Film Suggestions

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by roteague, Aug 15, 2004.

  1. roteague

    roteague Member

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    All,

    I am getting ready for a trip shooting along the Murray River in Australia. While I am primarily going to be shooting large format (4x5) Velvia F100, I thought that I would try some B&W as well.

    I would like suggestions on what type/brand of B&W film would be a good choice. I prefer a film that is fined grained, but has a good tonal range and would look good selenium toned. My primary subjects will be the Gum Trees (Eucalyptus), the river itself, and foilage along the river - mostly I will shoot landscapes, although I will visit some historic towns along the way and will shoot some of the paddlewheelers and historic buildings.

    Suggestions are appreciated? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Do you selenium tone your film as a matter of course to increase contrast, or do you mean you want a film that will give you good selenium toned prints? If the former, selenium intensification will give you about a one zone expansion with just about any B&W film I've tried it with. If the latter, it's not really a film issue. How selenium toning looks with a print depends more on the paper and developer choice.

    FP4+ and Efke PL100 are attractive fine-grained films to my eye. If you don't process your own film, you probably should avoid Efke and the other less common brands. If you shoot Readyload/Quickload, your options are limited to T-Max 100 (very fine grained, but you may or may not like the tonality) and Fuji Acros (interesting film but also a very particular look that may or may not be appealing to you).
     
  3. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    If you're going to have wind in the area and grain in 4x5 isn't too bad for enlargements, HP5, Tri-x or Tmax 400 may be better than the slower films for landscapes. Using a staining developer for enlargements would help control grain a bit so PMK or Pyrocat-HD would come in handy for that extra stop or two of speed and easy printing. Efke 100 or FP4+ would both be superior for grain and expansion or contraction as David has already suggested, especially with architectural shots.

    Do you process your own film with B&W? If not, stick with the one your processor knows best. Experimenting with films and developing would not be a great way to go. Ask your lab what they see the most in sheet films and use what they process in 4x5. Since film and developer combinations are so personal, use what is most available and familiar.
     
  4. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    My personal choice is always AGFA APX 100, but depending on availability in your area, either Ilford FP4, Delta 100 and the Kodaks Tmax 100 and Ektapan are good choices too.
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I should have said--personally I tend toward Tri-X and Efke PL100. The speed issue is a valid concern. If you're fighting the wind on the Pali or you're concerned about waving branches or grass, film speed will overtake grain as a concern with 4x5", particularly if you are also using filters common with B&W and/or shooting during the "golden hour." On the other hand, if your shutters don't have a high top speed (a common situation with 8x10") and you are shooting mid-day, then the faster film can be a problem.

    Ektapan--beautiful, especially for a classic portrait look, but alas it's been out of production for a while now. You can still find some around if you look.
     
  6. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    When the shot really has to count - TRI-X. If you blow it in either direction - TRI-X is the most forgiving. If the wind is blowing - TRI-X - If you need to push a sheet or two - TRI-X. It is the universal film for the "can anything else go wrong scenerio" - If I can take 2 films - one is TRI-X and the other is either FP4 or APX100. Either of those will give you liquid mid tones when done in some kind of pyro. But you really need to practice with your materials before you take them in the field!
     
  7. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    APX100 in 5x4 has been discontinued (I certainly cannot get it), whereas FP4 plus is easily available. It is also a great film. I find that grain can be a problem with 400 films in 5x4 if enlargements are getting large, but FP4 plus is sumptuous in Exactol lux (and therefore probably in pyrocat. You could always take FP4 plus as well as a few holders with faster film in case of wind etc, as I do. Personally I cannot stand TMAX100, but quite like Acros, which many would say are very similar. I think they are very different. However, Acros quickload could send you bankrupt....but souped in pyro, you will see no grain at 20x24 and get hair splitting sharpness (Unlike those who claim no grain from 35mm at similar sizes). It however still retains a modern look, which I like less than the good old traditional films.
     
  8. mark

    mark Member

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    How are you traveling? How long will you be going? How many film holders are you willing to carry? and most of all are you willing to change film in the field? After a couple day attack on the La PLatas in SW colorado I realized I hated changing film in the field and if I had the opportunity to do it again it would be quick loads for color and ready loads for BW. But that is just my personal feeling. I'm not real patient. This limits your choices though. Good luck.
     
  9. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Thanks David. I haven't done B&W in about 20 years, but I'm very impressed by the work of John Sexton. I really prefer a slower film that will give me the tonal range I am looking for (after which I will tone the prints). Since I primarly will be shooting Velvia F100 a film like FP4+ would allow me to shoot without having to rest my meter everytime I change film. Plus, when I was shooting B&W I was pretty much an Ilford man (FP4, HP5, XP2).