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Quinten

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Hello,

Up till now I've always shot 35mm colour, the only b&w I printed came from a photshop conversion of digitally shot pictures.
After seeing some old B&W film pictures I took ten years ago at the age of 14 I am going back to MF film since the pictures stunned me.

But before I dive into it I have some questions:

1)Wich film would you advice to start with? I will mainly be shooting portraits outside, possebly some diffusers and reflectors but natural light.
2)And how do you rate it? I heard this is less obvious that with colour film.

I personaly thought of Kodak T-max 100 and 400 iso but at this forum it doesn't seem to be the favorite choise.

3)What filter usually gives the best result for humans? I've seen some 'city pictures' wich where taken with an orange filter and it seemed to give much more contrast than the yellow ones. Is that thruth? And how will it look on humans/portraits?

I might have a few more questions on developing later but this will get me started, many thanks for any tips in advance!

cheers,
Quinten
 

Konical

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Good Afternoon, Quinten,

This is one of those questions which will probably elicit a wide variety of responses, especially regarding film choice. Personally, I have a great liking for T-Max 100, because of its almost non-existent graininess and the enormous flexibility it shows with different processing times. Others will, no doubt, disagree comletely. Using a medium-speed film, whether T-100 or some other variety, for outdoor portrait work will usually have the advantage of leading to wider lens openings and a desirable blurring of backgrounds.

A lot of B & W portraits are made without any filters, but, since I rarely do portraits, I'll offer no further advice, except to note that an orange filter will indeed have a slightly greater effect on most films than a yellow filter.

Your apparent intention to use MF is one I'd certainly agree with.

Konical
 

bobfowler

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Film choice is a matter of personal taste - there isn't one "best" film. For medium format, my favorite film for portraits WAS Kodak Verichrome Pan, but that is now long discontinued. I've found that J&C Pro 100 is a damn close second to Verichrome Pan for "people" pictures. Classic Pan 200 is also a good choice, but I'm not crazy about Classic Pan 400 for portraits. Back to the major makers, Ilford FP4+ and Pan F+ are fantastic, as is Agfa APX-100.

Remember, a lot depends on HOW the film is processed and what developer is used. You really do have to run some tests of your own and find what you like and what works best with your technique.

As for filters - I'll occasionally use a light green for portraits, but usually I don't use any (if I can help it).
 

rbarker

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I agree that film/developer choice is highly personal, and is a choice best made after some personal experimentation. My personal favorites are Ilford FP4+ or PanF+, developed in Ilford's DD-X. In both cases, this preference is based on fine grain and "creamy" tonal rendition. Others may prefer the "crisper" look of modern t-grain emulsions.

How one "rates" a B&W film is a matter of personal processing technique, developer choice, and the desired contrast index, which varies with the type of enlarger and/or printing process. Here again, personal testing is the solution. The Massive Dev Chart provides good starting points for many film/developer combinations.

I almost never use filters for portraiture indoors, but occasionally will use a light yellow-green outdoor portraits with considerable foliage. With B&W film, colored filters are used to alter how the B&W film renders the tonal value of different colors. Once you know how different filters will treat different colors, this is handy for managing separation of tones, as well as overall contrast. The Kodak booklet "Using Filters" has a fairly good section on B&W filters, and would be a good place to start.
 
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Quinten

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Thanks for the tips!

Maybe one of you knows a good site where different developing processes are described. The only developing I ever did was brainless as a kid. I think I'll start experimenting with t-max 100 but is the FP4+ film finer and how easy is it on someone without developing experience. I would like to start with a fine grain film that exept slight errors.

And rating a film must be different than using alternate exposure stops, otherwise people would be talking about 'a' stop over/under exposure as well, so this is directly related with the developing process?
I read a half stop overexposure usually is better than a spot on exposure on most kodak BW film, why is that? Wouldn't kodak just rate their films correctly if that's the case....

Sorry for all my questions, it's a new part of photography I am exploring and I am anxious to learn.

Thanks again:wink:
 
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BWGirl

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Hey Quinten!
I may be able to help you a little bit here.... Here are a few websites I have found that helped me quite a bit:

http://www3.telus.net/drkrm/index.html
http://www.darkroomsource.net/techniques.shtml

I would also like to recommend a great book....

