PDA

View Full Version : shanghai and other cheap film ...



jeffoto
24-Apr-2008, 09:55
I am about to embark into 4x5 for the first time and will play with the camera a lot before exposing any film, but once I decide to try film, I am curious what experiences people have with some of the inexpensive B&W films such as the Shanhai found on ebay or the Arista (I know old Arista was HP5) from Freestyle.

Is the quality consistent? How does it compare to the old standby of TX?

I am very familiar with the various films from Kodak and Fuji as I've been a professional photographer for 25 years, I've just never played with 4x5 and want to go cheap to start.

I had thought about a Polaroid back and Fuji instant so I can see immediate results (ok, I shoot digital in my day job) and to not have the expense of developing while learning. I still may do that, but probably a combination of things - depends on what I cobble together for a system.

Thanks,

Jeff

Anupam
24-Apr-2008, 11:13
I have found that the cheapest film tested, shot and developed well produces better results than the "best" film shoddily handled. So, when I got into 4x5 I took Ansel Adams' advise of getting to know one film well and bought 500 sheets of Arista. I have just a few left and never regretted buying that many.

Ron Marshall
24-Apr-2008, 11:13
I've used the Arista.edu, from Freestyle. Similar to FP4, I shoot it at EI 125. Can't be beat for the price.

I have only used one box, so I can't say anything about quality control.

RDB Korn
24-Apr-2008, 11:14
Jeff,

I just started in 4X5 the past couple of months, so I have also wrestled with these questions.

I bought a 50 sheet pack of the Arista Ultra 100 from Freestyle, reasoning that a less expensive film would be a good choice while learning. Since I've only recently discovered that I've been loading the film into the holders *backwards*, I'm glad I did go with this film. Even with that *little* mistake, I've had some pleasing first results with the film. I believe the emulsion might be a bit more susceptible to scratches than the more expensive films (of course, loading backwards won't help) and developer choice is a bit more important with this film. Once I've made my worst beginner mistakes with the Arista, I intend to try out some Ilford and Kodak films. Developing costs are actually quite low for b/w sheet film, in my experience.

As far as instant films go, a few things you may or may not be aware of. The most important is that the Fuji 4X5 film is a pack film not a sheet film. Therefore it does not work in the Polaroid 545 holders. You'll need either a Polaroid 550 holder or a Fuji PA-45 holder. The former has been going for astronomical prices on eBay (well over $200), the PA-45 can be difficult to find. I found mine through Megaperls for a very reasonable price. The per shot price will be at least $4 (more typically $5-6 now) for the vanishing Polaroid products, and between $3-5 for the Fuji depending on where you source it. I have shot both with my 4X5 and it certainly is a good way to learn. Just much more expensive that traditional sheet film.

Paul

Jiri Vasina
24-Apr-2008, 11:25
Arista.EDU Ultra 100 is just a rebadged Fomapan 100 film. And Fomapan 100 is my main BW film, both in rolls and sheets. Very nice tonality, no quality concerns so far.

Arista.EDU from what I know was Forte film. Forte quit last year, so if it is still available, it will finish soon.

Arista (without the edu) was Ilford, but this repackaging is something way in the past.

As for Shanghai (or Era) films, I too would be interested to hear some opinions...

mrladewig
24-Apr-2008, 12:31
I have no idea about the Shanghai, never used it.

But I just bought a 50 sheet box of Tmax at my local shop for $51. Ilford Delta 100 was just a little more. Compared to the color film I usually shoot $1/sheet is a screaming deal. Shanghai is roughly $0.50/sheet. Sure you could shoot twice as much for the same price, but Tmax is predictable and has alot of users.

That said, I did buy 4 boxes of out of date Provia at 0.32/sheet, so I guess that's an even better deal. It has a slight color shift, but so far I've been able to correct it during scanning.

Maris Rusis
24-Apr-2008, 18:56
I think the old J&C Pro 100 film in the 8x10 format was Shanghai. Out of the last 200 sheets I have used there were about 10 with emulsion coating defects (pinholes, bubbles, streaks) and the rest were fine. At only $1.80 per sheet I won't complain but it is not a film I would use for stuff that has to be perfect and I can't re-shoot.

domenico Foschi
24-Apr-2008, 19:16
I have been using arista edu ultra 100 (Foma) and I absolutely cherish it with HC110.
I have seen one sheet so far with damaged to emulsion but I don't know if it was already existent or it got damaged in the shuffling.
I don't particularly mind damaged negatives, I like the retouching stage, be it negative or print.
At $20 for a box of 50 compared to Ilford which charges more than 4 times as much, it's a no brainer.

Tomaas
24-Apr-2008, 21:48
Arista edu exposed at EI 100 gives beautiful results!

150 sheets remaining in the freezer.

No quality issues so far.

Tomaas

domenico Foschi
24-Apr-2008, 22:13
I have been using arista edu ultra 100 (Foma) and I absolutely cherish it with HC110.
I have seen one sheet so far with damaged to emulsion but I don't know if it was already existent or it got damaged in the shuffling.
I don't particularly mind damaged negatives, I like the retouching stage, be it negative or print.
At $20 for a box of 50 compared to Ilford which charges more than 4 times as much, it's a no brainer.

Sorry, I should have said more than 2 times as much.

Colin Graham
25-Apr-2008, 06:20
I haven't used Arista or shanghai film, but I have had a cross-country trip ruined by coating chatter on so called 'second-tier' emulsions, which is impossible to correct in printing or retouching. I would say just be careful, but even testing the top and bottom sheet of each box didn't catch the problem before my trip. That sucked bad enough, but I was even more disappointed because I really liked the film...

rwyoung
25-Apr-2008, 06:31
If you are JUST STARTING out and want to practice loading the holder and experiment with camera movements, then use photo paper as your film. Much, much cheaper per sheet. Cut up one 8x10 into 4 pieces of 4x5 (yes, they may be a little bit on the large side or whopperjawed if you aren't careful about keeping the edges straight) but they will work fine for loading practice in the daylight, then under safelight, then in 100% dark.

If you want to expose them in the camera, try and ISO between 6 and 12 for the average piece of RC multigrade or grade 2 stuff. And develop in your standard paper developer (D72 1+2 or 1+4 is always good).

The next least expensive option is something like Freestyle's APHS ortho lith film. Slow, maybe ISO 4 or ISO 6 and a developer like LC-1 or Jim Galli's Rodinal dilution. Works very well but film is a bit on the thin side. You have the benefit of working under safelight with this stuff so good loading practice and you can get it pre-cut for 4x5.

spb854
26-Apr-2008, 10:45
A while back I bought some Shanghai GP3 120 film off eBay.

I shot a roll of it and processed it in D-76 (stock strength)
for 7 minutes at 20 C. It was shot at the ISO on the box.

I was VERY pleased with the results. The ONLY issue I have
with the roll film is it's curliness. I later bought some 4x5 but
I have not shot any of it yet. I expect to get the same
results from it though.

See attach pic. It's scanned from the negative. The ONLY
thing I adjusted on it was the histogram. I used VueScan
with my HP scanner.

Steve

Michael Kadillak
26-Apr-2008, 18:39
I have tried much of the product referred to as an "inexpensive" alternative and I have arrived at the conclusion that if a photograph is worth making, it should be made with the best product possible for a number of critical reasons.

First is the obvious. Quality control. I cannot tell you how many times I have made what should have been a marvelous photograph only to be disappointed in the darkroom. Splotchy sections, pin holes, uneven densities within the emulsion, piss poor and completely unpredictable reciprocity characteristics and a host of other problems pop up completely unannounced. I was so frustrated with this crap I threw 3 boxes of 4x5 8x10 and 5x7 in the trash.

Second is using the best technology and coating operations available. When you are coating with a circa 1950/1960 machine, your emulsion tolerances are +/- 5% and possibly greater. Modern electronic coating machines are +/- a fraction of a percent. Plus, old school emulsion formulas relative to the prints that they can produce cannot hold a candle to modern emulsions including the T grain emulsions. If you are not serious about the photographs that you want to make that is great. Have at it. You get what you pay for. I know several people that use some of this inexpensive stuff and the irony is that most of the time he makes two and sometimes three exposures to make sure that he has something that will be printable. What sense does this make?

There are times and places to cut costs. IMHO serious photography is never one of them. They could give me this film for free and I would not waste the time putting it in my film holders. When you support companies that produce inferior materials, you promote inferior materials. Think about it.....

Cheers!

domenico Foschi
26-Apr-2008, 19:55
You should have told to kertesz, Weston, Atget, Brassai, Rodcenko, Adams, Penn, Avedon, Capa, Bresson, Sella, and many more that they were using a technology that was faulty.

IanMazursky
26-Apr-2008, 20:50
I think it boils down to this. You get what you pay for.
I happen to like the ERA 4x5 film emulsion. It has a look to it that i find very nice. I like the look better than Tri x and Tmax. But as Michael said, the quality control is a huge problem. I bought 5 boxes about 2 years ago. Half of the first box was a total loss. More hair in it than a cat. There are also tons of scratches on the base side.
It did get better through the box. The subsequent boxes are better but the base size looks like someone took sand paper to it. I drum scan most of my film on Howtek so the Kami fills in most of the scratches. Its annoying but manageable.

