View Full Version : Film advice

24-Apr-2006, 16:35
I am looking for some B&W film for portraits and landscapes but not just one film that will do both (unless there is such a film). I understand how color film has variations in saturation, warmth, etc. but I am not sure what variations exist between different B&W films. Also, what is a good color portrait film?

steve simmons
24-Apr-2006, 16:42
What format and what speed do you want?

Ilford's FP4+ can be a very good choice. It's realistic speed is between 64 and 80. I would not recommend the T-Max films for variable outdoor useage. They can be finicky about processing if it is not done mechanically with absolute control over time, temp, and agitation. If you are looking for a little more speed I would suggest Kodak's Tri-X which now has a speed of about 200 for most people.

steve simmons

24-Apr-2006, 16:54
I guess I should have been a bit more specific. I am looking for 4x5 format and I am not too picky about speed (50-200 should be fine). Also, I don't develop my own film so I need something that I can take to a lab.

Ralph Barker
24-Apr-2006, 17:02
I agree that FP4+ is a good choice for portraits, and for landscape, too, for that matter. It's a "traditional" emulsion, so it's a little "softer" in appearance than the T-grained films like the Ilford Deltas or T-Max from Big Yellow. My developer preference for FP4+ is Ilford's DD-X, and I get close to box speed in that developer, mixed at the standard 1+4. If Ilford made Pan F+ in sheets, I'd use that for portraiture, as it's even creamier than FP4+.

John Kasaian
24-Apr-2006, 17:10

You might consider Polaroid Type 55, since you can 'clear' it yourself I'm thinking it might be more cost effective for you. It is a very nice film for both portraits and landscapes btw---nearly everyone who has used it gets a dreamy look in thier eye when you mention "Type 55"

FWIW I find that for me there are more important considerations than what b&w film excels for a stated purpose (unless it required for low light & reciprocity factors come into play---thats what TMAX 400 is for IMHO) I think in most cases, developers and technique have more effect on the negative than the film you use and since you're sending out for lab work, your lab might be the determining factor to consider. You probably can't go wrong with FP-4+ or Tri-X---everyplace should be able to handle those films---or just use Type 55, shoot for the negative and clear the stuff yourself.

Ron Marshall
24-Apr-2006, 17:52
Another vote for FP4+. I also use t-max or Acros when reciprocity failure is a concern.

Frank Petronio
24-Apr-2006, 17:58
FP4 or HP5 for everything, pick one and stick with it.

Eric Leppanen
24-Apr-2006, 18:30
I agree with FP4 or HP5 as a good general-purpose B&W film.

For color portraits I would suggest either Fuji Pro 160S or Astia 100F, depending on whether you want to use print or transparency film.

Mark Woods
24-Apr-2006, 18:37
I use FP4+ in D76 deep tank and really like it. I've found the speed to be EI 160 with this method. Bergger 200 is good too. I find it to be EI 200 in my tanks. Enjoy your images.


Michael Kadillak
24-Apr-2006, 18:37
Contrary with what others may say about T Max 400, it is one of the most marvelous films available in the current market. I have developed it with a JOBO, in trays, hangers and in tubes with just about every developer available (ABC pyro, Pyrocat HD, DDX, D76, Rodinal, T Max RS, Harveys 777 and Xtol) and it simply hits a home run every time. The extra film speed is icing on the cake beyond its excellent reciprocity characteristics and the fact that it builds density like a .44 magnum straight to the moon. If I were forced to pick one film for everything I shoot, T Max 400 would gladly take the top honors.


Dave Henry
24-Apr-2006, 19:04
I agree with Michael. I shoot only TMax 400 and 100, soup in RS developer. I've tried them all over the years and really like TMax. When I backpack I can take the same film as a Readyload. It makes everything very simple and is one less thing to think about. FWIW

Alan Davenport
24-Apr-2006, 19:14
I'll add another vote for Polaroid 55. My lab doesn't do B&W chemistry in-house, but send it out, and the bill is $2 per 4x5 sheet. Makes Type 55 sound real attractive, IMO. Besides, you get an instant print to check composition and focus. The print will be overexposed but still useful for quality control (the negative and the paper require different ISO ratings.)

