standardizing on one medium format black and white film

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by valdez, Mar 21, 2004.

  1. valdez

    valdez Member

    Messages:
    13
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    In the interest of keeping things simple and avoiding the trap of endless experimentation, I would be very interested to learn about your approaches to black and white film selection. Do you tend to standardize on one film? If so, which have you found to be best suited for use as a general all-purpose film? Do any of you use TXP as your standard black and white film both for indoor and outdoor use?
     
  2. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,842
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Location:
    Rotterdam, T
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Standardizing on combinations of developer and film is a good thing. However, what is a good combination? Do some reading first and get familiar with the various characteristics such as tonality, grain, acutance etc. Once you found your favourites, stick with those while keeping an open mind to other possibilities. Experimenting too much will only lead to confusion. Reading books by Anchell (Darkroom Cookbook etc.) helps a lot.
    Personally I like most traditional film (ilford, Agfa) developed in Ultima (home made 2 bath dev)
    Good luck
    Hans
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,946
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I have a couple of main standards and think that's a good idea, but I'm always trying other things, and once in a while I'll switch. I like TX and TXP for most things, in PMK for negs to be enlarged and ABC pyro for negs to be contact printed. If I want more speed, I develop in Acufine, usually for handheld 4x5" use. I would say these are my default choices for most uses.

    Delta 400 Pro is a very attractive film in Perceptol at EI 200 and D-76 (1+1) at EI 400, but it doesn't come in sheet sizes. If it did, I might consider switching from Tri-X.

    Efke 100 in PMK or ABC looks like it might become a second standard film for me, because it's available in 11x14, responds very well to pyro, is a little finer grained than Tri-X, and has an attractive tonality.

    Then there are a few films I like for specific effects--

    Ektapan in ABC pyro for Hollywood-style portraits, at least until I run out of 8x10", as it's been discontinued.

    Fomapan T200 for a kind of Alvin Langdon Coburn/Fritz Lang look.

    I don't do very much B&W in 35mm anymore, but if I want the grainy look, I've got a bunch of Double-X cine stock that works well for this.
     
  4. dr bob

    dr bob Member

    Messages:
    871
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Annapolis, M
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    valdez: I'll agree with everything David has stated. Instead of relating my own choices (very ordinary) I must repeat that choosing one developer and one film for an extended period of picture making is most important. Someone once said "...for one year." Maybe not quite that long.

    Unfortunately it takes lots of practice, that is, photographing, to get to the point where one is truly at ease with all the "stuff". I think that may be the primary reason some give up ap for dp or other. I say stick with it, join an art group (not necessarily photography only) and enter a few shows. There ain't nothin' like success.:smile:
     
  5. Doug Bennett

    Doug Bennett Member

    Messages:
    230
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Huntsville,
    If I had to settle for one film, then it would likely be Tri-X or HP-5. As it is, I, like David, have a few that I'm used to: FP-4, APX-100, APX-25 (only 6 rolls left!).

    If one is shooting professionally, then settling down to one or two films is maybe a good thing. I personally shoot for fun (and the odd print sale or commission). Trying different films is fun, so I indulge myself.
     
  6. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    The answer depends on your level of experience, which I don't know. What format are you using? 35mm tri-x (400) has a completely different tonal range than medium/large format tri-x (320). I'd recommend that your "normal" film and normal paper be from one of the major players, so that you can buy it when you need it.

    The important thing is to pick a film/developer/paper combination that work well together. providing good range of tones that you find pleasing.

    If you are critically picking a film/paper for the first time, i.e., seeing how combinations actually compare in a finished print, pick 2 very different films, e.g., Tri-x and HP5. Pick two very different papers, such as Ilford Mutigrade and Bergger VCCB.

    Shoot a roll of each film, develop in D76 1:1 (a great all around developer) and print both films on both papers. This should give you an idea as to the tonal range you find most appealing in your end product.

    Take this combination of film/paper and work with it for a while (at least 6 months). after you've established your baseline, occasional experimentation with other combinations will be more meaningful.

    For what its worth, I've fairly much standardized on tri-x professional (320) developed in pyrocat HD and printed on Bergger VCCB. I also like Ilford Warm Tone multicontrast paper. When contact printing I use the same film/developer and print on AZO.
     
