Good b&w portrait film?

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DramaKing

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I've been asked by a couple to take portraits to have for Christmas. I intend to offer both color and black-and-white options. For color, I intend to use Fuji Pro 160S. I have also used PORTRA 160 in the past. I'm mostly concerned about what b&w film to use, though. Can anyone recommend a good b&w film for portraits?
 

Whiteymorange

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What format are you shooting? In 35mm, which is the only stock left of this film, I like APX100. Smooth midtones and quite wonderful for skin.
 

Ian Grant

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It's too open a quesion.

Some like the more gritty tones etc of filmd like Tri-X, personally I prefer Delta 1000 or 400 (or Tmax 100/400). I've also shot with EFKE KB/R14 now called 25.

In reality and 100 ISO film is ideal unless you need the extra speed then use a 400 ISO film

Iam
 

keithwms

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For holiday portrait stuff? Probably Ilford xp2, which you can turn in for processing with your c41 stuff and which handles highlights quite well. I'd rate it at 320 or so though- it's quite flat at box speed.
 
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DramaKing

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It's too open a quesion.

Some like the more gritty tones etc of filmd like Tri-X, personally I prefer Delta 1000 or 400 (or Tmax 100/400). I've also shot with EFKE KB/R14 now called 25.

In reality and 100 ISO film is ideal unless you need the extra speed then use a 400 ISO film

Iam

I was thinking of Tri-X, but there's the question of whether the grain will be acceptable to some people. I do have some Efke KB 25 as well as Fomapan 100.
 

jeffreyg

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Delta 400 works very well in my hands. I think the lighting is probably more important than which film you use.
 

Anscojohn

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I was thinking of Tri-X, but there's the question of whether the grain will be acceptable to some people. I do have some Efke KB 25 as well as Fomapan 100.
******
I would stay away from KB for portraits.

At Thansgiving I did some window-light shots of a niece on Foma 100 souped in D23. Negs look great, but have not printed them yet.

And old fudge for making flattering portraits was rating Tri-X something like EI 80, then underdeveloping it in straight Microdol. I never tried it though.



My best skin tones in 35mm was Ilford FP-4, souped in D23. Will have to see how the FOMA100 does.
 

markbarendt

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I was thinking of Tri-X, but there's the question of whether the grain will be acceptable to some people. I do have some Efke KB 25 as well as Fomapan 100.

The best choice IMHO is the film you are most comfortable with and the one that suits your vision best.

Now, if they already saw some of your work, and liked it and hired you, I'd suggest using the same film you used for "that work", that will hopefully give them the look they were sold.
 

modafoto

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I have shot lots of portraits on Delta 100 souped in Rodinal. Great combo. Pan F is great, too.
 

Nicholas Lindan

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And old fudge for making flattering portraits was rating Tri-X something like EI 80, then underdeveloping it in straight Microdol.

That works well.

Other notes:

If your subject/customer wants flattering portraits:
- Lighting is everything
- Shoot MF, at a minimum, and not 35mm
- The less grain the better
- Shoot "a roll" first with no film just to loosen things up
Plus-X sheet film makes great portraits, but it is no longer made.
The next best choice is probably TMax-100.

If the desire is for gritty-grainy then 35mm with APX100 or some East Block film in Rodinal would suffice. Also try a #25 filter.
 

df cardwell

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Let's see. There are two schools of thought.

The first, whatever is rare, hard to find, or hasn't been made in 20 years.

The other, whatever you've got laying around.

I'm unsure myself which way to go,
but I hope you have a good time shooting when you get to it !
 

removed account4

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plus x works very well for portraits
and if you are shooting largeformat tri x is nice too ...

then again tmy works well and ...

sorry to ask this dramaking, what do you usually shoot bw portraits with ?
maybe you should use what you are accustom to shooting, instead of using random suggestions for film and developers ..

sorry for the whole voice of reason thing, once in a while it whispers in my ear ...
 

cbphoto

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It all depends on you, your lighting, shutter speed (slight blur can do wonders for skin), your subjects' skin, how you want them portrayed, etc. I shoot fashion and use Tri-x, because the grain adds to the mood I like, and also does not give such a harsh and literal rendering of the skin.
 
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I like Mr Cardwell's and Mr Nanian's advice above.

Use what you're used to using, and you can at least have some idea of what to expect.

I have used everything from Ilford Delta 3200 to Ilford Pan-F+ to make portraits. Guess what?! They all work! :smile:

The Efke films could be tricky, because they have less red sensitivity, which is not flattering for people with bad skin. But that might be over-stated, because I've used Efke 25 in the past, and it works just dandy for normal skin people.

If it's the first time shooting portraits with b&w I can understand the question, though. Tri-X is fine. I can make almost grainless 8x10 prints from it in 35mm, so that means you can too. Plenty of speed, and easy to find.
 

nworth

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The curve of films recommended for portraits is often a bit different that that of other films. Tri-X Professional (the 320 speed Tri-X, TXP) is often recommended for this use. Some developers may produce a similar curve on other films, but I have no information about that.
 

viridari

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Honestly I think it's hard to go wrong. I don't think I've met a B&W film yet that I didn't like. I don't like TXP320 only in that it is a pain in the butt for me to get into the reels to develop. I find myself shooting a lot of Fomapan and more recently some TMax 400 (which impressed me very much).
 

goldenimage

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I have shot alot of Acros 100 for portraits, great film.
 

chriscrawfordphoto

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I usually use Tmax 400. Fast enough to handhold in natural light with the aperture stopped down enough to keep the ears, eyes, and nose all sharp. Fine grained enough to look good even in 35mm. Nice tonality too.

cathie-rowand1.jpg
 

RJS

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Mr. Lindan I think has the best information; Tri-X Pan Professional (is it still on the market?) was always the Kodak recommendation - not made in 35mm - but depending on how large a print you want, I would think 11X14 max , it would be my first choice. I don't much like T-max and would want to stay away from it because of the totally grainless look unless you are going 16X20 or more.
 

rwboyer

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Hmmm,

Interesting thread but a lot like asking "what is your favorite film" = not a lot of qualified answers.

Who are you taking a picture of? What kind of look are you going for? In what kind of lighting? If you have any idea of those things you might be able to get some info on what film/dev/process/print would optimize those. If you don't know or don't care about those things just about any film will do because the circumstances are random so why not just add one more random thing as well.

RB

Ps. My favorites are TMX for young women with great skin in a couple of different environments. Plus-X in PMK or pyrocat for the same subject matter. TXP in the same for high key low lighting ratio shots. Etc. Etc. Who/How and what look you want is a big factor in what might be the best film.
 

photoncatcher

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I would go with Plus X @125 ISO. Nice fine grain, and really smooth tonal range. It's always been my standard film for the past 35 years.
 

Kvistgaard

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Tri-X is fine. I can make almost grainless 8x10 prints from it in 35mm, so that means you can too. Plenty of speed, and easy to find.

- I've had quite good results shooting Tri-x at 200, and developing it in Xtol according to Thomas' replenishing formula. Lovely, smooth tones, and very easily printable negatives.

Works in both medium format and 35mm.
 
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DramaKing

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I would stay away from KB for portraits.

At Thansgiving I did some window-light shots of a niece on Foma 100 souped in D23. Negs look great, but have not printed them yet.

And old fudge for making flattering portraits was rating Tri-X something like EI 80, then underdeveloping it in straight Microdol. I never tried it though.



My best skin tones in 35mm was Ilford FP-4, souped in D23. Will have to see how the FOMA100 does.

Ok, thanks for the tip. I may get a second opinion on the KB, but I expect the FOMA100 to get great results, too. My only reservation is that I have not gotten any of it developed yet (HC-110 developer).

About the shoot itself, the couple that I will be working with are somewhat beyond middle-aged with all of their children grown-up. I've already sent some neg scans as samples. I intend to talk with them and see what kind of styles they're looking for. I know that most customers merely want the "professional" to make the creative choices for them, but some of the things already mentioned, such as fine-grain, good skin tones will be desirable.
 
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