Tareq, that's why I bought an enlarger, well, that and because I wanted to do wet-printing. :) I find it much easier to spot errors in the darkroom than during scanning.
(I never let the scanner decide by the way, I always scan negatives as b&w positives and adjust later, then you are sure to have control and the details you want before you edit the photos.)
Personally I like shooting TriX 400 and Acros100. Even though I have to say that I have TriX in my camera about 80% of time and while I love the look of Acros quite a lot, but I measured it to be around ASA64 for me and that is quite slow in most everyday settings. If I go for longtime exposures, I love Across for it's low reciprocity failure. TriX400 for me measures to about ASA 250 with my gear and development.
In the beginning I bought a roll of every ilm I could get a hold of in the ASA100 and ASA400 range, shot the same subject with all rolls and developed the same way and in the same chemicals. After comparing the results I picked two I liked and wasted some time measuring my personal EI and determining my N+1 and N-1 development times.
I can only recommend Ansel's 'The Negative'. Read about the different types of film and how they react to different spectrums, than pick some representation of your favorites and run a few rolls.
Printing "full size", what ever you may end up defining that as, by whatever means you use, is the real final exam.
Originally Posted by TareqPhoto
One trap I fell into when I was in your situation was an effort to make pretty negatives. Many of those early negatives are pretty like slides but take three backflips to print.
What I learned along the way, and why I'm no longer worried about/interested in getting really good at one particular film, is that the directions provided by Ilford and Kodak and Fuji are really, really, really good at getting printable negatives and incident meters are really, really, really good at landing exposures in the right place and the printing materials and tools available make printing very flexible.
That brings me to a second trap I fell into.
The basic premise of expansion and contraction development for film, as practiced by say Adams, was/is used to fit a specific scenes SBR to a particular paper/paper grade by adjusting negative contrast.
Until you define for yourself the particular paper/paper grade you want as a target, you can't define what adjustment to make from normal. And if you mix SBRs on a roll of film the problem is compounded.
If, like me, someone finds a modern VC paper they like then adjustments to film development away from normal become nearly a moot point. Times have changed, we don't live in a world of graded papers as Adams did.
This is not to say that adjustments to your norm for a given film won't have value, it just means that until you start printing with an enlarger, simply following the manufactures directions may get you negatives now that are easier to use when you get there.
Regardless of your printing methods, as long as they are a constant, the basic characteristics/differences of the films should shine through in print.
Tri-X and HP5 will show their grain relative to Delta 100 and FP4.
What you will probably find, like I have with FP4 and Delta 400 for me at this moment, is that the pallettes of certain films will "just seem to fit".
I've been through a lot of different different films the last year or two, just out of curiosity. But I have used just one developer. For 135 and 120 film I have settled on 4 types of film, very slow, slow, medium fast and fast. On 4x5 I currently use 3 different types, but I do consider to ditch one of them and instead push/pull more. Adding color filters to my shooting kit also gives me more options regarding contrast, so I don't need one contrasty film and one with little contrast.
However, when doing creative work I do like surprises sometimes. So I do have a lot of different types of film in my fridge for creative work, but when doing serious work where screwing up is not an option I always pick one of my standard films.
One interesting thing I must mention is how different the grain looks when I scan the negative compared to printing in my darkroom, that really surprised me. The darkroom prints of one negative I tested looked grainy and nice, but the scan turned out extremly grainy and not nice.
Thanks again for your responses. It's so difficult too because I don't have any equipment yet. This makes it difficult to try numerous emulsions since I'm not even printing yet. I am actually still checking craigslist for some tanks. I don't have room for an enlarger yet--it might be a year or two. I'm patient, I can wait.
Therefore, I will be shooting and scanning for the next year or two, but will be printing the images I like from this period and thereafter. I don't *think* I mind grain--I don't want this to look like digital, I want it to look filmy, as I'm still a digital shooter too. I think this means not going for the more modern films. Since a number of people seem to encourage less grainy and/or at least slower films, I might also buy some FP4 since it's traditional and seems like a solid option. That should give me a decent variety. Once I'm printing I might just shoot one roll of Acros and Neopan and Tmax just to see how they look.
Considered Neopan 400 but I think I'll stick with Tri-X and scanning for the next year or two. When I shoot B&W from time to time in 6x6, I'll use Tri-X.
I've tried a handful of different films for 120, including 100 speed options. My style of 120 shooting is handheld without a tripod, and invariably, I'd end up in some situation when 100 speed wasn't fast enough or required a too narrow aperture for the subject. I'd also sometimes get confused about which film was in the camera (100 or 400?). I've settled on one film. Tmax 400. If I truly need a slower film, I have some filters I can use to cut down the light.
It's as grainy as a 100 speed film, but with the added speed. It's finer than tri-x. It can have different results with different developers. It's very versatile with different developers and isn't easily characterized by flickr or a single photographer's opinion.
The downside is it takes longer to fix, and is more "responsive to changes in development", meaning sloppy developing procedures don't produce consistency.
You may find this useful:
I have to disagree with this. I have negatives that I accidently under-exposued horrendously and as long as there is some density the scanner can do an amazing job recovering the image. On the other hand I also have negatives I've overdeveloped and are just about bullet proof, and again the scanner does a great job. Both of these types of negatives would be a nightmare to print in the darkroom. So if you are going to be printing in the darkroom you do need a decent negative to start. One way I like to judge my negatives is against a simple piece of white paper. The back of photo paper works great. Are the negatives too thick? Are they mostly thin? Can you see details in the negatives or just areas of black? Are there alot of clear areas with no density? This will tell you alot. Another way is putting the negative against a newspaper. You should be able to just read to the type through the densest areas of the negative. Once you get an enlarger and can make contact sheets it will be much easier to achieve an ideal negative.
Originally Posted by sandermarijn
Grain is a relative thing, even the newer Delta and TMax 100's have grain, at 5x7 the prints will look very smooth maybe even close to digital but, printed 24x36 inches grain will be easily visible in print.
So once you define the print sizes you like best you will be able to print it and see it in real life and make informed decisions.