B&W film for LF landscapes

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I have been using Fuji Velvia with my 35 and 4X5 for some time for landscapes. I would like to try some black and white photography but am not familiar with the numerous B&W films available. Does anyone have suggestions on a sharp B&W film available in 4X5 sheet film? I would like to try both low and high contrast films as well.

-- Lester Moore (Les4moore@aol.com), April 22, 1999


The sharpest B&W film (in terms of resolution) in 4x5 is Kodak Tech Pan at 300+ lpm, but even the least sharp film at around 100 lpm (e.g. APX 400) exceeds the resolution of LF lenses. My personal choices are Ilford FP4+ and HP5+, in part because with the developer I use (PMK) I can control the contrast over about six grades and in part because I like the tonal results.

In practice, most people probably choose 4x5 B&W films for their "look" rather than their sharpness, and this is very much a matter of personal taste. tonal

-- John Lehman (ffjal@uaf.edu), April 22, 1999.

I've been using Agfa 100 developed in Rodinal 1:50 for over ten years. I believe it is more important to get to know a film-developer combination than to change every three weeks based on a magazine article. Start by choosing a film speed that will give you shutter speed-aperture combinations that seem to work for you in your most commom lighting situations. Then shoot... lots, and print... carefully. I am a zone system person but there are lots of ways to make images.

-- Eric Brody (ebrody@earthlink.net), April 23, 1999.

If you've been working with transparency film, you may find the switch to B&W awkward because of the negative vs positive that you're used to. One way to try some black and white is to use Agfa's Scala. Scala is a positive film, and so you still have a transparency to look at.

The film is rated at ISO 200, but I was told by the folks at Duggal to expose the 4x5 film at 50 for starters, and then adjust. I now expose it at ISO 80.

It's a bit grainy compared to Velvia, and it has no more latitude than any other transparency film (about 5 stops). But I like its look.

You can make prints from this film on Ilfochrome or Fuji Crystal Archive or have it scanned and make Iris or even inkjet prints.

The downside is that you may not be able to find anyone near you who can process it. I still send all of mine back to Duggal in NYC. A pain, yes. Another downside - it does not come in ready load or quick load holders. Slow and heavy - a bit like me these days!

Best of luck, Bruce

-- Bruce M. Herman (bherman@arctic.net), April 23, 1999.

Tri-X (yes)!!! Sheet film emulsion has a nominal rating of 320.(I usually expose @200). Develop in D-76 (or HC-110). Try it to Believe it

-- C Matter (cmatter@riag.com), April 23, 1999.

I would agree with Eric. Pick something which suits your conditions, then stick to it. Learning the behaviors and idiosynchrasies of a film/developer combination is much more important than which film and developer one uses.

I use Plus-X and T-Max and D-76, believe it or not. I started using Plus-X because it's what Ansel Adams used a lot. Now I use it because I know how it works.

-- Chad Jarvis (chad_jarvis@yahoo.com), April 23, 1999.

I have been using Ilford Delta 100 for my B&W work which is mostly landscape and architecture subjects. The Delta 100 suits me since it is available in 35mm, 120 and 4x5 sheet, one film on all platforms. Since I have a day job and a house full of kids, I rely on a pro lab for development. The Delta 100 has given me very consistent results in all film sizes. I have also used Plus-X, T-Max100, and FP-4 but like the Delta 100 for the very smooth tonal quality. Sharpness, as has been pointed out above, is generally very good with any of these films.

-- Dave Schneider (dschneider@arjaynet.com), April 23, 1999.

Tri-x @ 200 to 320 and plus-X @ 90 to 100 in Tmax RS for n and n+, and perceptol for huge contractions. Tech pan in technidol. good luck!

-- Trib (linhof6@hotmail.com), April 23, 1999.

My preference: Delta 100 (tripod) and 400 (hand-held), in Paterson FX39. I fully agree that it is better to get to know one film/dev combination than to search for the elusive perfection.

-- Alan Gibson (Alan.Gibson@technologist.com), April 23, 1999.

I like Illford XP2 for my 4x5. I shoot color negatives and B&W, so it is nice to be able to mix the two films for processing. The tonality of XP2 is smooth, with great shadow detail. Expose it at 200. It is not as sharp as coventional films, but gradation is more important.

-- William Marderness (wmardern@ic.sunysb.edu), April 23, 1999.

Chemistry and film combinations can be quite a tail chasing.Many folks become rutted in the mechanical aspects of photography and loose sight of the final product--the image.I fell into such a diversion for two years and experimented with every film and developer concoction I could concieve.The end result was a lot of test strips and empty bottles.When I look at my work from the spectrum of time produced,its the feeling of the image that holds my interest and not that it was xyz.All films and papers get you to where your going if you have vision to create.The rest of the nonsense is only tabloid hype--work-work-work.

-- paul mcdonald (paulcmcd@hotmail.com), June 24, 1999.

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