Which film do you prefer and why?

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

  1. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    I just read another thread on this forum and a user mentioned that Tri-X 320 and 400 have different characteristics (320 having an "unswept" curve while the 400 produces more linear results).

    I'm fairly new to the traditional photography world and to be quite honest, I thought people mainly chose the films they did based on the amount of grain, the color characteristics (such as Velvia being more saturated), the ability to do long exposures (repricocity?), etc. Now that I read that post, I feel like there is a lot more to film then just the quality/size of the grain (in another thread, someone mentioned the different thickness of the anti-halation layer and how that plays a roll in developing film).

    I was wondering if the fine people here on APUG could share why you shoot the particular b/w film you do and why. I understand that the availability of light will obviously play an important factor (ie: 100 vs 3200 ISO), but I guess in a more general sense, what kind of characteristics do you look for in a film and why.

    Thanks!

    Jason

    BTW, I've bought a few different types of b/w film to try and see which one I prefer. So far, I've only gone through maybe 2-3 rolls of Fuji Neopan Acros 100 and Delta 3200 (which I have yet to get developed). I currently have a roll of Delta 400 in my Rolleiflex and some Kodak TMY400 and HP5 sitting in the fridge. So many choices!
     
  2. david b

    david b Member

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    Ilford FP4+ in xtol 1+2 is quite nice.

    Agfa APX 100 in xtol 1+1 is stunning.

    Acros in either rodinal or xtol is also really nice.
     
  3. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I mostly do landscape and architecture in black and white. My current favorite is Tri-X 400 (400TX). I've tried a lot of films over the years, and I still use a good many different films (TMX, TMY, FP-4, HP-5, PL-100M, almost anything handy). But the look of Tri-X is unique, and I like it best by a pretty wide margin. The grain is fine enough that it does not bother me even for 35mm, and the gradation is outstanding for my kind of work. It is also available just about anywhere that has black and white film. I'm not sure what the runner up is - probably either TMX or FP-4, which are quite different from each other and from Tri-X.

    I suspect that a favorite film will have a lot to do with both what you photograph and what you're used to. Once you find something that works decently well for you, you tune your technique to it.
     
  4. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you want to choose a picky film with a different specteral response (yet another characteristic to consider), try Efke 25. Nothing beats it on an overcast day, but it can be a harsh mistress. A red filter is not advised, yellow will darken a sky, but red will darken everything.

    Reasons I choose film have to do with many things. Sometimes I just like the way a film shoots. I like Ilford sheet films because the quality is very good, and the emulsion is robust. I have fewer problems with it. Same goes for TriX 320, and it looks fantastic for the speed. I like Efke emulsions because they are older formulations that have a verry retro look. Food gets shot on Velvia, as there isn't anything that treats those textures and colors quite like it.

    One piece of advice though... get to really know at least one emulsion before you start bipping around all over the place. That way you will know how the new thing performs, because you will have a baseline of experience to judge from.
     
  5. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    Man, I wish I got into this traditional photography stuff sooner. There's so much to learn and endless amounts of film/developer/technique combinations! I don't even quite understand much of the basic concepts, yet I'm trying to blaze through everything all at once.

    Sage advice once again Jason! I'll focus on shooting a few different films and try to master working with them. I'll be using HC-110 until I run out (which I'm guessing will last me a very long time, considering I don't shoot much), so that should be a some-what constant variable :smile:

    Still, I'd like to see other suggestions and preferred films by other members! It's all very interesting :smile:

    Jason
     
  6. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    I love Fuji Neopan 400 in Xtol 1:1. But every photographer & every subject deserves a different combination, so you need to find what is right for you. There are so many variables.. Pick a film and a developer and stick with it.
     
  7. ooze

    ooze Member

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    What I look for in a film is mainly tonality. There are quite grainy films around but they still can have beautiful tonality. I found that I could happily use most films on the market; only two, Ilford PanF+ and Kodak PlusX, in my standard D76/ID-11 developer just didn't give an appealing look to me. But to be fair, I only tried several rolls of each many years ago and seeing the results didn't persist using them. There are many people who successfully use these films.

    My current films are:
    Ilford Delta100 in 35mm and 120 sizes, developed in D76/ID-11 or XTOL. Absolutely fantastic stuff. A slightly grainier, but still stunning alternative is Ilford FP4+.
    Kodak TriX400 in 35mm, developed in D76/ID-11. The classic.
    Ilford HP5+ in 120, developed in D76/ID-11 and recently also Perceptol. It's weird, TriX doesn't work for me in 120, where HP5+ is just stunning.

