How many use C41 B&W

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by michael_scott_r, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. Hello,
    I am new here on the forum and I am finding myself shooting more and more black and white pictures with my old trusty film cameras a Nikon N6006 and Nikon N90s.
    I bought some C41 process Black and White Film from my local CVS the other day and tried it out. I was some what happy with the results, but mostly I was very unhappy. The film was run through my local 1 hour lab and it came back with a bit of an orange tint to it, almost looked like Sepia.
    The reason I am thinking of useing C41 B&W is because of the cost of both the film and the developing is much cheaper. Let's face it with the explosion of Digital photography finding Kodak Tmax (my old standby b&w film) and Tri-x are getting harder to find and the cost keeps going up. Also finding a good lab to develop B&W film is getting harder and harder. I have had 2 labs shut down or quit completely developing B&W film in the last year alone.
    So I would like to know what the forums experience with C41 B&W film.
  2. Well I am that guy who is going to say.... You don't need no stinking lab. I mail order all my film... OOPS I meant I internet all my film and chemicals and with the help of a changing bag and a 2nd hand tank and reel I do it in the kitchen sink. I scan my film a scanner to get you started can be had for under $100.00
    I store the chemicals in a locked Cabinet under the sink. Though I live alone I have grand children who visit.
    As for the sepia scans. Take them back and show them they had the machine set wrong and to rescan them for free.
  3. I've never been as happy with C41 B&W films as I have with real B&W, but I've used it for the same reasons you have. Honestly, I'm not sure it does anything different than just using C41 colour film and converting the scan to monochrome.
    As you have found, the film is not really black & white. It has a reddish tinge to it. This was fine originally, because when developed, it was assumed that it would be printed on black and white paper in the darkroom, just like any other B&W film. If you scan it, you have to greyscale it afterwards unless you want to keep the colour. Even if you want a sepia-like tone, it's best to greyscale it and then add the sepia.
    All in all, I think it only ends up looking good when used under circumstances which ensure a creamy, grainless photograph, otherwise, it's downright ugly. It simply does not have the kind of grain which most people like to get with real ISO 400 pr above black and white film. Based on my own experiences with it, I really think it works best with medium format rather than 35mm.
  4. Have them to scan the negatives again. If CVS has someone new or inexperienced they may have not set the scanner for the type of film.
  5. I agree with Larry Dressler. I tried C41 black and white and could not see the point, except for people who wanted to do black and white prints in the darkroom without developing their own film. The C41 isn't as sharp as traditional film. It's so easy to develop film without a darkroom, on the kitchen counter, that you just don't need the C41.
  6. I like Ilford XP2 Super. Most minilabs can handle it, it scans well and prints well in a conventional darkroom on variable contrast paper. If family or friends want b&w photos of an event or get-together I'll grab some XP2 Super. It's fast enough for reasonable lighting and handles high contrast lighting such as sunlight or direct flash, so it's excellent for compact P&S cameras.
  7. One outstanding feature of XP2 is the ability to shoot from 50 to 800 ISO on the same roll with the same development. From memory because it's not really a b&w film in the traditional sense you can use ICE in your scanner which is also excellent
  8. I've used Kodak's C41 B&W a couple of times (whatever the name). A very boring film lacking character. Might as well use my dSLRs IMHO :)
  9. The colour cast on prints can vary depending on the film. If using Kodak BW400CN they should be okay as it has the C-41 orange mask and it will generally not work well in a traditional darkroom. Ilford's XP2 has no colour mask which can produce strange results in a mini-lab but it works well in the darkroom. Your best bet is to get some real B&W film, a decent scanner, and process it yourself. If you shop around you can get some really good deals on film (check out Freestyle Photo, particularly their house-brand films), get some XTOL, TF-5 fix and you're good to go.
  10. personally i like XP2.
  11. SCL


    I periodically use C41 b&W films and am generally pleased with the results (only have the lab develop the film, their printing sucks), all of which are scanned just like my regular B&W films onto my computer. I do have a wet darkroom, but for most work just use the computer printer. XP2 delivers good results, as do several others, the look is somewhat different than traditional silver halide films...but I well remember the days when photographers were whining about grain.
  12. 1. Like some other posters, I'm a fan of XP2 Super, which I shoot in 120 format. You can scan the film using Digital Ice, which you can't do with traditional B&W films.
