The good thing about Kodak, Fuji and Ilford

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by PhotoJim, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    A little break from the Kodachrome threads. :smile:

    A year or so ago I bought a bunch of Shanghai and Lucky film from China. This is quirky black and white film that is quite unlike any other film on the market. While I use predominantly Fuji for colour and Ilford for black and white (intermingled with a little Ektar 100 and Kodachrome and the odd roll of Kodak's various b&w products) I like to tinker with unusual films. I discovered Foma 100's interesting properties this way and I use it from time to time precisely for these qualities.

    I'd shot some of my 35mm Lucky 100 already but I had not yet tried the 120. I was at the cottage. My niece and nephew are 5 and 3, respectively, and quite unabashed around a camera. Even a large camera doesn't freak them out. So into my Bronica SQ-A went a roll of Lucky 100.

    As I wound it on it felt a little tight but I thought little of it. I figured that perhaps the backing paper was slightly wide for the spool.

    As I shot the roll the winding got tighter and tighter and eventually I thought that this was not a wise thing to be doing. I popped on another back and shot other films for the rest of the day.

    I put the back in question into my changing bag when I got home yesterday. The film had slipped from the backing paper! It was all crumpled up like an accordian. No wonder.

    The "tape" holding the film to the paper was a shiny piece of white paper about 40 mm wide with the number 1 printed on it. The bottom side wasn't the least bit sticky.

    Needless to say I will be inspecting the rest of my rolls in the darkroom before I shoot them. :smile:
     
  2. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Yup, been there.

    Lucky + Bronica = unlucky

    I found 120 Lucky films to be very heavy and stiff. It seems they don't like the hard backwards loop required to load a Bronica magazine.

    Cheers,
     
  3. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I have been farting around with all sorts of films, and one thing has become perfectly clear to me (to me, this is my opinion, ok?!):
    Even though I really can't afford shooting Kodak film, (Ilford and Fuji being equal in my mind), I also cannot afford to NOT shoot any of the above. As my finances tighten, and the time available to shoot, I will NOT sacrifice film quality. Kodak has never been anything but top notch and stellar product that is easy to handle and trouble free.

    Fresh, good film = less chance of faux pas. I know that some people swear by Efke, Foma, formerly Forte, etc. But I have had problems with quality with all of them that I just don't have with FP4+/Plus-X/Tri-X in the past, and now TMY-2 and TMX. It's worth the extra expense in my opinion.
     
  4. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Tom #1:

    Interesting point. It had occurred to me, actually. I have shot Shanghai GP3 in this camera, however. Still, I can see the film path being a contributing factor; a roll that is not well made could easily cause problems. Perhaps I'm best to shoot my remaining Lucky 100 in my Pentax 67.

    Tom #2:

    I agree with you 100%. I actually don't shoot these quirky films because they're cheap (although I like that they are), I shoot them because I like to experiment. Unquestionably the quality control of the Big Three (I'm hesitant to use that label since it cursed the auto industry :smile: ) is head and shoulders above the others. Still, Efke and Foma films are completely unlike Kodak, Fuji and Ilford and they're worth shooting on occasion.

    I actually think film from the Big Three is pretty reasonably priced. Five bucks for a roll of Ektar 100? Tremendous value. The b&w film isn't dirt cheap but it's certainly reasonable.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, I've never had an issue with defective film from Fuji, Kodak or Ilford. I did ruin a roll of HP5 in the 1970s, when Ilford used reloadable 35mm cartridges and the ends weren't firmly affixed. However, those cartridges were handy if you did bulk loading and they were really easy to open in the darkroom, and I found that they weren't a problem in the field as long as they were treated reasonably gently, so I don't consider that to be a defect.

    Invariably if something matters I grab a roll of film from a major manufacturer. Still, using the alternatives is fun even if it does have a few perils!
     
  5. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    You pay for what you get. I do not want to loose a roll of film because I could save a little money. Therefore, I shoot Kodak, Fuji, or Ilford in that order. At some time I will try Rollei, Efke and Foma to see what they are like. I trust FreeStyle, so I will trust their films. But I am not ready to trust Lucky at this point and with the selection that I already have, I am disinclined to try it now.

    Things change, but this is my story and I am sticking to it!

    Steve
     
  6. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Don't discount Lucky films entirely. These films apparently have little or no anti-halation, resulting in some interesting glows to some highlights. I haven't used any in a couple of years, but I was recently doing some spotting on an older print and quite liked the effect.

    Cheers,
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2009
  7. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    This is a reasonable point, but I think it's based in an incomplete picture. I have no argument in the areas where there *are* comparable films---say, Foma or Efke 100 vs. Plus-X/Acros/FP4+ in normal sizes. (In that case I happen to like Fomapan 100 so much that I use it anyway, but it's a matter of taste and I see where you're coming from to do otherwise.)

    But if I want something like Efke 25, or a true IR film (>720 nm), or sheets in metric sizes, the "big 3" aren't going to help me out. (Yes, I know, some Ilford films are available in the metric sizes, but not easily, and at a really high price.) I assume they would if the market were there---but the threshold of "if the market were there" for a big international company, the kind that can afford high levels of quality control, is pretty high. A smaller specialty operation, using old equipment and "best effort" in lieu of "best practice", can at least afford to keep IR film and plate-camera sheet sizes in production.

