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Film Recommendations

by Philip Greenspun, 1996



Contents

  1. Color Slide Film
  2. Fuji Velvia
  3. Fuji Astia and Provia F; Kodak E100S and 100SW
  4. ISO 200
  5. ISO 400
  6. Tungsten
  7. Color Negative Film
  8. Kodak Gold 100
  9. Fuji NPS/Kodak Portra 160NC
  10. ISO 400
  11. Fuji NPH, exposed about 1/2 stop over
  12. Kodak Portra 400NC
  13. Fuji NHGII 800
  14. Films to avoid
  15. Black and White
  16. Afgapan 25
  17. Ilford Pan F
  18. Kodak TMAX-400 CN
  19. Kodak Tri-X
  20. Ilford Delta 3200
  21. Kodak TMAX 3200
  22. Infrared
  23. Special-Purpose Film
  24. Reader's Comments

Color Slide Film

Color slides make you feel like a hero. Slides viewed on a light table have much more tonal range than a print viewed with reflected light. Also, your images won't be ruined by the slings and arrows of outrageous automated printing machines. Sunset. Big Sur, California.

Color slides will sometimes result in heartbreak because they offer so little exposure latitude. If you are a little over, you've lost detail in those highlights that a color negative film would have preserved.

Slides are good if you want to sell to traditional magazines and stock agents. Oh, and if you want to sound like a pro, refer to slide film as "E6" (after the Kodak process that is used to develop all slide film today except Kodachrome (K14) and infrared Ektachrome (E4)) or "chromes".

Slide films are sold in two broad categories: "professional" and "consumer". Consumer film is produced so that it will look its best after a few months of aging at room temperature. In theory, professional film is produced so that it gets shipped from the factory when its color balance is perfect. It is designed to be exposed immediately or refrigerated. In practice, the consumer and professional versions of the same film usually produce indistinguishable pictorial results. Fuji Velvia is sold as professional film in the United States where amateurs have abandoned slides. People watch the shop pull the film reverently out of the fridge and read the "refrigerate me" on the box and wring their hands if they leave the film in a spare camera body for a few months. In Europe, where amateurs still give slide shows, the same film is sold as a consumer film with no refrigeration in the store and none indicated for longer term keeping. Canyon de Chelly (northeast Arizona).

Why do professionals uncomplainingly pay a few dollars more per roll? Partly for guaranteed consistency. They'll buy 100 rolls from the same emulsion batch, test a couple to see exactly what in-camera filtration will result in neutral gray, then photograph an entire clothing catalog with that batch. Sometimes Kodak and Fuji don't bother getting a professional batch exactly neutral because they expect professionals to test and use color correction gels. In those cases, you actually get better results with consumer film. Another reason professionals buy professional film is that they want an old emulsion like Kodak EPP that is technologically obsolete. Kodak doesn't make it anymore for consumers because their new T-grain slide films are dramatically better. But if you and your catalog printer know exactly how to maintain color fidelity from the clothing to the printed page with EPP then you aren't going to want to switch film just to get finer grain (especially since you are probably using 120 or 4x5 size and not enlarging much). The southern tip of Lake Powell (southern Utah; formerly the beautiful Glen Canyon until we decided to fill it with muddy Colorado River water and sediment).

If you are only exposing one roll at a time and don't have any special expertise with a particular emulsion, there are only two real benefits to professional slide film. First, pro film comes in more flavors than consumer film. Kodak in particular seems to release its professional slide films in "neutral" and "warm color balance" versions. The same film packaged for consumers comes in only one color balance. The second real benefit to professional film is only for those who cling to old-style retouching methods (i.e., not PhotoShop). Sometimes the professional version of an emulsion has a coating on the base side to facilitate traditional retouching. Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. California's White Mountains.

Should you happen to be using professional film, don't obsess over keeping it refrigerated. If you end up leaving it at room temperature for a few months, then what you end up with is consumer film. Which is more or less the same thing.

Note: If you do refrigerate your film, make sure that you do obsess over letting it come up to room temperature in its sealed container before using it. If you pull film out of the fridge and start using it immediately on the beach in Florida, you'll find that water condenses in little droplets on the film, leaving unsightly blotches on your processed images. From the 55-degree fridge to a 70-degree room, Kodak recommends about 1 hour for 35mm film, 30 minutes for 120, and 2 hours for a 50-sheet box of 4x5 film. Double these times if you've been keeping your film in the freezer. I'd also double them if you intend to use film outdoors on a hot day. I've been a bit sloppy with these times myself and never gotten burned with Kodak or Fuji film, but had some Agfapan 25 experiences that were horribly painful.

Fuji Velvia

ISO 50. Incredible color. Saturated and yet still capable of subtlety. My favorite for scenery. Can do violence to flesh tones, although allegedly Fuji is working on this problem. I used this film almost exclusively in Travels with Samantha.

Example: Parco dei Mostri (Park of Monsters) below the town of Bomarzo, Italy (1.5 hours north of Rome). This was the park of the 16th century Villa Orsini and is filled with grotesque sculptures. Rollei 6008, Zeiss 50mm lens, tripod, 120 size film. Reciprocity correction is minimal.

Fuji Astia and Provia F; Kodak E100S and 100SW

Aero/Astro Professor Laurence R. Young and colleague. MIT Graduation 1998 All three are good all-around slide films with extremely fine grain and saturated yet fairly accurate color. The Kodak E100SW version is allegedly warmer than the E100S. If you want to save money and need a huge pile of film, Fuji Sensia II and Kodak Elite 100 are the consumer versions of these films.

Example (right): Fuji Astia. two MIT professors at our 1998 graduation, Canon EOS-5, 17-35/2.8L.

Below: a few images from The Game, taken with Fuji Astia in my studio.

Below: some Kodak E100S fed through my Canon system near the Oregon/California border.

Below: Fuji Provia F (fine-grain) in Florida:

ISO 200

MIT Graduation 1998

Kodak has great marketing for its E200 slide film. I used a lot of it at MIT's 1998 graduation ceremony and the results were pretty bad compared to those obtained with Fuji Astia shot on the same day. Fuji has its MS 100/1000 "multispeed" E6 film but I haven't tried it.

ISO 400

Petersburg, Alaska.

I've never found a decent ISO 400 slide film. The grain is intolerably intrusive. A lot of pros use Kodachrome 200 pushed. I haven't tried Fuji Provia 400 but I don't think it is a lot better than the T-grain Kodak Elite 400, which I tried in 1993 and found wanting. I recommend using ISO 400 negative film.

Example: from Chapter XII of Travels with Samantha.

Tungsten

Scotch 640 is remarkably awful. Avoid it; Kodak's 320T pushed 1 stop looks far better. Kodak's 160 and 320T films are pretty darn good.

Color Negative Film

Alabama Hills. Eastern Sierra.

Color negative film is very tolerant of exposure errors. You can be off by 2 or 3 f-stops and still get a print that is barely distinguishable from one from a correctly exposed negative. This frees your mind to concentrate on composition, focus, timing, etc.

Color negative film never gets very dark and therefore is good for CCD scanners, e.g., all desktop machines and also the scanners for PhotoCD workstations.

Pro lingo for negative or "print" film is "C41" (official Kodak name for the development process). If you have always wondered "Why does negative film have an orange color," then this is the link for you.

Because a negative is never the final product and there is so much slop in the printing process, there isn't as much demand for "professional" print film as there is for "professional" slide film. Professional negative film tends to be produced for wedding photographers who want low contrast and photojournalists who want to push-process their C41.

Kodak Gold 100

Every 1 hour lab in the world knows how to print this film accurately, which is an important selling feature. Excellent sharpness and color. Some of my friends swear that Fuji Super G 100 is better, especially for skin tone, and they're probably right but I don't use a lot of ISO 100 print film.

Example: Rollei 6008, Zeiss 120mm macro lens, extension tube, tripod. Hilo, Hawaii 1990. (120 size film.)

Fuji NPS/Kodak Portra 160NC

ISO 160 low contrast films. These are designed for weddings where the groom wears black and the bride wears white and you want some detail in both fabrics. Also nice for smoothing out skin blemishes. One of the great things about these films is that labs in every corner of the world know how to make beautiful portrait prints from them. Fuji NPS is probably preferred if you expect mixed or fluorescent lighting.

ISO 400

For most people, most of the time, this is the correct speed color negative film to use. Whether you go Kodak or Fuji, you'll be amazed at how fine grain and color saturated the images are. Enlargements to 11x14 from 35mm look pretty good. My personal favorites in this category:

  • Kodak Royal Gold 400, bright but not lurid colors
  • Fuji NPH, lower contrast, best exposed at ISO 320
  • Kodak Portra 400NC, another good lower contrast portrait/wedding film

Example: Fuji Super G+ ISO 400. Canon EOS-5, 70-200/2.8 lens at f/4 and 1/125, fill flash set to -1 stop. Manhattan 1995.

Fuji NPH, exposed about 1/2 stop over

Here's some ISO 400 wedding film, used at a wedding!

I like NPH for general outdoor photography as well. For example, here are some pictures taken on a bright Florida day. Notice how the colors aren't pushed to the extremes as with most consumer film:

Kodak Portra 400NC

A few snapshots from Japan and China...

Fuji NHGII 800

Photojournalists are heavy users of ISO 800 color negative film. Grain is acceptable if you don't enlarge beyond 5x7. Contrast and color saturation are surprisingly good. Kodak competes in this market with a variety of confusingly named products, e.g., Kodak Gold MAX. But Fuji seems to have the quality edge and that's what everyone uses.

Films to avoid

  • Agfa Ultra 50. This film has very high color saturation, but it seems to only have one shade of each color. I.e., a slightly red leaf is rendered in the film's only red, which is bright. Grain is also surprisingly coarse (worse than most ISO 100 films?), though I have enlarged 6x6 cm Ultra 50 negs to 20x24".
  • Anything 200 speed. If you're going to be shooting bad pictures outdoors in bright sunlight, go for the 100 and then you can make huge enlargements. If you're going to be shooting with available light and/or fill flash and/or in deep shade, you'll need the extra stop from ISO 400 (and maybe more). 200 really isn't noticeably better quality than 400 and it isn't noticeably faster than 100.
  • Any color negative film not made by Kodak or Fuji. It takes big bucks and a lot of R&D to compete in this market. Other companies are generally catching up to where Fuji and Kodak were three years ago.
  • Anything derived from movie stock, e.g., Seattle Film Works. Movie film is lower quality than photographic film and it is also non-archival. Your memories will fade very quickly if you don't keep your processed negatives in the freezer (which is what movie studios do). [Note: normal color neg film will say "Process C41" on the canister. If it says "Process ***something else****" then you've got movie film. This is why the junk that Seattle Filmworks respools cannot be processed at your local minilab.]

Black and White

I'm not sure why Black and White film makes sense any more. When I want black and white, I can just choose "desaturate" in PhotoShop and it is done. Still, if you want to work with traditional processes (i.e., you don't want to scan) and you want a negative that will last for hundreds of years, black & white is the way to go.

Afgapan 25

Great for scenery. You're going to need a tripod anyway to take those Ansel Adams-esque shots, so you might as well get the finest grain you can.

Ilford Pan F

ISO 50. Very fine-grain. Good for studio use.

Kodak TMAX-400 CN

Charter fishing captain cleaning a tourist's catch. On the wharf in Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts My first few rolls of this new C41-process film have made me think that it is time to stop using TMAX-100. Ilford started what they thought would be a revolution with XP1 and XP2, black and white films with extremely wide latitude that could be run through any One-Hour lab in the world. Unfortunately, a lot of people (including me) couldn't figure out how to get the pictures that we wanted. In terms of contrast and density, TMAX-400 CN seems to behave more like a standard B&W film except that it has very fine grain (finer even than TMAX-100) and can be processed anywhere that color negative film can be.

Black Labrador puppy on the wharf in Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts Caveat: TMAX-400 CN probably won't have the archival stability of "real B&W film". You'll have to take more care in storing the negs (see the Wilhelm book for how standard color negs fare) and should probably make high-res scans of priceless images.

If you click on this thumbnail (or the one at to the upper right), you'll be offered the option of viewing a FlashPix. This was made from a 4000x6000 pixel ProPhotoCD scan and you ought to be able to get a good idea of the underlying film's properties.

More samples of TMAX 400 CN: in my Cape Cod photo essay. Very similar competitor: Ilford XP-2 Plus.

Kodak Tri-X

Luke Hunsberger in Harvard Yard. Cambridge, MA 1998. Introduced in 1954. Classic look. Nice contrast. Grainy but consistently so and people like the look of Tri-X grain. Confusingly, Kodak actually markets two very different emulsions under the "Tri-X" name. The first is "Tri-X Pan": ISO 400, available in 35mm and 120, much mid-tone separation and not much highlight separation. The second is "Tri-X Pan Professional": ISO 320, available in 120 and 4x5 sheets, not much mid-tone separation and enhanced highlight separation (allegedly better for studio lighting). When people talk about "Tri-X", they generally mean the ISO 400 Tri-X Pan that was made famous by photojournalists using 35mm cameras.

Ilford Delta 3200

Remarkably fine-grained film for its speed (a true ISO 1200, designed for push processing). Here is an image exposed at ISO 1200 with a Fuji 617 camera:

Kodak TMAX 3200

Really only an ISO 800-1000 film that is designed for push processing to 3200 or 6400, this is great for experimenting with grain. I like to have it developed by Kodalux (with an $8 DP-36 mailer).

Example at left: George in front of Charles River. Red (25) filter. Nikon 8008, 20/2.8 AF lens, f/8 and be there.

Infrared

You basically have a choice of two emulsions here: (1) Kodak High Speed Infrared; (2) Konica Infrared 750. Konica is slower, has a narrower spectral response and results in higher contrast, finer grained images. I don't really have enough experience with this art form to say too much. I recommending reading Laurie White's excellent Infrared Photography Handbook.

Special-Purpose Film

All of the preceding films are "pictorial" or "general-purpose" designs. They have the appropriate amount of contrast to pleasingly render the average scene. Fuji and Kodak (especially) make a long list of special-purpose films. These are good for

  • slide duplication (low speed; low contrast)
  • interneg production (negs from slides)
  • making slides from negs
  • making color separation
  • making high contrast line drawings (for business or creative reasons)

Some of these special purpose films are described in the Kodak Professional Photo Guide. Another good resource is the book Copying and Duplicating. The biggest and most competent photo retailers will stock special-purpose films in 4x5 sheets, in 100-foot rolls, and sometimes in 36-exposure canisters for 35mm cameras.

Where to Buy

Try to buy film from a professional camera shop. These shops have fresh inventory and keep most of their stock in large refrigerators. If you want to save money, don't try doing so by bulk loading your own rolls. It is too difficult to avoid getting dust inside the canisters. However, buying gray market film from one of the large New York retailers, e.g., Adorama, is a reasonable way to economize.

More

Remember that you're going to need your film processed.

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



Kim Johnson , December 16, 1996; 04:21 P.M.

I tried Agfa color negative film (400) (after reading about Afga in the "magazines") for going away programs for someone at my church. Well, I'll never use anything other than Kodak or Fuji again. The color was bad, the contrast was bad, and the grain was even worse. I have a Canon 10s. I used a Canon 50mm lens, with a Canon Flash. The pictures looked like I took them with one of the small instamatics from the 70s. Live and learn. Unfortunately, I can't redo five rolls of pictures for this one time event.

Glen Johnson , January 05, 1997; 05:09 P.M.

I've been looking at a lot of slides that were shot back in the 60's and 70's lately. I did not use Fuji at that time. Fuji was relatively new to the US market, and I had a lot of family working at Kodak. I used Kodachrome, Ektachrome (processed normally and pushed), and Agfachrome. Oddly, the Kodak relatives didn't seem to mind Agfa nearly as much as they did Fuji. I later worked for Kodak myself.

Agfachrome was available for about $7 for two 36 exposure rolls, processing included, so it was attractive to a college student on a budget.

The good news is that the Kodak products have held up extremely well over time. They haven't been projected very often, but colors have remained pretty close to my memory, and all of the color casts remain "pleasing." The bad news is that many of the Agfachrome slides are noticeably less "real" looking than I remember them. The colors seem to have shifted toward green or blue.

I would be very careful about using brands other than Kodak or Fuji for any critical projects.

Peter Farkas , January 20, 1997; 10:27 A.M.

You've not mentioned Fuji Reala among the negative films, which is a pity, because it is really, really nice. It has many different shades of each color and also very high saturation. It's much better than Super G+ (OK, also a bit pricey), however it should be noted that in dull weather the difference is not that large. Reala is ideal for portratuire and I use it for landscapes too (and for also everything else, except where very high resolution and fine grain are required). The new Reala incorporates the technology Fuji uses in APS films.

Stephen Lehmann , January 20, 1997; 08:13 P.M.

It seems like we have a different Film/Photography world up here in Toronto. B&W is still very popular. Colour Materials are far from producing real B&W Fine Prints. Anyway no one mentioned Ilford. I use their FP4 a lot and find it pretty well stacks up to the T-max 100 which I also like when I'm in the mood. Paper and film for B&W images are very much appreciated around these parts and I expect that will be so for along time to come. When I have to shoot colour prints I find GPX an excellent product.

Dana H. Myers , January 31, 1997; 10:35 P.M.

I'm one of those folks that didn't like TMax 400 (TMY). Well, I started using the new Kodak developer Xtol, and TMax 100 looked so nice in Xtol that I decided to test some TMY. Guess what? TMY in Xtol looks positively great IMHO. I started using it, even in 35mm. I like it - the grain is very fine and sharp, the tonality is, to my eye, excellent. If you've given up on TMY (like I had), you really ought to try some in Xtol. A scan can't really do the film justice, but send me a note and I'll send you a scan or two from a test I shot on TMY 135.

Javier Henderson , February 18, 1997; 04:21 P.M.

I've been using Fuji Sensia 100 for a while now, and I've been very pleased with the saturated colors it produces.

Charles Schuetze , February 28, 1997; 02:22 A.M.

Concerning TMY, I've had excellant results when developed in PMK Pyro and printed on variable contrast papers. The steepness of the curve in the highlights is controlled very nicely by the built-in low contrast filtration of the pyro stain. Finally, the speed of TMY (close to 400 ISO in PMK) makes large format photography of vegatation in wind feasible.

Glen Johnson , April 08, 1997; 08:35 A.M.

I bought 5 rolls of Sensia 400 in 9/96, shot one of them in open sun, and refridgerated the other four. The roll I shot in 9/96 turned out acceptably well. Grain was acceptable and colors were good. I didn't get around to using the other four rolls until recently. Two were shot with an EOS 1N and EOS EF lenses. Two rolls were shot with a Nikon 35 Ti. All four rolls were processed by Fuji in Phoenix. They were mailed on different days (several days apart), but two were returned together twice, leading me to wonder if Fuji batch processes specific emulsions instead of running all E-6 films together. I've noticed that my Velvia often comes back bunched together too.

All four rolls of Sensia 400 turned out horrid. I used these rolls in overcast, and late in the day when light was low. Grain was huge. Colors were weak and washed out. On each roll there were a few frames shot in open sun, and these frames were all acceptable, although not as good as what you can get with Kodak and Fuji ISO 100 emulsions.

I won't be doing more experiments with this film because it isn't worth it. In the low light situations where it ought to have represented a reasonable choice, it really stunk.

Russ Arcuri , April 25, 1997; 10:19 A.M.

I just wanted to second the recommendation someone else made above for Fuji Reala. I like Reala a lot, for its fine grain, excellent sharpness, and good color rendition and (medium) contrast. I've gotten good results with partial frame enlargements to 11x14! I haven't tried pushing it beyond that though.

A couple notes about exposure and printing, though: 1. You don't want to underexpose it. Contrast and color are good, but grain is much more evident when underexposed. For this reason I usually override the DX coding and set it to ISO 80. A little bit of overexposure is much, much better than a little bit of underexposure.

2. The color balance is tricky to get right in the printing stage unless the lab has a balance neg for Reala. I had almost given up on using Reala when I finally found a lab that does it right. The results are great now. So if you want to give it a try, don't assume that poor results are due to the film; it's probably the lab's fault.

Glen Johnson , June 05, 1997; 08:04 A.M.

I just finished a week of cleaning up an reorganizing about 1000 of my father's Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides. These were all taken between the end of WWII and the early '60's. They have been stored in an attic environment for the last 30 years. They were filthy, but they cleaned up well with a static master brush.

I was impressed with several things. First, even in these poor storage conditions, once these slides were cleaned up, colors were very natural. Second, about half of the slides were in the 828 format (slightly larger than 35mm, but still mounted in 2"x2" mounts), and the other half were 35mm. All were taken with a single focal length lens. I didn't get the impression that the single focal length was terribly limiting. Third, these slides were generally sharp. The 828 camera had a 48mm f/4.5 "luminized" 4 element lens. It was avery capable. Lack of sharpness nearly always appeared to be due to camera shake problems that come with an f/4.5 lens and ASA 25 film. Fourth, I was impressed with the lighting abilities that they used for indoor work. I only saw a few shots with either red eye or harsh shadows behind the main subject. The vast majority of the shots showed no distracting red eye and no distracting shadow. Fifth, Kodak apparantly expected consumers to be smarter in those days. For $.25, my Dad bought a Snap Shot Kodaguide that provided the basis for exposing all of the Kodak films of the day without a meter. It was quite straight forward, and anyone who owned one of these would pretty quickly learn how to judge a scene. Finally, based on looking at these slides the past week, I am impressed by how well you can do if you actually think about what you are doing, instead of relying on the modern technology to save you.

Last comment. He also had a bunch of 126 slides that were taken with a Minolta camera in the 70's. I know for a fact that that camera had a meter in it, and that there was no way to provide photographer selected compensation. These slides were uniformly well exposed. If Minolta knew how to do this in the 70's, why are so many modern P&S cameras so incapable of dealing with slide film?

Dana H. Myers , July 26, 1997; 11:50 A.M.

Kodak's new black and white film TMax T400CN is a remarkable product. It is a C-41 emulsion that produces a monochrome image, like Ilford XP2. Unlike XP2, T400CN produces images with a nearly straight exposure curve, similar to other TMax films. XP2 is more like a traditional B&W film that has a longer toe and prominent shoulder. Kodak claims that T400CN offers grain and sharpness comparable to other EI 100 B&W films, and my experience so far is that this claim is valid. While I'm one of the people that likes TMY (when processed in Xtol), T400CN has become my EI 400 film of choice. The downside is that T400CN is a C-41 emulsion and may not have the permanence of silver films.

Jeff Spirer , July 28, 1997; 06:57 P.M.

Some of the film comments surprise me. And what happened to Ilford?

Ultra 50: I find this a wonderful film. Either the formulation has been changed or there is a complete difference in processing. I get very fine grain and a broad spectrum of saturated colors. I use it quite a bit, always in 120.

Scotchchrome 640T: Well you are right that this is a terrible film. On the other hand, that is no reason not to use it. I push it two stops and cross process, I get incredibly grainy stuff that, properly used, is very effective. I used to shoot a lot of Scotchchrome 1000, but it was discontinued. This is one of the only high-grain color films left.

Ilford XP2: I really like the tonal range of this film, and it is what I usually shoot in black & white. It has a very smooth, almost creamy, feel to it. I haven't tried the new Kodak equivalent, but since I don't care much for the newer Kodak b&w formulations (I still use Tri-X on occasion), I haven't been real motivated.

Joseph Alsko , August 16, 1997; 10:04 A.M.

Previously my film of choice was EPP100 4x5 but Kodak informed me that E100S doesn't suffer from the reciprocity effect like EPP100 does. They were right. It also renders the color of river water here in the Italian Dolomites more accurately.

G Deen , September 18, 1997; 01:00 P.M.

