Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Fast film a "better deal"?

  1. #1

    Fast film a "better deal"?

    So, I've been thinking about this for a little while. It kindof seems like fast film is a "better deal", optically/photographically when you factor everything in.

    I mean, I don't use strobes or anything and I'm always painfully aware of how there is never any light. Even outside during a cloudy day, f/8 at 125th is nowhere near enough depth of field, and at like f/16 at 1/30th, people can have motion blur, etc. It's tough.

    I mainly have shot 100 speed film, because I figured, well, I'm shooting 4x5 so that I can get big, sharp, grain-free prints. But, I've shot some 400 speed film, HP5... I really like how it looks, and the grain is pretty small. I can tell a difference between FP4 and HP5 in terms of grain, but it's really not that much. So it got me to thinking... aren't fast films kindof a better deal, like per photon of light hitting your film? I mean, HP5 is 4x faster than FP4, but I would muuuch rather have a 4x5 HP5 neg than a 6x6 FP4 neg (which is around 4x smaller). Similarly, a little 35mm neg on, say, plus-x doesn't seem like it'd hold nearly as much detail as a 6x6 tri-x neg. It's 4x faster, but not 4x grainier.

    But shooting that kind of thing would give you *around* the same depth of field, shutter speed, etc, right? Like, 80mm lens on 6x6 looks kindof like a 150mm on 4x5. 80mm/8 = 10mm aperture, 150/15 (round to f/16) ~ 10mm aperture. So 80mm, F8, 125th sec on 6x6, 100 asa film, and 150mm, f/16, 125th, on 4x5, 400 asa film, should give you similar depth of field, field of view, same shutter speed, etc.

    Right? Or is something off about that...

    I'm just kindof working it out in my head. I haven't actualy tested anything like this out, I don't even have a MF camera anyways, and I'm trying to be less nerdy about film, grain, developer, blah blah blah and just shoot more photos.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this? Do you shoot fast film?

  2. #2
    Eric Woodbury
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Fast film a "better deal"?

    I used to shoot all different film speeds, but that turned into a mess. Then I decided that since I had big negs, grain wasn't my problem, so I shoot HP5+ for everything. I'd rather have a little grain than a blurry (from wind) picture. Now I'm shooting a lot of 6x7 and 35mm, too. Still use HP5+. If I need to set up a tripod, I'll use a big neg. If I don't have a tripod, I should use faster film. And the joy I get from 35mm is the speed, being able to do things quickly or in low light of people.

    So I order one film, keep it fresh, and I'm calibrated for one developer, and I'm really getting to know the film well. It's a good system for me.
    my picture blog

  3. #3
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    USA, North Carolina

    Fast film a "better deal"?


    I don't shoot anything but Tri-X. I'd go with a faster film if I could get it. A 10x enlargement from Tri-X is virtually grainless, and really sharp. And from 4x5, that's a 40x50inch print which is pretty darn big. I've only done that a few times, and never any bigger.

    As it is, I spend entirely too much time waiting for the wind to die down. I would love another stop. I just wish there was any hope in the world for a good solid 800 speed film. But, there's no one left to do the R&D. Sigh...

    Bruce Watson

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Frisco, Texas

    Fast film a "better deal"?

    Hi Tadge,

    Imagine a 4X5 field camera, mounted on a tripod, outdoors. The wind is blowing moderately strong. Beautiful white billowy clouds, and you want to use a red filter to bring out that drama in the sky. You'll need to allow two or three stops for the filter factor. You can choose a slower shutter speed. However, the foilage is moving in the wind, and you don't want it to look blurred in your final image. The best solution is to use the fastest film possible. In the case of 4X5 film, 400 speed is the upper limit. Sure, you won't be able to obtain the finest grain in your negative. That's the trade-off. However, you don't need to worry about that until you print larger than 16X20.

    Since you like the look that Ilford HP-5+ film gives, just continue to use it. It's my favorite film for the 4X5 format, since I always seem to be using filters in breezy outdoor conditions. Also, I am able get a little more speed out of HP-5+ using Ilford DD-X developer, without loosing detail in the shadow areas. I mostly make 16X20 enlargements.

