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Thread: Best choice portrait BW film

  1. #1

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    Best choice portrait BW film

    I want to shoot some portraits just getting back into 4x5 BW , im thinking of using Tmax 100 for my film. Its been a long time since i did any devolping or printing or shooting 4x5. Looking for opinions on portrait BW choice outdoor and studio and what your choice for devoloper ?

  2. #2
    Lachlan 717
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    Re: Best choice portrait BW film

    What lens are you intending to use? Sharp/clinical or softer/pictorial?

    If it’s the latter, film won’t be as important as if it’s the former.

    Also, how will you be processing?
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  3. #3
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Best choice portrait BW film

    Tmax 100 sheet film is pretty nice, but it does have a UV blocker in case you intend to make Alt process prints it will be unsuitable.

    I'm a fan of tmax400; it does not have that UV block. It has slight yellow filtration for smoother skin. It has massive dynamic range for hot lights or flash.
    If you have plenty of light, perhaps FP4+ would also be good. Haven't tried the delta films. Really almost anything used properly will do a great job at 4x5.

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    Re: Best choice portrait BW film

    What developer do you use with that Tmax 400 >?

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    Re: Best choice portrait BW film

    IMO this question cannot be answered as such. It totally depends on what type of portrait and mood you want to convey. Whom are we talking about? Is it something like Miles Davis by Anton Corbijn https://www.christies.com/lot/lot-an...avis-5783310/? Then T-Max 100 would be perfect. Or have you got something more dreamy in mind, like Imogen Cunningham did with portraits of her parents or Edward Weston and his wife. Then Fomapan 100 would be a nice match.

  6. #6

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    Re: Best choice portrait BW film

    Quote Originally Posted by otto.f View Post
    Is it something like Miles Davis by Anton Corbijn https://www.christies.com/lot/lot-an...avis-5783310/? Then T-Max 100 would be perfect.
    Didn't he purchase a ton of Tri-X when Kodak got into trouble?
    Frankly, Fomapan 100 would have been just as obvious a choice for that particular look as TMAX100. In fact, it would have been considerably more obvious to me.

    But I agree with your first sentence. I think the question as such is difficult/impossible to answer. Moreover, I think it's mostly irrelevant. Whatever film is sensitive enough to record the light levels you're planning to work with. The rest is all execution. Given today's materials, if you want to make TMAX100 look like an extreme S-curve as in the Corbijn photo linked to above, you could (granted, it'll be HARD to make it look as grainy as in that example). If you want to make Fomapan 100 look darn smooth linear, you could by exploiting the linear part of its curve in the middle. Etc.

    A film in itself isn't going to produce a particular look. It's one part of a large equation. The major parts of those equation, that far eclipse choice of film, developer, etc. are things like artistic vision, pose, rapport with the model, composition, lighting setup etc.

    Now, by all means go ahead and split hairs about which emulsion will be 'best'. It's an amusing exercise - and I really mean that! It's nice stuff. Just not as important as it may seem.

  7. #7

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    Re: Best choice portrait BW film

    Personally I would recommend Ilford HP5+ as it is a better all rounder and you would need much less flash power in the studio. It also gives you relatively fast shutter speeds outdoors in shady conditions at f16 or 22. Pretty bulletproof all round in terms of development. Why make life hard for yourself if you are just getting back into black and white?

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Best choice portrait BW film

    Love the one you are with

    Meaning, use any film on hand as tomorrow sitter may be unavailable

    I prefer 8X10 and 11X14" contact prints

    Some images do not enlarge well
    Tin Can

  9. #9
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Best choice portrait BW film

    Quote Originally Posted by Califmike33 View Post
    What developer do you use with that Tmax 400 >?
    It's not critical but I mostly use pyrocat hdc in glycol. 1:1:100. Have also used pmk, tons of d76 1;1 and even well used brown dektol.

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    Re: Best choice portrait BW film

    Quote Originally Posted by koraks View Post
    Didn't he purchase a ton of Tri-X when Kodak got into trouble?
    Frankly, Fomapan 100 would have been just as obvious a choice for that particular look as TMAX100. In fact, it would have been considerably more obvious to me.

    But I agree with your first sentence. I think the question as such is difficult/impossible to answer. Moreover, I think it's mostly irrelevant. Whatever film is sensitive enough to record the light levels you're planning to work with. The rest is all execution. Given today's materials, if you want to make TMAX100 look like an extreme S-curve as in the Corbijn photo linked to above, you could (granted, it'll be HARD to make it look as grainy as in that example). If you want to make Fomapan 100 look darn smooth linear, you could by exploiting the linear part of its curve in the middle. Etc.

    A film in itself isn't going to produce a particular look. It's one part of a large equation. The major parts of those equation, that far eclipse choice of film, developer, etc. are things like artistic vision, pose, rapport with the model, composition, lighting setup etc.

    Now, by all means go ahead and split hairs about which emulsion will be 'best'. It's an amusing exercise - and I really mean that! It's nice stuff. Just not as important as it may seem.
    Strictly, or theoretically spoken you are right and I agree. In practice however, most films have a sort of beaten path as to how they are developed, with which developer, etc. So starting with one film, you will end up mostly with a certain style and this will be sooner attained than with another film/dev combi. As you said, some effects are not so easy to attain with certain films. And I seldom see that deep blacks of Tmax 100 with Fomapan 100, although they are there.

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