Ultra 50 - tried a roll on store advice, unfortunately shot end of vacation portraits of the entire family with it and guess what? We all look like pumpkin heads or tomato heads in a frame of ridiculous blown out colors. Live and learn.

PhotoDr -- , October 29, 1997; 12:49 P.M.

Would highly recommend that you try Kodak PMC 400. It is, by far, the best 400 ISO color negative film I have used. I have been able to make virtually grainless enlargements from 110 size areas of 120 format negatives. Shadow detail is exceptional while still maintaining highlights. Contrast and color rendition are great. Low in contrast and color that is very, very slightly warm. If you're tired of the screaming Fuji (not the rock group) color greens & blues, try it.

Agnius Griskevicius , November 13, 1997; 05:29 P.M.

For B&W I like using Ilford Delta films. They offer fine grain comparable to Kodak Tmax films and are not as contrasty as Tmax. For color I like Fuji Astia. Skin tones are right on the money, the film pushes up to 2 stops without too much fuss. Kodak E100S is nice too. For nature colors nothing beats Fuji Velvia. I often hear people recommending "over" or "under" exposing their film. That is an esthetic judgement, and only you can decide if you like the final results. Run a test on each bach of film, as emultion characteristics differ, and then decide. MacBeth color chart is the standard for calibrating colors in the industry. Good luck!

Dan Moore , December 07, 1997; 12:53 P.M.

There is an alternative process for B&W film that I've done some experimentation with. It involves using older tech film like hp5, or Tri-X. You need to play with the development a bit but the results are worth it. Expose the film at ISO 50 or so, (3 stop over). Then using D-76 diluted approx 15:1 (water/stock) develop for approx 20 min. The resulting neg is bulletproof thick, but the tonal range is huge, and there is no grain to speak of.

Bill Bereza , December 09, 1997; 07:18 P.M.

You mention that you don't know why someone would use B&W film today, except maybe longevity. Well, I suppose it depends on your purpose for taking photos.

For me, longevity is the most important thing about photography. It allows me to capture a moment (maybe even an emotion) and show it to someone at a later time. I would like to think that someone 100 years from now would enjoy some of the images I've captured.

And I think it is almost selfish to only worry about using the photo in the near future. Any color film will quickly fade compare to B&W, but digital is even more temporary. I'm pretty skeptical about the longevity of any digital format. Even if a file isn't stuck on some obsolete media, there's always the chance that the format of the image couldn't easily be converted.

For commercial work, color (or better yet, digital) makes more sense, because you're going to be using the photo right away, and it'll have a pretty limited life.

But, imagine if all the great paintings of the world had become unviewable after 100 years! The world today would have lost so much, and I like to think that the world of the future will have something to gain from the photos made today.

I may sound like a Luddite, but I'm really not (I do have a CS degree). I think digital will be great for journalism and professional work where the photos are taken for some commercial reason, but I photograph for myself, and I'll keep using Tri-X for a long time, and I'll be making home-movies with a 16mm camera on B&W film knowing that some future generation might enjoy what I've done, while video tapes, and color film will have long ago become junk.

Christian Becker , December 12, 1997; 11:58 A.M.

Concerning neg. (because results always depend on every step and handling) to me Tmax 400's contrast is too extreme in some cases (exposed at 400 ASA, develped in Tmax Dev. according to Kodak instructions) leading to good black but very thin high tones. Tmax 100 when pushed is even worst. Compared to Tmax Tri-x gives a far more stretched (rich) tonality. Maybe interesting lightly blurred shots seem to be 'sharper' with T technology films.

Patricia S. Lee , December 15, 1997; 12:37 A.M.

I didn't see any descriptions of lith films. I've been working with them on and off for two years to make landscapes and other "real" pictures (i.e., not title slides). Because I don't want to futz around with copying from regular B&W negs onto lith film (I use 35mm format), I shoot the image directly, in-camera. Strictly tripod work!!!!! The films are very slow but extremely fine-grained.

I've tried Kodak Ektagraphic HC and AgfaOrtho with three developers each: Agfa Neutol, Agfa Rodinal, and Kodak Super RT. The Rodinal suits me best but it's expensive.

Note that the Kodak film has a yellow-brown cast to the emulsion, whereas the Agfa film has a blue cast. This doesn't matter for B&W prints but it does for color prints.

Bob Pliskin , January 29, 1998; 02:33 P.M.

Re: Kodak TMax400CN. It is more predictable than Ilford XP2. It is so fine-grained that I could not find grain to focus on with my good quality grain focusing devise in a 6x7cm neg when making an 8x10in. image. I'm going to have to buy an image focuser.

Harald Gaunitz , February 05, 1998; 10:03 A.M.

Kodak and Fuji films are often very good but I used, by misstake, Konica VX 100 and became very surprised. How deep and clear colors! Maybe the filmbase is a little bit to thin but the colors are the best I ever have seen!

Don Nicholson , February 15, 1998; 03:19 P.M.

I see a lot of comments about which films are good and which films are bad. But I also see that most people don't find out what the manufacturer intended the film to be used for. For example the person using ultra 50 for portraits. Thatfilm was intended for high contrast vivid unreal saturated colors. That is why all manufacturers make a portrait film. Or why would you try out a film at an unreplacable outing. I would suggest that person try another photo lab because it was obviouse to me that the labe didn't print the order properly. I have been a photofinisher for 25 years, most of the self standing drugstore or discount stores are operated by people with less knowledge than the person bringing in the film. Also most overnight photolabs are now owned by kodak or Fuji. Would it be benificial for them to print thier competitors film to it's maximum standards. Most labs use a standard process in color and black and white. They do not use d-76 or a certian process they don't have time for that. If you want optimum processing in black and white the best result is to do your own. When people come to my lab we ask questions and make recomendations, and we usually get the customer the film they need for the proper reason. Not because the supplier is our owner. I regularly use Agfa, fuji, Konica , ilford and even Kodak occasionaly. But I us the film the way the manufacturer intended it and i find I get the results they intended me to get. If you are getting bad color try another lab, and be sure that it is really another lab. In michigan Arbor, Rite Aid, K-mart, Meijer,and Target are all processed by the same photolab but done under the store name. Isn't it amazing that in the 80"s k-mart tried to do one hour processing and found it was not cost efficient or profitable. why is it that they are in all thier stores now. I welcome any questions about photography at my e-mail address.

Stevan S.Yasgur , March 07, 1998; 02:04 P.M.

Speaking as the resident retrogrouch, let me put in a good word for Ilford Pan-F (ISO 50), where a very fine grain is necessary. I have seen this film exposed at ISO 50 under a No. 4 photoflood (about 1/30 @ 5.6), developed in Pyro/PFdiamlene/Metol/ss developer and enlarged to 16x20 in a diffusion enlarger produce Extalure prints that were essentially grainless while presenting a full tonal range (this was 35mm, remember) Zeiss Sonnar 85mm lens. Subject matter: human portraiture. By same token, Tri-X processed identically has produced very fine grain and 35mm negs enlarged up to 11x14 w/ cold light show little if any grain and 16x20's are just fine, also, thanx. It's exposed at ISO 200 unfiltered or 300 with a G filter on sunlit landscapes. My personal fave was Royal Pan, discontinued in the early 90's, alas, which had a tonal scale as long as your arm and could REALLY record scale when developed in pyro (above). If anyone knows of any emulsion that comes even close, I'd like to hear about it so I can start shooting it.

Paulo Bizarro , March 17, 1998; 11:08 A.M.

Just a brief comment on my recent experiences with different films. I shoot mostly slides, as contrast and colour are better. When I have a really good one I go to my trusty Kodak pro-lab and order a high quality print.

I have tried Fuji's Velvia and Sensia, the latter is ok, but the former is too saturated for the sort of climate I live in (Portugal, plenty of sunshine available). I reckon it works better for touristy adds and countries with dull weather. So lately I have settled with E100SW, which gives a much more natural rendition of what is going on around the viewfinder. excellent results with flash too.

As for print film, I like Reala for 100 ISO and Royal Gold 400 for my P&S. B&W I like Tmax 400, I have just made a 20x25 cm enlargement of a portrait and the somewhat grainier texture is just beautiful.

Next I will try the new E200, if grain and rendition are the same as the E100 emulsions I may change again my preferences. I just love APS, it has provided a whole new range of improvements to 35mm film emulsions and technologies.

Bob Coffman , April 02, 1998; 12:09 P.M.

I've tried 'Scala' by AGFA. This is a very intersesting B+W slide film for those of us without darkrooms, and who shoot only slides. It's rated at ISO 200, but can be shot at 100 or 400, just not on your envelope. There are only 3 labs in the country to process it. I have used it with great results on automotive subjects. I've shot it at 200 and 400 ( higher to increase contrast) and got the results I had hoped for. Try it!

Michael -- , April 26, 1998; 10:25 P.M.

I agree and disagree with some of your recomendations for one .

B&W - I have been usibg the Agfapan 25 and it is incredible, but I also can say that the Ilford Delta 100 is just as good and when you don't want to use a tripod it's the way to go.

Secondly- Royal Gold 25 is very nice, but I have had much better results with the Agpha Ultra 50.

Their are my two cents!

Michael

Robert Maxey , May 19, 1998; 07:13 P.M.

Why is it that everyone posts information that suggests fast films are the only choice for photographers? I use Kodachrome 25 and 64 for 90% or higher of everything I shoot. Face it, the slow Kodachromes are not only superior to the fast stuff, but if the photographer knows what he is doing, sufficent.

One major user of Kodachrome used to be National Geographic. Go through issues from the 40's, 50's and 60's and you will see virtually every image with a tag line that says Kodachrome by (Photographer's name).

Please, whoever is reading this, use more Kodachrome 25 and 64. You will obtain far better results.

Piaw Na , May 24, 1998; 09:05 P.M.

Robert Maxley's comment about Kodachrome is misleading. Kodachrome in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, was a different emulsion than Kodachrome is today. Kodachrome II was a highly saturated, high silver content emulsion which came in only one speed: ISO 25. Today's Kodachrome 25 and K64 have much lower silver content, are not as saturated, and was introduced in the '70s to help Kodak with the higher silver prices. Don't let the branding fool you. K25 and K64 are not like Kodachrome II.

Thomas Gay , June 20, 1998; 11:10 A.M.

Film what kind is a good question. Next question is : When I travel will the undeveloped film be destroyed by Airport Anti Terrorist scanners/x-ray machines. This summer the new scanners are being deployed. How bad are the new scanners? David Attenborough, lost 5 weeks of film work for the BBC series Birds of the World! see Popular Photography june 98.

Alexey Merz , July 08, 1998; 08:49 P.M.

Piaw Naw's comment on Kodachrome is itself somewhat misleading. While the 25, 64, and 200 emulsions are not the same as Kodachrome II, the K14 *process* has not changed. And these are great, if tempermental, emulsions.

For a number of reasons, the K14 process is inherently superior to the E6 used for virtually all other transparency films. K14 offers higher resolution (though not necessarily higher *acuity* ) and better permanence than E6. In addition, many (including myself) prefer the Kodachrome palette to any other. The only other slide film that I really like is Fuji Sensia.

Tony -- , July 09, 1998; 02:51 P.M.

I want to say that I just finish testing the new fuji 100-1000 film. Man this film blew me away when I push it to 1000 I shot it to 1000 and pushed to 1000 this film kicks ass I think atleast a photographer should carry one or two of these films. It's a transparent film which shot to 1000 and push to 1000 the color saturations are beautiful. I have to give it up to fuji they rule. Tony

Dana H. Myers , July 10, 1998; 06:30 P.M.

About a year ago, I commented that T400CN is a remarkable film, that it had become my EI 400 film of choice (over TMY/Xtol). Well, T400CN isn't actually my EI 400 film of choice, it turns out. Instead, I find I still prefer TMY for the same uses I always have, and T400CN is an alternative to TMX (!). Ironic, eh? When it really comes down to it, I believe TMX has a bit of an edge in sharpness, and I like the ability to manipulate the neg contrast in processing sometimes. However, T400 may have an advantage when shooting people.

Fred Barnes , August 29, 1998; 02:13 A.M.

In reference to the comment on not to use 200 speed slide films, but to use 100 ISO's pushed.

I would agree to that until lately. The new Elite Chrome 200 from Kodak is tolerable. The Agfa CTX 200 is more than tolerable...I will be using it alot for my animal/bird photography, mainly hand held.

I will no longer use Kodachrome 200 while the above two films are available.

chris golz , September 10, 1998; 08:36 P.M.

I was amazed at the lack of coments regarding Fuji Neopan B&W films. Available in 400 and 1600 I have found them to be not only the finest grained film in their ISO's, but also some of the most inexpensive. I recomend XTOL. Regarding TmaxCN: Working at a Pro lab for many years I have seen this film take off in popularity. I have found it to be a great film, though a little flat so I shoot it with a yellow filter. Keep in mind, this film is not as archival as other B&W films but it's great for portraits and weddings. Cross Processing:I would recomend Agfa for anyone interested in xprocessing. Highly saturated images without the blue/green cast I've found with kodak and fuji films. Color print film: There is nothing out there as good as Fuji Reala and Fuji 400HGpro. I've seen thousands of professionaly shot negs on every film in the market and nothing else comes close.

Gib Robinson , September 22, 1998; 11:59 A.M.

I didn't see a mention of Kodak Pro 400 color negative film. I've gotten good results with it both outside and under flash. My wedding photo friends seem to like it for people and clothing, especially the MC version of the film.

They also like Pro 100. I've tried a roll or two but haven't done any comparing.

Among slide films I still like Kodachrome 25 better than Velvia for landscapes and living things. Better color balance to my eye.

Karl Katzke , September 25, 1998; 09:50 P.M.

I shoot sports on the newspaper staff of my local community college. Lighting conditions, not only in our gym, but also outdoor at night sports, are absolutely dismal. I need to use a 540ex or a Quantaray PZ-1 (Sunpak 4000af)... Or actually, both linked to a hotshoe distributor, to get an exposure. It's usually simpler to push a film, and in the push-processing department, I've found Tri-X to be hands and feet over TMAX400, which I've also tried. I am doing experiments with Neopan, so I'll get back to you on that. Anyway, you can still retain the tonal quality that TriX has when exposed at 320, and even though it gets grainy, you don't notice at all when you screen the image for newsprint. Esp. if you use the Curves adjustment in Photoshop... but more on that later. I just think that it's interesting that noone mentioned this property of TriX over Tmax. Other than that, I still love Tmax for every day B&W use, and I do alot of that.

Steven J. Owens , September 28, 1998; 11:22 P.M.

Since there seems to be very little comment on it (perhaps it isn't required? :-), I thought I'd throw in my $0.02 about Astia.

In case the above wasn't a dead giveaway, I'll come right out and say I love it! I've tried E100S, E100SW, and Sensia 100, and Astia is the best I've found so far. To keep it short: Colors seem accurately rendered, yet they also seem more saturated than the other 100's (but not nearly as heavily as Velvia). It has higher contrast than Sensia, and appears to be sharper than any of the 100 speed chromes I've tried. The best word I can find to describe the slides from this film is "vibrant".

Will this film ever replace something like Velvia? Hardly, but I think it will take it's place along side it as one of the best slide films around.

Piaw Na , October 03, 1998; 01:48 P.M.

Re: Alexey Merz's comment about K-14 remaining the same process between Kodachrome II and K25/64. This is not true. The process used to proecss Kodachrome II was, I believe, K-12, not K- 14. It might indeed be the same process and Kodak might have renumbered the process without changing the chemistry involved, but I suspect that they had to do something to the chemistry to account for the lowered silver content of K25/64. There's nothing wrong with K25/64, if you like it go ahead and shoot it. Just don't confuse what you can buy today with what Ernst Haas used to shoot "The Creation."

Mark Finhill , October 14, 1998; 03:23 P.M.

I understand that many folk's perceptions about B&W photography rarely extend beyond the grainy and tonally-disadvantaged pictures in the newspapers. I currenly use Plus-X film developed in PMK Pyro. The subsequent prints are tonally beautiful and so sharp you can hurt yourself.

The current trends towards APS and the insidious digitalization of our lives is a disturbing trend. By continually lowering the bar of our expectations we are degrading our ability to both evaluate and to appreciate a technically fine image.

Creating technically excellent images takes time, effort, and exacting standards. By relegating certain films and processes to the dustheap simply because they are "outdated" and not "modern" only serves to deprive the artistic community of many time-honored options.

For myself, there is no substitute for a meticulously produced and technically perfect contact print. Nothing can come close to the stunning beauty of such an image.

William Baguhn , October 16, 1998; 09:49 A.M.

Having seen Mr. Greenspun's many Velvia images, I was afraid that if I shot chromes, my pictures too would be unrealistically vivid. However, I've discovered the Agfachrome RSX 50... And I'm in love. Shot some yesterday at the zoo, dropped 'em off at the local 2 hour lab... and they look EXACTLY like the animals we were taking pictures of. Color is THERE. Nice and sharp.

And, It makes Fuji Sensia II 100 look like a sandbox in comparison (i.e. full of grain).

William Baguhn , October 16, 1998; 11:26 P.M.

Well, that was yesterday... This is today.

Out shooting fountains and other interesting pieces of concrete around the town today.

Agfapan 25 is remarkable. Developed in Rodinal, noted for how it makes the films come out somewhat grainy... and dropped it on the enlarger.

I was looking at 16"x24" from a 35mm negative with no discernable grain.

I didn't print it; Just inspecting on the enlarger. If you haven't tried this black and white film, you owe it to yourself.

Note to technical pan film users: if you like techpan, but hate technidol's mandatory oddities for developing (i.e. drop the reel into a vat of technidol), TRY Agfapan 25. It develops like a "standard" film. 6 minutes in Rodinal 1+25.

Doyle D. Weece , October 17, 1998; 01:56 A.M.

In regards to slide film useage in the U.S.A. There are a lot of Camera Clubs in the U.S.A. that still use expressly slide film. The Photographic Society of America (www.psa- photo.org) is a very good place to ckeck out clubs that still use primarily slide film. If you would like to know more about camera clubs, please check out their web site, or email me and I will locate the club closest to your city. The P.S.A. is a world wide organization with members from all over the world and welcomes both amateur and professional photographers.

J. Edmunds , October 23, 1998; 10:32 P.M.

For a much less grainy high speed black and white film, try fuji neopan 1600. it has far smaller grain particles than Kodak TMY 400 and is more resistant to development abuse. I use it to shoot ice hockey in the NCAA Final Four event last year and was very impressed.

Ken Kistinger , November 03, 1998; 02:55 P.M.

It's becomming a cliche', but....why has no one mentioned Fuji NHG-II print film? I recently shot a couple of rolls of this for an assignment for school and was thrilled with the lack of grain. Not "lack of grain for an 800 speed film". The skin tones looked great and there was no oversaturation of color. I beleive that proper development of this film key. The reason behind this statement is that a woman in the same class showed prints that were a little washed out and quite grainy. The interesting thing is that her rolls were from the same pro-pack that I shot from (I sold her two rolls). For those of us shooting medium format, this kind of good, fast film is a really great thing.

Martin Richards , November 14, 1998; 05:34 A.M.

Umm, are you taking drugs, or am I doing something wrong. As far as I can tell, Kodak 400 speed film is incredibly inferior to Fuji 400. I don't pretend to be an expert, for example I don;t notice much difference between Kodak and Fuji at 100 (though I do notice the bright colours of Agfa at this speed), but I notice a big difference at 400. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Kodak 400 is the most noticeably inferior film i've ever bought from a major manufacturer.

Michael Scarpitti , November 15, 1998; 08:51 P.M.

Films: I have been taking photographs since 1964, when I was 14. Some things have changed, but others haven't.

Slide films: Kodachrome professional films are hands down the best slide films OVERALL. The color accuracy, sharpness (acutance), and durability are simply stunning. Velvia is a sick joke. If you think the saturation of Kodachrome is poor, it's probably because you're using a Japanese zoom lens. Use a Leica M or R camera with a single focal length lens on it. Expose properly (about 1/3 stop less than the meter says). Get your slides back. Rejoice and enjoy.

Fuji Astia is a good choice for and E-6 film.

For Black and White, I have the following observations:

Remember that the point of working with a 35 mm camera is spontaneity! Therefore: Forget the zone system (It's useless and detrimental in 35 mm work!)

TMY is admittedly a difficult film to work with. I prefer to use Ilford Delta 400 film for this reason. My best advice is to use a highly dilute, non-phenidone developer to help with the highlight problems.

Other advice for 35 mm B&W: Use a condenser enlarger! Use a Leica enlarging lens (Focotar 2, 50 mm f/4.5. Costs about $800? ALL OTHER LENSES GREATLY INFERIOR!). Develop film to CI about 0.42. (Use a developing time about 0.7 to 0.8 of that recommended by Kodak.)

Any other advice is caca!

David B. , December 02, 1998; 03:20 P.M.

I am taking photos in the Brazilian savanahs. I have compared Provia to E100S and E100SW under a variety of conditions. I have found all to give excellent results under most conditions (I "feel like a hero!"). However, when there is a cloudy sky (very common in the rainy season), and especially if any of these clouds are black, then Provia gives a nasty, very cold, blueish colour, under these conditions the E100S and E100SW give a better, warmer result. Also, the E100S and SW give fabulous, saturated colours, which are more realistic than Provia. For this reason, I now use mostly E100SW.

Howard Posner , December 03, 1998; 04:27 P.M.

Hi, I saw no comment on Kodachrome 25. This still remains, IMO, the all-time classic color film by which all others are measured. Zero grain. Absolutely accurate, not jazzy colors. Spectacular film! The color renditioning is so perfect, it cannot improved upon. Films can be made faster but not better. I beg to differ with the asserion that TX-400 is a grainy film>>>it is only grainy if you follow Kodak's development times, which OVERdevelop the film. Using either HC-110 or Xtol, TX-400 is a relatively fine-grain film with much better lattitude than T-MAX.(I don't care for T-MAX at all) It is best test for personal ASA and development times as outlined in Fred Picker's book, The Zone VI Workshop. I develop about one-half the time recc. by Kodak for HC-110 and TX!! Great result, fine grain!!

Michael J. Kravit , December 18, 1998; 08:45 P.M.

Recently I have been asked by a number of people to sell some of my work. I have always had a philosophy that I would be pleased to share my work with those that liked it free of charge. However, I recently received a request for several large prints. Needless to say I was not overly satisfied with the Ilfochromes that I had made from 35mm Velvia and Astia chromes. Please, do not get me wrong, they were made with contrast masks on exhibition grade material with museum quality printing and attention. The buyers loved them! I was just not satisfied.

A local lab told me about results they had recently gotten from the new Kodak Portra 160 VC and Portra 400 VC films in both 35mm and medium = format. I looked at a 16"x20" enlargement of a bird photo made from a 6x6 negative. The image was sharp and fairly well saturated. I was still skeptical.

I ordered 10 rolls from B&H. Last week armed with my F5 and a AF-S300/2.8 and 2X extender I burned 5 of the rolls. I shot everything I could. High contrast, low contrast, low light, bright light, deep shade etc. I then has it processed and contact printed. I selected a frame and had it enlarged to 11x14 at a local custom lab. This evening I picked it up. The image was fantastic. Everyone in the lab was ongratulating me on such a fantastic image.

The color was very nice. Colors were saturated and very close but not quite as saturated as the results I get from Velvia, but more saturated than Astia. BUT, the most impressive thing was the lack of grain. I had to use a 4X loupe to find any grain. Again, this is from an 11x14 print from a 35mm negative. Sharpness was very impressive. I compared that print to an 11x14 Ilfochrome made recently and there is no question, the Portra 160 VC appears (to my eye) to be as sharp if not sharper than Velvia. Color saturation was vivid but natural.

Shadow areas held detail like nothing I have seen. Highlights, especially those that were a bit hot printed with full detail. Something I could not get to happen with Velvia.

