do LF shooters use 400 speed film often?
I was curious if LF shooters use 400 speed film as much as MF or 35mm shooters do?
Admittedly, I have not. But the answer is yes! The inherent graininess is not a big deal with large format and for the slow lenses that accompany LF, I'd say it can be of vital importance.
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In my case apart from a box of HP5 back in 1976 I didn't use anything faster than FP4 125 ISO until I began shooting hand held 3 or 4 years ago, and 5x4 is my main format.
I used to use Tmax400 in 120 but Kodak film's much harder to get (for me) and much more expensive so I began shooting HP5 (Delta 400's not made in LF sizes).
Ironically I shoot with it here in Turkey where the light is usually up at the meters maximum because I can work hand held at 1/200th @ f22 (my 1932 Compur has the older speed settings) lens cells are newer
In the UK last year I found HP5 too fast, I like longer shutter speeds - movement in grass etc, so it was back to Delta 100.
Quality wise the 5x4 HP5 negatives processed in Pyrocat HD are outstanding extremely sharp no grain even on very large prints, 30"x24".
Last edited by Ian Grant; 03-01-2011 at 02:42 PM. Click to view previous post history.
For years virtually the only film I shot in my 4x5 Super Graphic was Tri-X (ASA 400).
95+% of my work is using HP5
f22~32 + 2 stops for a filter mean even in bright sunlight I am shooting 1/8s tops
Grain isn't an issue for me - I can only go up to 20x24 print size
I prefer the tonality of FP4 but need a bit more speed.
I can see the difference in sharpness and grain on 20x24 prints between HP5/FP4 & Delta 100 - but only if I use a strong Lupe
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I use some Tri-X in both the 8x10 and Crown (hand held). Generally, though, I have not been using it. Field camera? Not really. I don't see much point, once it is on the tripod.
Color? Not a bit.
I use HP5+ most of the time, because I like its look, especially of its grain. Having said that, Tri-X in 4x5 is also very nice.
Yes! The films have different tonality, sharpness, grain, and can give you extra shutter speeds and/or extra D of F. These two things can be important with any format, but can be a make it or break it consideration in LF, with its relatively slow lenses providing more restriction on the availability of motion-freezing shutter speeds. LF users are lucky that fast films are are there to use today.
My main sheet film until fairly recently, when I moved to a Mamiya RZ for shots that do not need movements, was TXP in D-76. It is absolutely gorgeous, and easier to work with than a 100/125 film, especially when shooting people with hot lamps or in shade.
"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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For my 4x5 use, I use about 95% TMY2 at iso320, but it is a 400 speed film. There is not need to go slower unless you need long shutter speeds for an effect. People say similarly nice things about the current Tri-x.
I sometimes shoot handheld outdoors with my speed graphic and appreciate the speed. Indoors I sometimes use lenses which don't have flash sync, so the extra speed is handy.
I've settled on the same film for medium format. I haven't successfully learned to like the acros 100 or tmax100, and I don't want to have to change films in my TLR when light conditions change to where I need a 400. Those tgrain 100 films are of such high sharpness it begins to show shortcomings in my cheap medium format lenses and focusing. 400 tmax is real good too, but doesn't make lens shortcomings so obvious, and I can print onto 16x20 paper without grain being objectionable.
Grain is not a problem at large film sizes since you don't magnify it much when you print. A 16x20 print which is as big as I have trays for is a 5x enlargement from 4x5, or about the same as a 5x7 print from a 35mm.
Indeed different film speeds have different inherent tonality. 400 has traditionally been a little crispier and slow film a little more midtone-rich. You used to be able to look at a print (especially a color one) and guess from the contrast and tones what speed film was likely used.
This is starting to be an antiquated notion though for people who develop and print themselves. I have been able to get any tonality I want out of tmy2 film though. Different dilutions of Xtol and using PMK pyro developer let me do this. Developer choice on a per image basis based on the scene's lighting. A flexibility provided by sheet film you don't get in roll film unless you have interchangeable rollfilm backs.
HP5+ 7x17 contact prints and 8x10 small enlargements to 20x24. No visible grain.