Film Choice - Bulk Roll


TPF Noob!
Oct 28, 2005
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I'm almost at the end of my first bulk roll of black and white film; Ilford Delta 400.
Now, I really like this film for its ease of use and such but you seldom see "great" photographers using this particular film.
The deal is that I want something that LOOKS good and not necessarily something easy to use. I want a film that I can learn with and taylor my camera, developing and enlarger skills around so that one day I may produce a flawless print.
I shoot mostly people and architecture with the odd landscape thrown in. I'm only interested in using available light, however I will be shooting f/1.4 lenses in the near future. If nothing can be recommended out of Ilford I'm very open to other manufacturers. Money is not really a problem - within reason.
Thanks in advance,
P.s. Nice new site layout :thumbup:
". . . people and architecture with the odd landscape thrown in."

Ilford Pan F, while three stops slower, will provide a print with less grain. I develop in Microdol [standard, not 1:3 dilution] and find the film forgiving in terms of exposure. I've also standardized on Tri X as my 'fast' film. I suspect Ilford's ISO 400 is similar.
I recall, once upon a time, hearing or reading someone ask something to the effect of "I want to make the best possible photographs I can; what kind of film should I use? What kind of film does National Geographic have their photographers use to take their amazing photographs? Slide film, right?"

The answer was this: "Not necessarily. If a film exists, Nat'l Geog. photographers have probably used it. Everything to the most modern color transparency and negative films, all the way to the most ancient black and whites. Anything and everything they could get their hands on to get the job done. New film that was stored in refrigeration; expired film they scrounged up in the field in Africa in the summer. And they've used everything from the most basic 35mm system clear up to the most modern medium and large format equipment. Old cameras, new cameras, whatever they've had on hand." And, of course, in this modern age, they most likely use digital cameras, too.

It isn't so much what medium, or what camera, or even what lenses you use. Although using "the best" or "the most modern" can certainly help, it's the photographer that makes a photograph, not the equimpent or materials.

Find a film, or a few films, that you can work with, and get to know them, and your equipment. Work on your technique, both with the camera and in the darkroom. When you finally do need to use an unfamiliar film, or printing paper, or whatever, it most likely won't matter what it is. Pretty much all films are close enough that if you get the exposure and development in the ball park, the quality of your final print will wind up depending on your photographic eye and darkroom skill.

I'm personally partial to TMax films, although I've been trying a few others lately. I like the subtly different grain (at least, it's subtle to me) of films like Tri-X and Plus-X. I'm not terribly familiar with non-Kodak products, although one film I'm not likely to use again is Fortepan. I had a bad experience with it the first time I used it--but others swear they love it.

Most importantly, Have fun!

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