c-41 vs "professional" b&w

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by kwyjibo, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. kwyjibo

    kwyjibo TPF Noob!

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    does the quality of a professional b&w outweigh the cost effectiveness of a c-41 you can roccess anywhere? I really like b&w but also like taking my film to the local Walgreens for proccessing conveinience.
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Define 'quality'.
    A lot of people prefer traditional b&w film and process it themselves because they can exercise more control over the process. C41 film limits you to what the lab does.
    But the two types of film have different advantages and disadvantages so a straight comparison is pointless. It all comes down to what you want to do and how important darkroom skills are to you - in effect, it's a personal choice.
    As for me, I don't like C41 b&w and wouldn't touch it with your camera, let alone mine. But you decide for yourself.
     
  3. kwyjibo

    kwyjibo TPF Noob!

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    I don't currently have a darkroom set so either way I go a lab will do the developing. I guess I was just wondering which of the two offers the better contrast and grain properties. I am fairly new so i'm not sure what to look for. Just want to do it right the first time
     
  4. fadingaway1986

    fadingaway1986 I Burn Easily :(

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    Well. I just experienced my first black and white film...

    I can't really see much difference. I think the blacks are more black in the traditional one... And more grey in C-41. However - this could be the paper. I think I printed my C-41 on matte, and traditional on gloss. I have decided I like gloss best for B&W.

    I'm not really happy about how the traditional ones turned out.
     
  5. chris

    chris TPF Noob!

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    You don't need a darkroom to process B&W film, a changing bag is all that is needed for loading the film into a developing tank. The advantage of developing the film yourself is that you can take develop for extra fine grain, or speed increase, or increased or decreased contrast etc. If you scan your film then the only additional items needed are the developer, fix, a thermometer, measuring jugs, a supply of hot water, somewhere dustfree to hang the film to dry and negative storage sheets.

    C41 type B&W developed by a automatic process can be convenient if you want prints quickly but you give up control of the final result. The prints are often on colour paper and can end up with distinct colour casts if the equipment is not adjusted correctly. Also you are probably depending upon someone who either has little experience of B&W prints, or who just does not care much, to assess the results and make any exposure corrections. I would expect a professional lab to be staffed by persons who care about the results and are able to get the best from your negatives.

    The best way of all is to print the films yourself, you then have total control from determining the exposure in the camera, development of the film to manipulation in the printing process to obtain the results that you want.
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    There are numerous "professional" C-41 BW films available, although when I use it I just go with the consumer stuff.

    If you aren't developing your own, and your local labs don't do traditional BW (or charge an arm and a leg) then C41 BW is a good choice. Just like any film, you will need to practice and experiment to see how to make it work the best for you. I know pros who switched to using the C-41 stuff years ago, and I don't think anyone can tell from their photos. The reason most folks see a difference is because at econo-labs it's printed on color paper by someone who doesn't have enough experience.

    All C-41 BW comes rated ISO 400, but when you read the small print you can shoot it anywhere from ISO 100 to 800 without any development change. This makes it very versatile in changing lighting conditions (such as moving from inside to outdoors on the same roll).

    Once I tried to test a camera's meter with a roll of C-41 BW. I intentionally over and under exposed a couple of series of shots (pretty much just going up the aperture scale on the same shutter speed) so I ended up with about 8 shots each of 3 different subjects. I expected that the most over and under exposed shots would be almost unprintable, but every single shot printed okay (with a typical lab Noritsu printer). I had to redo the test with different film to get the results I was trying to get.

    C-41 BW negs probably aren't as archival as traditional BW process negs.
     
  7. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    I personally use "professional" Kodak T-Max 400 C-41 quite frequently for the same reasons you list. It's quicker (I'm very impatient) to get developed in many cases and I have a top-class local Boots lab who do a fab job with C-41.

    I frequently notice that it isn't really that B&W - the images have a random brown, purple or green tinge to them. I find that Kodak tends to be greeny/browny and Ilford tends to be purple/browny. This is reminiscent of early colour inkjet printers which used the colour cartridge to print B&W and relied on saturation to achieve black. If your cartridges were anything but new, then the weakest colour would set the tinge colour.

    This slight colour abnormality isn't an issue if, like me, you're ordering a CD with the prints. I simply open it in PS, convert and adjust as pleases me. Likewise, if you are enlarging in the darkroom, then you'll get a "true" B&W image.

    There have been conversations about the C-41 vs the E-6 films before here and there is probably a slight trend towards thinking that "proper" B&W has better definition of subtle tones and extremes (i.e. the B&W of it).

    I would personally vote for the C-41 films as I do quite a lot of printing myself, both inkjet and darkroom and wouldn't say that there was a significant benefit to E-6. At least with C-41 you can get an easy refund FTF in the shop by shouting, whereas sending it off is probably more challenging.

    Good luck!

    R
     
  8. selmerdave

    selmerdave TPF Noob!

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    Um???

    T-max is not a C-41 film to my knowledge, nor does Kodak mention C-41 anywhere on the T-max 400 literature. And E-6 is color slide processing for Ektachrome or Velvia. Am I missing something here?

    Dave
     
  9. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    The film I meant is branded as Kodak Professional T400CN C-41 in the UK and is probably discontinued now. For some reason I seem to recall it said T-Max somewhere on the box... ? hmm.

    [​IMG]

    The Ilford I was referring to was XP2.

    And oops, yes, I meant B&W not E-6 - It's St Patrick's day soon and I was warming up at lunchtime on the old Guinness, so sorry for being rubbish.

    R
     
  10. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    You are right, but they do say that their C-41 BW uses "T-grain technology" in the emulsion. Maybe that's what Rob meant.
     
  11. chbar

    chbar TPF Noob!

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    I have used about 6 rolls of Kodak Professionnal BW400CN Film last summer and I was very pleased with two factors : 1- The dynamic range even in mid-day sunlit gardens ; 2- The absence of colour cast in the prints (it was processed in a pro lab). The convenience of C41, plus the fact that the film is easier to scan than traditional B&W make it an interesting media. I have also used it as a street photography film at 800 with the same advantages (plus, using a 20mm set at the hyperfocal).
     

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