    I used to use a lot of Delta400 (in XTOL) and still consider it a great film. But sometimes the grain structure in even areas turned out rather ugly, especially with the additon of a yellow filter, so I tried Trix400 and just stuck with it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2008
  8. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    HP5+ in xtol or ID-11 is my preffered film, but due to budget constraints I've done a lot of work with xtol and APX 400 - there are a lot of variables between different films, but in the end you're just looking for a medium that fits your style. I like the speed, grain and tonality of HP5 in 35mm.
     
  9. aolsson

    aolsson Member

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    I like to keep things simple so I stick with Tri-x 400 ín both 35mm and 120 formats. (In 4x5 I used APX until recently when I switched to Forte). Always develop in HC-110 dil B.

    I do occasionally try other films - mostly based on what is available - but I always return to Tri-x.
     
  10. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    I do landscapes in 4x5. I like Tri-X 320 (both the new and old) in HC-110 B (though the dev time is quite short for my liking) when I want more drama from my pictures. If I want to shoot misty dreamy stuff I like TMAX 100 in Xtol 1:1 or HC-110 for more punch. I am going to do a project in HP5+ next as I liked other people's results...
     
  11. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Try mixing it 1:50 from the concentrate and adding 50% to your B times, so 6min, becomes 9min, etc. :smile:
     
  12. Jerry Basierbe

    Jerry Basierbe Member

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    I've been using T-Max 100 & 400 with T-Max developer since I started doing photography seriously. So it's basically what I know. I've recently started experimenting with Ilford Delta 100 & 400, FP4, HP5 developed in D-76. I've shot a few rolls of each so far. Not enough to tell what I like yet. I'll be doing more.

    Jerry
     
  13. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford FP4. I develop it all in Pyrocat-MC.
    Sometimes I use something different, like Delta 3200 for speed, or just try something new to shake it up a little bit. But I always come back to those two it seems.
    - Thomas
     
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  15. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    I shoot a multitude of different film types & most of them I wouldn't claim to know in depth.
    However I do a lot of low light photography & the one combination that I use a lot & know very well is Fuji Neopan 1600 rated at 1600 & dev'd in Diafine. Beautiful results with shadow detail, nice tonal range & sharp grain. I'm doing 5 to 10 rolls a week of this. Just wish they made it in 120.
     
  16. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    My suggestion would be to find someone whose work you admire and whose technique you would like to emulate. Then find out what they use and try it. I think you can drive yourself nuts with different film/developer combinations. Even as the film market shrinks, the number of combinations must be nearly unlimited.

    Think of it like dating. You don't want to date everyone, you just want to find a good match for you. It takes some time to tell if it is a good match, so pick a film and get to know it very well. If after you have put in the effort you aren't happy, then move on to another film

    I started with Tri-X and HC-110. Why? Because that is what Ansel used, and if it was good enough for Ansel.... I followed Fred Picker's advice to pick one film and one developer and stick with it until you really get to know how they respond and how you can make that combination work for you. I still use Tri-x in 35mm and 4x5...i.e. for stuff that will be enlarged.

    In the last few years, I have moved up to larger formats. I use TMax 400 for 5x7, 8x10 and 7x17 developed in Pyrocat-HD. Why? Because I can 1) use one film for all three sizes, 2) TMax has excellent reciprocity and 3) a very long straight line "curve." This combination works very well for contact printing on Azo. I arrived a this combination after reading every single post on the Azo forum and hearing what others (whose work I admire) used.

    I expecially like the fact that I don't have to worry about Quality Control issues with Kodak, Ilford or Fuji films. Yeah, they cost a bit more, but to me they are worth it. YMMV
     
  17. pellicle

    pellicle Member

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    jasonjoo

    for 35mm black and white I love neopan, in Japan you can get some nicer combinations, but I found the 100iso to be to my liking. What film will depend on the use. I scan mostly (shh) so I have different desires to those printing traditionally.

    In colour film I like Fuji Superia negative or Fuji 160 NS I love the amount of highlight tolerance I get, and exposing to get acceptable levels in the shadows the highlights are well dealt with. Until recently I was mainly a fan of slide films (chromes or positives by another name) under the belief that they scanned better. I now no longer feel that way and regard them as being only for projection purposes (where they look gorgeous). I don't have a 4x5 projector (would look wonderful I'm sure) so my chromes are mostly wasted in that respect (though its nice to put one on the light box now n then to sigh).

