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Author Topic: Which 400 speed film for scanning?  (Read 18389 times)
Ben Rubinstein
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« on: January 24, 2007, 11:35:00 AM »
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I will be undertaking a certain street project which will probably take some years of shooting almost every day. For several reasons I will be using film, the reasons themselves are rather lengthy and for another time. Suffice it to say that I own two 5D's and a basket of L's so I know exactly what digital will do!  

I will be publishing the photos for exhibition and hopefully two books in B&W exclusively. I will however be scanning the film.

I'm looking for the best 400 speed film for scanning which also has the characteristics needed for street work, i.e. forgiving and latitude!

As I will be shooting for B&W output the theoretical advantage would be with processing myself thereby bypassing the problem of lousy processing by kids or expensive processing by pros. However if a c-41 film has significant advantages then I may have to look in that direction. Something that occured to me was that maybe some of the colour films have an advantage (grain/scan/forgivingness) and I could convert after scanning. I would however like to process myself knowing the labs in the country in which I will be working which are both overpriced and very low quality.

Any advice will be most welcome,
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mikeseb
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2007, 08:50:15 PM »
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Sounds like an interesting project, Ben. I'd love to find something to occupy my photographic energies so comprehensively for several years!  Good luck with this venture.

Having shot both types of B&W films, I think that the C41's have only two real advantages: C41processing, which means any place that does color neg film can do them for you; and finer "grain" than conventional ISO 400 B&W films. They have lovely tones and are really quite beautiful in their own right, though not the same as Tri-X or Delta 400. (I have never liked the look of color film converted digitally to B&W, but if you do this is a consideration.) Beyond those two advantages, I've not found other compelling reasons to shoot C41 B&W that much. I have a long history with silver based B&W film, and i just love the look so much I don't want to give it up.

 Another claimed advantage  claimed for C41's is that you can use the scanner's hardware dust and spot removal feature (eg. Digital ICE) with them, which you cannot do with conventional B&W films because the metallic silver grains are treated as dust, costing you image quality. I haven't found this to be that important to me, but if you're shooting a lot of film the ability to use digital ICE could save you some time. I think you'll still have to "spot" the images in Photoshop regardless. I have had equally good results scanning both types with a Nikon LS-8000 film scanner.

I completely agree with you that you MUST process your own conventional B&W film for decent results, while doing your own C41 is optional. You mention that you can't rely on the labs in the project's location, so it sounds like you are going to be processing your own in any case. Given that, I see little advantage to C41's.

How you go about processing the film depends on your intended volume of film shot, the infrastructure at your destination, and whether you'll be on the road all the time, or operate from a fixed base. If you're shooting a low volume of film, staying on the move, or have limited access to electricity or water, then manual daylight tanks (eg Patterson, Nikor, etc) are your best bet. Otherwise, you might consider purchasing a used Jobo or other automated processor. You could do C41 or conventional B&W with equal ease, and do a batch every day or so when you've accumulated a sufficient number of rolls of film. You'd then be free to choose whichever film you need, and be able to economically process either type.

I use a Jobo and get fantastic, consistent results with conventional B&W film, and C41's a no-brainer. being able to press "start" and walk away to do something else while the film spins around is very nice. You could likely sell the processor after the project is done, and suffer only a small loss in depreciation on a used machine. Something to consider.

Maybe a place to start would be to shoot a few rolls of either the Ilford XP2 or Kodak BW400CN and see what you think of the film itself, then go from there.

Keep us posted, eh?
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michael sebastian
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2007, 07:37:28 AM »
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Those auto everything Jobo's are not cheap! That said the cheaper models which keep the temerature stable and agitate, although selling for some 700 new, are now selling for 50 on ebay, at that price I can't think of any excuse not to, especially as you can process 6 rolls at a time.

I'll have to admit to never having processed film by hand before. I used to manage a 1 hour photo lab for 2 years but I'm afraid that there was nothing there which I would like to remember quality wise, it was all automated machinery with the complicated stuff sent out. I don't really want to have to learn B&W processing from scratch given that it's a lifetimes works to truly master. What I would like when I find a film that suits my purpose is to ask the experts who will give me a list of temperatures and times with X chemicals for that film that I can follow like an idiot..

I will be shooting medium format film but there will not be any urgency to the processing and I will be working from home.
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image66
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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2007, 11:43:31 AM »
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Hands down, Ilford Delta 400 processed in Ilfotec DD-X.  This is a push/pull developer and I regularily use this at ISO 800 with zero image loss.  Actually Delta 400 is a bit faster than 400, but I digress.

The main advantage to the Ilford Deltas is the base material.  It is slightly frosted to improve scanning.

Another side benefit to Delta 400 is the extended near-IR sensitivity. In actual practice this will slightly lighten skintones and when combined with an orange filter will essentially remove most scars/zits/blemishes from skin.

