Film Choice for LF
I decided to make the jump to LF and I'm begginning to put together an 8X10 system. The prime reason in making the jump is to make contact prints, of course.
I have shot MF up until now and have used B&W film exclusively and plan to continue using B&W LF film. My MF film of choice has been TriX and on occaision I have shot with Ilford HP5 and Efke. With MF I have developed my film in Rodinal and Pyrocat with great results.
I am becoming much more proficient with the use of a spot meter so I have more confidence in my ability to get a good exposure. My best results have been with the TriX with the Efke giving it a run for the money. I like the latitude and look of TriX.
Because of the jump in expenses for everything, including film, I am keeping myself open to other films in the 8X10 format. Looking at websites I see film available from JandC, ADOX, Bergger, FOMA, Efke, as well as Kodak TriX pro. I don't see myself using super slow film, at least for now.
I know the use of film is subjective for each of us, but I also know that film characteristics can change between formats. Do the JandC, Bergger, ADOX, anf FOMA films perform well for those of you who use them? Which films gives you the character you seek? Which films are difficult to shoot on a consistent basis?
I am posting this question in the LF equipment category in hopes of reaching a more targeted audience.
One thing to think about is how you're going to process the film. If you are using trays, and if you've never developed in trays before, you might want to start with a more scratch resistant film like Tri-X, FP-4+, or HP-5+.
If not, or if you're a very proficient tray processor, I've been very happy with Efke/Adox PL100 and J&C Classic/Forte 400.
I just shot my first round of JandC Pro 100 8x10 (2 shots) the other day. I was very pleased from an ameteur's point of view, and also because I have nothing else to use for comparison. I was shooting paper negatives up to now, and have used B/W films like Ilford Delta, Kodak T-Max 400, and Ilford Pan F Plus in 35mm format only. But for the price, the JandC Pro 100 8x10 looks great to me. ;-)
Here's my first 8x10 contact print made from that film last week.
Contact printed on Ilford 8x10 MGIV RC Deluxe (Gloss) (6 second exposure under 75 watt enlarger lamp) (F/8 @ 25" ??)
and some high res macro shots of negative (at/near the top of the hill). . .
I will entertain all questions utilizing the little knowledge I possess.
It really doesn't matter very much, unless you need the high contrast/long density range needed for some alternative processes. Things like grain and sharpness are all but irrelevant at 8x10: all that matters is tonality. Only you can decide which film/dev combination you like. Personally, I like (and use) Ilford and Bergger.
I never process by interleaving -- ANYTHING scratches for me -- but I suppose if you do (which I would heartily advice against, for a beginner) then some films are harder than others. On the other hand, I suspect that a lot of this is that some people expect some films to be tougher than others...
Exposure is not really a problem as long as there's plenty of it, so again, I'd not worry too much. When in doubt, give an extra stop.
If all this sounds very casual, remember that some of the greatest pictures ever made were made before the invention of reliable film speeds or photoelectric exposure meters, let alone the Zone System. LF really is quite easy: there's a lot of false mystique about it. Don't worry: just take pics. You'll do at least as well as half the obsessives who spend a year studying the Zone System and doing tests before they take a single picture.
Note to Zone System users. This is not a blanket condemnation of the Zone System. If the Zone System works for you, great. But there are at least as many great photographers who don't/didn't use the Zone System so it can't be the only route.
Id reiterate this for sure.
Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
Tray processing Efke/Adox film can be finnicky and very prone to scratching. You can learn this the hard way but thats expensive and not worth your time or money. I found that the Ciscolite trays are wonderful for processing 8x10 negs. I found 4 11x14 ciscolite trays and use them specifically for developing my 8x10 negs. one for prebath, one for developer, one for water stop bath, one for fixer. The trays have no molding nubs or notches to worry about. Efke film is a wonderful film in both 8x10 and 7x17 (two sizes I use). I also got a few large 12x22" storage bins from Target (dept store) for about $5 a piece they have some bad moulding notches that have the tendency to very easily scratch the soft emulsion on the Efke/Adox film. I got some fine sand paper and sanded down the entire inside bottom of the storage bins to remove any burrs or nubs of plastic. Ive found that it entirely remedied all the scratching problems. I used to develop one negative at a time using a brush but have begun lately to develop multiple negatives with the shuffle method and have found that even developing up to 10 7x17 negatives in about 5L of developer is easy to do if Im careful during the shuffling and its given even and nice results, in fact Im finding it to be more even and consistant than developing one at a time.
