Kodak vs. Ilford film characteristics

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by amy_c|1, Aug 7, 2005.

  1. I would greatly appreciate any information on the differences
    between Kodak and Ilford B&W films (e.g. tones, contrast, etc.) --
    particularly for 100 speed films.

  2. In terms of fine grain, the best 100 speed b/w film is Ilford Delta 100 in my opinion. Don't know much about Kodak b/w films, their only b/w film I use reguarly is Tri-x, but that's a 400 speed film. I have used Kodak T-max 100, but I didn't like it. When it comes to b/w, apart from Tri-X, I stick with Ilford. Delta 400 is lovely as well, very fine grain for a 400 speed film.
  3. Unless somebody has done a controlled side by side test, everything you read here is subject to all sorts of biases, my comments included. Your best bet is to shoot them. The films, not the people commenting. That said, you really have two type of 100ish speed films, traditional and t-grain (or whatever Ilford calls their Delta series). IMO, the traditional Plus-X and FP4+ are similar, though not identical. FP4+ doesn't look good for most people unless downrated to an EI of about 64. Plus-X seems to do better at rated speed of 125, so maybe it's a bit faster. The grain of FP4+ is a bit more noticable, and I don't think it scans well with normal processing. Haven't tried scanning Plus-X, but suspect it's a bit better. Though both are extremely sharp, I get a bit more "edge" from FP4+. I'm guessing that Plus-X incorporates every anti-halation method known to man, and it gives a uniform result regardless of conditions. FP4+ (maybe) allows for more creative accidents. FWIW, I use FP4+ for just about everything. For the t-grain films, I've never used Ilfords Delta series, so can't comment on those. Reports here are generally favorable. The Kodak product, TMX, has been controversial. It has a reputation for being finicky about both exposure and processing. It reproduces colors a bit differently than other films. After fooling with it for almost a decade, I nearly gave up B&W photography, thinking I had lost any slight skill I once had. If you practice, you can learn its tonal signature and identify most photos taken with it by their slightly depressed midtones and less graduated highlights. Turns out it doesn't have to be that way, and the secret is in the processing. TMX can produce nearly grain free images with high apparent sharpness and lots of "pop", but you have to be willing to buy specific developers, or mix your own from scratch. IMO, a beginner should start with traditional films, and probably a faster film like Tri-X (processed in D-76). After using that very forgiving combination for a while, and if the subjects are suitable, the 100 speed films should be the next added to the kit. Though by no means the final word on the subject, you might want to pick up a copy of The Film Development Cookbook by Anchell & Troop. It covers film technology quite well, though it would certainly be nice if they updated it with info on the less well known films now becoming popular, due to the uncertainty in the supply of the larger brands. That's my take- let the flames ignite!
  4. Conrad, I've used T-Max Developer for TMX and gotten very good results, which I'm not surprised at, since Kodak developed T-Max Developer specifically to process TMX. Do you have some other specialized developer in mind for processing TMX? Bob
  5. I use both of these films and love them both. But I must say for the 100 speed group I have to give it to Delta 100 is the benchmark. Delta 100 in Xtol 1:1 at 20 degree celsius, 10.5 minutes gives very fine grain, good sharpness, and nice tones. On the other hand don't let TMax 100 fool you. I've have seen some very nice 20X30 prints from TMax 100 taken with 35mm that are out of this world:)I use Mircodol-X and Xtol for both of these films and shooting most 120 and 4x5. Shoot them both and see what works for you. That will be the best way to make your choice.
  6. Hi Robert- I hesitate to knock anything that people may be happy with, so anybody listening please understand that what works for me may not be a universally applied generalization. My experience with TMX was that in spite of its great resolution numbers, prints just didn't have good apparent sharpness. They didn't have impact or "pop", as some would call it. My highlight graduation was always terrible. In TFDC, they quoted Crawley as saying that a developer that produced too fine a grain, gave too much light scattering, destroying edge contrast (pg 61). That's been my experience. Developers like D-76 and Xtol work ok, but don't give me anything exceptional. I thought I was getting pretty good results with Xtol 1:3, but the highlight control was really the result of an early shoulder and low Dmax. It worked, but the exposure latitude was limited and the tonal quality a bit flat. Rodinal, OTHO, gives good impact and tonal quality, but I don't like the grain. It's usable, but TMX is capable of so much better. Why use a t-grain film to get regular film performance? There was some speculation about whether TMax developer was really designed for TMX and TMY, and I have my doubts. IMO, they needed a name and product family, and the future was TMAX, so that's the name it got. It's a developer specifically recommended for push processing, not super fine grain, and it probably does a good job with TMX for that reason. I do remember trying it, and thinking the highlight problem still wasn't under control. I'm a mix it yourself guy, so my choice is FX-37. I know there is at at least one Paterson developer that is a more advanced formula of FX-37 (FX-39?), and that later Crawley formula should work as well.
  7. Thanks for all of the input, I really appreciate it!