Monday I will be ordering 60 rolls of the Portra. Hell, to pick up almost 2 stops with these results is reason enough for me to burn some negative film. I am not saying that I will no longer shoot Velvia and Astia or even Ektachrome E100SW, but for sure the envelope is being pushed.

Mike

alan mandel , December 30, 1998; 05:23 A.M.

in reading the previous comments, i noticed that only one person mentioned Agfa Scala film. (This is B&W slide film) i shot my first roll of this a few weeks ago, and its very interesting film. very smooth look, w/little grain. it also seems to have a lot of "pop"..the images seem very vivid. also, its nice to once again be free of printers decisions. the only big drawback is that this film is a licensed process, and i had to send my film to a lab in FL that took 3 weeks to process it.

so, go try this stuff, if you want a little change from the usual. just buy the mailer from B and H when you buy the film, and dont expect to get your slides back anytime too soon.

one other issue: Kodak reccommends that if you want to push elitechrome 200 1 stop, you should shoot it at 320. however, when you send it to kodak, they'll only develop it as a 1 stop push to 400. DOH!!

Allan Engelhardt , January 24, 1999; 05:58 P.M.

You haven't tried the Fuji R MS 100/1000 yet? Buy a dozen rolls! Can be rated anywhere from 100-1000. At ISO 800 it is easily the best colour slide on the market. The sharpness is awsome! The colours are vibrant and clean with good skin tones. Lovely film. Available in 135 and 120/220.

For special purpose Kodak films see the Kodak web site instead of any dead trees versions.

erin o'neill , February 03, 1999; 01:37 A.M.

I mostly shoot TRX 400, people in low lite situations. Trx is great & versatile. If I want grain I push it & develop it in D76. If I want to lose the grain I use a med. format camera & develop it in Acufine.

Recently I started a series outdoors in the SUN! Heavens I'm gonna have to learn to develop Tmax 100.

I find the ilford films too flat for my tastes. And I've had a couple of die hard fans press various speed ilford film into my palms saying "Try this -- you'll be a convert yet!". I'm always disappointed.

HyunHo A. Han , February 10, 1999; 04:30 P.M.

I have used varies B&W film, Tri-X 100 to 400, T-Max 100 to 3200, Ilford Delta, XP2, HP2. and others. But for my money I would but the Ilfords. They give you better contrast and the grain is more finer (if you like to see the grain you should use the T-Max, it would give you grain size of softballs.) Personally I try not to use Kodak at all. My B&W paper is Ilford, and my Color paper is Fuji as well as the color film I use. And I have "taken picture for 9 years non-stop.

Suda Mafud Atheem Al Asaad Jebel Musa Ali , February 17, 1999; 10:52 A.M.

Much of what we do is taught in schols, or one can self teach by visiting the public library, or making a lunch and perusing this site until their eyes water. Even as I say that, I was astonished to learn, only a few years back, maybe five years ago, that most, nearly all photo related publications are geared toward slide shooters. Whereas more that 97% of shooters here in America shoot prints, every piece of advice in American publications is slanted toward slides. Why? Why aren't we print shooters considered?

I am a long time (37 years) PJ (Phohtojournalist), who, having shot more than 460,000 frames of 35 mm emulsions, have never shot a slide.

Can we print shooters get a break from all the up-tight, gotta do this to get that result slide talk? After all, how many readers of this post will be slide shooters? Must slide shooter's think of themselves as somehow above the crowd, we, the great, unwashed mass of uuugh!, print shooters?

When advice is given, what is good for the slide shooter'

Steve Sosensky , February 21, 1999; 05:15 P.M.

XP-2 is currently my B&W film of choice. The reason most people have trouble figuring it out is that it works differently from any other film. With XP-2 (in its recommended ISO range) the highlights do not block. This creates a situation where overexposure puts additional exposure in the shadows, thus lowering contrast. Conversely, underexposure creates more contrast. Fortunately, this is just what we want. In open shade, the light is dimmer and flatter. Increasing your EI to 800 adds 1/2 filter grade. In bright sun, where the contrast is often too high, we usually have an excess of light. Rating XP-2 at 200, 100, or 50 will reduce the contrast 1/2 grade per stop.

The caveat here is that if your roll of film is all over the map with respect to EI, your proof sheet will look like a checkerboard. It is much better to shoot the entire roll at or near the same EI.

Michael Scarpitti , March 01, 1999; 07:58 P.M.

In reponse to the post by Piaw Na, May 24, 1998, on Kodachrome films. 1. Kodachrome K-14 process was introduced in 1974. The silver price at that time was not in the rapid upward spiral that you are thinking of. That happened in 1979-80. Remember that a new process like K-14 (or E-6) takes many years to work out. The price of silver was not likely a factor in the development of the K-14 process. Other costs (labor, marketing, advertising, materials other than silver), in any event, overshadow the cost of silver in film. 2. Yes, Kodachrome 25 and 64 (1974) are different from the older (1961/1963) KII and KX: they are far better films. As for "low silver content", this is absurd. The "silver content" is applied in layers in any color film, and even in some B&W films. "More silver" actually means nothing: how is the silver distributed? How are grains shaped? How thin are the layers? Thinner layers generally suffer less from irradiation and other blurring effects. Finding more efficient ways to capture light with smaller and more uniform grains is what constitutes progress in emulsion making. In any event, it is the yellow dye in the K-14 films that is substantially different. The new films also had a prehardened emulsion (introduced also with E-6 Ektachomes) that made the used of a hardening bath unnecessary; this bath caused a yellow stain in the highlights that may be what you fondly remember about the K-12 Kodachromes. It made the film look somewhat warmer, but the colors were less accurate. Take a good look at a Kodachrome 25 slide and compare it to the reality. The resemblance is stunning!

Derek Smith , March 05, 1999; 04:05 A.M.

To all you colour junkies(southern hemisphere spelling) out there- give Agfa Ultra a go. Totally over the top - just like turning the bass and treble up full on your hi-fi- but magic with the right subject matter (no faces!). A purists nightmare but heaps of fun and particularly good in low light situations with a tripod. 50 asa colour negative.

Dennis Boxem , March 10, 1999; 10:06 P.M.

As far as black and white film is concerned I'm sure there's one film that beats them all. The HP5plus by Ilford. I've been working as a sportsphotographer for a local newspaper for over a year now. Because of old-fashioned produktion processes it's neccesary for us to use black and white film. In the past year i must have used them all; kodak, fuji, etc. HP5 is the only 400 film that i know of that can be push processed to iso 3200. The Quality at iso 3200 is excellent, I prefer it to Kodak TMY (T-max3200). The developer i reccomend for use with HP5 is Ilfotec HC. Just try it I guarantee you'll love it.

Timothy Breihan , March 16, 1999; 04:34 P.M.

I would like to make a recomendation of Kodachrome 64 Professional, which I believe to be the best color film. Granted, it is a bit costly to shoot $12/roll film, spend $6 on processing, and then spend $40/print or so having Ilfochrome prints made, but the images are simply astounding. There's a reason why, after sixty years, Kodachrome is still the benchmark color film. Velvia is also wonderful--comparable, in fact, to Kodachrome in most situations--but why change for the sake of change. Kodachrome is my favorite.

For color-negative film, I use Royal Gold 100, an excellent, professional-quality film at a consumer price. I have not been able to tell the difference between Royal Gold and the Kodak professional film.

John C. , March 20, 1999; 12:51 A.M.

I too am amazed at the relative lack of enthusiasm for Agfa Scala 200 B&W slide film. This is great stuff, people! I have 16x20 enlargements from 120 AND 35mm that are sharp and relatively grain-free. You can pull or push one stop with no discernable image degradement. The mailers from B&H are cheap ($5.95 for 120 or 35mm). I just wish it came in 4x5 size. The only other B&W film I use is TechPan.

As for E-6: Velvia and Astia are it. Kodak just can't seem to make a decent slide film. Kodachrome is great if you can get it developed properly. But even A&I can't seem to get it right.

C-41: Only Fuji Reala (100) seems to have a sharp, grainless emulsion that is useful in almost any lighting situation. Prints from Reala negs look so GOOD. Kodak has simply dropped the ball; why they ever discontinued Royal Gold 25 (a/k/a Ektar 25) is the great film secret of the century.

Karl Katzke , March 22, 1999; 08:17 P.M.

I haven't heard any mention of Fuji Neopan 400... I've had good experiences with this B&W film, I really like it when rated at normal ISO and processed in Diafine. Fairly tight grain, nice, smooth tonal range that fuji's known for... without any color balance problems. :)

Question: Has anyone heard of an Agfa 160 Portrait film? In their professional line. Anyone know how good this stuff is? I'd like to try it, but I'm not excited about spending the money just for a test.

Matthew Grime , March 29, 1999; 11:13 A.M.

With the renewed interest in B&W film, you may wish to experiment Ilford HP5. Can be puhed three stops (to 3200) with no serious problems if developed properly. Also it's available in bulk at #30 for 30 metres in the UK. It's not quite as tight as Neopan at its normal rating but it's exposure latitude and price are strongly in its favour. In response to an above comment, neopan 400 is as flexible but I haven't actually pushed it too far. I ahve managed to print the pushed HP5 up to 16x12 with an acceptable amount of grain.

Doug Landrum , April 04, 1999; 06:34 P.M.

I used Kodachrome until, what I believed to be, the bitter end. It's still available and the film may be as good as the past. The problem with Kodachrome is obtaining consistent, high quality processing. Kodak seems to have abandoned the process and focused on digital and avoiding antitrust suits. I vaguely remember that the network of Kodak labs processing Kodachrome with excellent results were spun off in an antitrust suit. The quality has never been the same. I have gone to Fuji for E-6. I like Sensia.

My father used Kodachrome in the 50's and 60's exclusively. His slides are still in excellent shape with good, punchy and balanced color. For life of the image and fine grain, Kodachrome cannot be beat. If you could only get good processing, I would use it today.

On black & white film, I did not see any mention of Kodak Technical Pan. Processed in Technodol, it renders the sharpest and finest grain negatives that I have seen. The tones are contrasty but smooth, with good separation. Prints from 35mm look like prints from a normal 4x5 (almost). The shadow detail can block up at the rated 25 ISO. However, scanning Tech Pan may be good due the almost colorless base left after processing.

When processing Tech Pan, the vigorous agitation method described in the processing instructions - that come with Technodol - is critical. Everyone I know who has been disappointed by Tech Pan has failed to follow the agitation instructions. Another processing point, don't use a strong acid stop bath. Tech Pan emulsion seems to be prone to pin hole spots from a strong acid bath. I use a water stop bath or a weak acid, about 1/3 normal strength. I prefer to shoot at ISO 16 and get more shadow detail. My processing time is the time recommended for ISO 25. 6x6 negatives shot on a Rolleiflex with an f3.5 Tessar are unbelievable. Under my grain focuser, I cannot see grain. I see more image detail. Tech Pan is the only Kodak film that I use. For all other black & white work, I like Ilford Delta 100 and 400 processed in T-Max or one to one in Ilford ID-11.

Andrew S , April 26, 1999; 12:47 A.M.

I would dispute some of what was said about AGFA Ultra 50 speed. In particular the comments about course grain and color. I have enlarged 16x20 35mm shots of this film with NO APPRECIABLE. Certainly far less grain than what you get with any of the 100 speed films I have used (in either the pro or amateur print films).

The color range though super high in saturation and contrast is one of it's stronger aspects. As long as you don't make the mistake of shooting people, or subjects with high degree of "Bright White" such as snow, or a low contrast shot such as fog, you can have a lot of fun with this film. In my case I use it pretty heavily for nature and sunsets shots. If anything when I shoot a sunset with it many of the colors that I missed are suddenly "popping out". I have recommended this film in the camera store I work in for years without any complaints, and will continue to do so. Again so long as you understand this strange film it is a lot of fun to shoot with.

One minor note: I should mention I have seen many lab processors groan and on occasion freak when the get ULTRA 50 to process. As it can really be a tough film to color balance in the lab. So try and avoid using the one hour mini-labs with this film.

jacques f. lecoultre , April 27, 1999; 11:40 A.M.

after more than twenty years working with different film material my first and most important advice to people asking me wich film they should use is: it`s not important wich film you use, but you should work with the same film over a long period. because it`s the experience with the instrument you are using that makes the difference. if anybody develops his own films for years by himself, he will find out that films behave different in different chemicals. so nobody should wonder that a fuji film processed by a kodak lab doesn`t look perfect or vice versa. very often bad results are not based on a wrong film material but on using and treating it in a wrong way.

Kendra Wise , April 27, 1999; 04:41 P.M.

On the Velvia/Sensia debate: I recently did a Velvia/Sensia shoot-out. I shot three rolls each of the two films on the same weekend, similar shots, same lighting, etc. All of this was outdoor/nature work. The Velvia gave lovely color saturation, contrast, and tone. The Sensia fell disappointingly flat in all three categories.

Katherine Queen , May 07, 1999; 10:38 A.M.

I too was dissapointed that little was said of the Ilford products. For B&W I use 400 Delta exclusively, in both 120 and 35mm. I develop in ID-11 1:1 (with a 10% increase in time for the 120) and the results are wonderful. I also use Ilford MG IV paper. I switched from Kodak B&W to Ilford about 10 years ago and never looked back. Using 400 in my Canon I can consistintly get very good enlargements up to 16x20. Same film in the 6x6 and the sky's the limit (almost)and the tonality is beautiful. If you need to understand what tonality is (hard to describe) just look at two prints, one from a 35mm and the other from a 6x6. If you run 100 Delta through the 6x6 the sky IS the limit.

For color I use Fuji film and Kodak Paper. The NPS at an ISO of 160 is wonderful for skin tones and the contast is "oh so perfect". For other shooting I use Reala, and I find no faults. Funny, but customers always turn over the print and look for that "Kodak Professional" printing on the back. Kinda like the "Hallmark" commercial. I can find no discernible difference between the Fuji and Kodak papers, so I use the Kodak paper and let the customer find the "right words".

jack craft , May 12, 1999; 10:25 A.M.

I was just reading your page and I think that you should have said more about kodachrome 64 which is still by far the best film, whilst fuji is nice and rich kodachrome is so natural, and great in low light. Dont forget that The National Geographic still prefers kodachrome.

George Maurice , May 14, 1999; 09:02 P.M.

I just got back from Ireland and, believe it or not, found a camera shop that still had a bunch of rolls of Royal Gold 25. I ended up buying all 10 rolls that he had left over in his fridge. The expiration date was last month, but I'm praying that the test shots I took today will come out okay. So, my point is, when travelling check out the little out of the way camera shops and you might come across a pot of gold.

Manfred Mornhinweg , May 21, 1999; 04:58 P.M.

Much has been said about the extremely saturated color rendering of Velvia. Some people find Sensia to be less saturated than they would like. Well, folks, it's quite easy to get what you want! Underexposing any slide film intensifies colors, overexposing reduces them. If you expose Sensia 100 at ISO 160, and Velvia at ISO 32, you get pretty much the same color rendering. The grain of Velvia is still better, but you pay for this both in money and in exposure time.

It's easy to get "National Geographic style" colors by underexposing Sensia or almost any other good slide film. But of course, that's just one aspect... The other qualities of that magazine's photos are a bit more difficult to duplicate! Mainly, shooting 100 rolls to select the 5 best frames!

I agree with those who say that Velvia is really an ISO 32 (or even 25) film. It comes out much too dark and contrasty when exposed at ISO 50. But if you like that (why not...?) it's OK!

Jeff Spirer , May 23, 1999; 11:44 A.M.

Dont forget that The National Geographic still prefers kodachrome.

That's not what the National Geographic says. They are online, and it is quite easy to find their views on film. If you click here, you will find out that: Brand and type are up to the photographer, but most use three or four different emulsions, depending on the situation. Going to the source is best for this type of information.

Bob Pliskin , May 24, 1999; 01:58 P.M.

Careful testing of TMax 400 a few years ago lead me to believe that it would not yeild a true 400 e.i. when processed in commonly used developers such as HC-110 and D-76 even when using Kodak's time/temp. reccommendations; the shadow areas show no detail (they fall into the toe of the curve). One gets good results rating it at 100 e.i., but what's the point? Just use TMax 100. I now employ TMaxT400CN almost exclusively, and both I and my custom processing lab love it. Bob Pliskin

Lawrence Wilson , May 27, 1999; 05:27 P.M.

I think that Agfa film has garnered a bad reputation for what it used to be like, not how it performs nowadays. While it doesn't quite have the sharpness that Kodak and/or Fuji have, it also doesn't have the price, either.

I've been using the new HDC+ emulsions for the past few months, and I'm very impressed with the color rendition (although I never have been able to reproduce the warmish-red cast the film gets when you run it through conventional overnight service; it really made my pics of Santa Monica glow!)

Bo Stahlbrandt , May 28, 1999; 12:20 P.M.

Phil mentions that: Velvia is sold in Europe as a consumer film where there is "no refrigeration in the store and none indicated for longer term keeping". This is not true (not where I live in Germany anyway). The film is marked as "for professionals", it states on the box "keep cool, process promptly" (I've actually never seen transparent film sold w/o this indication) and the store where I buy my film keeps it in the refrigerator. The paperslip reads "keep unexposed film in the refrigerator at 15 deg C (59 deg F) or lower [...]".

Jon Watson , June 14, 1999; 09:31 A.M.

I haven't seen anyone talk about Fuji Provia 100. I perfer this film over Sensia or Velvia in many situations. It has more saturation than Sensia and less than Velvia. It blocks up more than Sensia but less than Velvia. Try to underexpose by 1/3 of a stop for best results.

Here are some other random thought I have on film:

Velvia and Ultra 50 are wonderful films when you want exagerated color. The later seems to be the most saturated with out so much problems blocking up.

Grain of Sensia (old version)/Provia 200 and 400 is a bit poor - better off pushing the 100 one stop or using Fuji 800 print. I can't speak for the new version of Sensia, Sensia II, since I have only used the 100 (no complaints).

Fuji 800 print is a great film when you "feel the need for speed".

I had a friend who used some Scala (around 1995) - it looked nice.

What ever happened to Kodak Ektar? - I used some back in 93(?) and it was great.

Jon Watson , June 14, 1999; 09:38 A.M.

Any one into Color Infrared slide film (E-4)? A bit of a pain to buy and process in the U.S. Here in Geneva, Switzerland I just hop down to the local photo shop to buy and process(sent out like the rest of their film and back in a few days). If you like color shift, Velvia and Ultra you might be into this film. There a few sites on the net where you can see some peoples work.

Joe Toole , June 20, 1999; 07:03 A.M.

Man, what a great time to be a photographer! We've got so many new films coming out all the time that sometimes it's hard to stay on top of them all. I'd like to add a coment on what Phil has to say about 200 speed films, and higher speed slide film in general. I have been doing some field tests lately, and was surprised with what I have discovered. The new Agfa RSX II is amazing film. I know that Phil says to stay away from anything other than the 'big two' (Kodak, and Fuji), and not to bother with 200 speed film, but this stuff is well worth a look. I have tried the 100 iso version and liked the results, but was hesitant to try the 200 speed film because of what I had heard. I've got to say that after getting my slides back this film is great! Sure, you're going to get a little more grain than 100 film, but as far as colors go, this film is awesome. I'll have to admit that until recently I had pretty much given up on faster slide film. There just wasn't anything decent out there, but I've since had to revise my opinion. For a 200 speed film this stuff is sharp, but what really makes it special for me is the colors. I'm willing to trade off a bit of grain for realistic colors any day. Don't get me wrong, I still have my favorite Fuji & Kodak films, but I think that it's a matter of finding the right film for the job.

Mark Wilkins , June 27, 1999; 03:01 A.M.

I'm going through shooting a bunch of Kodak E100VS, the new version of E100S with increased color saturation, and I'll let everyone know how it turns out if anything particularly interesting happens. However, and this is what I thought was notable enough to post, I was in Wal-Mart tonight and noticed they had Kodak Elite Chrome "Extra Color" film. Is this in fact a consumer version of E100VS? Looking at the Kodak web site it looks like it, but of course they don't say.

Peter Hughes , June 28, 1999; 04:59 P.M.

Anyone who says, "I'm not sure why Black and White film makes sense any more. When I want black and white, I can just choose 'desaturate' in PhotoShop and it is done", is hardly a person qualified to offer opinions on black and white materials.

For my money, T-Max anything is crap: difficult (and expensive) to develop and fix, with a soft, easily scratched emulsion. (Anyone who likes T-Max, and who has a few days with nothing to do, is welcome to come over to my studio and spot the scratches off prints made from 8x10 T-Max before I switched over to Tri-X.) Ilford Pan-F and the Delta films, on the other hand, are beautiful, especially in PMK.

Tom Hammer , July 08, 1999; 07:42 P.M.

I thought the previous statement:

I went and viewed Peter's work . Peter, your work is beautiful. You definitely understand B&W photography, not to mention composition.

Allan Engelhardt , July 13, 1999; 12:55 P.M.

(I wonder if Phil will ever add threading to his comments server: the discussion on this page is very interesting but is getting out of hand.)

Regarding Fujuchrome Multi-Speed (RMS):

I have some example pictures on my web site, mostly shot at ISO 100 and ISO 400. Two of them (Ruins in York Museum and View West... are available in larger (1024x1536) format JPEG images.

Note the shadow detail, in particular on the first example (bushes in lower left still has detail). The colours are clear and natural. This really is a fine film! I always keep a few rolls in the bag.

More examples and discussion at http://cybaea.com/photo/film.html.

One day I will have enough web server space available for the PCD files. For now you'll have to live with the damage JPEG does to the image.

Brad Daly , July 13, 1999; 09:32 P.M.

TCN400 and B&W+

Does anyone have any information on Kodak's new Black and White+ film, especially how it relates to TCN? I've been using TCN for a couple of years now, and really like it. I bought some B&W+ assuming it was just TCN repackaged to be more consumer palatable, but the film itself looks and feels different from TCN. I've found precious little on Kodak's webpage.

Dave Kassnoff , July 16, 1999; 03:00 P.M.

I've just used the consumer "Kodak Select" B/W 400 plus, which is the TMax CN 400 in consumer dress. Results were overall fine, even though conditions were overcast and I was using a Rollei Prego 90. The mild surprise came in the printing; seizing on a deal on 5 x 7 prints, the lab (Qualex)gave me pictures that were remarkably akin to sepia tone. This, Qualex tells me, is the result of printing the B/W film on color paper. My local lab informs me that I won't get a true B/W output unless I print on B/W paper. However, the sepia effect (particularly when the subjects are historic 1812 battlegrounds, and an old lighthouse on the St. Lawrence River) is not displeasing. You just have to remember to specify the type of paper you desire for the preferred effect.

a.p. spadaro , July 17, 1999; 03:42 A.M.

Just a point about longevity. I shot two rolls of film one foggy morning in the fall of 1976. One of Agfachrome (speed forgotten but probably 200) and one of Ektachrome 160 (high speed Ektachrome it was called) both were stored together in lousy conditions. The ektachromes have many areas where the blue layer is all that is left, especially aroung the edges of the picture area. The agfa is a crazy quilt of colours - I doubt I can save any of them. I have Fugi chromes going back to 67 or 68. They have not shifted a bit -- I would say as stabile as my Kodachromes from the same era.

Alastair Reeves , July 19, 1999; 05:46 P.M.

Back in the '70s and '80s I used slide film almost exclusively: Ektachrome, Kodachrome, and Agfachrome. I tried Fuji a few times, but gave up on it: the flesh tones were truly cartoonish. (Funny that after all this time Fuji still seems to have problems with flesh tones.) However, by the '90s I got tired of having to drag out the slide projector just to show friends and family a few pictures, so I started using print film.