"Black & White Photography A Basic Manual" by Henry Horenstein

It is very easy to follow and has illustrations to help you along! Good luck on your experiemnts in B&W!! :smile:
 

Sinarfar

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The question is a lot more complex than you might imagine. Film speed is dependent on photographers preference, developer type, development method, scene contrast, even method of agitation within development method. Since many folks develop their own films, like myself, they find the methods, developers and film speed that works for the look one wants (shadow detail, contrast, etc.). The variables are plentiful. Speed on a give film will often range from 1 stop under to 2 stops over exposure.

A rule of thumb that many folks start with a normal developer such as D76 or HC110 and rate the film for 1 stop over exposure and see if this works for you.

I happen to love Tri-X, HP5 and FP4 in HC110 (B) or Rodinal (1:50) depending on the effect that I want. I usually rate the films at 1 stop over exposure for general contrast situations.

Remember: What works for and looks good to me may be completely wrong for you and your preferences. Stick to a single film and general developer (if developing yourself) and expose from 1 stop under to 2 stops over exposed and see what you like. That's your film speed for that situation.

Welcome to the FUN!
 

Mongo

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The reason you see so many recommendations to do film testing to find your own personal speed for film is that there are so many variables involved in getting the final image onto paper. There's your light meter, and how accurate it is. There's your developer, and whether it maintains the full speed of the film. There's your development temperature and time. The variables keep piling up until there is no guarantee that the film speed you should be using is the same as the speed anyone else is using. (Because there is a limited range for each of the variables, you will most likely end up with a film speed that's the same as some others, but that is still different than the speed used by many more photographers.)

These same reasons show you why the manufacturers speeds are just suggestions: the manufacturers rate their films using a very standardized set of circumstances that most of us can't be bothered recreating.

Most of us find that our personal speed with various black and white films is slower than the manufacturers rating with most developers. Many developers can't recover the full speed of the film; that alone is reason enough for many photographers shoot their B&W film at a lower speed than the box speed.

Remember also that it's very hard to increase shadow detail during development, but it is very easy to limit the highlight development to stop your negatives from "blowing out" the highlights. This leads to the old photographer's maxim: "Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights." Not everyone agrees with this, but it's probably the rule that the majority of photographers use. (You'll find that no two photographers agree on everything.) This little rule means that most photographers expose for longer than the manufacturer's recommended time.

Before you shoot a lot of film, I'd highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Creative Black & White Photography by Les McLean. Les is a regular contributor here, but more importantly for your right now is that his book is an amazing resource for both the technical and creative sides of B&W photography. $25 spent on this book will probably save you hundreds of dollars over time in wasted film and chemistry.

As to specific film recommendations: it's hard to pick a bad 100 speed film. Some say that TMax 100 is hard to use. Others will complain that HP4+ is too grainy. The reality is that you can get good (not just acceptable, but good) results from any 100 speed film out there today.

I will make two recommendations:

1. Pick a traditionally developed B&W film and develop it yourself rather than using a C-41 process film and leaving the development to a lab. Although the latter will get you good results, parts of the process will be out of your control and you won't learn as much. (Also, you'll get tired of having mini-labs scratch your negatives...something they all seem to do at one time or another.)

2. Pick one film and stick with it for a few months. Learn how it reacts to changes in exposure, changes in development time and temperature, etc. Learn everything you can learn about it. You'll master the process faster if you limit the variables involved, and picking one film is the first thing you should do. Don't worry about which B&W film you choose...they're all good enough. (Make your choice however you'd like. Do you like the green Fuji uses on their boxes? Can you get a particular film locally? Can you buy something in volume on line that's so cheap you're not worried about having to buy a bunch to make it worth shipping? Use whatever reasoning you decide to use, and don't worry if others think you could have made a better decision...at this point the only thing that matters is choosing one film and learning about it.) Later, after you've mastered one film, learning to deal with other films will be much easier. If you start by shooting a bunch of different films, your learning curve will be much longer and the confusion you'll suffer will be higher.

Developing B&W film is something you can learn to do with an hour of reading (just search the web for sites that describe the process and the equipment you'll need), and a lifetime mastering. Just as you've picked one film, start out with one developer for a while. For ease of use, it's hard to beat Rodinal (although it's grainier than many developers). For availability, Kodak D-76 is pretty universal. I personally love the results I get from Pyrocat-HD, but you'll have to mix it yourself or order it online from Photographer's Formulary...those reasons alone might steer you away from it for now. You can read all about developers online, but pick one using whatever criteria you decide on and just use it.