    In this case, faster films are a "better deal".

  5. #5
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Fast film a "better deal"?

    It sounds like for what you're doing, yes you would be happier with a faster film. If you want to go faster than 400, shoot HP5+ or Tri-X and process in a developer like Acufine, Diafine, or Microphen. I shoot Tri-X more than any other film and when I shoot 4x5" hand held press camera style, I rate it at 640 in Acufine.

    When you need a slower film, you'll know it (e.g., when you want a wide aperture under bright conditions or in the studio with strobes and there's some good reason why a ND filter isn't a good option).

  6. #6
    Leonard Metcalf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Sydney, Australia

    Fast film a "better deal"?

    I have just chosen one black and white film to stick with... guess what? Have just bought it in all formats... and plan to stick with it with one developer...

    HP5 plus...

    Me - I particularly enjoy printing with it... love the prints... and how easy it is... strange as I learnt on FP4... now I just want a touch more speed... and a simlar curve...

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I do...

    Leonard Murray Metcalf BA Dip Ed MEd

    Len's gallery
    Lens School

  7. #7

    Fast film a "better deal"?

    One other factor about the fast film, esp. HP5 is that is usually easier to print (for me anyway) than the 25/50/100 ISO film, owing to the lower inherant contrast. It seem like most times I have enuf contrast in my negs, and it's much, much easier to bump up the contrast of a flat neg than to try and tame a contrasty neg when I'm printing with the set up I have (silver, not alt process). This applies to normal scenes, say 4-6 stop brightness range.

    HP5 doesn't push, so for very flat light, the slower films are appropriate IMHO. Nothingly like Efke 25 if you want to push the contrast!

    Just my 2 cents ....


  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    now in Tucson, AZ

    Fast film a "better deal"?

    With big negatives, tonality or curve shape becomes more important than fine grain. In general, faster films have a longer tonal scale than slow films. Essentially, the slower the film, the more contrasty it is. (There's a law of physics in there somewhere.) So those of us who want to photograph scenes of great brightness range, and want to have the most headroom to manipulate the gray scale, often choose faster films. 10+ years ago, the only color neg film that worked for me was Vericolor II type L (with an 85B filter in daylight), which worked out to EI 40. I'm glad I don't have to deal with that anymore!

  9. #9

    Fast film a "better deal"?

    I think it's a "better deal" if it gives you the results you want. When I started with 8x10 photography I got a box of 100 ASA Delta thinking that I would get absolutely zero grain and great tones. I got pretty poor results, basically low contrast and weak negs. I thought I was a failure until I tried the Tri-x Pan Professional (320) which has the contrast and great look I remember from my earlier days. I'm doing the same things and the negs look great. Why be a fanatic about grain if you're shooting 8x10? And while I don't really care about the extra stop and a half of speed, it's a nice bonus.

  10. #10

    Fast film a "better deal"?

    Slow film is great when you want to get as much as possible from a small negative and when you have fast lenses and good light - typical 35 mm situation. In large format, where you stop down a lot and long exposures become an issue, fast film is priceless to avoid motion blur - wind, the model not being immobile, etc. Since I never enlarge more than 4x (16x20 prints form 4x5 negs) grain is a non issue.

    I also standardized everything in all formats to HP5+, which I soup in HC-110. Scott Eaton, on, praises this combo a lot; I tried it and found it very good. Grain structure is much tighter than what I got with Rodinal (it helps with smaller formats) and much better tones in the highlights. Better still, it's just as cheap as Rodinal.

Similar Threads

  1. What a deal!
    By Henry Friedman in forum Cameras & Camera Accessories
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 23-Apr-2006, 08:41
  2. T-Max 400 Sheet film deal is a go
    By JandC Photo in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 1-Feb-2006, 23:31
  3. Fast film recomendations
    By Ron Marshall in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 1-Jul-2005, 10:13
  4. 12x20 deal!
    By John Kasaian in forum Cameras & Camera Accessories
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 11-May-2005, 09:44
  5. so just what IS the deal with Kodak?
    By chris jordan in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 12-Feb-2004, 04:48


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts