View Full Version : Buying My First 4x5 Film

18-Dec-2008, 09:07
The latest chapter in my "I'm new to large format" saga....

Now I need film.

I currently shoot FP4 and PanF in 120 and 35mm film. I develop in Barry's 2-bath formula. I have shot a good bit of Efke 25, 50 and 100 in 35mm and some 50iso in 120.

I develop with the Barry's because it gives good, consistant results and it accounts for the incompetencies of my ADD addled/Overworked/underslept mind. In short, it's just idiot proof enough for my level of idiocy.

I'm thinking I'll buy a box of FP4 for general work under a lens, and perhaps a box of the Efke 100 for learning and for pinhole work.

Any input on this? Anything I should know about these films in large format that might somehow feel different than medium format?

The only other developer I keep around is Diafine. Is there a film I should go out of my way to try in that?

Thanks, as always.

Ron Marshall
18-Dec-2008, 09:18
FP4 is a good choice. I liked it best in XTOL, but it will do well in the devs you mentioned.

18-Dec-2008, 09:24
I'll let my Diafine Zealot friend speak on that subject.

I started with an expired box of HP5+ I got cheap. I really really like it. Talk about idiot proof! To date I have developed the HP5+ in D-76 1:1 and Xtol 1:3 in my Jobo tanks with continuous agitation. Rodinal 1:100 for an hour with almost no agitation. It's all good. I also had some old 120 HP5+ and got similar results from it. E.I. has been 400 & lately 250. I also underexposed the heck out of it (2 stops at least) and got useable results.

That said, I will give Tmax 400-2 a try before making a choice forever and forever. The Tmax 400-2 better be plenty good and plenty idiot proof or I'm going back to HP5+.

Personally, I like the comfort zone of the faster film for 4x5.

18-Dec-2008, 09:32
Thanks, Wayne... and now over to Westley...

I highly recommend the combination of TMY-2 (the new Tmax 400 formulation) developed in Diafine, with each solution diluted 1:1 as a 1-shot developer - - there is an extensive thread about this process here that you can search for. I have extended the use of this method to also include my developing of Arista EDU 100 for 4x5 as well.

MIke Sherck
18-Dec-2008, 14:06
Keep in mind that large format folks often go beyond f/22 -- all the way to f/64 is not unheard of. Since we're already carrying that tripod anyway, we often shoot in low light, too. Whatever film you choose, make a note of its reciprocity characteristics and take the note with you in the field. You'll be referring to it.

That said, my personal preference is Ilford HP5+ in 8x10, for contact prints, and Kodak's Tmax-100 in 4x5 for enlarging. In part that's undoubtedly because they're easy films to get hold of in the US. Keep that in mind, too, if you happen to live or work in out of the way places.

Good luck!


18-Dec-2008, 14:21
My recent find is Adox Pan 25, which is a kind of old emulsion formula, which has great tonality with Xtol 1:1. In case you need some slow film, this is really good.

18-Dec-2008, 16:25
I went ahead and ordered the FP4...just because I'm familiar with it...reciprocity and all. I've been shooting it for pinhole work for some time.
I'm sure I'll also end up with some Efke at some point and something faster as well.

I'm a bit conflicted over faster film. I mean, all that extra negative means that grain is less of an issue, I know that, but I'd rather not give up any of that size advantage to faster films.
Evens so, I'm sure I'll need to carry something faster at times.
I need to figure what faster film works well in Barry's Two bath or diafine. I really am a bit wedded to compensating developers for the ease of use.

John Whitley
18-Dec-2008, 17:09
I'm a bit conflicted over faster film. I mean, all that extra negative means that grain is less of an issue, I know that, but I'd rather not give up any of that size advantage to faster films.

As a fellow LF newbie, I'll share my own recent thoughts on this matter: Remember that a faster film may end up with better results for some subjects due to the faster shutter speed. Whatever loss you'll incur from a fast film will be more than offset by reducing subject motion. Again depending on subject matter, exposure times for a fine-grain slow film (e.g. ISO 25, maybe shot at EI 12..?) may be inconveniently high, when reciprocity failure is considered. Also consider your intended enlargement size -- will you be able to see a difference?

On the other hand, I've seen lovely work with slow film where the above matters either weren't a concern or were deliberately leveraged to fantastic effect.

MIke Sherck
18-Dec-2008, 20:56
Remember that large format folks tend to not obsess over grain; tonality, sharpness, rendering of highlights and shadows, reciprocity, how it works in different developers, how expensive it is and how easy to get -- these tend to be the sorts of things that will end up getting your attention.

Oddly, with large format I ended up preferring other films to my 35mm and medium format preference (Tri-X.) Things just look different with that big negative.

That said, starting with a film you have some familiarity with is probably a smart move. Eliminating some of the variables is a good thing.