Tag Archives: black & white

Inspiring Interpretation and Imitation

Recently in one of the many film photography groups, I’m a member of on Facebook a group admin, Reg Pritchard, put forward a challenge to interpret and imitate a famous photographer. Thankfully the photographer was not one that I knew, Robert Doisneau. Robert roamed the streets of Paris with his Leica during the 1930s, and if credited as being a pioneer, like many contemporaries, in the field of humanist photography and photojournalism. Thankfully Reg posted several examples of Robert’s work from which we could draw inspiration.


Paris Boulevard Brune Whole Family on AJS Motorcycle – Robert Doisneau, 1953

Doisneau’s photograph of a large family on a single motorbike caught my attention because that one person was looking right at the camera, there was a little touch of interaction between the subject and the photographer. It certainly is an aspect of street photography that I tend to look for, a silent confirmation that I was taking their photo. I jumped and started looking through my rather extensive collection of photographs I have online. Settling on these six.

Toronto - Dec 30th, 2015
Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Planar 2/45 T* – Eastman Double-X 5222 @ ASA-200 – Kodak DK-50 (1+1) 6:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Fall '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – JCH Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

Toronto - July 2015
Nikon FG – AI Nikkor 135mm 1:2.8 – Eastman Double-X 5222 @ ASA-250 – PMK Pyro (1+1+100) 15:00 @ 20C

Toronto - July 2015
Nikon FG – AI Nikkor 135mm 1:2.8 – Eastman Double-X 5222 @ ASA-250 – PMK Pyro (1+1+100) 15:00 @ 20C

The Streets of Brussels
Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Planar 2/45 T* – Kodak Plus-X 125 @ ASA-125 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 7:30 @ 20C

Toronto - July 1st
Leica IIIc – Leitz Summitar f=5cm 1:2 – Kodak Plus-X 125 @ ASA-125 – HC-110 (Dil. B) 5:00 @ 20C

While it’s important to develop your own eye and style, sometimes it’s good to look at the styles of other photographers and see if you draw your inspiration from them and even sometimes duplicate them.

Film Review – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400

So I’ve managed to shoot through my brick of JCH Streetpan 400 film and feel I’m good to begin writing an in-depth review of the film. I’m going to start off with saying that this is a fantastic film! Well worth the time and effort that Bellamy has put into researching, marketing, and tweaking to suit his amazing photography and now has taken the bold step in bringing it to the rest of us. You will have probably heard a lot of negative press related to this film, even recently someone put a comment on one of my Streetpan images to a video review of the film that stated that it was an old Agfa stock that Bellamy found a core roll of and just spooled and repacked. Well, I just can’t believe that, because the film edges are branded, and there’s a current expiry date on them, and from all my interactions with Bellamy, he’s not to type to pull the wool over the eyes of thousands. I’m glad I went ahead and invested in this film early. These days we hear too much about film stocks cut, but 2016 has been a great year for film, Rollei, Kodak, and Ilford all holding steady with their commitments to maintain traditional stocks, and the continued promise of Ferrania pulling out a new E-6 film. Streetpan, it was a bonus, an excellent bonus!

Product Highlights

  • Type: B&W Panchromatic up to 750nm
  • Base: Polyester (0.10 mm)
  • Film Speed: ASA-400
  • Formats Available: 35mm

So now that we’ve gotten the dirt taken care of let’s dig in. I decided to approach this review a little differently that my other reviews have been because it’s a film, not a camera it changes depending on how you develop it. Using my trusty Nikon F5 to make sure the film was being exposed with the same meter with every roll I set about using the developers I had access to and the times listed on the box.

Kodak HC-110
My first experience with Streetpan 400 was under cloudy conditions and developed in HC-110 Dil. B. I was hooked right off the bat with this combo. The contrast is dead on, the extended red sensitivity shows up by cutting through the haze that was 5000% humidity. For a 400 speed film paired with HC-110, the grain looks like something from a 100 or 200-speed film even when scanned. What makes this combo shine is the contrast, not too harsh, not too soft. You have blacks and white complete with mid tones across the spectrum.

