What 4x5 400 ISO film for newbie landscape photographer?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by optique, Nov 11, 2008.

  1. optique

    optique Member

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    What would you recommend for the typical contrasty Southwest US landscape?

    I would like to constrain it to Ilford and Kodak, though I have a feeling that TXP requires extra care to prevent blown shadows and highlights. This is mostly from reading.

    I am just starting my 4x5 experience and I want to start on the right foot.

    Thanks and have a great day.
    Steve.
     
  2. br549

    br549 Subscriber

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    I recently gave Kodak TMAX 400 "improved" a try and it is amazing!! I'm shooting it at 250 and developing it in ID-11 1:1 68 degrees for 7.5 minutes in a rotary processor. For contrasty light, pulling the development would probably work well.

    Good Luck!
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    That only leaves HP5 and Tmax400, both are excellent films, I'm currently using HP5 for my hand-held 5x4 work it's great in all lighting conditions.

    Ian
     
  4. optique

    optique Member

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    I had my eye on hp5 but was unsure of tmax? Maybe tmax is less forgiving in the development tank?
     
  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Why not try something inexpensive like foma 200. Shoot lots. Shoot every shot twice for starters; develop the first and inspect. Then develop the second if dev time or contrast changes are necessary. You can learn much this way, and very quickly.
     
  6. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

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    Damn. I wish I'd have thought of that.

    That'd work in 35mm, too (within a small margin of error for shutter speeds on differing cameras) as long as I use the same meter all the time.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Just a warning Fomapan 200 is a god film and will give excellent results but it requires much shorter dev times than other films usually 2/3rds the times and also has a true speed of around 100 EI.

    Ian
     
  8. edtbjon

    edtbjon Member

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    Keiths advice is very good. I think e.g. Freestyle sells Foma under their own label. Anyhow, even though the film may cost half or even less in some cases, it doesn't mean that you can get excellent pictures with this film once you've learnt how to handle and process the film correctly. Once you start to get results and good pictures, there is no reason to regret using the Foma film. It is very likely that noone can tell if that nice print was made from a Foma negative or a Kodak one.

    //Björn
     
  9. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Tmax-2 is highly forgiving in development, at least with Pyrocat-HD. Go with it, shoot many sheets, learn its development, and never look back.
     
  10. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Let me just say something that may seem counterintuitive at first. I do not intend to contradict anyone, but rather just to give you my own opinion, for what it's worth.

    For learning exposure and such, you do not want a forgiving film. Actually the foma is perhaps a bit too kind to beginners :wink: You want a film that kicks your ass for every little mistake you make. Pardon my language.

    When teaching students totally new to sheet film (and even film in general), I had them use.... polaroid. And the fuji equivalent. Why? It has slide-like very narrow exposure latitude. It is very unforgiving. If your metering is off a half stop or so, you see it for sure. if you can expose correctly for pola/fujiroid then you can shoot just about anything, including techpan and slide. Then you are a master :wink:

    Now, instant film is rather pricey, so a lot of folks don't want to spend a lot of money on it. Fine, I understand. But just bear in mind that what makes a film optimal for a professional is not the same thing that makes it optimal for a student. A student wants/needs an unforgiving film that teaches hard lessons, that forces the student to really sweat the little details like bellows factor and reciprocity and falloff. And above all... use a cheap film for starters because you will want to shoot a lot and try several variables.

    N.b. we can tell you what variables will turn out to matter and which will not, but that is not what a teacher is supposed to do! You have to flounder a little bit on your own :wink: Otherwise it's just a matter of following recipes rather than optimizing your own approach.

    If you don't want to use a lot of film but want to learn how dev times and such affect the result, let me recommend shooting a fairly monotonous scene, and then cut your neg into strips and develop those for different times. In ~10 mins you learn everything there is to learn about how dev time affects the tone curve of your neg.

    P.S. haha, yes zenrhino, indeed you can do this with roll film too! Even the superexperts resort to clip tests now and then.
     
