Other than C-41???

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by joeyk49, Sep 6, 2004.

  1. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    I've seen and heard of disappointing results with bw film made for and developed in c-41. Can these films be developed by another method and what are the results?

    What are the best ways to achieve good images with c-41 process film? Are there ways to compensate for their inadequacies?

    Now before you go and say, "Buy some real black and white film"...I'll tell you why I ask... The Kodak and Ilford c-41s are readily available at a local department stores or pharmacies or even a relative's camera bag. In a pinch its easier to get a hold of some of this film than to search out a camera shop for greater selection.

    Waddayathink?
     
  2. mark

    mark Member

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    What problems? I have used both a lot and never had trouble with them.
     
  3. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Most of my images, I'm not sure if I'm describing it right, don't seem to "snap" like regular black and white film. I'm still just learning, but I'm finding the c-41s to be somewhat bland. With most of my shots being taken outdoors, and even with the use of a yellow filter, I'm left feeling disappointed by the appearance of the images.

    Now, I know that its almost never the gun, not usually the ammunition, but the shooter, who's most often at fault for poor shots. With only a dozen rolls of bw film exposed, I'm sure that I have a lot to do with it. I was just wondering if anyne else had issues with c-41 films in general...
     
  4. Leon

    Leon Member

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    are you printing these yourself or judging the results from machine prints?
     
  5. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    I've used Ilford XP2 quite a lot and never found any problems with it. The only thing I do miss when using it is the lack of grain as it's a dye like all C41's.

    My advice is always rate it at either 320 or 250 (the latter I prefer) and use a Yellow or Yellow Green filter to give it a little extra punch. Ignore the fact that you re-rated it when it's processed and treat it for development as if it had been shot at 400.
     
  6. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    The chromogenic (C-41) films are good, in my opinion. The greatest problem I've found is that they do not do well when printed on color paper - which is what will be done in the one-hour labs.

    Take the same negatives an print/ get them printed on black and white paper.
     
  7. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    My local one-hour lab is printing the negs on colour paper and they have the nicest brown toning...! Cool for non-intented side effect!

    Morten
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The chromogenic films can be said to be "all shoulder" - the highlights are softer than the shadows. This I find great for snow-covered landscapes and other high contrast scenes. Sometimes that's not what you want. But that's what you get anyway :wink:
     
  9. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Until I'm doing my own stuff, which, hopefully will be sooner than later, I'll remember the bw paper thing. I also won't lose focus (no pun intended) on my own technique.
     
  10. 127

    127 Member

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    I was originally quite keen on the Kodak, but depending on where you get it printed, it can take on a nasty colour cast - we got some VERY green images back from the local mini-lab which usually does a good job. On the other hand we sent a batch to the pro-lab, along with some HP5, and the C41 came back BETTER than the real black and white - I guess it's just more consistant.

    I know this is the WRONG place to say it, but if I had to put black and white through a mini-lab, I'd shoot colour, get it scanned, bring it home, convert it to black and white, and take the digital file back.

    Of course it's no substitute for "the real thing", but the mini-labs are probably set up to handle this kind of work-flow better than the c41 bw (less chance of bad colour casts). The new machines scan, and then print from the scan anyway, so you don't loose anything by breaking the pipeline. You also get the option to have the image colour or black and white, which can be very handy on commercial stuff.

    We've been using/refining this pipeline on commercial work for the last few months, and the results are very nice. Shoot film, Dev/scan at the pro-lab (you only get one shot, so pay the extra!). Automated generation of contacts, previews, colour corrections etc, and then print the final images at the cheap, local mini-lab. Should you need a large print, you can always go back to the original neg.

    Of course it doesn't touch real, hand processed bw, which I do for all my own stuff, but a hybrid solution seems the best option if you need to get bw from a c41 lab.

    Ian
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i have dabbled a little bit with ilford and kodak's c-41 films, and had labs process / proof it all. when the lab is using a color machine do to the printing, the kodak film seems to print better, probably because of the orange mask the film has. the ilford usually prints better when done with black and white chemistry &C.
    i usually send film through the local sam's club - its cheep and usually the snapshots come out okay ... it seems that fuji color processing ( the folks that do all the photo-work for sams&walmart ) print/process the kodak themselves, and send all the ilford to their guy(s) that do all their b&w work --- in this case happy-d's in kansas.

    i find the film to be less contrasty too, kind of like a cold light print vs. a condensor print ...
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    "I've seen and heard of disappointing results with bw film made for and developed in c-41. Can these films be developed by another method and what are the results?"

    I'm sure you have, but then the photographer has not been in control of the processing & printing.

    They can be developed in B&W chemicals, I've seen times published but the quality drops.

    From its introduction I tried using XP1, after a brief trial I stuck to FP4 (pre my switch to Agfa films and T-max 1986 onwards) for normal use.

    However I found that XP1 was superb for push processing to 1600 - 3200 ASA(ISO now) and used it for theatre photography and particularly Rock concerts for years. XP2 official literature seemed to indicate it wasn't recommended to be push processed, I noticed no differance. Many well known musicians are recorded on XP1 & 2.

    My pet hate is grain and even at 1600 ASA it's virtually absent, I've always loathed Tri-X and HP5,4,3
     
  13. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    A lot depends on the lab you're using, the way you expose the film, and the type of C-41 you're using.

