Plus - X versus XP2super - sharpness

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by mark_wilhelm, Mar 23, 2003.

  1. I'm interested in people photography and have been using 400TX in
    medium format. However, I prefer less grain that what Tri-X offers
    in 35mm format. For an 8x12 enlargement using very sharp glass
    (100mm apo-macro Elmarit), which emulsion - Plus-X or XP2 - would
    likely yield a sharper image? I suspect that XP2 would win in the
    tight grain department, although the grain of Plus-X can be appealing
    as is its overall tonality for portrait photography. Thanks.
  2. You're not going to find Plus-X to be that much sharper than the newer incarnations of Tri-X, and XP2 is on the opposite end of the tonality scale.

    If you do your own B/W processing, I'd suggest starting with other films like TMX 100 or Acros 100 if you want finer grain. XP2 has a totally different character comapred to conventional B/W films, and you'll either love it or hate it.
  3. Give Ilford FP4 Plus a try. It's a great film.
  4. XP2 has about the finest grain you can get on a B&W film. However it is not the sharpest film around.
    TRI-X will have a lot more noticable grain and a puchier sharper look.
  5. Without wanting to sound trite, I suggest that you buy a few rolls of each and take the sort of shots you normally do. If you ask an open ended question like this on a forum you'll get a lot of answers which may or may not be grounded in experience but which are guaranteed not to be relevent to your situation.

    Photographers differ a great deal, which is why there's space in the market place for so many films. I spent a lot of time trying out films that other people recommended, which was good, but in the end I had to test the stuff myself to find out what suited me best. I finally settled on HP5 in Aculux because I found I could get the sort of negatives that suited me and which I could blow up to 16x20 off a 35mm frame. If I was still doing B/W I'd start in again with that combination but that doesn't mean it would suit you.
  6. The problem is film speed. With the slower sharper film, you have the potential of a sharper image. Unfortunately, you'll typically use slower shutter speeds, negating the benefit. Personally, I prefer a sharp shot with a bit of grain, vs. a soft shot with less grain. If you're on a tripod, go for the slower film. Also, investigate different developers. Try two, something solvent that minimizes grain, and something non-solvent that keeps it sharp. You may be surprised which you prefer. The XP2 will win in the grain department, if you like that "look".
  7. Gareth put his finger on the problem I think you have. You are equating sharpness with fine grain. But they are not necessarily a combination found together. XP2 is very fine grain, as are the Kodak equivalents Portra and TC400. But they aren't that sharp, especially noticable in 35mm. If your 'people' photography is studio based the slower speed of Plus X will give very sharp and fine results. But for 'street' photography of people 400 ASA is what you need. I think you need to experiment with film and developer combinations around that ASA range. For instance 400TMX is finer grain than Tri-X, but you may need a developer that gives you more acutance, starting probably with D76 1+1.

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