Selecting the speed of your film?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by stradibarrius, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    What goes into making the decision of which speed film you want to use.
    I know if it is a low light situation then a faster film would probably be the choice.
    What if you were going our during the day to shot buildings or street type shots what would go into your decision?
    I am not asking you to tell me what film to use...just how you go about deciding what film you will use.
     
  2. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I think about a few main things (not necessarily in order of importance):

    - What sort of sharpness and grain I want for the picture
    - Whether or not I will be hand holding for the shots
    - What sort of light I will be shooting in
    - What sort of dynamic range I want the film to be able to capture (i.e. SBR)

    For much of what I shoot in 35mm, hand held in a variety of situations - often dark, or in and out of the shade, with moving subjects - a 100 film won't cut it in terms of stopping action, depth of field, or simply being able to get enough exposure at all. 400 and Delta 3200 - which is actually ISO 1000 - are my two main films. I use slower films sometimes, but rarely, in 35mm. Occasionally I will shoot a roll of Reala, or a consumer 100 or 200 film that someone has given me. I also shoot a roll of T64 when needed, and I use Acros for copying text and other flat things on a copy stand. For 35mm shooting, I rarely need or want the technical qualities of slower films. I'll usually just go to medium or large format if I want a really sharp and grainless picture.

    In medium format, I shoot more color. For hand held pix, I generally shoot NPH/400H or NPZ/800Z, Tri-X 320, T-Max 400, HP5, and sometimes I will shoot the NPH and the other faster films on a tripod. However, generally medium format on a tripod is when I will use 100 films, such as Reala, Acros, T-Max, FP4, Plus-X, or Acros for long exposures. I also use Tri-X 320, HP5, and Delta 3200, even on a tripod.

    With large format, I generally use a 100 film, and sometimes slower. I use 320 and 400 (b/w or color) films as well, for faster shutter speeds, less contrast, more D of F, etc. FP4 is my main b/w sheet film.
     
  3. Ricus.stormfire

    Ricus.stormfire Member

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    Well for me it depends whether I'm going to be hand holding (TLR) or use a tripod (SLR). When I hand hold I tend to use films in the range of 200* to 400 ISO. Tripod shots usually 125 or 200 ISO, but I've muddied my own water by buying 25, 80 ISO and IR films recently, which will also go with this choice. Altough I've had some success with ratings as low as 80 with the TLR (but in good light though).

    I doubt if I'll use slower films in the slr handheld (but I use a tripod with these systems anyway 99% of the time, and the 1% tends to be 400 ISO - though I'm not too fond of hand holding a 6x6/6x7 slr)

    So to make a long story short depends on camera system and if I'm going to use a tripod or not

    (*FP4 + rated at 200)

    Ricus

    or what 2F/2F said he sounds smarter than me anyway :wink:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 28, 2010
  4. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I usually pick the slowest film that is suitable for the assignment. Since slower films for B&W or Color Negative, by Kodak or Ilford (B&W) , this is usually asa 100 film. Other factors have to be considered, amount of light, hand held, long lens, which may need the next fastest film.
     
  5. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    You can often find alternative arguments to justify using a particular film in different situations. For example - fast film in low light as slow film means camera shake. But... use a tripod and maybe that reason disappears. But... low light can mean low contrast - and so maybe 25 ISO or 50 ISO film, with their inherent higher contrast, on a tripod, are more suitable? Conventional films are usually more responsive to push processing... but modern T-Max/delta type films have much better reciprocity characteristics - so maybe do not need pushing, just a long exposure.

    I mean, there are so many different ways of skinning a ferret - I bet two different photographers could both take a great picture in any particular situation, one using 35mm Tmax 3200 and one using 4 X 5 Across 100.

    Obviously they would get very different images, so I suppose it depends what type of picture you want - but for me that changes over time. I used to be obsessed with ultra fine grain, so used a lot of fine grain developers and films. At the moment I'm boiling forte pan 400 in rodinal and loving the grain.
     
  6. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I like the tonality of TMax-400 in D76 1+1, and since I use either MF or LF on a tripod, grain and shutter speeds are no issue. In other words, I'm as boring as one film and one developer.
     
  7. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    I'll mention depth of field since this I didn't notice it mentioned specifically. I had been using 400 for hand-held street shots, but recently tried 100, and the shallower depth of field gives things a different look and makes different demands on how I shoot and what I look for. Not better or worse, just different.
     
  8. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    The biggest consideration for me is shutter speed.

    I tend toward aperture priority, by that I mean when I have a choice I want to be able to define a short DOF.

    F3.8 and be there with my RB. For daylight work the shutter speed limit at 1/400th means I choose slower films. With my N90s and 1/8000th of a second shutter speed available I choose faster film.
     
  9. wiggywag

    wiggywag Member

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    Tmax 400 in Fomadon Excel (like xtol), in 35mm, 120mm, and 4x5. All formats and situations. Life is easy :wink:
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    This is one of the reasons having interchangeable backs on your medium format cameras is really nice.
     
  11. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Like RalphLambrect, Tmax400 means you can have your cake and eat it too. It's just about the fastest 400 speed film, with its short toe it tolerates underexposure well, and its grain and sharpness are comparable to Plus-X. I'm close to just shooting tmax400 in every format, for everything. I kind of have a love affair with Neopan 400 but now that's gone in medium format.
     
  12. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Also must consider the use of filters. Yea you can shoot FP4 in bright sunny conditions, but throw an orange and a polarizer filter on and your lens and it eats up stops quick. Also, you wouldn't choose a 400 speed film to shoot portraits in bright conditions where you'll be using f/4, f/5.6.

    I used to find a 400 speed film perfect for everything hand holdable, and it really is besides in blaring sunlight. But lately I'm really falling in love with FP4 and am making it work no matter what I have to do, even if it means using a tripod most of the time. I'm still trying to replace Neopan 400. I think I'm gonna give TMY-2 another try. If I can get TMY-2 to work, atleast in low-light I'll be set with FP4 and TMY-2 for everything I personally encounter photographically.
     
  13. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Brian

    I think, you'll find TMY-2 to be a good choice. Let us know!
     
  14. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I agree, and it even works with multiple cameras for 35mm. In some cases, it costs less than interchangeable MF backs.
     

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  15. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have four Hasselblad backs:
    Color C-41 160 and 400
    Black & White 125 and 400​
    so I have to check the back before I shoot so the exposure is set correctly.

    Four 35mm one silver Nikon for 400 Color and a black Nikon for black& white.

    Steve