    XP2 prints beautifully on B&W paper. But it also prints beautifully on color paper (and looks very much B&W rather than blue, green, or red) if you have a conscientious and skilled lab tech. If you don't, then all bets are off. XP2 at box speed and exposed dead-on, has pretty good contrast. If you really want it to snap, it does best overexposed a stop -- or seven. (Yes, it's designed to work with seven full stops of overexposure. Yikes. No, I'm not recommending this.)

    TCN, if you can still get it, is a great film for contrasty lighting situations, like backlit portraits or snow scenes, as mentioned. If you want it to "pop", it needs to be significantly overexposed. Rated and exposed at box speed, it tends to be very low contrast and sort of vanilla. :wink: Same lab info applies as with XP2 -- a good lab tech can make B&W-looking prints on color paper just fine. Like XP2, it also prints well on B&W paper.

    BUT....

    Kodak's latest offering, B&W 400 (I think that's what they're calling it?) is a different animal. It is designed to be printed on color paper, and in fact does NOT print well traditionally. (That's according to data put out by Kodak, so it's not just a personal bias.) Those who love this film tend to really love it. Personally, I find it really irritating for Kodak to pull Portra B&W film, which was extraordinary, only to replace it with a film that can't be printed traditionally. I think that's assenine.

    Anyway, just my two cents'.

    - CJ
     
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  15. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    good,interesting info

    Wow! I really didn't expect all of this good information. i figured that a couple of people would say "No, you cant do it." or "It's not worth the trouble..." But I didn't expect all of this...

    So, it sounds to me like the C-41 stuff goes to the local lab and gets printed on whatever seems to work best or pleases the most. The regular black and white stuff gets done by me...
     
  16. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Kodak just sent me a sample roll of the new BW400CN (along with the 100 and 400uc color emultions), I plan on playing with it this weekend. I was hoping for something similar to Portra BW, which I used to love "back in the day" hehe it'll be too bad if it isn't anywhere near it.
     
  17. fingel

    fingel Member

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    My box of Diafine lists XP2 as a film you can develop yourself with that developer. I haven't tried it though, but it appears to be possible.
     
  18. Paladin

    Paladin Member

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    has anyone tried this?

    I wonder how well that works? I know you can process most anything in B&W chemistry but i would think on c-41 films you would have to include the bleach-fix step to etch the dyes and clear the silver.
     
  19. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Just for fun earlier this year, I developed a 120 roll of Kodak 160 Portra NC in D-76 (7:30 at 68F, 10 sec. agitation per minute) and got quite pleasing results. With some refinement I'm sure thss would be a fine process. For me it was just an experiment...it worked well and i decided to move on from there without further testng.
     
  20. Stephen J. Collier

    Stephen J. Collier Member

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    Les's article on C41 film in B&W chemicals

    I am not sure if any one has posted this, but Les McLean wrote an article on just this topic. I am in the process of testing the times and chemicals in my darkroom. I would say that if you have the capabilities to do your own developing and you have a bunch of C41 B&W film that you give it a try.

    The article is based on the use of Ilford XP-2 Super and Kodak CN400, but if you have anything else you might give it a try.


    Using B&W chemicals for B&W C-41 film
     
  21. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I seem to remember that when Ilford XP1 first came out in the 80s it had its own dedicated chemistry which did a much better job than C-41. The original film could be processed C-41, but really didn't seem fully compatable, so the results were not that sharp. That soon improved though, and the modern version is certainly fine in C-41, although you may sometimes have trouble persuading a mini-lab of that if you have to use one. They have a way of determinedly telling you they don't do B&W whatever you say.

    Remember the negs are dye, not silver based and so not as long lasting as a true B&W film.

    David.
     
  22. lesdix

    lesdix Member

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    Other than C-41?

    I get 120 XP2 developed in a lab and print myself. The negatives are a delight to work with. OK, I have not done extensive tests comparing XP2 with Delta 400, T-Max 400 or whatever developed in x number of two-bath developers etc etc, but I find that the chromogenic negatives are the nearest I have got to that holy grail the 'fine negative'. But you have to print the negs yourself!
     
  23. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    I've never had any problems with Ilford XP2 rated at 250 or 320 (dev rated at 400) with a yellow filter on the lens. Due to being dye, for me it does have a clinical look due to there being no grain. These are also known as "wedding photographer films" due to it being almost impossible to blow the highlights on those white wedding dresses. One hour quicky processing where they keep the place dust free(ish) are all I use with C41. Printing I always do myself and dare I say if you want to neg scan it then it's an ideal film.
     
  24. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    Why would you want to do these B&W chromogenic films in normal chemistry? Wouldn't it be better to do a normal film instead, an let the chromogenic films be treated in C41?

    Morten
     
  25. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Sorry, I'm not sure if this is appropriate here, but I have learnt alot in this thread and have this question:

    Since I have never developed or printed my own (yet - just another couple of weeks, maybe Santa...), if I limit myself to getting a pro lab to develop and myself to print, will that still give me the control to produce more artistic hand printed images (ie. dodging and burning etc...)?
     
  26. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    from the c41 film XP2 seems to be the friendliest for DYI printing
    The kodaks are aimed to minilabs with that orange base.