I have also used the Lucky SHD 100 120 film. Its nice but its no Tmax 100. The QC is much better than the ERA. The same with the ShangHai GP3 120. They both had very little defects if any.
All of the ebay films are a great deal if you dont count shipping. At that point, its to close in price to films by the big 3.

Colin Graham
26-Apr-2008, 21:01
There are some that can take half-fogged, expired film, stick in a coffee can with a nail hole in it and float it across a cesspool and make better prints than some can with all the best gear, equipment and circumstance. Sorry, but I dont see the point in trotting out statements like " old school emulsion formulas relative to the prints that they can produce cannot hold a candle to modern emulsions including the T grain emulsions."

Most people are aware of what they need, and what they will pay for it, and what it is worth to them- but thanks all the same. FWIW, I've had qc issues, very limited, but still qc issues with every major brand of film I've tried.

Erich Hoeber
26-Apr-2008, 21:17
I've been trying out the ARISTA edu ultra 200 (Foma 200) and I find it to be great. Tonally it's not too different from the FP4+ I'd been using as my primary 4x5 film and it's less than half the price.

As far as QC goes, the first box I bought was cut too big and didn't fit in the holders. Freestyle exchanged it and I've had no problems since, knock on wood. Those boxes with the splotchy brown stains on 'em don't exactly inspire confidence. :eek:

Michael Kadillak
26-Apr-2008, 21:32
You should have told to kertesz, Weston, Atget, Brassai, Rodcenko, Adams, Penn, Avedon, Capa, Bresson, Sella, and many more that they were using a technology that was faulty.

You missed my point.

The reason that the film produced by these maunfactures is so wrought with problems is because the coating machines are just plain worn out and should have been scrapped 20 years ago. The people that are running them are inexperienced and do not have any ownership of the product produced. I heard that at times defects are as high as 50% and they do not even bat an eyelash. They keep pumping it out. Cheap buys as much loyalty to the product in manufacturing as it does in the consuming segment. These manufacturers are taking advantage of the fact that there are a lot of tight wads in the film consuming arena that want film and are obviously not very concerned about what they are getting.

When the masters you mentioned above acquired the state of the art film technology during ther era the coating machines used were virtually brand new and the companies that produced this product were dedicated 100% to producing the best quality film possible and all was quite well. And yes, the results proved it. That is NOT the case as we speak. Much of the stuff many people are acquiring is wrought with a myriad of defects that is simply unacceptable to me. Others may not have such a descriminating mindset. If it is worth my time to make a photograph, I want to make the best one possible. I will not take any chance with the film I chose to make it with - period.

Just my $0.02.

Cheers!

Michael Kadillak
26-Apr-2008, 21:42
There are some that can take half-fogged, expired film, stick in a coffee can with a nail hole in it and float it across a cesspool and make better prints than some can with all the best gear, equipment and circumstance. Sorry, but I dont see the point in trotting out statements like " old school emulsion formulas relative to the prints that they can produce cannot hold a candle to modern emulsions including the T grain emulsions."

Most people are aware of what they need, and what they will pay for it, and what it is worth to them- but thanks all the same. FWIW, I've had qc issues, very limited, but still qc issues with every major brand of film I've tried.

I have never had even a hint of any quality control issues with T Max 400 sheet film in the four years I have used it exclusively. It is always cut to perfect proportions. Their $75 million dollar state of the art coating machine and the technology they use to evaluate the coated emulsion and avoid even a hint of a section is as good as it gets. It lets me sleep at night knowing that there are no surprises each time I pull the dark slide. You get what you pay for....

domenico Foschi
26-Apr-2008, 22:18
You missed my point.

The reason that the film produced by these maunfactures is so wrought with problems is because the coating machines are just plain worn out and should have been scrapped 20 years ago. The people that are running them are inexperienced and do not have any ownership of the product produced. I heard that at times defects are as high as 50% and they do not even bat an eyelash. They keep pumping it out. Cheap buys as much loyalty to the product in manufacturing as it does in the consuming segment. These manufacturers are taking advantage of the fact that there are a lot of tight wads in the film consuming arena that want film and are obviously not very concerned about what they are getting.

When the masters you mentioned above acquired the state of the art film technology during ther era the coating machines used were virtually brand new and the companies that produced this product were dedicated 100% to producing the best quality film possible and all was quite well. And yes, the results proved it. That is NOT the case as we speak. Much of the stuff many people are acquiring is wrought with a myriad of defects that is simply unacceptable to me. Others may not have such a descriminating mindset. If it is worth my time to make a photograph, I want to make the best one possible. I will not take any chance with the film I chose to make it with - period.

Just my $0.02.

Cheers!

Michael, when you are talking about the machines being worn out and the quality control being non existent, are you talking because of factual knowledge or are they just conjectures?
Is it true for both Era and Foma?
Where can I read about these info other that your own voice?
I am truly satisfied with Foma, more than I was with Ilford.
I do have noticed that the back of the sheets is not exactly smooth, but It doesn't seem to be a problem in the printing stage.

John Kasaian
26-Apr-2008, 23:10
I don't think of Foma or Efke as being "second tier" and considering that Efke's plant was blown up a few years ago--to the extent that film production was halted--- I would guess that their machines are probably quite modern.

But aren't we comparing apples to oranges here?

If you want a sheet films faster than iso 200 then Kodak and Ilford are still the only games in town while the so called "second tier" manufacturers are well represented in slower emulsions while Foma comes close with a 200 ISO sheet film and I intend to explore that product as an alternative to TXP should Kodak keep screwing with the costs of packaging of TXP (but that is another story.)

As far as Lucky and Shanghai goes, wasn't Lucky purportedly owned in part by Kodak? If so I would think Lucky would likely be pretty good stuff. Those who have reported using it seem to think so as well. I don't know anything about Shanghai film though.

What film you use ultimately depends on what your expectations are and what you can afford. Not so very long ago the difference between various manfacturers of 8x10 sheet film varied in price by a small amount (in the US) and I standardized on Ilford and Kodak emulsions, but I find that I can work quite well with Foma and Efke products though, partially as a result of Ilford's reorganization which created a temporary availability problem a few years back, followed by Kodak's temporary halt when production was transferred to a new, reportedly "dust free" factory.

The lesson I've learned is to shoot what you have confidence in and can afford rather than relying on brand names or the color of the box the film comes in. Keep your fridge and freezer stocked to carry you through availabillity snafus and shoot as often as possible to get to know what your film of choice is capable of as well as what you are capable of!

Oh, and Foma 100 is lovely stuff! :)

domenico Foschi
27-Apr-2008, 08:29
Second is using the best technology and coating operations available. When you are coating with a circa 1950/1960 machine, your emulsion tolerances are +/- 5% and possibly greater. Modern electronic coating machines are +/- a fraction of a percent. Plus, old school emulsion formulas relative to the prints that they can produce cannot hold a candle to modern emulsions including the T grain emulsions.
Cheers!

You don't mention at all wearing out of machine parts in this post, but you actually say that is the old technology the cause of the problem together with the poor quality control, wherever that info comes from.

Jiri Vasina
27-Apr-2008, 08:58
...
Is it true for both Era and Foma?
...


The quality control of Foma is not stellar, but it's good. Sometimes there might be some issues, but I personally have not yeat experienced them. And I have shot tens of rolls and over 400 sheets of Fomapan.

Jiri Vasina
27-Apr-2008, 09:02
If you want a sheet films faster than iso 200 then Kodak and Ilford are still the only games in town while the so called "second tier" manufacturers are well represented in slower emulsions while Foma comes close with a 200 ISO sheet film and I intend to explore that product as an alternative to TXP should Kodak keep screwing with the costs of packaging of TXP (but that is another story.)


Here in the Czech Republic (where Foma's factory actually is) I have been unable to acquire Fomapan 200 in sheets in any size. I have also contacted the factory directly, the representative shop too. Nothing of it. And don't count on it to be fast film. It's true speed is around ei 125 or maximum ei 160.

I have also been unable to find anything in sheets faster than 200 that was not from Ilford or Kodak (maybe Fuji too?)

domenico Foschi
27-Apr-2008, 09:04
Jiri,
thank you.
I was actually Asking Michael because I feel he was generalizing a bit too much. I use Foma and I am fond of it.

Colin Graham
27-Apr-2008, 09:39
You missed my point.

These manufacturers are taking advantage of the fact that there are a lot of tight wads in the film consuming arena that want film and are obviously not very concerned about what they are getting.

Just my $0.02.

Cheers!

Maybe you should recuse yourself from threads like this if you have a financial stake in the Kodak runs. In the least your motive appears to be getting people to buy only Kodak products to secure it's future. But whatever. For me the day will soon come when it's 2nd tier film or no film at all; already TMY 12x20 is $5 more a sheet than fp4+, which itself is on the cusp of affordability as we speak. I'm very interested in other's experiences with these 'inferior' products so when the time comes I can make an informed decision. To suggest that cheapness is the main motivation behind these decisions is arrogant and ludicrous.


