Film for night photography

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by /dev/null, Apr 28, 2014.

  1. /dev/null

    /dev/null Member

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    Hi,

    What would be a recommended film for night photography, say with shutter speeds from a few seconds max, maybe 5 seconds exposure most.

    I tried the Delta 400 (120) @3200 and developed in X-tol, it was OK, but maybe there is a b/w film out there that gives better results when doing night photography.

    Or I can shoot the Delta 400 @800 and increase exposure times. Anybody?

    Thanks.
     
  2. mauro35

    mauro35 Member

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    I have mainly used three films for night photography: Fuji Acros 100 has really excellent reciprocity, which makes it effectively faster than even ISO 800 films for long exposures (no correction required up to 2 min); Kodak TMax 3200 pushed to 6400, although very grainy as you can imagine, but capable of almost photographing the total darkness; Kodak Tri-X for good reciprocity characteristics and interesting highlight rendition.
     
  3. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Hi there,

    hand-held or tripod?

    Makes a big difference to the answer.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  4. /dev/null

    /dev/null Member

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    Hi David,

    All tripod and no hand-held.

    Thanks.
     
  5. geostog

    geostog Member

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    I remember seeing a discussion in here about reciprocity behavior of many films. Unfortunately, I can not find the thread now.
    But as far as I can remember, chromogenic films (XP2 and BW400) seem to respond quite well to long exposure with small correction. Plus you get their speed!
     
  6. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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    Instead of thinking about a fast film to then push a few extra stops, why not think the other way around and use a 400 ISO at 200 or 100 or a 100 at 50 or less?

    Most night shots tend to have a lot of contrast between the shadows and any artificial lighting. If you rate Delta 400 at three stops more, you effectively underexpose a dark scene by three stops and then are trying to compensate by making the underexposed negative contrastier with extended developing. However, if you purposely overexpose and then cut the dev time to compensate, you will increase shadow detail, tame down the highlights and hopefully have a more detailed neg with lower contrast to give a lot more options when printing.

    Fair enough if you want a fast shutter speed to catch some action, but if you have five seconds on a tripod, most moving things will be blurred or non existent ghosts so you may as well have a longer shutter and a better exposed (and processed) neg.
     
  7. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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    PS. Though in answer to the original post, I prefer FP4 or HP5 on a tripod for smooth detailed night shots. However, I do a lot of hand held work on 35mm Delta 3200 just to totally contradict my last post, but in defence, the aesthetic I am looking for is different to detailed smooth night work.
    http://www.mike-crawford.co.uk/portfolio/nocturne/nocturne-five.html
    When I do such work, and it involves a tripod, then will try to use FP4 or HP5. Would think Delta 400 rated normally or even 200 should work well.
     
  8. mauro35

    mauro35 Member

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    In my experience XP2 does not perform as well as BW400CN concerning reciprocity, I always needed to extend the exposure greatly to obtain good detail. On the other hand it has a very specific look that can create interesting effects when underexposed.
     
  9. Jim Taylor

    Jim Taylor Member

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    +1 for Acros 100 - I love it (despite what others have said in another recent thread! :whistling: )
     
  10. jcc

    jcc Member

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    I second it. Acros 100 is best suited for long exposures, IMHO.
     
  11. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Interesting discussion.
    I have still two 120 rolls of Acros 100 lying around, so I will use one to make some night shots as a nice experiment (never done that).
    What ISO do you use and how to develop it? Any recommendations?
    Bert from Holland
     
  12. Kyle M.

    Kyle M. Member

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    I like T-Max 100 shot at ISO 50 for night work, I'm not sure what the reciprocity factor is but I've used it in my RB67 up to 15 seconds with no compensation, I've also used Ilford FP4+ at 100 up to 25 seconds with no compensation.
     
  13. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    A subject like this needs some experimentation on your part. Keep good notes. But in reality any fast film will do.
     
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  15. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    Lance Keimig's book on night photography (see his site TheNightSkye.com) includes a chart of film reciprocity. As an example, if indicated exposure was 8 minutes: Fuji Across would be 12 minutes; T-Max & Delta films would be 20 minutes; and Tri-X, FP4 and HP5 a whopping 1 hour 30 minutes.
     
  16. mauro35

    mauro35 Member

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    I expose Acros at ISO 100, although in the darkness of the night I do not even meter, I just expose as long as practical for the type of image I´m after and I always develop in Rodinal 1+50 (10-12 min. depending on the contrast).
     