TFSM - Summer '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Summer '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Summer '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

Kodak Xtol
Now I’m a big fan of Xtol as a developer, but in this case, it wasn’t that good of a chemical to use with Streetpan. It made the images look soft, and not in a good way. The shots I took were on a dull day that was humid, but my lens was often working in the f/5.6 to f/8 range, and since it’s the same 105mm f/2D it should be sharp. But the edges appear soft. I actually had a bit of a scare when I first pulled the film out of the tank, I thought that I had over developed it, but once I got it in the scanner I realized I hadn’t. Development was again spot on with little adjustment needed in Photoshop with the levels/curves. The tone was excellent, with great blacks and whites with stable mid-tones. There was also no real difference in grain, it wasn’t any finer, compared to HC-110. Xtol would not be my first choice however for this film.

Reflection
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C

The Brush Past
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C

An Entertaining Conversation
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C

Ilford Perceptol
Now these are the results from Streetpan that I have come to expect from the film. Clean, fine grain, sharp and the contrast point is dead on. The only trouble was that the negatives were a bit dark and needed some heavy adjustments in Photoshop to pull up the images. So I would say that either an additional 30 seconds in the developer or a slight pull to say ASA-320 would be enough to produce a cleaner negative. But overall Perceptol is another winner for developing this film to give the best results.

TFSM - Fall '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Fall '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Fall '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

Ilford Ilfosol 3
Ilfosol 3 was one of the first developers outside of D-76 that I worked with so it remains a bit of a soft spot for me. And for Streetpan it does a fine job, despite me shooting the film in less-than-ideal conditions. The grain is acceptable but noticeable more than other developers, and the film shows off the tonality that it can produce. While Ilfosol 3 wouldn’t be my first choice for developing the film if it’s all you got, you’ll create some fantastic images! As for the time, I might opt to bump it up 30 seconds, but I’d have to test it out under better conditions.

Bending Light
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Ilfosol 3 (1+3) 5:00 @ 20C

Halfsmoke?
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Ilfosol 3 (1+3) 5:00 @ 20C

Ending the Day
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Ilfosol 3 (1+3) 5:00 @ 20C

Rodinal
If you had to pick two developers to use with this film, HC-110 would be the first. And in a very close second would be Rodinal. Usually, you would avoid using a sharp developer with a 400-speed film in 35mm. But in this case, the film itself is designed to produce a fine grain even with a sharp developer and the negatives look good! Right out of the tank I could see to fantastic tonality and stunning contrast that I saw with HC-110. And yes the grain is a little more noticeable but nothing that would take away from the quality of the images.

Deco
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (Yellow-15) – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+25) 10:30 @ 20C

Heather
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (Yellow-15) – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+25) 10:30 @ 20C

Everywhere
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (Yellow-15) – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+25) 10:30 @ 20C

The Final Word
Streetpan is certainly a film I’ll be working with again. There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, I will have already ordered another brick of 10 rolls of the film from the JCH site. For use on my honeymoon in April in New York City and at a wedding I’m photographing in April. Despite all the praise I have heaped on Street Pan, there is one thing I have noticed with it. It likes light; it doesn’t need direct light, I would avoid shooting in it harsh light, but it wants gray days, soft even light or open shadow. But it does suffer in low light; I had a tough time pulling out good images when I was shooting it just after dusk or in darkened interiors. As for the developers, I do highly recommend using either Rodinal or HC-110 to develop this film as I got the best results from those with good tone, not overly contrasty and it shows off the sharp fine-grained nature of the film stock. It’s a good stock, and a welcome addition to my choice of shooting media.

Big thanks to Bellamy, the Japan Camera Hunter himself, for taking the plunge and bringing Street Pan to us hungry film photographers, he took a leap of faith, and the results are stunning. You can pickup the film directly from his shop and now you can buy single rolls, three and five packs, or a full brick of ten. I recommend the ten. If you’re in Toronto you can pick up the film from Downtown Camera, currently the only Canadian Supplier of the film!

Film Review – RPX 400

The final film in the RPX line is their fast film, RPX 400. RPX 400 is not my favourite film of the trio; I’m not saying it’s a bad film, it’s just not my favourite. As the name says this is an ASA-400 film but has a substantial exposure latitude going down to 100 and up to 3200 but I would recommend that you stick to the 200 to 800 range for the best performance.

