Ping: Jim Kramer (film topic)

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Harry Lockwood, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. Some time back I said that I would do an extensive comparison of Ilford
    XP2 and Kodak BW400CN, both C41 B&W films. That turns out to be a
    formidable task, so I'm going to renege, at least for now. I simply
    don't have the time to do an adequate job.

    But I can say this, after just finishing another roll of the Kodak (my
    usual film is XP2): They both scan well in my workflow. I scan (Nikon
    4000ED) in RGB, convert to Lab, discard the a and b channels and convert
    to gray scale. There are more complex workflows, mostly derived from
    converting color negatives, but this one works quite well for me. (More

    I seem to have more misses on exposure with the Kodak than with the
    Ilford. In fact, exposure errors with XP2 with my M7 are relatively
    rare. This leads me to believe (with insufficient evidence to be
    certain) that the exposure latitude of the XP2 is greater.

    With limited data (again) I would suggest that tonality seems to be
    smoother with the XP2. But this may reflect more the need for a true
    A-B comparison, so I'm soft on this conclusion.

    Net, net, however, I'm going to stick with XP2.

    Returning to the question of RGB-Grayscale conversion, why not start
    with color negatives? PS/CS3 has a neat conversion option, and there
    are several plugins that claim to enhance tonality control in the
    conversion process. I've looked at them, and I'm intrigued.

    I would like to pursue this option, but I have precious little
    experience with color film. So, I'm looking for suggestions from the
    group. My strong preference is for a fast film, say, ISO ~400, with
    good latitude and good "grain" structure. Since this is a path to B&W
    only, color fidelity is (I think) irrelevant. My final output is a B&W

    Thanks for any suggestions.

    Harry Lockwood, Oct 29, 2008
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  2. The obvious thing to try is a roll of Portra 400NC for the best
    latitude at ISO 400.
    If you're willing to go a little slower, Portra 160NC will give you
    less grain and is
    what I usually shoot. The new new Ektar 100 should have still less
    grain according
    to Kodak but probably has less latitude than Portra NC. I haven't
    tried it yet.

    Portra VC films have more contrast with less latitude than NC. Any of
    them are
    better than the Kodak consumer films. Since you probably won't care
    a little color shift you won't even have to compete with your
    significant other for
    refrigerator space.
    Bob Kirkpatrick, Oct 29, 2008
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  3. Harry Lockwood

    jimkramer Guest

    Sometimes all the time in the world isn't enough. :)
    I'm using the 5000ED - close enough. Interesting work flow I'll need to see
    if I like it better. Usually I'll scan straight to grayscale and fiddle
    with the contrast and levels until I like what I see then hit it with some
    USM to sharpen or add effects. Sometimes I'll scan in color and work with
    the red or green channels or mix them up. Some times multiplying part of
    the blue lends drama.
    I would say that's odd, but I think Tony P. concluded that XP2 had more
    latitude as well.
    I've gone the other way...
    If you are happy with what you get, that's what matters. I still like to
    play with something different on occasion. :)
    I still have CS2 and am unlikely to upgrade until 5 or 6.

    If you want tonality control you are pretty much forced into an HDR
    solution. Scan the film above, at and below a "proper" exposure and use
    software to combine the images into a finished image. For some stunning
    work have a look at almost anything by Alan Young on the fredmiranda black &
    white vision forum
    One of his posts gave a link to his website and an exhaustive explanation on
    how to emulate the effects.

    Nix Silver Effects is the other software plug-in for PS that many people
    seem taken with.

    Personally I have trouble going from color images to B&W, I don't know if it
    is just a mental block or the sense of loss. :) I am much happier with B&W
    film images or even the in-camera digital B&W options.
    I suspect any old color negative film would do if you are willing to fiddle
    with the post processing until it looks the way you want it to look. :)

    jimkramer, Oct 29, 2008
  4. Thanks, Bob, I'll look into the Portra 400NC and report back, eventually.

    Harry Lockwood, Oct 29, 2008
  5. Thanks for the input, Jim. I'll see what's available in my local shop,
    especially the Portra 400CN recommended by Bob Kirkpatrick.

    Harry Lockwood, Oct 29, 2008
  6. Harry Lockwood

    Bruce Guest

    Without in any way disagreeing with Bob, I suggest you might also like
    to try Fujicolor Pro 400H which has slightly lower contrast and
    therefore greater latitude than Portra 400NC.

    There is also Fujicolor Pro 160S which (not surprisingly) also has
    lower contrast and greater latitude than Portra 160NC. But in the
    scheme of things, the differences are relatively small.

    Coming back to chromogenic black and white film, XP2 Super has at
    least a stop more latitude than Kodak BW400CN. Despite that, I
    strongly prefer the Kodak emulsion because of its ultra-fine grain and
    excellent resolution.

    I agree with Bob that Ektar 100 would also be a very good choice, if
    you can live with the slower ISO speed. Having said that, most people
    expose Portra 160NC and Fujicolor Pro 160S at ISO 100, but I can
    understand why you would choose an ISO 400 film as a starting point.

    If we all buy enough Ektar 100, perhaps we can persuade Kodak to
    produce an ISO 400 version. ;-)
    Bruce, Oct 29, 2008
  7. Thanks, Bruce, I'll add your recommendations to the accumulating arsenal.
    Your comments about BW400CN suggest I should go back and have another
    look. As usual, one-size-fits-all can be a costly compromise.
    And not to provoke a backlash, but when one looks at all these choices,
    it's hard to subscribe to the "film is dead" mantra.

    Harry Lockwood, Oct 30, 2008
  8. Harry Lockwood

    Noons Guest

    Harry Lockwood wrote,on my timestamp of 30/10/2008 2:02 AM:

    Noticed that as well, particularly with anything
    like reflexions on metal.
    Same here. bwc400n scans with a little
    less grain for me, but I can correct that easy.

    There are some folks in rangefinderforum showing good
    results with Reala developed in b&w developer,
    of all things!
    Noons, Oct 30, 2008
  9. Harry Lockwood

    Bruce Guest

    I accept that film is a niche market. For the mass market of the
    developed world, digital is king, but there will always be a strong
    niche market among discerning photographers.

    Black and white film sales are rising. Sales of film (of all kinds)
    to professional photographers are rising. Film is very much alive.
    Bruce, Oct 30, 2008
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