LF film recommendation, switching from 120 APX25 (Rodinal)

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This question is also posted in the photo.net general photography forum. Please ignore the following if you've already read the other post.

Being new to LF, I am looking for suggestions on 4x5 B&W sheet film. I have read through the archive, but did not find answers that really addresses my need (however, please point me to the right threads if I missed them). Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Let me start by stating my experience and what type of film I am looking for in LF. I have been shooting APX25 roll film and processing them in Rodinal. In addition to the fine grain, I find the tonality and contrast of this film pleasing, and I especially like the sharp edge effect of this film/developer combination; although PanF+ offers similar fine grain, I find the contrast less desirable than APX25. I have just switched to LF partially because APX25 has been discontinued. As I shoot with Rollei 600X (shutter speed up to 30 sec can be dialed in), the long exposure needed for the slow speed film + small aperture combination has not been a problem.

With the view camera, I will be shooting landscape (with 75mm/90mm lens?) and studio still-life (210mm lens). I have considered some of the low speed films such as APX100, TMX, FP4 and Delta100, but I start to realize that in combination with small aperture and filters, this will require very long exposure time. In addition, I was never happy with TMX (120 & 135), and I have no experience with the other films.

I hope I have stated my situation thoroughly, so I will start with the questions.

May I assume that grain would not be an issue with some of the 400 speed films since I rarely enlarge beyond 16x20?

More important than grain size, I am looking for a film/developer combination that can best mimic the effect of APX25 developed in Rodinal. Any suggestions?

The labs in my area use T-Max developer (and I suspect this may be the most common developer used by pro labs?), what's your opinion on your suggested film(s) processed in T-Max? I don't mind processing the film myself, but would like to have the option of paying someone else to do it.

Finally, what's your opinion on Polaroid Pos/Neg?

Thank you very much for reading my post and answering my questions; I would be grateful for any suggestions.


-- Song Wang (TheSongster@att.net), January 22, 2001


Grain is not an issue for large format unless you are making mural- sized prints. I always use 400-speed film, and I cannot see the grain, even under a loupe.

Any B&W film will work fine in T-Max developer. I don't like it, though. It costs too much, but is nothing special. You need a fast film, even in bright light, to stop the motion of trees. I like HP-5+. You could try this film in Rodinal or HC-110, to get the sharp-edged effect you like.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), January 23, 2001.

I would suggest Tri-X and PMK over HP5 and any other developer, Tri-X is a whole stop faster than HP5 with just about any developer, and if you don't like Pyro, the HC-110-E works very well. Pat

-- pat krentz (patwandakrentz@aol.com), January 23, 2001.

Hi Song, I use APX25 as my film of choice in 120 roll film. I used to use rodinal but then switched to PMK Pyro - superb results. As far as sheet film is concerned I recommend FP4+ developed in either PMK or better still, Barry Thorntons' "DiXactol" - a truly magical combination. I used to "worry" that APX25 was no longer available in sheet film, but this combination suits me fine. Also, you can still use APX25 with a roll film back for your LF camera as most take this type of accessory. I shoot on 6x9 and 6x12 with such backs. Regards Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), January 23, 2001.

Enlarging to 16x20 is only a 4x magnification or a bit more for cropping. Grain is not really an issue here - usually.

I use HP5+ a lot and FP4+ a little. Develop both in Ilfosol-S, mostly because it's convenient, and looks fine. I'm currently leaning toward the slower film. I'm not convinced that I can point to specifics in an enlargement, but I just feel that the FP4 looks "better". For a long time I worried that exposures got so long with the slower film, but now I just accept that, and I like the occasional motion blur I get in photos.

When life gets hectic -- more and more lately with 1st and 6th grade children -- I get more likely to use Polaroid type 55. The negs can be really very nice, but I have a little higher failure rate from uneven processing or clearing than I do with standard films.

As you might guess from my descriptions, I do most things in photography by feel, not by testing. Here's my list of the variables that contribute to the impact of a photograph.

subject/light subject/light subject/light getting the exposure appropriate film format film type ... add a little space ... film developer Rodenstock vs. Schneider vs. Nikkor

-- mike rosenlof (mike_rosenlof@yahoo.com), January 23, 2001.

Hi Song, I would stick with the Rodinal as you know this developer already and try apx100 in 4x5 it's probably closer than any other film to apx 25. Then if you don't like the results you can try the other films. On a personal note i have used the rodinal and Fp4+ for years with great results. Regards Andy Tymon

-- Andy Tymon (Tyefigh2@aol.com), January 23, 2001.


I'd like to thank everyone for your input. The information provided has been helpful. After reading all the suggestions (both here and on the photo.net forum), I think I would try APX100 and Rodinal first since I already have experience with APX + Rodinal.

To William and Pat, I would go with the ISO100 film first, but if I found faster film more desirable, I will then try TXP or HP5. By the way, does TXP behave similarly to TX? I've had good experience with TX in 35mm format and really enjoyed the tonality of this film.

To Pat and Paul, I have never tried PMK, but after hearing from you, I think I will give it a try after I have mastered the basics of LF.

To Mike, thank you for reminding me that photography is much more than the equipment and medium; after reading the posts on some of the forums (my post included), it does seem that much emphasis was placed on what camera brand, what lens, what film......, and not much on composition, subject matter, expression/mood..........etc.

Finally, to Andy, thank you for pointing out that I do know something about the APX/Rodinal combination, and I agree that this would be a good starting point. However, I am a little worried about Agfa's habit of yanking B&W films.

-- Song Wang (TheSongster@att.net), January 24, 2001.

I don't quite agree with Pat Krentz's statement above: HP5+ will be 2/3 to a full stop faster than Tri-X in most developers. I rate Tri- X at 200 in PMK, and HP5+ at 320-400, following Gordon Hutchings' recommendations in the Book of Pyro. Obviously ratings vary from person to person, but I don't think I've heard anyone say before that TXT was a full stop faster than HP5+.


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), January 24, 2001.

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