Good B&W film that doesn’t need filters

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ericdan

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What’s a good B&W film that doesn’t need filters to get sky and skin tones right?
I shoot a lot of Tri-X but always with a yellow/green filter, which costs me a stop of light at least.
Adox claims their CHSII renders skies and lips darker and skin lighter than modern panchromatic films. But it’s out of stock...
 

Svenedin

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I may be wrong but my experience with Kodak TMax100 is that the skies are less likely to be white without a filter but in my location at least (UK) it is still better with a light yellow. It seems to respond more strongly to filtration and so I can sometimes substitute a light yellow for a darker one and then I don't loose so much light. Having said that, at this time of year (Autumn) I needed an orange last week but that is more about the light than the film. It's actually not straightforward at all. The ratio of the different wavelengths in the light varies enormously according to latitude, season of the year, time of day, clouds etc etc. In the UK the effect of a yellow filter is usually weak but when I go 1200 miles further South (to Gibraltar where I am often located for work) the effect is very dramatic (dark skies). Anyway, this is just what I have observed and is anecdotal and rather unscientific.
 
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tedr1

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Forgive me for not offering a solution, my experience with BW filters tells me that "getting skies right" may require special filtration at the blue end of things, and that "getting skin right" may or may not require filtration at all but is likely to be complicated by a blue cutting filter introduced for the sky. Is it possible you are expecting a film maker to have possession of detailed technical information about the spectral brightness of the subjects and how these are to be interpreted to meet your personal preferences, which it is impossible for them to have access to. This leads me to the conclusion that your expectation of film being available having the required qualities is unreasonable. Your concern about loss of light through filters is a genuine concern that may be addressed by choosing a faster lens or a faster film. Sometimes this brings greater granularity and if this is a problem one solution is to employ less magnification when making the print by making the exposure on a larger film format.
 

grahamp

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I rarely need to filter for sky tone (N. California, 38 deg. N latitude, low altitude) with Delta films. I used to have problems in the UK until I down rated my film and adjusted development. Of course the grey I get for blue sky here may not work in other locales and aesthetics.

When I do filter it is mostly in the Yellow or Green, and usually for foliage separation. Sometimes red just to get past the fog!
 

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I use yellow and orange filters or polarizers for Kodak Tri-X films when I want the clouds to show up better. If there is little or no sky, then I do not use a filter.
 

Lachlan Young

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You don't really need a filter. Avoiding underexposure & trimming your processing time will often resolve the sorts of 'problems' people are sold filters to 'solve'. In other words, no push processing unless the contrast range is dead flat.
 

RalphLambrecht

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What’s a good B&W film that doesn’t need filters to get sky and skin tones right?
I shoot a lot of Tri-X but always with a yellow/green filter, which costs me a stop of light at least.
Adox claims their CHSII renders skies and lips darker and skin lighter than modern panchromatic films. But it’s out of stock...
every film has a unique spectral sensitivity, which won't match the spectral sensitivity of your eyes or your meter.So, there is no 'right You'll need a filter to get tones to taste With many films a yellow filter (Wratten #8)does the trick. some photographers, however, prefer the stronger contrast of an orange filter. try some and see which you like best with your film.any panchromatic film is worth trying.
 

MattKing

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From the data sheet for Kodak T-Max 400 (f4043):
"* The blue sensitivity of KODAK PROFESSIONAL T-MAX Films is slightly less than that of other Kodak panchromatic black-and-white films. This enables the response of this film to be closer to the response of the human eye. Therefore, blues may be recorded as slightly darker tones with this film—a more natural rendition."
 

jim10219

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I couldn’t imagine using B&W film without a filter. Not on a regular basis anyway. Sometimes no filter works best. But often times, I want to control the contrast of certain elements of the scene. So I always pack a large stack of filters with my camera.

Then again, I shoot a lot of large format, so I tend to analyze a scene pretty hard before I invest a few bucks in a shot.

Orthochromatic films tend to render colors differently, especially reds, being less sesnsitive to them. And T grained films are less blue sensitive. Infrared films also act a bit different, even without a filter. Same with X-ray films, which are more like ortho in their response. They’re all different in one way or another, but usually to get the most out of any film, you’re going to need an experienced eye and a set of filters.
 
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ericdan

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Forgive me for not offering a solution, my experience with BW filters tells me that "getting skies right" may require special filtration at the blue end of things, and that "getting skin right" may or may not require filtration at all but is likely to be complicated by a blue cutting filter introduced for the sky. Is it possible you are expecting a film maker to have possession of detailed technical information about the spectral brightness of the subjects and how these are to be interpreted to meet your personal preferences, which it is impossible for them to have access to. This leads me to the conclusion that your expectation of film being available having the required qualities is unreasonable. Your concern about loss of light through filters is a genuine concern that may be addressed by choosing a faster lens or a faster film. Sometimes this brings greater granularity and if this is a problem one solution is to employ less magnification when making the print by making the exposure on a larger film format.
Blue/cyan and yellow/orange are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Hence by using such a filter you get darker skies and lighter skin.
I’m just wondering if any of the films out there require less help of filters to get that contrast.
 
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ericdan

ericdan

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I use yellow and orange filters or polarizers for Kodak Tri-X films when I want the clouds to show up better. If there is little or no sky, then I do not use a filter.
I like yellow and orange with Tri-X too.
Works great for everything except that it makes people look a bit lifeless. It renders lips kind of pale. That’s why I usually go for a B+W 060 green/yellow filter.
 

destroya

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I find that rollie retro 80s and superpan 200/ retro 400s can give the same results sky wise as using a yellow or dark yellow on fp4.
 

Anon Ymous

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In my own experience, Fomapan 200 Creative has even less blue sensitivity than TMax.
You'll find an interesting (though not very recent) comparison between different B/W films here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/athiril/6107135683/in/photostream/
These charts aren't necessarily comparable. As far as I can tell, these were taken from the manufacturers' datasheets. The problem is that the light source isn't the same in all cases. Ilford and Foma use a 2850K light source, whereas Kodak uses a 5500K one IIRC. As a result, Kodak's films look more blue sensitive.
 

Michael L.

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These charts aren't necessarily comparable. As far as I can tell, these were taken from the manufacturers' datasheets. The problem is that the light source isn't the same in all cases. Ilford and Foma use a 2850K light source, whereas Kodak uses a 5500K one IIRC. As a result, Kodak's films look more blue sensitive.
I see; I wasn't aware that the chart at Flickr didn't take the difference in light sources into account. Thank you for pointing out this important aspect.
Still, with Fomapan 200 I often seem to achieve a more natural (i.e. a tad darker) rendering of the sky than with TMax.
 

RalphLambrecht

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From the data sheet for Kodak T-Max 400 (f4043):
"* The blue sensitivity of KODAK PROFESSIONAL T-MAX Films is slightly less than that of other Kodak panchromatic black-and-white films. This enables the response of this film to be closer to the response of the human eye. Therefore, blues may be recorded as slightly darker tones with this film—a more natural rendition."
when I look at the sky, it always seems very bright. Brightness is a human response to light. It cannot be measured. Brightness and Illumination are like warmth and temperature; one can be measured, the other is just a humanresponse to it.
 

RalphLambrecht

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I see; I wasn't aware that the chart at Flickr didn't take the difference in light sources into account. Thank you for pointing out this important aspect.
Still, with Fomapan 200 I often seem to achieve a more natural (i.e. a tad darker) rendering of the sky than with TMax.
Yah; plus data sheets are alsoused for advertising specs.
 

studiocarter

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My problem was that 7222 overexposed the sky so much that clouds wouldn't print if shadows did. So, less contrast in negative development was sought. Then the sky printed along with shadow detail. RO9 was Stand developed 1:300 with minimal agitation each hour. The last test was stopped after 3 1/2 hours, but 8 hours without any agitation worked also.
 

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I don't want to derail this thread, but I have never used filters for skin tones. Then again, I have not always been satisfied with the skin tones I get. Is it common practise to use filters for available-light portraits?

FWIW, Jock Sturges, who shoots a lot of skin, used Tri-X until very recently.
 

Agulliver

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I have found that T-MAX 400 gives better skies, explained by the data provided that it has slightly lower blue sensitivity compared to other films. I haven't tried T-MAX 100, and haven't used P3200 in bright conditions (for fairly obvious reasons). I did shoot three rolls of Fomapan 200 a couple of years ago and found they seemed to give pleasing skies in bright sun with no filter.

Usually I just use a yellow filter if there's lots of sky in my photos. If it's sunny, I don't see the problem losing half a stop or so.
 

Kawaiithulhu

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Have you considered using a small fill flash to bring up the skin values instead of filtering the colors?
 
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