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  1. #1

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    120 film, opinions, recommendations

    I searched for while and couldn't find one, but i was looking for a basic " i love xx film" thread. So if there is a more appropriate place, please point me there! IF not, i would love some recommendations on a good assortment of films to try. I will be going to Mexico in Feb ( so it will be bright ! ) I am taking my new to me RZ67 with a 180mm and a 65mm lens. Some of the films i have shot and loved in my past 35mm slr life were: Ilford HP5, Velvia, Provia, ( ive never shot a color print film that i liked... but im sure they are out there. ) I really like slide film, but am worried that it will be less accessible in medium format. ( for instance, my scanner sucks and i dont have a MF projector. As far as uses, i process and print all my b+w myself. I just want some bullet proof recommendations on some film that will be user friendly ( not any specific knowledge needed in under/overexposing) and will produce better results that your standard dull looking color print film. Also, some good ideas on speeds that would be appropriate as i will be trying to hand hold this tank of a camera ( but i will have my tripod with me too) - 400 seems a bit slow on an overcast day in Washington.

  2. #2
    DanielStone's Avatar
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    dull looking print film: which one were you using? Portra VC is nice and snappy, and comes in 160 and 400-speed flavors :P.

    user friendly: they all are. Velvia is saturated(50 and 100), provia is Fuji's "normal" slide film, and Astia is they're "warmer tone film". all are great! I'm a Kodak guy, and prefer E100G's color palette. Most shops carry Fuji, so I would go with Provia. but that's me

    Fuji also has the Provia 400x, which is quite nice as well. Pushes well to 800 if needed. shadows can get somewhat wonky though at pushed speeds.

    If I were you, I'd be shooting negs instead of transparencies, unless you have plenty of medium contrast, flatter lighting. Mexico(from the parts I've been too) doesn't have that much of that :o.

    besides, negs have a better contrast and latitude range, so your shadows will have less chance of going bad, with little detail when you want it.

    I wouldn't worry about slide film in 120 for a while, 220 would go first . lots of students, and even pro's still like to shoot transparencies for certain things. more amateurs are picking up on film too, hopefully keeping 120/220 chrome alive!

    enjoy your trip!

    -Dan


  3. #3
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    400 film isn't slow, just medium format cameras are slow. About the film faster than 400 is the Delta 3200, which is wonderful. If I was made of money I would shoot tons of D3200 in 120. I wish they made it in 4x5.

    You can push that HP5 up to 800-1600 quite well, especially on gloomy, uncontrasty days. I would just stick with HP5.
    f/22 and be there.

  4. #4

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    it really depends on what you're photographing,
    personally i love acros neopan 400 and hp5+ in 120 format-
    and hate fomapan and efke in this format because of the curl, i dunno if it's only me but part of the film characteristic is how easy i can handle it after processing, you know mounting for contacts and laying on a scan bed and all that stuff. I develope in rodinal and xotl
    But acros neopan 400 and hp5+ are the bulletproof for me.

  5. #5

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    I usually just shoot medium or large if I am going to bother to use a tripod at all. As such, I use a fairly limited selection of 35mm films, but I use almost every film available in medium format. So, after using them all, my "educated" conclusion is: All the films out there by Kodak, Fuji, and Ilford are excellent. You can't go wrong with anything from these three companies. So, there really aren't any "good" or "bad" films period from any of these manufacturers...just films with certain characteristics that you must learn to decide whether they are good or bad for what you want the pix to look like.

    When it comes to price, Fuji is usually the cheapest. Their medium format b/w film is priced very competitively.

    I like Ilford's over all selection the best. Everything they make is available in medium format, which is nice.

    I use Kodak simply because nothing looks quite like Tri-X and Plus-X.

    For color, I love Fuji and Kodak, but for different things. For studio shooting, I prefer Kodak, as I think it just plain looks better in a subjective aesthetic sense.......until you use it in foul/low/mixed lighting, in which the Fuji just kills the Kodak, IMO. I also prefer Kodak's line, with an NC and VC available in both 100 and 400 speeds, plus Ektar, Ultra Color, etc. One exception to this general approach is that I absolutely love Fuji Reala. It is my most-used medium format color film for landscapes. I also think it is the best for products and still lifes. However, for people in "controlled" or "good" lighting, I almost always use Kodak for color neg.

    So, basically, what I do for color neg is: Fuji for places and things, Kodak for people.

    So, getting back the the gist of what I am saying: There is not a bad film made for your RZ by any one of the big three film companies. There are only films that are better suited for certain things.

    One suggestion I definitely have: Shoot color neg. The "home lab" situation you describe almost demands it, and there is enough variety out there for you to get what you want, especially if you are scanning anyhow.

    I can't tell you what to take to Mexico for you....but I can tell you for sure what I would take to feed my RZ kit (65, 110, 210) if I was going to Mexico for two weeks:

    1. NPH/Pro 400H (120/220 available). I try to never be without this film on a trip, even though it is not the one that I use the most. It simply covers so many bases. It is just plain beautiful, fast enough to hand hold even in less-than-ideal light, and holds up to enlargement better than the 800 (which also does very well, BTW).

    2. Reala (120 only available). As much as I can carry and/or have time to shoot. My general-purpose 100-speed color neg film. I usually use this unless I am looking for faster shutter speeds.

    3. NPZ/Pro 800Z (120/220 available). For hand held use. Opens up a lot of interesting shooting possibilities, and simply looks amazing and unique.