    2. If you have prints made at a drug store where the printer has had half an hour of training in photo processing, you can't be suprised when you are sold mediocre prints. At this point in the evolution of commercial photo processing equipment, it would be virtually impossible for anyone who isn't an utter incompetent to make prints from XP2 Super that have a color cast.
  13. Sorry, let's try that photo upload again ...
  14. A friend of mine just shoots regular C-41 color film then converts the whole set of scans to black and white using Nik Silver Effects Pro and swears by the results.
  15. My experience with XP2 and other C41 b/w is it's fine for scanning and allows you to use Digital Ice, but I didn't like it for wet darkroom when the orange cast made it difficult to get a good black. Lex may have a better solution that worked, but I didn't like it as much as silver halide film for B/W. I was able to get usable prints with it, but had to work a lot more to dial it in using multi-grade paper as it tended to creating muddy tones. Its fine in digital printing.
  16. Barry, I had the orange cast problem with Kodak C-41 process monochrome films (T400CN, etc.), but not with Ilford XP2 Super. The Ilford film has a more neutral, slightly blue finish. No problems with scanning or printing on b&w paper. Whenever minilab prints were tinted it was always due to the minilab operator, not the negatives.
    Getting similar results on b&w paper from the Kodak stuff with the orange mask was a pain in the neck. Had to crank up the magenta to maximum, do some artful dodging and burning just to get an acceptable print. Not worth the effort. It's easier to scan the negatives for a monochrome inkjet print, or send the digital files to a lab that can print to b&w paper.
  17. I'm about to jump in and try XP2 Super myself, and I just ordered a couple of rolls of 35mm and 120 from Freestyle. I decided to give this a shot since my exposed B&W film is piling up, and I can't seem to motivate myself to develop it, knowing that I'm going to have to ultimately scan it (I don't have a wet darkroom yet). I really love taking photos, and I don't mind developing the negatives, but I personally just don't enjoy fiddling with the scanning process at all.
    I know it's going to be pricey, compared to doing it myself, but I'm going to send it to Precision Camera in Austin for both development and scanning, to see how it turns out.
  18. I think I quit being lazy and finished all my processing and scanning. :)
  19. Yep, no one to blame but myself!
    As I said, I'll give it a try; perhaps in a month or so I'll be back posting about the merits of Caffenol and Fuji Acros 100 ...
  20. LOL now that is real lazy I make Caffinol-C now by the gallon and found it not only keeps but I am working on a replenisher for it. I also found it is not a one shot developer no matter how ugly it smells. :)
  21. With 35 mm I shoot mostly Ilford XP2 Super, for it's fine grain, sharpness and wonderful graduation. I have it developed in a local pro lab (but a normal mail lab would do it as well), but do the scanning myself. Another advantage of C41 bw film is the fact that ICE works fine on my Nikon Coolscan V, scans a little longer, but with no dust on the final scans. In MF and LF I prefer classic bw films, no need to wait for the lab, and in my experience ICE does not work as well on flatbed scanners as is does on dedicated film scanners.
  22. Lex, maybe I used the Kodak stuff and only scanned and print w/ink jet for the XP2. I know I liked the XP2 look better on the scans.
  23. I am in the middle of my 13th roll of XP2. I had them developed and printed at local Costco, scanned at home using Silvefaster which has a Negfix for XP2. Never had the tinting problem. The film is sharp, contrasty and has great dynamic range, as noted above, but I just shot a roll of HP5+ and it seems to hold more fine details and has better tonality than XP2, but I did not shoot HP5+ enough to draw a conclusion, and of course, I just compared my scans which is not fair and accurate. Hope someone can educate me.
  24. I never shoot it. I think it's terrible. I literally can't remember a single image I've shot with C41 BW film that I couldn't have done just as well with Portra or 400H converted to greyscale. Granted the colour films cost a bit more, but they give you the option of also having a colour print, should you change your mind later. They also take better to automated digital editing, such as blemish removal.
    All the C41 films have a colour cast in the midtones, even if it's minute. As I recall the Kodak is green, and the Ilford is magenta. The only way to NOT get any colour cast at all is for the lab to print it as a greyscale, in which case you may as well have shot colour film anyway.