    I think I will go out and take 2 rolls with the same lighting, subject, etc. as an experiment. I have been currently using Ilford Delta 100. It sounds like a good one to try it against is the Kodak TMax 100. Any other suggestions are welcome!
  8. Agfa Agfapan APX 100 is said to be a very nice film, but I have never used it myself, maybe someone else can comment on this film?..
  9. jtk


    The answer to Amy's question might best begin with another question:

    Amy, will you be printing optically or will you be scanning and printing digitally?
  10. I find the Delta 100, to be much less finicky in exposure and development. I once shot them both, side by side, and preferred the tonality and contrast of the Delta. I've been using it ever since then. It soups up very well in X-Tol. However, I have seen some very nice results with T-Max 100.

  11. I mostly shoot Ilford HP5+ at EI 200. Add on a filter and you're exposing as if it were ASA 100 film (or slower).

    HP5 has very nice tones and is very easy to work with. I develop in D76 and control highlights with development time. The grain is quite fine, too. I've printed 16x20 from a 6x6 negative (exposed using a tripod at f16) with excellent results. If I need to print larger, I'll go to 4x5 and stay with HP5.

    The most important factor, to me, is to work with a limited number of films and developers until you really understand their behaviors. Choose a film that has given other folks good results and stick with it.

    Good shooting.
  12. John, I will be printing in the darkroom. Thanks.
  13. I shoot Agfa APX 100 as my 100 speed b/w. APX100 is a traditional style emulsion, with a
    tonal scale that seems to go on forever.

    Developed in Rodinal 1:25 or 1:50 is has a glow to it that is quite stunning, while
    remaining very sharp with nice, fine grain.

    In the past I shot a lot of Plus-X, which is also very good, and has a little more contrast
    than APX100.

    Here is a sample.


    APX100 in Rodinal 1:25. Shot with a Leica M2 and 1.4/35 Summilux ASPH (f16@1/125th)
    You can pretty much read the type on the sign next to the staircase.
  14. I use Ilford mostly, but also like Tri-X. I mostly shoot HP5 and Pan F. I like both of these films a lot. HP5 is versatile and can produce many "looks" I like Pan F developed on the sharp side. I've never shot as much FP4, but just hot a little earlier. It seems to have some real potential. The Film Developing Cookbook is a nice reference, but I question the books recommended developing time for FP4. They seem a bit short for FP4. The first roll I did was night right and didn't print. I started going with Ilford's times and my negatives looked better. Don't know what happened there, because the book has been a good resource for me.
  15. Neil, the book is quite old and most manufacturers changed emulsion or support after it was written.
  16. Amy

    You may also like to try Fuji's Acros 100. Very nice film, with lovely tones and little grain. Another that I like is Efke 100, and for very slow speed the Efke 25 is very nice.

    I've just tried my first roll of Delta, dev'ed in Rodinal 1+50 and that looks gorgeous.

  17. Bruno,
    Film Developers Cookbook I have came out in 1998. When was the last time Ilford changed FP4? There is no mention of FP4 in the 'errata' section of Anchell's website.
  18. Specifically, you've got 4 different films within the Kodak vs. Ilford ISO 100 contest;
    Plux X vs. FP4+ and Tmax100 vs. Delta 100. PlusX vs FP4+ are rated at ISO125 and
    the other 2 are rated at ISO100. The first 2 are older style silver grained and the latter
    2 are tabular grained newer technology. All 4 films offer different results depending
    on your use and developer. Both Kodak and Ilford offer a lot of pertinent info and
    technical specs on their websites. Many will opine further and yes there are other,
    really good B&W ISO100 films available as well. I have used several with truly
    excellent results, but I recommend buying several rolls of one choice and
    experimenting on your own.
  19. Here are two more bits.

    1) T grain or "new technology" films have a compressed rendering of mid-tones, and (IMHO) are better for landscapes or architecture than for portraiture.

    2) Although Delta 100 is rated at 100 and can be shot at 100, try rating it at 50 and developing in Rodinal 1:50. Outstanding!

    Good shooting.

    /s/ David Beal ** Memories Preserved Photography LLC
  20. I use Ilford Delta 100 almost exclusively rating it at 50 ASA and devving in Rodinal 1:50, 20 C, 8 minutes. Line Conrad, I have tried TMX but somehow the promise of the numbers didn't translate into the print.

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