I have never had even a hint of any quality control issues with T Max 400 sheet film in the four years I have used it exclusively. It is always cut to perfect proportions. Their $75 million dollar state of the art coating machine and the technology they use to evaluate the coated emulsion and avoid even a hint of a section is as good as it gets. It lets me sleep at night knowing that there are no surprises each time I pull the dark slide. You get what you pay for....

I used efke for 3-4 years as well before the first defects showed up. And I used it because I loved the film, not because it was cheap.

Jorge Gasteazoro
27-Apr-2008, 10:34
Maybe you should recuse yourself from threads like this if you have a financial stake in the Kodak runs. In the least your motive appears to be getting people to buy only Kodak products to secure it's future. But whatever. For me the day will soon come when it's 2nd tier film or no film at all; already TMY 12x20 is $5 more a sheet than fp4+, which itself is on the cusp of affordability as we speak. I'm very interested in other's experiences with these 'inferior' products so when the time comes I can make an informed decision. To suggest that cheapness is the main motivation behind these decisions is arrogant and ludicrous.



I used efke for 3-4 years as well before the first defects showed up. And I used it because I loved the film, not because it was cheap.

Colin, you are way off base here. Michael has no financial interest on this deal and in fact he has the means to buy a special run for him if he wanted to. He does not need us to get the film he wants in the format he wants, he is doing this and using his connections to provide a service to the LF community with no reward to him.

Most importantly and I think the point he was trying to make and it was missed,is that uncertainty is not a desirable quality in film when you are trying to sell your work. As you say, you used efke for 3 years before you found a flaw, but what if that flawed negative was your moonrise or pepper #30? What if that ruined negative was the one shot that would make you well known and your work sought after?

I don't know about you, but I am not willing to take that chance. I have spent a lot of time and money getting the technical side of photography out of the way to have it come to a screeching halt because of lack of QC. Yes, a 12x20 sheet on this deal will be $17, but my peace of mind is worth more than the 7 or 8 dollars difference that I would save if I buy any of the cheap brands. BTW, buying two boxes will be a financial hardship for me, so I understand your feelings, I am also aware that will come a time when Kodak products will price themselves out of my range, they are getting close with that stupid 10 sheet per box and 25% increase in price, but till that time comes, I will try to buy the best I can afford to make sure that if the picture is not good it was my fault, not the fault of the materials.

Colin Graham
27-Apr-2008, 10:42
So, calling people tight wads who can't afford TMY isn't off-base? OK, my mistake. But then I'm really not interested in the motivations of others anyway, only in continuing to do what I love doing, within my own financial restraints. My main issue was with the apparent lack of respect for those working withing their means. No one need point out to me that inconsistency isn't a desirable trait in film, that you get what you pay for, and all those semi-precious gems that tend to accompany well-intentioned threads like this. As mentioned I've had a once-in-a-lifetime cross country trip ruined by coating chatter. But on that trip I had no choice, it was that film or no film at all. That's the only no-brainer here as far as I can tell. I still wouldn't take back the experience or the effort for anything.

But I do apologize if it seemed like I was accusing Michael of anything other than poor manners.

John Kasaian
27-Apr-2008, 12:24
Use what you're comfortable with. All the producers are going through "interesting" times. The more players in the game the better for all of us!

domenico Foschi
27-Apr-2008, 13:14
"Most importantly and I think the point he was trying to make and it was missed,is that uncertainty is not a desirable quality in film when you are trying to sell your work. As you say, you used efke for 3 years before you found a flaw, but what if that flawed negative was your moonrise or pepper #30? What if that ruined negative was the one shot that would make you well known and your work sought after?"

They are just photographs.
There will be plenty of good photographs out there to be captured.
What about the consistent problem Weston had with light leaking bellows?
He was working with what he could afford, but he never slashed his wrists because some great shots got ruined from light leaks.
For all we know he could have had some masterpieces ruined because of it.

Some people, like me, would love to use first rate material and tools but presently the budget is what it is.
Are we tight wads?
Is there a need for insulting people because they are on a budget?
This certainly is the mentality that is being used toward the have nots in this country and it seems that Mr Kadillak embodies this attitude masterfully.

Anupam
27-Apr-2008, 13:39
The people that are running them are inexperienced and do not have any ownership of the product produced. I heard that at times defects are as high as 50% and they do not even bat an eyelash. They keep pumping it out. Cheap buys as much loyalty to the product in manufacturing as it does in the consuming segment. These manufacturers are taking advantage of the fact that there are a lot of tight wads in the film consuming arena that want film and are obviously not very concerned about what they are getting.

As one of the tightwads you mention, I am happy to report that in 500 sheets of Fomapan 100 and hundreds of rolls of both Fomapan 100 and 400 in 120 and 35mm I have never experienced the slightest problem. To my eyes, the quality of their products appears no less than Kodak's. I must have gotten lucky and missed their 50% defect rate!

Jorge Gasteazoro
27-Apr-2008, 14:26
"Most importantly and I think the point he was trying to make and it was missed,is that uncertainty is not a desirable quality in film when you are trying to sell your work. As you say, you used efke for 3 years before you found a flaw, but what if that flawed negative was your moonrise or pepper #30? What if that ruined negative was the one shot that would make you well known and your work sought after?"

They are just photographs.
There will be plenty of good photographs out there to be captured.
What about the consistent problem Weston had with light leaking bellows?
He was working with what he could afford, but he never slashed his wrists because some great shots got ruined from light leaks.
For all we know he could have had some masterpieces ruined because of it.

Some people, like me, would love to use first rate material and tools but presently the budget is what it is.
Are we tight wads?
Is there a need for insulting people because they are on a budget?
This certainly is the mentality that is being used toward the have nots in this country and it seems that Mr Kadillak embodies this attitude masterfully.

Never thought I would see you writing this

Yes, he probably had some, shame don't you think?

Look, Michael is perfectly capable of defending himself or for that matter blow you and Colin off and ignore you. All I am saying is that perhaps you have miscontrued what he wrote. I don't think he is calling a "tight wad" those people who cannot afford to buy the film any more than he would call a tight wad those people who cannot afford to buy a Ferrari.

I thought his comment was aimed at those who are never happy and think that Kodak should be a charity that should give the film away even if they get up in the morning, get on their Bently and spend $5 on a cup of coffee.

Like I said before, I am not happy with what Kodak is doing, and as far as I am concerned this is the last increase in price I allow them, if next year they say they are increasing prices or try to piss on our back and tell us is raining by deciding to go to 5 sheets per box and once again increase the price 25%, they can grab their hole production roll and stick it where the sun don't shine. Bottom line, so far I am still willing to support their efforts, but they are getting mighty close to the point where, like you, my budget will not allow me to use the film any more. And this has nothing to do with being a tight wad or not, it is simply the realities of personal economies.

Marko
27-Apr-2008, 15:41
Some people, like me, would love to use first rate material and tools but presently the budget is what it is.
Are we tight wads?
Is there a need for insulting people because they are on a budget?
This certainly is the mentality that is being used toward the have nots in this country and it seems that Mr Kadillak embodies this attitude masterfully.

But... what exactly is wrong with being frugal and buying more economic alternative even though being perfectly able to afford something more expensive?

In the not so distant past, before it became politically tainted dirty word, that kind of attitude was considered conservative, and that was something commendable. Conservative like in conserving the resources, be it electricity, gasoline or money, so they get utilized smarter. Conservative like in the opposite of wasteful...

The attitude Domenico is mentioning is very much there, but not only toward the have nots, it's there also for those who believe there is a tomorrow after now.

Calling people who either can't or, more importantly, won't pay more than they absolutely have to tight wads is, IMHO, the same as calling their opposite number, those who always buy only the absolute best they can get, wastrels. There seems to be an overwhelming need to stick demeaning labels to anybody different, as if we have all become collectively insecure, despite the fact that we live in "a land of plenty", "the land of the free", "the richest and most powerful country in the world", etc.

Why is that, I wonder?

Colin Graham
27-Apr-2008, 16:13
Good question, but it's always been that way. I've noticed walking along beaches here the sorts of collections of things that are always popping up. Piles of sticks, stones, shells...Even abandoned the collections bespeak the human need to gather, catalogue and organize. Labels are never far off.

But to Jorge's point, I suppose it's only natural to want the best supplies so that your craft does not want for anything. It is like your child after all. But the best is of course not the same as the most expensive, unless maybe QC is the only criterion. I have a history of liking cheaper film. APX, efke, etc. Maybe I'm a tightwad, or maybe I respond differently to the challenges. Why are so many shooting dianas and holgas these days, anyway? Maybe the 'best' film isn't always the most inspirational, or the best suited to what you see. I've shot TMY and I can make it do what I want, but it does not persuade, and there is always that niggle. That said, I'll probably live in a van down by the river if I have to to afford film, even if TMY is the last film standing. But for now I'm very glad there are options.

