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B&W Film - Kodak,Ilford,Fuji vs Fomapan and cheaper opti
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:33 pm    Post subject: B&W Film - Kodak,Ilford,Fuji vs Fomapan and cheaper opti Reply with quote

Hi guys,

I'm sure this topics has been covered a million time sbefore so my apologies but I wanted to air my specific requirements.

I am on my last roll of 10-15 rolls of 135 Kodak T-Max 100. I develop my own B&W film using the rodinal stand development process and am happy shooting T-Max at box speed, 100@200, 100@400 and I think once 100@800 and still get nice results. With the exception of 3 rolls of Ilford FP4+ when I first started out with film photography this is pretty much as I know in terms of 35mm.

For 120 B&W I have also tried Fuji Acros, Kodak Tri-X and Kodak T-Max 400. Acros and TMax 400 was pretty similar to TMax 100 (slight tone difference with Acros). I know Tri-X is popular but I found it quite grain even with medium format.

So.. my question is.. now I am ready to buy more film stock here in the UK what 135 back and white film types do people recommend?

Is more expensive film such as Kodak and Ilford 'better' that cheaper film and if so how?
Lattitude? Sharpness?

I am happy to shoot any film if it does a similar job to T-Max. I am considering Rollei Retro 80 (as like contrast)(but not sure if can push it) or perhaps Fomapan 100 and then push to 200 and 400.

If film is cheaper I am more likely to shoot more of it however if the results do not meet my needs then there is no point. I shoot film for weddings, model portraiture and street photography and tend to like a fine grain and high contrast usable to ISO 400.

I'm leaning towards fine grain film and then push if need to rather than said Tri-X or Ilford HP5 that is ISO 400.

I use a Leica M3 (and M2) for 35mm so lenses are pretty fast.

I'd appreciate any help and tips from those that have been in a similar situation before!

Many thanks!

Here is my usual style FYI (excuse links, Flickr not working)
35mm T-Max 100 - https://flic.kr/p/iumCrr
35mm Ilford FP4+ - https://flic.kr/p/dHhs7A

PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want high quality, forget 400 speed films in 35mm - too grainy.

The best 35mm BW film, bar none, is Fuji Acros, but it's nearly 8 quid a roll.

TMAX 100 and Ilford Delta 100 are both very good, T grain films so less grainy than old cubic types like FP4, however, they can be less good in tonal range than old cubic types like FP4 and Fomapan.

Not sure about the Rollei stuff, some of it is rebadged Agfa aerial film and should be great. They do a couple of microfilms, one being Copex, I forget the other one, those will have the finest grain and highest sharpness of any 35mm films but will need special compensatory development to get a good tonal range.

A lot of it comes down to finding the ideal development for the film you are using and the look you wish to achieve. For me, my best results came when using a simple Metol developer (Kodak Microdol-X or Ilford Perceptol) at a 1:3 dilution and rating the films at half box speed (e.g. 50 for TMAX 100). then increasing development times by 20%.

To sum up:

Best tonality - slow cubic films like Ilford Pan F 50, Ilford FP4+
Best grain - microfilms like Agfa Copex
Best sharpness -microfilms like Agfa Copex
Best all-round - Fuji Acros
Best affordable all-round - T grain films like Fuji Neopan, Ilford Delta 100, Kodak TMAX 100
Best cheap film -Fomapan 100

PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 7:19 am    Post subject: 35mm Fuji Acros 100 wins! Reply with quote

Hi Ian,

Many thanks for such a comprehensive answer. Much appreciated.

I fancied a change from Kodak T-Max 100 so I had a look at film prices online and got myself 5 rolls of 35mm Fuji Acros 100 36s for 25 including shipping so 5 a roll and the cheapest I have seen it anywhere (eBay UK store FYI).

I bought 5 rolls of Acros for now as I am an equisitive photographer so like to learn and try new things so will also get myself quite a few single rolls of different brands when next in a camera store so I can try the likes of Pan F 50, Rollei Retro 80, Fomapan 100, HP5 all of which are on my to do list for 35mm.

I think I will do one step at a time. Find my film likes first then work on honing my devloping methods. I started out using diluted Xtol, then Xtol + Rodinal and now just Rodinal (stand) over the last 2 years. I like the idea of using some of the ISO25 or ISO50 film to get super sharp 35mm negatives closer to what you see with medium format. My grain size was finer when I used Xtol vs. Rodinal.

This is perhaps one of my sharpest 35mm negatives to date - Nikon FM + Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s + T-Max 100 + Xtol - https://flic.kr/p/dWcZ8Z

PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:19 pm    Post subject: Sample image + thoughts Reply with quote

Back from todays wedding. As planned I shot a roll of Kodak Portra 120 in the fuji GF670 (was an Ok experience.. nothing special), most of the day with the digital Leica M9 (which did a fine job and all I asked of it).. and then finally the star of the day, my newly purchased 1950s Leica M3 double stroke with it's 0.91x viewfinder, a Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens attached and loaded with a roll of 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 film.

I only got to shoot about 20 frames with the M3 but the weather was perfect light for film - harsh contrasty dappled sunshine and lots of textures to capture. (Digital is at risk of losing highlight detail but film just takes it in it's stride). I was really pushing my luck with the last of the daylight shooting at 1/25 shutter speed and with the brighter Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens for an extra stop of light. I will push the film to ISO 200 in processing when I get chance to finish the film.

I always enjoy my wedding day photography and where possible try to shoot some film. Due to time contraints and being a single shooter this only happens for maybe 50% of weddings at the moment. For 2015 i'm going to get them up to 75-90% hopefully as it really is such a joy and can produce images that you can't replicate with digital if done properly.

Here is a digital sample image from today (sorry film not yet developed!) https://flic.kr/p/pkVa4K

I will share wedding highlights at www.leicaweddingphotographer.co.uk once done.