Forums > Photography Talk > B&W film recommendations

Photographer

fullmetalphotographer

Posts: 2784

Fresno, California, US

"I love the smell of HC110 in the morning, you know one time we were in a darkroom, 12 hours. When it was all over I walked up, we didn't sind a single film canister, not one stinking film can. Smell, that HC110 smell, smells like... Victory."

My favorite combo for 35mm and 4x5 film is Kodak Tri-X. Developed in HC110 developer mixed dilution B.

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2064/2282784127_3dd1733f2a.jpg
rock012 by FullMetalPhotographer, on Flickr

http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4054/5147635607_ba5740ce18.jpg
Cash by FullMetalPhotographer, on Flickr

Jan 03 13 05:57 am Link

Photographer

Patrickth

Posts: 10321

Bellingham, Washington, US

Take a look at Orwo film.

http://www.orwona.com/

Random google image search it.  Has a look to it you might like.

Jan 03 13 10:38 am Link

Photographer

WMcK

Posts: 5286

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

-JAY- wrote:
Any particular difference between Ilford delta 100 and FP4+ ? (aside from 100/125)

I always found Delta 100 to be sharper and finer grained than FP4, but flatter. A print from FP4 had more life to it, more mid tone contrast.

Jan 03 13 10:52 am Link

Photographer

NTN Photo

Posts: 101

Baltimore, Maryland, US

I love the hell out of FP4 for shooting people. It renders skin tones great it isn't super contrasty so it's pretty easy to manage if you have enough light or are shooting in studio.

Delta 3200 is an acquired taste I guess, but I love it as well. The grain gives it a distinctly film look and just creates a great mood. I'd suggest picking up a roll and giving this a go to see if it's to your taste. I would say I mostly shoot this film with friends and at concerts because I like the mood it creates and only use it every so often with llamas.

also tri-x is a classic for a reason...beautiful film.

Jan 03 13 09:41 pm Link

Photographer

Joey

Posts: 453

Orange, California, US

Tri-X and D76 developer gives the greatest exposure latitude and was the workhorse for newspapers and magazines. Even if the negative was dense, I.e. overexposed, it was still useable in newspaper print, less than 100 dpi. As for developing the negs, Rodinal is a high accutance developer. Over agitation will increase contrast at the expense of highlight and shadow detail. There are different mixture ratios for stand development to manage detail on both ends of the tonal scale. If you're planning on scanning, the newer t grain film stock will be easier vs. the older silver halide Tri-X and Ilford formulations. Lots of undiscovered country for you to explore! One more thing, use Tri-X if you end up sending it out to process. Most places don't have the right tools and skillset to properly develop it. Once again, it's most forgiving!

Jan 03 13 10:47 pm Link

Photographer

AgX

Posts: 1273

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

Patrickth wrote:
Take a look at Orwo film.

http://www.orwona.com/

Random google image search it.  Has a look to it you might like.

While it may very well be a wonderful film, I can't say that I agree with suggesting it to an OP who is returning to film processing after a decade, and wants to go back to basics. Relative to many other films available, almost nobody shoots Orwo, and thus the body of knowledge and experience to which the OP (or a newbie) can refer is scant at best.

Jan 04 13 09:03 am Link

Photographer

Patrickth

Posts: 10321

Bellingham, Washington, US

AgX wrote:

While it may very well be a wonderful film, I can't say that I agree with suggesting it to an OP who is returning to film processing after a decade, and wants to go back to basics. Relative to many other films available, almost nobody shoots Orwo, and thus the body of knowledge and experience to which the OP (or a newbie) can refer is scant at best.

I hardly think the Op is a newbie. I do believe he is inherently an experimentor and probably as cheap as I am given his prowess at finding and selling photo based gear.  My recommendation stands.  Thanks

Jan 04 13 11:21 am Link

Photographer

Hector Fernandez

Posts: 1152

Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico

hbutz New York wrote:
+1 for Fuji Neopan.  Once you try it, you'll never buy the yellow box again.

+2 the scans are super rich.

Jan 04 13 10:02 pm Link

Photographer

jesse

Posts: 85

Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Ilford PanF
Ilford Delta 100
Ilford Delta 400
Ilford XP2

Jan 04 13 10:17 pm Link

Photographer

David Mittelstadt Photo

Posts: 96

Chattanooga, Tennessee, US

If you want something inexpensive, try Kentmere 100 or 400 in 100ft rolls (B&H sells for I think about $30/roll), or go to www.ultrafineonline.com - they have their own brand of 35mm film in 100ft rolls for about the same price.  It's not bad.