Michael Kadillak
27-Apr-2008, 18:08
Maybe you should recuse yourself from threads like this if you have a financial stake in the Kodak runs. In the least your motive appears to be getting people to buy only Kodak products to secure it's future. But whatever. For me the day will soon come when it's 2nd tier film or no film at all; already TMY 12x20 is $5 more a sheet than fp4+, which itself is on the cusp of affordability as we speak. I'm very interested in other's experiences with these 'inferior' products so when the time comes I can make an informed decision. To suggest that cheapness is the main motivation behind these decisions is arrogant and ludicrous.



I used efke for 3-4 years as well before the first defects showed up. And I used it because I loved the film, not because it was cheap.

Ha! Jorge has it spot on.

I wish I received some compensation for all of the effort I put into insuring that we are all properly represented in the film consumption sector. I concluded that the best way to neutralize the naysayers that got under my skin telling me that film would no longer be manufactured was to take an active role to make sure that they were dead wrong. Having the time and the energy to do so is my contribution to the cause. I pay for my sheet film like everyone else and I am more than happy to kick in my fair share.The fact that I am working to promote T Max 400 is directly related to the fact that I honestly feel that it is the best film that has been produced in the last ten years bar none. If Ilford or Lucky or Foma or Efke (or ?) took top honors in the aggregate quality control and performance category I would not hesitate to kick the can for them. I could give a rats ass who makes it. I just want a film that smokes and TMY fits this billing better than anything I have had the opportunity to expose.

I apologise for not being more forth coming in my previous post. Through the contacts I have developed I have knowledge of what is going on inside the lines and I will leave it at that.

What we decide to purchase has a direct relationship to what we will have access to as a function of time. At times I feel that this subject becomes as much an issue of quantity over quality. I would rather take my time and expose one sheet of quality film knowing that I can envision the print that this exposure will make over six sheets of lesser quality film. That is how strongly I feel about this subject.

I am not trying to put anyone down in this assertion. I am just being remindful of the fact that we are ALL part of the solution to having access to top notch sheet film. If you cannot afford Ilford or Kodak all of the time, then consider an occasional purchase to show your support to the future of quality analog. Ilford is a GREAT company that also needs our collective support. If we own this issue, we can solve it. Just try to do the best that you can.

Cheers!

D. Bryant
27-Apr-2008, 18:15
I am about to embark into 4x5 for the first time and will play with the camera a lot before exposing any film, but once I decide to try film, I am curious what experiences people have with some of the inexpensive B&W films such as the Shanhai found on ebay or the Arista (I know old Arista was HP5) from Freestyle.

Is the quality consistent? How does it compare to the old standby of TX?


Thanks,

Jeff
I can't address your question though I've been tempted to give the film a try. I have used Lucky film (35mm - Chinese made) and thought it was definitely an old school emulsion.

I've heard that there is a possibility that there may soon be ULF Chinese film being sold.

Please note I'm not anti Kodak, as TMAX 400 is my prefered LF film, but having an inexpensive alternative doesn't hurt.

Don Bryant

Anupam
27-Apr-2008, 18:24
At times I feel that this subject becomes as much an issue of quantity over quality. I would rather take my time and expose one sheet of quality film knowing that I can envision the print that this exposure will make over six sheets of lesser quality film. That is how strongly I feel about this subject.

You like the look of TMY, great! Go ahead and use it. But why do you keep suggesting that other films are actually inferior in quality, to the point that one would need six exposures of a shot? That is not my experience, nor of many other satisfied users of Foma and many other brands.

The look of a film and the manufacturing quality of a film are different things. In terms of the look a film produces, to suggest that there can be one best film is naive. I don't like the look of TMY - won't do for me, sorry. But QC is something else. Are you suggesting Kodak is the only company who have proper quality control and others have either a 50% defect rate or need six sheets of exposure just to make sure one got the shot?

John Kasaian
27-Apr-2008, 19:36
IMHO the quality of Kodak products is second to none. Every (rare) issue I've had using Kodak stuff was ultimately my own fault after analyizing the results. TXP is a product which I find delightful to work with and TMY (the old stuff--I haven't had the opportunity to try the new version) has qualities that are very desireable , especially when shooting under some conditions. I've never had an issue with Kodak quality...but I haven't had any quality issues with Ilford, Efke or Foma either. Are any of these the film for you? Only you can answer that question---try them and see. Even if you are happily married to Kodak or Ilford products you owe it to yourself to try them out---a snafu might make the availability of your 'fave' hard to get for a (hopefully) limited tiime so having a back-up isn't a bad idea.

IMHO the concern about getting a bad run of film while shooting that one in a million masterpiece is a paradox. The more you shoot the more chances you have of finding your own " Moonrise Over Hernandez" but if your shooting is severely limited because you can only afford to budget 10 sheets of film instead of 25 or 50 then the likelyhood that you'll be out shooting on that fateful morning is more remote.

Then again if you've only got 10 sheets of film to work with you'll be far more selective---which might be a very good thing.

Then again if you're only consuming 1/5th the amount of film you'd normally purchase, then that can't be much of an impetus for a company to stay in the film business, can it? And having another workhorse leave the corral can't be a good thing, can it?

Try the cheap stuff. If it works for you then use it and enjoy it while it is still "cheap stuff" :)

Michael Kadillak
27-Apr-2008, 21:00
You Are you suggesting Kodak is the only company who have proper quality control and others have either a 50% defect rate or need six sheets of exposure just to make sure one got the shot?

Yes - I am saying that Kodak without question has the best quality control in the industy.

The anology I was using about using a larger number of sheets is based upon my experience that I have had with other shooters that have at times experimented with lower cost film. At times they get cavalier with their shooting as they comment to me - might as well take this shot even if I am not absolutely sure I should shoot it because it is only $X a sheet.

When I get ready to pull the dark slide on my 11x14 or 8x20 at $10 a sheet you learn quickly to not make mistakes. Lately I find that about half the time I set up the ULF I do not make the photograph. If the film was $1 a sheet maybe I would not be so descriminating eh?

Anupam
27-Apr-2008, 21:42
Best quality control is one thing and I am sure you're right, but implying that the other films are so far off is another. My experience differs from yours in that I have never had any problems with quality control with Foma and I love the look of the film. So until I encounter any difficulties, I'll continue to trust and use their products.

I also don't get this idea of expense as a factor adding to discretion and quality. If film were $100 a sheet, I don't think my photography would be any better for it. The very fact that I am hauling around a heavy camera, setting it up, metering carefully, not to mention the work of developing etc is incentive enough to be discerning indeed. The impetus for quality comes from the hard work I put in, which IMO is more valuable than the difference between a $10 or a $5 sheet of film. I suppose we are talking very different approaches to making photographs.

domenico Foschi
27-Apr-2008, 23:55
What I see is these big companies like Kodak and Ilford pricing themselves out of the market and giving way to the manufacturers we have been talking about.
If that happens, are you going to stop shooting because of the "poor quality control"?

I really like foma and I will be buying more and more of it.


Jorge, yes, they are just photographs and many, many more are waiting for me out there.
I have shot about 500 sheets of Foma and as I said only one sheet had some damage to the emulsion, probably due to reckless shuffling.
People continue to post mostly positive experiences with this film but it is still being demonized.

Stefano
28-Apr-2008, 03:09
I use mainly Ilford films and I've ever had problems, but I use Foma films, and also in this case I've ever had problems,so far, of Foma film I used 100 sheets of film,but no problem for me is a good %.
Foma is also certificate to Iso 9001 for quality, in Europe is a good certification about quality.

Best
Stefano

Colin Graham
28-Apr-2008, 06:57
I'm not looking forward to trying Foma, if you know what I mean. I hope Ilford is in it till the end and will try to support them till the end because their commitment to the end user is so astonishing. But Foma is at the top of the backup list for sure.

I really like your attitude Domenico. It's too easy to take it all too seriously. I keep reminding myself life's short, have fun.

keeds
28-Apr-2008, 07:30
I've never had a problem with Foma, film or paper. It's a difficult one, but if people don't use Foma it won't be there as a backup if Ilford disappear...

John Kasaian
28-Apr-2008, 07:52
As I've said earlier, Foma is great stuff! I haven't determined yet if I would or could replace TXP with Foma 200, or FP-4+ with Foma 100, but I'm shooting more and more Foma and really having fun with it. I don't want to commit totally to the products of only one company though (especialy Kodak) since a corporate decision made by a far-away bean counter can put me back to "step 1" seemingly without any warning. I still shoot Ilford and Efke and (more rarely now) Kodak films too---but this isn't the mode of operation I'd suggest for someone just starting out, which would be to stick with one film (and one lens) until you gain your confidence. Fortunately we have Arista.eduUltra, with Foma quality at a nice price :)

Michael Kadillak
28-Apr-2008, 08:35
What I see is these big companies like Kodak and Ilford pricing themselves out of the market and giving way to the manufacturers we have been talking about.
If that happens, are you going to stop shooting because of the "poor quality control"?

