B&W FILM PROCESSING 02

PART 2 OF 5

Film stock choice.

There are not as many film choices as there used to be, but the main ones haven’t changed for years. I will just discuss the 3 main choices as I see it. If you decide to choose one of the many new start-up film types you should go through the same processes, for the sake of this article I will discuss only my choices.

Your choice of film should be based on your personal preference and not based on what others say that they are for.

Kodak TRI-X 400

Kodak’s Tri-X is the film the great photographers love. Anton Corbijn, Don McCullin and Sebastião Salgado tell Bryan Appleyard why.

Ilford HP5

This was and still is Kodak’s main competitor in the field. Although: I have not found it to be as effective as the Kodak TRI-X 400 in all areas.

Ilford FP4

This is a medium speed film, which can produce very fine grain and good highlights. However, it has more contrast than either TRI-X or HP5 and will need more careful processing, exposure and you will also need to have better shooting habits to maintain sharpness. I personally only used it with a tripod or when the lens was wide open and only in 120 format.

Chemistry (Developer)

For the purpose of this article I would recommend starting with a standard developer such as Kodak D-76 for roll film; Kodak HC-110 for sheet film.

Stock solutions change characteristics much faster than developer concentrates diluted just before use. I know Kodak used to recommend D-76 straight with TRI-X but I always got very good results with it diluted 1:2 (1 part concentrate and 2 parts water).

There are many specialised developers that have different characteristics. One such developer is Rodinal which is a high acutance developer. I would recommend not using them until you are comfortable with the results from the standard developer. My experience with Rodinal is that it can enhance the appearance of grain and sharpness of the final image. It can also be used as a compensating developer (a developer that exhausts itself very quickly in high activity areas of film such as highlights and yet keeps developing in the shadow areas where there is less activity, resulting in greater density and contrast in the shadow areas.) depending on dilution, giving a longer tonal scale. You will have to go through the same process as with D-76 and then make your own mind up.

Part 01

Part 03

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