Film choice : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have been away from darkroom work for years. Back then it was 35mm, so for B&W non action subjects there was a lot of PanX being shot. Tuesday, my new 4X5 camera is due to arive, and now I need to choose a film to start with (and hopefully grow with). From what I read, with view cameras there is a lot of small apatures and long exposures to be worked with. Since ultimate enlargements won't be that big (mostly 2x-3x possibly some 5x-6x) the slow fine grained film may not be as important. I know there will be a lot of testing and fine tuning to come up with a system to fit my own equipment and style, but I was looking for a good starting point. Are the faster (400) films suitable, or should I be looking at the slower films for mainly landscape and portrait work?----Thanks----JimJ

-- Jim Jasutis (, April 21, 2001


Hi Jim, you should be looking for cheap film. And Freestyle in LA (a mail order place) will sell you 100 shts of 4*5 for $40. Their B&W is under their Arista lable, and it is supposed to be made by Ilford. You will find both 125 or 400, and you are going to have to figure out your own rating any way. I guess it depends upon how large you are going to push your enlargements as for grain considerations. I can only print up to 8*10, and so I figure 400 is fine for me. Agfa APX 100 is also good and reasonably priced. Best of luck, David

-- david clark (, April 21, 2001.

Hey Jim,

This is the kind of question where you are going to get as many answers as there are film. Film and developer choices are pretty much going to be based on the character you want from your prints. My recommendation would be to go get a copy of the "Film Developer Cookbook" and start reading. This should give you a fairly even overview of available films and characteristics. My recommendation would be to try several over the next year or so and figure what works for you. For me, I use FP4+, APX 100, and Fortepan 200. My friends all shoot Tri-X. Get the book.

-- Kevin Kemner (, April 21, 2001.

Jim: You will be getting lots of highly subjective contradictory advice, but your 35mm/Plus X comments prompt me to answer this. I used to use lots of plus-x in 35 mm, and when I returned to the darkroom after a long hiatus and moved up to 4X5 I started with what I knew. I came to dislike my old standby, however. I look back on those early negatives (and the best prints I can make from them) and see lots of shades of grey. There is a plus-x look, and now days I don't like the look. I do like TRI-X, which I develop in HC110 dil- B, 6 min @68 degress ISO 400 on my meter. (Do your own test of film speed. Read a good starting text like the Zone VI Workshop) You can BARELY make out grain in a Tri-x 11X14 print, and only by standing too close to really look at the photograph. Onve you learn the difference between what Plus X and Tri X look like you can see a print and know which is which without much difficulty. I am also using TMAX 100 in d76 1:1 and it has its advantages on long exposures (less reciprocity failure than TRI-X)and it allows expansions and contractions of contrast very well. The TMAX 100 look is different from the Tri-X look. You just have to decide what you like. I have not experience with the Ilford films and lots of people swear by them. If you're going to use something as slow as Plus X you might try TMAX 100 instead, though it rewards the careful darkroom worker. (See the excellent John Sexton article about it on this web site.) The Arista film mentioned in the previous post is relatively inexpensive, and I use it for hand helds with a Crown Graphic with acceptable results.

-- Kevin Crisp (, April 21, 2001.

Jim, The arista 125 film rated at 50-60 gives outstanding results. I develop in pyro at the standard times, unless I get into zone compensation which is another subject. I find that the 100 speed films, even given their recipatory failures, are a great speed to use. Tmax 100 is best developed in D76 or tmax developer. I also use alot of tri-x developed in pyro and like the soft tonal look. I rate all my films at 1/2 the manufactors speed and have gotten better results for it. All the other comments were right on in that you will get a different opinion from everyone. Good luck and keep us posted on the results. Doug

-- Doug Theall (, April 21, 2001.

IN LF ANYTHING!! But everyone has their fave, mine being FP4 Plus at the present. I've just gotten used to it and dev in DiXactol for my landscapes. But I am now going to try Delta films possibly the 400asa version as grain won't be a problem (he says confidently!!). Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, April 22, 2001.

"But I am now going to try Delta films possibly the 400asa version as grain won't be a problem (he says confidently!!). Regards Paul"

Too late - It's been discontinued in sheet sizes..... (and it as my fav :( )

-- Tim Atherton (, April 22, 2001.

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