Product Highlights

  • Type: Panchromatic B&W Negative Film
  • Base: Triacetate
  • Film Speed: ASA-400, with a Latitude between ASA-100 and ASA-3200
  • Formats Available: 35mm/120

52:500c - Week 33 - Transit
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-1600 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. A 5:30 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 32 - Lakeshore Evenings
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak Xtol (Stock) 9:00 @ 20C

The Good
There are two solid points on this film. The first is how easy it is to handle, many films of this time suffer from a centre line curl once it’s been processed and hung to dry. While some films this is very noticeable (I’m looking at you Tri-X) other are not as bad (HP5), this film despite the base materials stays flat making it easy to scan. The second point is that it has pleasing fine grain for a fast film. I only started to see heavy grain when shot at ASA-1600, and that’s in HC-110 Dilution A. The best developer I’ve found for this film is Pyrocat-HD at ASA-320 the fine grain nature of the film shines and the contrast point is dead on. I’ll probably even try this film out in Rodinal in one of the later weeks of the project!

52:500c - Week 28 - Cruisin'
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-320 – Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 18:00 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 23 - Battlefield House
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 7:00 @ 20C

The Bad
The biggest problem I have with this film is contrast! Unless you develop it in a high-contrast developer like Rodinal, HC-110, or Pyrocat-HD, it becomes a muddy mess. It’s all a mess of greys. The developers include the specialised RPX-D and Xtol (diluted, not stock). This is also not a sharp film, it’s pretty soft around the edges in most developers, even HC-110 I find the film a touch too soft for my taste. Of course in Pyrocat-HD the film is sharp and probably will give similar results in Rodinal. And finally it comes down to the RPX-D developer, while it was designed for the film I really found that it didn’t do much over using something more normal like Xtol or HC-110.

52:500c - Week 14 - Just Won't Quit
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Disagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-800 – Rollei RPX-D (1+7) 13:00 @ 22C

52:500c - Week 08 - Fort Town
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Rollei RPX-D (1+11) 11:00 @ 20C

The Lowdown
Let me state again this isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t a favourite of mine. And that’s because it reminds me of HP5 (in 35mm) along with Delta 400 and TMax 400, these all aren’t bad films, it’s just I don’t like how they render contrast and it’s the same with RPX 400. But like anything, it’s all about freedom of choice, and if you like RPX 400, go for it, I am not one to stop you, this is just my view on the film.

Developer Review – Rollei RPX-D

Along with their wonderful line up of RPX films, the folks over at Rollei have also got some developers specifically for their film. Similar to Kodak’s TMax Developer for their TMax line of films. So as part of my ongoing 52-Roll project I’ve been using the RPX line of films exclusively. So when I saw the RPX-D developer I figured to give it a shot to see if it gives something more to this film that I wasn’t seeing with my usual chemistry. Before I start I was a little disappointed with the developer, specifically because it seems to be a two trick horse, only having times for the RPX 100 and RPX 400 films, and really was more suited for the RPX 400 films and pushing it beyond the ASA-400 box speed.

RPX 100 – I really do like this film, and the RPX-D developer did a good job with it. The contrast was right on point and the film scans were nice and sharp. There was a decrease on the grain when I scanned it as well. But really it wasn’t anything more or less than what I could get out of Xtol or Blazinal with the film.

52:500c - Week 15 - A Fort Named George
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 100 @ 100 – Rollei RPX-D (1+15) 6:30 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 04 - A Fort for A City
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 (Yellow Filter) – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-100 – Rollei RPX-D (1+15) 6:30 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 03 - In the Darkness Bind Them
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-100 Rollei RPX-D (1+15) 6:30 @ 20C

RPX 400 – So the one big issue I have with this film is that it just lacks contrast, sort of like why I’m not a fan of Ilford’s Delta 400. So I was hoping that the RPX-D would bring out a bit more in the film to a point where I preferred it, and you know what, it really did! Both at ASA-400 and ASA-800. However it really didn’t tone down the grain on the film like it claimed and actually softened the film I feel.

52:500c - Week 14 - Just Won't Quit
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Disagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-800 – Rollei RPX-D (1+7) 13:00 @ 22C

52:500c - Week 08 - Fort Town
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 400 – Rollei RPX-D (1+11) 11:00 @ 20C

So my final say on this developer is really don’t worry about it. It really doesn’t add anything to the film that you can’t get with your standard developers like Xtol, HC-110, and Blazinal. In fact I’d go as far to say I actually prefer the film in my standard chemicals. But in the end it is all about personal preference. But in the end stick to what you know, and I know that I probably won’t go for any other specific Rollei developers for the rest of the project.

