View Full Version : Film

Jonas Schnuapenheimer
29-Jul-2005, 14:00
Hello everyone, my name is Jonas.

I am new to LF photography and want to make a decision on which film to use with my newly acquired Canham DLC 45.

In LF does film speed make that much of a difference? For example, should I use 400 speed film or 100 speed film. Should I use the Delta, Tmax, or traditional films. What are the differences in the way the pictures look?

What do most of the LF guys us with respect to 4x5 film?

Thanks all,


Ron Marshall
29-Jul-2005, 14:29
Hi Jonas,

I am new to LF and do not have extensive experience with many films, also I do only B/W.
But I have tried several films: Ilford FP4+ (100 ASA) fine grain traditional emulsion, Koodak T-max 100 fine grain good reciprocity charecteristics , T-max 400 a bit larger grain than 100 ASA films but not too bad, especially for 4x5, but a bit less acuity. Fuji Acros 100 same as T-max but slightly better reciprocity charecteristics.
I find T-max 100 or Acros the best for scanning and FP4+ the best for the enlarger.
I only use Acros at night to reduce exposure times, because it is more expensive than T-max 100.
FP4+ is not available in readyloads, the other films are.

29-Jul-2005, 14:35
Kodak Tri-X and Ilford FP-5 are both hard to beat. What film do you use in other formats?

John Kasaian
29-Jul-2005, 15:00

IMHO its "horses for courses" For night photography or where wind is stirring things up I'll shoot faster film and slower film for everything else, just as I did with my 35 SLR. As a practical matter though, I seldom have two different films on hand in the field (ready loads aren't an option in 8x10)

I know I'm fighting a loosing war with the Great Yellow Father in Rochester, but I really like Tri-X in my Crown Graphic---but I like to shoot handheld too, so "faster" is a good thing.

If yu haven't already, get a hold of a copy of Steve Simmon's Using the View Camera. I think you'll find it a great resource. Lots of information on film.

Grain? In my experience with LF its a non-issue. YMMV of course. How your pictures will turn out I think depends more on your printing skills than film selection---IMHO, big negatives contain an aweful lot of detail and all that detail dosen't seem too concerned about what color box the film came out of (once again YMMV!) Look at other lf photographer's prints---if you like the "look" you can try out the same film/paper/developer they used. Theres no guarantee that you can duplicate what you've seen, but at least you'll be "there" materials-wise.

IMHO, for starters try a box of whatever you shoot and like in your 35 or MF camera---you'll at least be familiar with it so that will be one less variable to deal with when learning you new camera. When you get consistant results, you may want to experiment with other emulsions and developers---its fun, but thats up to you!

Good Luck!

Donald Qualls
29-Jul-2005, 15:20
One of the major advantages of large format is that the inevitable grain of faster film matters a lot less. One of the major disadvantages is a strong tendency to obsess over the negative or print with a loupe and notice the grain, even when you have more than a dozen times the negative area you'd have with 35 mm.

Given that you'll be shooting from a tripod anyway, there's little disadvantage in shooting slow film, unless you're doing portraits indoors with available light -- in which case the exposure length may cause problems with subject movement.

I'd suggest buying an inexpensive ISO 100 film (Efke PL 100, Fomapan 100, and J&C Pro 100 are all good and inexpensive -- the last exceptionally so, though it doesn't include a box as other brands do) for the first part of the learning curve, then branching out once you have more experience. If you're shooting B&W, you could work for decades with three 4x5 films (Efke PL 25, one of the above ISO 100 films, and J&C Classic 400) without ever spending so much on film that bracketing or shooting an insurance sheet makes you cringe, and never be dissatisfied with the results.

Louie Powell
29-Jul-2005, 15:27
Jonas -

A friend of mine responds to questions like this by recommending "the plaid one".

What he is really trying to say is that this isn't really a matter of what is "best", or even what is "better", but rather which of the choices most corresponds to your needs and tastes.

There are a lot of LF films to choose from Kodak, Ilford, Efke, Foma, Fuji, Bergger - - - they have their unique characteristics and traits - and also their unique quirks. The only way to know which is best for you is for you to start by clearing defining what you are trying to do. Since you are a beginner at LF, that may be premature.

You are correct that there are choices of speeds, but since you will almost certainly have your LF camera on a tripod, speed doesn't really matter.