Well, I've just about decided to go BACK to slide film...I'm totally frustrated with modern consumer print films because too often I'm not getting the results I expect. I don't think it's the fault of the films, though. The problem seems to be that all the photofinishers are using highly automated mini-labs now, and these machines insist on correcting for color balance and exposure. That's great for most people with mass-market point-and-shoot cameras, but unfortunately for me I found that the mini-lab computer was constantly second-guessing my intentions. (And usually getting them wrong.)

I asked one of the better shops in town if they could turn off the auto-correction when they printed my rolls, but they told me the mini-lab wasn't set up to handle that. The only alternative was to print off a contact sheet, and then choose the pics I wanted to get enlarged. That's practical when shooting pictures at something like an anniversary party, but not so great when I have a whole bunch of travel shots.

Guess it's time to dust off the old slide projector again. I'd rather have good shots that are inconvenient to show, instead of crappy prints that are convenient (and embarrassing) to show.

Brad Daly , July 19, 1999; 07:54 P.M.

I just got back my first three rolls of Kodak's new Black & White + film and ran off some contact sheets. Here are the differences i noticed:

First, the film base seems to be about 1 stop darker than that of Kodak's T400CN, the professional C-41 b-w film. It has a much redder cast than TCN, which has the brown we're used to seeing on color negatives.

Second, the film base seems a little stiffer, which probably won't make any difference to anyone for any reason, unless there's any difficulty getting it to lay flat in some negative carriers.

Third, and most troublesome, it seems to have different contrast characteristics when printing than does TCN. I did contact sheets at grade 3 on Ilford Multigrade IV RC Glossy and ended up with some dull, gray skin tones. I fear that the extra red in the base may have an adverse effect on multigrade paper. Some TCN I printed at the same time looked perfectly good for a contact sheet. I didn't have time today to do any full-frame projection prints, so we'll have to wait and see on that.

Also, I spoke with a Kodak representative on Friday and discussed this film, he told me some of what I've noted above--darker film base, different color/cast--which are designs intended to make the film easier to print on one-hour photo lab machines, that is, that the film is really intended for people who plan on one-hour prints being their final product. He also stated that B&W+ actually has an even finer grain than TCN, which will be pretty impressive if true. TCN already has an incredibly fine grain. I'd love to see what Kodak could do with a 100 speed C-41 film.

Ed Baumeister , July 22, 1999; 04:02 P.M.

You really should view the minilab results you get with chromogenic films (T-Max 400CN, Ilford XP2 (and Super) as proofs, in the old-fashioned sense. The black-and-white results spook operators and maybe some machines. I've been working on a series of portraits this week. My minilab prints are, variously, sepia or blue. But when I have the negatives printed onto Kodak Polymax, a true black-and-white paper, the results are wonderful. I get a full tonal range, from nearly pure white (the "nearly" may be a function of the paper's color) to absolute blacks.

Michelle Maria , July 25, 1999; 05:41 P.M.

I have been using XP2 and now the SUPER form, and really like the unique qualities the film renders. The lab I use, a good one hour mini lab, suggests that the Kodak 400CN is a better film. They say they get more consistent results when printing on colour paper in the sepia range, and a truer B&W tonal range which prints well on there B&W paper. I am still however a fan of XP2. I like the altered tonal range (shorter?) and find it handles being underexposed up to a stop quite well. The only problem seems to be on overexposure where the colours start going wild - anthing from bright orange to intense purple - when they attempt to print sepia. All in all I use it for most scenarios at the moment. Now my challenge is to find a B&W film-developer combo I like as much. Any suggestions?

Marcel Perez , August 02, 1999; 10:05 P.M.

I just want to say that I am one of those who prefers the resolution and purity of B&W negatives over the sh*ty resolution of digital. I use asa25 agfa (pyro PMK developer) and the Rz 67. Absolutely worth trying!! Amazing 20x24 prints. Totally agree with Peter about the whole 'desaturation' nonsense. The difference between digital and film is so big that both terms can't be used in the same discussion. On the other hand, I love this page and salute people who give time & effort (for whatever reason) to keep them up.

Franco Marx Janse van Vuuren , August 05, 1999; 04:31 A.M.

I can't believe that you don't even mention AGFA film in your page on Films.

I use AGFA RSX (Slide), AGFA APX (b&w) and AGFA Optima (Color prints) with VERY GOOD RESULTS!!

Dan Arsenault , August 06, 1999; 01:33 P.M.

I can't beleive I'm the only who likes Agfa Ultra 50 for portraits. While it true that I have a very good makeup artist to control face tone mottling, and I reduce the lighting contrast, the ability to make the eye color jump out is worth it.

Tse-Sung Wu , August 13, 1999; 06:38 P.M.

re: TMAX CN: I was using XP2 a few years ago and never was really pleased with it. Maybe back then, minilabs weren't used to doing monohrome. Even on B&W film at a 'pro' lab, the proofs weren't that pleasing. Flat, low contrast, a bit dull. However, lately I've been using the new Kodak stuff, and I've been very impressed. My experience in the dark room with it was good too, compared to Delta and TMX. And for snap shots, it's been very satisfactory... I'm wondering if the minilabs have gotten used to monochrome now- they are printing on B&W paper, I've noticed.

re: slides: I've just started using Kodak's new E100 VS. I forget what VS means- perhaps very saturated? Because it really is. Very nice stuff, reminds me of Velvia actually, but a full stop faster. I would highly recommend anyone to try it out.

E200. This is nice stuff too, but not as strong and punchy as the E100 VS or Velvia of course. I took many rolls pushed to 400, but unfortunately apparently didn't have a good lab to push for me. Unpushed, it was quite good- reminding me sort of Sensia-- nothing terribly brillant (of course, these rolls were shot where it seemed overcast the whole time I was there).

re: print: Has anyone had much experience with tbe Fuji 800? It reminds me of 400 film a few years ago. I've been quite pleased with it in my P&S. The Kodak MAX, also 800, has proven to be a dog, in my experience.

I would like to try the Reala more- but I don't seem to run across it as easily, and I have to find a really good lab, I think, to take full advantage of it.

My $0.02.

Tim Brown , August 20, 1999; 03:25 P.M.

To those who say about traditional B&W films "X is too flat, Y is too contrasty": manufacturer's development times and exposure indexes are just starting points. You must learn to evaluate negatives and moe importantly prints and make adjustments to get the results you want. I have used Tri-X, Tmax, Delta and APX films and adjusted their contrast to the level I desire. My favorite B&W films are TMX and TMY developed in Xtol. I don't think other developers do Tmax justice, except Microphen for shooting TMY at ~EI 800. In my darkroom TMY has finer grain than Delta 400 or Tri-X. I use two bath rapid fixer and have had no fix related problems with Tmax. I use a temp controlled water bath and get consistent development with Tmax. I've used Tech Pan for lens testing (developed in Microphen diluted 1:5) but prefer APX 25 for virtually grainless prints because it's cheaper and easier to use. I think 120 size Agfa Ultra 50 is great for low contrast subjects. For me Fuji NPH is the best all purpose color print film. Just because someone has done beautiful work does not give validity to a claim that "so-and-so is crap". They are not the only ones that have done beautiful work. Lastly, a scanned image on a web page does not tell the whole story.

Richard Galloway , August 20, 1999; 07:23 P.M.

Re: Kodak Elite Chrome Extra Colour (EBX)- I'm pretty sure that this is the consumer version of E100VS (I believe, also, that VS stands for 'Vivid Saturated'). I got a couple of rolls of EBX free by buying two copies of Amateur Photographer magazine here in the UK. I got some good results (my favourite being a sunset sky that goes all the way from deep blue to pink) but to be honest I'm still a beginner and not in a position to compare it to other films. I'm still waiting for Kodak to return my first roll of K25....considering the lab is only about 10 miles from my house they're taking their time!

Klaus Ziegler , August 24, 1999; 08:07 A.M.

I agree with those people who really dislike Agfa color negative film: a bunch of unnatural colors. Konica has now become much better than it used to be; recently I shot three rolls of (color negative) film, two Konica and one Fuji (200 ASA). I was very suprised because from the results alone I wasn't able to find out which roll was which brand!

Jim Foster , August 25, 1999; 03:24 P.M.

Being an avid photographer, I've been afflicted with friends and co-workers who think I'm running short on film. As they've all got at least 2 rolls of "free film" from Seattle Filmworks, they waste no time in bringing it by my desk and bestowing it on me... most of them genuinely feeling they've done me a service. ("Why certainly, Bob, I'd love to use it.... just let me toss out this roll of Portra 400VC I've been wasting my time with.")

Well, turns out I *do* have a use for the SFW offal after all. My dear old mother has been wanting to get into photography, but has no experience loading 35mm cameras. I was able to use that drawerful of lab rejects to give her a good morning's practice, and now she doesn't worry about misloading real film. Thank you Seattle Film Works! ;)

Chad Simpson , August 26, 1999; 02:09 A.M.

I'd like to reinforce the comments I've read here about the Agfa slide films. I've recently been shooting Agfa RSX II (mostly 100 speed), and find it to be absolutely superb. The colours are very natural and rich, without being over-saturated like many other slide films. I highly recommend you try a few rolls!

George Feucht , August 29, 1999; 12:11 P.M.

It seems as though I am the minority here, but the couple of tries that I have given to TMAX-CN have been disappointing. I was shooting stills on a student film set (behind the scenes/ photo-journalistic style) and threw in a roll both during the day and at night. I did not use a flash... all nighttime light was provided by ambience from the set lighting. I also later tried a roll during a Wisconsin snow storm, to give the film a second chance.

The photos that returned mimicked the latatude of video. I lost details in the shadows and the highlights were blown out (no detail as well.) But the interesting thing was there was no reference white in the prints. The highlights (blown-out) were a light grey. This was from two different labs at different times (film set versus snow storm.) Same results from both. I was very dissatisfied.

However, since the film has gotten such positive reviews from other people, maybe it was the consumer grade labs and the color paper they used. I'll try taking the negatives to a pro lab (A&I in L.A.) and see what they can do. So, I'll give it a third try. I could be wrong.

Carlo Strapparava , September 01, 1999; 03:24 A.M.

I've tried Agfa Scala and I have found it very interesting. I agree with other people comments. I used a couple of rolls in Venice. Grain is fine and the projection of B/W slides is very fascinating. Also here in Italy you have to wait a couple of weeks to get your slides back.

Michael Meyer , September 14, 1999; 08:47 A.M.

quick tech comment for those who are submitting all these b&w comments with too little info. as i read many comments i am surprised to hear people either cheer or boo various emulsions without giving their development methods. tri-x developed in dektol looks nothing like tri-x developed in d-76 1+1. so if you hated the film, what developer, time, temp etc... did you use.

also, if you are going to a one hour lab, then you are in some ways doing yourself a disservice. as a former employee of a one hour lab, i can tell you your b&w negs will look like crap. most, not all but most, one hour labs run b&w film through a machine with chem temps close to 100 degrees to bring times way down. if you want to get good results, with any film, test test test to find what works best with that film. and despite whatever accuracy or disaccuracy you find on this comment page, test the film yourself anyway. you'll be glad you did.

and about color neg films. if you think you are getting really awful results, look at your negs, not your prints. i know this sounds very basic, but after reading some comments about various films, i am very surprised about results. if you have a pic you like, but think the film is at fault for poor results, take it o a custom lab and have a custom 8x10 made. see what it looks like. you may find it is the lab not the film that has given you poor results. if you buy off brand film though i take that back, most off brand, ie rite-aid, cvs, or k-mart film is crap. though often made by a bigger manufacturer (sometimes even kodak or fuji) it often is far poorer that the kodak, fuji or agfa offerings.

just for the record, i have shot hp5+, tri-x (both versions in both 35 and 120; almost all 100, 200, & 400 speed offerings from fuji and kodak in neg film; and kodak elite 100 and 200, and various fuji slide films, notably provia. i have been able to attain the results i want with all of these films. it isn't the film so much as the knowledge of how to best use it that brings about good photographs.

do your homework. test your films just as you would test a camera. the best comments and results on this page have come from those who tested their filsma dn taylored their habits slightly to fit the film or who have taylored their film to fit their habits. michael meyer

Kevin Stephens , September 15, 1999; 09:59 A.M.

I agree with Mike Meyer totally. I am a commercial/industrial photographer, and if I have a problem with an image, I have to look at the negative itself. I have found that there is no all- purpose film for anything I do. I use quite a variety from B&W to E-6 to C-41 films, and if you follow the manufacturer's recommendations, chances are your results will be less than satisfactory. Every meter, body, lens, development technique, etc combines to produce unique results. The key is gain the technical knowledge to become consistent, and to do that, well, there is not enough space here to even scratch the surface of that subject.

Chris Wray , September 24, 1999; 04:00 P.M.

I always get a kick when I hear people rag on T-Max 100 and 400. I started with the films right after they came out. After learning to use them, I tried several other films, like FP-4 and the older Kodak types. I always come back to T-Max. I don't like Ilford's quality control and thin film bases, my main complaint against them. I have my entire portfolio, photos I show in galleries, made on T-Max, mostly 100. I could convert to another film if needed, but I have fallen in love with the smoothness and tonality of my T-Max negatives. I guess it pays to not give up too quickly.

Ken Hawk , September 26, 1999; 03:50 P.M.

After using Kodak Portra 160 NC for taking outdoor (wildlife,birds and landscapes (Maybe the film isn't made for this)) i said to myself: I will never use this film again, such a bad color. Maybe VC is better i thought, O No, it wasn't. Snow was white brown in stead of white. Good films for nature photographing: Fuji: Reala, Velvia, Provia (testing NPS/NPH/New Superia) Agfa: Optima, RSX Kodak: (testing: Royal Gold, VPS, EPP, E100S) Films i used mostly: Fuji Reala negative; Velvia Slides

Wayne Crider , October 02, 1999; 12:37 P.M.

Recently tested 2 rolls of Agfa HDC 400 shooting flowers, landscapes, mountains and snapshots. Absolutely blew out the Reds, way oversaturated. Blues and yellows real nice, greens very realistic but I would have liked a little more punch, and earthtones real, real nice. Blacks were great with very good detail, and whites very good. Skin tones suprisingly realistic. Contrast medium. Used in a Nikon 8008s and my Pentax 928 P&S, sometimes with flash. Developed by a Pro lab on Kodak paper and an Agfa dealer on Agfa paper, better way to go and paper real nice. Both sizes 4x6. If they could get the reds under control they'd have a nice all around 400 film.

Dennis -- , October 15, 1999; 04:01 A.M.

Recently I've been getting mostly good results with Kodak Portra 400NC with Fuji processing. This has worked for portraits, as well as for scenics. Finding the stuff while on vacation when you run out of rolls can be a real problem though! I agree with Spadaro... as much as I like the Portra, I still find neg processing somewhat hit-and-miss. Forget about shots with high contrast light. Mini labs, as well as so-called "pro" labs (machine) print these scenes too light, time and time again. For critical shooting, when I'm counting on limited exposure latitude, I shoot with slide. I like E100SW and Velvia for scenics. I've also get good results with Sensia 400 when shooting in low-light and Provia 1600 when I REALLY need speed.

Ling-Nan Zou , October 16, 1999; 02:54 A.M.

I salute all of you who use Agfapan APX25 and Techpan films; I personaly find them impossible to use. Phil mentioned "Ansel Adam-esque landscapes" via APX25, but consider we need 1.) small appature for depth of field, 2.) morning or evening light for shadows and dimensionality, 3.) filter for contrast/tone adjustment. Pretty soon one find one need exposure of several seconds. But then we need to adjust for reciprocacity failiure. Soon one's driven to a 10-15 s exposure. Things (grasses, tree branches) start moving and the print looks blurred.

Timothy Breihan , October 19, 1999; 10:02 A.M.

In response to Mr. Wray's comment about Ilford's quality control; I have never experienced any problems with Ilford film that are not the result of an error on my part. Quite the contrary, I find Ilford films to be some of the most consistant on the market, and for this reason use Delta 100 almost exclusively for B&W.

Jay Hargett , October 21, 1999; 12:46 P.M.

I shoot theatrical and PJ images for local concerns, and I've found that if you use a fast ED lense, Fuji NPS160 and NPH400 yield excellent results. I shoot it at The Texas Renfest and they've used some of my neg shots in their advertising. I shoot Astia for portfolio shots for the actors, and NPL160 (the tungsten stuff) for cast photos. I plan to take 80 rolls of the NPS and NPH to Cairo with me in December; I'm THAT impressed with it. I think alot of the comments so far will change significantly as soon as they experience some of the digital mini-lab processing. I've gone to it almost exclusively. The "almost" exception is B&W. Either they don't know how to operate the machines right, or the machines just won't properly handle the tonal aspects of B&W, but they blow chunks on B&W.

Jay Hargett , October 21, 1999; 12:50 P.M.

I shoot theatrical and PJ images for local concerns, and I've found that if you use a fast ED lense, Fuji NPS160 and NPH400 yield excellent results. I shoot it at The Texas Renfest and they've used some of my neg shots in their advertising. I shoot Astia for portfolio shots for the actors, and NPL160 (the tungsten stuff) for cast photos. I plan to take 80 rolls of the NPS and NPH to Cairo with me in December; I'm THAT impressed with it. I think alot of the comments so far will change significantly as soon as they experience some of the digital mini-lab processing. I've gone to it almost exclusively. The "almost" exception is B&W. Either they don't know how to operate the machines right, or the machines just won't properly handle the tonal aspects of B&W, but they blow chunks on B&W.

Mel Gregory , October 22, 1999; 07:44 P.M.

I am not a professional photographer but have been serious about this art form for many years. I have gone through the Kodachrome years, the garish early Ektachrome years and the old Anscochrome (which by the way was horrible) and I feel blessed to have the choice of film available today. My major interest is in slides so I have tried many films and most are pretty darned good if you know the characteristics. I almost always used to shoot with EPP and Fujichrome but now use a lot of 100 ESW, Fuji Astia, some Velvia in medium format only, but have a new favorite----hands down it is Agfachrome in either the RSX (pro) or CTPrecisia (amateur) varieties. I have NEVER been disappointed with this film and shoot it about 75% of the time. Supply is sometimes difficult but I order in large lots. I do like Ektachrome and Fuji and have tried them all including the dreaded 400 and you know what, they are also good. I shoot less and less negative film even though I believe that the film is not nearly as big a problem as the processor. I have tried Agfa HDC with exquisite results but have been horribly disappointed by another lab. I generally use Fuji Superia or Reala and find no complaints if the lab is good. It pays to find a good lab and stay with it. A good machine operator who recognizes the need for different printing channels is a God send. Finally, most black and white disappoints me. Not the film but the lab work. I have a full black and white and color darkroom but business dictates that I have not enough time to do my own work now and the black and white lab work has ranged from plain crap to work that has caused me nausea. I will return to black and white when I have some time to really devote to processing and printing myself. In summary---fellows and gals---the film is wonderful--it is marvelous--with the exception of that movie stock film which is given away free.

Mel

Anthony Oresteen , October 23, 1999; 12:51 A.M.

Ilfor HP5 is a wonderfull film. When exposed at EI of about 200 and developed in HC110B it will knock your socks off. Forget "push" processing; it doesn't work.

It's also the ONLY 5x7 sheet film available in 25 sheet boxes. Kodak wants you to buy 100 sheets at a time.

Tony

akos buzogany , October 24, 1999; 08:26 A.M.

Has anyone experiences with the new Fuji Provia 100F (III)? I'm shooting now mostly very saturated dias (the life itself is colourless enough :))) ), Velvia and 100VS - both great films, no complaints.

My favourite german "Color Foto" magazine (really professional one on tests) is going to have a test in their december issue. It has been announced as "Really as fine grain as Kodachrome 25 and saturated as Velvia?" silently assuming a big YES on both answers.

Since I have read many of "they told"-style comments, I wonder if somebody could share his OWN experiences with that new film.

Akos

jim walters , October 25, 1999; 06:37 A.M.

Ilford FP4 has well defined fine grain and a beautiful rendition of mid tones and handles contrast, but is a little slow for handhelds Tri X Has great character with its well defined grain and is capable of reasonable tonal subtlty if the exposure is well shorted, I cant get on with T grain films they just dont seem to have the tonal depth of FP4 of the grit of Tri X. XP2 has very wide exposure latitude and pulls in shadows and highlights generating negs with smooth tonality but can seem a little flat. The big trick is getting the exposure correct dont trust the ASA, make your own tests with your camera/meter I find overexposure by as much as a stop and a half when just trusting the evaluative metering on my canon 600 with tri x. develop for 9 min in Aculux.

james bailey , October 26, 1999; 01:03 P.M.

AGFA ULTRA 50...

Tried it...the colors are extreme...i liked the blues, greens and yellows just fine, (for blue sky, it beats a polarizer!) but the reds were so saturated the image lost detail...my advice is to avoid using this film on subjects that have bright red/orange in them, because it will overpower them...on a hazy day, this film might be just the thing to compensate for dulled colors...

and doesnt tiffen make a color-enhancing filter that you can use to make eye-color pop? it would make using this film to achieve that end unnecessary...

i used it to take pictures of the fall colors, and in most frames, it went farther than i wanted...(i used my T4)...only 2 frames were blurry (my fault), so im once again reassured that fast film isnt "standard" for point&shoots...

im trying E100-extracolor now, and ill let you know how it compares...

if youre really interested, ill email you a scan...

Jason Cook , November 05, 1999; 09:41 P.M.


Punx, By Jason

I have been using Fuji Chrome (usually 100iso, amature quality) for a while now, never haveing the chance to really try out other Chrome films, In may, im going to travel to San Fransisco to do some local work for a choir company, I need a film that has excelent grain and can handle high contrast between the harsh hot studio lights and the pitch black backgrounds... should i stick to Fuji Chrome or try another brand or type ie:Velvia or Kodakelite ?

thanks

Jason

Vancouver WA.

andrew fildes , November 07, 1999; 08:15 A.M.

Decided to try Kodak T400CN Professional (C41 - B&W) as my wife complains every time I come home stinking of fixer - she REALLY hates it and I have to get straight in the shower. This, at least would reduce the pain. Took a few informal outdoor portraits of a friend and dropped it into the Fuji lab that usually does my Superia/Reala. The next day I looked in horror at the brown and white prints - I was expecting warm tone but brown - I mean really brown? Then I took them into the darkroom. Where was the grain? This was finer than Delta 100! Multi-contrast filter? Tried it without at first on some Kentmere gloss (no longer imported into Australia unfortunately). Absolutely superb soft, even tone. I'm hooked. I used to be addicted to contrasty, dark prints but no longer. The extra two stops will be appreciated too, given aging eyes and slow zoom lenses.

d jh , November 11, 1999; 01:13 P.M.

Phil's comments are spot-on 99.9% of the time so no arguments there. However, I wouldn't give up on Agfa Ultra film just yet if I were you. Once you know the characteristics of a film, you can use that to your advantage. Agfa Ultra film has, as Phil's page says, *extremely* high colour saturation which creates surreal colours (I managed to produce great colour gradation with this film, unlike in Phil's experiences) and this can even look cross-processed without much effort. Many of the colour fashion images on my web Portfolio were taken with this film to great effect - go have a look!

Regards,

djh

J. Ramsn Palacios , November 11, 1999; 11:15 P.M.


Halloween 99 on mexican TV

Well put and documented. Great page. It may be important however for your readers to know that a new color print film in the market has very good ratings and was voted among the best ten recently: Konica Centuria 200. I've tried it and it is superb; not only color rendition but contrast and shadow detail, not to mention sharpness. Have a great time.

Glenn Kroeger , November 13, 1999; 07:35 P.M.

In reply to above questions about Fuji Provia 100F (RDPIII). Just got back first two rolls. Very sharp with no apparent grain at 10x, good outdoor skin tones with sunlight+fill flash. Saturated but not unreal. Much better that previous Provia which I always found to have somewhat muddy color separation.