Black and white film is cheap. Chemistry is cheap. Even the equipment for daylight development is cheap. What's not cheap is your time. Learn as much as you can as fast as you can by shooting a lot, developing a lot, and printing a lot. Stick to one film and one developer for a while, and you'll learn faster.
 

Mongo

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That whole, long, boring diatribe, and I forgot to answer your 2nd question...but I'll bet you can guess the answer I'm going to give. To start out, don't bother with a filter. Learn how the film and chemistry work without one. Once you've mastered those, you'll find it very easy to judge the effects of various filters. But for now, avoid the temptation to stick a filter in front of your lens...it'll just complicate your learning process.
 
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Quinten

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Thanks!

Mongo, that certainly was NOT a 'boring diatribe'. How should I say it: It placed me back in realety my had was full of details after I only shot one film with someone elses camera. So maybe the technical education wasn't big but it's certainly worth a read for people who think to much:wink:

Many thanks to all repliers,
Quinten
 

Claire Senft

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100 Tmax

Your liking for a particular film is going to be very personal and subjective. I personally love 100 Tmax. Many do not like the soft grain edge that appears in big enlargements. I have found that when 100 Tmax is developed in Pyrocat HD the soft edge is eliminated. Pyrocat HD is a very easy to use developer and is extremely flexible allowing ordinary, semi stand and stand developing. It is easily compounded and very inexpensive...I use the metol version. Go to unblinkingeye.com to read about this developer. It has been formulated by Mr. Sandy King an APUG member.

A very great influence on your reaction to a particular film will be the paper it is printed on. In my opinion 100 Tmax and Polymax fiber paper are a match made in heaven.
 

Peter Schrager

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Tmax100+Pyrocat

Claire-what times are you using for the pyro and tmax100 combo? Just thought I might try it.
Thanks,Peter
 

Claire Senft

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Pyrocat HD Times

I print with a condenser enlarger and aim for approcimately a number 3 1/2 filter. Pyrocat HD is not a devloper that is going to impart a really strong stain. General staining will be little or none. Very easy developer to use.

Times for 100 Tmax in Pyrocat HD.
For rather flat subjects that have little contrast...overcast day...12-13 minutes. Nice sunny day with strong shadows 10 minutes. 15 seconds initial agitation, 5 seconds per minute using a lifting, twisting motion with the reels on a rod in open tanks. No presoak is used.

Semi stand developmen: 5 minute presoak in tap water 16 minutes development for contrasty subjects, 18-20 minutes for flat scenes. 60 seconds of initial agitation, 10 seconds agitation every 3 miutes with the reels in open tanks on a lifting rod. The rod is lifted perhaps 1 1/2 inches and twisted 90-120º in one direction in lifting and the opposite direction in lowering. This will emphasise edge effects and sharpness.

I have used some of Pat Gainers Pyro formulas...TEA etc and had random staining problems, some negatives would have the sprocket pattern from 35mm showing up as areas of additional density on perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 the negatives. If I had to guess I was not giving sufficient agigtation.

Go to Sandy King's website...unblinkingeye.. which has articles and times for devloping a number of different films with pyrocat HD.

This is not the finest grain devloper available. It produces bery nice gradation and super sharpness. Once you have the chemicals it is very economical. The stock solutions keep very nicely.
 

photobackpacker

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For what it is worth, John Sexton uses Tmax 100 developed in Tmax RS and now working with Xtol as well. If you read the technical plates in the back of his books, you will see this accounts for 90+ % of his newest work. The others are made with Tmax 400. This influenced my choice and I have held to it for years. I feel very comfortable with this film for all subjets.

The secret to falling in love with Tmax is a little bit of obsessive-compulsive behavior in controlling the variables in the exposure-development continuum - these being Meter, developer (accurate dilution, age, and exhaustion control), Temperature, and Time. Control these with consistency, and Tmax will do everything you ask of it and then some.

My only complaint - trying to see the grain with a grain focusser when enlarging - a nice problem to have.
 

Peter Schrager

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Tmax100

Thanks Claire. I already use Pyrocat for some other films but thought I'd give Tmax100 a try with it. Appreciate the times!!
Regards, Peter
 
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