Color negative film for black and white scans?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by richard_golonka, Mar 20, 2019.

  1. Simply put, I am tired of dust. I’m sure I could solve this, but I really don’t have the time or space to make my own perfectly spotless minilab.

    I do c41 at home, and I have none of these problems in my scans obviously because of digital ice. but xp2 is wearing on me. Considering just shooting some color neg film but going about with bw in mind...looking for tones, shapes, know, all the things you do with black and white typically...and just forget that it’s color. .

    Then scan it and simply just convert to bw.

    But do you think it will all essentially look the same as xp2 since it’s c41? I imagine there are differences, but perhaps not as much as between real bw stocks?

    Anyway, if you have found a color film that looks awesome in black and white please share! My first thought was afga vista or similar,

    If the lab could do my TriX for me, this wouldn’t be an issue.
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Why? How? It isn't Tri X, but a remarkably capable flexible film. You do C 41 at home but not B&W in order to be able to use Tri X?
  3. I have a co-worker who went full digital in 2009ish(I have his Coolscan V), but he shot a lot of Fuji Reala in those days even though he's almost exclusively a B&W guy. If he were still using film, I could see him using a lot of Ektar for some of his photography, and possibly the Portra line for others.

    His reasoning was much the same as for why he shoots all of his digital originals in color even if they will up as B&W-he can add filters in post, and not worry about them at the time of exposure.

    That sounds as good of a reason as any for me for someone who wants to shoot film in a hybrid workflow rather than print optically, and there's no reason why you can't do it.

    I have shot XP2 Super, and while there's a lot to like about it, it's never been a favorite of mine. About the only real positive for me is how easy it is to scan, but honestly I shoot B&W to print optically and I find that it takes a LOT more work to get a good print out of XP2 Super than it does Tri-X or pretty much any other traditional B&W film.
  4. A professional photographer from the film era would not likely see any reason why not to shoot c-41; they never processed it themselves. I do much more with chemicals and their processes than I would with photoshop. With every edit in PS you make, you destroy a bit of the original photo.

    The big difference with XP2 and the like, is it is a monocromatic dye ment to be post in b&w. A colour C-41 film has extra colours and a base to contend with. Special optical paper needed to be used to handle the low contrast image that would result if regular paper was used. Scaning can correct, but has the look of the enevadable compromise.

    XP2, and variants, tend to be sharp but have an otherwise flat cold look.....similar to digital monochrome. I prefer the abundance of variations I can use with b&w film and chemistry combinations.

    Dust is dust. Colour has just as much as b&w. Digital ice just automates it's removal. I do a better job and prefer to remove it myself. Same effort with c-41 or b&w.

    And then there is the hipster factor. What some see as beauty, I see as imperfections.....and vica-verca.
  5. I do C41 because I dont have to deal with dust and other things when I scan. Local labs wont do black and white. When I do black and white there is just too much garbage on my negatives. I am not interested right now in the next while spending too much time troubleshooting this. I get the sentiment, just want to move onto something else for a bit.

    xp2 is great, but I want to try something else. And there is nothing else!

    Like I said, I don't mind developing, I am getting a good C41 process down at the moment and am going to roll with it. For a bit. I am tired of the spec filled disappointment that is inevitable when I scan black and white film on my cool scan.
  6. Fuji Reala. Thanks for the suggestion. Found this thread
    Fuji Reala too contrasty
    sounds perfect haha.

    Now to find out if has been discontinued..... ...


    I mean if I am going to go to the trouble of making my life more difficult and more expensive by shooting film and then scanning it, I should at least have the luxury of the color photo as well, just as all digital shooters do :)
  7. XP2 has the same low Gamma that is usual for C41 (and C22) films.

    The data sheet doesn't seem to mention this, other than looking at the graph,
    but does suggest multigrade paper. The result of the low Gamma is the need
    for a higher contrast when printing. Higher printing contrast means it is more
    sensitive to getting the exposure right, pretty much requiring a print exposure meter.
    (You should probably have one, anyway, but much more important here.)

    (Color papers were designed assuming a color and exposure analyzer.)

    The convenience of the low Gamma is less work getting the exposure
    right on the film (large latitude), but more work to get it right printing.

    On the other hand, it will be optimal for scanners expecting C41 film.

    It is hard to find Gamma numbers for different paper grades or filter
    selections, but it might need about grade 4, maybe between 3.5 and 4.5.
  8. Have you considered shooting and getting used to some chromogenic B&W stock? Kodak used to do one certainly, and maybe still do. Ilford had/has one too. Chromogenic B&W film is compatible with Digital ICE.

    Though, maybe you would have more flexibility shooting full colour C-41. With a hybrid workflow, you can shoot film, and take advantage of the flexibility of digital processing. Any number of film stocks would likely give satisfying results.
  9. To clarify the last paragraph of my previous post, I meant that you might get satisfying results by shooting colour C-41 and using a hybrid workflow to convert to B&W.

