View Full Version : 4X5 Film for portrait...wich one ?

27-Feb-2016, 03:18
as a newbie, I wonder wich film BW should I buy. I use a 4X5 Wista field camera with a 210 SYMAR. My main purpose is to shoot portraiture in natural light or with one softbox.
But I will try some landscape shooting too (reciprocity might be a problem).
And at the end of the day film will be scan.

So I need a fine grain multipurpose film. I was thinking of kodak Tmax 400 souped in D76 stock...I also look at FOMAPAN because of price but the film seems to be "rustic".

So please let me hear about your experience, before I click on the BUY button !

Faithfully, Stephane.

27-Feb-2016, 05:16
This is a question of personal choice, and expect different answers. Tmax 400 is not my personal favorite. I prefer the older type of emulsions. Tri-x has always been a favorite, but with current pricing, I find Ilford HP-5+ an excellent alternative. I don't think grain will be a problem from a scanned negative, but I have no experience here. I'm still in a wet darkroom.
If you are worried about reciprocity in landscape shots, try Fuji Acros.
I used D76 a lot long ago, but now use Xtol because it is much better for compensation developing.
So there you go...one man's opinion.

27-Feb-2016, 05:25
4x5 has so much "stuff" that grain will not be a problem, and reciprocity won't be an issue unless you are shooting in the dark or use a big stopper. In which case, use Acros.

27-Feb-2016, 05:36
...TriX was my favorite with 35mm , and 6X9 negative. I might try the HP5 alternative with Xtol. Thanks for your advices.

27-Feb-2016, 05:42
just saw some BERGGER panchro 400 , any thoughts ?

27-Feb-2016, 06:41
I use tmax 100 mostly, because I could get a batch of expired film at a reasonable price. I like it more than I liked the box of fomapan 100 I started out with, although that was quite usable as well. Really, just about any film would do. As mentioned, at this size, grain is not really an issue and your film choice depends on personal preference more than on anything else. Besides, any film, as long as it's exposed and processed properly, will yield great results.

Peter De Smidt
27-Feb-2016, 06:54
TMY is my favorite higher speed film. In Xtol 1+1 I get a true EI of 500 with it. It's also very fine-grained. HP5+ is grainier, slower, and it has limited expansion development possibilities. Acros is my favorite slow film, as it has very small grain and outstanding reciprocity characteristics.

27-Feb-2016, 07:02
Seeing your six posts, I'm going to suggest you take a look at the xray film threads. For someone who's new, working with a film that's ten cents per 4x5 sheet and can be handled under a red safelight is a big advantage. I re-started my LF experience a couple of years ago (after a couple of decades away from it) with xray film and am still stuck there, because of its unique look which I prefer to modern film. It's a cheap thing to try, at any rate-$40 for 100-8x10 sheets, $5 for a red light. You can shoot a lot of film before you spend the equivalent of a single box of Tri-X!

Take a look at my LF flickr, below. A lot of the recent work is shot with one 2x3-foot softbox and a reflector. Older, the softbox and a simple fill flash (until I figured out the reflector would work just as well); sometimes, a hair light, also.

27-Feb-2016, 07:10
I love tmax 400 in low light, such as when motion blur is an issue for normal sitters. Fp4+ in regular light such as outdoors. I would use tmax400 for everything in if it were less costly. I use it for everything in MF.

There are many capable options for film and you should explore them. I have settled on two for my own consistency not because other films are incapable. View photography you like on here and Flickr and see what awesomeness different photographers wring out of a variety of film choices.

David Lobato
27-Feb-2016, 08:36
I recently did 8x10 portraits with Tri-X TXP. I was very pleased with the results. Tri-X has a classic look with smooth tonality which is, for me, well suited for portraits. The speed is an advantage with available light portraits. I have done 4x5 portraits with Tri-X also and was very pleased with the results. All were done with soft, indirect, available light.

Choose a film, then work on lighting that goes well with your film choice.

27-Feb-2016, 09:08
FP4 is considered more forgiving that Across because you are less likely to blow your highlights. Both are slow but as mentioned Across is king for its modern small grain and reciprocity characteristics. I also would consider using a faster film for windy days, dark days, slow lenses - so having two choices. Xtol is great but you have to mix batches and store it in air tight containers. Also it's not cheap. Consider Rodinal - cheap, lasts forever and mixed with water when you use it.

27-Feb-2016, 10:50
I concur with mdarnton; give xray film a thought. Experimentation can't be cheaper with LF. Combine it with rodinal or even self-mixed parodinal or caffenol and material costs all but vanish! Once you get the hang of the basics, it becomes less risky to use more costly film.

27-Feb-2016, 11:11
hi OP

what are your plans after the film becomes a negative?
are you hoping to enlarge or contact print, or scan ?
i've never used xray film, but i've read it might be hard to enlarge
but easy to contact print. paper negatives are the same way
unless you have built yourself a reflective enlarger.

as for modern panchromatic film to use, i'd go for whatever you can get your hands on.
it seems in this day and age most of what is out there works well. some is more expensive than others
as a "beginner" i'd stick to lesser expensive films ( or paper or X-ray film ) because the first group of exposures
might be more getting used to the LF way of doing things than making great photographs.

good luck !

27-Feb-2016, 14:06
My thought is not to get too caught in what film and developer is best, but pick a film speed that works for quantity of light and shoot. Every time you shoot you will learn. Please post some of your results!

27-Feb-2016, 17:59
My thought is not to get too caught in what film and developer is best, but pick a film speed that works for quantity of light and shoot. Every time you shoot you will learn. Please post some of your results!

This makes sense to me. Pick a developer, D-76, XTOL, HC-110, DD-X something easy to use. Buy some medium and faster film see what works. Ilford stuff is a bit less expensive, I have always been a big fan of TMY, amazing stuff. Ilford, Fuji, Kodak pretty hard to pick a dud. I've not used Foma films, they are quite popular.
My default film for 120 and 4x5 is TMY and XTOL 1&1. In the past I shot a lot of Kodak 100 and 200 speed (Ektapan and Super-XX) and used HC-110 dil.B, this may be more of a Foma experience.

In the old days Plus-X/Ektapan or FP-4 were "normal speed" this might be a good place to start.
Best Regards, Mike

2-Mar-2016, 10:16
Well, first thanks to all of you who have shared their thoughts and experience. I want to tell you that I ordered somme HP5+ and some PANCHRO400 BERGGER, with Xtol for souping.
Will shared result of my first tries in the following days.
Thanks a lot again,


peter schrager
2-Mar-2016, 18:13
Stef where did you source the Bergger400??
thanks peter

5-Mar-2016, 02:13
Peter, I ordered from this shop :


Service looks good, I'm still waiting for my film ...although the long delay is quite normal since I live in a little tropical island in Indian Ocean (where customs office are realy bad and slow).

5-Mar-2016, 05:13
Xtol is a good warm climate film developer. Good luck on your endeavors!