Exploring Ilford – Part 4 – Microphen

Another new developer for me and when I find a new developer I’m usually excited to see how different films react to it. And to make it even sweeter the Kodak equivalent, DK-50, is a developer I had never even heard of until now! According to the Ilford Product page this is a fine grain developer designed for push processing faster films. So for slow and medium speed films I chose to shoot at box speed, while faster films I went and did some pushing.

With Ilford FP4+
In all honesty you really can’t go wrong with FP4, this is one of those films that just always looks good in almost every developer I’ve run it through and the same can be said about FP4 and Microphen. Producing next to no grain and a pleasing grain at that and amazing sharpness and contrast. While it looks great in 35mm I would love to see what it does in Medium and Large formats…but that the topic of another set of blogs coming next year!

CCR - Review 24 - Nikon F3
Nikon F3 – AI-S Nikkor 105mm 1:2.5 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Ilford Microphen (1+1) @ 20C

CCR - Review 23 - Argus C3
Argus C3 – Argus Cintar 50mm f/3.5 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Ilford Microphen (1+1) @ 20C

With Ilford Delta 100
I actually found that Microphen pretty much produced a level playing field with the tradition FP4 and the modern Delta 100 films (and actually both take ten minutes in the soup). You get again contrast on point, no grain, and just overall a very pleasing and very printable negative as a result.

CCR - Review 25 - FPP Debonair
FPP Debonair – Super Lens 1:8/80MM – Ilford Delta 100 @ ~ASA-100 – Ilford Microphen (1+1) @ 20C

Hitchcock Would be Proud
FPP Debonair – Super Lens 1:8/80MM – Ilford Delta 100 @ ~ASA-100 – Ilford Microphen (1+1) @ 20C

With Ilford HP5+
Okay so I’ll admit I’ve been giving HP5 a bad wrap through the first three parts of exploring Ilford’s chemistry line. And that’s mostly because I’ve been shooting it in 35mm format. So I’m going to even the score a little and give the medium format a shot. Now this, this is what I like my B&W films to look like, smooth grain, even tones and good strong blacks and whites. HP5 even at ASA-400 in medium format really sings especially in Microphen. It really helps smooth out the grain and gives really good contrast.

TFSM - Summer '15 - The Streets
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-400 – Ilford Microphen (1+1) 12:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Summer '15 - The Streets
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-400 – Ilford Microphen (1+1) 12:00 @ 20C

With Kodak Tri-X
I’ve always been a fan of Tri-X and will remain a fan of Tri-X to my dying day. And while I’m usually wary of taking this film out of Kodak/Pyro chemistry when I shot it and developed in Perceptol I got some great results. So with Microphen being a developer good for push processing, and I do enjoy Tri-X at ASA-800 I gave it a shot and was rather pleased with the results!

CCR - Review 22 - Canon EOS-1n
Canon EOS-1n – Canon EF Lens 35mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-800 – Ilford Microphen (1+1) 12:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 22 - Canon EOS-1n
Canon EOS-1n – Canon EF Lens 35mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-800 – Ilford Microphen (1+1) 12:00 @ 20C

With Ilford Pan F+ There are some films that just look great with all developers and others that only look good in one or two. Then there is the odd case where you find a film and developer combination that just looks like pure magic. Pan F remains hands down my favourite film from the Ilford line but when you pair it with Microphen it just goes to a whole other level of film nirvana. Throw on a contrast filter and you probably have the perfect film at least for me.

CCR - Review 22 - Nikon F5
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (Green-1) – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – Ilford Microphen (1+1) 6:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 22 - Nikon F5
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (Green-1) – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – Ilford Microphen (1+1) 6:00 @ 20C

Like Perceptol this developer only comes in 1L kits and when I’m using 500mL of chemistry 1 to 1 it does go through a bottle fairly quickly so this time I bought two kits right off the bat. Overall I was really happy with this developer, and will certainly use it again especially if I do a project that would be best done on Pan F. And while this brings us to the end of exploring Ilford’s film chemistry line. Stay tuned for Part 5 where I go over the best and worst in the way of Ilford products at least in my humble opinion.