    If you want to experiment with chromogenic B&W film, Ilford XP2 Super is available. It's suitable for C-41 processing and compatible with Digital ICE.
  10. Nowdays, XP-2 is probably my favorite "black and white" film. Extraordinary exposure latitude, dye clouds instead of 'grain'. (it's chromogenic, ie C41)

    However, I send my exposed film to southeast Kansas for processing only. [Kansans are very good with grain]. It comes back very clean and ready for scanning.
  11. If you read the OP, you'll find that he is already using XP2 Super and not overly happy with it.

    BTW, as a general comment for those who don't like/use Digital ICE-are you using the scanner manufacturer's software, or are you using Vuescan? I ask because ICE refers to both the IR channel scanning(of which most consumer film scanners, both flatbed and dedicated, are capable of) AND the software algorithm that makes use of the IR channel data. Specifically, ICE is a software package developed by a company called Applied Science Fiction, then bought by Kodak(where it has languished).

    I have used scanners from Canon, Epson, and Nikon. The latter two included Digital ICE as part of the scanner software package, while Canon used their own proprietary system called FARE.

    Vuescan does NOT include Digital ICE, but rather the software writers own implementation of IR cleaning using information from the IR channel. I've found that Vuescan works decently well for relatively simple areas of the photo(where I can usually clean them up easily myself) but not so well on more complicated areas. By contrast, I have seen ICE work miracles in areas that would take me an hour to fix(and probably not do as well) with the spot healing brush and clone stamp.

    If folks are interested, I can try to post examples tomorrow evening-ICE is a large part of the reason why I run obsolete OSs so that I can continue using Nikon Scan, and also why I have largely moved to darkroom printing for my B&W stuff. It's just unfortunate with my Coolscan 8000 and medium format that I have to choose between using ICE and using a sheet of AN glass for film flatness...
    richard_golonka likes this.
  12. Oops sorry, I was reading/posting in a rush, without paying enough attention.
  13. when I bought my entire darkroom set from a closing lab about 7 years ago now there were all these strange heavy devices that I had no idea what they were. At the time, there was no information on them nor were there any listings on ebay, so I junked them. Turns out, one of them was a, what I know now to be, a very expensive xrite densitometer. Now I dont know how to use one, and my color printing experience is limited at - 1 attempt - , but is this what you are referring to as a print exposure meter for c41? i also have an ilford EM10 which I do use for black and white prints.

    There was also this device where you put the slide on the screen and it projected it to the TV through RCA cables lol. The quality was, beyond terrible haha.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
  14. I have, but I have not tried kodaks discontinued version. Perhaps that would be a first place to start actually....BW400CN. Although the idea of shooting with a black and white "eye" and converting everything to mono during scanning, but having the color file as well just in case, does appeal to me. I will try a few and, if I remember, post some samples back to the thread.
  15. I agree. ICE on my coolscan V is amazing. I have never found a reason to not leave it on at all times. You get perfectly clean and spotless digital files every time. I have never once found an error or misstep it has made. I guess in this sense, it has spoiled me somewhat and I have little to no tolerance for dust or spots now as a result.
  16. My print exposure meter is about the size and shape of a very large USB thumb drive, or perhaps a very small remote control for a cable box or such.

    It's Ilford branded, and has a CdS cell at the front of it, a bit dial, and three LEDs(two red, one green). Basically, the way I've always used it is to lay it on the easel with the print focused and the lens stopped down to the intended aperture. The dial is turned until the green LED lights, and the exposure time read off. I ASSUME(I know dangerous) that it's calibrated for Ilford paper, which is all I use.

    In any case, I presume that the "eye" only sees what's falling on it, although the instructions don't give much information on that. In any case, I take at least three readings-one on a highlight(dark on the easel), one on a shadow(light on the easel), and something close to a mid-tone. I then make a mental average of it.

    That gets me close, but I generally still expose a 4-exposure test strip. I do that by setting my GraLab timer to 1/4 the indicated exposure time and making 4 exposures on the strip as one would normally do. Of course, the developed test strip lets me dial in the exposure a bit more exactly, but I still sometimes make a second small tweak to get the overall look of the print where I want it. None the less, though, it saves me a LOT of test strips in dialing in the exposure.
  17. I have a print exposure meter that I built from a Popular Electronics article in high school days.

    I might also have one or two that I bought recently at thrift stores, but didn't see if work yet.

    Yes, much simpler than a densitometer, though I suppose in theory you could use a densitimeter
    in place of one, but then you would need to adjust for the print size (magnification).

    I usually try to meter on a face.

    Some have a box with a wire to the sensing device, which is the way mine works.
    Newer ones fit everything in one box.

    For smaller prints, I won't do a separate test strip, for larger ones, I probably do.

    You can use one as described above, or you can set the exposure time and adjust
    the aperture until the green light comes on.
    richard_golonka likes this.
  18. Kodak Ektar.
  19. In case you overlooked it in Ben's first post, I'll add a big +1 to the advantage of being able to use filters in post. It's not a minor advantage, but a very major one.

    I've been able to turn quite average colour negatives into pretty stunning B&W pictures by using the colour emphasis/de-emphasis sliders in PhotoShop's B&W conversion module. It's worth shooting everything in colour just for the filter FX that can used.

    This -
    For example, looked extremely boring in colour. Darkening the sky and lightening the sand in a B&W conversion made all the difference.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019

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