  7. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Messages:
    2,767
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have stuck with:

    Medium Format
    FP4+ in HC-110
    Tri-X in diafine for faster work
    C-41 black and white films for use in the toy cameras

    35mm
    HP5+ in HC-110
     
  8. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

    Messages:
    614
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Brazil
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I shoot only 35mm, like shallow depht of field in my photos, and enlarge some 10(no crop) to 12 times (some cropping).
    Due to that, grain is relativelly important.

    My main combo: PX (significantly cheaper than FP-4 for me) in an Xtol clone dev.
    I like this combo very much.

    Second choice, for available darkness - TX @1200 in a Diafine clone.

    Jorge O
     
  9. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

    Messages:
    3,221
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    S.E. New Yor
    I shoot mainly 35mm too and I have been experimenting quite a bit lately but I always have at least one body loaded with my old friend, Tri-X. It is so responsive to exposure and developer changes that it can customized to fit all of your personal equipment, methods and preferences like a glove. If could only be one film in the world, Tri-X would get my vote without a second thought.

    I soup it in Edwal FG7, usually mixed 1:15 with a 9% sodium sulfite solution.
     
  10. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I shoot all sizes from 35mm to 5x7". About half the film I use is FP4+ - less than half in terms of number of shots, much more than half in terms of number of films (counting each sheet as one).

    I used to develop in Ilfosol-S; now I mostly use FX-2 unless I have a very good reason to use something else.
     
  11. Ka

    Ka Member

    Messages:
    215
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Location:
    New York
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    What's the diff between Ilfosol-S and FX-2?
     
  12. juan

    juan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,745
    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    St. Simons I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with the idea of standardization. I shot Tri-X developed in HC-110 for many years and eventually felt like I had learned something about what I was doing. Then, due to family and work uh, issues, I stopped photographing for about 15-years. When I came back, everything had changed.

    I, at least occasionally, shoot 35mm, 127, 2 1/4 x 3 1/4, 4x5 and 8x10 - and luckily Efke 100 speed comes in all of those sizes. I develop them all in Pyrocat HD - again simplicity.

    juan
     
  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Ilfosol-S is a prepackaged Ilford developer, sold as liquid concentrate to be diluted 1+9 or 1+14. It offers fine grain, good acutance (not "high"), and exellent tonality with FP4+. It also has very poor shelf life, and tends to die on me between films.
    FX-2, on the other hand, is an old(ish) published recipe for a high acutance developer with extremely good shelf life. A concentrate lasts a very long time (I had a ready-to-use batch sitting on my desk for a week in an open beaker with no loss of activity), and it is also exellent for stand development for those pesky situations when you forget what film's in your camera and you end up exposing "sufficiently". It happens to me once in a while - I excuse myself with having 6 old folders... It also gives a slight increase in sensitivity over most other developers. The tonality isn't quite as smooth as with Ilfosol-S, but you have to compare negatives directly to see any difference.

    So for someone like me who tends to mix up the developer one day, then go off to work for a fortnight, FX-2 is the perfect developer.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

    Messages:
    2,512
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2002
    Location:
    Omaha, Nebra
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think to start out you need to pick a film that is going to have good latitude in a variety of lighting and shooting situations. I don't think anything exceeds triX or HP5 for versatility. Then there are the classic developers, D76, HC110 and Rodinol or there equivalents. All three have loads of data and experience behind them, and all three can be used at a variety of dilutions, stand processed, rotary processed and all three provide their own unique look.

    Currently I use XTOL for 35mm and HC110 or Pyrocat-HD for LF. And I have a special relationship with PanF and Rodinol. My film of choice most of the time in roll film is Delta 100 or TriX. In LF my choices are FP4 and HP5.

    If I was told I could only use one film for all my photography it would probably be TriX.
     
  16. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

    Messages:
    614
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Brazil
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've solved the storage problem using some of Pat Gainer's ideas:

    Tested: Vit C / phenidone dev using propylene glycol - 5 months old, partially filled bottle, as strong as new.
    To be tested - PQ paper dev in alcohol.

    Jorge O
     
  17. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Jorge: PQ (Phenidone/Hydroquinone) in alcholol will work, but why not use propylene glycol or ethylene glycol as the preservative instead? I did (following Patrick Gainer' sugggestions) and it has lasted very well!

    I just used some this morning that I mixed months ago - - it is the same color and activity now as when I first mixed it.

    When Hydroquinone begins to oxidize, it turns brown, my stock PQ solution is still the slightly pinkish color it was when I mixed it.

    To make the stock solution, I used just enough methanol to dissolve the PQ, then added ethylene glycol to make up the desired total solution volume.