    I consider these three my must haves for color landscapes/travel in medium format.

    I also generally bring transparency films. I always have T64 and Provia 400X for sure. I also usually bring a 100-speed Ektachrome of some sort (EPN, EPP, E100SW, E100G, etc.).
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 01-01-2010 at 08:30 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    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)

  6. #6

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    Is there a specific time or condition that one would push the speeds up, or just as a blanket statement? Ive heard folk talk about this, but i don't believe that i would have the knowledge to know when, where or why to do this....

    Thanks for all the input- Never used any kodak portra film, but im reading about them right now.. actually thats a lie, i had some old portra 160 that i burned up, waiting on results... The color print that i have used and have been unhappy with were all in my 35mm cameras, and always paled in contrast to any slides. The first time i used slide film i wondered why i would ever pick up 35mm print film again. ( things like Superia ect)

    Ive shot almost all ilfords films, and the HP5 seems to be the most forgiving. Yes the 3200 is a force to be reckoned with. LOL... and yes, im still getting used to MF being ungodly slow, as any 400 iso in my past was always plenty fast.

  7. #7

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    You push development if you have been forced to underexpose in order to use a desired shutter speed or aperture.

    You can also do it just to increase contrast.

    ...or to try to salvage an exposure on which you made a mistake.

    It doesn't actually increase the speed of the film across the board. It just pumps up the contrast, thus sacrifices low tones in favor of raising the mids and highs.
    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)

  8. #8

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    Bulletproof in bright conditions? Fuji Pro 160S. I like my color accurate and don't mind subtle one bit. But if you're insisting on saturated color and insensitivity to metering errors, 160 Portra VC. Ektar 100 is also sublime stuff, much nicer than Portra VC for my palette (the grain difference between them is like comparing chalk and cheese) but a bit less bombproof on exposure.

    Given your Mexico trip, I'd suggest Astia 100F as the most forgiving transparency emulsion though nowhere near as forgiving as print films in extreme subject brightness ratio scenes. Around water polarizer will help knock down specular highlights that might otherwise exceed the DR of your emulsion.

  9. #9

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    2F... NPH 400H : Fuji PRO 400H? What is the NPH mean? NPZ? thanks ;/ also.. ive shot the Reala on 35.. interested to see what the MF print looks like

    Pupfish: Astia over the Velvia 100?

    "Around water polarizer will help knock down specular highlights that might otherwise exceed the DR of your emulsion."

    In english please : ) ? Im very green at this... Thanks!

    On the Push topic, i guess my question was, ive heard some people just make comments like, well- its an 800 iso film, but i shoot it at 400 for better results ect. So are there unspoken rules about some films in particular that one should heed at all times, or just in specific lighting situation.

    And i suppose there are different times to push... for instance pre- film exposure / while developing the film, and in the darkroom... ?

    Sorry for turning this into photography 101.
    Last edited by endneu913; 01-01-2010 at 06:48 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #10
    DanielStone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by endneu913 View Post
    2F... NPH 400H : Fuji PRO 400H? What is the NPH mean? NPZ? thanks ;/ also.. ive shot the Reala on 35.. interested to see what the MF print looks like

    Pupfish: Astia over the Velvia 100?

    "Around water polarizer will help knock down specular highlights that might otherwise exceed the DR of your emulsion."

    In english please : ) ? Im very green at this... Thanks!

    On the Push topic, i guess my question was, ive heard some people just make comments like, well- its an 800 iso film, but i shoot it at 400 for better results ect. So are there unspoken rules about some films in particular that one should heed at all times, or just in specific lighting situation.

    And i suppose there are different times to push... for instance pre- film exposure / while developing the film, and in the darkroom... ?

    Sorry for turning this into photography 101.


    specular highlights are like the sun shining off of chrome. if you see that in pictures, its usually like "blinding white, nothing there". that's a specular highlight IMO. there are more technical explanations, but this one is mine.

    NPH= the earlier version of Fuji's Pro400H, which is pretty much the same thing IMO. just a name change.

    overexposure: most people overexpose anywhere from 1/3-1 full stop. some more for their needs/certain look. I've decided that rating the film as the speed on the box states gives me the best results for MY uses, so, rating a 400 speed film AT 400 gives ME the best results that I like. If I'm in doubt, however, I'll overexpose a 1/2 stop or so(open up the lens, or slow down the shutter)

    overexposing helps to keep shadow detail from disappearing. most modern color negative materials will handle from -2 stops to +2/+3, so, underexposing 2 stops, or overexposing up to 3 stops(say, rating a 400 speed film at 64). This overexposure generally LOWERS CONTRAST overall, but opens up shadow detail, but super bright highlight detail is generally "lost in translation" .

    even modern E-6 emulsions can't generally handle more than a 3-4 stop latitude range, where as color neg emulsions, some claim, can handle as much as 14, generally on the highlight end.

    ASTIA: warmer toned film, not as saturated as velvia, but warmer overall.

    polarizer: think polarized sunglasses, and being able to look through the 'haze' that seems to muddy a landscape when you're looking at it. a polarizer cuts through most REFLECTED LIGHT, lessening the effect of lower contrast, generally increasing apparent contrast in your subject matter.

    -Dan


    p.s. here's a shot(not mine, grabbed off of flickr) comparing what a polarizer does with most situations where water is in your shot



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