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How many use C41 B&W

Michael Scott R , Jun 13, 2011; 11:33 p.m.

I am new here on the forum and I am finding myself shooting more and more black and white pictures with my old trusty film cameras a Nikon N6006 and Nikon N90s.
I bought some C41 process Black and White Film from my local CVS the other day and tried it out. I was some what happy with the results, but mostly I was very unhappy. The film was run through my local 1 hour lab and it came back with a bit of an orange tint to it, almost looked like Sepia.
The reason I am thinking of useing C41 B&W is because of the cost of both the film and the developing is much cheaper. Let's face it with the explosion of Digital photography finding Kodak Tmax (my old standby b&w film) and Tri-x are getting harder to find and the cost keeps going up. Also finding a good lab to develop B&W film is getting harder and harder. I have had 2 labs shut down or quit completely developing B&W film in the last year alone.
So I would like to know what the forums experience with C41 B&W film.



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Larry Dressler , Jun 13, 2011; 11:44 p.m.

Well I am that guy who is going to say.... You don't need no stinking lab. I mail order all my film... OOPS I meant I internet all my film and chemicals and with the help of a changing bag and a 2nd hand tank and reel I do it in the kitchen sink. I scan my film a scanner to get you started can be had for under $100.00
I store the chemicals in a locked Cabinet under the sink. Though I live alone I have grand children who visit.
As for the sepia scans. Take them back and show them they had the machine set wrong and to rescan them for free.

Pierre Lachaine , Jun 14, 2011; 12:00 a.m.

I've never been as happy with C41 B&W films as I have with real B&W, but I've used it for the same reasons you have. Honestly, I'm not sure it does anything different than just using C41 colour film and converting the scan to monochrome.

As you have found, the film is not really black & white. It has a reddish tinge to it. This was fine originally, because when developed, it was assumed that it would be printed on black and white paper in the darkroom, just like any other B&W film. If you scan it, you have to greyscale it afterwards unless you want to keep the colour. Even if you want a sepia-like tone, it's best to greyscale it and then add the sepia.

All in all, I think it only ends up looking good when used under circumstances which ensure a creamy, grainless photograph, otherwise, it's downright ugly. It simply does not have the kind of grain which most people like to get with real ISO 400 pr above black and white film. Based on my own experiences with it, I really think it works best with medium format rather than 35mm.

Mike Gammill , Jun 14, 2011; 12:59 a.m.

Have them to scan the negatives again. If CVS has someone new or inexperienced they may have not set the scanner for the type of film.

Andrew Kleinfeld , Jun 14, 2011; 03:14 a.m.

I agree with Larry Dressler. I tried C41 black and white and could not see the point, except for people who wanted to do black and white prints in the darkroom without developing their own film. The C41 isn't as sharp as traditional film. It's so easy to develop film without a darkroom, on the kitchen counter, that you just don't need the C41.

Lex Jenkins , Jun 14, 2011; 03:22 a.m.

I like Ilford XP2 Super. Most minilabs can handle it, it scans well and prints well in a conventional darkroom on variable contrast paper. If family or friends want b&w photos of an event or get-together I'll grab some XP2 Super. It's fast enough for reasonable lighting and handles high contrast lighting such as sunlight or direct flash, so it's excellent for compact P&S cameras.

Chris Nielsen , Jun 14, 2011; 05:54 a.m.

One outstanding feature of XP2 is the ability to shoot from 50 to 800 ISO on the same roll with the same development. From memory because it's not really a b&w film in the traditional sense you can use ICE in your scanner which is also excellent

Pete S. , Jun 14, 2011; 07:43 a.m.

I've used Kodak's C41 B&W a couple of times (whatever the name). A very boring film lacking character. Might as well use my dSLRs IMHO :-)

Michael Madio , Jun 14, 2011; 08:50 a.m.

The colour cast on prints can vary depending on the film. If using Kodak BW400CN they should be okay as it has the C-41 orange mask and it will generally not work well in a traditional darkroom. Ilford's XP2 has no colour mask which can produce strange results in a mini-lab but it works well in the darkroom. Your best bet is to get some real B&W film, a decent scanner, and process it yourself. If you shop around you can get some really good deals on film (check out Freestyle Photo, particularly their house-brand films), get some XTOL, TF-5 fix and you're good to go.

jonathan montague , Jun 14, 2011; 10:34 a.m.

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