Pierre Caillaud , November 16, 1999; 03:48 P.M.

Black and White Slides with Tmax400CN ?

What an interesting perspective. You can get slides when processing C-41 film in E-6 chemistry so I thought, why not try this with the new C-41 B&W Kodak T400CN ?

Well, if there is indeed a positive B&W image on the processed film, there is also a very heavy dark green base making it extremely ugly. It's even stronger than the usual orange base of standard negs, and you can only guess at the positive image. Maybe someone will want to try it with XP2 or Kodak B&W+ to see if they get fancy colors too ?

d jh , November 19, 1999; 11:05 A.M.

My findings.

I found this really odd, but when I questioned people on what was the best make of film in the World, I got the following:

  • Fuji and Kodak were most popular, and practically inseperable.
  • Agfa and Ilford were half as popular as the first two, again both were practically the same in popularity.
  • Konica was a third as popular again as Agfa/Ilford.
  • Practically nobody liked independent films!


This striked me as so unusual. I would have though that Fuji would be miles ahead because it makes brilliant colour, B&W, slide, *and* print emulsions, whereas Kodak has some good and some very dodgy offerings in all areas...have a look at the results yourself.

Regards,

djh

Robert Bryett , November 20, 1999; 02:01 A.M.

I've noticed a number of entries above which suggest that slides shot on Agfa films don't last as well as Kodak (especially Kodachrome). I used Kodachome 25 and 64 from when I got my first camera (Instamatic 50) up to May 1975 when I switched to Agfachrome CT18 and CT21. I know this because I shot the first part of the Sywell Air Show of that year on Kodak and the latter part on Agfa.

Going back and comparing the 24-year-old chromes was interesting. The Kodak and Agfa slides differ of course, but they've both lasted well. The colours in both seem to have very much the same characteristics they had when I first got them processed. They've been stored semi-carefully in cool, dry, dark places, but never refrigerated.

Since then I've used successive versions of Agfa's 100/21 speed slide film (I like to stick to a limited range of materials), and now use CT Precisia. I've been happy with the results, and I'm sure that the limits on the quality of my photographs have little to do with the film I'm using.

Devin Shieh , November 28, 1999; 01:07 P.M.

Neopan 1600 ----- While Fuji Neopan 1600 does have the finest grain in its class, it also has terrible shadow detail with the developers I have used (Diafine, Xtol, Microphen (3200), and HC-110). To me, this translates into marginal image quality. I'd rather have a very grainy film with maximum shadow detail and tonality than a fine-grained film with no shadow detail. I shoot T-Max p3200 or Delta 3200. I've had very good results with Microphen. YMMV. For best image quality with Neopan 1600 at EI 1600, develop with Diafine. But with this combo, the grain isn't much better than T-Max p3200 at EI 1600.

Neopan 400 ----- Works well in Xtol (1+1). It has slightly finer grain than Tri-X and smooth tonality. I pushed it to EI800 in Microphen once, and it had good tonality but it was grainier than Tri-X at EI 800 in Xtol (1+1). I'm going to try pushing it in Xtol for less grain sometime in the near future.

Tri-X ----- I love this film in Xtol(1+1). Finer grain than in D-76, good tonality. It also pushes extremely well to EI800 in Xtol(1+1) -- in fact so well that I can barely tell the difference from an unpushed neg.

Henry Gonzalez , November 29, 1999; 11:56 A.M.

I have read and re-read this page on film many times, but this Thanksgiving weekend I shot some family portraits with some Kodak VPS 160... here's the catch...In Arizona, even the Thanksgiving weekend can give 87 degree weather, and part of my photo shoot was outside, and most of my subjects were younger than 5. Moral of the story? Be very sure that you allow the film to come up to temperature when shooting fidgety children in Arizona. Invariably the mothers will start rushing you and you will want to just throw the film in and start shooting. I did get those unsightly splotches Phil warns about on one of my rolls... fortunately I knew to burn lots of film to come up with a few good shots.

Michael Brodie , November 30, 1999; 09:06 P.M.

I've just recently started to process my own B+W film again after many years away from it. As far as I can tell, this might be termed "The Golden Age of Silver." Naturally, everyone will have their favorite(s), but I've tried most, if not all, of the films mentioned in the comments and I've been rewarded handsomely. The two films I've been most impressed with are Ilford 100 Delta, processed in Agfa Rodinal, 1:24, 68F for 9 minutes. This apparently produces the effects of water-bath development, since I agitate for only five seconds each minute, rather than at the Agfa-recommended 30-second intgervals. Eminently printable negatives with very little PC-filter tweaking is required to get full range prints.

I recently exposed a roll of 6x6 Tech Pan @ E.I. 25, using Kodak's foil packet developer. I have a darkroom space, but most of the dark seems to leak out, so I use the changing bag to daylight tank method of loading the film, which rules out being able to place the loaded film "in the vat " as someone observed. Instead, I used a 2-minute pre-soak at 77F (if memory serves, that is one of the recommended temps and I used the corresponding recommended time). The vigorous up-and-down agitation was used and the rest of the processing was finished at the same temperature.

Well, I'm glad I looked at the resulting negs while seated in an armchair. That stuff will teach you how strong your heart is. After looking at them through a good loop (several times- I just couldn't believe what I was seeing), I took them to my friend's house where my enlarger currently lives (the dark stays put there) and proceeded to amaze both of us.

Someone who uses the same photo store as I do, has developed Tech Pan using C-41 developer!?!?!?!?! He claims he exposes at E.I. 100 and gets grainless results. I've yet to try this, but he uses the store's C-41 developer from their in-house processor and I've been told that I can do the same when I'm so inclined.

I have been VERY pleased with Agfa Scala. Seeing a B+W transparency that looks like a warm-toned, full-range print is OK by me. Has anyone ever tried to print one of these on Ilfochrome? It might be contrasty, but there is somewhere on the web, instructions on how to use the Tetenal E-6 kit that produces a lower D-max for Scala. So many possibilities and so little money!

William Stratas , December 04, 1999; 09:01 P.M.


Hello all, here's my tried and true formula for 22 years (since 1978 or so):

1) Ilford HP5 rated at 800 ASA, Ilford Microphen developer, diluted 1:1
2) Ilford FP4 rated at 200 ASA, Ilford Microphen developer, diluted 1:1

This has given me super-consistent results in combination with my Canon F1 and EF.

Fred Arnold , December 16, 1999; 12:56 P.M.

As to why to still shoot B&W film, when you can digitally desaturate a color scan, I would say that for the same reason to practice scales, rounds, and other simple exercises on a cello; it forces you to focus on your technique in a more limited environment, and prepares you better for when you're shooting for real. Personally, I feel that I do better in color, whether in 35mm or larger, but the experience of visualizing in monochrome periodically has helped improve the color pictures. Hauling a 4x5 out into the field, and working with that as well has also helped sharpen my visualization, as well as strengthen my back. In the end, it's the need to continually practice in order to remain sharp and on top of your craft.

As for the obligatory film recommendation, Ilford FP4 in large format, and HP5+ in 35mm, rated at approximately 2/3 rated speed. Agfa100 in sheets is also nice, though a bit soft, at least with my preferred developers. It took to N-1 nicely, but had to be beaten to get a good N+1, at least with my choice of developer and processing.

Dave McCrea , December 16, 1999; 07:05 P.M.

Black-and-white is the industry standard for actors headshots, so it makes sense to shoot in black and white.

Mark N , December 29, 1999; 01:10 A.M.

I hate Kodak Konsumers' films. I meen Kodak Gold.

The Kodak produces a wide range of quality professional films, like Extapress (Royal Gold), Portra, some other films. They also produce low-end film for folks!!! This is Monkey's Kodak Gold !!! Push a button we will do the rest. Kodak advirtises Gold agressively and keepa high prices. The qulity of Gold film is as high as qulity of Kodak's POINT-AND-SHOT cameras. Everybody knows that a quality product, like a photo film must to be expencive, so people CHOOSE Kodak!!! Kodak even do not publish specs of the Gold.

The Gold film is done for most of us! The film for casual photographers. Kodak must remember that non-professionals use 90% of negative-films. I am not pro. But I want quality consumers' films also from kodak.

Fuji do not produces as many brands as Kodak does. Fuji even do not break down their their Superia films for amateour and professional. Fuji does just quality films for photographers. Is in it funny that Fuji's NEW Superia is cheaper than Kodak's Gold???????? Superia is much better. Just try it!!! ISO 400 is superior.

In Japan market share of Kodak films is not considerable. Japanese use Fuji and they happy with it. Of cource it pushes KODAK to new trade-wars against Fuji, but I think the first thing they have to do is improve quality of own products, not lobbing quotas in US market at governmental level.

Agfa makes nice HDC+ films (Actually it is their consumer's version of Professional OptimaII). I guess both are good quality films with mostly the same emulsion. I think charachteristiks of HDC+ can vary a bit more than Optimas, but it is the good film. It is much better than KODAK Gold and it is a half of the Kodak's Price. HDC+100 is especially nice.

I will try new Konika Centura in near future. It will be funny if the Centura will be better than Gold.

Shame on Kodak!!!

Mark

M Canavan , January 05, 2000; 02:49 P.M.

120 Agfa Ultra 50. Turn up the colors! -When this is the desired effect. I took some fall foliage pictures of my daughter. I overexposed the face 1 stop and underexposed the background 1 stop. The fall colors rained in with extreme saturation/intensity (intended) and the facial colors are natural looking. If you know how to use this film, it looks great.

120 Velvia 50. Great scenic shots with vivid colors. More detail than the Agfa Ultra, but less saturation.

120 Astia. Good for protraits.

120 Kodak Portra 160 NC. For portraits, I like this one the best. It show very natural skin tones with great detail. I shoot this 5 to 1 over all other film.

120 Kodak Portra 160 VC. More saturation, not as sharp, but good if you are taking the photo and want to include more color (like grass) I still think that Fuji has a better green, but overall the Kodak VC is exceptional.

Konica 50. Not recommended at all.

Paul Mills , January 09, 2000; 09:48 P.M.

Having read all of the interesting reccomendations and points of view about film I'm surprised that Kodak Plus X B&W was not mentioned. I am NOT a professional and others may disagree, but I've had good luck with this very nice film. Tonal qualities, grain and the like are pleasing (to my eye). I have not processed this film, or any other, for more quite a few years, but I recall that it was a relatively forgiving product.

alan hoelzle , January 15, 2000; 06:28 A.M.

Agfa Ulta 50--this is the "Velvia" of print films. Outrageous greens and twighlight blues, although too much for really strong reds. Grain is slightly higher than expected for a slow film but the gorgeous color is worth the price. Shoot it in med. format, you will produce prints that surpass Velvia on Ilfochrome paper. An eye-popper! See my results at Perspectivesphoto.com. P.S. Don't trust the local lab to give decent results from this film if they do not have a specific channel for Ultra 50! Better off with 120 format and a pro lab.

Nagy Bila , January 21, 2000; 05:48 A.M.

I've just tried Kodak Ektapress 100 (Pro), which was hardly mentioned in the former comments. I can tell only good things about it. Pictures are sharp, contrast is good, and the colors are saturated, but rather natural. The pictures were taken in changing sunlight conditions (with cheap Pentax MZ-50 and cheap Sigma 3,5-5,6 24-70), and the film handled them well. I'm interested about other experiences about this film, and also about Royal Gold films (I haven't tried them but tey are the favorites of my photo lab assistant).

Nagy Bila

Clayton Pearson , January 25, 2000; 01:58 A.M.

Regarding B&W films, I noticed that nobody has mentioned that they have attempted to calibrate their films exposure (ISO) or developing to match the paper they are printing onto. I think that if you do so, you will find that Tmax films is a finer film than has been posted on here.

If you develop Tmax films with old technology developers such as D-76, D-50, HC-110, or Ilford eqivilants as you would with the Tri-X and Plus-X, you are likely to experinece disappointing results. Tmax films are a different kind of film that needs to be handled differently.

If you use Zone System, you will probably find that you need to rate Tmax films for a full stop slower than rated. I shoot Tmax 100 at 50, Tmax 400 at 200 ISO. For development, I use 1.5 ounces of Tmax Developer (instead of the recommend 2), at 75 degrees, and for 7 minutes, agitating 5 seconds every 30 seconds in distilled water.

Also, you will probably be much more pleased with the Tmax films if you print on Polymax paper instead of Polycontrast. Particularly with Tmax 400. The new films have a strighter line on their density cruves, and PolyContrast is designed for a more gradual slope.

I've found that by using the development and exposure method described above on Polymax paper using Polymax contrast filter #2, that I gain one full zone (or stop) more range on the highlights in both tone and detail, no added tone in the shadows but detail reaching between half an full stop lower while retaining seperation, than when I Zone System through Tri/Plus-X film in D-76 on PolyContrast paper. In effect, I gain a full stop in tonal range, and at least 2 stops in detail range. Also, when using Tmax films, skin tones are

When testing Kodak 400 B&W Select or CN (C-41 B&W film), I was very disapointed. Yes, the grain rivals 100 speed film. But the seperation is very low, with no detail in the highlights above two stops above middle gray. To make matters worse, not only do you not get any detail after 2 stops over, the film curve is so flat there that added exposure alone is usually not enough to get a white on your print.

Further, I do not see the point in 400 B&W select. If you want B&W, traditional B&W films will give you extended tonal range, better seperation, more detail, longer archieval storage, and easier printing in the darkroom.

Additionally, if you MUST shoot C-41 and want a B&W print from it, it is going to be typically better to just shoot your standard color negative. That way, if you want color, you have it. If you want B&W, then you can print on Panalure, which would allow you to use color filters to freely adjust your tonal scale and contrast in the darkroom, something neither 400CN nor traditional silver film will allow.

steve c , January 25, 2000; 02:28 A.M.

After having shot numerous rolls of both in a variety of conditions (perfect to utter crap), I would like to say that I prefer T400CN to Tri-X. Maybe I'm just a lousy photographer, but I can't get any contrast out of Tri-X, while the 400CN for the most part has had good contrast. One caveat about the 400CN - don't expect the prints from your corner 1hr to come out B&W. I use Walgreens (they have two excellent people that work there...I am VERY specific about using those two people only) down the street for my C41 print film (not Tri-X - that goes to a pro developer), and they can't produce a B&W print from 400CN to save their lives (in which case I take the desired negatives to a pro developer in town).

Paul Trunfio , January 26, 2000; 11:24 A.M.

Phillip's opening paragraph in this section really says it all. Slides are really amazing! But, I think many new amateur photographers (I am REALLY new) don't know much about slides since we have been brought up in a consumer-driven "print" world.

One point that I don't think has been made (at least it has not jumped out at me on this site) is the cost comparison of print film versus slide film (for the film itself and the processing). As I said, I am really just starting out and want to practice by taking lots and lots of pictures. So, I am looking for a cheap way to take lots of pictures but keep the quality high. Sure, you can get cheap prints, but everyone is always complaining about the lack of quality. For newbies, we aren't then sure whether the problem is with us or with the printing process. So I suggest to my fellow newbie picture takers to consider slides for your practicing. They are much cheaper than prints and the quality is unbeatable. Sensia II 100 ASA slide film costs 3.09 for 36 exp. add the cost of processing with Fuji mailers and the total is 6.38. (A friend, by the way, recommended that I start with Sensia slide film as a newbie because it "has just about the widest exposure lattitude of any slide film").

John-Christian Jacques , February 09, 2000; 12:01 A.M.

Shame you don't mention Fuji Neopan 400 & 1600 in your B/W section. I swear by it, it's brilliant for stage work. Loads of silver in it so you get a good neg to print and loads of latitude. Also I disagree with your stick a colour neg in photoshop and it does the same as a B/W neg. Sorry it ain't necesarily so! Normal stuff maybe, but when one wants to get creative a screwed up neg, with good printing, and toning, and solarisation, and fogging, and negative blurring can't be be achieved as well or in the same way as with B/W negs. It's the chemicals that make the difference. Including those on the paper it's printed on. Not that you can't do great things with photoshop you can, and I do, sometimes, but sometimes it's just as easy to print the thing, and know that by bastardising things at all stages of the process, knowingly, will produce pictures that could not be produced in the computer. Somebody mentioned dev-ing neopan earlier. I've always used Agfa Rodinal and it's always given great results. Like Tri-X, neopan has a good grain scructure too, which is another thing colour films won't give you most of the time. Neopan can be pushed a long long way too. I've been doing stage photography for years and Neopan has always served me well.

Mike Morgan , February 15, 2000; 07:33 P.M.

Fuji Press 800 is another great secret. I use it as general purpose consumer grade film. I have enlarged to 8x10 with no grain.

Eric Shaffer , February 15, 2000; 10:28 P.M.

I was wondering if anyone else is having problems with Qualex photo developing labs. In 6 months time, the Allentown, PA, location has given me bad service on 3 occasions. The first time, they didn't give me the right number of reprints, resulting in the whole order needing to be sent back to them and I missed a deadline. The second time, they lost a coupon and stuck me with a full price order. The third (and final, one way or another) time, they again miscounted my reprint order, and it again was sent back with negatives, which were promptly lost. It shipped from them but never made it to its destination. I had to go through several employees before being told it would be traced and I'd have an answer within 48 hours. 24 hours later, I got a message on my answering machine saying they began the search (which I would have started immediately by calling all of the possible locations it could have gone to, then breaking out the rubber hoses on the driver). A day later, no response whatsoever. It's a good thing I have one set of prints. Thanks, Qualex for letting me down, and letting down people who rely on me for pictures. I know this is a page mostly devoted to getting the best quality pictures, but I needed to vent my frustrations about the service I'm not getting.

Øyvind Dahle , March 06, 2000; 08:58 A.M.

B & W as compared to Color.

It is my opinion that a B&W picture need to be more interesting before I see it as a good picture, so it is harder and more learning need to be done before I call myself a good photographer. I have to practice, and I need a good film and a good camera. To keep the focus on the pictures instead of the equipment and to keep the cost and burden to cary it down, I prefere to use only one camerasystem, my choice is 35mm.

I want grain in my resulting picture on a level that is close to prints from a 4x5" negative, so my choice of film is Kodak Tech-pan. Then I will have negatives that I can print in any size.

On Technical Pan E.I. 80 with Tetenal Dokumol

I presoak my films 2-10 minutes (I think I forgot once, and they were there for 1/2 hour), develop 2 film at the time in a Paterson tank for 18 min in 600ml (as compared to 500 stated from Tetenal) with Kodaks recommended agitation, normal stop and normal superfix, rinse, then I dry the films overnight in my kithcen after rinsing with demineralized water.

Excelent results last time. I recommend this to anyone interested instead of going for medium or larger formats. Portraits with flash are intense in their lack of grains.

Evin Grant , March 27, 2000; 03:26 A.M.


Movie set 1998 )Evin Grant 1998

I dissagree with you that t400cn is sharper than t-max 100. As a books institute graduate and a proffesional photographer that uses black and white film for 60% of my work I have done extensive testing with all the kodak BW and c-41 process monochrome films. T-400cn can not be beat for convieneience and it does seem to have a nice tonal range. It unfortunately suffers from what all c-41 process films suffer from and that is a lack of any real grain structure because these films are a dye based process so what appears to be grain is actually a smudge of dye. Admittedly this is hard to distuinguish but for large blow ups and fine art printing t-max is still the most fine grained sharpest and for my money the best tonal range (most important) If you really want to fall in love with the t-max films all over again start processing all of them in Edwals ultra-black paper developer! This highly active developer gives all the t-max films an extrordinary punch and a visable sharpness increase without sacrificing it's extrordinary tonal lattitude. Incidentally I have it from a reliable source that Helmut Newton uses a similar process for his T-Max 100 the film he now uses most. The formula is the same for all three t-max films 100, 400, 3200. Dilution 1:9 @ 68 degress for 2 minutes continously agitated(reversing motor base recomended). I also only use 2/3 volume of chemical in the tank (20 oz in 32 oz tank) normal stop and fix.

M Canavan , April 03, 2000; 11:38 A.M.

Has anyone heard about the new film process that dramatically improves the grain of film by a huge factor? I saw an article in the NY Times a few months ago about it. Apparently, it uses a new manufacturing process that makes that grains much smaller, enabling you to create very fine detailed negatives, with a much lowered ISO requirement. Also, the film development would change.

Richard Thomas , April 20, 2000; 10:10 P.M.

I have used a fair number of films during the past four years as a photography student, and here are my opinions.

In 35mm, for color slides, I love Kodachrome 64 and 200, but can't trust the processing. Sometimes it has been VERY bad, i.e. slides cut in the middle, dirt all over the images, etc. I ended up shooting a lot of Fuji Sensia 100, which can be processed locally. I have not used many color print films, but for black and white my personal favorites are Kodak Plus-x, Tri-x, and Ilford HP-5, rated normally and processed in D-76 at 1:1, which is what's usually available at school. I find that HP-5 pushes to 1600 a LOT better than Kodak T-Max 400.

Medium format has been either Kodak Plus-x or Ilford Pan-f, with T-Max 100 in use when it was all that I could get. I like TMX 100 in the studio, but not so much on location. The negatives usually get enlarged to 8x10, sometimes 11x14. I have a lot of color transparencies in 6x4.5 format, most of them are Kodak EPP or EPN, from a few years ago. I have used Astia, if I was shooting E-6 medium format now I would probably stay with it instead of the Kodak film.

I am just beginning to use 4x5; SO FAR I have only used Plus-x and HP-5, and Fuji Velvia or Astia in the studio. Obviously they enlarge to 11x14 very nicely. Don't have enough experience to really judge this format yet.

Leo Lam , May 10, 2000; 07:58 P.M.

I agree with the choice of Fuji Astia slides, it is also my choice for fashion shoots. I, however, strongly disagree that Agfa is bad. You need a printer who KNOWS Agfa's red-heavy (on Fuji paper) quality and uses Agfa's paper to compensate that. It works as a system if you look at the data sheet. Optima is a good film, very fine grain, and if used with Agfa paper the color is spot on.

Ralph DeMatthews , May 15, 2000; 02:12 A.M.

I just read Philip Greenspun's comment regarding that black and white film doesn't make sense to him any more. Maybe he should check out work by James Nachtwey, Sebastio Selgado, Ralph Gibson, Sylvia Plachy, Martine Frank, Mary Ellen Mark, and many, many others working at ther top of their crafts making a difference with black and white film. It makes alot of sense.

Jeff Sheng , May 22, 2000; 03:37 A.M.

Here's a tip for slide film users: Kodachrome looks unbelievable in flourescent lights... it's this wonderful off-white color balance that beats the yucky green found in E-6 films. Kodachrome in indoor situations especially with skin tones looks stunning.

james bailey , July 07, 2000; 04:54 P.M.

has anyone read the film reviews that british magazine "Practical photography" is currently conducting?

last month they did all color films up to 100 speed, this month they did 160-200 speed.

their results are sometimes puzzling.

for instance, they hate kodachrome! they rate it very poorly, all emulsions. i suspect that the european kodachrome processing facilities are lacking.

they confirm what most people say about agfa ultra50: the reds get oversaturated and you lose detail.

Ronald Smith , August 07, 2000; 03:21 P.M.

Dear readers,

I don't think anyone else has mentioned this. Kodak's T400CN is a truly wonderful film, with amazing sharpness and freedom from grain. One way to add 'permanance' in a unique way is to shoot subjects that lend themselves to antiquity.

There is a 19th-century working agricultural farm about 45 minutes from my home. All the employees dress in the costume of that era, they use oxen for the work on the land, and you don't see electrical power cords or power saws. They work very hard, living off the land. This makes for *fantastic* photo opportunities, especially when you shoot T400CN and have it printed in sepia.

