What happened to 400-speed film?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the APUG Community' started by Truzi, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    I've followed this forum for a number of years, but only joined last spring. I've finally decided to start posting.
    Basically, I'm more of a snap-shooter. I doubt I'd qualify as an hobbyist, let alone amateur.

    To me, photos are my memories, and I prefer film. I've taken pictures since I was a child, and my limited processing/dark-room experience started with a "mini-course" in the 8th grade. My senior year at the University of Toledo I took a photo-journalism class, and since the professor was more photographer than journalist, we fortunately spent a lot of time in the dark room.

    Since then I've done periodic black-and-white processing at home, but have recently been gearing up for full-blown color and B&W processing and printing.


    The thread title is more of a rhetorical question as an excuse for an introduction. Improvements in chemistry and production methods are obviously what happened, not unexpectedly. However, recently I had a pleasant surprise.

    I'd been using 110 until, many years ago, a college skiing accident destroyed my camera. It fell out of my pocket and was combed into the slope. It was succeeded by a cheap manual point-and-shoot 35mm.

    When I had the 110, I used what film I could find, but upon entering the 35mm world I stuck to 100-speed consumer films. (As of 2009 I started using professional films as well, and like them both, but money can be an issue at times.)
    I rarely used any type of 400-speed film; only when desperate. At our local department/drug stores, it has become difficult to find 100-speed, so lately I've settled for 200. My source for the "good stuff" (pro film) is online, as I am boycotting our Cleveland area pro-shop chain.

    Anyway; last fall I won a near-mint Realist 45 on ebay. Patience is not one of my virtues - I just _had_ to test the camera the day after it arrived. It was a positively dreary day, so I bought a pack of Fuji 400-speed consumer film and shot some boring 3d pictures during my lunch hour. I was very surprised with the "fine" grain and sharpness relative to the last time I used 400-speed 35mm film, which was a _very_ long time ago.

    So, when did this happen, and how (in general terms) does the modern 400-speed compare to 100-speed of, say, the past two decades?

    Oh, one more question...
    Is magenta a color?
    :whistling:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2013
  2. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    magenta is this weird chick in "Rocky Horror Picture Show."
     
  3. AgX

    AgX Member

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    One could get philosphical about that... But as this is a colour impression our brain gives us, it is a colour to me.

    You might refer to it as a "colour that isn't"...
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG!

    Where were you skiing when you 11-camera became one with the Universe?

    The two letter troll got booted out of APUG1 while he was declaring that magenta was not a color in the dreaded Kodachrome has been deleted thread. That was not because of his option, rather it was because he was a really nasty piece of work.


    1He was also booted out of hasselblad.info for the same reason.
     
  5. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    I'd ask which weird chick if I'd not memorized Rocky Horror. Great memories of weekend nites blowing off steam at the theatre.

    The thread with the magenta argument was quite interesting (I also remember someone jokingly ask if fog was a color). I've a twisted sense of humor, sorry.

    My 110 is one with the attic at the moment. It had been a Christmas gift from my grandparents when I was a child, so I retrieved it and packed it away. It could probably work again if I tried - the door had come off and there was some broken plastic, but it wasn't reduced to pieces.

    The college ski trip was to Crystal Mountain in Michigan. Crystal Mountain is better than Brandywine here in Ohio. Someday, however, I hope to ski a "real" mountain.

    The camera had come out of my unzipped pocket during a fall, and I'd not noticed 'till I wanted to use it when on another slope. Figuring where it was, I could actually see it as a black spot when we were on the ski lift to retrieve it. The cartridge was unscathed. Had I been a 15 minutes earlier I'd likely not have moved to 35mm until 110 was difficult to source.
     
  6. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Hello Truzi and welcome to APUG.
     
  7. Quinten

    Quinten Member

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    Take Kodak ASA 400 Tri-x and their ASA 400 Tmax B&W films, completely different grains. Same goes for Ilford, since they have more types of film you can even take the fine grain Delta 400 and the not much (if even) finer grained ASA 125 FP4. This doesn't make one film better than the other, I for instance prefer the general look of the bigger grained FP4.

    Grain size wise the Kodak T-grain probably was the biggest revolution in grain size during the last few decades, you can still debate if it produces the best films, many different views on that here on APUG:wink:

    To some extend the developer influences the grain as well.
     
  8. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    My skiing experience is limited to three ski areas east of the Mississippi River and only a total of 39 resorts in North America, but basically if the skiing is in the Rocky Mountains or further west, you can't go too far wrong. Lowest prices: Salt Lake City area.
     
  9. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Hello and welcome to APUG!
     
  10. hgernhardt

    hgernhardt Member

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    I'm not complainingÂ…

    Back in '07, I shot some Fuji Neopan 400. Beautiful film. Of course, the last time I'd used Tri-X was when I was shooting 35mm, and even then I had started moving over to TMax. The only thing I can figure is that manufacturing and chemistry techniques have evolved in a manner similar to that of computer technology. Smaller, faster, better.

    I'm looking forward to what comes out of the roll of Ilford 3200 I picked up yesterday. I'm thinking of using it in my Box Tengor at night. Should be fun.

    Welcome!
     
  11. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Welcome - in Pro films try some Portra 400 and you may never see a reason to shoot slower film again, unless you want really intense saturation and then Ektar is the current king in C41.
     
  12. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Welcome to APUG! There is a lot of decent 400 film out there.

    Jeff
     
  13. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Anything in 35mm is going to look good compared to 110!

    Seriously though, "new" Portra 400 (i.e. the stuff that came after 400NC/400VC) was a big step up in resolution and colour fidelity and that happened maybe 5 years ago. I strongly recommend you give it a go, and some Portra 160 too if you want the same excellent colour accuracy with even more resolution. Ektar is even finer again (finest colour film there has ever been - it can be hard to print manually because it's difficult to see the grains under a magnifier!) but has very high saturation. It's good for landscapes but bad (IMHO) for portraits unless postprocessed digitally.