    Are you keeping the alkali as a separate stock solution?
     
  18. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,765
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2003
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It may be advantagious to standardize, but can also be risky. I had standardized on Agfa APX100 for all sizes but they stopped producing it in sheet film. Now, I'm leaning to Efke 100 & HP5, though trying some J&C 400 in 120 roll. My standard developer is Diafine, with some occasional experimentation. It works well with all the films I've tried, except maybe Tmax.
     
  19. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

    Messages:
    614
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Brazil
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Tom

    Just because PQ in alcohol is very easy to mix and doesn't needs heathing.
    I'v mixed 100cc of PQ (Patrick's staining formula) about 45 days ago, and it's clear in a half filled plastic bottle. And, the bottle does not collapses, indicating there is no oxygen absorption.

    I add the alkali and sulfire when I mix the working solution (for film, borax of a stock solution, sulfite using spoon).
    For paper, I intend to use spoon both for alkali and sulfite.

    Jorge O
     
  20. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Jorge

    Yes the PQ mixes quite readily in alcohol (I have found it is a little quicker mixing it in methanol rather than Isopropyl).

    I have found that the alcohol/PQ mixture mixes very readily with ethylene glycol at room temperature (I haven't tried it yet with propylene glycol).

    The ethylene glycol version should have a somewhat longer storage life than the alcohol only version. Time will answer that question.

    As Patrick Gainer has indicated, with the developing agents protected by alcohol or anti-freeze, addition of sulfite (or bisulfite) is optional and not really needed.
     
  21. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

    Messages:
    614
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Brazil
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Tom

    I still use sulfite with PA since I had already done all the tests with a classical Xtol clone when Patrick presented the Pglicol idea.
    Someone else did a compare, and there was a very small difference, with sulfite/borax being slightly finer grained than no sulfite/more alkali. I understand Patrick does not agree with that conclusion.
    Since the difference was so small, I've decided not to run all the tests again.

    Regarding PQ for paper, PQ without sulfite is a staining dev, not a good idea for paper, so here it is not related to keeping properties.

    I do not think sulfite is a make or break choice for films - just pick the one you like the most, but from the above it's a must for PQ paper (and fixer also).

    Jorge O
     
  22. piniongear

    piniongear Member

    Messages:
    2
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2004
    I am sure to be in the minority here, but for my medium format activities I have long shot Kodak Tech Pan and I develope it in Ethol. This allows me to rate the Tech Pan @ ISO 100 and the Ethol gives pretty good pictorial negatives. Watch the time in the soup so the contrast does not build up and KEEP THE TEMPERATURE AT 68 DEGREES. I go by the recommended time. The Ethol is much cheaper than Kodak's Tech Pan Developer, but the main advantage is that I can shoot at 2 stops faster and the negatives are very smooth grained.....................piniongear
     
  23. pierre

    pierre Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Location:
    Ottawa
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I take the opposite view. Only one film?! No thanks. I love making the choice and varying. That's part of the pleasure, at least if photography is a hobby. Maybe it's different for those who make it a profession. I tend to settle on just a few films I use regularly anyway, but I wouldn't straigthjacket myself by categorically deciding I'm only going to use one film.
     
  24. frank

    frank Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,100
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2002
    Location:
    Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    HP5+ film in Ilfosol dev. for 35mm, 120, 4x5, and 5x7: simple yet effective.
     
  25. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

    Messages:
    3,203
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    Location:
    Eight miles high
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Delta 3200 is one of my favourite films in MF, because I do so much available dark portraiture -it's a godsend and gives lovely negs when semi stand developed in PCAT HD.
    Also: APX 400 in PMK-tonality that's good enough to eat and reminiscent of older style thicker emulsion films. Still mourning Verichrome, but looking forward to trying EFKE/Fomapan. Like the tonality of XP2 as well, and it's so handy when you're away from your darkroom for long periods of time.
    If you pick a range of 3 or so films and devs for regular use, and then try something new every so often, then I feel that that's a reasonable balance.
     
  26. JeffC

    JeffC Member

    Messages:
    15
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    Current love affair in monochrome is Delta 3200 for 35mm or medium format - developed in DDX (1+4) as a one shot process. Film rated anywhere from ISO 200 up to ISO 256000. I have found it to be a very versatile film. Slower emulsion choice is Pan F or FP4 in IDII as a one shot process. Looking forward to trying EFKE films for 4x5