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Thread: B/W Film Advice.

  1. #1

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    B/W Film Advice.

    I never really ever shoot black and white so I thought that I'd like to give it a try. I don't have a darkroom but plan to mail out the box when done shooting. I like to take 'nature' shots mainly with my colour film but with black and white I may try some portraitures for a change too. I don't have a clue about the advantages/disadvantages of any particular film. Two I am looking at that are available are Ilford Hp5 and Kodak T-Max. I'll say again I don't have a clue.
    Another big factor is that b/w film is a *bit* cheaper and then with some of the money I save I can get some coloured filters and play around with it.

  2. #2
    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Re: B/W Film Advice.

    Developing black and white film is easy and requires very little equipment. Are you planning on using sheet film? You would save yourself a wack of money if you do it yourself rather than sending it out. You really should be in control of exposure AND development.
    Pick one film/developer combination and stick with it until you know them in and out. Both films you mention are great films, although if you are just starting with B/W I would recommend HP5...it's a more forgiving, traditional film.

  3. #3

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    Re: B/W Film Advice.

    Though that is just the thing. Currently we don't have any room anywhere for having a darkroom. Maybe in a few years after I move... but not feasible right at the moment. But thanks for the advice, I'll remember it for sure.

  4. #4
    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Re: B/W Film Advice.

    It sucks not having a darkroom...but you don't really need one. I know a guy who develops 8x10 film and contact prints it in his bathroom...or was it his laundry room?

  5. #5

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    Re: B/W Film Advice.

    Using Unicolor, Beseler, BTZS, and Jobo rotary drums only require total darkness while loading the film. Afterwards, the development can be done in daylight on a countertop. You are in control of the development process as Andrew recommended then a scanner and Photo Shop will eliminate the darkroom requirement.

  6. #6

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    Re: B/W Film Advice.

    A bathroom makes a nice dark(er) room---thats what I use, with a piece of cardboard over the window and either wait until everyone is in bed so I can turn off the lights in the adjoining hall, or put a towel down to block light coming in under the door.
    It works good enough for B&W. Assuming you're doing contacts you won't even need space for an enlarger The card board is free and you've already got a towel, right? Get a set of trays, a timer(ebay for a gralab 300) a safe light---get a bulb that screws into a standard light fixture, some bottles for storing chemicals (wine jugs work good, replace the metal screw cap with a cork or rubber stopper) and a graduate (a plastic measuring pitcher from the housewares aisle works as well, just don't let your Bride use it aftewards a cheap plastic bucket and funnel to pour the stuff in your wine jugs, add a piece of heavy glass for contact printing, some wooden clothes pins for hanging your negatives and prints up to dry and you're in business!
    For cheap film, see what it would cost to have Freestyle ship you a box of Arista.eduUltra.
    Cheers!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  7. #7
    grumpy & miserable Joseph O'Neil's Avatar
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    Re: B/W Film Advice.

    A few random thoughts...
    1) HP5 - very easy film to work with and forgiving of mistakes and errors;
    2) For sheet film, look at rotary processing in tubes of some kind, even if you rotate those tubes by hand on top of a table while watching TV;
    3) When starting out, say to yourself "I'm going to buy a box of 25 sheets of film, and waste the whole box learning". If you get that into your head that your first box is a write off and there only to learn, it takes off pressure and lets you experiment a bit more.
    4) take notes of your first box of film, what you did and did not do on each shot. You will not have to do this later on (unless you want to);
    5) Look on places like Kijijii or Craigslist for people selling darkrooms. Here in my hometown I see a MF enlarger and whole B&W darkroom setup for under $100. If you cannot find a 4x5 enlarger right away, contact prints are a lot of fun.
    6) Sometimes the best place to buy containers and measuring cups for a new darkroom is the kitchen isle of the local dollar store. Also, kitty litter trays make wonderful print developing trays at a 1/4 of the price, so shop around.

    good luck
    joe
    eta gosha maaba, aaniish gaa zhiwebiziyin ?

  8. #8

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    Re: B/W Film Advice.

    The HP-5 will be easier to manage than the T-Max. There are very few options available for commercial processing and they are not likely to be cheaper. I think the best way to get hooked on black and white is to shoot a couple of rolls of Ilford XP-2 in 35mm and then have the local one hour place make some prints. Anything you do at home is guaranteed to be better, particularly with sheet film. Then you won't be able to help yourself, and the availability of inexpensive darkroom equipment and makeshift bathroom ideas will make perfect sense; a kind of compulsion takes over. Good luck.

  9. #9

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    Re: B/W Film Advice.

    +1 for HP5. I used TMax in LF but finally went to Tri-X (should also be readily available and I love it). I used HP5 in the past (35mm) and was happy with it.

    Instead of a darkroom (currently "in progress" in the basement, but unusable), I use a loading tent (mine is a red arrow, there are many brands) to load my film in a Combiplan tank, then use the Combiplan in full light to process my film.

  10. #10

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    Re: B/W Film Advice.

    Getting back to your question - see what your lab prefers, if they have a preference and you obviously don't then go with theirs. If the lab doesn't care - Kodak TMax 100, Kodak TMax 400, Kodak Tri-X, and Ilford HP5+ are probably the most popular b&w films and all are excellent. The advantage of TMax 100 is that it comes in Readyloads, which means that you wouldn't have to worry about loading and unloading film in the dark, you would just use it and give it to your lab in the Readyload envelopes. The advantage of the other three is that they will allow you to use a faster shutter speed than TMax 100 because they're faster films. That could be important for portraits depending on your lighting and also is useful with "nature" when foliage is moving gently in a breeze. However, you would need to have a light-tight place in your house in which to load and unload these films in their holders. It doesn't have to be a fully equipped "darkroom," just a bathroom or closet or any other place where you can block out the light and have a little room to maneuver. I used to sit on the floor of a closet at night with a towel under the door to load film many years ago before I had a true "darkroom."

    Good luck, b&w is a whole different thing than than color, very few people do both equally well.
    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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