My suggestion is that you start is an inexpensive film - because of the first sseveral hundred sheets you expose, you will be lucky to get two or three good images. And if the hit rate is going to be low, the learning process requires that you expose a lot of film. Why give yourself the additional handicap of worrying about the cost of film - buy something cheap and practice. Then, by the time you develop some confidence in you skills as a LF photographer, you will also have a better idea of what your LF vision will be, and then you will be in a position to make an informed decision about which film is best for you.

Eric Leppanen
29-Jul-2005, 15:44

If you opt for the convenience (and additional expense) of Quickload/Readyload film holders, then your B&W film choice is limited to TMax-100 (Readyload) or Acros (Quickload). The latest Kodak Quickload holder is compatible with both Readyloads and Quickloads. Personally I use TMax Readyloads on 4x5, since I no longer have to spend time loading holders; dust is no longer a concern; and I can write development notes directly on each Readyload packet, simplifying film storage and development.

If you elect to use traditional film holders, then the sky's the limit in terms of available emulsions. LF is less sensitive to grain due to its relatively large negative, but if you elect to scan your film (either now or in the future) then small grain will allow more aggressive sharpening, giving your prints the appearance of greater sharpness. I normally shoot one of the newer 100 speed films (TMax 100, Acros, or Delta) most of the time in order to keep grain small, although I'll use 400 speed (in my case HP5+ rated at ISO 320) in windy conditions. Efke 25 frequently gets excellent reviews and is reportedly the finest grained film out there (aside from the dear departed TechPan), but shooting such a slow film in an LF field camera would personally drive me nuts (slow shutter speeds increase the risk of wind destabilizing the camera or moving leaves/tree branches/grass/etc.).

Brian C. Miller
29-Jul-2005, 16:30
I agree with everyone who says to buy the cheapest film you can. Freestyle sells their Arista brand as cheap as $9 per 25 sheets for the Arista.EDU label. (I think its either Forte or Foma under a different label) Until the local stores stopped carrying it, I bought Agfa sheet film, because it was half the price of Kodak or Ilford.

Bruce Watson
29-Jul-2005, 18:35
Unless you are going to make prints bigger than about a 10x enlargement from your 5x4 film (1.25 x 1.0 m, or 50x40 inches), the increased grain of faster films is pretty much a non-issue.

I tend to use the fastest film I can find. The reason for this is that even in 5x4, you end up with taking apertures in the f/22 - f/64 range. This gives you long exposures. You'll want that extra film speed after you've spent an hour patiently waiting for the wind to die down so the bushes get still enough to make that 1/4 second exposure. At least I do. Of course, YMMV.

Ole Tjugen
30-Jul-2005, 00:49
I prefer slow films, which lets me choose the aperture I want instead of being limited to f:16 or smaller with the shutters I have. Since the camera is on a tripod anyway the exposure time doesn't really matter to me, but I like to keep it around 1/2 to 1/10 second. I like to use my Planar f:3.5 at f:3.5, and that takes a very slow film in daylight.

EFKE PL25, or Ilford FP4+ for more "normal" photography.

Graham Hughes
30-Jul-2005, 01:41
I shot TMX in my camera at first, because I didn't have the option--the local store had no other 4x5 film. It's not bad, but I shoot FP4+ in 120 and have moved to shooting it in 4x5 as well. I'm not aware of any modern film that is bad in 4x5, at least for modest enlargements, so "shoot what's cheap" is certainly not an bad idea. Alternatively if you already know what kind of film you like in medium format or 35mm, you could shoot that.

Eirik Berger
30-Jul-2005, 03:29
After I discovered Fuji Acros, this has become my standard film developed i Xtol 1:3 for 12-15 minutes (depending on weather conditions actually). It is a perfect film for both scanning and enlarging and I use it in both 4x4" and 8x10". I just love this film, and it is no problem purchasing it in both 4x5" (non QL) and 8x10" as long as you order from Japan. And what is "reciprocity"? I dont remember anymore.

I have ordered some Artdol developer which I will try with this film as soon as it arrives, I cant wait to try it.

A few months ago I saw my first 8x10" landscape photo done on Kodak EPP, I spent 35 minutes with the loupe on this image. I really feel an urge to sell all my mediumformat gear now (Mamiya ProTL with a bunch of lenses), when I use the Mamiya it just feels too small and I hate to compress huge and massive landscape scenerys into a small piece of film. It really doesn´t feel right.

Aaarrghhh.... I just had to blow som steam.

Welcome to the world of LF-photography, your life will not be the same again.

Hernán Villar
31-Jul-2005, 18:03
As you see, how many anwers you can get so there is a say in my country " Is not the arrow is the indian" if you now how to use it all of then are good.