Lost in the film selection...

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by SunnyHours, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. SunnyHours

    SunnyHours Member

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    What's a good film for night time photography...B&W mostly but also Color once in a while. Possibly some long exposures once in a blue moon
    If there are some cheap alternative I might go that route because it's my first film camera(s). I bought a Nikon FM and I found out today I had won a Yashica Electro GSN rangefinder I had bided on 3 days ago :blink:
    I'm actually glad I got the Yashica since I still don't have a lens for the FM :laugh:

    What are your recommendations for film?
     
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I tried Ilford Delta 3200 shot at 1600, Tri-X400 pushed to 1600, and Tmax400 pushed to 1600 all in one scene within 2 hour period. When printed, they were amazingly similar in tonality, grain, and overall look. I'd say just pick one and start shooting.

    I'm sure there are lots of technical differences among those films I used. I just didn't see any that mattered enough.
     
  3. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    For your long exposures:
    Fuji Acros 100.
    Also called Legacy pro I believe, it's cheap as chips, and you don't have to make adjustments for exposures up to 2 minutes long.
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Do you mean long exposures, or hand held available light photography? The ideal films for each are very different. Speed is much more important for hand held photography. And reciprocity maintenance is very important for long exposures (to make them much less long and much more predictable). Delta 3200 is the fastest b/w film, but it is a vile offender in the reciprocity department, once you start shooting long exposures. OTOH, Acros and T-Max are the best in terms of reciprocity, but at just over three stops slower than Delta 3200, they are not generally fast enough for hand held low light photography.

    Thus, for long exposures, I would recommend Acros or T-max 100. They have the best reciprocity during long exposures, and have a lot of latitude. For color negative film, I would track down some Portra 100T or Fuji NPL (both discontinued years ago). For color transparency film, I'd use Provia or Astia. They have great reciprocity characteristics in long exposures, though you will probably need to filter them more heavily than the tungsten-balanced negative films I mentioned, if you are shooting in the city.

    For hand held available light photography, I would use Delta 3200 (which is an ISO 1000 speed film) or T-Max 400. I'd use the Delta to get the highest raw film speed. I'd use the T-Max for flat lighting only, unless you want extreme contrast when you push. It is also incredibly finer in grain than the Delta 3200. As for color films, try to find Fuji Superia 800. They made a 1600 too, if you don't mind large amounts of grain. The 800 looks much less grainy and more sharp even when pushed, but the drawback is the loss of the shadows. I think the 800 is still made, though it has been discontinued in pro packs. I am pretty sure the 1600 has been discontinued, or maybe it is no longer shipped to the U.S.A. For transparency film, Provia 400X is it. It's daylight balanced, though. It is a real shame that there is not a tungsten-balanced version.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2011
  5. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Night photography is one of the most difficult things to do well with film. My advice for a beginner starting out is to get familiar with some common film like Tri-X and shoot throughout the day, and into just around sundown, and just get a feel for the film at box speed. Then go down the path of push processing, or using the pricey iso 3200 films. Exposures will be tricky, even with practice.
     
  6. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    This is true. Many of the film suggestions have been good so far, but for night photography, particularly with long exposures and/or very high contrast lighting (example, dark shadows and streetlights in the same image), exposure and processing control are as important as film choice, perhaps more important. The good news is that most of today's general purpose films, such as those listed in this thread, are capable of recording a fairly long luminance range. It then comes down to how you expose and process.

    My two cents on film choice, balancing all the variables and keeping in mind you are shooting 35mm and trying to keep it simple for starters, would be TMAX 400 (TMY2). Good speed, extremely fine grain, long scale, good reciprocity characteristics, versatile, flexible.

    If you're using a tripod with stationary subjects, you could use a slower film. If you're shooting handheld and need more speed you can try pushing TMAX400, or going with a faster film like Delta or TMAX 3200.

    Try to keep it simple.
     
  7. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I use TMax 400 for most of my photography, for the same reasons Michael mentions above. It's a bloody good film that has everything except coarse grain. Its tone curve is malleable so you can get many different results based on how you expose and process it, which means I need only one film to get what I want from my pictures.
    If I had a faster shutter for my 6x6 pinhole camera I would be using nothing but Tmax 400 in all my cameras.

    Keep it simple, indeed.
     
  8. mbsmith

    mbsmith Member

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    For color night shooting, I've had pretty good luck with the Kodak Portra 160 line. I haven't done any super long exposures (all < 60 seconds), but the film has been pretty forgiving considering most have been with an Agfa Clack or a Holga and using my crafty intuition instead of a proper light meter :smile:
     
  9. cdowell

    cdowell Member

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    Tripods open up the world of night photography, so grab one of those when you can. I'm tempted to say that long exposures are almost always more pleasing than super fast or pushed film. Good luck with your experiments.
     
  10. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I was under the impression that a tripod was used. The only way to really shoot something like city scenes at night would be to use the f/1 Leica lenses, open wide and use 3200 film. Clay Harmon has done this very successfully.
    But it takes a lot of patience, and a tripod is definitely the door opener at night. Most of my night exposures are shot at f/8 or so, and around 5-10 minutes depending on illumination.
     
  11. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    You would be surprised how much light pollution there is in a big city. If you keep your subjects you are shooting near shop windows, or under street lamps or neon signs, slower lens up to F2.8 can be used with film at 400 speed with acceptable sharpness and tonal range.
     
  12. Aristophanes

    Aristophanes Member

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    Fuji 1600 Superia is still in production and available at B&H (I just ordered some).

    800 Superia is also available.
     
  13. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Lens shade? My compendium shade always saves the day for me.

    Granted, I live in Minneapolis, and not NYC or Chicago.
     

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  14. pinhole_dreamer

    pinhole_dreamer Member

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    Legacy Pro is gorgeous film! I love it. I just had to chime in because I bought 14 rolls of it a couple weeks ago and I'm amazed with how the photos turned out.
     
  15. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Acros is awesome for night shots. Great reciprocity characteristics. Start at f/5.6 for 5 minutes, 2-3 min if there's a lot of lights, 8-10 if not. You'll get a working neg.

    Here's a lot of my night work using Acros, some medium format, some 35mm:

    http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=38698047@N00&q=Acros+night&m=text