The Efke/Adox film is a wonderful film. Very forgiving and seems to (visually for me) have a very nice tonal range. I find that I use just a small amount of contrasting agent when Im making Palladium prints and have been told by a few people that they would print well on Azo (havent tried it).
I have limited experience with HP5 in 8x10. I recently purchased 2 boxes to shoot some portrait stuff and have begun to use the remaining sheets when I shoot 8x10. It seems to be somewhat more compressed in the tonal range than the Efke/Adox that Im used too. The highlights seem easy blocked up. This could be due to my unfamiliarity with the film but its just what Ive noticed thus far. I will more than likely return to Efke/Adox 100 when the HP5 runs out. Im very comfortable with it as a film and like how it prints in palladium and Gum overs. I believe a box of Efke/Adox 100 is still around $100 for 50shts. Not a bad deal at $2 a pop. well worth it in my opinion.
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I took the Kodak 2D on vacation last week and the first use on the trip was a family portrait for friends of ours with 2 lovely daughters. I used the 12 3/4" Cooke 'knuckler'. So they're all in place and I can't find the damn meter. Knowing the opportunity would be limited I calculated sunny 16 minus about 2 1/2 stops for open shade. 1/4 second at f11 with the packard. As I was putting the outfit away there was the meter laughing at me from under the case flap. I checked out of curiosity. It reccomended 1/4 @ f11.4
One way to get costs for film under control and the film is great, is J&C Adox R100 Cirkut film. I cut all my 8X10 sheets from a 100 foot roll. You can get 300 shots for $360 or a buck twenty a shot. I process in a JOBO 3005 tank.
IMHO its all good stuff. I use a Unicolor for sheet film so I can't comment on the scratching issue of Efke. If you like Tri-X (and I do in 5x7) stick with it---the price difference between tri-x, fp-4+ and hp-5+ are within pennies (well, maybe nickles)a sheet these days--- but there are some other fun films to experiment with---Efke, Forte, and Foma reborn as "Arista .edu Ultra" I've either used or have some of each brand in my freezer for experimenting. and I've been happy with every film I've tried so far.
Don't be afraid of trying inexpensive films out---you might be surprised!
I'm pretty frugal but film costs for 8x10 are a funny thing---I find that I just don't burn that much 8x10---I've gotten far more selective in my shooting and rarely bracket exposures (perhaps this is foolishness or maybe a sign of confidence---I don't know which!)
Definitely give the Foma films a try. I'm shooting the Foma 200 in 5x7 and taking it with me to Argentina. I got the Arista.EDU Ultra version of it from Freestyle, which is so cheap it's ridiculous. $15.99 for 25 sheets! I have verified with Freestyle that the Arista.EDU is exactly the same film as the Foma brand in the Foma package. I can say that it has relatively weak reciprocity performance, so I got a box of 50 sheets of TMAX 400 in 5x7 to compensate for it. THAT was financially painful- $100 for 50 sheets, whereas I'm spending $60 for 100 with the Arista. Oh well, the things we do for our art.
I second Scott's recomendation
I was an APX kinda guy, and Fomapan 100 is the closest thing I have found to APX. As it sits now, I use Efke 25, Fomapan 100, and HP5. Im interested in giving the Efke 400 a try, but it'll have to wait a couple of weeks. The efke and Fomapan are so cheap that perhaps it scares some people away ? It shouldn't - I've found them both to be excellent.
As far as the scratching with the Efke goes, just take your time and develop 'em one at a time.
another "brand" that will be avail. again in the near future is
photowarehouse.biz 's 125 + 400 speed films. they never say
where it is from, but make sure if you get it from them, that you
say " cut it for film holders, and notch it " or they will cut it all about 1/16" +/- too big.
happy shootin' !