I really like foma and I will be buying more and more of it.


In a very cordial and respectful way because I feel that that this is a subject that needs to be carefully considered, how about the long term ramifications?

From a philosophical perspective, by the comment above you then ascribe to the Wal Mart economic model? For pencils, pots and other very generic consumables that may be an option. But for highly specialized professional products like sheet film I say that this approach has more downside than may be on the surface.

To state that Kodak and Ilford are pricing themselves out of the market is a fairly broad statement. Many factors go into this pricing condition and it just is what it is. Considering that virtually everything that any of us purchase over the last year is getting jacked up in price conveys to me that manufacturing costs are likely up as well. With silver and energy costs up dramatically, why would Kodak and Ilford be immune from these conditions?

Will I start using a different film if Kodak or Ilford cease operations? I will do everything possible to prevent this situation from occuring so I do not have to make such a decision. I am proactively doing this right now and will continue to do so as long as necessary. How we do this collectively is to encourage people to use the best possible materials to make the best possible photographs that they can. Nobody is happy about the state of affairs within the global economy, how commodity prices for metals, grains and energy are through the roof and how much photographers in Europe have to pay in import taxes for sheet film but it just is what it is.

Cheers!

BrianShaw
28-Apr-2008, 08:38
I still pick up pennies I see on the ground, but I only shoot Kodak or Ilford or Fuji film.

D. Bryant
28-Apr-2008, 09:18
[QUOTE=Anupam Basu;344259] But why do you keep suggesting that other films are actually inferior in quality, QUOTE]
I think the issue is that compared to other film manufacturer's (except Fuji and perhaps Ilford) Kodak has a 100% defect free QC standard. And if one is shooting very large ULF that is important.

As for TMY, IMO it is almost a perfect film, high speed, low grain, responds well to contractions and expansions and has superb reciprocity characteristics.

Don Bryant

Jorge Gasteazoro
28-Apr-2008, 10:35
Don has summarized it very well. HP5 does not work for me, and FP4 is too slow for ULF. J&C 400 was Adox, and I had a hell of a time dialing it in to my satisfaction and had size problems, I had to cut a little each time I used a sheet.

Can I make other films do what TMY does for me? Sure, but it might mean having to carry two emulsions, one for expansion and one for contraction. Adox does not expand well, at least well enough for pt/pd printing, etc.

TMY does all that I need it to do at all contrast ranges.

This current 12x20 deal places each sheet at $17, this is it for me. While Michael makes a good case for making a sacrifice and pony up the money, I have to agree with Domenico that Kodak in particular is pricing itself out of the bussiness. Last year I could get TMY 8x10 for $2.94 per sheet, this year is $4.39. I don't want to bash Kodak, I love their products, but there comes a time when brand loyalty cannot justify the expense.

Michael Kadillak
28-Apr-2008, 13:41
Don has summarized it very well. HP5 does not work for me, and FP4 is too slow for ULF. J&C 400 was Adox, and I had a hell of a time dialing it in to my satisfaction and had size problems, I had to cut a little each time I used a sheet.

Can I make other films do what TMY does for me? Sure, but it might mean having to carry two emulsions, one for expansion and one for contraction. Adox does not expand well, at least well enough for pt/pd printing, etc.

TMY does all that I need it to do at all contrast ranges.

This current 12x20 deal places each sheet at $17, this is it for me. While Michael makes a good case for making a sacrifice and pony up the money, I have to agree with Domenico that Kodak in particular is pricing itself out of the bussiness. Last year I could get TMY 8x10 for $2.94 per sheet, this year is $4.39. I don't want to bash Kodak, I love their products, but there comes a time when brand loyalty cannot justify the expense.

And I hope like hell it is a very long time before additional price increases are necessary. Deductive reasoning would tell us that Kodak would not have spent over a million in R&D if it were not possible to recover it in a reasonable period of time. I bet a reasonable period of time is several years tops. Once this is off of the balance sheet they would be in better shape assuming film sales continue on trend. Clearly TMY(2) is also a boon for medium and small format shooters as well.

Cheers!

buze
28-Apr-2008, 14:30
Hmm I'm sorry to get back to the topic here...

I tried in 4x5 the ERA and the Shanghai. The ERA is worthless, the base is thin and the film has a curl to it... it also floats in the Paterson tank when developing. Didn't see any obvious defects in coating but I nust say I even gave up on it for pinhole.

The Shanghai (Blue box) is nothing short of fantastic. I shot several hundred sheets of it over the last years and never saw /any/ defect. The base is the same as FP4/TMax/HP5, the emulsion is perfectly smooth and it behaves pretty much exactly as the published reciprocity as FP4. Oh it also pushed pretty easily to 400.
My last order of Shanghai came in 'white' boxes, and it might be repackaged ERA -- I just don't know I haven't tried that particular film yet. If it's repackaged ERA, it's a great shame...

As far as Shanghai GP3 120 rolls, it's a totaly different ball game; that film is pretty much garbage. Consistent defects in coating, and a curliness that makes it unusable for pretty much any purpose. I even tried re-rolling it /backward/ (emulsion out) on the reel to dry, and the film is still acting more than a spring than anything else, even after a year pressed flat.
So if you scan it, you can always 'fix' the defects and make it work... if you manage to get any film flatness. Otherwise I think it's a good film to test your next acquisition for mechanical problems...

Joseph O'Neil
28-Apr-2008, 14:53
The only "off brand" film I used and liked was Forte Pan 400, which is now closed/no longer in production.

Specifically it had an extended red sensitivity that I liked, much like Tech Pan - another discontinued film. But my point is, the main reason I used that "off brand" was because it had something other films didn't.

As for the debate over the price of the new T-max - well at least you guys in the USA who are arguing about it *CAN* buy the stuff. Last I checked here locally, Kodak in Canada is still nada, nothing. Four hours drive from Rochester NY, and i cannot find the stuff in local camera stores, even by special order. Somebody go tell Clinton and Obama to go ahead and tear up the NAFTA agreement, because it ain't doing me any good here in Canada. :)

As for the quality of film - wait until you ruin a good shoot on a lousy film. did that once, never again. Thought I was saving money buy buying a box of cheap film. Every sheet had issues. Forget who/what it was - this was about ten years ago now.

What I learned was no matter how cheap film is, if it doesn't perform when you need it too, it ain't worth a penny. As this point, it's all HP5 or Tri-X.

So until either the new T-max 400 is sold here in Canada, or Ilford actually puts out Delta 400 in 4x5 again, or hell freezes over and the Leafs win the cup, i'll stick with quality I know.
:)

joe

D. Bryant
28-Apr-2008, 16:03
So until either the new T-max 400 is sold here in Canada,
joe

So why don't you just order some from Badger Graphics?

Don Bryant

Joseph O'Neil
1-May-2008, 05:43
So why don't you just order some from Badger Graphics?
Don Bryant

Because last time I ordered film from the USA, I got charged duty on top of the regular sales taxes. Don't get me wrong, I ordered my Tachi and I've bought lenses and lens boards from Badger, and would do so again. Why I can bring in a camera or lens duty free from Badger and not Kodak film....totally mind boggling. After a while you just get too dman tired of constantly fighting the system.

The other reason too is the few camera stores here in Canada that carry traditional wet darkroom supplies and film are struggling, and frankly, I like to support the local guy whenever I can. Sure I could order from Badger and have them label the box a a used camera lens, but I've been buying my film and supplies from some of these guys for 25 years, and i want to see them around for another 25 years

It's nobody's fault here on this board, and you guys are all likely sick and tired of me ranting about it, ;) but a local camera store 5 minute drive from where I am stocks Rodinal and Kentmere paper, both from Europe, and can even get brand new Berlebach wood tripods made in Germany in a heartbeat - in fact, they have one or two in stock usually, but cannot (so far) get in the new T-Max from a place that is four hours drive away.... :mad:

Rate things are going, I'll likely see Shanghi film from China before the nex T-Max. :D :D

D. Bryant
1-May-2008, 08:17
Because last time I ordered film from the USA, I got charged duty on top of the regular sales taxes. Don't get me wrong, I ordered my Tachi and I've bought lenses and lens boards from Badger, and would do so again. Why I can bring in a camera or lens duty free from Badger and not Kodak film....totally mind boggling. After a while you just get too dman tired of constantly fighting the system.

The other reason too is the few camera stores here in Canada that carry traditional wet darkroom supplies and film are struggling, and frankly, I like to support the local guy whenever I can. Sure I could order from Badger and have them label the box a a used camera lens, but I've been buying my film and supplies from some of these guys for 25 years, and i want to see them around for another 25 years

It's nobody's fault here on this board, and you guys are all likely sick and tired of me ranting about it, ;) but a local camera store 5 minute drive from where I am stocks Rodinal and Kentmere paper, both from Europe, and can even get brand new Berlebach wood tripods made in Germany in a heartbeat - in fact, they have one or two in stock usually, but cannot (so far) get in the new T-Max from a place that is four hours drive away....

