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  1. #1

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    Low-grain 100/125 ISO film choice

    After my frustrations with having my negatives commercially scanned (a print darkroom is not an option right now), I'm trying to find ways to work with my limitations rather than against them. I've discovered that pushing film (whether one or two stops) is a bad bad bad idea when the negatives will be scanned at the drugstore, and even my regular 400 ISO negatives have a tendency to come out excessively grainy and awful. From what little I've read about scanners, they are happiest with low contrast and tight grain, so I am going to try a slower film to see if I can get better results. I have a roll of expired TMX 100 in the fridge, but I'd like to see if there's a cheaper film that will give me a smoother less grainy exposure. I'm running a little low on Clearfix, and Freestyle's minimum is $25, so right now I'm considering:

    Plus-X 125 (in Freestyle guise- probably not what I'm looking for)
    Neopan 100 SS (don't know too much about this one- is it recently discontinued?)
    Fomapan 100 (in Freestyle guise- sounds like a good option)
    Fortepan 100 (not too sure, but doesn't seem like the best choice)

    because all are readily available on the cheap. I've heard great things about all of these (except the Fortepan, but I'm sure it has its own pluses), but there's plenty of contradictory information out there regarding characteristics. I'll be developing in F76+, probably at 1+19 to drop the contrast a little. I recall people complaining that some of these films were "soulless" due to their smoothness and low apparent grain, but after going the "traditional" way with films like TX 400 I can say that those are not working for me.
    Photoblog, though I'll warn you it's only mostly analog.

  2. #2

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    Good Evening, Luckycharms,

    I'm unfamiliar with Neopan, but I seriously doubt that you'll find any of the other three films listed superior to T-Max 100, which has just about the finest grain going. I don't have any experience with scanning of negatives, but, with proper development, T-100 should be more than satisfactory for almost any purpose.

    Konical

  3. #3

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    Plus-X is an exceptional film.

    It is generaly underrated in my opinion, however, if you process by a drugstore, why don't you use XP2? It will give you great results scanned, it is fine grained and will print properly if you get a darkroom.

    If you don't like the look of old emulsions, go with TMAX of Delta.

    Kris

  4. #4

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    I should point out that Fomapan 200 is said to really be an ASA 125 film on par with Plus X or FP4+. You may find that you like it, as it can have a beautiful look.

    Neopan SS has been replaced with a more modern film in most markets, but I think it is still produced. I never tried it, but most comments seem to indicate that it's grainy.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by kristopher_lawrence View Post
    Plus-X is an exceptional film.

    It is generaly underrated in my opinion, however, if you process by a drugstore, why don't you use XP2? It will give you great results scanned, it is fine grained and will print properly if you get a darkroom.

    If you don't like the look of old emulsions, go with TMAX of Delta.

    Kris
    I tried 400CN, which gave me great results, but I enjoy developing my own negatives. I just can't print them, hence the need to scan. 400CN did scan fairly well though. The problem is (apparently) that commercial negative scanners do not react well to black and white in the first place, but it seems lower grain and contrast would improve my results. From what I hear, XP2 is similar but with slightly more favorable results in most conditions. If I'm ever in the situation to shoot C-41 black and white again (and if I can find it), I will definitely give it a shot.
    Photoblog, though I'll warn you it's only mostly analog.

  6. #6
    rusty71's Avatar
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    Plus-X is a very good film. If it is the same as Arista Premium, then that's a very good deal. Fortepan is out of production, so if you like it you won't be able to find it again.

  7. #7
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    There are many great ISO 100 films.
    Finest grain are probably Fuji Acros 100, Kodak Tmax 100, and Ilford Delta 100. All fantastic films.
    Traditional grain films, like Kodak Plus-X (prints better than it scans in my opinion), Ilford FP4+, Foma 100, Efke KB100 - all exceptional films that may not be as fine grained as the other films. It's a matter of taste what you like the most.

    I'll also second Ilford XP2, just because it's an ISO 400 film with grain similar to an ISO 100 film and prints really well in digital labs.

    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  8. #8
    bobwysiwyg's Avatar
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    I recently scanned and printed (at home) some TMAX 100 and 400 I shot in an old Olympus XA2 I was trying out. I think you will be surprised at how well either would scan and print at a good lab.
    WYSIWYG - At least that's my goal.

    Portfolio-http://apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=25518

  9. #9
    mhanc's Avatar
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    i have just got back this past weekend a roll of plus-x 125 that was scanned by my local camera store. the digital pictures were quite grainy as you describe. when i looked at the file information i see that the pixel size is roughly 1,000 x 1500 which equates to a 1.5 megapixel image -- less resolution that many camera phones. check the image size of your scans. i suspect that your drug store did the same type of scan and that the grain you see is more the result of a very poor scan and associated issues rather than anything related to the film or the scanning process in general.

    i have recently returned to analogue photography and don't yet have the darkroom that i used to have - so i feel your pain. but for what it is worth the results i have gotten from negative to scan to print are still FAR more pleasing to me than an all digital process. there is just more life (for lack of a better term) in a film image. the final print however still lacks the qualities of a traditional silver print... all in good time.

  10. #10
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckycharms View Post
    I have a roll of expired TMX 100 in the fridge, but I'd like to see if there's a cheaper film that will give me a smoother less grainy exposure.
    No, there isn't. Neither cheaper nor more expensive. Well, you can buy Tech Pan and Technidol on ebay for $$$$, but I think you mean regular-ole-retail-availability.

    Develop in Microdol-X for the ultimate in low grain, though Xtol or D-76 work fine also.
    DARKROOM AUTOMATION
    f-Stop Timers - Enlarging Meters
    http://www.darkroomautomation.com/da-main.htm

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