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  11. optique

    optique Member

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    I was told early on in my experience to avoid the new films like Delta and Tmax, so I think I will stick with the traditional films now, without a good reason otherwise. Plus, I don't want to leave D76 and dev times of 9min plus or minus. Thanks BR549.

    Sounds like if money were no object, I could pick HP5. Then, as Keith advises, shoot a lot. I guess I will have to buy another film holder so I can have two. Joke Joke.

    With 120, I was at the stage with 400tx where I was shooting well exposed negatives, requiring mostly grade 2 contrast. So, if I could built on that experience with 4x5, it would be great. I think HP5 is similar to 400TX also, right? I can graduate to altering development to adjust contrast like mentioned.

    Foma sounds like a good idea, too. And, the idea of a beginner using a film without much latitude to prove out exposure does sound valid. I do have a slight interest in shooting some E6 so that may tell the same story on exposure. (Is the usual procedure to have a lab drum scan and print them?)

    thanks.
    Steve.
     
  12. Les

    Les Subscriber

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    Keith,
    Very good advice.
    Photography is an experimental science - I mean art!
    Thanks.
    Les
     
  13. optique

    optique Member

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    Keith,

    I liked your gallery work, esp Moon flower in the first row of your flora under More Photographs.

    I carefully read your tips and appreciate the time you took to respond.
    Steve.
     
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  15. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I've used quite a bit of Foma 200 in rollfilm formats and I don't find it to be a very forgiving film. It is inexpensive though, and that can be an important consideration for someone just starting out with 4x5. You will make mistakes - lots of them, and they won't necessarily be exposure goofs. You will mess up handling the film when loading and unloading the holders. You will mess up when processing the film. You will make double exposures. You will forget to pull the dark slide before you make the exposure. You will forget to replace the darkslide before removing the holder from the camera. Don't you think it would be better to get all this messing up out of the way with inexpensive film before you start with the expensive stuff? And by the way, Foma 200 is capable of delivering some very fine results. I can usually get an EI or 125 or 160 from it in XTOL.
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I find HP5 and FP4 to be perfectly able to manage typical contrasty Southwest light if carefully tested, metered, and developed. HP5 seems to inherently keep shadow detail better, while FP4 seems to inherently keep highlight detail better. Looking at the characteristic curves on the data sheets, you can see why this is. If I need to pull, I prefer HP5. If I need to push, I prefer FP4, as the highlights don't seem to block up as severely as HP5. However, either one is perfectly tweakable if you are willing to put the time into it. Tri-X 320 is a great sheet film as well. I used to use it almost exclusively, but switched to HP5 instead. IMO, the biggest difference between Tri-X 320 and HP5 is that they have different color responses. Tri-X has a very even response across the spectrum, while HP5 is a bit less responsive to the cooler colors.

    Since you want a 400 film, I would pick between Tri-X and HP5 (although I would probably be tempted to use FP4 instead if retaining highlight detail was going to be a bigger issue than retaining shadow detail). If you like your pix to seem like they are slightly warm filtered, go for the HP5. If you want a more even color response, go for the Tri-X. Another benefit of this characteristic of Tri-X is that since shadows are cool in tone, they are opened up a little bit compared to HP5. An interesting experiment might be to get a pack of each, put one in one side of the holder and the other in the other side, double your shots onto each side, and develop them together. Either one will give you nice shots, but you will be able to see the slight differences, and decide which one you like better.

    I really don't know much about Deltas and T-maxes except that I used them for a while on a suggestion, but ended up disliking the general look. I did not do any testing, but something about them seemed a bit off to me. Personal opinion, of course. I am sure if I took the time to test them, I would see that they have many good uses.
     
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  17. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    I would say initialy go with a forgiving film like HP5 or Tri-X as there are enough other things to think about when starting out with 5x4.

    That way you will get some results with your first efforts - despite all the many pitfalls that come with learning LF.

