What do you think of this theory about learning film?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by DocFrankenstein, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    I need standard processing black and white film. The requirement is that it is available in 35mm, 120/220 and also in 4*5 and 8*10

    The reasoning behind this noob logic is that it's better to master one film and use it "everywhere"

    Uses are landscape and "fine art" with everything else... like candids.

    Am I climbing the wrong tree? How many different kinds of films do you shoot? Is it better to know one specific film intimately, or a few of them?

    Thanks
     
  2. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    I would say you need to know a few different films. Also the idea of standard developing is a loaded statement. Different developers will either lessen or increase grain. Developing times will adjust contrast.

    I use TMax 400 and Delta 400 developed with ilford developer. But times will change for different lighting situations.

    I think it is good to pick something and see if it works for you. Don't jump around until you get a good feel for one kind. But situations are so different, you will need to know a few different ones.
     
  3. ksmattfish

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

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    IMHO it is better to know a lot about a single film than not much about a bunch of different films. Different films have different flavors, but once you really get to know a particular film, I think you'll find you can get many of those other looks and effects with the film you are using. There's nothing wrong with getting to know several films very well. Then you can decide which one is the best for you. As traditional process BW film becomes more of a specialty product we may not have many choices anyway.

    I've been using Arista Pro 125 and 400 (Ilford FP4 and HP5, but "generic" so it's cheaper) for 95% of my BW. I use it for 35mm, 120, and 4x5. If I shot 8x10, I'd use it there too. I shoot about three times as much 400 as 125. I used to shoot mostly the 125, but in 16x20 prints from 4x5 I can't see the difference, and in 120 the 400 still looks really good up to 16x20 (I don't print bigger than that right now). Most of the 125 is used with 35mm gear. Most of my film is developed with a phenidone developer (basic hypoallergenic developer) such as Sprint, or lately Arista.

    It's always good to try out other things though. I used to use Tmax 100 in D-76 for most of my work, and even after I switched to Ilford (mostly for price reasons), I continued to keep some Tmax 100 on hand because I liked shooting it for very long exposures at night. I still have a stash in my freezer that I thaw out a roll from once in a while. My old photo guru tells me the new Tmax 100 is not the same beast.

    Recently I have developed an interest in Tri-X developed in Diafine (as my avatar caption suggests). It's definately my new choice for a high speed BW combo. I'm having great results shooting it at ISO 1250; I keep it on hand in 120 and bulk 35mm. But I only like it for low light situations.

    And of course, spring is here, the clouds are huge and dramatic in the sky, the plants are growing, and there's a roll of IR defrosting on the counter right now. Everyone should try some IR in the spring! And it's just way too expensive for me to master. I shoot maybe 3 rolls a year, and often times they are different brands (although, once again, our choices are becoming limited).
     
  4. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My initial thought is if you use one film for a while, you'll begin to see it's stregnths and weeknesses. When I was just beginning, I would change film/developer/filter combinations all the time, searching for the perfect combo. Didn't learn anything until I finally started to nail some things down.

    Then... when I did make a change, I could appreciate the difference.

    Good luck!
     
  5. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    I used to use Plus-X almost exclusively (Tri-X was my alternative). My chosen developer was Microdol-X (1:1). I still have the table I constructed showing contrast range, exposure adjustment and development times. It worked for me and I found I could cope with just about anything and I got consistent negs. It also allowed me to visualise exactly what the end product would print like.

    I always recommend trying a few developer/film combinations to find what works for you. I had friends who used Agfa film with Neofin developers and got superb results. I could never get on with it.
     
  6. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    I am hoping to be able to know what the print will look like. IE whether the shadows are going to be black or grey... stuff like that.

    I want to get a spotmeter and calibrate it to film/developer. This way I can have control from the moment I take the picture.

    Another question: How significant is the difference between "professional" and normal films?

    Do you get what you pay for? Is the difference in consistency worth the extra?
     
  7. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Mostly it's only worth the extra if your doing it professionally or if you feel the need for 'quality'. Although in these days of digital manipulation it is possible to tweak the colour balance of colour film.
    I use pro B&W film from force of habit (and an unreasoning mistrust of amateur bw) - but I have done a number of shoots for friends and used amateur colour film with no problems.
     
  8. ksmattfish

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

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    I don't even know where you get "professional" BW film. I mean, if I go to my local pro lab they have pro and consumer C41 and E6 films, but with traditional process BW it seems to be a marketing issue.

    Go to B & H (if they don't have it, who does?) and look at their film; all Kodak T-max, Agfa, Fuji Acros, and Ilford Delta BW films are called "professional", and there is no consumer version. On the other hand there is no "professional" version of Pan-X, Tech Pan, Tri-X (in 35mm), FP4, and HP5 available. Tri-X has a "pro" version available in 120 and sheet film, but the big difference there is a "toothed" film base for easier touch-ups (painting out dust, acne, etc...). Forte offers a "professional" and a "consumer" (I guess) version of their ISO 400 film, but when you read the info, the 2 films seem to be completely different.

    If you'll notice, the manufacturers are marketing their more expensive, tabular grain films as "professional". I don't buy that this makes their regular grain films "consumer". Maybe there is somewhere out there that sells "professional" Tmax-100 and "consumer" Tmax-100, but I'm guessing that if I try them out they'd be the same film. All the Arista film I use has "pro" in the name, but I know it's just house label FP4 and HP5; it works great for both my professional and consumer uses.
     
  9. ksmattfish

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

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    Then you'll definately want to stick to one film/developer combo until you get this figured out. It will take time, and you won't want to have to start over with a new combo if either gets discontinued, so pick a film and developer that you think is going to be around for a while.
     
  10. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    My crystal ball didn't give me a good answer.

    I would need to rephrase my question then.

    Could you suggest a film that:
    1) Is going to be around for a while
    2) Gives "good results" and "good for starters"
    3) Available in all 3 formats
     
  11. ksmattfish

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

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    I'm using a crystal ball too, ;) so I could be wrong, but I would assume Pan-X, Tri-X, and Tmax films from Kodak will be around for a while. I would hope that Ilford FP4 and HP5 would be around for a while, but with Ilford's recent financial difficulties who knows? Sometimes discontinued films are resurrected by other manufacturers (check out J & C Photography for "discontinued" films and formats).

    The major manufacturers' developers should hopefully be around for a while. Chems are easier than film because if someone discontinues your favorite developer you could buy directly from the chemical company or make your own from a recipe. Check out Clayton Chemicals.

    If you are mail ordering your supplies then you have a wide choice from the major companies. Try not to fall in love with something exotic. If you are relying on a local store, just walk in and see what they regularly keep in stock.
     
  12. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    At one time there was a difference in B&W. Mostly it was that 'pro' BW was kept in the fridge and you could buy it by the batch (you could get all your films from the same batch). This didn't happen with amateur BW.
    There was a time, even into the 70's, when pro BW was better quality and had gelatine on both sides to reduce curl and aid retouching.
    I've just checked the Kodak site and now all BW film is classed as professional. They have obviously decided that the mass market doesn't do BW anymore. How times change...
     
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