Exploring Ilford – Part 2 – Perceptol

After the lack luster across the board performance of Ilford DD-X (Which I have since tried with Delta 3200 which DD-X was designed for, and my good friend Julie Douglas saying it works well with Kodak films) I decided to give another Ilford developer a try, Perceptol. According to the Ilford site the developer is a very fine grain developer with excellent image quality. While designed for the slower films in the Ilford line up it would produce noticeably finer grain with faster films. This is Ilford’s version of the classic Microdol-X from Kodak, a developer that actually grew on me the more I used it, so I was looking forward to the results!

With Delta 400
So the first film I gave the developer a go on was a film I don’t really have a good feeling on, Delta 400, mostly because I just don’t like the contrast, but that’s a rant for Part 5 of Exploring Ilford. I also decided to help cut the grain and boost the contrast by pulling the film one stop. It worked, a bit, but the one thing that I really liked about this is that the developer did exactly what it said it would do, it reduced the grain to something a lot more pleasing in the film scans and produced a super sharp image! I mean, razor sharp.

Ottawa Wanderings - March 2015
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Ilford Delta 400 @ ASA-200 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 12:30 @ 20C

Ottawa Wanderings - March 2015
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Ilford Delta 400 @ ASA-200 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 12:30 @ 20C

With Pan F+
The next film up was Ilford Pan F, a favourite of mine. Now I’ve developed Pan F in plenty of other developers, some of my favourites being Rodinal and Xtol. But Perceptol really added something to the film. Pan F on it’s own is already a fine grained film with good contrast because of the slow speed, but Perceptol really brought out all the great qualities of the film. The grain was reduced to nothing which is going to make printing it all the more interesting while trying to focus it. But the grain that is there is oh so pleasing.

CCR - Review 7 - Fuji GX680iii
Fuji GX680iii – Fuji Fujinon EBC 80mm 1:5.6 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 15:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 7 - Fuji GX680iii
Fuji GX680iii – Fuji Fujinon EBC 80mm 1:5.6 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 15:00 @ 20C

With FP4+
I already was a big fan of FP4+ but souping this film in Perceptol while generally enhancing the grain of the grain of the film (which really isn’t a bad thing since it’s a pleasing grain) made the film razor sharp. And probably my favourite part of the film was the contrast, dead on, exactly where I like my contrast to be!

CCR - Review 8 - Minolta Hi-Matic 7s
Minolta Hi-Matic 7s – Rokkor-PF 1:1.8 f=45mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 15:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 8 - Minolta Hi-Matic 7s
Minolta Hi-Matic 7s – Rokkor-PF 1:1.8 f=45mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 15:00 @ 20C

With Delta 100
Next film on the list is Delta 100 and I was even more impressed with the results. Contrast, Sharp, and next to no grain. I mean the grain of Delta 100 wasn’t exactly my favourite in some other developers (it was okay in DD-X), but in Perceptol it was giving results of Pan F+ and contrast again right where I want it, if not more than I was getting with FP4.

CCR - Review 10 - Fed-2 (ФЭД-2)
Fed-2 – Jupiter-8 2/50 – Ilford Delta 100 @ ASA-100 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 11 - Pentax 645
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Ilford Delta 100 @ ASA-50 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 13:00 @ 20C

With HP5+
HP5+ in 35mm is a rough film to work with, so I figured I got some decent results out of Delta 400 (sure in medium format) and not wanting to give HP5 a bum rap I took a roll out to test out a camera and again pulled the film just a touch to a classic ASA-320. Well the grain is still there, but the contrast has certainly improved. While HP5 is still not my favourite film in 35mm ASA-400 offering, in Perceptol it certainly looks better than Delta 400.

TFSM - Spring '15 - Queen Street
Pentax K1000 – SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-320

TFSM - Spring '15 - Queen Street
Pentax K1000 – SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-320

TFSM - Spring '15 - Queen Street
Pentax K1000 – SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-320

With Kodak Tri-X 400
Having enough developer left over, I figured, why not give it a shot with a film other than Ilford to see what happens, and having a couple of rolls of Kodak Tri-X laying around, and Doors Open Toronto here…I thought…why not! Now I’ve always used Ilford film in non-Ilford developers and have enjoyed the results, and as my good friend Julie pointed out to me she loves using Kodak films in Ilford developers. And well I was seriously impressed with the results of my beloved Tri-X in Perceptol, smoothed out the grain, kept the contrast and gave a very very very classic Tri-X look.

