Help with choosing a 400 film

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by peter zakos, Apr 2, 2005.

  1. peter zakos

    peter zakos Member

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    Hi. So far I've been using primarily ISO 100 range films. However I occasionally encounter scenes where a faster film would be preferable (e.g. need for a smaller aperture). I would like to pick one film/developer combination and stick with it for a while to get to know it well. I work in medium format and do exclusively landscape work. I would prefer to start with a traditional emulsion (? tri-x 320/400 or HP5). I was thinking about starting with the "classic" combination of tri-x and D-76. Is this a good choice in terms of optimal ballance of fine grain, perceived sharpness and accutance for landscape work in MF? If so, which tri-x should I choose (i.e. 320 vs 400) and whch D76 dilution? Also, could you suggest a staring point for speed rating, development time and agitation sequence for this combination for a condenser enlarger? Are there better options in terms of film and/or developer? I realize that any such recommendations depend primarily on personal preference. Still, I would much appreciate the advice of more experienced members so I can make an informed initial choice.
    Regards, Peter.
     
  2. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Peter,

    If your doing landscapes than you are probably using a tripod, or should be. The tripod will help get your smaller apertures. Landscapes are generally done with slow to medium speed films to get as sharp an image as possible; although there are exceptions to this rule and you are the artist.

    Tri-X and d-76 is the classic combo and you can't go wrong with it. Many photographers will shoot Tri-X at at ei of 200-250. If you're going to do that, then it might make more sense to shoot something Pan-F at ei 100, APX 100 at ei 200 or Efke 100 at 200 and soup them in FX-1 (mixed yourself) to get the most detail possible.

    Food for thought.
     
  3. peter zakos

    peter zakos Member

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    Jim,

    Thanks for your suggestions. I always use a tripod but that does not help with wind blur (leaves, grasses etc). Also, I often use an orange or dark green filter which reduces my actual film speed.

    Peter
     
  4. martin@jangowski.de

    martin@jangowski.de Member

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    There is a reason why most photographers aiming for quality rate faster film down and don't try to make slower film faster.... it doesn't work this way. First thing is that the ISO-speed of film isn't the best for pictorial photography most of the time. There are lots of photographers who like better detail in the shadows. After all, a film giving its ISO-speed has only 3 2/3 f-stops (11 DIN) latitude until it gives a density of 0.1d over b&f. If you reduce the speed, you gain latitude in the shadows. Since most modern film have a long, straight density curve, you won't loose contrast in the highlights.

    I tried 400TX with DS-10 (something like XTOL++) and got excellent results with a speed of 250 ASA. My personal standard film however is Delta 400 at 250 ASA, developed with DS-10. I have several 60x60cm enlargements from it with virtually no grain and excellent sharpness (from 6x6 negs of course).

    Martin
     
  5. skahde

    skahde Member

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    TX400 in D76 1+1 is a nice trouble-free combo. Little could be said in addition to that.
     
  6. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    TriX is good stuff, but the one problem I've had with it and why I switched to HP5+ is availability in sizes other than 45 and 810. The other difference seems to be that HP5+ renders greens lighter, for better or worst...just is.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    What about Tmax 200 (whoops I meant 400) in Xtol, a great combination and one I've used with my Mamiya 645 for a while now.

    Not forgetting Ilfords Delta 400 which is a similar emulsion, either of these films will give you finer grain & better tonality than Tri-X.

    But actually film choice is a very personal thing, and it's important to find the film developer combinatios you like and then by a process of learning you achieve good consistent and predictable results.

    Don't be put off using modern T-grain emulsions like Tmax & Delta or APX100 they are superb and extremely easy to work with.

    Ian
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My own search is for a slower film, so I can use a larger aperture with the slower shutter speeds of ancient LF lenses. I do have a pack or two (in each size) of HP5+ hidden in the fridge somewhere, in case I ever need it. I have found that I get better results with that and a speed-enhancing developer than I get with Delta 3200 in D-76 or similar. The "modern" films seem not to have the flexibility (=leeway) that more "traditional" formulations do.
     
  9. rjs003

    rjs003 Subscriber

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    I have been using Arista ISO 125 and rating it at ASA 50 this works real well with my old Graflex equipment. I develop this film in a rotary drum processor, with D76 mixed at 1:1, for 9.5 min. at 20c. with constant agitation. This works well for me. You could do the same and look at the results and say "what garbage" and be right for you. All this leads me to recommend that you read Les McLean's, Creative Black and White Photography.
    This is probably the best read in photography that I have had the honor of owning. Very readable and lots of good information. Also somewhat large print which helps these old diabetic eyes.
     
  10. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    FWIW, I really like Delta-400 at an EI of 500 and souped in ID-11 at 1+1 for 12:30 at 20C.

    As everyone else has said, though, YMMV :wink:

    Kent
     
  11. gareth harper

    gareth harper Inactive

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    Peter,

    What 100asa film are you using at the moment?
    Is there a 400asa version?
    What developer do you use?
     
  12. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Peter
    You asked for suggestions for rating 120 tri x and dev. times for a condenser enlarger. For sunny contrasty conditions, which I like,I rate tri x at 200 and dev in I.D.11 which I believe is similar to D76, for 7.5 minutes at 20 degrees C. I invert the tank once every 30 seconds. The negatives mostly print on grade 2.5 or 3 Ilford multigrade warmtone on my Meopta Magnifax condenser enlarger.
    Tri x gives me a "look" which I like, though for my 35mm landscapes I prefer Foma 400. As Ian Grant says , you need to experiment to find out what you like best.

    Alan Clark
     
  13. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    I shoul have said that I dilute the ID11 1+1

    Alan Clark
     
  14. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    Grain shape is a consideration with me. Tri-x has very pointilated grain where HP5 has a kind of mushy paisley kind of grain. Tri-x will appear sharper and HP5 will have smoother tonality. I have also been enjoying the Tmax400/Xtol combo - extremely fine grain and razor sharp. I gave up on d-76 execpt for rare occasions (IR film etc) PyrocatHD is a wonderful developer to try as well - It adds even more accutance to tri-x and HP5 while still keeping the grain fine.
     
  15. peter zakos

    peter zakos Member

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    Thanks for the many helpful replies. Gareth my 100 film of choice is APX 100 (rated 80) in rodinal 1:50. I've tried APX 400 in rodinal but have not been happy with it. I want to start with a traditional emulsion because these tend to be more forgiving in terms of exposure and development.
    Peter.
     
  16. gareth harper

    gareth harper Inactive

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    Peter, I recently tried some APX myself, both the 100 and 400, developed in Rodinal at the 1/50 dillution. The 100 was very interesting and now that we are getting a bit more light again here in Scotland I'll probably be shooting a good bit more. The 400, well I wasn't quite so keen on it, not sure what to make of it, I'll probably stick with tri-x in rodinal ot T-max400 when I want a softer finer grained look.

    I do tend to shoot handheld and with 35mm, I don't use medium format.

    If you are after a similar look to the APX100, the obvious choice I think would be tri-x developed in rodinal. If you like crisp sharp punchy negs then there is nothing like rodinal. Of course you will have a little grain but I wouldn't imagine that would be too much of a problem with medium format.

    Or if you want to try something completely different, how about Tmx400 in DD-X. Much softer than tri-x in rodinal but it's very tonal and detailed.

    Maybe pick two or three rolls of different film and do some test rolls, perhaps of a subject you are familair with, or whatever. Bracket your exposures so you get a good workable neg and do a print or two. Then run with the film/dev you like the most.

    Oh, what to do!