Black and white film suggestion

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by mikheilrokva, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. Good evening, or whatever the time out there.

    I want a black and white film suggestion for my friend, who is gradually losing his interest in film photography. He is a fan of B&W, but shoots mostly Fuji's Acros 100. I'm not qualified enough to make a reasonable research of the subject, I can't see much difference in different B&W films of same ISO rating. I thought someone would help here.

    Please excuse my idiocy.

    P.S. It should be 35 mm, since he uses Minolta X-700.
  2. I've only just recently shot a bit of Acros(in 120) and I like it but it's definitely a very different "feeling" film.

    Kodak Tri-X is THE classic B&W film(at one time it was advertised as the best selling B&W film in the world) and one I think every photographer should at least try. It is one of my standard go-to films in 35mm and 120. This was a long time staple film for photojournalists and street photographers. It's fairly grainy, but the grain is aesthetically pleasing to me. It's an easy to shoot film with a lot of latitude.

    Ilford HP5+ is a direct competitor to Tri-X. It's 6 of one, half a dozen of the other as to which you prefer. I find the grain pretty similar, while to my eye HP5 processed similarly has a bit more contrast than Tri-X.

    I really like Ilford FP4+, although it doesn't seem as popular as Tri-X/HP5. It's my primary film for 4x5 and I shoot a lot in 120 also. It's most similar to the old Kodak Plus-X(one of my favorite films of all time), although the grain is a bit tighter and again I find it to have a bit more contrast.

    There are some really inexpensive brands of film you can find through places like Freestyle photo. Their "" line is decent, and I used it a lot when I was learning to shoot 4x5(75¢ a sheet is a lot easier to swallow than $1.50 for Ilford or $2 for Kodak). I used the 100 speed version, and it was serviceable despite being a bit boring to my eyes and less sharp compared to the others. It definitely has price going for it, though, at I think $3 a roll for 35mm.

    Everything I've discussed so far is what's known as a "traditional" grain emulsion. Over the past 30 years, T-grain(Kodak trade name) or generically tabular grain films have become increasingly popular. T-grain films are sharper and have less grain for a given speed than traditional emulsions. As a trade off, they are more particular about exposure. I also find the grain less aesthetically pleasing than traditional grain films. Kodak makes them in 3 speeds-100(TMX), 400(TMY) and P3200(TMZ). The P3200 version is a bit of a peculiar film and actually has been "the talk of the town" lately in that Kodak is reintroducing it(it's not shipping yet, but is available for pre-order from the major vendors). Ilford makes a similar range of film under the "Delta" name.
    mikheilrokva and casey_c like this.
  3. First things first, you're like a god or something on here. You have posted on each of my topics and posts are comprehensive and informative. Thank you for your time.
    Not sure if it's in a good sense or bad. I personally shot only two rolls of Acros, one was 35 mm, other was 120. I think a lot depends on development and local lab isn't shining in terms of that.

    While there is no Tri-X here, they sell HP5. For a ridiculous price point of 14$ per roll.

    Perhaps less popularity of FP4+ is due to its lower ISO... And I've never heard of Plus-X, thanks to my age.

    If I am to buy something generic, I think it will be Fomapan. I saw it on ebay the other day, three rolls of various sensitivity were being sold together, looked like a bargain.

    So basically T-Max is better than Tri-X in terms of image quality, if exposed accurately?

    And I was thinking of Delta, but that thing is pricy
  4. It could just be that I like to get on here and ramble :) .

    As far as Acros goes-I honestly haven't shot it enough to tell whether it's "better" or "worse" than anything else-it's just different. Its spectral sensitivity is a bit different from other films(Fuji advertises it as orthopanochromatic).

    As far as TMAX being better-aside from the grain and sharpness differences it has a very different look from Tri-X. I honestly don't care for it, but there are large format photographers who go nuts over it and are happy to pay $3 a sheet.