Emre Yildirim
24-Apr-2006, 19:26
I personally think Tmax 400 is one of the worst films ever made, but I guess to each their own. I use Delta 100 for all my B&W work. Once the lab develops it, I scan the sheets and adjust the contrast using Photoshop. It's a wonderful film with lots of latitude (I even shot it at 400 once, accidentally, and I was able to save the picture). For color, I would definitely use Astia 100F. Even for stuff that isn't portraiture, it's a very nice film

Michael Kadillak
24-Apr-2006, 19:48
I personally think Tmax 400 is one of the worst films ever made, but I guess to each their own. I use Delta 100 for all my B&W work. Once the lab develops it, I scan the sheets and adjust the contrast using Photoshop.

How can you possibly expect to extract optimal results from any film unless you personally control the processing (developer, dilution, temprature, agitation and time)? There are simply too many critical variables in the equation to draw any meaningful conclusions let alone any sensitometric information that could be used in the future.

Just my $0.02.

tim atherton
24-Apr-2006, 19:52
a good few well respected, widely published, widely collected photographers just send their film off tot he lab for simple consistency - deep tank Xtol etc.

Or they just use something as simple as Tri-X exposed at 200 and developed straight in D-23, and that's it. No fiddling or fussing or witches brews.

Emre Yildirim
24-Apr-2006, 19:59
How can you possibly expect to extract optimal results from any film

The results from my lab have been very consistent, and I know exactly how the negatives will turn out. I also know that they always use the same developer (TMAX). At $2/sheet ($1/sheet if I drop off lots of sheets), it's really not worth the time to develop it yourself, especially when you're like me and only shoot a few sheets a week.

24-Apr-2006, 20:50
I'll cast another vote for Ilford FP4... it's simply a great film!

Do your own tests to see what the best ASA rating is for YOUR equipment.

Shoot mine at 80 and it comes out smelling like a rose each and every time!

[BTW, I send my films out to a Pro-lab for consistent processing and have never had any issues with doing that.]


Wayne Crider
24-Apr-2006, 21:34
Chris you could read threads all day long and read all kind of answers. Also, your exposure, developing and printing will have alot to do with your results. Pick a speed, shoot a 1/2 dz rolls or a couple of boxes and go from there. Experimendation is the the name of the game and don't be afraid to try it.

Al D
24-Apr-2006, 21:45
If you're going to have a lab develop it, then I would be inclined to use a film that is as forgiving of over-development as possible. As a rule, this would be any traditional (read: not tabular or epitaxial grain) ISO 400 emulsion such as Tri-X (well, TXP is 320...close enough) or HP5+.

24-Apr-2006, 21:58
Thank you all for your input. It looks like I just need to buy some sheets and experiment. I am looking forward to it.

Dan Jolicoeur
25-Apr-2006, 07:20
I am surprised no one mentioned Fuji Acros 100 in ready/quick load. By a jobo tank and develop it yourself with what ever film you use. You will be surprised on how easy, and cheap it is. The tank & reel will pay for itself the first time you use it. Along with some Xtol, indicator stop, hypo clearing agent, and photo flo.
Also a good 3 setting countdown timer.
You can develop your film in the kitchen sink. A dark closet to load the reel with is all you need.
As far as I am concerned it goes hand in hand with taking the picture!
Take the next step,

Aaron van de Sande
25-Apr-2006, 09:08
I was going to say acros but it is too darn expensive in quickloads.
I will never understand why Fuji doesn't import it's sheetfilm or papers to the us, or why B&H doesn't grey market the stuff.

Eric Pederson
25-Apr-2006, 16:21
I say let the one who develops the film decide. I happen to develop my own film, have made my own tests, and drawn my own conclusions. If a lab is developing your film, ask them what they have the most experience with. For your purposes, I can't see how any film would be better than what they are most familiar with. You'll overexpose a sheet and they'll know what to do, etc.

John Berry ( Roadkill )
25-Apr-2006, 17:09
My vote is for fp-4 in pyrocat-P. If I was going to have a lab do my stuff, I would probably shoot Xp 400@ 200. I find it is more forgiving for a wide latitude of shooting.

Tom Hoskinson
26-Apr-2006, 20:59
8x10 FP-4 or TMAX 400 in Pyrocat-P