The lab I frequent uses a Fuji processor and printer, and, of course, long-life Fuji paper. Whe I shoot T400CN and have them make sepiatone prints, it looks like we're back in the 1800's; the 8x12's I have on my office will last the rest of my life. I have the sepiatone prints on a dark green matt inside a black frame. They look fabulous; if anyone wants to see some of my work, e-mail me at: rjsmith@mby.auracom.com

oscar ling , August 08, 2000; 12:17 P.M.

I just got my first set Kodachrome 64 slides back today. By closely examination, found that the film is very sharp and has "3 dimensional" look. It is different from other E6 positives and for those who haven't try one, please do try.

Marco Maria Colombo , September 25, 2000; 05:25 P.M.

Philip once said: "I'm not sure why Black and White film makes sense any more. When I want black and white, I can just choose "desaturate" in PhotoShop and it is done"
How can he say such a stupid thing? How can he ignore endless hours of darkroom work? And, above all, it seems that he's not taking into consideration the immense struggle of the pioneers! It's a very superficial and banal statement; change it, please!

firas zenie , September 30, 2000; 09:59 A.M.

wowowowowow,

How, on earth, could you say that about 400CN: it's cheap, idiotic trashbin material (but convenient I suppose). And perhaps remember that some of us "still" use darkrooms and not only computers (I still have to see a good digital print--I mean excellent: fiber is king)!!!!

No you deceive me there, CN is just not good enough.

Larry Zaks , October 02, 2000; 04:26 P.M.

I fully agree with Phil on the merits of T400CN. It is amazing material and I think partially responsible for the renewed interest in black and white portraiture and wedding/event photography. I was amazed at the fine grain and smooth details that can be produced from a 35mm TCN negative. Personally, I think T400CN enlargements exhibit less apparent grain than a T-Max 400 negative without the headaches of chosing the proper developer and dilution to process the film yourself. Instead, any competent lab running a C-41 line can process TCN.

Barrett Benton , October 05, 2000; 01:24 P.M.

Well, reading this thread seems a variation on an old joke - ask ten photographers what the "best" film is and you'll get 23 answers.

I have a few favorites, too, but film choices are often less important than experience in handling them under varied lighting conditions and the like, as well as having a firm idea of the results desired. But I have made a few interesting discoveries of late that will change my usual emulsion lineup:

Fuji Provia 400F - photographers whom I work with recently got some pre-production rolls of this film and I got first look at their edits. Amazing...this may be the first 400 slide film I'll actually WANT to shoot. Grain is much finer than before, and skin tones, along with general color saturation, are just on the subtle side of rich, neither wimpy nor with bombast, and it takes a +1 stop push gracefully, with just a slight increase in grain. It's supposed to be shipping right about now or in the next week or so. (Note: as per usual with Fuji's stuff, tweak your EI rating, in this case, 320)

Ilford XP2 Super - I've tried Kodak T400CN a few times and thought it was "okay", but felt it was lacking a bit in tonal scale, especially when scanned. Then I tried XP2...¡Caramba! At least as far as scanning goes this has scale out the proverbial yinyang. And since I've been toying with getting a second Epson printer strictly for Quadtone work, this may become my main emulsion for this purpose (with all the caveats about dye versus silver in terms of longevity, of course). Printing out stright black from my Epson 1200 yielded prints with wide yet delicate tonal quality the first time. I'm planning a small darkroom for conventional printing in the future, but for now it's nice to know that I can get good results on the desktop with something besides color with relative ease.

The film envelope continues to be pushed in various and interesting directions.

Howard Z , October 16, 2000; 09:22 P.M.

Ian, Are you saying that we can make 8 X 10 enlargements with Kodak Supra 800 that look just as good as Fuji Reala 100?

Brian Robertson , November 11, 2000; 12:45 A.M.

"I'm not sure why Black and White film makes sense any more. When I want black and white, I can just choose "desaturate" in PhotoShop and it is done"

Well, I'm not sure how to respond to this statement, but I'll try a few approaches.

First, I happen to be in the same camp as Walker Evans who said, "Color is vulgar." So much of what is posted and printed is simply a color photo anyone could have taken, and the color look will enhance an empty picture. The newsgroups are full of them, as are many web sites.

Secondly, there's a huge difference between Photoshop manipulation of black and white images and traditional darkroom approaches. Photoshop, which I use for color, is simply not designed to produce the kind of results you can in a darkroom. The dodge and burn tools are jokes, for example.

Thirdly, the real problem is that there is simply not a contest between prints on RC or Fiber paper and those via inkjets. Epson has lost all credibility on its claims to archive quality with the shifting of colors within days or weeks of printing. There are inks and such designed to print black and white as opposed to the really bad job all ink jet printers do, but even at their best you are forced back into the limitations of Photoshop in dealing with black and white.

If what you want is flat, glossy eye candy, by all means, shoot digital and print via an ink jet. If you want black and white, then get a darkroom. The economics and sheer numbers have forced digital to concentrate on color for the masses.

For the long tradition of craftsmanship, artistic rendition in black and white (meaning photos with a soul) is simply not an option that one can simply "desaturate" into existence.

Michelle Kawka , November 20, 2000; 01:38 A.M.

In Defense of Agfa:

I have lately been experimenting with Agfa's HDC+ 200 and have found that it has been incredible for its color rendering of sunsets. The pinks, oranges and blues of the sky have been rendered flawlessly. Skin tones have been a little red, but for shooting dogs, it has generated the perfect tonal range.

I think that it is a little short sighted to discount all films if not made by Fuji or Kodak when Konica and Agfa also make quality film. As the artist behind the lens, it is up to you to choose yur color palette by deciding what film is right for your vision.

M Canavan , December 02, 2000; 03:41 P.M.

After much film experimentation...

Slide Fuji Provia 100F 120:

My new standard for scenics. Excellent color and fine detail. The "practical" resolution is about the same as Velia 50. If you want to take a one of a kind scenic, this is your film. It is just fast enough to be used for a handheld photo.

Slide Fuji Velvia 120:

Great saturation. This is still great film, but I will shoot more Provia now, because it is faster and too saturated for portrait shots, IMHO. Some people rate this film at ISO 32. I keep it at ISO 50, which give you *more* intensified colors.

Slide Kodak E100VS 120:

I think this has a slightly wider exposure latitude than Velvia/provia. It is very close to Velvia in color saturation, IMHO. A little more expensive.

Print Kodak Portra 160/400 VC 120.

If you want acceptable vivid colors in a portrait, try VC. For weddings, stick with NC 160 for the day, 400 for the night/reception. If you want vivid scenics, try some others. I think the 160VC = 100 Royal Gold. The 400 is very close to the 160, but not quite as good. Also, VC = Vivid Color & NC = Natural Color. VC is not as saturated as the other films. Too much saturation can murder a portrait, though. This is balanced to provide some saturation without ruining the portrait. No color correction needed at print time.

Print Kodak Portra 160/400 NC 120.

Standard for portraits only. Try 400 for kids, 160 is too slow for them.

Print Kodak Supra 100/400/800 35mm.

NOT YET AVAILABLE IN 120. I am still testing this line out in 35mm. The buzz is really positive. This film is also marketed as being designed for scanners. (Portra has this tag line also). I have read in Outdoor Photography (or Shutterbug) that the scan quality in the 100 speed negative category is unequaled.

Print Agfacolor Ultra 50 120:

Very very high saturation. Needed when you want great color, especially blues and greens, to go over the top. Reds are too red and need correction. Be careful when printing, you will need to color correct the photos or tell the lab to analyze each photo by eye. Also, I don't think that the red is very accurate. It does hell to light colored faces. Overexpose the face with your light meter to get better results. If you underexpose, the colors get ruddy. For scenics, expect some grain. I used this film for a waterfall with a timed exposure and got a really nice effect, without fear of grain. Sunsets & fall scenics are good with this one also.

Fujuchrome Multi-Speed RMS 120

Keep this around for when you need to travel lightly. You can use it for any speed between 100 and 1000. Pop it in, choose an ISO. When you develop, don't forget to tell them what you shot it at. It is a very flexible film.

Print Agfacolor Optima 200 120:

Terrible film. Very grainy. Not recommended.

Any Digital Camera:

Still a long, far way from medium format. Not even close to 35mm yet. I think when you start seeing the 3ccd 80 megapixel, we may be there for 35 mm. The 1ccd megapixels still fall short with color accuracy. For 120 film? I can't even guess when digital will approach this. Go digital only if you want to save time/money at the expense of good photography. I have both digital, medium format, 4x5 and 35mm.

Medium Format is best when it matters. Digital is best when it doesn't. But digital is really fun.

-Mike Other film notes: Film Specs

Michael Goode , December 27, 2000; 11:08 A.M.

Infrared Films

Okay, I thought that the info on infrared films needed some updating. Konica IR film is no longer available. I think the deal with that is that they are making only one production run of it per year, so it may be available, but it is hard as hell to get at other times of the year.

There are two other IR films, though. Macrophoto makes an IR film, which is new, and no one seems to have tried a lot of it yet. To find out more, try searching in the Q&A forum. Also, Ilford makes an 'extended red' film, which is a heck of a lot easier to use than true IR films (such as Kodak's HIE), but it gives less of an IR effect.

One other note: all IR films have grain the size of gravel. With 35mm, it is impossible to get a grainless print. Two options: use larger negs, such as MF or LF, or, if you are willing to get a more 'soft-focused' image, diffuse the light coming out of the enlarger when printing. I have gotten good results with that method with up to 11x14 prints from Kodak HIE 35mm.

One last note: Kodak also makes a color infrared slide film, which I have not tried due to the $20 per roll cost.

John Travassos , January 25, 2001; 09:23 A.M.

If you are shooting landscape shots there's only one film...Velvia, Velvia, Velvia. Great Stuff!

chris yager , March 25, 2001; 09:54 P.M.

as a photolab manager for more than 7 years with an average of 1500 rolls printed a week i would like to make a comment. if you want good results from a lab, stick with the consumer films made by kodak, fuji and agfa. Anything else you bring in that is not mainstream is printed under a mainstream film channel. if the labs equipment is fuji, use the fuji100 film for this is the master balance channel and this will give you the best overall color. unless you do the developing and printing yourself, don't waste your money on expensive film, stick with mainstream consumer films. The best film on a consistant basis is fuji reala. fuji reala can cover up a lot of density mistakes and still look great

Paul Yuen , March 27, 2001; 11:43 A.M.

Thanks Chris you just gave me invaluable advice. I have just bought some rolls of Fuji Superia 100/200 135 and Reala 120 for my trip to New Zealand in April this year. You are right about Film/Lab combination - I've tried the Fuji Film/Kodak Lab and the results were often disappointing. Now I've sticked to Fuji FDI and it always gives me great results.

alan hoelzle , March 29, 2001; 03:28 A.M.

Avoid Agfa 50...Ok, except for the 25 galleries across the country that show my work and make me enough money to travel at will...and my publisher who puts out posters of my work around the world and make me enough money to...wait, this is getting redundant. Avoid Agfa if you want to avoid creating powerful landscapes with impact...come to think of it, you should all avoid Agfa...

Curt Dawson , April 07, 2001; 04:19 P.M.

I have had good expierence with Agfa Ultra 50 in 35mm for landscapes.I get great color saturation similar to Fuji Velvia.I also had very good expierence with Konica 3200 color print film.I just wish they had not discontinued it.

Gone Fishin' , April 15, 2001; 03:36 P.M.

Robert Maxley's comment about Kodachrome is misleading. Kodachrome in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, was a different emulsion than Kodachrome is today. Kodachrome II was a highly saturated, high silver content emulsion which came in only one speed: ISO 25. Today's Kodachrome 25 and K64 have much lower silver content, are not as saturated, and was introduced in the '70s to help Kodak with the higher silver prices. Don't let the branding fool you. K25 and K64 are not like Kodachrome II.

-- Piaw Na, May 24, 1998

Do I win a prize for replying to a post three years late? :)

Anyway, on the Kodachrome/silver stuff, I go back as far as Kodachrome 10/16 (daylight/tungsten), and remember private label/third party "clones" of Kodachrome (one that springs to mind was "Mirachrome"). I don't think any were made once Kodak came out with Kodachrome II with the breakneck speed of ASA 25.

There was also Kodachrome X (64) that came out a few years after Kodachrome II, but no one liked it.

As to the silver stuff -- back when the Hunt bros. were jacking silver to the moon, I had a camera shop/studio, and decided to do some small scale silver recovery. With silver pushing 50 bucks an ounce, and a gallon of well-exhausted fixer containing close to an ounce of silver, it was silly not to do recovery, especially if one was able to pick up a used electrolytic machine on the cheap.

When I was researching the topic, I bought a book from Kodak that listed the silver content of each of their sensitized products. At that time, the film with the highest amount of silver in a single roll was 36 exp. High Speed Ektachrome.

Now, in the midst of the silver price mayhem, Kodak made a dramatic set of price revisions for all their sensitized products, and everyone assumed their backs were against the wall, and they had no choice. I don't recall the exact prices (it's been 20+ years!) but I do recall them rising dramatically -- very dramatically.

But, when I dug into the book that listed the actual silver content in the products, I discovered that a roll of High Speed Ektachrome had something like forty cents worth of silver, and that was at the current (circa 1979/80 or thereabouts) spot price of silver!

In other words, after silver spiked up to $40+ per troy oz, that roll of film went from having a few cents worth of silver to the grand total of 40 cents worth of silver. Hmm...

(And remember, those prices are based on raw purchase price, and didn't take into account the massive quantities of silver that they recovered in their labs, which took the place of an awful lot raw silver purchases.)

My point in all this is not to slam Kodak (although in retrospect it would probably be justified :)), but to show that the cost of silver was a very minor part of the film price, even at the height of the silver madness. How much less of a factor it must have been when silver was a fraction of that price, when Kodachrome II was on the drawing boards.

Robert The , April 19, 2001; 10:22 P.M.

Kodachrome 25 to be discontinued. Don't believe me? Call Kodak at 1-800-242-2424.

When I pressed a Kodak rep for a place to send a letter, I got the following address:

Kodak Information Center | Department 841, Building 601| 800 Lee Road,Door C| Rochester, NY 14650-3109

I don't know if this address leads straight to a circular file or to a real person who can talk some sense to management. If someone has better contact info please let everyone know.

While advances in digital photography will probably make most faster films obsolete, it will take a much longer time for prosumer digital cameras to surpass the sharpness and proven archival durability of Kodachrome 25.

John Lind , April 28, 2001; 10:04 P.M.

According to the April 25th newsletter from The Photo Marketing Newsline, Kodak confirmed to them that it is discontinuing Kodachrome 25 (KM-25) this year. The professional version, PKM-25, was already discontinued. I could not find anything yet on Kodak's web site about this. Also of note is the demise of Professional Kodachrome 200 (PKL-200) in July 2001.

Important to remember is KL-200, the consumer version *is* still alive and well. Also still alive and well are the most popular ISO 64 consumer KR-64 and professional PKR-64. I keep reading postings elsewhere (complete with wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth and rending of clothing) that Kodachrome is being completely dropped. Not true.

Kodachrome 64 is my first film of choice for 35mm. IMHO Kodak thinks their Kodachrome users will switch to Kodak's Elitechrome 100 and Ektachrome E100S (pro version of it). The problem is none of Kodak's Ektachromes have the color rendition of Kodachrome, nor do they have the apparent sharpness in printing or projection. The only E-6 I've used that comes anywhere close to Kodachrome is Fuji's Provia 100F (RDP III), and I still prefer Kodachrome for its very accurate, rich color.

-- John

Image Attachment: KC01b.jpg

Remco den Boer , June 05, 2001; 05:44 P.M.

I like slide film to see the result of my own creation rather that that of prosessing/print shops, furthermore I love the constrast and saturation of a film like Velvia. The quality you get from the prints, I recognise, greatly depends on what shop you go to and in that respective I don't have a good choice at the place I live now. I'm also into portraits and for that I still haven't found my slide film. Skin tones are the most important for me: I don't mind a higher contrast so much. Could anyone do a suggestion?

Sebastien Le Duc , June 13, 2001; 09:54 A.M.

I recently tried Agfa Portrait 160 for a wedding because I thought the lower contrast would be suitable for the event, but I have been quite disapointed by the results: the contrast is really low (sometimes too low...) and some pictures seem underexposed without any reason. Has someone else ever tried this film?

George D. Gianni , August 11, 2001; 10:43 A.M.

I love the constrast and saturation of a film like Velvia...I'm also into portraits and for that I still haven't found my slide film. Skin tones are the most important for me: I don't mind a higher contrast so much. Could anyone do a suggestion? -- Remco den Boer, June 5, 2001

Skin tones are rendered nicely by Fuji Astia and Ektachrome E200. If price is an issue, try Eltechrome 200 (ED), the consumer version of E200. They are all very good films. But I understand you don't mind a higher contrast. If so, Kodachrome 64 is hard to beat. Great contrast and acutance (apparent sharpness) and rich colours without the violent Velvia saturation.
Ektachrome E100SW would be another excellent alternative.
But consider that many potraits have to be printed sooner or later and that you cannot avoid negative films if you need perfect prints. So, find first a good pro lab and adapt your print film selection on the process and paper they use.

Ian Cruikshank , September 14, 2001; 12:02 A.M.

"With prints, expose for the shadows; with slides, expose for the highlights." Print films, esp B&W, can be a stop or more slower than the box speed; experiment to see what works best. With print film, overexpose for hard/direct lighting (open sun or tungsten bulbs), and underexpose for soft/diffuse lighting (overcast sky or fluorescent bulbs). This lets you control the contrast and capture the full range of values in the scene. With B&W, you should "over-expose and under-develop".

For best results with slide film, use an incident meter. Anything else is a guessing game. While holding the meter in the same light as the subject, aim the head at an angle BETWEEN the camera and the main light source. For example, if the sun is behind you, meter towards the camera; if the sun is above, meter at a 45º angle; if the sun is ahead of you, meter straight up. This takes into account the light source, as well as the camera's orientation.

Don't rely too much on what others say about a particular film (or camera, or lens). See For Yourself. Everyone has different preferences and standards. What one person calls "bad film" may have more to do with bad equipment, bad technique, bad developing/printing, or just bad luck.

Don't limit yourself to color or black & white, slides or prints, Kodak or Fuji, etc. They all have different strengths and applications. Films keep getting better all the time: faster, sharper, more accurate, finer-grained. Keep an open mind and be prepared to change.

Jerry Sparrow , November 27, 2001; 09:06 A.M.

I started reading this article with an open mind, but within a few paragraphs you slammed the door on my open mind. Your statements about color print film seem especially misguided. You said that there is much slop built into the color printing process, and while this may be true at the little one hour lab at the local Wal-mart, it definately is not true at a custom lab or even a large commercial lab. I have worked photographic Quality control for several years, and I can tell you that in all labs the greatest pains are taken to keep the printers in balance by running "ring-a-rounds" and color balance tests on a daily basis. Also The machines used to process these prints are strictly controlled by using industry standards such as standard deviation, and thrice daily control stips. We monitor the pH of the solution and the specific gravity of the solutions. lab techs are constantly adjusting the replenishment rates of the solutions to keep the process "in control". In custom labs each print that is produced is usually pre-analyzed for the beginning filter pack, then the initial test print is judged using Color print viewing filters and adjusted by hand and by experience, and sometimes even by commitee, to determine the best overall appearance. We had an old saying in the Navy "if it isn't on the film it won't be on the print" So your statement that you can be off on your exposure by as much as 2 or 3 stops is simply silly. To achieve the highest possible quality print you have to have the highest possible quality negative. As far as your statement about the usefullness of black and white film in todays society, I must adamantly disagree. Not all photographs should be manipulated with photo-"chop" to achieve black and white. Black and white photographs IMHO are much more akin to fine art than color. I feel it takes a better photographer to capture an audiences attention with B&W that with color. Certain images just don't look right in color. A great example of this would be a stand of trees in winter in the snow with frost all over their branches, B&W would be the obvious choice here. The comments about refrigeration also needs some clarification. It is important to refrigerate your film. It preserves the latent image keeping properties of the film for one thing, and it also keeps the film from suffering from heat damage. I recall shooting a 400' roll of 16mm Ektachrome motion picture film that was dated 1962 and was stored in a freezer until 1980. That film came out looking like it had just been purchased the day before. I guarantee you had it not been stored in the freezer it would not have survived the heat in the Florida Keys for all of those years. Not all photographers buy film in lots of 20 rolls. many photographers buy film in bulk rolls of 100', both 35mm and 120, and "roll their own". This does two things; 1. it assures consistency 2. it saves a lot of money. For example I can buy a 100' roll of T-max 400 for $25.00 and get approxinmately 33 rolls of 36 exposures from that 25 bucks. This works out to around 75 cents a roll, compare that to 2.95 a roll if you buy it pre-packaged. Just remeber that each film type has it's specific purpose, it is not some scheme by Kodak or any other manufacturer to bilk you out of your money by selling many different types of film, or different grades such as professional vs. consumer. professional films are manufactured to tighter batch and color tolerances, and genrally, since they are shot and processed sooner than consumer films, they don't need the tighter latent image keeping properties. Also films are referred to as C-41, or E-6 for a reason. This came from the workers in a lab. You can imagine the mess you would have if you ran a batch of C-41 in a processor holding E-6 chemistry. You would have little clumps of the emulsion coming off in the chemical tanks and end up with contaminated chemistry. It doesn't take a genius to figure out how much money you would lose in terms of lost chemistry, down-time, and re-imbursement of your customers money for lost film and images. So pros don't refer to this nomenclature to sound elitist or snobbish, it is done for a reason, as pros often need to relate specific info to the lab or other pros. Don't just assume that your experiences are the do all and end all of the photographic world, the more I learn about photography the more I discover I need to learn.

John Bode , December 10, 2001; 01:00 P.M.

I'm writing this from the perspective of an amateur who usually buys his film at Target and gets prints processed at the nearest 1-hour lab.

I used my last trip to Disney World to play with several different types of film. I had never used Velvia before, but occasionally heard it referred to as "DisneyChrome", so I shot a roll at the Magic Kingdom. I also shot some Fuji Sensia II 100, Fuji Superia 400 and 800, and Kodak TMAX-400CN. All of the shots were made on a Canon Rebel XS, using either a 50mm f/1.8, 28mm f/2.8, or 80-200 mm f/4-f/5.6 zoom (all Canon lenses).

Velvia lived up to its nickname. Lurid, but in a good way, and perfect for a place as garishly colorful as the Magic Kingdom. Projected images were incredibly sharp (that is, where the Rebel managed to focus correctly -- grr). As noted by Philip and others, flesh tones were a bit off. The real limitation was the speed. All of the shots at 200 mm show some camera shake, even in what I considered bright sunlight.

The Sensia II produced much more "natural" tones, but still rich and also very sharp. Perfect for Animal Kingdom. I *think* it captures shadow details better than Kodak Elite 100, but I'll need to do a controlled, side-by-side test of that to say for sure.

Fuji Superia is what I usually use for color negative film. It seems to yield slightly sharper and richer prints than the Kodak equivalent. That's entirely subjective though.

I tried the TMAX-400CN a couple of years ago and hated the result. I figured maybe the passage of time would have improved the film or my opinion of it, but nope, I still hate it. Yes, it's sharp, but the prints just look *wrong*. There seems to be a sharp break between light and middle tones, and the middle tones never seem to come out a true gray; to my eyes, they always lean towards green. One time I was able to make a print with real B&W paper, which helped a little but not enough. I think I'll stick with Tri-X for moderately fast B&W.

Rockne Roll , February 23, 2002; 02:08 A.M.