    Fuji also makes some colour neg but you should really try some Velvia while you can. Can't make prints from it except digitally, but you can look at the chromes directly and/or project them. They're like little colourful jewels of perfection all in a line.

    I'll assume you don't do your own processing/printing at this point and therefore ignore B&W options. But it's easy and worth considering if only because it costs about $1/roll for processing - see the FAQ in my signature.
     
  14. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    I'm sorry, I should have specified I was referring to color negative film, though it applies to black and white as well.

    I used to avoid 400, but don't think I need to anymore. I still prefer 100 (and Kodak Gold 100 was my favorite consumer film for pictures with people in them).

    Oddly, I've found myself drawn to black and white the past few years. Perhaps it's because I'm beginning to see photography as more than simply capturing a moment.

    Color is still my medium of choice, but I've gained a greater appreciation for black and white, and have been shooting it more than in the past. Last summer I included black and white film on my vacation, which is something I'd never have done before. Both capture equally valid, but uniquely different, representations. I also suspect the more B&W I shoot, the better I will become with color as well.


    I have shot Portra in 35mm 160, but have some Portra 400 in 120 I picked up from Loomis Camera in Elyria, Ohio. (They closed in October.) I've only an old Holga 120 format (purchased long before the "Lomo" thing started) and probably should not wait for a good medium format camera to fall in my lap, lest the film expire.

    I've shot some Ektar in 35mm and quite liked it. I've also had great experience with the "new" Velvia 50. These two films, however, have taught me I really need to get better. The images I took were quite good, but I can see that more experience would make them great.
     
  15. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    Coincidentally, I'd been shooting some black and white the past few years for exactly the reasons you mention.
    Since 2010, due to a bad experience with a large pro-chain in my area, I've slowly been working towards printing and processing both B&W and C-41 (and maybe some ECN-2 in the future). It's taken longer than I intended, but I am almost there, and will be doing C-41 this year. Also, the wonderful information here on APUG has shown me that color is not that difficult to hand-process.

    I do have some equipment, and over the past few years I've processed some B&W in the bathroom; 35mm, 120, and 4x5 negs from a lousy pinhole I made from a cigar box. I've yet to develop the Harmon direct-positive paper I exposed in the pinhole box.
    I have some fresh B&W paper and chemicals (and expired liquid paper developer - it was cheap, so if it's useless it's no great loss). I just received a Rollei Digibase kit, which is waiting for me to expose enough color film to not waste it. I still have to work out a tempered bath - I'm an aquarium heater away from processing color. I know I will mess up as I learn, but as I say; In chess, you don't learn by winning. I don't want to ruin good film, but will need a baseline. Thus, I will include a roll of fresh C-41 with a few expired rolls each time I run a tank.

    When Loomis Camera in Elyria closed last October I picked up a couple Vivitar 356 enlargers for about $15 each. Both work, and I'm keeping the "spare" for parts. Not professional units, but they will suit me fine for a while. I'm now a chemical kit and box of paper away from color printing.

    It has been a long time since I printed B&W, so I will try to get up to speed there before printing color.
     
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  16. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Welcome.

    What happened? It all got better!

    And no magenta aftertaste!

    PE
     
  17. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Truzi, I was a bit like you -- I mostly shot in colour, and only dabbled in black and white. And then I joined APUG and now it's almost completely the reverse! I do have to admit though, I find it better to shoot one or the other, because thinking in black and white is a little different than in colour, and I don't often get the results I want if I shoot both simultaneously (which I end up doing anyway). In any event, Fuji, Kodak, and Ilford all make great films and you can't go wrong experimenting with all of them until you can narrow it down to a few that you like. For me it's a 100/400 combo for black and white (Fuji/Ilford), slide (Fuji), and colour neg (Kodak).

    And don't worry about shooting expired film in your Holga -- that's a very popular aesthetic right now!

    BTW, welcome to APUG!
     
  18. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Welcome - in Pro films try some Portra 400 and you may never see a reason to shoot slower film again, unless you want really intense saturation and then Ektar is the current king in C41.
     
  19. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Well, that is very good to hear. What I did when starting out with C41 was to expose three absolutely identical (tripod, fixed scene including white paper, all primary colours and some human skin, fully manual flash exposure, etc) test rolls with bracketing from -1 to +4 stops on some Portra. I sent one to a pro lab that I trusted, developed one myself immediately and developed the third roll about 4 months later to check how well the chemistry was keeping. They all came out identically and they all print the same on RA4. If you do a similar test, that ought to tell you a lot about how well controlled your process is.

    PS: RA4 printing is no harder than B&W printing (though the colour-correcting skills are a bit different) if you have the gear on-hand. Much cheaper, too.
     
  20. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    Thanx for all the replies and welcomes.

    Although I still prefer Kodak Gold 100 in consumer film, the faster films really have gotten better and I don't mind using them. I'll be experimenting with more 400 consumer film soon. I'm sure I'll be happy with the pro stuff.
    With the exception of our local Walgreen's, nearly all the other drugstores and department stores in our area carry 200 and 400 speed film.

    Our Walgreen's only sells single-use cameras, despite processing a fair amount of film (perhaps because our CVS turns any print green). There have been empty spaces for rolls for almost a year. Every few weeks, however, I find a fresh 4-pack of Gold 200 on the clearance shelf for $6.99 (half price). Naturally, I purchase it.
    I finally asked, and a cashier told me since "no one buys film anymore," it goes to the clearance shelf as soon as they get it in.
    I don't think I should confirm this with management. :smile:

    Hmm... it's been about three weeks since I visited Walgreen's.