    However, Keith has a very good point, if you need to master metering and exposure, after you have mastered the basics of a View Camera, an intolerant film (Delta 100 ?) is a very good way to learn exposure.

    Martin
     
  18. Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson Member

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    TMY-2 without question. I made the switch from 4x5 Tri-X to TMY-2 this spring and I've been kicking myself for sticking with Tri-X for so long.

    I Develop in XTOL 1:3 (rotary, using a Jobo 3010 tank), but with any dilution of XTOL this film just sings.

    All that, and I'm getting about 2/3 stop more real film speed to boot. What's not to like?
     
  19. optique

    optique Member

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    Ok guys, I ordered a box of that inexpensive foma 200 from freestyle, and some HP5+.

    My three camera mistakes so far with my Crown: 1. did not reverse the darkside after taking a shot. 2. scratched film while [un]loading holder, 3. shadow self portraits too many times 4. too embarrased to say. <face turns red>

    Developing has been relatively fine, but I had a lot of roll film experience. Did a 4 negative contact print on one 8x10 sheet, 3 came out looking good but one was severely underexposed, compared to other three.

    You all have a good day.
    Steve.
     
  20. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    When doing contact sheets you can tell which negatives are relatively under-exposed. With experience, you can tell if the "overexposed" negative needs 1/2 stop, 1 stop, 2 stops more light and adjust the exposure of the contact sheet accordingly. Make some 4x5 pieces of mat board and simply pause the timer, cover the less exposed negative, resume the exposure, etc. Alternatively, use a larger piece of matboard and do a "hard burn" on 1/4 or 1/2 of the sheet if you arrange the negatives properly.
     
  21. optique

    optique Member

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    my poor attempt

    Here is my poor attempt at LF photography, printing and scanning! Dirty, passed around print too. Exposure was what I cared about.

    I made slight adjustment to levels and sharpness to match print.

    Top left photo was not focused.

    I am going to find some less contrasty, much closer subjects Saturday.

    I know they are bad but how bad? (fyi Crown Graphic 135mm Optar txp320)

    tia
    steve.
     

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  22. T Hoskinson

    T Hoskinson Member

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    My experience with TMAX 400 (TMY-2) developed in Pyrocat fully agrees with Alex Hawley's.

    I have not yet tried HP-5.
     
  23. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    First, that's not bad for a beginner. Second, don't be embarassed. We've all screwed up one time or another. I can't begin to recount here just how many times I've done it. That's why earlier in this thread I wrote what I did about using the less expensive film to start.

    Now go out and have some fun with your Crown.

    Does your's have a working rangefinder? Mine does. It's great fun taking it out and using it hand held for street photography.
     
  24. optique

    optique Member

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    Frank, your words are too kind and I thank you for your encouragement.

    The rangefinder apparently is inoperative, something that was not disclosed when I bought it. I might have used it because the glass on this thing seems very dim. I hope the Shen Hao will be brighter.

    I am off to take some evenly lit closeups so I can gauge my ability to meter and develop simple scenes, plus test the focus on the lens. I have a lingering suspicion my shots are unsharp. With contact prints, they should be perfect, right? I can't effectively enlarge because I just have a 100mm lens.

    Thanks to all.
    Steve.
     
  25. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I've used both TMY and HP5 for Southwest landscapes, and they both work well. I've also used 400TX in 35 mm with great success. My "feel" is that TMY may be the way to go, but it is a personal thing. I disagree about wanting an unforgiving film. You want pictures above all, and a forgiving film will at least give you something. Working in the Southwest involves a lot of long distance travel and a lot of time. You don't redo your work easily. A forgiving film will still show the student (and the rest of us) the errors in his ways, but it is more likely to produce usable results.
     
  26. Shmoo

    Shmoo Member

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    Ride the horse that brought you. If you started using tri x 400 in 120, then try 320 tx in 4x5. If you used HP5 in 35mm or 120, then use it. You already have a lot of variables with the new camera, why add one more? It's may be cheaper in the long run, because you may end up using less. Just my 2 cents.