Please help me... (Advice on film and filters) : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

I am somewhat new to the photographic world. After several photography classes in high school, I have forgotten alot. I have a Canon EOS and have had good luck with it so far. Since I have a brand new baby & adding artwork to my home, I would like to expand my photographic knowledge and skill get into black & white. I'm looking for a good film to start out with and I'm wondering if there's any luck with they work (besides blurred edges) and can I create different effects as I could with color? What are some good resources for beginners that I can read? Any help you can offer would be so much appreciated. I realize these aren't the kinds of questions that professionals prefer...but I'd be ever so grateful if someone could point me in the right direction. Thank you!

-- Mary-Jean (, April 04, 2000


Response to Please help me...

"Photography" by London and Upton, 6th Edition, a large format paperback, is the sisngle best book It's not cheap but it is very comprehensive. For film: Kodak Tri-X. It's more forgiving of exposure and processing errors than TMax or Delta films. Most important: become really familiar with what your camera's light meter is trying to do. You need to be able to second-guess it. Consider buying a hand held incident/reflected meter like the Quantum, available from B&H, and learn how to use it. Good luck! njb

-- Nacio Brown (, April 05, 2000.

Response to Please help me...

Regarding film I would recommend Tri-X also. Usually rated at 400. Like that film for portraits, if looking for something slower try Kodak Plus-X or Ilford FP-4 Plus. All three films are easy to handle and will work with almost every developer.

Filters, with b/w I use yellow, green-yellow, orange and red (25/29), these colour filters change the tonal value of a colour on the film. Get yourself e.g. some flowers and see what effect the filters will have. A middle yellow will correct the spectral sensitivity of the film compared to the human eye and give better skies. Personally I do not care too much about other effect filters, I used some softener but rather work with a prime lens wide open, say 2 or 2.8.

Kind regards


-- Wolfram Kollig (, April 05, 2000.

Response to Please help me...

The classic reference for black and white photography (indeed, any photography) is Ansel Adams' "The Negative", which I strongly recommend. Also look at collections of photographs by Adams, Edward Weston, Cartier-Bresson, etc. ; with "The Negative" as your reference, you will understand more clearly how these images were created, both technically and aesthetically.

In terms of films, if you are not equipped to handle your own processing, try Kodak's 400CN or Ilford's XP2, which you can get processed and printed at a colour lab, and which will deliver results that are very similar to conventional black and white films. If you want to dive into your own processing (it is easy), then Tri-X is indeed an excellent choice. It's not usually worthwhile asking a lab to process conventional b&w film.

-- fw (, April 05, 2000.

Response to Please help me...

Of course if you don't like the sandpaper texture that Tri-X will give you, try a more all round film like FP4plus. It's just as easy to handle and will give you smoother tones than Tri-X with practically any commonly available film developer. Try D-76 as a starting point.

Filters can be used with black&white to great effect, but I wouldn't try to run before you can walk. Get your basic b&w technique sorted out before you start juggling too many variables at once.

-- Pete Andrews (, April 05, 2000.

Response to Please help me...

Hi - I think there are twice as many answers as there are people answering your question. First I think that 'getting into b&w' today presents you with the choice of going with the traditional 'wet' darkroom and enlarger set-up, or computer/digital. I have both and think, especially since you have a baby and might not want to have a drakroom, chemicals, etc around, you might seriously want to consider the computer set up. As for film, I think you again have to make a basic choice. If you want to do your own developing, then you want to settle on a traditional b&w film, if not one of the C-41 films such as Ilford's XP-2, would be an excellent choice. When it comes to conventional film, I'll go out on a limb and recommend you try Fuji's Neopan 1600. It gives you more 'speed' which means it will be easier to do more candid photography. I do a lot of portraits and don't have any problem with the grain and look of the film, but that is a personal choice. Feel free to e-mail me directly if you have any questions!


-- Christian Harkness (, April 05, 2000.

Response to Please help me...

Thank you to everyone who responded with such great advice! I have a ton of information to start with, some recommended reading and resources to buy materials to help get me started. I really appreciate the time you all took to help me out. I'll be getting my first roll of b&w developed this week. I've already bookmarked B&H to price out some filters and a meter. You are all so great and I'll be visiting here OFTEN! Thanks again!

-- Mary-Jean (, April 13, 2000.

Response to Please help me...

Another useful book is Henry Horenstein's "Black & White Photography, A Basic Manual." The second edition I have came out in 1983, but I have seen new copies in book stores and photo stores recently, at about $25 or less.

-- Joe Brugger (, April 16, 2000.

Response to Please help me...

Best film I'd suggest from the older 'traditional' films is Fp4+, or perhaps Tri-X, as for the newer films try Delta 100, or even 3200. For developers use rodinal for FP4 and one of the newer developers Ilford DDX?(I thikn that is the right one) for the newer emulsions. Alternativly you could use Ilfospeed print developer diluted 1-60 or 1-100 on FP$ for approx 12 to 16 minutes. As foe the use of filters get a copy of any B+W beginers' books - you will probably benefit from yellow, orange, green, red, and blue filters for some things, also a polariser. Occasionally you may find graduated filters in the colours previously mentioned useful - given that you shoot landscapes.

-- David Kirk (, April 16, 2000.

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