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Thread: I know nothing... which film and chemicals would you reccomend?

  1. #1

    I know nothing... which film and chemicals would you reccomend?

    Hi guys, I am looking for some advice. My first LF camera should be here any day now, but seeing how I haven't developed film since high school, I am at a loss as to which film + chemicals would be good to start with. I will me shooting 4X5 sheet film and using the BTZS tubes to develop in, working in my tiny bathroom. thanks in advance!
    -Dan

  2. #2
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: I know nothing... which film and chemicals would you reccomend?

    in the next 35 minutes you'll get 115 suggestions from 39 different people, all of whom think the other 86 are idiots.

    My suggestion is: Find a "simple film" - I like Ilford FP4+ for it's "foolproofness" and yet flexibility. Pick one developer too - keep it simple. I currently use Ilfotec HC; but that's because i got a good deal on 15 liters of it. It works, and gives me good results. I might even buy some more when my current stock is gone...

  3. #3

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    Re: I know nothing... which film and chemicals would you reccomend?

    Go for whatever you can buy locally, and try it. I started with ilford 35mm stuff, and then ilford and Lucky (cheap) medium format. For large format I went even cheaper with Kodalith Ortho.

    If I were you go for Ilford for b&w, and get a suitable (Ilfosol?) developer.

    There's no point trying too many combos. Concentrate on the photo's not the film

  4. #4
    Sheldon N's Avatar
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    Re: I know nothing... which film and chemicals would you reccomend?

    Here's a couple polls where everyone weighed in on the issue of their favorite film and developer...

    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ight=film+poll

    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ight=film+poll

    My recommendation is to pick a forgiving, "low tech" film, which would probably be either Tri-X, FP4+, or HP5+. Pyro and Rodinal are very popular "specialty" developers, but you'd probably be best served with Xtol, D76, HC110, or one of the Ilford equivalents.

    Personally I shoot Tri-X and develop in Xtol, a great combo.

  5. #5

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    Re: I know nothing... which film and chemicals would you reccomend?

    Good advice from everybody so far--keep it simple. I use Ilford HP5+ and Kodak HC110 developer in trays. I doubt it's the "best", whatever that is, but I'm used to the combination, and know what I'm getting out of the negatives.

  6. #6
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: I know nothing... which film and chemicals would you reccomend?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon N View Post
    Personally I shoot Tri-X and develop in Xtol, a great combo.
    I'm with Sheldon and the others. Pick one film and one developer and stick with it for a while. You've got plenty to learn without playing the "which film/developer" game. Plenty of time for that later.

    I advise that you start out with a fast conventional film like Tri-X. The extra speed will get you mostly out of working with reciprocity failure (slow shutter speeds) which is something else off the table while you are learning how to use the camera.

    I also recommend XTOL with your continuous agitation (tubes) system. XTOL was designed for this and is much easier to control than a more active developer such as HC-110. For your purposes you'll probably want to use the 1:1 dilution. XTOL dilutes out to 1:3 with excellent results if you need a longer developement time.

    IMHO Tri-X and XTOL are an excellent combination to learn with. With this combination you can just rate the film at box speed and off you go.

    Good luck with it, and welcome to LF.

    Bruce Watson

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    Re: I know nothing... which film and chemicals would you reccomend?

    Assuming you're talking about black and white film, I've used D76 diluted 1-1 with the BTZS tubes for many years. D76 is an excellent general purpose developer, it may be the oldest commercial developer on the market, someone told me it was introduced in the early 1900s. For film, I've always liked Ilford HP5+, it's a 400 speed film (though I rate it at 200) and subjectively has always seemed to give me nicer tonal gradations than other films. Using a 400 speed film rather than 100 allows you to use faster shutter speeds, which is useful with things like foliage that's blowing in the breeze. But if you ever want to use Readyloads then you'll eventually need to learn TMax 100 also since that's the only b&w film Kodak packages in Readyloads.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

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    Re: I know nothing... which film and chemicals would you reccomend?

    I was in exactly your position several months ago -- definitely pick one combo and get comfortable.

    The BTZS tubes are *great* -- very easy to learn and you can increase the number of tubes as your comfort level increases (I'm up to 4 at a time ). They are also a great learning tool when you are trying to understand the relationship between exposure and development time, shooting a series of identical exposures and then testing N, N+1, N-1, etc., was quite the revelation (to me at least-- coming from roll film).

    I did a ton of reading, asked the guys here for input and ended up taking Brian's advice re D76 at 1:1 because I have used quite a bit of HP5+ in MF and always liked it (I also tend to rate it at 200, though I really need to do some testing soon).

    Brian's comment via Readyloads is also important-- I ordered some Acros 100 4x5 Sheet film from Badger recently to get my feet wet before I take off on a long trip out west this summer. I'm planning on sticking with Quickloads, so my testing with the sheet version will be helpful.

    Have fun!

    JT

  9. #9

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    Re: I know nothing... which film and chemicals would you reccomend?

    HP5 and XTOL 1:2 or 1:3. Fairly forgiving of errors in exposure and development, and handles contrasty light well.

  10. #10

    Re: I know nothing... which film and chemicals would you reccomend?

    wow! I thought I would be waiting a few days for a response but you guys are great! I will be going with fp4+ (i've used it in 35mm and had no complaints) and d76 or xtol, whatever I can get my hands on locally. thanks again for the quick response guys, I am sure there will be a plethora of questions shot your way in the near future.

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