Recommendations for B&W Film

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by jazzmechanic, May 15, 2005.

  1. jazzmechanic

    jazzmechanic Member

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    Greetings,

    What are your favorite 120 black and white films and where can you get them for a reasonable price. I am american but live in Germany with the $toEuro the way it is, looking for some stateside sources.

    Thanks
     
  2. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Can I ask what you intend to shoot and do you like contrasty or smoother prints?
     
  3. jazzmechanic

    jazzmechanic Member

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    Sorry for that obvious oversite. I am currently shooting with a mamiya rb 67 and 645. Buildings and people are high on my list at the moment and I prefer smooth prints.
     
  4. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Your going to get many many replies and suggestions.

    I go for Ilford FP4+ for (ISO 50 to 100 use) and Kodak Tri-X (ISO 200 to 1600). Ilford HP5+ is also a beauty for faster film but these days I'm a Tri-X convert.
     
  5. jazzmechanic

    jazzmechanic Member

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    Thanks TPPhotog.
    That's what I am expecting because, I will evaluate the recommendations and then start trying them.

    Do you have any examples?
     
  6. jazzmechanic

    jazzmechanic Member

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    Great source...don't kick me . but is there a source that sells outdate film...ouch!!!.. I said don't kick me..
    :smile:
     
  7. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Ebay :D
     
  8. jazzmechanic

    jazzmechanic Member

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    Ouch...you kicked me real hard...checked ebay...nothing..I will but new stuff...
     
  9. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    eBay is your best source for out of date film.

    Of the films that J&C Photo sell, two have become my favorites in 120: Efke 100 and Fomapan 200. I shoot the Efke in everything from 35mm to 8x10, and it's gorgeous in all of those formats. Fomapan 200 is my other favorite film in 120. To my eyes it has that "old style, thick emulsion" look about it even though it's not a thick emulsion film...somehow it reminds me of the 1920's Hollywood glamour photography look. I especially like it for the things that you mentioned: buildings and people.

    I still shoot Tri-X as my "fast" film, as well as the occasional roll of Ilford Delta 3200 for available light work.

    You didn't mention your experience level, but I will tell you that if you're just starting out it's hard to beat Tri-X as a film to learn with. It's amazingly forgiving, every lab in the US (and I imagine in Europe as well) knows how to handle it properly, it's easy to develop yourself, and it never hurts to have a fast film in your camera if you don't know what you'll be shooting on a given day.

    Best of luck to you. We're actually living in a time when our choice of B&W films is greater than it's ever been (who would have thought that?).

    Be well.
    Dave
     
  10. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Out of date sometimes comes up for sale in the forums here. But more of us are getting wise to the point that the date don't mean much if the film is properly kept, I still have 35mm and 120 in my fridge that went out of production years ago. Good way to wind up your partner who thinks a fridge is for food LOL
     
  11. skahde

    skahde Member

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    Jazzmechanic, before you decide to buy from outside the EU have a look here: http://www.phobatec-shop.de/images/international.pdf . They may also have out-dated or short-dated film available, just call them.

    You will have to add 16% VAT to your own imports as well as to the prices from phobatec. When ordering from inside germany the film should be in your hands within 24hrs.

    In 135 you need to be much more picky with your film as you have to enlarge more. In 120 most films behave if treated correctly and choice of film is more a matter of taste and style. If you don't enlarge much more than 11x14 you could easily use Tri-X for close to everything in 120 but not in 135.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2005
  12. gr82bart

    gr82bart Member

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    If you are in Germany, go Agfa Scala - you'll never go back.

    Art.
     
  13. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Quite often ebay has current films on there as well; just bought some SFX that has a date of late '06 on it.



     
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  15. jazzmechanic

    jazzmechanic Member

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    Mongo...thanks for your comments. I am new to this and taking some great classes with a superb lehrin (female teacher). I tried and developed Tri-X and feel good about the results. I love the smell of stop bath!!!!!
     
  16. jazzmechanic

    jazzmechanic Member

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    The reason why I am looking for outdated film is because I want to shoot a lot and I U have access to a darkroom for free to develop it.. I don' want to waste good film, if I can get some bulk quanities of outdated film for a reasonable price.
     
  17. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    I don't know how much shipping will impact your decision, but both J&C photographic and FreeStyle have good deals on 120 film that's not outdated.

    J&C has their J&C Pro 100 for US$1.39/roll. (If you use this film, I highly recommend that you do not use a stop bath but use four to six quick water rinses instead. The sudden shock of going from an alkaline environment in the developer to the acidic stop bath has caused emulsion holes for some people.)

    FreeStyle has their new Arista.edu Ultra 200 speed film for US$1.49/roll (US$1.39/roll if you buy 20 or more rolls). This is by all accounts re-packaged Fomapan 200. I mentioned above how much I like the Fomapan 200 film; having it available for this price is pretty astounding. (Note that I have no proof that this is the same film as Fomapan, but if you compare the technical documents on the FreeStyle site it's pretty obvious that it's the same stuff.)

