Looking for a traditional BW film similar to XP2
I have received from the lab yesterday my first developed roll of Ilford XP2 (35mm, shot at 250 ASA). Most of the shots are of my baby girl who's 3 years old.
I am very pleased with the skin tones, and I was wondering whether you know about any particular traditional BW film which comes close to that.
You know, I have recently started developing my own BW films and shooting only is just half of the fun
P.S. I have read that home processing of XP2 with BW developers can be disappointing....
Verichrome Pan, but they don't make it anymore. Ektapan, but they don't make that either.
Do a gallery search on Pan-F and Rodinal--I think I saw a few shots recently that might have the look you're after, perhaps with a little more edge.
You could also pick up some C-41 processing supplies and develop it yourself using that.
If they still make it the TMAX C-41 films are very comparable, IMO.
Originally Posted by sterioma
Finding a conventional match for XP2 is tough
XP2 is pretty lovely stuff. But it is darn near impossible to match in a conventional film. The whole chemistry of the film itself is completely different. I don't claim to understand the gory details, but what I've been told is that unlike conventional silver-based films, XP2 uses like one color layer of a color film chemistry. But instead of having a yellow, magenta, or cyan layer, the XP2 color layer is a dye chosen because it has good D-Max. The color of the dye, incidently, is why the first set of prints from the drug store come out like a sepia tone. You just aren't going to get the grainless performance of XP2 out of even the fanciest of the silver films that are generally available.
I process XP2 at home using C-41, and it works fine. You can even push and pull it. And I too have been searching for a conventional film that works like XP2 does, and I haven't found anything. Someone told me that Ilford Delta 100 developed in Pyro is close, but I have no first hand experience with that.
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I started out a few years ago with the XP2 because I didn't have a darkroom. I knew I was going to set one up in a few years. After the darkroom was set up I started with Delta-400 in D-76 1+1. Once I started enlarging I placed prints from the two films side by side and there isn't a major difference. No one has ever mentioned that I used different films. These are for 8X10. When I go larger I can notice the difference as the XP-2 has a softer look.
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In terms of tonality, XP-2 has a progressive, gentle shouldering of the highlights, which is why it emphasizes midtones (they have the highest contrast), and why it's easy to burn in highlight detail. To get a similar curve with a conventional film, try a compensating developer with a slow fine-grain film. Rodinal and Pan-F as David mentioned could be a candidate.
Thank you very much for your inputs!
I have also been using a little PanF with Rodinal 1:50 (a couple of rolls so far) and I like the results, even though the look I get from this combo is not that similar to the XP2, being more contrasty.
Also, to be able to shoot my 3 months old daughter I need a faster film, since she keeps moving
I will try Delta 400 and D-76 (I already wanted to try D-76 with Tri-X...).
If you like the XP2 look, then keep using it.
It's a good choice for shooting kids, particulary in bright or contrasty light. XP2 has big lattitude and almost unburstable highlights. It's not so great in flat lighting.
I like to shoot it at 320asa and print it in the darkroom.
Recently took some snaps of my sisters kids on APX100 in Rodinal 1/50 which worked out very well.
My understanding is that it's because most consumer photofinishers expect color print film with the orange base color that's typical of C-41 films. Ilford XP2 doesn't have this base color (it's faint purple, in my experience, similar to many traditional B&W films that haven't been fixed quite enough). The result is that the automated equipment doesn't know what to do and produces weird results. Kodak's C-41 B&W offering includes a typical color film orange mask, which should, at least in theory, make it easier for photofinishers to produce prints with little in the way of weird color casts.
Originally Posted by Dr. Dagor
FWIW, one photofinisher I used for XP2 sent back prints that I believe were done on conventional B&W paper. At the very least, it wasn't their usual color paper, judging by the lack of markings on the back of the paper. These prints had no weird color tones, as I've gotten from other photofinishers when using XP2. (Unfortunately, the prints were also rather flat.) If the initial prints are important to you, try sending XP2 to a lab that does B&W, and ask them to use B&W paper. Some labs may also be competent about setting their color equipment to eliminate weird color tones.