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  1. #11
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    DF, I must just underline that you have written one of the most useful post on APUG I've ever seen.

    I can say so because my own experiments with XTOL/HC-110 and PX, TX, TXP concur with your results; I trust you for the other statements.
    Using film since before it was hip.


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  2. #12
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Don't worry about it too much. Your question is impossible to answer. Your best film will no doubt depend on your vision of the final product. Just get to know three or four films really well. Pick a brand and learn their low-speed film, their medium-speed film, their high-speed film, and possibly even their super-speed film for certain looks. Do it all in one easy to use, long-keeping developer, always keeping processing parameters the same. You will get the basic looks of each of the films, and be able to get consistent results. Then you may want to experiment with other film, other developers, etc.

    If using larger formats (which I assume you are since you are in studio and doing portraits), a 400 (or 320) film will be quite versatile, and they usually have the advantage of lower contrast over the slower films. This inherent low contrast nature makes them over all very pliable. You also have the advantage of faster shutter speeds when using continuous lights. I would start with HP5 400 or Tri-X 320.

    If using 35 (and I can't imagine why you would in studio unless it was somehow part of your concept, or you only have a 35mm camera...the 35mm camera often loses most of its advantages when placed in a highly controlled situation), I would try to use a 125-speed film or a 50-speed film, and use flash if you can, at least at first until you learn to work with models well enough to keep them nice and still. The problem with these films is that they are inherently high in contrast, so require a better handle on technique to get a nice neg. If left to your own devices, you will probably settle on a better EI to use than box speed pretty quickly to avoid losing the shadows. Then you will probably settle on a better development time pretty quickly after that to avoid losing the highlights. These are highly advantageous films for many reasons, but *are* more technically demanding, especially for a beginner.

    As for Delta and T-Max, I find them less than exciting except for technical work. But don't take my word for it. You might love them. That is something that I decided after a lot of experimenting, so I would hope that you would do the same before casting a similar judgment.

    I would not start with a high-speed film if using small format. At least not for your traditional, classic, commercial 8x10 studio portrait. The sharpness will likely be lacking at that much enlargement.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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  3. #13
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Also, in response to this quote:

    "You can achieve the same type of results with Ilford products. DD-X is similar to XTOL, ID-11 is D76, and Microphen is similar to HC-110."

    I would say that Ilford HC-110 is similar to Ilfotec HC, and not much like Microphen in the slightest (well, they DO both develop film). After years of using HC-110 for everything, including zone system use, I switched to Ilfotec HC, and have retested two of the five films I had "zoned out". The results were effectively identical to HC-110.

    Microphen is closer to DK-50, according to the Ilford equivalence chart.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv View Post
    DF, I must just underline that you have written one of the most useful post on APUG I've ever seen.
    I agree- DF knows his stuff.

  5. #15
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evgeny View Post
    What is the best black and white film for studio portraiture photography?
    Depends on what you want. For the Hurrell look try TXP-320, only available in 120 and sheet. Plus-X _sheet_ film was the old recommendation but isn't made anymore.

    I use TMX-100 and Microdol-X 1:3.

    I have seen some lovely large-format work done with TMY-400, but it gives a very chiseled/sculpted look.

    Lighting will make a bigger difference than the film ever will. There are books on Hollywood style portrait lighting.
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  6. #16
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by df cardwell View Post
    Pan F seems to be a radiant film, that can cause a face to glow. It can also give realistic images. It sees color in a very flattering way for faces.
    I agree. I've always loved this film and think it is the best thing Ilford makes. I lament that they can't put this emulsion on a sheet film. You definitely should try it.

  7. #17

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    Thank you all very much, so many replies!
    I ordered these films

    Kodak TXP 120 [PRO PAK-5] (TRI-X PAN PR 320)
    Kodak TMX 120 [PRO PAK-5] (T-MAX 100 PRO)
    Ilford PAN F PLUS 120

  8. #18

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    df, that was a VERY useful post, obviously from a lot of experience. I have used Tri-X and FP4 a lot for portraits and some of what you said rang bells with me, but you really put it all together. I think I am going to pin your post up in my darkroom.

  9. #19

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    I made my wife sit for me for a whole afternoon. I shot TXP, Tri-X and Acros with various filters and exposure indexes, keeping careful records. Then I cut each roll in half, wound them onto seperate reels and processed half in HC-110 and half in XTOL. THEN I printed most the images at 8x10 and spread the prints on our coffee table and looked at them off and on for a week.

    I was hoping to come up with the perfect black and white portrait combination but what I saw instead was a variety of results that I liked in different ways. As DF says above, understand the materials so that you can get what you want out of them.

  10. #20
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    A cool experiment is to photograph freckles. I think this is cool because my WIFE has freckles !

    So. Say you want to show them fairly neutrally. How do you do it ?
    OR, the sitter is shy about the freckles. How do you minimize them ?
    OR, the sitter is aggressively proud of the freckles. How do you show them off.

    Let's say the sittings are all under an overcast sky, with no direct sun.

    How many ways are there ?

    Who wants to play ??

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