    Apparently FP4+ is popular enough for my local camera store to stock it in 35mm and 120(they don't carry any E-6 film if that means anything) but it seems to be a somewhat forgotten film. In all honesty, I don't think speed has a huge amount of relevance for most film photographers these days-we just work with what we have to get the look we want. Kodak's reintroduction of TMZ P3200 is something of an anomaly, as many films introduced in the past few years have focused on fine grain and scannability.

    BTW, Ilford SFX200 is another film worth trying. It's not a traditional B&W film, but instead is designed to be processed in C41 chemistry(color negative film). If you don't process your own B&W, this is actually a better alternative(in most cases) to using a commercial processor as C41 processing is consistent.
  5. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire, mostly on film.

    For no reason except that I like it, Adox CHS100; only, I was going to put a link to the makers page, and I only find an apology for its current unavailability. Seems to be a temporary situation.
    ADOX | CHS 100 II Availability
  6. You are asking something like, "what kind of pie should he get to get him interested in pie again". The only real answer is to try 'em all. If he's a good enough friend and has a birthday coming up, why not a gift assortment.

    As for me, I've shot more Tri-X than anything else and have been very happy with it, but that's mainly because I did newspaper work in the past. Now that I mostly sit back and let my wife do all the work, I use just about all the different types I can find. Right now I shoot a lot of 100T-Max, but hey, I love Ilford, too.
  7. And that "orthopanchromatic" makes no sense and sounds like one huge (insert bad word here). But I agree, it indeed is something different.

    I think they reintroduce it to have a rival for Delta 3200? But any decent ISO 400 film can be pushed to 3200, right? It's three stops.

    I believe you're talking about XP2, since SFX200 is something I was considering for infrared photography. But doesn't C-41 'black and white' come out as reddish negative (like regular color negative) and has to be scanned in monochrome, right?
  8. Some of the shots made with it look otherworldly. I'll buy it for myself :D

    "If I am a good enough friend for him" sounds more accurate in this case and I agree. I'll buy one roll of each.

    I'm more inclined to Kodak, perhaps because I used Gold and Profoto a lot when I was a teenager. And there was Agfa as well back then. Pity it went bankrupt.
  9. You're right-it's XP2 Super. I'll blame the fact that I'm running a fever from strep. When I wrote the post, I actually went and looked up the name of the film since I couldn't remember it, but still managed to type the wrong thing.

    XP2 Super has a clear base like normal B&W film. It's really meant for darkroom printing, although it also scans nicely. The old Kodak T400CN and its predecessor-Portra 400 B&W-had the orange mask so it would print correctly on minilabs with little to no intervention from the operator. It scans okay, but doesn't print anywhere near as well as XP2 on an enlarger.
  10. You seem to be getting the which film is the best debate. No win here. You COULLD argue which film was the worst and come up with GAF 500 slide film. But within 47 seconds, someone would wonder why you are bad-mouthing their favorite.
    Vincent Peri likes this.
  11. Kentmere is supposed to be good and inexpensive,
  12. For a long time, film emulsions were primarily UV and blue sensitive. As technology progressed, makers learned how to make some silver halides yellow sensitive. These were combined with blue sensitive silver halides to make what's known as an orthochromatic film. Orthochromatic film is still available for some limited applications. Its last major use was as a high contrast film used to make lithography plates. My mom's sister recently sold her printing business, but when she and my uncle started it in 1997 they used orthochromatic Kodak Grpahic Arts film by the hundreds of sheets to make 1:1 reproductions of documents. I think sometime around 2004, they bought digital direct to plate equipment and got rid of the darkroom. Ilford still makes an ortho film for this purpose-it's quite inexpensive if you can find it in stock.

    Sometime around the 1930s, it became possible to make a red sensitive silver halide(remember ROYGBIV-we are moving to longer wavelength light with each step). When these three are combined, we get a "panachromatic" film that is more or less sensitive to all colors of visible light. Visible light runs roughly from 380nm(violet) to 750nm(red).

    Here's a sensitivity curve for Tri-X(historically called Tri-X Pan, for panochromatic). Note that its sensitivity goes down to ~675nm.

    Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 10.27.54 PM.png

    Here's one for Acros 100

    Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 10.31.19 PM.png

    Note that the cut off is around 650nm. Its red sensitivity extends a fair bit more than a true ortho film

    Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 10.38.38 PM.png

    But it is still less red sensitive than a full panachromatic film. This is why it gets labeled "orthopanochromatic."

    BTW, just to keep this going(since I know you were asking about IR films the other day) an IR film typically has normal sensitivity in the visible range but extends just into the far IR range. An IR film shot without an IR filter(R72, for a 720nm cut-off) will essentially behave like a normal B&W film. With HIE, you can get away with a dark red filter(R25) and still get some IR effects, but currently available films require an R72.

    Here's the spectral sensitivity of SFX200

    Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 10.47.12 PM.png

    And HIE

    Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 10.48.44 PM.png

    (all sensitivity curves were taken from the relevant data sheets and are courtesy of Kodak, Fuji, and Ilford).
  13. Pardon my French, but IMHO you should soak your silver emulsions yourself. - If you want a local lab to mistreat your B&W film buy XP2, chemically a monochrome color film by Ilford. Fine grained like T-Max / Delta but basically unpushable. OTOH it handles overexposure well and rewards it with finer grain.
    My take on film: Pick something, get used to it, stick to it. Cranking the odd roll of *I don't know* through your camera gets you nowhere. - Will your development be spot on? - Not necessarily extremely likely. - So what? - Lomographic fun time? Or time to feel insecure? - Will your test roll print like the stuff you are used to? - Nope.
    OK, some folks get their kicks out of exploring unknown material and it keeps them shooting more of the everyday life around home but the odds of a different emulsion re-igniting the photographic fire in somebody seem low to me, especially when it is a big step into a different direction. - Somebody settled for fine grained Acros 100 seems unlikely to fall for TriX's charme and vice versa. (FTR: I used neither of them, started out with HP5 and moved to TMY / TMZ and from there to Delta in the smaller formats).
  14. Well, it's not entirely like that, I'd be stupid if I bought five rolls of unknown film and all of them of the same model. I want him to try and decide, but I also don't want something bad to slip in.
    P.S. I'd gladly try GAF 500 if E-6 development was a thing in my country.

    We bought a 100 ft bulk of it last summer. It was a bit grainy. Not sure whether it's the fault of development, or the fact that it was expired for two years.

    My head hurts a little now, but I have learned something new. I knew difference between ortho and panchro, but not at this extent.
  15. I was thinking about that when I wanted to get my hands on infrared-sensitive film. Alas, I've been convinced that using a digital camera for that purpose is more hassle-free. I still might get something, but import of chemicals is a tricky thing in my country, so I'll have to buy a powder. Most likely D-76. Or go all-out crazy and buy Fuji's microfine or something, which seems to be better (?) for Acros 100.

    More importantly, it means I'll have to develop HIS film, which means he will wreak havoc onto me if something goes wrong :oops:
  16. You're lucky you can't
    Vincent Peri likes this.
  17. I have remembered that my development tank is also GAF's work. Should I throw it away as well?
  18. What, you still have it?

    As an aside, I did shoot one roll of GAF 500. It nearly convinced me to sell all my camera equipment and pick up a paint brush, but my painting skills were almost as bad as the film.

    As a further aside, back in the 50s, my father used a lot of Ansco transparency film in his 120. They still look great. His Ektachromes from the 50s - hard to tell what they are now.

    But getting back to your original post, I don't think that you are going to find a "bad" film out there to gift to your friend. Tom might say that film X sucks, but Bill will say that that stuff is his go-to. A good example is all those who love to shoot expired film. The results from poorly stored film from 1970 might look horrid to me, but some of us (not me) love the effects. You won't know what your favorite flavor of ice cream is until you try them all. What a fun adventure.
  19. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    get an assortment and try them all?

    you want the guy to stay interested, so keep him busy experimenting. im sure with a bit of experiance, he will find his own middle ground.

    have fun

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