Shared: Fstoppers.com – 5 Popular B&W Films Compared
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
I read an interesting Fstoppers film photography article a few days before flying out on my last photography trip comparing five popular black and white film stocks. I think I was searching for a comparison of Ilford Delta 400 vs. Kodak T-Max 400 film as I enjoy using 35mm T-Max 400 but wondered if Delta 400 would be even “better” for me. I love and really appreciate Ilford Delta 100 film and think it is one of the best films I use in terms of detail and sharpness and to showcase what a camera-lens setup can achieve. Ilford Delta 100 film example image:
The Fstoppers film review however compares five ISO 400 film stocks and illustrates side by side example images of the same subject captured with five of the “best”/ popular black and white films. Each film is compared for tonality, grain and apparent sharpness.
I wont spoil the article if you want to read it in full but overall I was very impressed with the C41 B&W film – Ilford XP2 Super 400. I wont say anymore ahead of the link but if you want to hear my thoughts please see my conclusion below.
As hinted above Ilford XP2 Super 400 was the clear winner for me for detail captured (in this test example) but the image consisted of varying shades of greys and lacked interest. The film with the most impact for me and seemed to be the best compromise for all desired traits (for me) was the very popular Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film with its classic grain structure, good apparent sharpness and thick blacks. I have shot Kodak Tri-X film in the past but found 35mm TriX too grainy for my female portraiture so instead I favour the fine modern grain of Kodak T-Max 400 film. I find 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film much more useable as the grain is less apparent and I have used it a lot in my Hasselblad 501C /500CM cameras, especially if I need to push film to ISO 800-1600 in low light. In abundant light I often use the low-cost Fomapan 100 film (35mm and 120 Foma 100) and rate it from 100-400. That said I must give Kodak Tri-X another try soon!
Ilford XP2 Super 400 film
120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film
35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 film
And for a comparison, the B&W film I maybe use the most – Fomapan 100..
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica – November 2015
Finally I can share a selection of Hasselblad medium format portraits taken in Poland during my model photography trip last month. There are still plenty of film negatives I have not yet edited but here are some of my favourites so far. I have split the photos by film stock used. Details of camera lens, filters, camera setting, developing method and model can be obtained by clicking on the any photo.
All photos were taken with a Hasselblad 501C 6×6 medium format film camera and shot with available light only.
Hasselblad Medium Format – B&W Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Fomapan 100 Classic film Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Fuji Acros 100 film Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Ilford Delta 100 film Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Kodak T-Max 400 film Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film Portraits
Hasselblad Portraits – Colour Film
Hasselblad + 120 Kodak Portra 400 film Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Kodak Portra 160 film Portraits
Hasselblad + Expired 120 Kodak Portra 160NC film Portraits
Favourite Film Stock?
It is difficult for me to chose one film stock as a clear winner as conditions were different each day and each model has a certain look. As mentioned in a recent blog post, I think 120 Fomapan 100 Classic offers excellent value for money (being the cheapest film I used). I have just stocked up on 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 for the winter months and again I think it is an excellent film. One of my favourites. Kodak T-Max 400 was also a very strong performer and to be honest no film resulted in a sub-standard image. The expired Kodak Portra 160NC worked fine despite being out of date, without a foil wrapper and with an unknown storage history. In these photos I preferred the Kodak Portra 400 to the Portra 160 but that might just be the lighting. All in all I was happy with all the films chosen for the trip and the Hasselblad medium format film camera made everything look great!
Do you have a favourite film stock? It would be great to hear your thoughts!
Big thanks to all the girls again – Agnieszka, Irmina, Natalia, Marta, Marta, Teresa, Weronika (as included here). With the help of these amazing models and my new Hasselblad 501C film camera I think I may have produced some of my best work to date. I travelled to Poland with less cameras and a clear goal which was to take fewer but hopefully higher standard photos. The Hasselblad medium format camera seems to have helped me step up a gear with the quality of images I am now able to capture.
Favourite model? I’m not sure I am allowed to have a favourite but if you think one girls stands out above the others let me know and I will feed it back to them. I’m sure they would be thrilled to hear!
As always I cannot wait to get back to Poland. My model photography trips overseas tend to be my highlights throughout the year. Before I return to Poland I am heading out to New York City to teach 1-2-1 model photography for a week. It will be my first visit to NYC and only my second visit to the US so you can imagine how excited I am! Coming soon! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed these images as much I did. I think my most photogenic blog post so far! 🙂
CineStill 50D vs Kodak Portra 160: Here is a non-scientific comparison of 35mm CineSill 50D film vs. 35mm Kodak Portra 160 film. CineStill 50D is a relatively new film whereas Kodak Portra has been around for years (in various forms). CineStill 50D is a daylight balanced ISO 50 colour film. Kodak Portra is a daylight balanced ISO 160 film famous for capturing natural skin tones. Kodak Portra can be bought in the UK for £5 a roll for 36 exposures (£25 for a 5 pack of Kodak Portra 160). CineStill 50D is bought as single rolls and costs from £8 a roll of 36 exposures here in England. I have shot Portra for several years but this was my first experience to shoot with CineStill 50D. I have shot with CineStill 800T tungsten balanced film and was impressed with the results so had high hopes for CineStill 50D.
During my Zurich Model Photography Workshop I decided to shoot CineStill 50D side by side with Kodak Portra 160.
The details of the shoot were as follows:
Model: Nadja (Option Model Agency)
Camera 1: Leica M3 + Leica Summicron 50 f2 DR + 35mm Kodak Portra 160
Processing: C41 lab developed + Scan, Lightroom + Photoshop
Kodak Portra 160 Model Photography
CineStill 50D Model Photography
Results and Conclusion
From my personal experience only I feel these two films produce reasonably similar photos with neither being bad. For my taste and eye I prefer the look of the Kodak Portra 160 film as I feel the skin tones are more natural vs the CineStill 50D. CineStill 50D has a slight orange cast maybe vs. Portra. In different light the CineStill 50D may win hands down over the Portra but that is my conclusion to date.
Will I use CineStill 50D again? Yes I have another roll to use so I will try to use it in different light next time. Would I buy CineStill 50D instead of Kodak Portra film to use for paying clients such as wedding film photography? No. I prefer the look of Portra for skin tones. Portra film also requires less available light (especially Portra 400 which has a very similar look to Kodak Portra 160)(or Kodak Portra 800). ISO 50 vs ISO 400 = CineStll 50D requires 300% more light that Kodak Portra 400 to obtain the ‘correct’ film exposure. Weddings venues often don’t have as much light as I would like so films like Kodak Portra 400 are a must have film. Lastly Kodak Portra 160 is cheaper than CineStill 50D so that is another factor to consider when deciding a regular film to use.
Medium Format Kodak Portra 160
Here are a few extra photos from the same photoshoot with Nadja using a medium format film Mamiya 645 Super + Mamiya Sekor 80mm f2.8N lens + 120 Kodak Portra 160