Please suggest a contrasty B/W film for street and portraits...

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by cimino55, Nov 16, 2005.

  1. Hello everyone,

    I shoot Contax 645, and I am looking for a high contrast black
    and white film for street photography and portraits. I will be using
    this film in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania on assignment. I am
    looking for 320-400 ASA film. I currently use Tri-X, but want to test
    a few film choices out before I leave. I'm looking at:

    Ilford Delta 400

    Ilford HP5+

    TXP 320

    Any suggestions?

    I will be sending the film to my professional lab and discuss with
    them the best way to develop the film.
  2. Contrast in the neg is controlled by development. It helps to think through all the way from exposure to printing. But if you want a film with inherently low base fog and is fabulous for portraits, try Pan F+. Might be slow for street use ...
  3. Contrast is primarily a function of development, and to a certain extent, exposure. If you shoot slightly faster than the film is rated and develop for a little extra time, the results will be higher in contrast than if you shot and developed at a standard time. Basicaly what is happening is that you are compressing the tonal range of the film.

    - Randy
  4. If your having a lab do the processing, might want to throw Ilford XP2-Super into the mix as well. It's C41 film. It's rated at 400 but can be shot at 200, 250, 320 with very nice contrast. Just a thought.
  5. Fuji Neopan 400
  6. Adam - when you refer to high contrast, are you thinking of low light shots with deep blacks? If so, that's caused by under-exposing the film and push processing to bring out the highlights. You get the dark tones, though, because you lose shadow detail.

    If that's not what you meant, then "never mind."

  7. Try either TMX, if you can manage to work with a slower film, or TMY for more convenient handheld use. T-Max films - TMX in particular - have a distinctive look that I like for certain applications, such as landscapes and architecture.

    Without getting into a debate over the differences between contrast and density (which is, admittedly, confusing - even Kodak uses these terms interchangeably in their website glossary), T-Max films can give the impression of greater contrast, which translates well to most variable contrast papers.

    In fact, I used to find TMX a bit difficult to manage when exposed in very contrasty lighting (typical sunny summer day during the midday hours). I had all the shadow and highlight detail I wanted, but it was difficult to print. I switched from ID-11 (D-76) to Microphen and got negatives that were much easier to print without sacrificing that distinctive look of TMX.

    If your lab will develop in Xtol or DDX (it's less likely they'll be using a developer that has to be mixed from powder, like Microphen), you can safely expose at 100. If they're using something other than a developer that helps maintain speed, you might do better to rate the film at 64 or 80. TMX has virtually no grain when processed in most developers.

    TMY can safely be exposed right at 400 in any developer I've tried (including Rodinal). In an acutance developer like Rodinal the negatives will have a tight, sharp salt-and-pepper grain that's mostly visible in expanses of similar tones, such as skies and light skin. Choose another developer for less visible grain. FWIW, I routinely push TMY to 1600 and develop in Microphen, so Microphen has become one of my favorites for normal development and pushing. DDX might do as well.
  8. If you have enough light I say go for Ilford Pan F+. I've shot about 25 rolls of it the past couple months in my RZ67 all in the street. Contrasty for sure. I develop myself so I'm not sure how a lab will handle this film. Otherwise like the others have said just tell the lab you want extra contrast and they should be able to extend out the development I suppose.
  9. Why do people always want to change films when they go on a trip? You don't have to
    anything out of the ordinary....

    Use Tri-X. Take an Orange Filter with you. Practice with the Filter if you have never used
    one before. If the Filter isn't enough, you can get all the contrast you need in printing
    without ruining your Negs.
  10. db1


    What kind of developer does your lab use? Find that out and then we can help a bit more.
  11. My lab can use whichever developer I prefer. I'm looking for that documentary style Salagado look.
  12. I think a lot of Salgado's work is a testament to the excellent printers he uses. Don't leave the post-exposure manipulations out of the picture!
  13. I believe Salgado uses Rodinal, and probably Tri-X. Try HP5 or Tri-X and push to 1250 ASA. If the light is too bright use an orange filter.
  14. TMax 400 is a nice one to work with. TriX has less grain and a distinctive 'look' if that helps. Easiest way is to pick two films and shoot a few rolls of each & see which works best for you.

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