Going back to film

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Carlman

Going back to film
« on: 26 Mar 2017, 09:25 pm »
Why? Because I don't like the way (most of) my images look on digital.  They're usually sharp but lack a naturalness I can't quite put my finger on.. and I see some extremely awesome shots in digital that make me think, wow it IS possible to get that smooth, milky tone I want.  But when I dig deeper, it's usually a full frame SLR with $1,k+ in glass.. and I just can't afford to do that yet.  So, before I get into the D750 and a serious portrait and wide angle lens, I am going to take a step back.

I just sold a bunch of old film cameras to get my old time favorite, a Nikon F100.  I remember when they came out and I almost drooled on it when the salesman let me use it.  I was using a pair of 8008s's, a Hasselblad, and a Sinar view camera back then.  And I thought, man.. what could I do to get this?  then my business took a turn for the worst and I left the profession of photography for many years. 
I'd like to get back into it; mainly as an art, for fun, to have the patience to get the shot I want and the discipline be ok if I miss it. 

Anyway, what's my point?  I'd like anyone guidance on good darkroom services.  I live in NC.  We have some good color processors but not much B&W.  I like a look similar to the old 60's Twilight Zone TV series.  I love the rich velvety tones, and crisp, clean look and overall smooth character... but it could use just a little more contrast sometimes.  I especially love the way trees look in that series... which I tend to include in many of my photos.   Their process worked well if there were outside shots with white picket fences... but indoors it good get a little too gray.

So, time to experiment with processes/developers... and keep in mind this is all in 35mm.. which may be a mistake.  But if I was going to medium format, I'd just go to the Nikon FX stuff.

I'm thinking Agfa ultrafine grain film and X-tol... or maybe Rodinal stand development (maybe) or something else.  I've seen a lot on Pyro or PMK that looks super cool but I haven't ever messed with it.  Plus I'm using 35mm so not sure it's ideal for the smaller negative.

I plan to go through my stock of a few rolls of Ilford (SFX, FP4, HP5, and 1 delta.)  I hate t-max 100 and 400, too muddy.  I do like the 3200, though.  It 'can' create a really cool effect but I have to print w/ a 5 filter.. or do something to get the effect I want; and that effect isn't one of gradation; looks more like a half-tone.

I need a lab that knows how to do these things.. or.. I need to bite the bullet and develop at home... That means no more basement bathroom.. it'll be more like my college days.. etc.. not sure that'll go over well with the family.

Plus, I don't have an enlarger so I can't do contacts.. Most labs can do a scan if I wanted to just view my photos online and analyze what I wanted to enlarge and make real photos.  Plus, for the ones that don't make the cut for art but are nice enough as a memory, I can put in the digital collection and have printed anywhere like any digital photo.

Suggestions are welcome on whatever.. sorry for rambling..




rollo

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Re: Going back to film
« Reply #1 on: 26 Mar 2017, 11:54 pm »
  Carl right on with guts to say so. Easy is not better.


charles

SET Man

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #2 on: 27 Mar 2017, 02:03 am »
Hey!

   Welcome back to film, Carlman!

   As for digital, I don't have anything against it. These days my photos are taken with both digital and film, almost 50-50. I haven't really left film, except for about 4-5 years after I got my first 6MP DSLR back in 2005, a Konica Minolta 7D. I was never really happy with my first DSLR back than. Not until 2008 when I got a 12MP DSLR, a Sony A700 and that is when I feel the digital is good enough. Today I have a Full-Frame 24MP Sony A7II.

  So, why do I still shooting with film even though with my current Sony A7II that I feel outperformed 35mm film at ISO400 and up in sharpness and grain? Well, there's something about film that just looks better to me, especially for B&W. Even with all the new so call "Film simulator" that I can use to make digital to look like film. I still prefer the real thing. Digital just seem too "hyper-real" to me. With that said, do I sound like I hate digital? No! Not at all. There are things that digital will do better than film. For example if I need to shoot in low light, in color and need to use anything above ISO800 I will use my Sony A7II instead of pushing a 35mm ISO800 film. And of course when you do need something fast.

   OK, now to my life with film. I am in NYC so it is easy to find films and lab to develop color film. As for B&W films, I still develop it myself at home. I used to make prints but I haven't done so for many years now, still have all the darkroom stuffs including enlarger. I am now doing what I would call a hybrid processing, take picture with film - develop it- scan it - process it in Lightroom as I would have done in traditional darkroom. Yes, I do make print from digital file from film. Not the same as printing in the traditional darkroom on a photographic paper. But still it does have the look of film at the end.