Rate things are going, I'll likely see Shanghi film from China before the nex T-Max.
Call or e-mail Jeff at Badger Graphics and ask about the duty issue. US products are duty free to Canada.

As for supporting your local camera store I can understand your sentiment but not your logic. Either they can supply you or not. It doesn't sound like they are selling new TMAX 400 or they have a lot of old stock. And why would you drive 4 hours to purchase anything these days? The internet is my camera store of choice.

And just an FYI, I live in the Atlanta metro area and how many camera stores do you think carry TMAX 400 in sheet sizes (old or new)? Zero, nada, none. So if you want TMAX 400-2 it's there.

And as far as Rodinal goes, I'm not sure why anyone would want to use it as there are better developers to choose from.:)

Don Bryant

Terence McDonagh
1-May-2008, 09:09
I buy what I can afford at the time. Sometimes it's Ilford, sometimes it's Foma, sometimes it's an old stash of Kodak. If I'm going on a "once-in-a-lifetime" vacation, I'll take the Ilford. For shots around NYC, I'll often use Foma.

In all honesty, I've never found a bad sheet of any of the film. But maybe I'm just not discerning enough (entirely possible)

I don't make a living at photography, so if the day came when the shot is ruined . . . such is life. That's why they invented beer.

Buy what you like. Buy what you can afford. Just buy SOMETHING, and keep some company alive. I'd live with a 24% defect rate so long as I could still buy/afford film. I'm too lazy to coat my own on anything other than a whimsical basis.

Jim MacKenzie
1-May-2008, 19:14
Because last time I ordered film from the USA, I got charged duty on top of the regular sales taxes. Don't get me wrong, I ordered my Tachi and I've bought lenses and lens boards from Badger, and would do so again. Why I can bring in a camera or lens duty free from Badger and not Kodak film....totally mind boggling. After a while you just get too dman tired of constantly fighting the system.


All film and camera gear is duty-free in Canada. On the back of the duty and tax calculation is an appeal form. Fill it out, send any needed documentation (e.g. if they calculated tax on the wrong value) and send it in.

The couple of times I've been charged duty or been charged taxes on the wrong value, I got a refund reasonably quickly.

scott_6029
1-May-2008, 20:04
I have had great luck with EFKE 7x17 and 8x10 and like the look for certain SBR and lighting situations. I shoot a lot and the cost does add up so I am somewhat sensitive to price. I have also shot several boxes of ERA 7x17 film and liked it and would purchase again.

For me on 7 x 17, I am more sensitive to price vs. 8 x 10... . The 7x17 EFKE and ERA is roughly $3+ a sheet vs. $6 + on up for Ilford, Kodak even more....($89 a box vs. $160+).

I did shoot the J and C 8x10 special discount film (really inexpensive film) and really liked the look too. Don't know what exactly this film was, but as suggested in an earlier post, it may be Shanghai film?

For 4x5 sheet film (not readyload), the total box price differential isn't that big of deal for the 'first tier' brands.

What I find interesting is that my $3 + 7 x 17 sheet film is about the same price as 4 x 5 readyloads!

Filmnut
21-May-2008, 18:22
I bought some Arista EDU Ultra 100 from Freestlye, and even with the shipping to Canada, it is a much better deal than anything else that is locally available. I have only shot about 5 sheets so far, but I like the results. Nice tonality, not too much grain. Processed in Xtol 1:1, 75 F. 9 mins, and looks about right, my system, of course, others would likely be different.
When I bought it, I specifically asked who made it, and the woman said that it was Foma.
I too have heard about quality control problems, which is the only thing that bothers me. Large format is such a large investment in time, money, effort, and expectations, I'd hate to loose some nice work due to bad film!
That said, I will continue to use this film, and if all goes well, buy some more!
Keith

Jiri Vasina
21-May-2008, 22:46
Keith, if you have read the previous posts concerning Foma films (or was it in other threads?), you will notice there is much talk about quality issues with those films, but very few people that actually experienced them. Most of it is tales and hearsay. I don't say that Foma is perfect, but so far I have had no problems with the films.

And the chance that a picture is ruined by some mistake on my side is much much higher, than being ruined by Foma's quality issue...

Neil Purling
6-Jul-2008, 00:46
I have USED the ERA 100. It comes in a brown cardboard box marked "panchromatic portrait film". I developed it to the same time as for Ilford FP4 but the contrast is down.
This is what I would expect of a film which would be shot with the illumination of studio flash. I have got the rest of the box to use up so I will have a bit more of a tinker with speed/time. I soup in Rodinal diluted 1:25 or 1:50 for either 9 or 15 min @ 20C.
There may be other purposes apart from portraiture this film would be suitable for but so far really bright sunny weekend days have been at a premium so I haven't been able to see how it responds in conditions of un-obscured sun & deep shadows.

So far the Foma 100 may be a better bet.

Has anyone got any information based on actual usage of the Shanghai (blue box) 4x5 film?

Shen45
6-Jul-2008, 03:13
Keith, if you have read the previous posts concerning Foma films (or was it in other threads?), you will notice there is much talk about quality issues with those films, but very few people that actually experienced them. Most of it is tales and hearsay. I don't say that Foma is perfect, but so far I have had no problems with the films.

And the chance that a picture is ruined by some mistake on my side is much much higher, than being ruined by Foma's quality issue...

Two boxes of Foma 200 - 100 sheets unopened and frozen, 4 years apart 2004 and 2008, different emulsion numbers tested with a 21 step stouffer -- both films identical. And I do mean identical -- base fog, gamma, everything.

Perhaps there is just a touch of snobbery here.

D. Bryant
6-Jul-2008, 08:42
Two boxes of Foma 200 - 100 sheets unopened and frozen, 4 years apart 2004 and 2008, different emulsion numbers tested with a 21 step stouffer -- both films identical. And I do mean identical -- base fog, gamma, everything.

Perhaps there is just a touch of snobbery here.
Steve,

It isn't snobbery. Kodak and I assume Fuji have modern manufacturing methods that assure virtually zero manufacturing defects with there products. Foma cannot manufacture film to the same level of quality and it has been noted by many to not be defect free.

Of course if you are happy with Foma that is fine but don't assume snobbery with these posts about defects of east European and Chinese film.

Don Bryant

Gene McCluney
7-Jul-2008, 08:22
I use Arista Edu Ultra 200 (Fomapan 200) in 5x7 exclusively, and I have shot over 1000 sheets of it so far. I have not had any "defects" other than my processing, as I was learning to process this particular film. It seems it requires some different agitation techniques in my developer of choice over other films.

Neil Purling
8-Jul-2008, 01:20
Has anyone compared the sharpness of ERA with the Shanghai & Foma 100?
As the first lot of the ERA seemed to have low contrast maybe it just doesn't like Rodinal as well.
I have decided to try the Shanghai: Is this another emulsion that is really soft until it has dried (like EFKE)? The dev time for the Shanghai seems to be the same as the ERA and FP4. I can soup the ERA & Shanghai in the same juice and compare sharpness & contrast.
How do you dry the stuff if it is too soft to risk using a squeegee?
A long time ago I used Johnsons Fix-Sol for fixing EFKE & Orwo which was a hardening fixer. Dunno if it is still available.

Howard Tanger
8-Jul-2008, 11:04
...
How do you dry the stuff if it is too soft to risk using a squeegee?...

I have never used a squeegee or my fingers to take excess water off film, roll or sheet. I use Kodak Photo Flo in distilled water as a final rinse and hang to dry.
Howard

Neil Purling
8-Jul-2008, 11:16
The point was: Is is really very soft & more susceptible to damage than the Foma & EFKE competition? I have ordered some so i'll just have to hang it up and let it drip dry.
Is the Shanghai also more prone to curling?
The ERA I had was slightly curly. I think this was because the outer cardboard box was cut too short to hold the double packed film.
When I get the Shanghai i'll do a two or three way shoot out between the Foma, ERA and the Shanghai.

I know I am only using 30ml of R09 per tankful at 1:50, but I would still rather have a tank rather more than half full or else it still seems wasteful. The way the weather has been at the weekend none of my brass-ware has had much exercise lately.

Gene McCluney
10-Jul-2008, 23:38
I use a couple of photo sponges soaked in photo flo then wrung out, to wipe down both sides of ALL b/w film I process, Kodak, Ilford, Foma, Fuji, Forte, Lucky, and have never (in 30 years) had any scratches or emulsion defects from the act of squeege-ing. I don't put much pressure on the film, just enough to soak up the water as I move the sponges down the film.

Neil Purling
11-Jul-2008, 02:46
I have not used Kodak Photo Flow. Is this a wetting agent like Ilfotol and will it stop drying marks if I don't squeegee?
If the Shanghai is soft out of the wash I can live with it if I can dry it without marks and not squeegee.
Has anyone pitted the ERA directly against either the Foma, the Shanghai or even FP4?
I was curious about the sharpness of the ERA. The only ERA I have developed so far was shot with one of my brass lenses, and the results weren't too good.

