What Black and White Film is Best For Macro Photography?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by jonpaul_hills, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. I have a Canon AE-1 and I really want to get ahold of some macro bellows and try out macro photography. I was looking around and it seems like the best option for film would be something with fine grain, and good contrast. Right now it's looking like I'm going to try some Ilford Pan F-50, a film a shoot landscapes with. I like this film for its fine grain. I know very little about macro photography with bellows, so does anybody know if this film would work well? Also, is there an equation or way to find out how much I will have to compensate for light loss with the extension of the bellows? And is there an equation or way to figure out how much you have to extend the bellows in order to get true 1:1 macro magnification?
    Thanks for the time everybody!
    JonPaul Hills
  2. SCL


    JonPaul - you might start by reading the macro learning section above. I just sold a terrific Canon macro bellows set designed for the FD series camera bodies (the AE-1 is part of this series). Most new bellows come with an extension factor scale which is used to compute magnification and exposure compensation (not counting reciprocity effects however fro long exposures) as well as a dual cable release which allows you to focus with your diaphragm wide open (making for a reasonably bright image) and then stopping down to the desired f stop at the moment of exposure. Having said all that there are easier and less expensive ways to go...the first two ideas are an additional diopter lens which goes on the front of your regular lens (cheap and effective...but not a flat field), second is with extension tubes (provide fixed magnification ratioos rather than variable like a bellows). The third is using a lens specifically designed for macro work, such as the very good Canon 50mm f3.5...which used alone will go to 1:2, and with the 25mm extension ring down to 1:1. Tamron makes an excellent 90mm macro lens and then there is the super duper Kiron 105mm f2.8 in the Canon FD mount which goes from infinity to 1:1 with a quite flat field. Your camera in the A mode takes care of all the adjustments so you don't need to do any calculations. As far as B&W films go, you can use any film you want...I've been using Tri-X & Plus-x for over 50 years for macro and micro B&W work. Generally slower films used with the proper developers produce the finest grain, but contrast also plays an important role in how the pictures look....I would suggest if you want really fine grain, use a chromogenic film like XP-2, as they have no grain and have good contrast. Good luck...macro is a lot of fun. BTW a tripod and focusing rail (often included with a bellows set) make macro work much easier, as the depth of field is often fractions of a millimeter. I've certainly done lots handheld, but the tripod makes things a lot more certain.
  3. For B&W I say use TMX or some type of microfilm AND HAVE BRIGHT LIGHTS... :)
  4. Check out the books on this guy's page (scroll down a bit). Most of these are older books which deal with film photograhy, and manual exposure compensation. It sounds like you want to read about those topics.

    I've used the first, second, and fifth books on his list. The first one, Blaker's Field and Nature Photography, taught me how to shoot close-up and macro in about 1980. It's a good book, even now, and you can find a copy in your library or on ebay. There's a few of us old guys here who are Blaker fans.
    Blaker used a lot of slow high-resolution film for his scientific work, essentially microfilm, but he was an advocate of hand-held close-up flash technique. You can use any film you want if you're holding a flash close to the subject-- Larry's TMX is a great choice-- but close-up flash is a little capricious, and it may not give you exactly the results you want.
    If you're using outdoor available light, you may need a windless day with still air. Consider a fast-ish fine-grained film like TMY or Ilford's XP2-- and a decent tripod.
  5. A ring light on the front of the lens.... I have seen newer LED setups that are great and you make them at home....
  6. Les they are sold now.... I would put a diffuser on them but I have not seen them with a color correction factor... I think that is why most are still home built... They seem too cold and blue to me just to the eye....
  7. If you are on a tripod then Pan F will probably work well. I find that tripods are often cumbersome for some Macro shots. Handheld I recommend Tmax 400 which has very fine grain and can give you a true 400 ISO on occasion.
  8. I recently did some Macro/Micro hand held. I was using Neopan 400 at 800 because you can't hand hold it if you are using bellows ..... I was using a lens that close focused.... you want bellows.. Panf is lower res and higher grain than TMY if you want Ilford use the Delta 100 it is better but Ilford keeps selling PanF because it has the same thing we all like... Tradition....
  9. Maybe Macro film! Just kidding.
    Agree with Larry, a T-grained film like Kodak TMX (100 ASA) or Ilford's Delta 100. I also think a film like Ilford's Pan-F Plus would be a good choice.
    Good luck and have fun with your photography.
    Happy Holidays!
  10. I've gotten good results with Fuji Acros 100.
  11. I would 2nd Fuji Acros. Many report that this and Tmax 100 have replaced Pan-F in terms of sharpness and low grain. Pan-F is very contrasty, probably contrastier than the other 2. While I've liked the chromogenic films for portraits, I don't feel that they offer the sharpness of silver films.
  12. Thanks for the tips everybody!
  13. Les...You may be referring to the Nichia T-1 3/4 LEDs that are common at hobby and craft stores. Those with the dome lens will make a tight beam pattern which make for a bright spot. Various electronic component suppliers have a greater selection of more suitable LEDs. Many surface mount high brightness LEDs have a 120 degree dispersal pattern with no hot spots formed by lenses. Great variety of color tints known as "binning" can get very warm white light like tungsten, natural white kind of in-between, and degrees of cooler whites. Surface mount LEDs take a higher degree of skill to work with, but they can be ideal for ring light construction.
  14. ^ A good diffuser and figuring out the color correction is the answer to LED Lighting... Let me know when it is figured out.. I have other problems first.

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