Hey, Man. Why did,'t you mention Kodak's SUPRA Films. Supra 400 Is one of my favorite films of all time. I used it in a lot of different enviorments, and it turned up great. Good low light nature-shooting film. I don't see why slides are great for anyone but pros. For an Am, like me, There too sensative to incorrect exposure and just a pain in the butt to show off to your friends. And I used some Kodak Black and White + 400, and it was pretty good. Hint: See what happens when this gets printed on Black and white paper. You'll love it. Go try some Supra today, you'll love it, too.

Nark Holsinger , February 28, 2002; 12:43 A.M.

I have learned that in digital photography with the Sony, B&W does not work due to the when using a yellow filter in monochrome you get a neutral density filter. So back to by old trusty 35 SLR and trying out the C-41 B&W. The comment on 200 films as to why? My first scans several years ago using he Kodak Photo Disk, I enlarged the image to beyond its limits, no problems. Also at that time the local Denver papers used Kodak 200. A pro lab in town also recomended it. I have used both the Kodak and Fuji versions in both 35 SLR's and 35 PS. For those who do not like change, my first camera was a Canon TL, 1971. 2 years ago I used my wives PS for a evening picture of a building I helped build, in poor light, using Fuji 200 neg film. Perfect, I now use her camera more than the SLR. The Sony is used more due to the fact there is no film cost.

Isaiah Estell , March 29, 2002; 12:54 P.M.

While, admittedly I haven't read every last on of the previously posted comments/reviews, i can say with relative certainty that I did not come across one with the word " Kodalith" in it, Very sad to me, as it has been one of the most dramatically manipulable(?) films I've ever used. Yes, yes, i DO realize that it is no longer in production, at least not under that name, I was informed by a reputable local distributor that it is still made with a more technical name, which escapes me at the moment, as all I have ever shot has been actual, outdated Kodalith. This leads to my question, how long can one expect to acheive reliable results after its exp. date? Given that this film has an extremely low ASA of 25( I shoot it at about 12, or as low as my camera settings will allow) and that it is orthochromatic is it thereby less susceptible to degradation? I've fridged the stuff, including a sealed box of 4x5. My work with this film involves serious overexposure and (under)development in Dektol, yes I know its for prints. If anyone know where I might obtain this amazing stuff, I'd be extremely grateful for the tip(finders fee?) Anyone have anything to say about using 'Lith for purposes other than its copying intent?

David May , April 26, 2002; 11:25 A.M.

Based upon advice somewhere on the Photo.net Site, I recently tried shooting 12 rolls of the Kodak "professional" film, E200 at 320 ASA, developed pushing one stop. Results were superlative.

I sometimes take photographs for slide shows on multi-day bicycling and hiking trips, where a good tripod and Velvia are not possible. I project the slides to a discerning audience on a 7 x 7 foot screen (10-15 foot viewing distance), so sharpness is very important. So is "contrast", resolution, and pleasing color.

All previous attempts over many years to obtain outstanding technical quality without a tripod, and with slide films, were failures: The relatively lighter Canon image stabilization lens (non-professional) I tried with ASA 100 film was not sufficiently punchy or sharp for my use. With slower films and prime lenses, I could never hold my camera still enough for outstanding technical results, except in bright daylight. Faster slide films gave unsatisfactory resolution and color balance.

With Canon primes, and with the E200 at ASA 320 pushed 1 stop, as has been suggested elsewhere on Photo.net, my results are pin sharp, high resolution, lively, and well saturated (but not overly so). I will be using this film at these settings for all my hand-held, slide film shooting.

Angus Bromide , May 13, 2002; 10:01 A.M.

Not all photographers buy film in lots of 20 rolls. many photographers buy film in bulk rolls of 100', both 35mm and 120, and "roll their own".

Where can I buy some of those 100' bulk rolls of 120 film?

(Does the backing paper come in a handy sack or is it skotchtaped to the film?)

Drake Drake , July 15, 2002; 12:48 P.M.

We would recomend Fuji Velvia, or Sensia-II for slide film. Excelent for sharpness and detail crispness, and very accurate colour reproduction.

For 35mm print film, we would recomend Fuji REALA (100asa)(pro or consumer verions). Excelent film for just about all conditions except for fill or flood flashes from your standard point and shoot cameras or fixed flash SLR's . A 45+ degree adjustable angle flash (bounce flash)works great. With SLR cameras an fstop of F11 is recomended as this film is very fast and sensitive for 100 asa. Infact in our tests REALA is nearly 300% faster than Kodak Royal Gold 400. Go figure...

We do not recomend the normal every day Fuji Superia and Xtra modeles of fuji film. Though the colour the colour reprodction is good, the rest leaves much to be desired.

Kodak Royal Gold 100 (now going be the name of Kodak gold 200). Excelent sharpness and colour accuracy. On the down side royal gold 100 as with royal gold 400 is somewhat slow and can be prone to underexposing.

Agfa Vista 200 ASA. Impressive film. Nearly rivals that of fuji REALA. However we've only seen 200 or 400 asa versions. We've had some impressive results with Agfa vista. Vista does have some good improvements over HDC adn HDC+.

Fuji Superia & Xtra Superia seems to cover the 100,200 and a little of the 400 ASA range. Xtra covers for the most part the 400, 800+ ASA range.

We've never had good results with fuji Xtra. Xtra is incredibly grainy, and from our own expiernece not all that easy to develop properly.

Fuji Superia 100, 200, e.t.c. In our opinion in not much more than the common supermarket no name brand film.

In the all around good film category. We would say that "Kodak Gold Max 200 asa" film fits the bill.

However we are growning rather faund of Agfa Vista 200 asa.

Thanks for the chat.

yt

Drake.

Valeriu Campan , July 23, 2002; 07:07 A.M.

Most newspapers (Australia) that haven't switched to digital use Fujicolor Press 800. I cannot live without it. You can make excellent enlargements of 20x30" without noticable grain and also, it scans beautifully. As a note for using motion picture film for stills: the processing is similar to CN41 but not identical. It is called ECNII and is performed in specialised labs for motion picture processing. It has different characteristics and is OPTIMISED for a totally different environement. Some motion picture emulsions have a much wider latitude that the consumer print film, and in many respects, they have a much more advanced and sophisticated emulsion than many available stocks from the retail world.

Jeremy Fleming , November 09, 2002; 02:46 A.M.

I have to say that i am a bit dissapointed in your reviews of Kodak's TMAX 100 and 400 films. In my experience i have found these films to be very versital and they have an exelent image quality. Experiment with you developing processes. Change your temp/time, use a different dilution, try other solutions. TMAX is the most versital film i have found. If used properly you will be impresed with the results. If you arent impressed, try some different thinks because you arent using it right.

Sorry about the rant. But, i gotta stand up for my film.

Mocca G , December 08, 2002; 02:14 P.M.

As on the 200ASA films, if you are a Kodak user, you will be bad luck cause they have discontinued their 100ASA films (color negs) so either you have to start using 200ASA or step to an other brand. That saying, the Konica 100ASA films are very nice and can compete with the fuji, and kodak. For the B&W, it still is very much alive, as it has a lot more impact than many color pics. And the XP2 from ilford, I use it alot, and get good results with printing. Yes the contrast acn be tricky, but isn't that the part of the art to get it right in the print???

Daniel Sandlin , February 09, 2003; 11:37 P.M.

As for why someone would use Black and white today, I feel that if you shoot and process your own film you get in touch wit hwhat you are doing. You get immediate results for what you have done, and you gain an appreciation for what you are capable of doing. BTW there is nothing wrong with the Kodak TMAX 400 TMY. I develop it in TMAX developer and add aminute to the time. My negs come out contrasty and full of detail. Even pushedto 800.

Stef Karpa , February 23, 2003; 06:47 P.M.

What no Neopan??? The only B&W film I use regularly is fuji neopan. It is a very versatile film and I have even taken to using the 400 ISO version for portraiture (pull it two stops for a beautiful tonal range and some lush shadow detail). For action work, photojournalism or even as an all purpose 'film about town' I don't think it can be beaten.

I remember way back reading a review of black and white films in the BJP (British Journal of Photography) and at the end of a fairly exhaustive run down of the emulsions available Neopan came out top.

Go on give it a try ;)

Doug Webb , March 14, 2003; 03:00 P.M.

If anyone is interested in black and white infrared, you may want to take a look at a relatively new film by Cachet. It is called Macophot and is available in 35mm, 120, and 4x5 (I believe that Kodak HIE is available only in 35mm these days). This film is an interesting alternative to Kodak HIE and if you are among those who prefer larger format negatives for quality enlargments beyond 8x10, the 120 and 4x5 negatives may be just what you have been waiting for. Macophot is available from B&H and probably from Adoroma as well.

Flavio Egoavil , March 18, 2003; 01:20 P.M.

I would like to give my recommendations on *actual, present day* C41 film:

Medium Speed, highest quality Both Kodak Supra 100 and Fuji Superia Reala 100 give you the finest grain you can expect from a color negative film, of course you should know that Fuji Provia 100F (E6, not negative) has finer grain, but these two films are sharper (C41 film generally has better MTF). Back to supra/reala: both films will give you grainless 8x10" without resorting to digital manipulation. Color saturation seems to be higher in the Reala film. Supra is cheaper in my country. Anyway, i recommend both of these if you want to get maximum quality prints from a negative. Both scan pretty well.
Avoid:Kodak Gold 100/Pro Image 100. Although they have good color rendition and pleasing skin tones, grain is far too big for current iso 100 technology. You can get 400-speed films with the same grain quality today.

By the way: When comparing film for fineness of grain, look at all colors and shades. Examining "blue sky" grain is not enough and will give you wrong conclusions.

Fast to ultrafast speed:Note that i haven't tried Konica or Agfa films, so i can't comment! I use fast film exclusively for concert shooting
Fuji Superia X-TRA 800: Grain is really fine with this film. I really have no complaints. Fuji NPZ is said to be better on high contrast lighting because of it's low contrast (portrait film), so you should try it. Warning: When underexposed 1 stop (1600) it gets grainy and difficult to color correct.
Has 4th color layer.
Fuji Superia 1600:This is a different film and my favorite. This is a REAL ISO 1600 film that gives good results even when underexposed at 3200 with no push processing (so you don't increase the contrast). Results with tungsten lighting and no filter are very good. ¿Grain? Well, it's grainier than Superia 800, but I regulary make 8x10" from Superia 1600 and I think the grain is pretty acceptable and tolerable. If scanned and photoshop'd you can reduce the grain even further. Good latitude (acceptable results from 800 to 3200). Has 4th color layer. Sharpness and resolution is not as high as Superia 800 but still high, so the use of high shutter speeds can give you pretty sharp results. Konica Centuria Super 1600 is claimed to have a bit finer grain, but i haven't tried it.
Kodak Supra 800:Hmm... Mixed opinions with this. IF exposed at ISO 800 and less (i mean 400, 200) it gives very good results regarding grain and skin tones. Sharpness is very good. But underexpose it -1 stop and it will give you bad, ugly grain. Or maybe I got a bad batch. When exposed properly (better to slightly overexpose +0.5 stop) the results are impressive. But I stay with Fuji Superia 800.
Note for slide film (E-6) users:At this speeds (ISO 800 and above), current negative (C41) films give you finer grain than it's E-6 counterparts.
Fuji versus Kodak
Overall, i think Fuji has generally finer-grained films, but not every Fuji film has good skin tone renditions. For skin tones i think Kodak has the edge. Note that this is only a general remark, and there are Kodak films with excellent grain (Supra 100) and Fuji films with great skin tones like NPS, NPC, NPH, and NPZ.
Agfa, Konica:Don't avoid them. Experiment with them (of course, for your professional work you should stay with your known film). Maybe you'll find pleasant surprises. Konica Impressa 50 has it's fans. Agfa Vista 100 and Optima 100 too.

Lastly, ALWAYS GET AN EXCELLENT LAB! It will make all the difference in the world.

Dustin Trejo , March 23, 2003; 06:24 P.M.

I am a railroad photographer. I have been shooting trains since 1999.My camera body is a Canon rebel 2000, and I started out with the "standard" beginner lenses from Sigma ( 20-80 mm f3.5-5.6 and 100-300 f4.5-6.7), recently I bought a Canon 50mm f 1.8 and a sigma 70-200 APO f 2.8( this lens is "the shit"). I have tried many films ( as have all of us), and for slides I am sold on the Fuji provia 100F and 400F. The color is soooo amazingly lifelike, I do notice a little graininess with the 400F though. I have tried Fuji sensia 200 and Kodak Elite chrome ex color. I will NEVER shoot a train with Elite chrome ex-color again! The color is just Waaaay too saturated for that application,it makes the trains look too fake. I have never tried Velvia, which I might be trying in the near future, as is a roll of Ektachrome 100VS. As for black and white film, the first film I tried was Kodak Tri-X pan 400, I loved the stuff. I have also tried Ilford Delta 400, This stuff just doesnt work for shooting trains in ever changing elements i.e sun, clouds. the film which has become my "staple" B&W is Kodak's TC400N. This stuff is awesome! My lab always gives my pictures the "sepia" touch with this film which makes them look incredible, and I have not shot one bad pic with it. I am up in the air on color print (negative) film. I started shooting Royal Gold 200, because I was using the "standard" zooms with apetures of f.45-6.7, and have migrated back to it recently. My "staple" color films are now RG 200 and RG 400. I have tried Fuji superia 200, and Reala, which are both great films, but for some reason I just went back to the RG. I might also experiment with some of the Kodak portra films too in the near future. With the new faster lenses I can now shoot the 100 speed films in a broader range of conditions with out having to worry about insufficient light.

Image Attachment: CP 8571.JPG

robert liebermann , March 31, 2003; 09:21 P.M.

Now, to totally throw something weird in: I liked the old Orwo East German films. Why? Because I could get a brick of 12 rolls for the equivalent of $2 in early post-Soviet Minsk (Belarus). I am surely alone in this view, since I cannot find a single Orwo worship page on internet!

Good old UT18 (iso 50) and UT21 (100)! Besides the scratches (see below) the qualities were unlike anything else - I liked it. The colors - just weird. In particular, the browns and earthy greens were quite nice, as well as oranges - not like Kodachrome oranges, more like 1970's shag carpet oranges - but sometimes you want that. Blues - very flat, reds - dark. And this rainbow worked pretty well for me when shooting odd street scenes in what was then a fairly dirty and worn-down looking land that still had many human elements and surprises (cities of the x-USSR in early 1990s). And it had a weird grain that I *really* liked! Lumpy.

Got it developed at the local photo shop in Minsk; it always came back rolled in a single strip inside the plastic film can! (there weren't any Besfile pages for sale there back then!) A couple of times I developed it myself, with kits of powdered chemicals that came in silver and brown bags scattered with Jolly Rogers and marked "Gift!" and "yadovitoe!" (German and Russian: toxic! toxic!). Halfway through, you have to expose it to a bright lamp or the sun, then more developing. I'd read the instructions when I wasn't so good at Russian, and couldn't believe I'd read correctly - expose then develop more?? Later I heard that's how the E4 process works, so maybe it's similar.

The results aren't exactly what you see in advertising or national geographic (oh, hail hail!), but I sure had a lot of fun shooting that inexpensive film in many different settings. It's kind of like the difference between getting a digital broadcast of a symphony on a hi-fi vs. accidentally receiving staticy messages from spies on your shortwave radio. Who's to say what's more alive?

For me, the ability to shoot lots of film when I'm off on some adventure or another depends on often cutting costs (post-dated, bulk, home processing, etc.) and I find the excitement of varying results not unappealing. Is this 'punk photography'??

Besides that, I also like Kodachrome 65 (and 25, RIP)!

-rjl

Edouard Mouy , April 13, 2003; 11:16 P.M.

In terms of avoiding 200 film, I beg to differ. I had been using Kodak 400 and it had been too grainy. So then I switched to Fuji 200 and had been pleased with the first roll. 100 is too slow for Melbourne (Mainly overcast weather) and 400 is just too grainy.

Sergiy Podolyak , April 25, 2003; 12:05 P.M.

Very interesting link : "In celebration of Photographic Magazine's 30 years, we were asked to compile a list naming 30 of the best 35mm films available today..." http://www.photographic.com/printarchives.cgi?118

Lorenzo Ward , May 06, 2003; 02:34 P.M.

For people interested in B&W I suggest the new version of Kodak Plus X; developped in Xtol 1+2. Results are a contrasty and sharp image with rich tonalities. by the way the AXP25 referred to above is no longer available and I find the Ilford PAN F as lacking in brilliance; cannot put the finger on it but dull images. The AXP 100 in Rodinal 1+100 for 30 mins is very good but rate the film a bit higher such as ISO 125; print on contrasty paper.

...But I still love my TRI-X for most stuff.

Sergiy Podolyak , May 12, 2003; 03:30 A.M.

Another very interesting link to a page with TEST of REAL resolution of 13 old and modern films, made by famous Zeiss (Contax lens).

http://www.zeiss.de/C12567A8003B58B9/allBySubject/6F2949A15BD8DB74C1256CEF002B0246

My comment : the final quality of prints GREATLY depends on lab processing. In Kiev (Ukraine) where I live, there are only two pro-labs (both Kodak-controlled), where I can obtain decent results. I have checked all films available in local market, including Agfa, Fuji NPS, Reala, and all Kodak films. The difference between good pro-lab and regular lab is huge. If you want to obtain pro-looking natural color and sharpness, do NOT seek for a pro film, seek first for a PRO LAB. For my main photo objects - portraits of my friends, models indoor and outdoor etc. the best OVERALL film is CLEARLY Kodak portra 160 NC ("low contrast", wide latitude, natural "not vivid" colors). Vivid colors version (VC) of Portra 160 is good for "lower quality camera/lens" with lower contrast lens. While I am using GO-O-OD lens from Zeiss with Contax 167MT camera, "low contrast" Kodak portra 160NC is perfect. Instead of top Fuji films, where colors may be more saturated, BUT INCORRECT (face, clothes), Kodak provides more TRUE color. I repeat : I have obtained these results using Kodak-controlled pro-lab. May be, if Fuji has a similar pro-lab in my town, results with Fuji should be better. Some of my old decent shots made with Canon EOS 300 (I have sold it to buy Contax gear) are here:

http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=294751&ratings=true

Peter Klim , May 16, 2003; 03:43 P.M.

Kodachrome VS Elite Chrome Slide Film

My Comment: I am no expert on slide films. I have recently switched back to slide film after taking colour prints from the mid 70s to today. My father used only Kodachrome slides from the late 50s to the early 70s. I enjoyed watching the slide show presentations and that is probably the reason I have switched back to slides. Even today (May 2003) the slides from the late 50s in my opinion still look like they were shot yesterday. I can't believe how well they have remained. They were only stored in a box in a closet with no air conditioning until the early 80s.

I would like to know if anyone has an opinion how well Kodak's Elite Chrome will stand the test of time or should I remain with Kodachrome ?????

Peter K, May 16,2003

Todd Boyer , May 16, 2003; 04:09 P.M.

Sergiy,

I would be interested in hearing what your film and developing choices were like back in the old Soviet Union (if you were a photographer then). What did you have access to? How was the quality then?

Sergiy Podolyak , May 24, 2003; 02:20 P.M.

Reply to Todd : I have been an amateur photographer since 1981. There were a very few choices in Soviet Union : films - Soviet b&w : "Svema" only ISO 65 (decent, if you CAN develop it, I have used an old and forgotten now two-stage developing), Soviet color negative - not-masked "Svema" ISO 65, BAD; Eastern Germany's color ORWO - much better than Soviet's. I recall there were one lab to develop color films, but the the quality was so poor, that mostly all photographers develop films themselves. Printing - B&W was not a problem. Everybody prints themself. Only pros used their magazine's labs. Color printing - a problem. Decent color paper was a problem to buy. Soviet's paper was really terrible. Much better German "ORWO" was hard to find to buy. Govermental magazines had a channel to buy Kodak's color films, paper and chemicals, but very limited. Chemicals for color printing was also rear for the amateurs. Even to read western photo magazines was a problem. The capital of Ukraine - Kiev - had only one library with "Amateur Photography". There was sometimes also very good Hungary's "FOMA" color paper - but very expensive for me that time.

Uwe Wietzel , June 03, 2003; 05:45 A.M.

Well, it indeed seems, as if Kodak and Fuji have sponsored this page!!
I myself am not paid by AGFA, but I can only recommend to try them for the purpose they were made for!!

As seen in some comments it is indeed absolutely crucial which lab you use, which paper they use, which camera you use, what intention you have/had with your pic. There is no all-purpose solution, never.

Principally, in particular for those people that are into portraits, I have only one suggestion: Forget about ALL print-films!!! Switch to slides and you'll be surprised. Irrespective (well, nearly) of lab and paper and whatsoever you will get your pic as you saw it in reality, because the E6-process is the same around the whole world. And if you took a pic of the sky, because it was green in reality, it will be green on the film. With the print, the machine unfortunately only knows blue sky. Hence, it will process and process until you have a blue sky!

Back to films:
There is indeed a difference between professional and amateur films. However, it is useless to spend the money for the film, if you only have a cheap point and shoot camera. Especially professional slide films need exact exposure. Only then they are perfect. Nowadays, every good SLR should do for that purpose.
Try AGFA RSX (which is their professional line). I used many of the RSX 100 and they were convincing concerning very fine grain, high saturation and still very realistic colours. Fuji Provia 100 is very good, too, but a lot more expensive than the RSX.
In former times I used amateur films of all kinds (Ektachrome 100, 200, 400, Agfachrome 100, 200, Sensia 100, 200, 400). They were all more or less o.k., but in no way comparable to the two above mentioned pro-lines.

Someone asked about the AGFA portrait (colour negative) film. I tried it once. It gives flattering skin-tones and is not bad, but not really worth the effort. My proposal: use a slide film (speed 50 or 100) and choose the light according to your intention and the (skin-)quality of your model.

Rockne Roll , July 12, 2003; 01:52 A.M.

Hey Phil,

In my experence, black and white done with photoshop and black and white done as black and white are quite different. I prefer the latter, because I'm a purist and don't have enough money to buy photo shop and still eat.

Bulk loading is just dandy if you keep it dust free. do this by storing it in a good darkroom (which is by nature dust free) or a place which is dust free and EXCLUSIVLY for the bulk loader. one of my friends bulk loads constantly and never has problems because he is meticulous about keeping his loader clean.

I like Superia Realia 100. Beutiful color and tack sharp out to 16X20.

Fuji's Press Films are also tack sharp, even on a one-stop push. The other advantage is that most places will sell them for 2.60/ roll. Except for the NC Portra films, I don't use Kodak color neg films any more.

Is Ilford Delta 100 and 400 markedly different from T-MAX 100 and 400? The T-MAX iodine is pissing me off.

Velvia is THE low speed slide film. Tri-X still rocks. Is Provia as good as E-200? That's all.

justin ames , August 10, 2003; 03:01 P.M.

i find it amusing that, with the almost universal celebration of velvia as the professional film of choice, photographers also lament the need for warming filters to balance its use, especially where natural light is the source. this strikes me as an aesthetic non sequitur. to my eye, at least, velvia does not seem to render reds very well, and has failed so utterly and so often for me in the pink regions of late evening that i now have turned to faster films from the kodak family to capture those tones in accurate (read "pleasant" , if you wish) rendition. i have been extremely pleased with kodak's 100vs, as it performs all of velvia's so called miracles with blue and green saturation (since the range of saturation of blue and green is among the least expanded in the color spectrum, this also could qualify as an aesthetic non sequitur), but handles the more difficult reds, pinks, and yellows with the same sure response. i am not qualified to comment on the rendition of this film on magnification, it may have too much grain. however, i do not see it under 10x evaluation. it does not seem to handle orange well, as it quickly migrates to red--though, this could be a product of the temperature of the ambient light in those situations where this has occured: i have not as yet conducted sufficient tests with it to more than comment that i have noticed it. it handles skin tones with kodak's customary flair, rendering all complexions naturally and precisely. i respect velvia's handling of reciprocity at the extreme end of exposure; while i have not witnessed the vs breaking down when long exposures are taken, kodak has always given me problems there--though i tend to use a film's various shortcomings as sources of creative comment in the photos i take, and in fact like my films to have these quirks. however, again for me, velvia's quirks are just too overpowering and too cold; and throwing a what? halfstop or more of filtration on an already slow film transforms many natural light situations into the category of simply unphotographical events. i always get the feeling, when vast hordes of folks throw their aye-me-too hats into the ring (here, make that velvia ring), that i am viewing a social phenomenon at work, like with tulip manias or southsea bubbles. i use velvia, but it really has too many demerits to function as my basic film--i know i greatly fear that the digital revolution will result in the monolithification of velvia for film users, that no other films will be available...god, what a dreadful thought!