DO:T - John Street Roundhouse
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-320 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 12:00 @ 20C

DO:T - John Street Roundhouse
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-320 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 12:00 @ 20C

However there is one thing that I really don’t like with Perceptol and that it only comes in packages to make 1 liter of the stock solution, I know that you can just use it as stock and keep reusing it for a specific amount of processed rolls but I’m a diluting guy, so if I’m using 250mL of chemistry of each batch of 500mL (2 rolls of 120 or 2 of 35mm) that’s only four rolls per bottle. But at least the cost is lower. In the final say, I won’t keep Perceptol all the time, but if I want a better look out of HP5+ or a really fine grain look on Tri-X I’ll make sure I shoot enough film to use up a single 1 liter bottle in one go.

Exploring Ilford – Part 1 – Ilfotech DD-X

Before working on the camera review (CCR) blogs I had very little experience with Ilford Chemistry, so I made a choice to use only Ilford Films and chemistry over the course of the CCR blogs. So as I come to the end of the first quarter of blogs I figured I would give a review of the first developer I used. Ilfotech DD-X. According to the Ilford website this is a similar developer to Kodak’s TMax developer which I’m a big fan of, so I figured it would be a good place to start. Plus I see a lot of people using it. However for the most part…I wasn’t too happy with the results. For me to be happy with a developer it needs to give solid results across a broad range of films, not just one or two. Which can be hard for a developer to do.

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4
Toronto, Ontario – Nikon F4 – DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Ilford HP5+ – DD-X (1+4) 9:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 2 - Pentax K1000
Willamsford, Ontario – Pentax K1000 – SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 – Ilford HP5+ – DD-X (1+4) 9:00 @ 20C

Now I know that HP5 in 35mm is a very grainy film but DD-X just made the grain super muddy when scanning the film, and not exactly the most pleasing results. The detail and sharpness I would expect out of a developer for T-Grain film, even on a film with a traditional grain structure just wasn’t there, and while the contrast is present and pleasing for my tastes, it just doesn’t work for me.

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program
Canon AE-1 Program – Canon FD Lens 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 400 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program
Canon AE-1 Program – Canon FD Lens 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 400 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C

So I thought I’d better give it a test using a film that it’s designed for, starting first with Delta 400, and the results even worse, it was just a big muddy grain fest with little contrast. Now Delta 400 isn’t exactly a film known for the nice contrast-y results that I look for in my black & white work, but it was just all grey! I’m not going to give up on the Delta 400 film, I do plan on giving both it and HP5 in 35mm another chance at a slower speed in the different developers as the project continues, and also in medium format as well. But enough with the negative lets get onto more pleasing (at least to me) results.

CCR - Review 3 - Rolleiflex 2.8F
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 (Yellow Filter) – Ilford FP4+ – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 10:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 6 - Olympus Trip 35
Olympus Trip 35 – D.Zuiko f=40mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Ilfotec DD-X (1+4) 10:00 @ 20C

Next up on the list was Ilford FP4, a favourite film of mine, while not Kodak Plus-X it’s pretty darn close and again I rather liked Plus-X in TMax developer so time to give another traditional grained film a shot! This time I had the chance to try both 35mm and Medium format with the developer. And the results, beautiful! While there’s still not exactly the same contrast I like, the results were much better than HP5 or Delta 400. While the grain is still a little more apparent as I’d like, it wasn’t as bad as the Delta 400! It certainly works for me.

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

And finally saving the best for last is Delta 100, like TMax 100 looking amazing in TMax Developer, Delta 100 is the perfect match for DD-X in my view. Sharp, fine grain, the contrast spot on. The blacks were black and the whites, white, and the midtones were dead on. Of course this is only in 35mm and not 120 but I still have some DD-X left over so I’ll give it a shot soon to see if the results are similar or better.

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

My final verdict on DD-X, not a developer I would use again anytime soon, I can get more constant good results out of Kodak TMax Developer and at a lower cost. The bottle of DD-X runs about 22$ in change, while TMax developer only costs 15$ in change. While not much of a price difference it’s more the results that matter to me, if DD-X had given better results than TMax it would’ve replaced it in a heartbeat (after I finished off the bottle of TMax developer in my cupboard). So sorry DD-X you’re being voted off the island.

