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120 film
Old 04-15-2006, 06:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Ok I bought a MF camera today and would like to know what is good film to take pictures with? I will be using it for portrait type work, non pro type work to get a feel for MF. It will work with 120 film so I will take any recomendations and buy a few and go from there. Hope to post some images soon! And thanks for all the help on the lighting decision!
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Re: 120 film
Old 04-15-2006, 06:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This could vary widely depending on what you're looking to do, but I like Kodak's Portra 160 VC. Nice tones and colors with that film.

Which medium-format camera did you get?

Sam
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Re: 120 film
Old 04-15-2006, 07:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I ended up with a Meopta Flexaret 7 TLR. I looked all over for what to buy and the ones people say to get end up so overpriced I couldnt afford to buy one. I found this that is in mint with tons of accessories and well for the price I could not pass it up, to get my feet wet ya know.
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Re: 120 film
Old 04-15-2006, 09:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I shoot Kodak Portra 160 NC and VC, the VC produces a bit more saturated colors. For B/W work Tri-X Pan or TMax is my chioce. Good luck with the new camera.

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Re: 120 film
Old 04-15-2006, 09:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I shoot Velvia 100F for outdoor stuff, but mainly shoot B&W using TMAX 100 and 400. You can find some great deal on film, just make sure it is fresh. I recently picked up 150 rolls of Velvia for less than $2/roll.

Cheers...


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Re: 120 film
Old 04-15-2006, 11:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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There are a lot of good choices. I'll give you some thoughts based upon my actual use.

Color negative film:

The Kodak Portra and Ultra series of films are nice because they are all balanced the same. That is, the film base and dyes are identical across the line. This makes it rediculously easy for a professional lab to color balance all of your film and give you identical results from ASA 100 all the way up to ASA 800. Portra NC (normal contrast) gives you very smooth skin tones and colors. Portra VC gives you more saturated colors and the Ultra films give you very punchy color.

Fuji has a similar set of films in their Pro 160S (normal contrast and colors) 160C (higher contrast and color) 400H (similar to 160S) and 800Z. The Fuji films are nice if you're shooting in mixed lighting that includes flourescent lights. The Fuji films have a 4th. color layer that neutralizes (to some extent) the green cast caused by flourescent lighting, making it easier to color balance under those conditions.

Color transparency film:

Fuji transparency film kicks butt in my opinion. Astia has the lowest contrast and color saturation. It has 1/2 stop more latitude than any other transparency film I've used. It used to be my favorite chrome film, but they reformulated it about three years ago and I personally think it's a little too green now. Provia is next up the chain in terms of contrast and color. Provia 100F is my color film of choice. It's got great color and man is it sharp. Skin tones are great too. Finally, there's Velvia - uber contrast and color. Not what you want to use for photographing people, but it just drips with intense, saturated color.

I haven't used most Kodak transparency products in quite some time. The exception is Kodak Ektachrome 100 VS. I use it when I want to cross-process E-6 film in C-41 chemistry (great for wild, false colors). I prefer this film to any other when employing this technique because I like the colors I get better. Purely a personal preference.

B&W film:

B&W is tough because your results are influenced by your choice of developer. There are so many film-and-developer combinations that you could spend a couple of years just testing everything. My personal opinion here is that you need to do your own developing (and be religious about process control) or find a professional-caliber lab that will work closely with you to help you get yourself dialed in.

B&W is a very personal choice. I spent a couple of years doing said testing and settled on T-MAX films developed with XTOL in a rotary processor. I've used this combination for so long that I know it inside-out and backwards. I'm not taking anything away from the Ilford, Fuji, or other Kodak products. There are some remarkable B&W films available now, more in fact than there was 20 years ago.

If you're into infrared photography, try the Macophot 820 Aura in medium format. Put a Wratten #29, #89B, or Hoya R72 filter on your lens and go have some fun.

Regarding the question of just trying out some different film to get a feel for "non-pro portraiture": If you know the whereabouts of a good, professional color lab than don't be afraid to shoot a couple of different color negative films. Just make sure that the lab really knows how to print each emulsion. Some labs might only specialize in Kodak, for instance (or vice versa). If you bring them a roll of Fuji Pro 160S they may warn you that it's not their forte. They'll try mightily to correctly balance it, but won't guarrantee that the results will be as good as what they're used to dealing with. Assuming you can find a good lab, I'd recommend shooting the same subject with a roll of Kodak Portra 160NC, 160VC, Fuji Pro 160S, and 160C. Then just see which one you like best.

If you can't find a good lab in your area, I'd shoot chromes instead. You won't have as much exposure latitude, but you also don't run the risk of a lab goofing up color balance on different emulsions. E-6 is E-6 is E-6. Again, try a few different emulsions. As I said, my personal favorite is Fuji Provia 100F, but try a roll of Fuji Astia 100F and a couple of the Ektachromes and decide for yourself.

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Re: 120 film
Old 04-15-2006, 11:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Whatever you use don't be one of those that buys fuji film and process's it in kodak chemistry or use kodak portra film and process it in fuji chemistry.

Fujifilm is designed for Fuji chemistry

Kodak film is designed for Kodak chemistry

Chip pretty much says it all
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Re: 120 film
Old 04-18-2006, 07:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Ok, I am looking at getting some film finally, thanks for all the help. Is it worth getting sweet deals on expired film all still in the box, or is it better to just spend the money and buy new? I am so looking forward to the square pictures I cant sit still!
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Re: 120 film
Old 04-18-2006, 08:42 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I can't help you with the expired vs. new film (I've only ever bought new film, although I'm sure some of my "new" film is expired by now ), but I just wanted to say you'll have fun with your TLR. I've got a Seagull TLR, and although I haven't used it much lately, it was always a lot of fun to play with. I really like the square format, too. Maybe one day I can afford a 6x6 Hasselblad before I die.
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Re: 120 film
Old 04-18-2006, 10:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrwhite
Ok, I am looking at getting some film finally, thanks for all the help. Is it worth getting sweet deals on expired film all still in the box, or is it better to just spend the money and buy new? I am so looking forward to the square pictures I cant sit still!
It depends upon how the film was stored. All professional color films should be kept refrigerated until used. Doing so keeps the color dyes stable. Color dyes decay over time. How quickly and by how much depends largely on time and temperature. Film stored in a warm environment deteriorates more quickly than film that is stored in a cool environment. Old film may also exhibit decay, though not necessarily. Deteriorated color dyes manifest themselves as weird color shifts or uneven colors.

In general, I wouldn't recommend buying expired film, especially the first time out. You're only saving a few dollars, and if you get funky colors you'll never know if it's something you did or if it was the film. But if you can verify that the expired film you're buying has been kept under refrigeration, then you're most likely going to be ok, especially if it's only a couple of months out of date.

Most B&W film doesn't really expire, though it may fog after a while. You just need to make sure that the minimum density (Film base + fog) doesn't get too high. I have some B&W 4"x5" sheet film (refrigerated) that's about a decade out of date and it still performs reliably. The exceptions are B&W film designed to be processed in C-41 chemistry (Ilford XP2 and Kodak BW400CN). The resulting negative is ultimately formed by dyes instead of silver halide crystals. Infrared film is especially susceptible to heat because of dyes that are used to make the emulsion sensitive to the infrared part of the spectrum and thus needs refrigeration.

-Chip
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