In my experience, using Nikon scanners (currently running a V-ED), Delta 400 is the best scanning B&W film closely followed by Delta 100 and then XP-2.

For the past year I've been shooting mostly XP-2 and it has tremendous lattitude and is really nice for landscapy type shots.  But for people pictures, Delta 400 is an improvement and it also responds to color filters better too.

On the Kodak front, I like the latest version of Tri-X for darkroom printing but I don't think it scans as well.

Ken
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2007, 12:45:23 PM »
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From the time I first tried a roll of Ilford XP1 400, I never went back to 'traditional' black and white films.  No experience with the Delta... might have to get some and give it a shot.

When I was in college I had my own key to the darkrooms (newspaper, yearbook, etc.)  Hand processing isn't that difficult as long as you watch the times and temperatures.  E-6 for example needs a really tight control on the temperature bath.  But hey, if you can find a system to do it for you, even better.

Mike.

P.S.  Just remember that if you're spooling more than one roll of film at a time to put each roll in the tank when you're done.  I still remember the day I was having difficulty getting a roll of film to take on the reel so I put it in the drawer, turned the light on, and then took the first roll of film that I had already loaded - the one that was sitting on the counter - and tossed it.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2007, 12:33:01 PM »
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Ken, would you still recommend the film as well for street work? Some of the advantages you were talking about would be great for portraiture but when you want all the lines in a 80 year old mans face, or holding the shadows/highlights in a brightly lit street scene, is it as good?

Sorry I sound so ignorant, I have next to no experience with B&W film and processing.

BTW does anyone have anything to say about HP5? It's very very cheap here compared to most everything else!
« Last Edit: January 27, 2007, 12:43:40 PM by pom » Logged

image66
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2007, 05:07:45 PM »
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Ken, would you still recommend the film as well for street work? Some of the advantages you were talking about would be great for portraiture but when you want all the lines in a 80 year old mans face, or holding the shadows/highlights in a brightly lit street scene, is it as good?

Sorry I sound so ignorant, I have next to no experience with B&W film and processing.

BTW does anyone have anything to say about HP5? It's very very cheap here compared to most everything else!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=97812\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

If I recall correctly, you are planning on using medium format, right?  If so, I'd definitely suggest that HP5 will satisfy.  However, I really don't care for it pushed to 800 as much as Delta 400.  I highly recommend developing HP5 in DD-X for 15 minutes at 1+9 dilution at 68F.  By running the 1+9 dilution the tonalities are a bit better and the grain has a touch more "edge" to it enhancing apparant sharpness. The look of this is very much like the old Tri-X films.

One HUGE issue with XP-2 is that the standard wash cycle in the C41 process isn't long enough to clear the base.  I usually have to load the roll back up on a spool and further wash it for 15 minutes to get it to clear.  This isn't so much an issue with scanning, but for darkroom printing, it is at least a full stop too dark.

Delta 400, pushed to 800 has no apparant grain increase.  About the only difference you'll see in the negatives is a very slight skewing to tonalities (mostly a tiny loss of shadow detail) and an edgier grain from the increased development time.  This is also my preferred ISO 1600 film.  If I need to shoot at 1600, Delta 400 pushed two stops and developed in DD-X (1+4) for 14 minutes.  With DD-X there is no need to underrate the film speed (ie shoot ISO 400 films at ISO 320) as it is a true "film-speed" developer.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2007, 05:13:13 PM by image66 » Logged
Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2007, 05:42:11 PM »
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I wasn't actually looking for pushing particularly, will probably be using an ND half the time given in the Middle East it is more like 'Sunny f22' and there are only ever clouds for a couple of months in the year! The reason I don't shoot slow film is to catch the detail in the shadows and for when I am myself in sufficient shadow or even indoors.

I do want to keep the grain down, scanning B&W film does make the grain jump out for some reason from my experience having Delta 100 scanned by an Imacon 838 in my Mamiya 645 days where the grain is noticeable close up even on the 10X12" prints with minimal sharpening. I do want to be able to print pretty big for exhibition and don't want to be fighting grain too much the whole way during the scanning process. I just checked again though, Delta 400 is only 4 pence more per roll than HP5 not way more as I had thought, that brings it back into the running. What do you think of  ID-11 or D-76 as opposed to DD-X though? The ability to get it in powder form will be a big plus in a country where I will have to import all my own chemisty. (You can tell I've been doing some homework tonight!   )

I've been practising all evening getting a 120 film onto a spool in a dark bag. Bloody Hell but it ain't easy! Don't suppose there is any electric feeder device that will load it onto the spool without the kinks (and no doubt scratches) I seem to be constantly creating is there?
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2007, 01:14:36 AM »
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I've been practising all evening getting a 120 film onto a spool in a dark bag. Bloody Hell but it ain't easy! Don't suppose there is any electric feeder device that will load it onto the spool without the kinks (and no doubt scratches) I seem to be constantly creating is there?