    The reason that prolabs give you 'true' black and white images with C41 film is because the employees generally know enough to print these images as a greyscale without being told to do so. I think you'll find that if you drop off any quality 400 speed film and ask for black and white prints, the results will be very similar. If that film is one of the two I mentioned, and you've overexposed by a stop or so, the results will probably be better.
  25. As to my first post. I shoot B&W traditional film.. Yes I include T-Grain film in this... as it is traditional as all of them will develop properly in Rodinal. and my newest love Xtol. :) Not that hard to do in the living room and kitchen.
  26. Which C41 b+w film did you use? Some do have an orange tint to them. I shoot the occasional roll of XP2 when I am in a situation where I want b+w negs but haven't got access to processing facilities. I find XP good for portraits in bright weather because of its ability to handle contrast.
  27. I like BW400CN. When I want to test a newly acquired classic camera or lens, the one hour turn-around at the local minilab and the film's sharpness and small grain are useful. It scans well, and you can use FARE or Digital ICE. Maybe it's the limitations of my technique, but I can't get the same results by desaturating color ISO 400 C-41 films. They're always more grainy.
    Now, that is about it for the positives. When I want to get the best black and white image I can, I use Tri-X, or its coy Freestyle lookalike. 'Prints' made from BW400CN at the minilab I take to be a humorous parody of an actual B&W print. While the film can produce a decent low contrast portrait, especially of high-key type, it takes some work in curves to give most images any punch.
  28. Larry,
    I think I may have read book you wrote. You would not by chance be an author would you.
    As for the C41 black and white I think I will use up what I have and then go back to Tmax and Tri-x
  29. That is the other Larry Dressler. Sorry it was not me.
  30. C41 B&W film works very well for learning how to load stainless steel reels. When I needed to sacrifice a roll to teach someone how to load a reel with film, I chose C41 B&W. I haven't tried to do anything else with it yet.
  31. Well, I for one am very happy with the Kodak BW400 Professional - I've used it exclusively for quite a few years now, establishing a workflow where I get 4x6 inch proofs and do my own scanning on a Nikon Coolscan. Not much experience with darkroom printing, but I've been very happy with printing the scans. When posted here, people seem to praise the tonality of my pictures. FWIW :)

  32. Great image Soeren.. Truly awsome...
  33. On one hand Soeren, that is a fantastic image. On the other hand - and I don't mean to take away the comliment by saying this - if one looks hard enough one could find fantastic images shot with all films, especially if it's going through that camera and lens.
    Oh, and darkroom printing ... I've never tried to print C41BW in the darkroom. I do regularly make BW prints from colour negatives though, and I don't have any problems. My exposure time is very long, but it works well. I think an 8x8 at f/8 or f/11 from a 120 neg usually takes 45 seconds to 2 minutes to print. However, I use graded papers. It's very possible that using a film with a coloured base, along with a coloured filter, causes problems.
  34. Another really nice image, Soeren!
    I love Kodak's version, BW400CN, for the sort of landscapes that I do, and for my workflow: shooting film and scanning with a Coolscan for digital printing. Seems to print beautifully with a nice smooth look, and contrast is easily adjusted to appropriateness or taste. I've had no discernible problems with "color casts", etc., and the few images I've displayed in a local gallery received very favorable comments from experienced people, including a college level teacher of photography that still regularly works in the traditional darkroom.
    Ansel Adams seemed to be very open towards these films. From John P. Schaefer's Ansel Adam's Guide, Basic Techniques of Photography, Ansel says, "... Chromogenic films are an intriguing alternative to traditional black-and-white films and are worth exploring..." He mentions how the highlights in chromogenics "... do not "block up" as they do in traditional b&w films..." He also mentions that they are excellent for "subjects that have an extended brightness range..", and more. Nothing negative (pun intended), except a little about concern for stability and life expectancy of the neg's., but he seemed to say that proper storage might well off-set this.
    Of course a few decades have passed, but I thought this was quite interesting...
  35. I like the Kodak 400 Black and White C-41 film. It scans well and has fine grain. It is more difficult to print to black and white paper in the darkroom, but I find that if I add a good amount of contrast filtration the results can be good. Here is one image I took a few years ago and scanned at home:
  36. I enjoy the occasional use of Ilford's XP2, which is easy to print in a home darkroom. Kodak's C-41 film is nice too but if you want to print it at home you might just as well shoot color film and print it as B&W.
  37. I'm having great results with XP2.

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