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B&W Film
Old 06-09-2006, 04:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm sure this has been covered here before, multiple times, but I came up empty on forum search, so forgive me.

I'm looking for suggestions for a good b&w film for portraits and nudes thats available in 120/220. I want something with fairly low grain that's not too high-contrast.

I'm sure I'll try several so suggestions of the best to try and also any I can definitely skip would be appreciated.

Thanks everybody!
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Re: B&W Film
Old 06-09-2006, 04:55 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've always liked Ilford's stuff but A) I don't know if they have film in that format and B) Are they even still making film?
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Re: B&W Film
Old 06-09-2006, 06:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The combinations of B&W film and developers are nearly limitless and give you many different results. The film is only the first part, and unless you're willing to put in a great deal of time (and money) testing film/developer combinations you'll never really know what you like best.

B&W film/developer combinations are highly subjective and personal descisions, akin to choosing a religion. I've tried most combinations of Kodak, Fuji, and Ilford films and developers. Ask 50 B&W enthusiasts and you'll get 56 answers as to what is best.

That being said, I use Kodak TMax 100, rate it at ISO 64, and develop it in Kodak XTOL diluted 1:1. Medium-format negatives are all but grainless up to 16x20 enlargements. If you want something faster I use TMax 400 rated at ISO 250, also developed in XTOL diluted 1:1. It's all but grainless up to 11x14 enlargements.

In general, Kodak TMax 100, Ilford Delta 100, and Fuji Neopan 100 Acros are very-fine-grained films. Other characteristics (such as contrast, linearity, and actual film speed) depend greatly on the developer used to process the film and in some cases how the developer is mixed.

For your application (fine grain, normal contrast) I'd stay away from the older generation of 400 speed films (Kodak Tri-X, Ilford HP5) and any film with an ISO rating above 400. Older generation ISO 125 speed films like Kodak Plus-X and Ilford HP4 have about the same grain as newer 400 speed films like TMax 400, Ilford Delta 400, and Fuji Neopan 400.

-Chip
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Re: B&W Film
Old 06-10-2006, 05:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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David Mecey has done some beautiful stuff with fujis acros100 asa
http://www.davidmecey.com/BW-frame.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by lsleelee
I'm sure this has been covered here before, multiple times, but I came up empty on forum search, so forgive me.

I'm looking for suggestions for a good b&w film for portraits and nudes thats available in 120/220. I want something with fairly low grain that's not too high-contrast.

I'm sure I'll try several so suggestions of the best to try and also any I can definitely skip would be appreciated.

Thanks everybody!
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Re: B&W Film
Old 06-10-2006, 06:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Even though the grain may not be quite as fine, I'm surprised Tri-X 320 wasn't mentioned yet. From what I understand (I haven't used it enough to notice for sure), it's great for people images. You should have great detail and smooth tones in the highlights to midtones.

I don't know what developer you use, but you'd wanna stay away from Rodinal (equivalents, as Rodinal itself isn't around anymore...) if you'll looking for fine grain. What developer do you use?

Sam
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Re: B&W Film
Old 06-10-2006, 06:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I second the suggestion of Kodak TMax 100 (TMX) developed in XTOL. Although I rate mine at ISO 100. I have found that contrast is high with TMX in Rodinal and the grain structure is clearly defined, but much better with XTOL. Some friends of mine swear by Ilford films developed in Perceptol.
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Re: B&W Film
Old 06-10-2006, 07:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamBeasley
Even though the grain may not be quite as fine, I'm surprised Tri-X 320 wasn't mentioned yet. From what I understand (I haven't used it enough to notice for sure), it's great for people images. You should have great detail and smooth tones in the highlights to midtones.

...snip...

Sam
Tri-X is grainier than any of the T-cell emulsion-based films like Acros, TMax, or the Deltas (except for the 3200 ISO stuff). Grain is not necessarily bad, though. You can use it to hide blemishes and other imperfections in someone's skin. Tri-X also has a more pronounced shoulder than the above-mentioned films. You can use that characteristic along with over-exposure and under-development to compress the high values in the image, smoothing out skin tones even more. I wouldn't consider it a fine-grained film though, which is what the original poster was looking for.

-Chip
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Re: B&W Film
Old 06-10-2006, 10:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hey Chip,

Yep, you're right about the grain and all, but I figured since he's looking for good b&w films for portraits, etc., that I'd throw that one out there, since I read from one poster on another forum that he considers it one of the most beautiful b&w films for portraits, and that from just what I knew the 320 was designed for portraits.

I shot some Acros 100 rated at 50 (just a few rolls) for a fashion shoot last week. It's a nice film.

Sam
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