Amatuer Film Choice? : LUSENET : Black_and_White_Photography : One Thread

Hi, I just bought a used 35mm Canon AE1. I would like advice on a general purpose B&W film that will also be fairly easy to develop(I would prefer US company like KODAK). I haven't developed film since high school. I would like to get back into it cheaply. I do not plan on enlarging pictures above 8x10, but I would love a reat deal of detail to be available. Any advice on equipment to by for a small darkroom would also be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 1997


amatuer film choice

As you may have noticed in parts of this forum that Kodak TMax film is very popular, and for good reason. However it is also very sensitive to developer temperature, development time and agitation and you have to be fairly exact with these criteria to get consistent results. Ilford Delta films are generally considered to be quite similiar to TMax and much more forgiving when developing. The new AGFA films are also receiving great reviews but I'm not sure how hard they are to develop. I guess the problem for you is that neither Ilford nor AGFA are American. As for darkroom equipment my best advice is to buy used. Have a look in your local classifieds or 'buy and sell', you'd be surprised at how many complete darkrooms are being sold for low prices.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 1997

Thank you

Thank you for your reply.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 1997

RE: amateur film choiche ?

If you are returning to develop your films after years of inactivity, my suggestion is to be aware about using the old, dear materials you were used to process.

Technology evolves, and the decision to keep woking with "old style" materials makes sense only for professional or amateurs that tuned their process so well that the change would be unsatisfying for quite a long time.

So, don't be afraid and use a modern film and a modern developer. The film should be - in my opinion - a T-Grain Technology film. Two main families are available:

ILFORD DELTA (100 & 400 ASA) KODAK T-MAX (100 & 400 ASA, + 3200 ASA).

Ilford is more resistent to mistreating, but Kodak is better (so, my advice is to go with the Kodak: it isn't too difficult to be precise and consistent, after all!).

For the developer I strongly recommend XTOL. You can find accurate on-line documentation on, with detailed tables about developing times for different films, contrast and temperatures. The results at 1:2 and 1:3 dilution are GREAT.

Choose a STRONG sodium thyosulfate fixer like ILFORD HYPAM, and fix for twice the recommended time. Use an acid stop bath in between.

In choosing the development time remember that, if you use an external lab for printing your B&W photos, it will probably be using a diffused light enlarger, so you can develop using "normal" contrast times. However if you intend to print on your own with a condenser enlarger (or if the service has a condenser enlarger), develop for contrast 20% lesser than normal.

Regarding the equipment, my suggestion is to try the used equipment market.

Good Luck.


-- Anonymous, July 23, 1997

Tmax and Delta films

Whenever I see a strong statement that one product is better than another I am always curious to know the reason. I would be interested to hear your reasons for favouring Tmax over Delta films and your experiences with them. I have used both and don't see any noticeable differences with the 35mm film, but perhaps I am not being critical enough.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 1997

RE: personal opinions on DELTA and T-MAX

OK Andy, you are perfectly right.

In exposing my judgement over T-MAX and Delta films I cut a long story a litte too short. I am sorry. I am perfectly aware that - in photography - "universal recipes" don't exist at all, but I preferred to give Michael a clear suggestion instead of some foggy hints; after all, when someone asks for a starting point, direct suggestions are often welcome...

Now, on to my opinions. I was in search for a "standard" film-developer combination, and tried ILFORD DELTA 100 against KODAK T-MAX 100 in 35 mm format; I choose to test them using KODAK HC-110 and AGFA RODINAL at 20 0C (this is because I prefer a liquid developer and want to run my process at "normal" temperature).

At first, I obtained the best overall results from ILFORD DELTA, in terms of contrast, grain and density control. I had particular problems in controlling highlight densities in T-MAX film, and incurred in too dense, contrasty and grainy negatives.

This kind of results didn't match the general opinion about KODAK T-MAX, so I decided to investigate further. My real problem was probably determined by the huge speed in building density during the development shown by T-MAX film.

After 10 rolls of sensitivity tests I managed to tune-up my process, and compared again T-MAX and DELTA results. What I saw (or what I believed to see) was a better tonal range for T-MAX 100 film, a clearer substrate, a better micro-contrast and acutance of the image. Even the grain returned at levels directly comparable to that offered by DELTA film. The differences were not great, both fims showed magnificent results; but IN MY OPINION, T-MAX 100 film was definitely the winner of this private contest.

For the sake of correctness, I should have given a second chance to ILFORD DELTA, that probably deserved an investigation as accurate as that I granted to T-MAX. I am guilty, I didn't run further tests! This apparently nonsense decision was determined by the fact that - at the time - DELTA films weren't available in 120 format (at least in Italy). Since I own a Mamiya 645 camera, the fact was decisive: the possibilty of sharing the same (or almost the same) film-developer combination between the two formats was unvaluable to me.

So, in the answer I gave Michael I reported a personal preference. I didn't predend to indicate an universal truth, and I beg your pardon if this emerges from my reply (perhaps it is because english is not my native language !).

However, I think that both DELTA and T-MAX are very good products; a beginner can use with success both materials but, FROM MY POINT OF VIEW, T-MAX is better.

I would be pleased to hear your experiences with DELTA; maybe I will change my mind about it !

hear you soon


P.S.: By the way, I don't use HC-110 any more, thanks to B&W World Forum. Now I develop with XTOL 1+2 or 1+3 (yes, I know, it is a powder developer, but it is REALLY easy to mix!). Since I did run only tests with TMX and TMY films, I wonder what is the behaviour of ILFORD DELTA films with this brand new soup ! Can you help ?

-- Anonymous, July 24, 1997

Thank You

Thank you for your timely reply.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 1997

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