  So, that's how work with films now. And as for films I use. For B&W my usual film is Kodak Tri-X which I use quite a lot, usually at 400, also at 800 and sometime at 1600. For other speed, I use TMAX 100, TMAX 400 and for higher speed I use Ilford Delta 3200. And once in awhile I'll throw other film in the the mix like Fomapan 100. My choice of B&W developer are Kodak D76 and XTOL but lately I've been using the good old D76. For color films, I like Kodak Ektar 100, Portra 160 and Protra 400. All of film listed here are available in both 35mm and 120.

  Choosing film is a very personal choice especially with B&W films. As you can see that I do like to use Kodak, but you find that TMAX films are muddy. It is not a bit of a process to find out what work best for you. It is more than just film choice but also the way you use it, I tend to use #8 (K2) yellow filter when I B&W film. And of course the way you processing it like developer, dilution and agitation also effect the look.

  Anyway, it is good to see someone here who still like the look of film.  8)

Take care,
Buddy  :thumb:

PS

  Yes, you can still make contact sheet even without darkroom. Build yourself a light table, use your DSLR and photo editing program to convert it. And you can make contact print after that if you want to.  :D

JohnR

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #3 on: 27 Mar 2017, 12:55 pm »
FWIW I realized a while back that it was home darkroom or nothing. Sadly, film is for me in the "retirement project" list ;) :(

thunderbrick

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Re: Going back to film
« Reply #4 on: 27 Mar 2017, 02:46 pm »
They can have my darkroom when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers...   :cuss:

Haven't used it in quite a while, but it's there if I need it.  The good news is that people will pretty much GIVE you some nice darkroom gear these days.   The bad news is there isn't the range of B&W print papers from back in the day.  I learned on Medalist and Kodabromide.


Carlman

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #5 on: 31 Mar 2017, 12:32 am »
Thanks for the support.

Looks like I will start off shooting some tests with the film I have. I'll document what I did so I can repeat it. It is a a time intensive hobby!

I'll be sending it off to process. I'm going to send similar rolls of tests to different labs and see what I like best.

I definitely want the scans. It'll be fun.

I just bought another lens, 24mm quantaray. I've decided I'm just going to shoot primes. 24, 50, and 85 or 105. I have to wait on the portrait lens. I want something that works on the F100 and the D750.

Btw, I'm not against digital, I just like the look of film.  I feel about the same as Buddy; it has its place.

Thanks,
Carl

dB Cooper

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #6 on: 31 Mar 2017, 03:59 am »
I have nothing against digital either but I have never been able to find a camera I really liked (I have a DSLR but it mainly collects dust). Used to schlep a 4x5 view camera in my film days. God only knows what it would cost to get back into that outfit today, plus $2 for every exposure in black and white, not including processing costs. Plus, as I get older, I gain more and more understanding of what Brett Weston meant when he said, "If it's more than 100 yards from the road, it's not photogenic."

FWIW, some photogs (Annie Liebowitz for instance) shoot on film to get 'the look' and digitize the result. More than one way to skin a cat.

Carlman, I used to develop 35mm as well as large format in PMK and got terrific results. Even did some push processing with it. Only downsides were long developing times and sensitivity to agitation technique. Needed to be gentle and careful to avoid agitation marks. I got the best results with Ilford films, not so good with the Kodak "T-Bag" films in any developer (harsh highlights). Never shot much Agfa.

Carlman

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #7 on: 21 Jul 2017, 05:38 pm »
Well, I got lucky.  I found a photographer willing to part with his entire darkroom.  A good bit of old junk but some really nice stuff too.  And a lot of stuff you forget you need...
I'm excited to have X-tol in powder form.. and 2 cans of Acufine developer to try. 
Buying Agfa APX100.. looking forward to trying that.
Got a Beseler 23cII enlarger..
Lots of other good stuff too... reasonable price.
Have turned my attention to a bigger room to make into a full-sized darkroom.  That will be a 'project' for sure.  Will need to install sink, run plumbing, etc.  However, there is an easy place to access plumbing.
The smell may be off-putting, not sure yet...

In any case, moving along... should be fun.  I've got mixed feelings about it all.  I'm taking a really nice room and making it into kind of a dirty shop.. Not sure if all the work will be worth it.. will I enjoy processing again, will the results be worth it?  Are my photographs worth all this trouble?  we'll see!