  17. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    I am surprised why so few people point at the obvious choice: Delta 3200. While Acros may have nice reciprocity behavior, it starts with a 10-13 fold speed disadvantage. These 2 minutes exposures beyond which Acros starts suffering from reciprocity failure would be only 8-10 seconds exposures with Delta 3200.

    Another thing: someone suggested overexposing and pulling: not good. Pulling means underdevelopment, which costs real film speed (i.e. shadow detail), and the longer exposure time for lower EI only reinforces the highlights, whereas shadow regions barely benefit (reciprocity failure again). Look at one of Michael R.'s latest threads about his low contrast developers: Xtol pulled gives much inferior film speed (not just EI, real shadow detail) even with short exposures. And his own formulas also show how to solve this problem. I have had very good success with Delta 3200 and POTA or Delagi 8, and have every reason to believe that Michael's formulas work just as well for this. If you don't want to self mix, Photo Formulary sells POTA and Delagi 8.
     
  18. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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    Why not? Underdevelopment and overexposure is basic sensitometry, and with a lot of the films, the ISO can range between a few stops given the right development and the right developer. It shouldn't be seen as underdevelopment if the correct type of film has been rated and exposed with this in mind. 'Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights,' as we were taught ages ago! However, films like Acros, (I would think the tonality of Acros would be very mushy if pulled this way), TMX and possibly the Deltas would not react so well as Trix, HP5+ and FP4+. Reciprocity would also have to be considered, but it is amazing how smoother and more managable for printing the tonal range can become. However, this is if it is a scene with a high range of contrast. It's not always applicable, and certainly not recommended if it is low contrast.
     
  19. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    Take a good look at Michael's graphs of characteristic curves of his low contrast developers vs. underdeveloped Xtol: they have similar contrast, but underdeveloped Xtol loses several stops in real ISO speed. In a normal scene you could, of course, compensate this by exposing longer, but with night scenes that won't work, thanks to reciprocity failure.

    As soon as the required exposure time for a zone II exposure is above 30 seconds (or 2 minutes for Acros), longer exposure times will not necessarily create more developable Silver in the shadow regions, you only build up contrast in the highlights. The main determining factors for shadow exposure will suddenly be actual shadow brightness&aperture, and film sensitivity, and with underdevelopment you sacrifice real ISO speed. Result: exposing TMY for 1 minute and normal development will give you better shadow detail and less contrast than 4, 10 or whatever minutes exposure and N-2 development.

    The readily available developers, POTA and Delagi 8 will still lose some shadow detail but much less than underdeveloped Xtol. With Michael's developers you get full ISO speed and as a result best shadow detail of all of them, but you have to be willing to brew your own.
     
  20. Axle

    Axle Member

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    Acros 100 hands down.
     
  21. JaZ99

    JaZ99 Member

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    OP doesn't mention the subject. What kind of night photography are you thinking of?
    I know it is a B&W question, however, would you consider the color film? This is half an hour exposure (Provia 100F):

    [​IMG]
     
  22. /dev/null

    /dev/null Member

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    Subject would be cityscapes, office buildings and maybe catch a train passing by. At this 1 location I shoot about 30min after the sun goes down:

    Cambo Wide / Schneider Kreuznach @72mm
    f/5.6
    ISO 3200 (Delta 400 @3200)
    Shutter speed 1/4 - 1/2


    Would be nice if I could catch the train in motion, slightly blurred but not too much. The train passes quite slow, maybe 10-15 miles an hour. I already made some shots, but just finding out if another film would make the image a bit better than the pushed Delta (less 'harsh', 'dirty' and pushed like).

    I also have some boxes left of the Fuji Acros 400 on 120, maybe I can use that instead?

    Thanks.
     
  23. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Another vote Acros100
     
  24. JaZ99

    JaZ99 Member

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    Yet another vote for Acros 100.
     
  25. /dev/null

    /dev/null Member

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    OK, thanks.

    Do I shoot the Acros 100 @100 or would 400 be ok? I mean, I would like to catch some image of the train passing...
     
  26. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Tmax 100 is a good film for night exposures. I'm also fond of Ilford FP4+. I've heard good things about Acros 100 but never used it. From what I understand, the TMax 100 has similar reciprocity characteristics to Acros, although perhaps not as good.