Jan 05 13 08:01 am Link

Photographer

C h a r l e s D

Posts: 9304

Los Angeles, California, US

OP.  Get ONE type of film and ONE developer.  Shoot and develop at least 10 rolls before starting another type OR another developer.  If you don't know what your'e going to get with LOTS of experience with one type of film and developer, you're not doing yourself any favors. 

When you're an expert at one type of film and one developer, THEN you can branch off.

Jan 05 13 08:28 am Link

Photographer

C h a r l e s D

Posts: 9304

Los Angeles, California, US

fullmetalphotographer wrote:
"I love the smell of HC110 in the morning, you know one time we were in a darkroom, 12 hours. When it was all over I walked up, we didn't sind a single film canister, not one stinking film can. Smell, that HC110 smell, smells like... Victory."

It's the fixer your smelling in the morning, not the HC110.

Jan 05 13 08:30 am Link

Photographer

Andrew Kaiser

Posts: 1306

Portland, Oregon, US

C h a r l e s  D wrote:
OP.  Get ONE type of film and ONE developer.  Shoot and develop at least 10 rolls before starting another type OR another developer.  If you don't know what your'e going to get with LOTS of experience with one type of film and developer, you're not doing yourself any favors. 

When you're an expert at one type of film and one developer, THEN you can branch off.

This!! 

These days, just about every film on the market has its plus side and its negative side and has the capability of producing amazing results once you get to know it and can use it properly.

I would pick something that you know is going to be around for a while and is available in a wide variety of formats in case you ever want to try a new camera.  These days, that would probably be something from either Ilford or Foma.  Fuji and Kodak's commitment to film is dubious at the moment and Adox and Rollei can be hard to come by and availability is inconsistent.

Ilford is probably a bit more stable in terms of quality and Foma is a bit more affordable so feel free to weigh the pros and cons of that.

Jan 05 13 12:21 pm Link

Photographer

Marcio Faustino

Posts: 2052

Freiburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

For long exposures of nature and models in studio: Fuji Across

For portrait in the streets ilford 400

For street Ilford 3600

Jan 05 13 12:42 pm Link

Photographer

Form and Pressure

Posts: 710

Auburn, Maine, US

I love Tmax in HC-110 Dil. B  I get the flexibility I need from ISO 100-800 at what ever time I choose, to accomplish the look I want for that roll.

Jan 05 13 02:25 pm Link

Photographer

Jirrupin

Posts: 1743

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

i'm probably in a pretty small minority but I LOVE Fomapan and Efke, the only BW films i buy now (used to be a big fan of HP5)

Jan 05 13 03:08 pm Link

Photographer

Wideviews

Posts: 220

Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom

I use Fuji Acros 100, a great film.  Also worth considering is Ilford XP2 and C41 processing.

Jan 05 13 03:21 pm Link

Photographer

Andrew Kaiser

Posts: 1306

Portland, Oregon, US

Jirrupin wrote:
i'm probably in a pretty small minority but I LOVE Fomapan and Efke, the only BW films i buy now (used to be a big fan of HP5)

Efke no longer exists so probably not a good idea to start with that.

Jan 05 13 04:29 pm Link

Photographer

Henry The Artist

Posts: 293

Blackpool, England, United Kingdom

For 35mm photography I really like Ilford FP4, 100 Delta and Pan F. I never really liked HP5 in 35mm as I find it to be rather "flat" tonally. Pan F is not the most forgiving of films and requires careful exposure but the results are fantastic! smile

Anything by Foma and Rollei is great.

I really like Rodinal for small, medium and large format film developing. It's inexpensive, doesn't go off as quickly as other developers and has been on the market for about 120 years. It would not have been around for so long if it didn't work.

Jan 05 13 07:47 pm Link

Photographer

salvatori.

Posts: 3836

Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, US

Everything in my portfolio (and everything I've shot for the last decade) has been on Tri-X.

Shot at 400. 35mm Pentax.

Jan 05 13 07:51 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6690

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

After a decade of not doing anything myself... the negatives look as they should.

http://www.jayleavitt.com/links/film_drying.jpg

Jan 05 13 08:28 pm Link

Photographer

Jirrupin

Posts: 1743

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Andrew Kaiser wrote:

Efke no longer exists so probably not a good idea to start with that.

nooooooo!!! I only have six rolls of efke left and was due to put in an order to BH next month!! Now they have nothing!! That was kinda sudden, a bit of heads up would of been nice

Jan 05 13 09:30 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6690

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

Haven't picked up a film scanner, so lightbox+camera for now... from the above strip:

http://jayleavitt.com/links/stephanie_film3_web.jpg

I need work... but at least I didn't completely eff things up!!!

