I've been happy with HP5+ at 1600 and Kodak's TMax Developer (liquid form) at 1+4. I was shooting indoors (see my gallery for the "Merry Go Round" project, not sure there are actual samples of images from this combo, but the conditions were similar) in available light.
Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast (Oscar Wilde)
Years ago I shot Kodak T-Max 3200 at an exposure index of 1600 and developed in T-Max developer as recommended for EI 3200. This gave good shadow detail. Perhaps many photographers would be satisfied at a higher EI and less shadow detail. Grain was noticable, but unlike really old high speed films, pleasantly sharp-edged. Sad to say, today's new inexpensive DSLRs do as well.
TMY2 in Xtol will do 1600 easily and show almost no grain for it - I made a 16x20" print two days ago from 6x7 TMY2@800 and you need to really concentrate on it to pick out the grain, evident only as a tiny bit of roughness in some eyelashes and otherwise invisible. In fact, I reckon the sharpness loss from TMY2 grain at that speed is less than that caused by shooting my 110/2.8 wide open. If you want really fast, I would suggest that the D3200 with some pushing in Xtol is where it's at; and give it development for one stop more than you exposed it. Pushing will only give the grain more magnitude, it shouldn't make it physically larger.
If you're feeling spendy, you could use one of the 645 systems with an 80/2 lens. I'm not sure that the extra stop in the glass would make up for the extra stop of enlargement required from the grain though.
Or a DSLR; while it's not APUG-compatible, low-light is the area where they're miles ahead of film, especially once you get into stabilisation. While I do 95% of my stuff on film, I keep one around for night-candids of people.
Last edited by polyglot; 08-21-2012 at 08:07 PM. Click to view previous post history.
That's a beautiful shot polyglot! And thanks to everyone for the suggestions so far. Although I'll definitely experiment with what I have right now, I'll hopefully be able to pick up some Tmax developer the next time I'm in Fukuoka (the only city close to me that even remotely has anything darkroom related).
I know that digital is really the best way to go for low-light handheld photography, but that's not really a place I want to go to (yet). Besides, when I travel I already carry three cameras (and at least 4 lenses), bringing another one just wouldn't be feasible!
Anyway, I guess the best thing for me to do now is to go and experiment.
My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus