Large Format Black and White Sheet Films : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am in the process of expanding into 4x5. However, my two favorite black and white films are not available in sheet sizes, Ilford Pan F + and Verichrome Pan. I want to continue developing in D-76, and I'm not interested in the new "T-grain" films, Tmax, Delta, et. al. Is FP4 similar to Pan F or Verichrome? What other films could it be compared to? Any recommendations for other films to try? Is Plus-X similar to these films? Thanks for your suggestions.

-- Erik Asgeirsson (, December 30, 2000


Every film/developer combination produces its own tonality. This is a fairly subjective judgment, and you'll need to make your own tests. Also, since local contrast depends quite a lot on degree of enlargement, even within the same emulsion type, you might find that your film preferences vary with format, though personally I like the advantages that come from using one or two different films for most work in all formats.

Do you want a traditional film because you like the look of traditional films, or because you want to use D-76? If the former, stick with a traditional film, but if the latter, bear in mind that T-Max was tested with D-76, and it produces a slightly more traditional "S" curve than T-Max developers, which produce a very straight curve with T-Max films.

You might get some idea, by looking at the Technical Data sheets on the Kodak and Ilford websites and comparing the characteristic curves for each film. Your own curves might be different if you plot them, and these things can vary with choice of developer, agitation pattern, developer dilution, time and temperature, etc., but the "official" results give you a starting point for comparison.

-- David Goldfarb (, December 31, 2000.

Erik, welcome to LF photography.

Chances are that you use Pan F because of its fine grain ( in MF I use this film alot because it gives me a rich negative to work from). You may want to try FP4 in LF. It gives me similar qualities to Pan-F.

In LF, because of small aperature use, there is a tendency to move towards faster films; grain is not so much a concern.

-- Dave Anton (, December 31, 2000.

Erik...I wrestled with the T-Max films for a while. The experience caused me to re-think, and appreciate even more, the forgiving qualities of Kodak's Plus-X Pan and Tri-X Pan. Developed in D-76, it's about as basic as you can get and the results are wonderful.

The Kodak films do cost a little more than some brands, but they are worth more.

-- Dave Richhart (, December 31, 2000.

you can see Erik, film is a personal thing and works a little differently for everyone. My suggestion is to buy THE BOOK OF PYRO by Gordon Hutches. After using pyro and D-76 compare the differences and choose for yourself. Pyro is a wonderful developer and used with Delta 100 4X5 film will give you excellent results using the zone system.

Good luck

-- Steve Gilb (, December 31, 2000.

There's really nothing wrong with the new "T-grain" films, you might like them. There are four or five easily available slow films in 4x5: FP4+ and Delta 100 from Ilford, Plus-X Tmax 100 from Kodak, and I think APX 100 from Agfa is available in sheets. Any of these films should do quite well in D-76. For any of these films you'll find some people who love them, and some who hate them.

I happen to think FP4 is very good. I develop in Ilfosol 1:14 for what that's worth. I'm not a zone system photographer, but I do believe the zone system boils down to good advice "don't underexpose or overdevelop".

One more slow film worth mentioning is Polaroid type 55. Rate it at about 25 to 40 for a good neg. The T-55 negatives are very nice, and you can check focus, exposure, subject movement, etc. within a minute or two of exposure.

-- mike rosenlof (, January 02, 2001.

Though I haven't tried it, Ektapan has some similarities to Verichrome Pan in it's formulation, and Anchell & Troop recommend it in their book. It's pricier than other Kodak B&W films, though.

Check out Freestyle's 125 & 400 speed films: they are reportedly private label versions of FP4+ & HP5+ at lower prices.

By the way, you may find yourself wanting a higher speed film at times. While your slower films are nice in smaller formats, with 4x5 you don't have lenses with apertures as wide, and you'll need to be concerned with camera movement more (if shooting outside in the wind). Thus the need for high film speed at times. Since you have a much larger negative area, gradation doesn't suffer to the extent it might with smaller formats.

-- Charlie Strack (, January 02, 2001.

I used to LOVE Ektapan (still have a coveted several boxes) but I hear Kodak is dropping this one also... Another great film bites the dust!!!

-- Scott Walton (, January 02, 2001.

I use Agfa APX 100 sheet film and love it. I started using it in 120 rolls, and it's now the only B&W film I use, regardless of format.

-- Joel Collins (, January 02, 2001.

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