Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by andrew_nossol, May 16, 2015.
Whats the best film you've ever shot.
I loved the long tonal range, high sharpness and fine grain of Kodak Verichrome Pan, normally rated at ASA 125, but really lovely at ASA 400 when developed in Edwal FG7. But those days are gone.
To me, it's a toolkit, and selecting a favorite would be like selecting a hammer vs. a screwdriver as a favorite tool. As a teenager with my first real camera and no budget, I mostly used Tri-X, and liked that. Kodachrome 25 was lovely, probably what I most enjoyed using, but the furthest thing from my favorite in low light or without a tripod. I thought Fuji's NPZ 800 was amazing for its speed and color. But each of these three served a different purpose.
Another vote for Provia 100.
Color - Kodachrome (no longer produced), B&W - Plus-X (no longer produced)
Difficult question: among currently produced films I would choose Tri-X for black & white and Portra 160 for color.
If out of production film is counted the list is longer: Black & white: Panatomic-X, Color print- Kodak Ektar 25 and Fuji Reala, for K14 color slide- Kodachrome 25, E6 slide Fuji RD 100, for E4 color slide- Fuji R100.
Pantaomic X was the best B&W I ever used, Tri-X the most useful by far. I've shot miles of it. Color film? Portra for negs, Kodachrome for slides. If I had to pick only one? Tri-X, hands down.
Medium format Kodak Tmax 100 processed as a transparency by the Kodak kit, not the Dr.5 process. And medium format
Professional Kodachrome 64.
Both the reverse process Kodak Tmax kit and the medium format PKR are long gone.
50-speed Velvia has always been my favorite for color slides. I only dabble in color negative and B+W, so no favorites there, but they're all fun to try.
Scala, Astia, HP5+ - toss a (three-sided) coin...
Although not used much, regretfully, Kodak Technical Pan film.
Dont know if it is the best, but I liked it most: Fuji Reala.
Panatomic-X in Diafine was my favorite for years, starting from about 7th grade.
About the time I could afford color, E6 Ektachrome came out, and so ER. (And with a 283 flash, so I could use it indoors.)
After my son was born, and I was doing more color negatives, VPS (Vericolor III), probably not so different from Portra !60. I first found out about VPS when I needed to copy some prints, and the local camera store told me about it. Otherwise, I might have worried that I needed to keep it cold all the time. I like the natural, not too bright, colors.
Kodachrome 25 (but I didn't care so much for 64).
Older Tri-X, before the emulsion change toward
more sensitizing dyes.
T-Max 400 for push processing in Microphen.
Tri-X in Rodinal, and Porta 160NC for portraits.
For news and sports, Tri-X was king. T-Max wasn't without its charms, but Tri-X, in most developers, was the best.
For shooting the American West, no film gave me the tonal values I wanted the way Verichrome Pan did.
I was always a fan of FP4+ in my closing days of black and white film use. Although I suppose I wouldn't go back, I often look back fondly on my days of obsessing over film/developer combinations and printing technique. There's something about the tactile experience of agitating reels of black and white in a tank and anxiously awaiting the results. In color, I loved Velvia and Fuji print films in general for their latitude. Strange how I love the ease of digital but miss film so much.
As a photographer of railway subjects, Kodachrome II, and later Kodachrome 25. Still use colour slide film however the market has declined; now it's Provia, and at that perhaps a roll every four to eight week. Reliable post-exposure film processing is the biggest problem these days. Canada has limited reliable resources; my last two rolls were processed as C-41; all the packaging states it was E-6 process however the technicians being none too bright felt they knew better. It all makes one want to stop doing photography of anything. For digital rendering would never do, itis not the same, to me and many others.
I have to throw in a vote for Ilford HP 5 120.
I'm a long-time Velvia 50 fan. However, the more I shoot Provia 100, I may have to change my mind. Provia has very good saturation, and doesn't make people look like Martians.
But the best shots of my favorite subject matter (landscapes, artistic color blocks) are always going to look best in Velvia.
I keep two bodies with me on a good outing, one loaded with Velvia and a wide and normal lens handy, and Provia with a tele and normal lens handy.
I really loved Kodachrome 200 Professional, given a fresh roll dead-on in color balance. A pastel version of Kodachrome 25.
"Best film" is 35mm! Okay - just trying a bit of humor. My faves are Kodak Tri-x usually processed in Acufine! I shot a few thousand rolls for press work and it was terrific to work with! However, Agfa APX 25 & 100 processed in Rodinal totally pleases me with the tonal range and fine grain. I still shoot these from Minox to P67 and they still rock after decades!
For me, hands down it was Verichrome Pan. Still is actually since I have about 50 rolls in the freezer. Every time, I pull a
just-processed roll out of the tank and the film looks luminescent. Such a wide range of lovely tones, I'm never
disappointed. It was a sad day when it was discontinued!
I usually use FP4+ but I have recently been using Agfa APX100 in 35mm size as I got a good deal on some. It is very nice in my opinion.
I liked all of the ones I have tried. There is no film I will not try. I always liked Kodak's specialty films but not there consumer film. Too neutral for my taste. I always liked Fuji. There consumer film always had punchy colors and still does compared to kodak's consumer film. I have bags of expired film in the fridge. I have Kodak HD, T 64, Konica centuria, Fuji t 64, Fuji 800 z, Scala, many types of slide film, Kodak HIE black and white. Here is a link to a place that sells film.