Jan 05 13 10:29 pm Link

Photographer

Tony-S

Posts: 1440

Fort Collins, Colorado, US

Jirrupin wrote:
nooooooo!!! I only have six rolls of efke left and was due to put in an order to BH next month!! Now they have nothing!! That was kinda sudden, a bit of heads up would of been nice

Yeah, I picked up 30 rolls of Efke 25 120 and three boxes of PL 25 4x5x50 sheets. All in the freezer for some time to come.

Jan 05 13 10:44 pm Link

Photographer

Andrew Kaiser

Posts: 1306

Portland, Oregon, US

Jirrupin wrote:

nooooooo!!! I only have six rolls of efke left and was due to put in an order to BH next month!! Now they have nothing!! That was kinda sudden, a bit of heads up would of been nice

You can probably find some on the market still.  I know Freestyle has some left.

It was very sudden.  Evidently what happened is their machinery broke down and it was just too costly to fix it.  I am incredibly bummed about it too.  I loved shooting Adox CHS which was also made by Efke and the supply is just straight up gone.

It was beautiful stuff.

Jan 06 13 06:44 pm Link

Photographer

kramer

Posts: 38

Los Angeles, California, US

My advice is to explore color negative film (35mm from Fuji, Kodak, etc.) that have a wide exposure range a great sensitivity, and you can even process at 1-hour photo labs, then scan/print and store....you can also play w/ cross processing, and even create a short film (which you own...) for almost no $$

   I'm a Zone System trained, and teach students that film has value (whereas digital is valueless today:)

   Explore user groups/enthusiasts worldwide for access to films, methods of B&W (I love tri-x, Agfa 1000, and all color films can be used for B&W....
   Love this discussion, and all those that commented! 

    "film will never die"     don't breath the fixer:)

    We are creating a global wellness film from still photographs (from the USA, India, China, Africa, Russia) with some live action interviews and moving from
color to B&W...

    See/hear "The Artist"  b&w silent film by french filmmakers....

Jan 09 13 10:02 am Link

Photographer

Pinner Photographer

Posts: 1

London, England, United Kingdom

I went to see the Ansel Adams exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in London last week. Great photos, of course, and some amazing shots where the contrast across the print, from snow to mountain shadows, was amazing. So what did I learn? Adams liked to take flat,neutral negatives. He said his negatives were like a musical score and his prints were the performance. He printed his pictures again and again and again. Pushing the development for contrast; dodgiing and burning; working the whole print process until it was just right. There is a lesson here that maybe the film and what you do with it is not that important. It's what you do next that makes the difference.
I have to say that this thread has brought back many happy memories of the smell of the drak room and the pure magic of seeing a piece of white paper turn into a real photograph before my eyes. Now where's that old OM10 of mine?
Tim

Jan 09 13 04:14 pm Link

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Photographer

Giacomo Cirrincioni

Posts: 21374

New York, New York, US

SWEET!!

Jan 09 13 04:54 pm Link

Photographer

Kev Lawson

Posts: 7812

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

Kaouthia wrote:

100ft rolls? wink

this is what I used to use, with the reloadable plastic cartridges. You can save a ton of $$ (not really a ton, but decent savings).

Hardest part is getting used to loading them in the dark, but after a few rolls you get the hang of it and its really easy.

Jan 09 13 05:26 pm Link

Photographer

Pinup Fantasies

Posts: 1157

HIXSON, Tennessee, US

For portraits in the studio, I liked either T-Max 100 or Plus-x developed in D-76.

BTW I've seen a couple of references to bulk loading. I used to roll my own, and you can save a lot of money, but you have to be scrupulously clean . One grain of dirt can put a scratch on every frame of every roll that comes out of that bulk loader. Voice of experience here.

Jan 09 13 05:53 pm Link

Photographer

Legacys 7

Posts: 33856

San Francisco, California, US

VonJake-O Foto wrote:
I like Fuji Acros for 100, Illford HP5 for 400/800.

Fuji Across. Ilford 100 for me. I'd always like these two film over Kodak.

Jan 10 13 09:31 am Link

Photographer

Legacys 7

Posts: 33856

San Francisco, California, US

Jirrupin wrote:
nooooooo!!! I only have six rolls of efke left and was due to put in an order to BH next month!! Now they have nothing!! That was kinda sudden, a bit of heads up would of been nice

I think that I have a roll of it around. I'd never liked Efke. It has too much contrast for me.

Jan 10 13 09:36 am Link

Photographer

Model Art Photo

Posts: 637

Monterey, California, US

Fomapan 400 in 4x5 is very awesome.  Cheap and works great.  The 100 is great too, but only if you have still subjects like landscapes.  For 35mm, still can't beat the versatility of Tri-X.

Jan 10 13 12:28 pm Link