I have been shooting a bunch of stuff to try end find out where the problem lies.
Maybe it's the lens. I have shot on the ERA with my 130mm Dagor and 210mm G-Claron and I used the 'suspect' lens with a ultra slow stock.
I have shot quite a few sheets of film to find out what's what, but i've got no Rodinal left. So till I get new supplies of chemistry i'll see what you have to say.
What's the ERA like on landscapes?
One of my checks was a set shot on a rare morning of bright sun to see the appearance of a long tonal range between the Foma and the ERA.

Neil Purling
13-Jul-2008, 14:22
I think that mystery brass lens is decidedly dodgy.
I got my order of chemistry from Retro Photographic and I have had the opportunity to get stuck into some more tests.
The ERA, Foma and Shanghai all have the same single semi-circular notch.
However I have seen the distance from the edge of the film varies: The notch of the ERA being the closest followed by the Foma and the Shanghai.
I developed the Shanghai and the ERA at the same time. The time is as for FP4.
The Foma has a non-standard time.
The ERA negatives had denser highlights than the Shanghai, but the shadow details were exactly the same. Rate the ERA at 125 ASA instead?
The Foma was not as sharp as the two Chinese films, and the neg was thinner.
I think the development time was right because the shadows looked okay.
Maybe the Foma isn't a true 100ASA? I was shooting at a shutter speed of less than 1 sec.
I found a hair mark on the emulsion side of a ERA neg, the only one in the box.
Perhaps it is something you might want to bear in mind? How common are defects with the ERA?

Jiri Vasina
13-Jul-2008, 22:59
No, Foma 100 is definitely not 100 ASA. Depending on personal style of shooting, developer, agitation, it's usually rated as EI 50 - EI 80 (I personally rate it EI 64).

Neil Purling
14-Jul-2008, 10:17
That is exactly what I suspected about the speed from seeing the negative that it might be a stop under-exposed. It was just so much thinner than the Shanghai, yet the shadows were about the same..
What have you found abut the sharpness of the Foma against the Chinese emulsions or offerings of equal speed from Kodak & Ilford?

Jiri Vasina
14-Jul-2008, 10:49
I have not yet developed any sheet of Era (have bought it just recently), but I'd say Fomapan 100 is well within my tolerance of closeness to Ilford and Fuji bw films. Might be a little more grainy (just a little), but nothing intruding. Sharpness is very good.

Neil Purling
14-Jul-2008, 14:14
Maybe the lack of contrast due to the under-exposure is making the image appear less sharp?
Why on earth would they list the film as 100ASA, when it clearly isn't?
If I boosted the dev time 30% to get a true 100ASA i'd lose shadow detail compared to the Shanghai & ERA.

Jiri Vasina
14-Jul-2008, 22:30
Neil,

Fomapan 200 is usually referred to as equivalent to Ilford FP4+ with equivalent speed at EI 100-125 (-160) in most developers.

Fomapan 400 (available in 35mm and rolls) is to be shot at 250 - 320. Even shooting it at 400 seems like pushing it a bit...

Maybe they want to list it as a step faster for customers to compare it with faster films - for the grain to be less prominent in comparison? I don't know why it's so.

Lenny Eiger
16-Jul-2008, 15:14
Is the quality consistent? How does it compare to the old standby of TX?

I am very familiar with the various films from Kodak and Fuji as I've been a professional photographer for 25 years, I've just never played with 4x5 and want to go cheap to start.


I'll be the first to disagree, seems to be my lot in life. Respectfully, of course. I wouldn't do this... I can't speak to Arista, but I have tried a lot of the others, FOMA, ERA, etc. The quality is not consistent. If you want to buy one box to do some playing around, fine. But I would bother. What happens if you shoot something you actually like? Then its on this funky film. What if you are somewhere you will never get to go again - or don't want to... I took some shots a couple of years ago in Yellowstone - it's my fault, but they weren't what I was looking for in quality - and I'm not going back there with the crowds, bad food and everything else...

A friend just sent some FOMA up to me to scan. Compared to Efke25, or FP4, it just couldn't cut it. Grainy, holes in the emulsion, black spots, scratches on the edge. Kind of shredded. And this fellow is a long time professional, with brand new holders... Now he has to do a ton of spotting - and just do the best he can....

I say you would save enough money getting a head start on what good film can actually do - or how it behaves in your chosen developer, that you would end up saving by starting of with good materials. (And learning how to get the most out of them by staying with them.)

Lenny

Neil Purling
16-Jul-2008, 23:56
Lenny: When I m finished with the Foma I don't think I will be using any more of it.
The box said 100 ASA and it ain't.
If I was going to do something absolutely un-repeatable, then I would just have to buy Ilford FP4, if I needed medium speed film.
If you are just learning or are a student doing a college course you might want to try a cheaper alternative. You might be better doing the actual money shot, the one for the portfolio on something decent of course, but that is a matter of personal choice.
If I personally wanted ultimate quality I might get a box of EFKE 25 if the ortho colour response of my Kodak 4125 was unsuitable.

Gene McCluney
17-Jul-2008, 23:27
I have been using the Fomapan 200 in the guise of Arista Edu Ultra 200 for over a year now in 5x7 size. I have shot over 1000 sheets of it. I have not found any inconsistencies or manufacturers flaws whatsoever. I process in HC-100 dilution "E" and fix in standard Kodak Rapid-Fix w/hardener. I rate this film at ISO 100. I find it to be very sharp and very low grain. In the attached photo, when viewed with a loupe you can see the price of gas on the old gas pump. 5x7 Fomapan 200

SAShruby
18-Jul-2008, 09:51
You missed my point.

The reason that the film produced by these maunfactures is so wrought with problems is because the coating machines are just plain worn out and should have been scrapped 20 years ago. The people that are running them are inexperienced and do not have any ownership of the product produced. I heard that at times defects are as high as 50% and they do not even bat an eyelash. They keep pumping it out. Cheap buys as much loyalty to the product in manufacturing as it does in the consuming segment. These manufacturers are taking advantage of the fact that there are a lot of tight wads in the film consuming arena that want film and are obviously not very concerned about what they are getting.

When the masters you mentioned above acquired the state of the art film technology during ther era the coating machines used were virtually brand new and the companies that produced this product were dedicated 100% to producing the best quality film possible and all was quite well. And yes, the results proved it. That is NOT the case as we speak. Much of the stuff many people are acquiring is wrought with a myriad of defects that is simply unacceptable to me. Others may not have such a descriminating mindset. If it is worth my time to make a photograph, I want to make the best one possible. I will not take any chance with the film I chose to make it with - period.

Just my $0.02.

Cheers!

Michael,
Have you been there?
Can you post some pictures?

I'm just wondering...You're quite expressing your opinion without personal experience.

Michael_4514
19-Jul-2008, 05:05
As a hobbyist, I'm basically willing to give anything a try. To me, that's half the fun. I have a different concern with the Chinese films, however, and that's the environment. You can be sure that one reason they are so inexpensive is because the environmental controls are quite lax.

It's extremely hard to avoid buying Chinese in general. In some cases there are no alternatives, or at least no practical ones. Thankfully, there are good alternatives when it comes to film. When Chinese environmental standards begin to approach those of the West, then I will be only too happy to give their stuff a try.

Jiri Vasina
19-Jul-2008, 05:22
I have always advocated against those people saying Foma films were low in quality. But from now on, I'll have to stop taking part in that debate. On several of my recent 13x18cm Fomapan 100 sheets, there are rather long and large scratches.

I'm willing to admit it might be caused by me, but I know that I did nothing differently from my previous developments. I'm not aware of manipulating the films in any way that I could have scratched the film this way. But I'm willing to admit it's my fault...

As my workflow is hybrid (scanning all my films), it can be remedied, but it's more work.

Neil Purling
20-Jul-2008, 08:01
I do not know how many outlets there are for the Chinese photo films but so far I have used Ebay vendors. No real discount if buying 5 boxes of ERA or multiple purchases of Shanghai. Are there official dealers in the USA? I do not think there are in the UK.

There is another Chinese-made photo film brand: Lucky. They may only make 35mm & 120 roll film. The attraction of that make was that there was no anti-halation backing. Well, not on the 35mm stuff anyway. I have only used the 35mm form of Lucky 400 & 100. That effect would have had its uses in large-format too.

Would you say that it would be fair to say that the Shanghai is better than the ERA?
The packing of the ERA 4x5 didn't impress. I am sure the boxes are too short for the multiple wrapped film so it puts a curl on the film. I have had one sheet so far with a surface defect. This was at a steam & vintage fair and I was duplicating my work on another film. I have seen that the ERA seems available in odd sizes other than 4x5, 5x7 & 8x10.
The Shanghai seems to do the job, and I would use this when it was not of such importance as to need a first rank film.

I don't know about the Foma. Maybe it just doesn't like Rodinal.
Can you get the listed 100 ASA and reasonable shadow detail with another developer?

I have not got a printer with a wet darkroom at present, dunno about drum-scanning.
I have tried the cheap n nasty method of re-photographing with my digital camera & reversing the result in Paint Shop Pro Maybe the Foma would give a decent print, my way of looking at the negatives suggests otherwise.