BTW, if anyone knows of good forums where I can participate and learn/share film specific topics, I'd be greatly appreciative if you could post some sites! :)

-Carl

wushuliu

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Re: Going back to film
« Reply #8 on: 21 Jul 2017, 09:55 pm »
I don't think the preference for film is a mystery; the same issue raises itself in regards to movies as well. Ultimately digital images simply do not replicate the manner in which we perceive. Yes, some cameras can come damn close and yes some cameras look phenomenal regardless. But the digital image does not have the 'natural' quality of analog because analog more accurately portrays how humans perceive.

twitch54

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #9 on: 22 Jul 2017, 12:14 am »
I don't think the preference for film is a mystery; the same issue raises itself in regards to movies as well. Ultimately digital images simply do not replicate the manner in which we perceive. Yes, some cameras can come damn close and yes some cameras look phenomenal regardless. But the digital image does not have the 'natural' quality of analog because analog more accurately portrays how humans perceive.

spoken like a true vinyl junky ! I get it !!

Early B.

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #10 on: 22 Jul 2017, 03:02 am »
Based on your experience and talent, the composition will be the same regardless of using a film or digital camera. With the right technique, presets, and software, you can make digital images look like film. Pretty simple, actually, and you have a lot more control of the intended outcome. Since the key to achieving a film-like perspective is shooting at around f/1.8, a used Nikon D7000 and a "nifty fifty" is all the hardware you'll need to get started.

http://www.dxo.com/us/photography/photo-software/dxo-filmpack

« Last Edit: 22 Jul 2017, 11:41 am by Early B. »

charmerci

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #11 on: 22 Jul 2017, 04:33 am »
If you're getting back into developing, I think you should sell most of your equipment (Quantaray??? Really?) and get a used Hassie 500C or a Mamiya 645. Remember it's the lenses that are important. They're now available for well under $1K with a lens. You want to take great photos and enlarge. Well, do it right.

Just searching a few minutes, I found this! With 3 lenses.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mamiya-m645-Medium-Format-Camera-3-Lens-Awesome-System-Fussy-Mint-Condition-/222585046537?hash=item33d31a4609:g:BMQAAOSwKRJZbSP4

Photon46

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #12 on: 22 Jul 2017, 01:08 pm »
Carlman, I'm in my mid 60's and work as a photographer. Like you, I've got decades of film experience in small and large format preceding the switch to digital.  IMO, you are correct that it takes rather expensive digital gear with great lenses to get images that rival the realism and tonality of a less expensive film camera. You mention the issue of affordability for a full frame digital slr system and that's a big factor for sure. However, remember the long term costs of buying film, paper, and chemistry - especially if you shoot a lot. Those supplies aren't cheap, especially nice photo paper.

I would ask what sort of digital processing you use and wonder if that might be a partial factor in your unhappiness with digital images? I am a big fan of Capture One Pro Ten software for initial processing of digital images and then use Photoshop CC for final editing. A quick google search will give you lots of info about the Capture One software and you can download it for a free trial period. One of my work cameras is a near decade old full frame Canon EOS 1Ds II that takes stunning quality images as far as the emotional quotient goes. The older camera's file sizes aren't nearly as big as my newer Canon EOS 5Ds-r, but it beats the new camera as far the hard to define emotionally involving quality you mention. Portraiture and skin tone rendering is especially nice with the older Canon. While it was a $8-9,000 camera body when new, you can find cherry examples of it used for ten or twelve cents on the dollar. (Just look for an amateur owned, low shutter count example.)

newzooreview

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Re: Going back to film
« Reply #13 on: 22 Jul 2017, 01:52 pm »
Here's a practical comparison:

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2017/07/21/a-practical-comparison-between-film-and-digital-m9-vs-m7-by-bernd-reinhardt/

You can degrade digital to look like film (add grain, lower contrast, add a color cast), but you can't improve film to look like digital.

If you like black and white, try a Fujifilm XT-2, X-Pro 2, or X100F with their Acros black and white setting. They also provide settings that produce Astia, Velvia, and Provia images: films they made, so their knowledge of color reproduction is as good as it gets.

I don't begrudge anyone the fun of using film or even a glass plate for taking photographs. But you can get the same results more quickly and at lower cost (time + equipment + supplies + services) with digital.

thunderbrick

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Re: Going back to film
« Reply #14 on: 22 Jul 2017, 04:21 pm »
Met an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker years ago who said "Pixels don't sing like silver."