    If the shipping from the US doesn't get too expensive, I think either of these films is a much better deal than outdated film unless you're sure the old film has been stored properly. Now, if you can find some Tri-X that's outdated and that you are pretty sure was well stored, then you might be able to get a price similar to the prices outlined above.

    I do think you have the right idea: Shoot a lot. That's the best way to improve both your photography and your darkroom skills. Best of luck to you.

    Be well.
    Dave
     
  18. jazzmechanic

    jazzmechanic Member

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    Mongo...great thanks...shipping is no problem as I have an APO address..like shipping to NY. Who do you buy from?
     
  19. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    I buy from J&C. Their customer service is beyond great; it's the best I've ever received from any business anywhere. I'm sure that FreeStyle is good as well...but I've had spectacular service from J&C and buy all of my B&W film from them.
     
  20. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Mongo said it - Tri-X does it all. Not only is it good for learning but good for experienced use too. I've shot everywhere between 200 and 3200. Even at the 3200 speed, it looked better than Tmax 3200.

    Don't worry too much about buying out-of-date B&W film. I once developed an exposed roll that had been laying in my Dad's dresser drawer for fourty years. It still worked!
     
  21. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    I'll second the J&C Pro 100 -- very nice B&W film, in some ways the equal of Plus-X. Keeping the temperature carefully at or below 68F/20C, and avoiding the acid stop bath seem to help tremendously in avoiding bubbles and pinholes, though you'll still find very occasional coating defects (unavoidable, says John from J&C, due to the WWII vintage coating equipment in use). If you're shooting something critical, it's worth shooting two rolls; if you have defects, you'll probably have them spread along a whole roll, but it's very unlikely a second roll will have them also.

    I've been shooting a lot of Pro 100 lately -- and I really like the black plastic film cans that are included in the price.

    My other main 120 B&W is TMY. A lot of folks don't seem to like it, but in my process and to my eye, it's hardly any grainier than Pro 100, gives a full 400 speed, and has very nice gradations and tones. This might have to do with the fact I scan my negatives (until such time as I can get my bathroom, er, darkroom set up to print), but prints I've gotten from TMY have always looked wonderful, too.

    Since you're on a budget, however, you might try Lucky SHD400. I've recently shot and processed a roll; I found it to look a good deal like Tri-X, though the base is very thin and the film likes to curl into a tube after drying. Some have complained the SHD films have poor toe speed, but I didn't notice a problem in my process (dilute developer, low agitation, and a long time in the soup), which tends to pull up the toe. The price of the SHD is very nice, too.

    Another good budget option for faster film is Classic 400 -- this is Forte film rebranded, and though I haven't tried any, I've seen pictures from it that looked very good.

    FWIW, in case you have trouble with X-ray damage with APO shipped film (and you might), all of these except the Pro 100 are available from fotoimpex.de and from Retrophoto in the UK; shipping within the EU shouldn't be a big deal, but the VAT can make you crazy...
     
  22. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Subscriber

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    Have you looked at Agfa APX 100? I shoot a lot of it and I can get it cheaper than any other brand name films here. If it isn't cheap there you can try http://www.filmart.com where they have it for $1.50 per roll in 120. Shipping is a bit high and I don't know about shipping to an APO, since they need USPS shipping, I think. If you order 30 or more rolls, the high shipping is way more than covered.

    I think that APX 100 is a wonderful film. I use it because I totally love it and it is extremely economical. It is not the finest grain, but that shouldn't be a huge issue in 120. The tonality is incredible, especially when developed in Rodinal.

    I think that whatever you do, getting a mess of film of one kind and really working with it is your best bet. Any film can do very good work and you will find that the most important thing is learning how to work with it.

    Have fun!

    Paul.
     
  23. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I've certainly shot more Tri-X than any other film by a wide margin. It's excellent and responds well to any developer. That said, I discovered HP5+ a few years ago and I've totally switched to it over Tri-X. To me, HP5+ looks like Tri-X with a #8 yellow filter. I love the tonality.

    My absolute favorite film in medium format is Ilford PanF+. It may take a bit of playing with exposure and processing to get control over the inherent contrast, but the creamy tones are superb. I don't use it as much as HP5+, because I prefer handholding to tripods.
     
  24. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Kodak TMY
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    Efke R50
    Ilford Pan F+
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    everything else

    in that order, but there's a big gap between TMY and anything else
     
  25. richardmellor

    richardmellor Member

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    apx 100

    I would also recommend apx 100 from film art .
    Just ordered 20 rolls apx 100 for 1.99 each shipped .
    I have never understood why efke is is 3.51 each shipped for 20 rolls. would think efke should be the cheap film.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2005
  26. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Why? Efke and the Efke distributors are pricing their product to make a reasonable profit and thus stay in business. Agfa's business plan (selling at a loss) has not been doing too well lately.