John Falkenstine , September 12, 2003; 03:59 P.M.

I have a box of well-protected slides my Dad took in the fifties. He used both Agfa and Kodachrome. The Kodachrome slides are holding their color, Agfa is kaputt...

ilker ozdem , December 15, 2003; 04:03 A.M.

I think Samsung 400 ASA negative film is perfect.

Edgar Njari , March 04, 2004; 01:53 P.M.

I would like to add that movie film is not lower in qualitty than still film. The problem with movie film is that it is not made for photo paper prints. It is made for film strip prints for cinema. Kodak (the largest manufacturer of movie film) made these film stocks for very specific purposes,and if they are not used that way,nobody is responsible for bad results.It is specifiaclly designed to interact properly with movie print film stocks and intermediate film stocks.

And as for the grain,kodak uses same grain technologies in both films,when t-grain came out,it was used in both still film and movie film.Do you think that they would have an advanced emulsion technology and not use it in all their professional fields. These days movie films are compeating with digital technology and kodak is doing everything in its power to produce better and better film stocks.

I don't know did this affect the still film manufacture,but recently Kodak invented something that could be considered as greatest improovement since t-grain was invented.It is the technology that makes silver halide crystals release 2 electrons instead of one, making every film stock twice as fast with the same grain size. This new series of film stocks is called Vision2 and you can use a 200 speed film with the grain size of 100 speed film,500 speed with the grain size of 250 speed film etc.

If you think that movie film has lower qualitty,you should see a scann of a frame of eastman 5245 film stock. At 2K resolution there is absolutley NO sign of film grain,and looks as smooth as any lower resolution scann. And remember that movie film frames are only 21mm wide on the negatives.

When exposed and processed properly both still film and movie film have similar reolution and grain size and each has its quallity at its best in their own theritories. So keep movie film out of still protography and keep the still film out of movie productions and you will get great results in both fields.

Allso some people were using still film for motion picture purpuses and got equally bad results as those people who used movie film for stills.

Solomon Hoasjoe , March 20, 2004; 04:47 P.M.

The end of February I had an opportunity to visit Niagara Falls, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada and also across the border in New York State in the US. At night the different color lights will come on at roughly 5 minute intervals. Enough time for me to rotate between a 4 Mpix Canon digital with roughly a 28-70 zoom and my conventional Nikon with an 80-200 Tokina F4 lens on a tripod to compare the results.

The film I got was a roll of Kodak Max 400. I had a few frames left from a previous excursion. At the present time, Kodak is in the process of phasing out Royal Gold films in Canada and most stores still have no stock of the new High Definition 400. I didn't think it'd be necessary to buy the HD film ahead of time. By the time I ran out, the store I went to only carried Kodak Gold 200 and Max (Maximum Versatility) 400. Probably the Gold 100 is also on the way out? The other choice was the Konica VX that I don't have much experience with.

The result from the Canon 4 Mpix with the low setting of ISO 50 at the highest resolution gave acceptable results at night but when compared to the one taken with Max 400, the Kodak print came out slightly sharper with a 4x6 print. Considering that I did not buy a professional grade film, just off the counter one. However, the digital was not without its advantages. Like a large format camera with a Polaroid back, without the digital display, it'd be more waste of good film to bracket for a good exposure setting.

Image Attachment: niagara040228.jpg

Leonardo Baez , July 24, 2004; 07:57 P.M.



Some teacher told me that agfa slide film (iso 100) is the most neutral color slide film at moment (at least here in argentina, where film quality is totally diferent that american quality).

I shot this image with agfa slide film 100 ISO.
Is over exposed by 1 stop and over developed by 1 stop too.

Warm colors are because i used colored lights.

Christopher Hayward , July 30, 2004; 10:37 P.M.

Well lets get right to the point...Black and White vs. Photoshop. In my opinion there is nothing like developing your own film and then going to the darkroom and developing your own prints. Why trust anyone else with YOUR work? If you screw up the developing of the film or the printing you only have to look in the mirror for blame, rather then chewing out everyone from the lab owner to the janitor. Then there comes the issue of letting a computer program developing and/or bettering your print. Call it male pride. Call me a purist. Hell call me anal if you like. But I would much rather develop MY negatives and prints the way I want to, rather then trust anyone, or any machine, to do it for me.

With that in mind for the money and the convience nothing works better then Tri-X 400. Its a great overall film. The grains are warm and you can make them work for you. Plus-X 125 is a nice softer grain, but is a pain to shoot with except on sunny days. Ilford ISO 50 film is great for makeing large prints (above 8 X 10), but I have not had much use for it yet, nor played around with it enough to get a true feeling for the film. And that ends my rant.

jukka vatanen , December 04, 2004; 02:04 P.M.


Heavy Metal Band Spinefarm

I think every imaginable film is endorsed on these pages.Everyone becomes happy in his/her own way. I have been totally nuts on the following film: Aerograph Plus X 70mm BW film that I buy from a guy in Nevada thru Ebay. He charges 65 dollars for a 500 ft can plus shipping. Last time i bought 6 cans. 500 ft equals about 200 rolls of "120 12 exposure lenght" The price for one rolls becomes 34 cents! To control the gamma & density, some tweaking with the development has to be exercised. I develop the film mostly in D-76 1:1 for 12 minutes in 20 degree C, in a Jobo Autolab ATL 2 plus processor. I either scan the negatives directly into 154Mb files ( 3200 dpi) or print them on Ilford multigrade and then scan the print on 400 or 800 dpi for a really huge file ( good for ten by ten feet enlargements) Somehow I like the grain on the print better than direct scan! The problem with huge files is that even with a powerful twin processor machine everything takes so damn long on Photoshop. Look for those square images with black borders ( hasselblad) ignore the other "square stuff"!

Michael Sebastian , June 17, 2005; 07:43 P.M.

Not sure if anyone is still paying attention to this thread. Here goes:

I shoot mostly 120 film, with a smattering of 35mm (mostly digital when I would have used 35mm in the past.)

For B&W I like Tmax 100 (it rewards consistent careful processing and punishes sternly deviations from same). I detest FP4, and Bergger 200 was simply awful (tried on a lark) in my hands. I also like TriX and HP4 for ISO 400 films. I have lately experiemented with T400CN and Ilford XP2 C41 B&W films, and they look promising. I have had good results processing all of the aforementioned traditional B&W films in TMax developer, D76, and HC110, but have lately settled on Xtol which is really magnificent. I have used Photocolor 2-step to do the C41 B&W's with great results. Doing C41 (or E-6 for that matter) in the Jobo is almost embarrassingly easy); I process everything in the Jobo so I have consistent repeatable results.

I shoot so little color that I have nothing to say about it.

Kristian skinner , September 01, 2005; 10:24 P.M.

People seem to be very pro Kodak T400 CN, but having tried this and compared it to XP2, I find it quite awful. Admittedly it is extremely fine grained, but instead of sharp grain like with XP2 or a normal film it just gradually becomes less and less sharp until on very large enlargements grain is indistinguishable, but so is any detail at all in the print. The milky tonality is nice and the prints back from the minilab tend to look better but if you want to make a darkroom print from it exposure times are incredibly long, and untimately the print is blurry and unpleasant. It reminds me a bit of film developed in MQ/PQ developers from years ago, you can't see any grain because it's so mealy but there is no sharpness and detail isn't held. XP2 is simply more pleasant to work with

Michael VaughAn , January 23, 2006; 10:54 A.M.

We scan 126 to cd/dvd for as low as .65 per image (depending on quantity).

Dan S (SF) , February 14, 2006; 10:32 P.M.

Well, you won't have Agfa or Konica to kick around any longer. Let's hope Ilford and Kodak survive.

Alex Hosking , March 08, 2006; 06:21 P.M.

"I'm not sure why Black and White film makes sense any more." Thats the dumbest thing I ever herd, B&W film is nativly B&W, colour converted isn't.

I think its about time this page was updated, a lot of the films here are either D/C or have been updated.

Sean Galbraith , May 10, 2006; 09:03 P.M.

I've had good luck with AGFA RSX II 50 colour slide film. Gorgeous colours.

Joe Hutchinson , January 14, 2007; 05:56 A.M.

I've had far less than stellar luck with "movie film", too. Avoid, absolutely! It appears that digital movies will eventually reduce the market there as it has everywhere else. A possible advantage, however, is the archive quality of movie film. Does it last any longer than still film stock?

One thing that hasn't changed is the need for a good photo shop to do your developing/finishing. In the Fort Collins, CO (USA) area, I give 5 stars to "The Photo Shop" at 1700 S. Collage Ave. 80525 (970)-484-3686. They've made many previously non-critical friends mad who insist on sending their film to Walmart, et. al. and then saw my fine glossy 4x6's from the same quality stock for only 20% more money.

I'm new to this site and hope you've got a "hall of fame" for good photo shops. If so, I'll list mine and if not, you need one. Same for camera repair shops, they have vanished from my area entirely and need support if we are ever to keep film cameras going beyond this decade.

See R , January 29, 2007; 05:39 P.M.

Desaturating color film in PS is an extremely crude and limiting method of converting from color to B & W...better to deal with the R, G, and B as separate layers and make your own assignments of relative weighting rather than leaving it up to PS's predefined weighting. You have much more control of tonality that way.

And yes, I agree, it is time to update this post. But Greenspun has probably been to busy with one of his other hobbies.

noire hierodule , March 11, 2007; 06:16 A.M.

Dustin

How do you scan film to digital? How expensive is it? I have used 3200 pixel scanner for films, don't work.

Any cost effective idea?

Marco Taje , March 09, 2008; 06:48 A.M.

"I'm not sure why Black and White film makes sense any more. When I want black and white, I can just choose "desaturate" in PhotoShop and it is done."

Sorry for being harsh, but this gives me plenty of doubts about your understanding of photography. Actually, it gives lot of doubts about your hindsight altogether.

Trebor Navilluso , April 09, 2008; 02:35 P.M.

Marco, my thoughts exactly. His B&W digital conversions are no doupt flat, dull and boring. There is a HUGE difference in well excecuted traditional B&W film vs digital conversion. I couldn't believe it when I read that either.

Opinons, everyone has one!

Emanuela Pompei , May 23, 2008; 03:20 A.M.

Hello,

anybody who could recommend a good photo lab in Rome, Italy? Or in Santiago de Chile? Thanks, Emanuela

Chey Lim , July 22, 2008; 12:51 A.M.

Hi, I am truly new to the world of photography, especially B&W photography. I started using Ilford ISO 400 HP5 when I first started off and didn't pay attention to the grain only because I was just starting to learn the ropes on what to look for. A friend gave me some of his leftover Kodak 400 TX Professional and I've noticed a big difference with the textures. Anyone have any recommendations for my next type of B&W film? I've heard to try anything Fuji, but still not sure what to look for.

Marco Taje , August 22, 2008; 10:39 A.M.

It depends on what you shoot and your taste... If sensibility is NOT an issue, definitely give a try to Ilford Delta 100 (my favourite for outdoor things) and Ilford PANF 50 (I use it with studio strobes). They both have some very fine, wonderfully shaped grain. The first is more exposure-forgiving, the PANF is a bit more tricky and definitely requires some more skill. The Kodak TMax-100 has the finest grain ever seen (tabular grain), but personally I don't like it that much because highlight detail gets lost very soon. If you want higher speed films, you may as well try the Ilford Delta 400 or the Tri-X's for a more "photojournalistic" flavour.

James Jacocks , September 19, 2008; 10:25 A.M.

A few comments on existing and early black and white technology. These pertain primarily to B/W photography of an interpretive nature. Years ago Kodak made three staple films: Tri X, Plus X and Panatomic X. They were popular in that order, and deservedly so. Tri X has a wonderful tonal rendering as does Panatomic X, but less so. Plus X is just another medium speed film unless developed in exotic chemicals like Beutler and then it's not a medium speed film. The tabular grain films, T Max 100 and 400 are not really capable of beautiful rendering of outdoor scenes and they are very development dependent. Ilford has more interesting tabular grain films but they too fall short of traditional tech Tri x, Panatomic X being sadly deceased. It seems that in B/W films not being developed in C41, we have a choice. Fine grain with good speed but fair to poor tonal rendering, or, coarse grain (relatively speaking) and average speed with fair to good tonality. I just shoot the latter in a bigger format. Not exclusively Tri X of course. There is a place for other films and other technologies such as digital. By the way, this conundrum was present over sixty years ago when early Tri x was not what it became later and the better rendering films were Super XX and a few others which had inferior sharpness and grain but beautiful rendering. Many of the photo legends just used bigger cameras. "The more things change, the more they remain the same." My last comment is directed to those who prefer to scan color negative films which have alleged finer grain and do have retained color information which is discarded in Photoshop or Darkroom. These finer grain films employ dye clouds which do not look at all like B/W film, and I find myself unsatisfied with the structure of the image when viewing big enlargements. It's just a cultural thing as I grew up looking at constructed tonality where you could see the edges of finely wrought images. Moreover, C41 films are hardly archival and Mr. Lehman has hit the nail on the head when he commented on the purpose of some photographs. I imagine he is documenting a life in time, what he saw, who he was, many things. Those sort of images need preservation. By the way, I have seen a lot of old color film, negative and transparency, and, while Kodachrome fares best, none are very archival. Most end up faded due to mediocre processing and non archival structure. Often they are magenta and barely there. If cameras bring forth ghosts, I prefer the clearly rendered type. Often, I just shoot B/W and, if I wish to recreate color, I hand color or use Photoshop. Of course, it's art being interpretive, hence subjective, if not downright inventive. The results must speak for themselves. The source of those images will last for perhaps two centuries, perhaps more. The color interpretation will last for several decades to a century and that is fine by me. I am interested in other opinions and not a luddite at all, so if I hit a few tender spots, I should receive return pokes and jabs and, when my bruises are better, I may have learned a few things. There are many paths to Nirvana..

Paul Harris , February 21, 2009; 04:36 A.M.

Todd- Put it up on eBay and/or Craigslist

William Mahoney Jr. , June 26, 2009; 09:32 P.M.

Update this page on film it is 2009

scott johnson , April 03, 2010; 02:27 P.M.

Choose Fuji Astia slide film ISO 100 for great people and landscape shots. The colors will look more real . It is the next best film to Kodachrome 64.

Katie Muffett , September 15, 2010; 03:47 P.M.


New York, real B&W film

"I'm not sure why Black and White film makes sense any more. When I want black and white, I can just choose "desaturate" in PhotoShop and it is done. Still, if you want to work with traditional processes (i.e., you don't want to scan) and you want a negative that will last for hundreds of years, black & white is the way to go."

There's some great advice in this article, but I have to correct this one. As someone who has worked in both forms of black and white, I can assure everyone that desaturation in Photoshop is no decent replacement for shooting directly with BW film.

Not only does Photoshop degrade an image the more it is tampered with, but rendering digital desaturation to look anything remotely like true BW takes real skill. You will need to choose your method of desaturation first, then use Curves to define what previous RGB value should be black and grey, followed by some selective sharpening to replicate the refraction of white in real BW film. Knowledge of the difference in grain between colour and BW films of the same speed is absolutely necessary to add or remove depth as it would appear naturally.

Even after all this work, the results have never been acceptable enough for me to use the altered image. It is far less effort - and far more gain - to simply load a roll of quality BW film and carry a portable light meter.

If the shot is in any way special, then expand your abilites enough to use real film.

Will Murray , October 31, 2010; 11:07 A.M.

"I can just choose "desaturate" in PhotoShop and it is done."   LMFAO!!     I sincerely wish that you hadn't said that...If you look you will find some excellent references on B&W digital photography.

 

And for the record I shoot any emulsion and camera.  I will happily shoot on 80 year old cameras or the newest digital.  Likewise, I will shoot on B&W or colour neg or transparancy, each emulsion will produce a different aesthetic.  It's not about the tool but rather the person using that tool.  I am currently enjoying the use of pinhole and also experimenting with pushing tmax 100 and 3200Tx to their limits, they develop character and atmosphere that a simple "desaturate" could never hope to achieve, I then utilise photoshop to accentuate those qualities.

Johnny Smith , January 30, 2011; 05:38 P.M.

I'm sorry, but I have to take exception to several broad, generalized statements that I can understand being said, because at one time they were true.  But they weren't true in the '90s, and they aren't true today:

"Anything derived from movie stock, e.g., Seattle Film Works. Movie film is lower quality than photographic film and it is also non-archival."

Still film has/had the same negative fading issues as C-41.  Looking at negatives from 1979, they have about 25-35% fade, even WORSE than a movie like Star Wars, which George Lucas was moaning and griping about in several articles because it had *shock* 10-15% fade. . .  If George would have made standard B&W seps in 1979 he'd have 0% fade.

Color flim still has fade issues, but they have made HUGE advances since 1980 in movie and still stock stability.  Fuji I would say still has much better dye stability for display prints, slides, but stored in the dark, at proper humidity at 0° Fahr. (-15° C) the stuff will last for 200 years, without any fade at all for at least forty.

If you, as a photographer, aren't storing long-term negatives in these conditions any fade is your fault.

 

"Your memories will fade very quickly if you don't keep your processed negatives in the freezer (which is what movie studios do)."

They won't fade quickly, they'll fade at the same rate as C-41, more or less.  If movie film were so unstable, why wouldn't the studios just get Kodak to make them a special C-41 stock with movie perf.'s?  Movie studios want their fils to last for centuries.  Unfortunately the average consumer puts very little value on family history, even members of my own family :-/

 

"[Note: normal color neg film will say "Process C41" on the canister. If it says "Process ***something else****" then you've got movie film. This is why the junk that Seattle Filmworks respools cannot be processed at your local minilab.]"

This is bad advice. . . Fuji films still say, CN-16, 17?  Ferrania has its own numbering, as does Lucky.  Agfa had their own numbering, as did Konica.

 

Where movie film is "junk" is that companies with low standards will take it and respool it from old film.  There is nothing bad about remjet.  It was coated on every single frame of Kodachrome, without problem.  It is a MORE EFFECTIVE anti-halation method than dye, so your C-41 will get zapped by halation with overexposure whereas movie film I think has to be overexposed a full six to give halos around bright highlights.


ECN-2 film has high quality results if purchased as ends from reputable productions.  This film is bought back within a couple days of being purchased from Kodak, and if not purchased by labs like Seattle Filmworks, will probably end up on another lower budget student film set.  It's frozen and refrigerated the rest of the time, which is more than I can say for the careless practices of many photographers I've seen who leave C-41 laying around unrefrigerated for years.

ECN-2 is then clip-tested to make doubly sure there is no fog.  There are cases I've heard of where people have gotten burned by ends.  I'm not going to lie.  There was a case where a commercial sold film back to a reseller that was already exposed, and it passed the test. and was double exposed by the next shoot, on one roll.

But I have no idea how someone could have shot footage and then had no imagery on the tail as the film rolled out.  There should have been something?


Anyway, I want to put a shameless plug in here for ECN-2 processing and printing.  The lab I work for, Double Exposure Ltd. has, to my knowledge, the only processing and print to make slide positives process in all of North America.

Not to be a greedy businessman, there is another lab, in Minnesota that processes ECN-2 ( SFW-XL if you want to use the fluff made-up process name) but they process, to the best of my knowledge in C-41 (wrong color developing agents).  They can make prints and scans but not the slides, and their film isn't processed the way it was intended to, they just have a remjet scrubber on their C-41 machine.

 

We process ECN-2 film not just for those poor people who can't find anywhere to process their Seattle Filmworks film, but because we'd honestly like to see these excellent stocks from Kodak and Fuji ( 500T stocks, a low contrast 500T stock, 50D and 64D super-fine grain negative stocks. a 500D fast daylight film, and several other great tungsten films that simply AREN'T MADE in C-41 anymore).

The slides made from negatives are so sharp too, not as good as E-6 or my favorite Kodachrome, but with the far greater latitude projection of negative to positive and the same exact quailty on every slide, not the necessity to either risk your original or have to dupe it and lower the quality.

There's the flexibility of FOUR DIFFERENT print stock suppliers too, Kodak, Fuji, Agfa-Gavaert, and Lucky.  There are all sorts of fantastic different options we plan to offer soon in addition to the great Kodak 2383.

These ECN stocks are a great opportunity for student filmmakers and fine-art photographers, or those looking to produce slides to utilize cheap, flexible 35mm SLRs to test for movies, or produce some great high-quality slides cheaply.

 

I'm not 100% sure on this, but I hear that the dupe films are gone now for E-6.  So, unfortunately for photographers, the slide to negative process may be the only way of making good-looking slides in volume very soon, unless you're using expensive E-6 originals and a very slow film recorder with old software (been there, done THAT!)

 

But anyway, to anyone that would like to try ECN-2, I would be happy to send you a test roll.  Double Exposure Lab is the name, from Ohio. I'd be happy to show any doubters that I am not all just "hot air," but that the quality of the images that this film produces from a good exposure give or take +5-1/2 to minus 1-1//2 stops are stunning, just as good as, or sometimes when C-41 just doesn't offer the right speed or tungsen balance, better than standard color negative film.

Rob Oresteen , May 07, 2011; 07:42 P.M.

I can add a little to the "easy-peasey just convert to B&W in Photoshop".

 

Um, not so much...you can get many different results that will impact the final feel of an image converted to black and white. I had 5 separate actions that would change the over all luminosities.

 

Having shot a bunch of BW400CN recently, I can assure you the reults are much better than simple B&W cobversions in Photoshop. True, some images just look better in B&W - and a Photoshop conversion is better than nothing. I would much rather just shoot HP5, Tri-X, Acros, or Delta 3200 and just roll with that. Get away from Photoshop when you can folks! It's not the answer...

 

There are a couple photographers who go by "The Brothers Wright" who routinly shoot Kodak's 500T movie film for their paying clients with outstanding results.

 

There have been some updates since this thread has started. Many pros shoot Fuji 400 Pro H @ 200 for a glowing look; the new Portras are shot at box speed (400, 160), the skin tones are spot on, and from what I am hearing, Portra 400 can be shot at 1600 without pushing in the lab with no visible loss of color or contrast and no increase in grain.

 

For great examples of the new Portra, see Jonathan Canlas' blog. For inspirational examples of what Fuji 400 Pro H can do, see Jose Villa and Elizabeth Messina's work.

Ana Lopes , January 08, 2013; 02:54 A.M.

As a european, I'm actually surprised at the idea that most european amateurs still do slideshows at home, even if this article is from 1996. We don't, actually, and didn't back then. It triggers my funny bone because slideshows are something that euopeans excpect from americans, although I'm sure this is probably due to Aunt Patty and Aunt Selma and their trip to Egypt. :-)

This article is a very good read. Like an over-excited film-photography beginner (and not a big fan of digital darkroom), I tend to just want want want anything that is high-contrast slide. But going to Norway in the Winter, this article helped me realize that there are more than one good allaround choice. Thank you!

Still missing an entry on Ektar, though...


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