    ADOX makes a nice film too, so perhaps you might want to give that a burle in your camera too (beware, it scratches easily if you're processing your own)
     
  18. Peter Williams

    Peter Williams Member

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    My favorite BW film is Fuji Acros 100. I don't have to adjust for reciprocity when shooting long exposures and it has wonderful tonality both for day and night shots. I use Rodinal when I'm serious and Diafine when I'm lazy (or when my 8 year old daughter wants to do some developing).
     
  19. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    I'll be scanning mostly for the time being too! I don't have the room to set up an enlarger and I'm trying to pace myself in terms of darkroom stuff :smile:
     
  20. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    For a long time it was PAN F if I was using a tripod or HP5+ at EI 200 hand held. I have recently been using Delta 400 (at EI 400) instead of HP5+.

    I don't have much experience of Kodak films other than a couple of rolls of Tri-X. I didn't see anything which would make me use it instead of HP5+ but a couple of rolls isn't really enough to judge it with. I may try it again one day.


    Steve.
     
  21. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    You know, not to be more flippant than I usually am :wink:, but I think people make the error to choose their films only on the basis of sharpness and grain. I'm guilty of that as well, and it's just recently that I understood what a characteristic curve meant. In fact, it's as simple to understand as a Photoshop curve, so I wonder why it took me so long...

    What's important to understand is that some developer will nudge slightly the inherent shape of a film's characteristic curve. XTOL will raise the midtones a bit, whereas HC-110 will raise highlights instead. It's minor, but it's there for some films. In the question of "what developer to use" it's often only the grain/sharpness factors that are considered. In fact, I think it's a terrible omission from Anchell and Troop's Film Developing Cookbook that they give data only about these two factors.

    Sharpness and grain matter, but so do curve shape, spectral sensitivity, traditional/t-grain, reciprocity; for colour films: saturation, contrast, palette.

    And the most important factor: availability!!

    What: In 35mm I use Tri-X and Efke 100 in XTOL 1+1; in 120 I use Rollei Retro 100 in Rodinal 1+50 and just started playing with Plus-X in HC-110. I shoot the occasional Efke 25 roll in 120 as well. In colour, I prefer Kodak films, so I use Portra for negatives (the whole line, depending on usage), and Ektachrome E100G or Kodachrome 64 when I want slides.

    Why: 35mm Tri-X and XTOL give me smooth looking negatives that print well into 11x14, and the right "look" (which is probably a combination of characteristic curve and spectral sensitivity among other things). Efke 100 also has a "look" but I use it mainly because I sometimes prefer a slower film for tighter grain pattern, and it's very close to Tri-X. 120 Retro 100 in Rodinal has brilliant highlights, and so does Plus-X in HC-110, which is what I really like in larger formats. As for color films, it's mostly a matter of palette: I especially don't like the greens that Fuji film gives.
     
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  22. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    I've just started testing this film and it appears to respond greatly to expansion development unlike any film I've ever used ('ceptin' maybe PCF4125). Given its cost, fine grain, low speed, and different spectral response, I suspect it will become a favorite.

    Jason, I don't know if you should be using the terms "beats" and "harsh mistress" in the same sentence.

    Joe
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i don't really choose a particular film, i just grab what i happen to have on hand
    or whatever xpired film is selling (buy from a friend) .
    sometimes it is foma 400, or tmax 100/400, sometimes its trix, plus x, or adox.
    i kind of like grain and stain so i process all my film in print developer.

    john
     
  24. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I'm trying some Efke 25 for matchbox pinhole w/ 35mm film. I have always preferred TMX and TMY for my work. Though it has been a while since I have tried anything otherwise. Might experiment a little this year or next. but for now, it's the good old standby.
     
  25. Stephen Frizza

    Stephen Frizza Member

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    For me any film with large grain, its like the thumb print of "Im not digital" for me these include, Kodak HIE, Kodak TMZ, Ilford Delta 3200, Agfa RS 1000, 3M Scotch 1000,
    I also loved Kodak EIR, Kodak kodachrome, Polaroid Polachrome, polapan and polablue 35mm instant, Polaroid 665, type 55 and Sx-70 as digital is never going to replicate them.

    ~Steve
     
  26. pellicle

    pellicle Member

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    Stephen

    have you heard that HIE is discontinued?