    I actually really like the fact that we have both "ecosystems" around. Horses for courses.

    -NT
     
  8. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I was messing around with Lucky films long before many people had even heard of the products in the West. I have a friend who visits China at least once a year and for a while she'd always bring back a few dozen rolls of 120 and 135 for me to play with. At the time, I was getting the stuff for the equivalent of $.50US per roll and at that price I was willing to play with it. But you know, that stuff is really crap. The 35mm stuff isn't too bad. The 120 stuff is truly awful. It is stiff and it has a wicked curl to it before processing. After processing it wants to curl up into a tube along the length of the film strip. It is almost impossible to get it into the negative carrier without taping the corners down The anti-halation characteristics are so bad as to make the film virtually useless if there is a moderately bright light source in the frame. The film also comes nowhere hear its advertised speed and can get very contrasty very quickly if over developed even just a little. After having fought with this film for a while, I finally gave up. Life is too short to argue with a strip of film.

    You want bad anti-halo characteristics? Use Foma or Arista.EDU Ultra fims. The anti-halo characteristics are not as good as films from the big three There's enough halation to make it useful if you want it to be there, and it is, to an extent, controllable. The Foma films are curly, but at least they curl in only one direction, and the tendency isn't so strong as to make you fight to get them into a negative carrier.
     
  9. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I find the Foma films curl if they're freshly developed, but once they've been in a binder in a negative page for a few months, they're fine. Since I rarely print new negatives (I always seem to have a backlog) that's fine with me. The only annoyance is getting the negatives *in* the negative sheets in the first place.
     
  10. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    They can't possibly curl as badly as the few Maco films I've used. Both Cube 400 and 820c are so flimsy and curly that it tries my patience just to line them up in the negative carrier. It's too bad too, because I really like the prints I've gotten with these films.

    Cheers,
     
  11. ooze

    ooze Member

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  12. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Ahhh. There in lies the reason that I stick to the mainline film manufacturers.

    Steve
     
  13. Jack Lusted

    Jack Lusted Member

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    For what it is worth Foma films seem to be getting much better wrt curl. Generally their quality control seems to be much much better than it was a couple of years ago.

    Jack
     
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  15. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    Had the same problem and documented here - http://www.flickr.com/groups/lucky_film/discuss/72157618643448437/

    On the ilford tour they said they had a relatively high failiure rate on their 120 spool-o-matic machine because its hard to get the backing and the tape and the film all lined up. But Ilford have got quality control to sort the problem out.

    Seen this on maybe 1 in 10 rolls, even within the same batch.

    Personally I use this stuff with Diafine for my pinhole, because its cheap, the quality isn't going to matter "that" much and the film coming off the paper isn't going to break any part of the camera.
    It is a bit of a bugger to get on the spool, and it curls like anything after you hang it out to dry. 12 hours later its normally lost its curl.
     
  16. RobertV

    RobertV Member

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    Indeed..... much better.

    The difference of their 35mm and 120 roll film is that the roll films are made on polyester base which curls more then the tri-acetate 35mm Fomapan films.

    Coating problems I have not seen anymore since a few years and their packing also improved. One of the reasons Foma is packing 120 roll films for the Rollei-Maco company.
     
  17. cmo

    cmo Member

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    The same problem with 120 film not properly fixed to the paper was reported recently with films from a small store-brand company mentioned here, not Lucky. I don't mention that one again, their director always goes apesh** when someone criticizes his products or his marketing methods (don't ask me for names...).

    I second the author of the headline and can complete it. "The good thing about Kodak, Fuji and Ilford" is that you can rely on their quality, also when it comes to packaging. Period. And if something goes wrong they fix it and don't kill the messenger.
     
  18. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    I'll go back to the first page of posts and agree with Thomas. Dependable quality and performance is more important to me than price, funkiness or "look". I don't often get a chance to commune with my camera and nature, and I'll be darned if I'm going to risk results for a couple of bucks. Film is the cheapest part of the process when you consider time, effort, gas money and all the other things that go into a shoot. I'll stick with the Big 3.

    Peter Gomena
     
  19. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Frank-have been using this in 35mm with no problems...antihalation issues I have never seen...maybe it's my eyesite!!
    Best, Peter
     
  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    :D - Funny
     
  21. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Peter,

    Look closely, with a magnifier, at frames where there is a very bright spot. An interior shot exposed to favor the indoor lighting conditions with a fully lit exterior windo is a good example of where you'll find the effect most noticeable. Heavily over exposed point source lights will show the effect too. In 35 mm, it's really not that bad. It's a little worse, to my eye at least, with medium format.
     
  22. werra

    werra Subscriber

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    ERA100 is a decent chinese film compared to Lucky and Shanghai. No curling (at least in 135, have not tried yet 4x5) or AH problems.
    Too bad it's only available as 135, 4x5, 8x10 and a bit odd 7x17. For some mysterious reason there is no 120.
     
  23. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    :smile: Kodak is the way.
     
  24. olehjalmar

    olehjalmar Member

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    Interesting. My experience is that Foma 100 and 400 curl much less than Ilford FP4 and HP5. In particular, Foma 100 tends to dry completely flat. Must have something to do with different drying conditions.

     
  25. wogster

    wogster Member

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    +1
     
  26. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    The 35 mm stuff is very flat when dry. The medium format rolls are the curly ones.