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35mm B&W film. What's around and good now?

Discussion in 'photo' started by Rockmeister, Jul 3, 2020.

  1. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    I'm way out of touch with current film stock. In 'theolddays' I was Ilford man (HP5 for faster film, FP4 for slower) and liked the fine grain of the FP4 as well as the obvious grain in the HP5...horses for courses. For colour slides it was Kodachrome for vibrant colours, Agfa for portraits and Fuji for landscape.

    I'll not be using colour tho, so would appreciate suggestions for a low ISO grain free B&W film (probably around 100 ISO) and a faster B&W film, at least ISO 400, preferably higher, where some grain is ok. If you do your own processing, then any ideas for developers that are well suited to your suggestions will be great too.
  2. narabdela

    narabdela who?

    I'd stick with Ilford for your film. It still seems to be a firm favourite.
  3. Gromit

    Gromit Plasticine Dog

    If you want as clean a film as possible, I've found the T-Grain ones the best eg Ilford Delta or Kodak TMax. My preference being the Ilford version.

    Just taken delivery of some Ferrania P30 which might be worth looking at too.
  4. Joe P

    Joe P certified Buffologist / mod


    For 400 ISO black and white film my fave is Kodak Tri-X, developed in X-tol... obviously.

    mentalp and Lefty like this.
  5. chartz

    chartz pfm Member

    I've used Ilford FP4 and HP5 films too for more than 20 years, and still available locally.
    Ilfosol 3 developer.

    I did once use Tri-X but it became difficult to find in the end.

    I won't order on the Internet.
  6. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    ^ Since around 1995, I've been a customer of Firstcall Photographic. In '85, I built my first darkroom and learnt a load, but in 95, designing my 2nd, they were invaluable with advice regarding enlargers, longlevity, lens quality and chemical/film/paper matching. Great people, so I'll be shopping there.
    They do HP5 and FP4 at sensible prices, but also Kodak T Max, which I've never used, and the newer Ilford Delta Pro films. Again, never used these.
    Browsing through their shop reminded me I need more than a film tank and a measuring jar! :)
    Wonder how Mrs Rock is going to take the news. Maybe it'd better be a dark bag to start with ;)
  7. hiphopopotamus

    hiphopopotamus pfm Member

    Another vote for Ilford FP4 and HP5 here as well
    Rockmeister likes this.
  8. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    Anyone know the difference between the Ilford Delta Pro films and the older FP4 HP5 series?
  9. The Far North

    The Far North pfm Member

    From Ilford's website

    There's also the C41 (colour process) Ilford XP2 b&w film that a lab like Filmdev will develop & scan cheaply and quickly to get you back in the swing of things.
    narabdela likes this.
  10. PaulMB

    PaulMB pfm Member

    Been using Tri-X, the 320 version for large format and 400 for 6x6 and 35mm. For me it is way better than HP5, but these things are personal preferences. Both films developed in Rodinal or ID-11/D76.
    andrewd and Lefty like this.
  11. Cesare

    Cesare pfm Member

    As has been pointed out, there's old and new grain styles, and the new style is branded 'Delta' by Ilford, and 'Tmax' by Kodak, so that's why they have two of the usual film speeds, giving you the choice between the grains. If you are interested in taking anything with a large amount of sky, the new style grain structure will give you much smoother skies, but if you really want texture to pop from your street scenes, old style grain is probably what you want.

    If you're an Ilford guy in the past, i'd certainly stick with them if I were you, and don't forget PanF as it's great as well!

    Joe has mentioned Xtol, and i'd say that is a very good choice except for the need to mix 5L at a time, which depending on your film use may be a bit too much. If you want a liquid developer, Ilford LC29 works well and you can split a bottle and store half for really quite a long time if you exclude air from it.

    There are some small/cheap makers of 35mm film (Kentmere and Foma) who are probably worth a look, and don't forget you can buy film on bulk reel if getting the cost down is important (or you want to shoot other than 36 frames).
  12. Barrymagrec

    Barrymagrec pfm Member

    Ilford used to increment their film types as they improved them, HP2, HP3 ,HP4 ,HP5.....FP2 ,FP3 ,FP4 but they have been stuck for Forty or Fifty years now, have they stopped development or have they subtly improved them over the years?

    Likewise is todays Kodak Tri-X the same as Victor Blackman used in 1965?
  13. albireo

    albireo pfm Member

    Foma film is great - especially in medium format, where for me by now it completely replaced other brands. Foma 100, 200, 400. All have their place in my photography.

    For 35mm, I really love Agfaphoto APX100. This is not the original APX 100, but another product. See if you can find some at poundland or WH Smith. Here in continental Europe it's sold everywhere.
  14. PaulMB

    PaulMB pfm Member

    How do you find, say, Foma 400 compares to Tri-X? I remember years ago it was said that Foma was good but more prone to scratching when wet. Have you found this to be true?
  15. Gromit

    Gromit Plasticine Dog

    Worth checking out some of the YouTube videos (especially Max from Analogue Insights) where different film stocks are compared.

    I also prefer Tri-X to HP5 - but in Medium Format, HP5 pushed just one stop is quite special. Really brings it to life...

    [​IMG]Steep Hill by Boxertrixter, on Flickr

    Not tried it pushed with 35mm though, but reading around it seems to be a popular way to use HP5.
    andrewd, Rockmeister and Derek Wright like this.
  16. albireo

    albireo pfm Member

    Foma 400 is fine. The one with an extremely delicate emulsion I find is Foma 200. That one there needs to be handled with extreme care. Even agitating the tank too vigorously during fixing or washing risks damaging it. The emulsion needs to be touched as little as possible, or possibly not at all, before drying. No squegee ofc.

    Kodak Alaris Tri-X I find is still a good film, but it's really not the old Kodak product. It's very expensive, and personally I don't find it that special for my photography. Foma 400 has an extended spectral response towards the red, I find its results extremely appealing for landscapes and more 'conceptual' work. Not for people: for people and skin I love Ilford FP4+ - another incredible film in 120.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
    Gromit and eternumviti like this.
  17. PaulMB

    PaulMB pfm Member

    Thanks! Maybe I'll get a box of 4x5 Forma 400 next time, instead of 320 Tri-X given its rocketing price.
    albireo likes this.
  18. Derek Wright

    Derek Wright pfm Member

    The picture "Steep Hill" gave me quite a shock, I recognised it before seeing the title. I do not think I would be able to get to the top now.
    Gromit likes this.
  19. Stunsworth

    Stunsworth pfm Member

    Back when I was shooting film (it's been a while) my two stock films were Ilford FP4 and Kodak Tri-X. I preferred the look of Tri-X over HP5, but I'd use the Ilford film if I couldn't get hold of the Kodak.

    I also tried a few rolls of Fuji Acros, and liked it, but preferred FP4.

    I never really got on with the T grain films such as Ilford's Delta range and Kodak's T-Max.

    This was all home developed, usually in Xtol diluted 1:3.
  20. lazyscott1

    lazyscott1 pfm Member

    I remember running up Steep Hill on several occasions when i was in my 20’s
    Nice picture by the way!

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