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Thread: What speed 4x5 film for newbie?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Boston area

    What speed 4x5 film for newbie?

    I am about to order some 4x5 b&w film and I am curious as to what speed I should be using while learning. I already developed some Ilford 400 but have yet to do any contact prints.

  2. #2
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Maryland, USA

    Lightbulb Re: What speed 4x5 film for newbie?

    I only shoot 100-speed film (including Ilford FP4+), and generally only b&w with a bit of color transparency.

    My emphasis is on image quality. 100-speed film can be much better than 400-speed or faster.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2015

    Re: What speed 4x5 film for newbie?

    IMO, I'd recommend Freestyle's Arista.EDU for learning mainly because it's inexpensive, and it's a decent film (rebranded Foma film last I knew.) Buy a bunch and shoot a lot!

  4. #4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Winona, Minnesota

    Re: What speed 4x5 film for newbie?

    ISO 100 is a great start. Your work is likely to be on a tripod. A faster speed is not necessary unless your subject blurs, then consider faster film, wider aperture. In other words, it depends.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    North Dakota

    Re: What speed 4x5 film for newbie?

    To quote from The Film Developing Cookbook: "Ilford FP4 is a film to judge all others by". May not be exact but that is basically what it says. Don't have the book with me to make sure of each word.
    I tend to procrastinate on stuff. One of these days I'll do something about it.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2015
    SooooCal/LA USA

    Re: What speed 4x5 film for newbie?

    There's only a stop or two difference between the EI (working speed) of the next highest film, so speed does not make too much difference, grain is not much of an issue with normal sized enlargements, but the main difference will be tonal rendition between different speed or makes of film... One type might render the subjects you normally shoot and under the typical light in your locale to your preference... Some films/processing might have a slightly higher/lower key bias in the midtones (depending on situation), so consider...

    Exotic films will not give exotic results, just different processes/exposures will produce slightly different renderings, so as suggested, start with one available/affordable film and stick with it, as it will give you results, and you can learn it's range of possibilities... (Don't "machine gun" different brands/types of films expecting a "magic bullet"...) The best results come from thorough experience/testing of your materials/process... All films can give great results once you get a feel for them...

    Steve K

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jul 2016

    Re: What speed 4x5 film for newbie?

    Agreed. No “machine gun.” I made that mistake. Pick a film and shoot it till it‘s clear you NEED something else.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Dunedin,Otago,New Zealand

    Re: What speed 4x5 film for newbie?

    My vote for a 400 speed film. Given you will likely be using the F16 to F22 aperture range in daylight situations,why further limit the slow shutter speeds available? There are other factors like tripod stability (try the glass of water test),and consider the effect of wind movement. If you can overcome these,the quality of your results should leave you wondering if the subtle (?) increase in acutance, and lower granularity in the 100 speed emulsions is worth the 2 stop loss. If I had people in my images, it would be 400 ( probably rated 200,but that's another discussion), every time.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Re: What speed 4x5 film for newbie?

    Taking pictures of people and/or going handheld with a press camera – ISO 400.
    Tripod-mounted, generally static scenes – ISO 100.
    Sticking with a well-known classic film like Ilford FP4+ makes it easier to find specific information for a wide range of developers, agitation regimes etc.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Sheridan, Colorado

    Re: What speed 4x5 film for newbie?

    In summary, you are on your own.

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