Jiri Vasina
20-Jul-2008, 09:05
Foma recommends Rodinal (or R09) for Fomapan 100. It's reported to be speed loosing in almost all developers.

Neil Purling
20-Jul-2008, 09:44
Maybe I am missing something but why label it as 100ASA if it is not? Does it's effective speed under tungsten illumination achieve the elusive 100ASA? I thought under tungsten light film loses speed but i'm not sure.

Jiri Vasina
20-Jul-2008, 09:48
I have no idea why it's labeled ISO 100, when it's actually closer to ISO 80-64-50. Maybe they don't want you to compare the film with ISO 50 films - it would fall down that way - relatively large prominent grain... If compared to ISO 100 films it is not that bad... But I truly don't have an idea...

Lenny Eiger
20-Jul-2008, 16:21
Maybe I am missing something but why label it as 100ASA if it is not? Does it's effective speed under tungsten illumination achieve the elusive 100ASA? I thought under tungsten light film loses speed but i'm not sure.

They have a different idea of what black is than you do. tere are standards for this kind of thing. I have never found a film that matches exactly. I wanted to make a different kind of print than Kodak's idea, for example. I am not a "moments of you life" kind of photographer... and have insisted that my friends blow my brains out if I ever wade into that area...

I wouldn't worry that manufacturers ideas match. make it work for you...

Lenny

jack_hui
7-Aug-2008, 18:01
ERA100

Setting ISO100, #8 (Yellow) filter, HC110(B), 8:30min, 20DegC, Jobo Drum

http://www.pbase.com/jack_hui/image/101216910.jpg

Neil Purling
8-Aug-2008, 00:41
Is the emulsion of the Shanghai GP3 120 roll the same emulsion as their 4x5 sheet film?
I have heard some of the springy nature of the base material.
The packaging of the GP3 looks like they copied the design of a eighties Ilford film box.
It seems like the Chinese makers only do 100 ASA apart from Lucky.
I liked the Lucky 35mm as there was little or no anti-halation coating, which gave interesting effects. What a pity they didn't make it in 4x5 sheet.
I was curious about the GP3 and bought a few rolls off someone with plenty to spare.
I just didn't want to have loads around if I bought a brick and it was no good.

Paul H
8-Aug-2008, 04:13
I have no idea why it's labeled ISO 100, when it's actually closer to ISO 80-64-50. Maybe they don't want you to compare the film with ISO 50 films - it would fall down that way - relatively large prominent grain... If compared to ISO 100 films it is not that bad... But I truly don't have an idea...


It's labelled ISO100 film because that is what it is. The ISO speed test is a standardised test.

The speed you get is your EI or your effective film speed - it may bear no relationship to the manufacturer's ISO rating. Now, often your EI is lower than the ISO, but can be higher, depending on your metering technique, your shutter accuracy, developer, agitation technique, etc.

If I use continuous agitation and Rodinal 1+50 with Foma 100 (4x5), my EI works out around EI 50-64. With PC-TEA it seems to work well exposed at EI 64-80. However, if I use Rodinal 1+100 and reduced agitation (for 120 or 35mm), I can happily shoot at 100.

So far I've had no problems with Efke or Foma films, other than those caused by my own incompetence (!)

Jiri Vasina
8-Aug-2008, 05:04
Paul, I have not said I have had problems with Foma films, I was only speaking about the sensitivity. It's my main LF film so far.

(Although recently I have had some scratches with Fomapan 100 13x18cm, which might not have been caused by me. But I'm still not saying it's 100% Foma's fault).

jnantz
8-Aug-2008, 06:29
ERA100

Setting ISO100, #8 (Yellow) filter, HC110(B), 8:30min, 20DegC, Jobo Drum

http://www.pbase.com/jack_hui/image/101216910.jpg

hi jack

you made your point ( to me at least :) )
nice !

Lenny Eiger
8-Aug-2008, 12:11
ERA100

Setting ISO100, #8 (Yellow) filter, HC110(B), 8:30min, 20DegC, Jobo Drum



I don't want to be critical of anyone's artwork - and I mean that. However, this image was put up as an example of how good this film is... So just technically - looks to me that the highlights are missing some detail, shadows are pretty empty...

Lenny

jack_hui
8-Aug-2008, 17:34
I don't want to be critical of anyone's artwork - and I mean that. However, this image was put up as an example of how good this film is... So just technically - looks to me that the highlights are missing some detail, shadows are pretty empty...

Lenny

Thanks for your comment, and honestly, it is the "first" B&W that took and developed
by me a few weeks ago. I used to take color slide for the last 1X years, therefore, for B&W, I still got a lot of things to learn.

coops
8-Aug-2008, 19:49
100 sheets, there are rather long and large scratches.




I recently purchased a 50 pack of the 200 speed Fomapan because, well, it's cheap and I am fairly new to lf and developing. Of my first batch of 10 negatives,six looked as though a scouring pad had been used on sections. I figured it was me, but I have never seen this on film I have developed so far. To make it worse, several had what I can best describe as a blue cast to the negative. It,s b&w, so I hope this makes sense.
I have read a few posts here, and thinking I should go back to Ilford.

Jan Pedersen
8-Aug-2008, 19:56
Jack, your photo disapeared, lucky enough to have seen it and i like it. Not everyone likes flat and technically perfect photos. Please bring it back.
Thanks.

jan

jack_hui
8-Aug-2008, 20:21
I guess it is the problem from pbase ... I didn't remove my pictures.

Some other points for ERA, I haven't used up my first box of 8x10 ERA film, but I found scratches line on all the developed films, and the scratches line are random and at the same location, thus, it is probably due to poor QC. Since I can read Chinese,
I got the similar information from other Chinese forum from China.

Other than scratches, there are also complaint about different film base thinkness from batch to batch (i.e People are trying to look for the same batch of film, just to
avoid development problem!).

IMO, at this moment, I will not use ERA or other CHinese made film for serious shot.
But as a beginner in B&W, those film is an excellent choice for me to practice
(or to waste??!! :D ).

Neil Purling
8-Aug-2008, 23:06
Does your development procedure include any act that might produce the scratches?
If you sacrificed a unexposed sheet from the box and inspected it in the light would any marks be visible then? If not try and put it in a tray of fix to remove the emulsion.
I have heard a lot about defects with this film, not sure how many have actually used it. I have used one box. I consider it has a slightly higher speed at about 125 ASA, not 100.
I only had one sheet with a defect, maybe I was lucky. I would not dare use this for anything but learning new techniques or experimenting with new lenses before a serious shoot.
I bought 2x 25 sheets of Shanghai after the ERA. Maybe not so much bad press about this?
Out of curiosity I am trying the ERA 35mm. ERA don't seem to do 120 roll.
I will try anything to see if it has anything unusual to offer.
I liked the Lucky B&W from 2004. If they have put a anti-halation backing on the latest stuff then they have knackered it as far as i'm concerned. I would have loved 4x5 sheets of the old Lucky SHD400 emulsion.

What is the Shanghai GP3 like apart from having a really springy base?
The Lucky 35mm I used was extremely bad in this respect so the Shanghai 120 wouldn't come as much of a surprise.

It is strange that the makers of black and white film in China do not seem to have made anything but 100 and 400 speeds. I wonder what a professional would have used? Was ORWO, EFKE or the Soviet Svema and Tasma film imported?
In the past i have had both Pearl River & Seagull TLR's through my hands, and I wondered what a Chinese home user would have been able to buy for their camera.

jack_hui
9-Aug-2008, 00:14
It seems to me that lot of the Chinese large format photographers are using local
made camera (chamonix?), together with Chinese made film, e.g. ERA GPS, etc.

Neil Purling
10-Aug-2008, 12:06
Is the worst problem with the Shanghai GP3 the springiness of the thinner film base. If so I could live with that. There's better in the cupboard for when i'm in the mood.

IanMazursky
10-Aug-2008, 20:10
Wasn't Kodak part owner/partner of the Lucky plant?
I thought the plant was still there but under lucky control and the Kodak technology was taken back.

Neil Purling
11-Aug-2008, 22:59
Has anyone used Lucky SHD100 and 400 recently?
The 'new' Lucky 120 roll apparently does have a anti-halation backing. Dunno if that also applies to the 'new' 35mm too.
Unfortunate that we could not get the non back-coated stuff in 4x5 sheet. It'd have been a interesting combination with a Petzval type of lens.

Now I want some USER comment on the Shanghai GP3 120 roll. I have got some rolls of the stuff, and I was hoping for some pointers in case some tweaking of speed & process times are needed. The massive development chart suggests that the same time for FP4 is also applicable for the Shanghai GP3. This is true for the Shanghai 4x5 sheets as I have used the 4x5.
Has anyone done a direct comparison with their own particular favoured film, in their favoured developer? I wondered how the Shanghai compares to Plus X Pan, T-Max 100 and Ilford FP4. I wouldn't expect it to be an equal, but how inferior is it?