many exposures. Especially when traveling, I want to use the film I can rely on for consistent results. I would rather concentrate on the image and be familiar enough with the materials and equipment that it isn't the dominant part of the process.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  16. R gould

    R gould Member

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    I have used fomapan in both 120 and 35mm, and I like it a lot, it develops well in both D76/ID11, and Rodinal, and the quality is very good for the price, I would happily use it in place of Kodak,Ilford or Fuji, and often do.
    Richard
     
  17. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    One can argue that compared to the time you have to set aside, the film is still a relatively inexpensive portion of the process. Over time, in relative terms, the price of film hasn't really gone up that much, and one thing that most people overlook is the relative scarcity of everything that goes into film, and not just silver. Transportation cost is ridiculously high (and affects cost more and more as global sourcing becomes more and more common and necessary), and at the same time most businesses are held to more stringent economic controls regarding inventory, which makes the total inventory of product less around the world, at the cost of producers, who have to stock it themselves. You still have to manufacture a certain amount to make a production run viable.

    With that set aside, the bargain of the decade is - Fuji Neopan 100 Acros. It is a very high quality film and an excellent contender for trying out your camera.

    There are some less expensive options, like Foma, Adox, Rollei, and Efke. Some people report they never have problems with these films, and others report they do, and at a much higher frequency than those having issues with Kodak, Ilford, or Fuji. That tells you something about the consistent quality that the more expensive film offers.
    With that said, the pure pictorial qualities that the Foma, Adox, Rollei, Efke, and Shanghai films offer, can be very good indeed, and here we are discussing features that are not exactly objective. We all like what we like, and it's different from what other people like. If you can live with a higher risk of having a manufacturing defect in your film of choice, then one of those less expensive options could be just perfect for you.

    Judge for yourself.
     
  18. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Whatever place you went to is trying to gouge you. HP5+ in 120 format is available from B&H @ $3.89/roll. Right now the GBP is trading for $1.615, so that price equates to £2.41/roll.

    Acros 100 is an even better deal. A five roll pack of 120 Acros costs $13.45, or £8.33. That works out to £1.67/roll. Shipping cost is obviously an issue for you, but if you buy in sufficient quantity I'm sure you can get the first rate quality of HP5+ for much less than £5/roll.
     
  19. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

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    Dear Hairday,

    Our prices on film and paper were increased around the world on June 1st 2011, we have NO plans for any further price increases whatsoever at this time.

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
     
  20. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    That's good to know...the increasing prices of so many items here in the UK (not only photo supplies) are starting to "make the pips squeak" for many people.

    (Being in the UK, you'll remember that quote by a certain socialist politician when, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he proposed to "squeeze the rich".)
     
  21. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I like the heck out of Fomapan 100, though as Thomas Bertilsson noted above there are relatively frequent reports of quality issues. (I've had some pinholes in sheet formats, and I once got a bad roll of 120.) A lot of people shoot it at 50 rather than 100.

    The Efke films (Adox CHS is the same film rebranded) haven't drawn the same level of complaints as far as I can think. The emulsions are soft, so careful handling is called for and some people advocate a hardening fixer. Efke 25 is especially lovely; very, very fine grain (as you'd expect from the speed) and a reduced red response, putting it somewhere between pan and ortho films in general "look".

    At the higher speed, since you started out looking for HP5+, I've shot a little bit of Fomapan 400 and found it to be OK. (This was in 120; I would imagine it's awfully grainy in 35mm.) I didn't feel like it had anything really special that set it apart from Tri-X and HP5+, except the price tag, and never shot enough of it to really wring it out and get a feeling for how it behaved in a variety of conditions.

    -NT
     
  22. K-G

    K-G Subscriber

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    I supose that you live in the UK as you give the price in £ . If you are in London you can get HP5+ in 120 size for £4.80 minus 30% at Silverprint if you buy 10 rolls or more. That would be £3,36 per roll. Nowadays you need to plan your film/paper/chemicals purchase more careful in order to get the best prices.
    Good Luck !

    Karl-Gustaf

    http://www.silverprint.co.uk/ProductByGroup.asp?PrGrp=2235
     
  23. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    I tried Foma when it was first being introduced in the US and they were sending evaluation samples to select photographers including those that taught. My results for 100 and 400 were as good as with Kodak and Ilford that I shot at the time. The results were slightly different in test exposures taken with the corresponding Ilford that I tended to mostly use. By adding a very light yellow filter the Foma visually equal or exceeded the Ilford taken with no filter. I eliminated the varables by loading backs for my Bronica and simply doing a quick swap. Also, compared 120 to 35mm as many times there is a difference. In this case I loaded the 35mm into my 35mm backs so the camera, light meter (AEII) and lens variable was taken out of the picture (no pun intended) and there were differences in the contrast range and dynamics. Generally, the 120 did better.
     
  24. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Actually, the Foma 400 isn't grainy at all. I have TRIED to make it more grainy in 35mm, but am basically unable to get it to look super grainy.

    The attached picture is a print in 9" x 12" size, Foma 400 film, rated at EI 200, and processed in Edwal 12 chemistry. Most people think it's from a medium format negative. Even in Rodinal it doesn't look excessively grainy at all.

    The 400 also exhibits some pretty interesting halation when used in situations where very bright and very dark areas meet in the negative. This gives a type of 'glow' that is reminiscent of infrared film use to an extent. Some people like this, and others detest it.
    Edit: this last bit applies to the 35mm version only. 120 is not like this at all, strangely enough.

    - Thomas
     

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  25. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    I like the Foma films in 120. I haven't tried the Kentemere brand yet but I think that may also be a cost effective choice.

    Last week I ran my first roll of 120 Fomapan 400. Wow, I think I love that film.

    Of course my favorite is Kodak's Plus-X (RIP)
     
  26. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Welcome to APUG, hairday.
    Sooo..are you a good hairday or a bad hairday?:wink::tongue: