View Full Version : favorite b/w film?

3-Feb-2005, 23:36
Hi All,

I'm very interested in your choice of B&W film when shooting in a low contrast or a high contrast scene.

Of course, there's always the push and pull approach for any given film (with the additional reduce or increase in processing etc.), but as a relative youngster in 4x5 I was wondering... is there a favorite film for the above mentioned condition?



Dave Moeller
4-Feb-2005, 01:31

I'm a big fan of Efke 100 for just about any scene. It's a little more expensive than "bargain basement" priced films (and a little less expensive than yellow box films), but it expands and contracts beautifully, and developed in Pyrocat-HD it gives me truly beatiful negatives. I've been using it exclusively in 8x10 for about the last eight months and have never lost a shot due to a problem with development control.

As soon as J&C have it back in stock in 120 (it's been out of stock for a month or more) I'll be ordering in in everything from 35mm up to 4x5. I think it'll probably become my normal film for almost everything.

I have tried, and do like, Efke 25 for low contrast scenes, but it's been useless for me for high contrast. I've been unable to tame it for those scenes. (This is probably more a fault of the photographer than the film.)

In 4x5 I've had pretty good luck with Fuji Acros in a variety of lighting conditions, but the cost of the film, the limited number of places from which you can purchase it in loose sheets (as opposed to QuickLoads), and that dratted hole in the corner of the image area that seems to be for hang-drying the negatives have kept me from making this my regular film. It's a shame, really, because it's a pretty astounding performer for a modern film and I like the look of it a lot. Developed in Rodinal 1+50 I've gotten great results with it.

If you haven't done so, give the Efke 100 a try. For me at least, it's the most versatile and cost-effective film I've used.

Good luck in your quest.

Jay DeFehr
4-Feb-2005, 02:44

I need as much speed as I can get, so my favorite film for both high and low contrast scenes is Forte 400/ J&C Classic 400/ Arista Edu 400. I think that it's the best overall film available, if you include price as a parameter. If price is no object, I think that Kodak TMY 400 is the best film made.


Donald Qualls
4-Feb-2005, 04:09
I'll second Jay on TMY -- it's currently the only B&W film I use in 120, though I have a couple cameras for which ISO 400 is too fast (old box cameras). Unfortunately, TMY isn't available (AFAIK) in 9x12 cm size, and if it were, would be priced out of my range, least twice what I pay for Fomapan 100. Tri-X Professional (320TXP) is available in my size, but moderately hard to come by and still far out of my comfort range on price.

The only sheet films I currently have on hand are some expired TXP that I got for about half price, and Fomapan 100. If I could get Fomapan 400 in sheets like the 100, I'd be a very happy camper; Foma makes quite acceptable film at a good price, but the 100 is the only emulsion they coat and cut in sheet film.

4-Feb-2005, 06:27
Well Dave I wish I had waited a day before ordering Efke 25 last night. I have been wanting to try their film and couldn't make a decision which speed to buy. I'll be shooting some high contrast landscapes, farms; barns and houses. Live and learn.

Walter Foscari
4-Feb-2005, 07:05
Ilford FP4+ in ID11 or Pyrocat-HD: "non plus ultra".


MIke Sherck
4-Feb-2005, 07:05
Kodak's T-max 100 does what I need for at least 95% of what I need it to do. If I were stuck with one film, this would be it. For high contrast situations I develop in T-Max developer. For normal contrast I develop in (fresh) D-76 and for low contrast I go with D-76 for a longer time. I've been using this film for four or five years and I remain extremely impressed. It takes a while to get used to but the learning curve seemed, to me, no steeper than HP-5+ or most other films I've tried. I process up to a dozen sheets at a time, in trays. I don't need no stinkin' Jobo... :)

For 5x7 contact prints I've been experimenting lately with Bergger 200 in Pyro. Extraordinarily nice, I think: I'm still on the learning curve but I like what I see. I'm using Photographer's Formulary's PMK Pyro kit. Next time I'll buy the liquid version. :)


bob carnie
4-Feb-2005, 07:14
Hi Johan

I am a big fan of Tri X film... very good in pyro for overexpose drop development, as well a excellent film to push 2 stops with d76

Kevin M Bourque
4-Feb-2005, 07:22
You should be aware that Efke KB film is not as sensitive to red light as most films. It's like shooting with a blue filter on all the time.

Scott Rosenberg
4-Feb-2005, 07:30
hi johan...

i recently ran some direct tests between across, tmax, fp4+, and hp5+... in all cases, the fp4+ was my favorite. everyone is looking for something different, so i would encourage to test some of the films you are considering - it's really the only way to know which one will sing to you. your favorite film might look terrible to me.

Nick Morris
4-Feb-2005, 07:36
Kodak Tri-X, developed in HC-110.

Robert Musgjerd
4-Feb-2005, 07:51
BPF 200 developed in rollo pyro great for pt &pd printing

Lloyd Lim
4-Feb-2005, 08:33
For 4x5, I use HP5+, dev in Diafine. ISO 800. At this size, grain is not a problem, and ISO 800 is about the fastest possible for sheet film (I think TXP can go to 1000, but I cannot get that where I live)

Mike Chini
4-Feb-2005, 08:42
BPF200 at 100 in ID 11 1:1 for low contrast scenes. For high contrast I like HP5+ in Id11 1:1.

4-Feb-2005, 09:00
For sure the Tri-X...the new formula is perfect. Otherwise the Polaroid 55.
I have used the Tri-X 400 in medium format exposed as iso 1250 and developed in diafine....very nice -smooth.....

4-Feb-2005, 09:18
I like Tri-X.

Ralph Barker
4-Feb-2005, 12:20
I'm another fan of Ilford FP4+ as a general-purpose, medium-speed B&W film for 4x5 and smaller formats. I process it in Ilford's DD-X developer at the standard 1:4 mix, and like the "look" it provides.

Obviously from the range of responses, it's really a matter of personal tastes and preferences, however. As a relative newcomer to 4x5, Johan, you might be better off picking one film that provides the general image characteristics you like (grain, tonality, etc.) and then work on controlling how it handles scenes of different contrast ranges. Experimentation with different films is very productive, but takes a lot of time and a lot of exposures. While it is often helpful to tap into the experience of others in that regard, it's also important to recognize that the responses one gets is a mostly series of other people's personal preferences, not yours.

Dave Moeller
4-Feb-2005, 14:57
I will heartily agree with Ralph...pick one film and stick with it for a while until you "know" it. You'll be much more productive in a shorter period of time than if you pick up multiple films and try to learn how to use them all. I'd also add that you stick with one developer for that one film for a while...keep the number of variables as small as possible when you're learning something new.

Looking through the recommendations in the thread, I personally don't see a bad one here. As Ralph said, you get other people's personal preferences when you ask a question like this...of course, it's impossible for anyone else to tell you what your preference is.

Dave Moeller
4-Feb-2005, 14:59
Chris F.-

Well Dave I wish I had waited a day before ordering Efke 25 last night.
Don't give up just yet...as I said, it could just have been my inability to tame the film. I know people who use Efke 25 as their primary film, and I have to assume that they've learned to deal with it in high contrast situations. I haven't...doesn't mean it can't be done.

Robert Skeoch
4-Feb-2005, 15:28
I'm sure all the films are great but I still like tmax 400, and I can get it at the store down the road. I use the tmax developer also.

Mark Sawyer
4-Feb-2005, 18:48
You know, it would be a lot easier to decide what new film to try if you guys would just get together and make up your minds what to use. Decisions, decisions...

I like Delta 100 and HP5+, but am going to try the Ultrafine equivalents which just arrived...

FWIW, I tried the Arista.edu 200 film in 4x5, and found it very slow (best shot around ISO 50)grainy.

Paul Metcalf
4-Feb-2005, 18:52
Most: what's in my film holders. Least: what I think should be in my film holder but isn't.

4-Feb-2005, 22:58
Thank you All for much appreciated feedback.

Nature Photo
4-Feb-2005, 23:14
1. TMX100 in D76 1:3
2. Trix320
3. Maco IR 820c

Graham Hughes
5-Feb-2005, 00:43
When I finished my camera, the only film available locally was TMX, so I bought some of that and have been working my way through the box. It's not necessarily a bad film, I've gotten some okay shots with it so far, but I don't really like it. FP4 is my favorite in 120 and 35mm, and I have a box of it that I'm going to use after I finish the TMX. There are many, many B&W films I like in 120 or 35mm that are either not available in 4x5, or not available to me in 4x5 (for example, APX 100, Neopan 400, Tri-X 400, etc.), so I'm going to do a lot of FP4 for a while. My list of things to check out does include the Efkes and J&Cs of the world, but later.

David F. Stein
5-Feb-2005, 03:52
To entertain conventional enlarging, contact printing and scanning the 100/125 speed sheet films seem to hold court. Three great emulsions are gone-Agfapan 100 (really a slower film); Plus-X and Ektapan. I felt the way about Plus-X for large format as many do for Tri-X in 35 mm-will never let you done. 2 of my favorites-Efke 100 (b+g NP22) for a hard "bite" and Ilford FP4 for a "softer" bite. Beyond resolution or inherent contrast, each film, I believe, has an intrinsic signature related to the shape and distribution of silver halide crystals. Too uniform and the result is the TMax or Delta films. Great tonality but ... Fomapan 100 is another clean, traditional emulsion with excellent pictorial response. I have read that the b+g NP22 is Efke 100-in any event, there is no finer film. I would also recommend the Troop and Anchell book-nothing like it will ever be written again and being about developing, it is really about film. FP4 and Fomapan, in my experience, are very tolerant of processing variables. I wouldn't mind seeing Ilford Pan-F in sheet film, but it is unlikely to happen. Strangely, in 35mm and 120, I like Agfapan 400. Smooth pictorial in 120; attractive "granular" image in 35mm. Scans well in both formats.

John Berry ( Roadkill )
5-Feb-2005, 05:12
Fp-4 and Acros in pyro, sometimes rodinal. Provia. John