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Thread: Portra-Like B&W Film?

  1. #1
    Jeff D. Welker
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Mesa, Arizona

    Portra-Like B&W Film?

    I'm looking for recommendations for black and white film that exhibits the qualities I like in Portra 160. Specifically, the smoother tonalities and contrast that I get when using Portra. The "flat" look with good shadow detail that seems so easy to achieve on the color side with Portra. I've read some comments that pulling Delta 100 1-stop will help to achieve these particular qualities, but I wanted to get some comments from this group before making a decision. While I enjoy experimenting with different films, my humble budget does not allow as much experimentation as I'd like. Thus this inquiry.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Re: Portra-Like B&W Film?

    Does Ilford still make XP-2? That would be the closest, I'd think. Kodak did used to make a Portra B&W C41 film but it's out of production but probably still available on ebay.

  3. #3

    Re: Portra-Like B&W Film?

    Quote Originally Posted by EdSawyer View Post
    Does Ilford still make XP-2?
    They do, but only in 35mm and 120, not sheet film. As for the original question, I personally like Fuji Acros 100 (at box speed), in all formats, but it may not be the look Salmo22 is going for.

  4. #4
    jp's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Re: Portra-Like B&W Film?

    I'd pull tmy2 a bit. Delta 100 could probably do it as well but I'm not familiar with that film. A developer known for gentle highlights and low contrast helps too. PMK would be great. Some of the caffenol variants could do this with FP4+ probably if you don't mind some grain.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Re: Portra-Like B&W Film?

    TMX in a staining developer gives some very smooth tonality in my experience. Particularly if you overexpose it a bit to strengthen the shadows. For portraiture, a yellow or orange filter would give you a substantial jolt in this direction as well, but of course, all bets are off if there's any foliage or other green/blue hues in the image.

  6. #6
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: Portra-Like B&W Film?

    The problem is that with Portra you get detail over a long tonal range via hue distinctions, while if you take the same low contrast tack in b&w, you're likely to get gray mush for shadows, and not detail. I'd start with a middle of the road film like FP4, overexpose it by rating it at ASA50, then try something like divided D23 developer.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2015
    SooooCal/LA USA

    Re: Portra-Like B&W Film?

    You can also use an older style uncoated lens like a Tessar, etc to get a smoother scale look...

    Steve K

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