The old question, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" "Practice, practice, practice."

Take one roll of film, don't shoot anything on it, and roll and unroll it until your fingers know the way.  No other alternative that I know.  I've used both the metal spools and the plastic ones.  Personally I prefer the metal ones, but YMMV.

Mike.
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gr82bart
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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2007, 06:48:24 AM »
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There are so many film/developer/scanner combinations and permutations, that it's really a matter of personal prefernce in the end. I personally have been shooting Kodak T-Max since it was launched way back and love it. Again, that's my personal preference, but to be honest, I haven't done any permutation tests to see which I would really like best.

Anyway try asking the question at http://www.hybridphoto.com That site is dedicated to folks who use film and scan or who capture in digital and print traditional.

Quote
For several reasons I will be using film, the reasons themselves are rather lengthy and for another time. Suffice it to say that I own two 5D's and a basket of L's so I know exactly what digital will do!
Why the original poster had to justify using film is interesting. I don't see any reason why anyone has to justify using film to anyone. To state you have digital equipment to assist your justfication is interesting too. Use film when you want to. It's a wonderfull medium that will do the job for you. No reasons are needed. Conversely no one should should question another's reasons for whatever medium they choose.  This is an interesting trend I have observed lately.

Regards, Art.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2007, 06:52:40 AM by gr82bart » Logged

Visit my website at www.ArtLiem.com or my online portfolios at APUG and Model Mayhem
Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2007, 11:02:44 AM »
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Art, these days is really is sensible pre-emption of what is almost certainly going to be suggested, possibly even aggressively. I didn't feel that I have to justify my reasons but I did want to point out that as a pro photographer shooting 2 of the one of the highest IQ digital SLR's that exist if I've chose to shoot film it is an educated personal decision.
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image66
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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2007, 12:08:51 PM »
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Art, these days is really is sensible pre-emption of what is almost certainly going to be suggested, possibly even aggressively. I didn't feel that I have to justify my reasons but I did want to point out that as a pro photographer shooting 2 of the one of the highest IQ digital SLR's that exist if I've chose to shoot film it is an educated personal decision.
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I can think of a few reasons why I'd shoot film over digital too.  And in your case, I'm reading between the lines here and understanding exactly why you want to shoot film.  Based on what you've written, I'd probably go Tri-X and develop it in ID-11 at N-1.  The new Tri-X is really nice stuff.

As to the loading of film on reels for development...  I'm personally glad to see the demise of 220.  THAT was gut-wrench to load on plastic reels.  I prefer to use plastic reels but find that a slight pulling pressure on the reels helps relieve some of the binding that occurs.  Also, it is quite helpful to use fingernail clippers to nab the sharp corners off the film before loading.  After you get the film all loaded, just kinda flex the reel a little bit, wiggling everything a little to get any twisted and bound film to release.
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Frere Jacques
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2007, 06:34:16 AM »
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I second the vote for Tri-X. I have been using it in a Mamiya7 for a few months. Very versatile film, classic look.

Good luck with your project!


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Based on what you've written, I'd probably go Tri-X and develop it in ID-11 at N-1.  The new Tri-X is really nice stuff.
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alengeln
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« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2007, 07:32:48 AM »
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Hi, interesting project. I worked since years with TriX film in Agfa Rodinal, and now I have started scanning the films with CoolscanV with good result, printed and in the Web. Have a look at
www.pbase.com/pung
for some photos I took in India/Nepal in 1986. Thanks for looking.
Albert
Quote
I will be undertaking a certain street project which will probably take some years of shooting almost every day. For several reasons I will be using film, the reasons themselves are rather lengthy and for another time. Suffice it to say that I own two 5D's and a basket of L's so I know exactly what digital will do!   

I will be publishing the photos for exhibition and hopefully two books in B&W exclusively. I will however be scanning the film.

I'm looking for the best 400 speed film for scanning which also has the characteristics needed for street work, i.e. forgiving and latitude!

As I will be shooting for B&W output the theoretical advantage would be with processing myself thereby bypassing the problem of lousy processing by kids or expensive processing by pros. However if a c-41 film has significant advantages then I may have to look in that direction. Something that occured to me was that maybe some of the colour films have an advantage (grain/scan/forgivingness) and I could convert after scanning. I would however like to process myself knowing the labs in the country in which I will be working which are both overpriced and very low quality.

Any advice will be most welcome,
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=97325\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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D White
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« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2007, 10:27:33 PM »
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Hi,

What ever B&W neg film you scan, I suggest scanning as positive and inverting later in photoshop. You will get the full range of tones with no clipping. You can also invert in the scanner menu if you can reverse the curve in your software. I use the Nikon 9000ED on XP-2, and Tri-X.
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Dr D White DDS BSc
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