I shoot 99%+ digital, but I keep a freezer full of sheet film....

thunderbrick

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Re: Going back to film
« Reply #15 on: 22 Jul 2017, 04:23 pm »
If you're getting back into developing, I think you should sell most of your equipment (Quantaray??? Really?) and get a used Hassie 500C or a Mamiya 645. Remember it's the lenses that are important. They're now available for well under $1K with a lens. You want to take great photos and enlarge. Well, do it right.

Just searching a few minutes, I found this! With 3 lenses.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mamiya-m645-Medium-Format-Camera-3-Lens-Awesome-System-Fussy-Mint-Condition-/222585046537?hash=item33d31a4609:g:BMQAAOSwKRJZbSP4

And if you DO want Hassy, contact me.   I have several from my old wedding days.
 :wink:

Slam

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #16 on: 22 Jul 2017, 04:48 pm »
And if you DO want Hassy, contact me.   I have several from my old wedding days.
 :wink:

I would love a Hassy. PM sent.

On topic: I'm shooting more film lately because I can'r afford a new full-frame digital camera and I already have a bunch of film in my fridge.

Steven Stone

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #17 on: 22 Jul 2017, 05:45 pm »
For me Lightroom gives me all the control I need to make my digital images look any way I want, including like film. I collect old film cameras, so I know that the F100 is a GREAT camera. Excellent choice if you must shoot film...

Carlman

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #18 on: 13 Nov 2017, 03:55 pm »
Checking in.... I've shot close to a dozen rolls of film and they are sitting on a shelf undeveloped.

Charmerci and Photon, really appreciate your posts.  Yes, Quantarray.. made me laugh reading your 'really?'...
I'm going to check out the old Canon you're recommending, Photon...
I fully expected to own a D750 by now but it didn't happen.  They went up on the price and haven't come down.  Plus I've been wasting my time and money on more film gear.

What I've decided to do...

So, a full scale darkroom in my lovely home isn't going to happen.  I'd be willing to do film-only and scan the negatives as sort of a contact-sheet.

I'd print the images on paper that were truly special.  I just need to find a darkroom to do that.

Plan B:
Find the right digital solution and ditch the film.  I have some nice D-series Nikon glass now and I'm pretty well set on the brand.. unless that Canon gives me the love I'm looking for... then I have to do the big switch.. which I've done before.. but sheesh, that's an ordeal.... flashes, remotes, etc. all have to go too.

Plan C:
I don't know.  I love shooting with the F100's.  It's a dream come true.  I sent one to Nikon and had it refurbished.  They just work; like an extension of my arm; all controls are instantly familiar and easy.  I make the same mistakes I used to; and then correct.  However, it's a weird time-warp and I miss the ability to look at the back of the camera and see if the camera saw what I did.

I've realized it's rare that what I see on the shot is what I intended.  I'm looking for something that works the way I see it.  So far, the best I've seen and handled is the Sony A6000.  It's sharp, focuses on what I think it should, reacts how I think it should.. etc. 

I'm also thinking of just doing a D5500.... My D5100 is a POS.  It gets the exposure and focus right about 20% of the time. 

I am very frustrated by the 'sit and wait' for something to happen method of converting RAW to jpeg.  I don't have a good method for comparing what I need... or if I'm even starting from a good spot.

I had and fixed a 'back focus' issue with the D5100 but it still only provides what I'd call 'ok' images.  They are just ok... and often I think my camera phone matches it. (Samsung S7)  - Not usually but sometimes... when the planets align, the S7 bests the D5100 in every way (that's important)... tack sharp, perfect exposure, as I saw it...


Jon L

Re: Going back to film
« Reply #19 on: 13 Nov 2017, 06:20 pm »
I'm also thinking of just doing a D5500.... My D5100 is a POS.  It gets the exposure and focus right about 20% of the time. 

Personally, I don't mind used cameras and would go full frame. Doing a search on eBay for completed auctions, looks like D800's can be easily had for $800 range and D750 in $900 range.  Use a good auction sniper program. 

Every time I see the boxes of film in my fridge, I wonder how long they will last in storage like this, but considering the LONG-term cost involved not to mention time and effort commitment, they will likely continue to be in "storage." 

In future, I do hope smaller mirrorless medium format digital cameras like Fuji GFX 50S and Hassy X1D-50C gain traction and come down in price enough, but in all honesty, the improvement in IQ per dollar over today's top-notch full frame cameras seems rather small..

https://www.adorama.com/ifjgfx50s.html

https://www.adorama.com/hsx1d50c.html