Ottawa on Large Format

Back when I visited Ottawa for the first time in several years this past September I lugged along my 4×5 camera, and while I wasn’t too pleased with every shot, I made a point when I was there this past weekend to really focus, slow down, and work with the 4×5 primarily and put the smaller formats away. The results were a much stronger set of images that I am incredibly proud of and do plan on getting these into the darkroom to print.

The Centre Block
Centre Block

The East Block
East Block

Chateau Laurier
Chateau Laurier

Short Days Ago We Lived
Details of the National War Memorial

Connaught Building
The Connaught Building – National Headquarters

National Gallery
The National Gallery – as seen across Major Hill Park

Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 & Schneider-Krueznack Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak Plus-X Pan (PXP)
Kodak Microdol-X (Stock) 8:00 @ 20C

Svema Madness!

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally had a chance to work through some backlogged film testing for the Film Photography Project. For the most part this has been testing the Russian/Ukrainian film stocks from the Svema company. This is actually really good film! First off a little background, Svema, or Свема, combines the first letters of two words: Светочувствительные Материалы, which translated means “Photosensitive Materials”. Svema was the Kodak of the USSR, founded in 1931 the company produced paper and black & white films, after World War Two, Svema gained Agfa’s colour technology when the Russians overran Germany and took the equipment back to the plant in the Ukraine. The company continued to hold a monopoly in the Soviet block until the collapse and when the iron curtain was torn open, suddenly the photographers had access to a wide range of western film stocks. And Svema started to collapse. But they survived and yes, they’re still producing films near the same plant they started out in. And while they produce a wide range of film stocks today I’ll be touching on just three. Svema Foto 200, Svema MZ-3, and Svema Micrat-Orto.

Svema Foto 200
Svema Foto 200 is a ASA-200 panchromatic black & white film that is just pure magic. I was actually really surprised at the results I got. The depth and tonal range of this film, not to mention the sharpness. To take a phrase from fellow photographer, Leslie (who was kind enough to supply with me the two rolls tested here) “it looks like the way I want the world to look.” And I couldn’t agree more. The first roll of film I processed using a formula from another photographer, John Meadows, Kodak Xtol, diluted 1 to 1 for twelve minutes.

Winter Photo Walk - Taylor Creek Park

Winter Photo Walk - Taylor Creek Park

Winter Photo Walk - Taylor Creek Park

One thing you have to watch out for with this film is that it’s on a polyester base which is thin as a heron’s leg. So if you’re sending it out to a film lab let them know as some may not want to send the film through their automated machines. Places like The Darkroom can handle this sort of film through a dip-and-dunk process. If you process at home, you may face some issues loading it up onto your plastic reels, just be calm, and don’t use violence. I have no real experience with stainless steel but they may give you an easier time.

Svema MZ-3
This is not the film for the faint hearted. I really have no idea what this film is for. It’s a slow film, most people rating it between ASA-1.5 and ASA-6. But it produces a image with almost zero grain and incredibly sharp. The first roll I actually shot back in the summer at Fort Michilimackinac. Getting developing times of course with my limited chemistry cabinant, was another issue. Again turning to Leslie’s flickr stream as she had tested the film also, I found some in HC-110, enjoying the look, I decided to shorten the developing time based on other reading I did online. And settled for six and a half minutes in HC-110 Dilution E.

Return to Michilimackinac

Return to Michilimackinac

Return to Michilimackinac

The highlights were a little blown out, and another odd thing is that on the film rebate there was another company name, Kodak. Wanting to keep with HC-110 I again shot the film at ASA-3 and dropped it by half a minute. That half a minute made all the difference, the highlights were back, and this film is looking amazing.

Wiarton, Ontario - Svema MZ-3 Test Roll 2

Wiarton, Ontario - Svema MZ-3 Test Roll 2

Wiarton, Ontario - Svema MZ-3 Test Roll 2

What this film was used for originally I don’t know, but when I used it to capture architecture in downtown Wiarton, Ontario using a perspective control lens, it worked great, very sharp, no grain at all. If I had to guess I would say this film is very blue sensitive, based on how it rendered the colour, similar to Eastman 5363, so it’s probably a copy film or high contrast title film. So I wouldn’t use any of usual contrast filters you’d use on regular B&W films.