In slide films:
Fuji Provia 400X - really wonderful rendition, limited grain for a 400 speed film. I still have a few rolls left.
Fuji Astia - best skin rendition ever. Provia is almost as nice, but a little bluish for me. I use skylight filters or the Tiffen 812 warming filter to compensate.
Kodachrome 200 - great stuff! K64 was a bit dull in comparison. K25 had very high contrast - needed fill flash outdoors if the sun was out.
Color negative - I'm favoring Kodak Portra 160 for accurate skin tones again. I've just started trying a roll of Portra 400, so no idea about it yet.
Fuji Reala was also excellent and inexpensive in the day.
B&W: Ilford XP-2. I don't want to spend forever dealing with dust spots on a scan when I can use ICE on the scanner.
Just a bit of full disclosure - Kodak is NOT paying me to say this...
When Kodak came out with the "New and Improved" TMY, our lab had access to early pre-release rolls. I instantly shot several rolls at different speeds and developed in different developers. All had incredibly fine grain, high resolution, great shadow and highlight detail. And they all printed in the darkroom with considerably less effort than any other film.
But the point where I was converted was the roll shot at 3200 and developed in T-Max developer. The grain looked more like Plus-X than a high speed film. Shot at 400 the film had that delicate, clear base I associated with Panatomic X, my favorite among defunct films.
i still find it ironic that Kodak came out with what is arguably their best black and white film since Tri-X and Pan-X at a time when film was going the way of the dinosaurs.
First, define "best" -- it all depends on what kind of pictures you want to take, under what circumstances.
Since this thread is in the Color Negative category, I suppose that color negative film is what you're looking for. This is an old thread though, so if I sneak in more than that, I hope nobody will object.
I used to get good results with Kodak Max 400 and Max 800 (and, years ago, with Kodacolor). Yeah, it was ordinary consumer-grade film, but it worked just fine, even under less than optimum circumstances. Kodak Alaris, the company that bought out Kodak's film business, is still producing some color print films these days -- Kodak Portra 160 for smooth skin tones in portrait photography, and Ektar 100 for fine grain, high sharpness and vivid color when shooting in bright daylight. People seem to like Portra 160 a lot.
Of course, color negative film is only one subset of photographic film. If what you are after is a putative "best" film, that concept is much broader than just color negative film.
If what you want are color slides, that ship has sailed. Kodachrome was so good that Paul Simon even wrote a song about it, but that was "back in the day" and it hasn't been available since 2009. Ektachrome was faster, but the color just wasn't as good. Fuji Velvia is still around, and people speak well of it, but if you are shooting for presentation or projection these days, you're probably shooting digital rather than film.
If what you want to take are action photos, without too much blurring, while shooting in dim available light (dawn, dusk, nighttime, indoors), and you don't mind some grain in your photos, then a fast B/W film would be the best. I used to use Kodak 2475 Recording film, which hasn't been made since 2000, and later on Kodak T-Max 3200, which was discontinued in 2012. Ilford Delta 3200 is apparently still avialable. Kodak Tri-X, normally rated at ISO 400, can be "push processed" to the equivalent of ISO 800 or 1600 by leaving it in the developer for a longer period of time; tech sheets (Kodak F-4017) or online manuals can provide the specifics of chemicals, temperatures and times for this purpose.
If what you want are artistic-looking B/W photos with a fairly rich range of tones, high sharpness, and little or no grain even if enlarged a good deal, you either plan to shoot in daylight or intend to use a tripod, and you have access to a good pro lab or have the equipment to control developing temperatures and times precisely, then a slow B/W film would be the best. I used to use Kodak Panatomic-X, but it hasn't been made since 1987 -- there were environmental problems with some of the chemicals required to make it. Kodak Plus-X hasn't been made since 2011. Kodak T-Max 100 is still in production and can produce excellent results, though it can be finicky about careful control of temperatures and times during development -- let the developer temperature get a little too warm, or leave it in the developer a little too long, and you might end up with blocked highlights. Ilford Delta 100 and Ilford Pan F also have good reputations, though I haven't yet used either one. Failing any of those, you might try "pull processing" Kodak Tri-X by overexposing and underdeveloping it, or "expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights" as the old saying went -- again, look for tech sheets or online guides.
Are any of those really the "best"?
Ah, but if what you want is a highly versatile, all-around, wide-latitude, indestructible, "bulletproof" B/W film that can be used under all sorts of different lighting conditions, underexposed in dim available light and push-processed to drag images out of the murk, overexposed in bright light and underdeveloped to keep the highlights from blocking up, souped in a wide variety of different developers, developed under lousy field conditions, a "takes a licking but keeps on ticking" kind of film that can be abused and mistreated abominably and still deliver usable results, then nothing, I mean NOTHING, beats Kodak Tri-X. Ilford HP-5 has its adherents, and I have nothing bad to say about it, but Tri-X, introduced as sheet film in 1940 and as 35mm film in 1954 and still in production more than 60 years later, is just legendary. Even its re-engineering in 2007 didn't ruin it. Kinda grainy (especially when pushed), not the ultimate in sharpness or tonality, but such a hardy survivor as to be almost mythical. If there was ever a film that was "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings at a single bound," that film was, and still is, Tri-X.
For me, it depends on the size. For 35mm, it's Agfa APX100, in 120 size, it's Fujifilm Acros and in 5x4 it's Ilford Delta 100.
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