Svema Micrat-Orto
This is the one film I had no ideas what to do with it! The canister said ASA-1, but after looking at the information I could find on Flickr, I realized this would be better shot at ASA-.75, yes you read that right, a speed less than 1! Possible, yes. How did I do it? Easy, I took the meter reading at ASA-3 using my Sekonic L-358, (3 is the lowest it’ll go), then using the same shutter speed, I opened up the aperture two stops. So I would meter for f/32, then shoot at f/16. Then it was simply a matter of figuring out how to develop it. I wanted to use Xtol, since it was the only one I could find times online for, being 8 minutes in the Stock solution (again care of Leslie), but I don’t really like using the stock chemistry. But if I dilute it, what should the time be? Should I just double it and make it 16 minutes? Then I looked back at the Foto 200, the stock time in Xtol was around 7 minutes, the 1+1 time was 12, so that’s double, minus 2 minutes. Which applying the same formula, would be 14. So I setup the Massive Dev app, and put in just the first roll. Bingo!

Roll 1 was shot in Tobermory, Ontario, but honestly don’t visit the town in the winter, the only things that were open were the grocery store and the LCBO.

Svema Micrat-Orto - Test Roll 1 - Tobermory, Ontario

Svema Micrat-Orto - Test Roll 1 - Tobermory, Ontario

Roll 2 was shot at Fifty-Point Conservation area in Hamilton, Ontario on a particularly cold, snowy, windy, winter day.

Svema Micrat-Orto - Test Roll 2 - Fifty Point Conservation Area

Svema Micrat-Orto - Test Roll 2 - Fifty Point Conservation Area

Svema Micrat-Orto - Test Roll 2 - Fifty Point Conservation Area

Oddly enough the Micrat-Orto or “Svema Super Positive Slide Film” develops as the name implies as a positive image even in traditional B&W chemistry, similar to Kodak 2468. The time of 14 minutes, you could probably drop it maybe 30 seconds and get some highlights back. Don’t dismiss Svema films out of hand too quickly. The films give a pleasing image especially the Foto 200. But if you’re looking for weird and wonderful I oddly enough recommend the Micrat-Orto, especally if you want to catch motion, you won’t need any sort of nutral density filters with this film, but you will need a meter that can either go down to ASA-3 or lower, the Gossen Luna Pro is a good choice. Remember, we’ve always had access to Fuji, Agfa, Foma, Kodak, and Ilford films, but adding Svema into the mix is simply to give you freedom of choice, and it’s certainly a film line I plan on trying more of this year, the Foto 100, FN64, and Tasma NK-2! If you want to try your hand at some of these films you can pick them up through the Film Photography Project Store: Svema Foto 200, Svema MZ-3, and Micrat-Orto. We’re also building up a database of developing times in the group on Flickr.

Long Live Film!
Comrades.


Foto 200:
Nikon F4 – AF Nikkor 35mm 1:2D – Svema Foto 200 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 12:00 @ 20C

MZ-3:
Roll 1: Nikon F4 – AF Nikkor 35mm 1:2D – Svema MZ-3 @ ASA-3 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. E 6:30 @ 20C
Roll 2: Nikon F4 – PC Nikkor 35mm 1:2.8 – Svema MZ-3 @ ASA-3 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. E 6:00 @ 20C

Micrat-Orto:
Roll 1 & 2: Nikon F4 – PC Nikkor 35mm 1:2.8 – Svema Micrat-Orto @ ASA-0.75 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 14:00 @ 20C

Belfountain – December 2012

Ah Belfountain, after finding out about this place through fellow photographer Bill Smith, it soon became a favourite spot of mine to take a nice winter’s walk. Thinking I’d have a nice sunny afternoon I heading out for the hour drive north.

Sadly it was all cloudy by the time I got there, so rather than blow a roll of slide film in such dull light, I only took my trusty Nikon FM2 and one of my last rolls of Agfa APX100. This time I also took a walk up into the village of Belfountain as well to grab some shot there before retiring to the local coffee shop to warm up before heading home. Despite shooting at near wide open aperatures, and slower shutter speeds, I feel good about these shots.

Belfountain - December 2012

Belfountain - December 2012

Belfountain - December 2012

Belfountain - December 2012

Belfountain - December 2012

Belfountain - December 2012

Belfountain - December 2012

Belfountain - December 2012

Nikon FM2 – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8 – Agfa APX100
Blaiznal 1+50 13:00 @ 20C